OriginalChristianity

Not Traditional, Original

T 1.10.1 Tradition in Original Christianity, Not Only Is Jesus Called God In Scripture, But So are Moses, Judges, Magistrates, The Adversary, And Devil Spirits, But All Are Subject to the Father

Previous posts have declared that Unitarianism was the belief in Original Christianity including the last post, T 1.10 Tradition in Original Christianity, Part 10, The Apostles taught the Father alone was God, one of the Most Hidden Truths in Christianity Today. We have looked at references that admit that Unitarianism predated Trinitarianisn.  We looked at quotes that cite that unlike the apostles in scripture theologians after the apostles say philosophy is essential. And we looked at the reasons why. For example, look at this:

“Much contemporary Christianity is in essence adoptionistic. Early in the 19th century Frederick Schleiermacher conceived of Jesus as the man with the most sublime God consciousness, while Albrecht Ritschl saw him as endowed with the most perfect sense of duty. For the 20th century Anglican John A. T. Robinson, Jesus was “the man for others,” perfectly transparent to God. Adoptionistic ideas always arrive arise wherever Christians are reluctant to use the language and tools of philosophy [emphasis added] to grapple with the apparent conflict between the unity of God and the deity of Christ.[1]

I have underlined “reluctant to use the language and tools of philosophy”. The need for philosophy is given again here.  Without philosophy the conflict between the unity of God and the deity of Christ is too great. Brown says that without philosophy the natural result is adoptionism, which is a form of Unitarianism.

I have known some people that seemed to accept Unitarianism easily.  The Trinity was always so confusing to them. Unitarianism is easier by far and all of it is scriptural.  But, if you are like me at all, you may take a lot to be convinced on so important a topic.   I don’t change my mind that easily, some things can take years for me to be persuaded otherwise.  So, I don’t blame you if you are still unsure or skeptical.  What I will say is to keep at it.  Really consider the what is said.  Have you really tried to prove the Trinity?  Or, are you like me, I heard it mentioned as the truth so often for so many years that it was like second nature to accept it.  And this was in spite of the fact that when confronted I had to admit that I had never seen a proof of the Trinity. All I had heard were verses here and there that were used to support the Trinitarian argument. Even though it was confusing it was just so widespread and generally accepted for so long that I had a hard time believing that there was a chance that it might not be right.  But when I really looked at it, I said, oh my Lord, how could that have happened?  And likewise for many people throughout the millennia. And I came to the conclusion like so many before me; the Trinity is a man-made doctrine; only God the Father is God of all.  Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the King of Kings, but he is subject to God and not equal to him.

Today we’re going to look at more points of emphasis in the Trinitarian argument. The first is that Jesus is called God in places in scripture.  The second is the Trinitarian argument that says that Jesus admitted he was God.

I mean, after all, if the Bible clearly calls Jesus God and he also admits it, doesn’t that make the case for both the deity of Jesus and the Trinity?

It may be confusing to some when they read that Jesus is rightfully called God in some scriptures but not part of a Trinity, but only until it is understood that many beings subordinate to God including judges, prophets, idols, the adversary, and devil spirits are also called god.  But all are subject, subordinate to God the Father, even his son.

What adds to the confusion is when Bible translators capitalize God.  Capitalizing God is the custom in English when it is God the creator, the supreme being.  The Trinitarian tradition that includes the Son and Holy Spirit as part of God almighty adds to this confusion.  The theology of the translator is clearly evident here.

In numerous posts, we have looked at varied verses that are used in support of the Trinity, and in each case shown that those verses did not prove the Trinity.  As stated in Philosophy in Christianity – Welcome Addition or Intrusion of Worldly Reasoning? scholars admit that scripture does not directly teach the Trinity.  What they say is that the “elements” are there to construct the doctrine of the Trinity.  Here’s the New Bible Dictionary on the subject:

“As already indicated, Scripture does not give us a fully formulated doctrine of the Trinity, but it contains all the elements out of which theology has constructed the doctrine.”[2]

I think that is being generous but at least they admit that scripture does not directly teach the Trinity. It’s true that many elements of the trinity are taken from scripture. This definition fails to add that there are also elements not in scripture that required for the Trinity to work like the word homousias (of the same substance) and the doctrine that Jesus had two wills when there is no scripture to support it.

So, let’s look at where Jesus is called God in scripture.  For clarification, elohim is one of the Hebrew words translated God, and theos is the Greek word translated God. God the Father’s name is Yahweh.

The biggest lesson here is that just because something says “God” it does not necessarily refer to God the Father, creator of heaven and earth.

Now, the overwhelming majority of times God is referred to in scripture it is talking about God the Father, but there are times when the text says God, but it is not God the Father. It is true that Jesus is called god, but so are the divine council, judges, prophets (Moses especially), kings, and even the devil.  And God the Father is over all of them.

Here’s the first. Moses is called Elohim, God.

Yahweh said to Moses, “Behold, I have made you as God to Pharaoh; and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet. (Exo 7:1 WEB)

Moses is certainly not God. But he was called God, Elohim, because he represented God and the power of God flowed through him. Notice the capitalization.

In the New Testament, the Greek word theos corresponds to the Hebrew word Elohim.  This word is used of our adversary, the devil.

in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the Good News of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn on them. (2Co 4:4 WEB)

The adversary is clearly called god (theos) here. And no one disputes that he is not God Almighty, the creator of heaven and earth, the father in heaven.  The lack of capitalization is correct.

The same goes for false gods like Dagon, the fish god of the Philistines.

The lords of the Philistines gathered them together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice; for they said, “Our god has delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.” (Jdg 16:23 WEB)

The Hebrew word for god here is, guess what, elohimElohim just means god.  The name of the elohim here is Dagon.

(Of note, too, is that elohim is a plural noun but Dagon is a single god.  This is proof that the use of elohim does not automatically indicate a plurality. In other words, elohim refers to a single person or god. Just like Dagon is not a trinity, the use of elohim does not mean a trinity when it refers to Yahweh, God the Father.)

Likewise, the commandment not to worship false gods is the Hebrew word elohim.

“You shall have no other gods before me. (Exo 20:3 WEB)

Look at this one:

The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid! What do you see?” The woman said to Saul, “I see a god coming up out of the earth.”  (1Sa 28:13 WEB)

This is Saul with the medium of Endor.  Saul had inquired of Yahweh but Yahweh had stopped talking with Saul.  Saul made a major mistake and consulted a medium.  She said she saw a god (elohim) coming up out of the earth. That spirit was elohim.

Next, we are going to see a place where the translators understood that elohim could refer to even men. In this next verse that we are going to look at the text says Elohim (God), but it really means judges.

then his master shall bring him to God, and shall bring him to the door or to the doorpost, and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him forever. (Exo 21:6 WEB)

This verse is talking about a slave that decides he wants to remain a slave because of how good the human master is, and so there’s a procedure for that. The slave goes before the judges, but in the text, it’s the word Elohim, and on earth the judges represent Elohim.

This is a case where people, in this case, judges, are called God because of representation. We use representation to refer to people all the time. Here’s an example, a couple of weeks ago my wife called me and asked me if Amazon had delivered her package. I told her, yes, I got it and put it by her desk. Now, Amazon is a huge global company. It did not take the huge global enterprise with all of its many thousands of employees to deliver that package. One sole driver drove it to our house. But what my wife said in my conversation with her was not incorrect. Amazon had delivered the package. The driver is Amazon’s representative just like the judge in Exodus 21 is God’s representative.

Next, look at a section where the king is referred to as god (elohim). These verses are important because later in the New Testament we will see that they are used in reference to Christ.

My heart overflows with a noble theme. I recite my verses for the king. My tongue is like the pen of a skillful writer. You are the most excellent of the sons of men. Grace has anointed your lips, therefore God has blessed you forever. Strap your sword on your thigh, mighty one: your splendor and your majesty. In your majesty ride on victoriously on behalf of truth, humility, and righteousness. Let your right hand display awesome deeds. Your arrows are sharp. The nations fall under you, with arrows in the heart of the king’s enemies. Your throne, God, is forever and ever. A scepter of equity is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness, and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows. (Psa 45:1-7 WEB)

It is very important to realize that the subject of these verses is the king as it says in verse one, “I recite my verses for the king”. Look at the pronouns. “You are the most excellent of the sons of men” starts a list of things talking about this king. Now, surprise!  In verse six, this king is called God (Elohim)! God is capitalized here but it shouldn’t be because it’s not talking about God the Father. Neither should the first use of god in verse seven where it says “therefore God, your God, has anointed you…”.  In Psalm 45 the king is referred to as God because kings were appointed by divine right. Kings were God’s representative on earth. We are going to take a look at this quote again when we come to discussing our Lord, Jesus Christ.

So, we have clearly established that just because the text reads elohim or theos, it does not mean God the Father.

By the way, I haven’t discovered that elohim and theos don’t always refer to God Almight on my own, in fact, this is pretty well known. It’s listed in dictionaries.[3]  And it is well understood by most bible students, whether they are Unitarian or Trinitarian

Next, we are going to look at a verse with our Lord Jesus Christ. And this is a verse that is used to supposedly support the Trinitarian doctrine that includes that Jesus is God. In this text, Jesus is accused of claiming he is God.

Therefore, Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of those works do you stone me?” The Jews answered him, “We don’t stone you for a good work, but for blasphemy: because you, being a man, make yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Isn’t it written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods?’ If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture can’t be broken), do you say of him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You blaspheme,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God?’ If I don’t do the works of my Father, don’t believe me. But if I do them, though you don’t believe me, believe the works; that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” They sought again to seize him, and he went out of their hand. (Joh 10:31-39 WEB)

Yes, these Jews accused Jesus of claiming that he was God the Father. I have sat in a pew and heard it taught that Jesus was claiming to be God here! That is twisting the Scripture. Instead of acknowledging that he did say he was God, on the contrary, Jesus refutes their argument. You see, Jesus had just said, “I and my Father are one”. And he also made the connection to the divine council where God the Father called subordinate rulers gods.  But he also had said that he did his mighty works in the Father’s name. He had also said that the Father was greater than all, and “all” includes him even though he is the Christ. Jesus here does make the claim that he is the son of God. But he is the son of God because God is his Father. That doesn’t make him equal to God the Father. It just makes him the son of God. Jesus is actually teaching here that it is a mistake to equate saying that you are the son of God is the same as saying that you are God like the Father.

Just because someone is accused of saying something does not mean that they said it.  It may be that someone’s words are being twisted to say that someone is saying something that they did not say.  That is what is being done here. Jesus says as much.  The Jews took “I and my Father are one (in purpose)” and twisted it to “I and my Father are the same”!

To see that this oneness is in purpose compare “I and my Father are one” to “…that they may be one, even as we are one” later in John 17:22.

So, this verse does not say Jesus is claiming to be God. Rather, he is explaining his unique relationship with the Father.   But this scripture has been used to make the claim that Jesus said he was God.

Jesus, in John 10 above, makes the point of saying scripture calls some gods (small g).  Look at Psalms 82 here:

God presides in the great assembly. He judges among the gods. “How long will you judge unjustly, and show partiality to the wicked?” Selah. “Defend the weak, the poor, and the fatherless. Maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy. Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.” They don’t know, neither do they understand. They walk back and forth in darkness. All the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, “You are gods, all of you are sons of the Most High. Nevertheless you shall die like men, and fall like one of the rulers.” Arise, God, judge the earth, for you inherit all of the nations. (Psa 82:1-8 WEB)

Psalm 82 refers to what some call a divine council, a group of subordinates (angels, men?) to God where all of the subordinates are called gods (elohim). The job of these subordinate gods is to defend the weak, the poor, and the needy.  It is to maintain the rights of the poor and the oppressed.  It’s to deliver these from the wicked. They were put in charge to do things but they weren’t getting results.  They aren’t doing so well, and they are told they will die like men!  Yet they are elohim!

Now, let’s look in the book of Hebrews at another place where some have said Jesus is called God, and in this case, rightfully so.  But is it saying that he is God like God the Father? No.

God, having in the past spoken to the fathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, has at the end of these days spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds. His Son is the radiance of his glory, the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, who, when he had by himself purified us of our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; having become so much better than the angels, as he has inherited a more excellent name than they have. For to which of the angels did he say at any time, “You are my Son. Today I have become your father?” and again, “I will be to him a Father, and he will be to me a Son?” When he again brings in the firstborn into the world he says, “Let all the angels of God worship him.” Of the angels he says, “Who makes his angels winds, and his servants a flame of fire.” But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your Kingdom. (Heb 1:1-8 WEB)

First, the “through” in “through whom he also made the worlds” is the Greek word en (Strongs G1223)En can mean the channel or cause that something is done, but it can also mean the reason something is done.  The translation “through” would be better translated “on account of” or “because of”.  This shows the theology of the translator.

Jesus is called God here. This verse in Hebrews is a quotation from Psalm 45 that we looked at earlier. However, this time it’s not talking about the current king. It is talking about Jesus Christ. However, the same thing that applied to the king in Psalm 45 applies the Jesus here. Just like the King was called God in Psalms, Jesus is called God in Hebrews. But then, we see the verse, following “therefore God, your God…  So, just like the king was subject to God the Father so Jesus Christ is subject to God the Father.

Therefore, Jesus Christ is referred to as god but he is still subordinate to God the Father.

I want to look at more verses that call Jesus God. Remember that when we are reading these verses in English they are just translations of mainly Greek texts. In T 1.31 More on Paul’s Decision To Go To Jerusalem, How Tradition Can Affect Translation And Meaning, Accepting Deliverance When Available I look at how translation is often not a simple, straightforward process. It can get complicated, and produce misleading results.

Here are some things involved in translating from Koine Greek to English. In translation the order of words in Greek sentences is different than that of English sentences. In English a noun is made plural usually by adding an “s”.  In Greek to make a noun plural you have to know both its gender and the letters in which it ends in order to attach the right ending to the noun. In Greek, nouns are masculine, feminine, and neuter. But that does not mean that the item that the noun represents is masculine, feminine, or neuter. Whether or not a noun has an article attached can change its meaning. For example, hos theos, is “God” (theos) with the article, “the”, hos.  That combination is the one that can indicate the supreme Deity, God the Father.  By itself, theos without the article means less, like god (small g), magistrate, or even godly.

And there is no punctuation! The words just run together.  There are other issues as well. Here’s a picture of a manuscript in Greek show no punctuation and words just running on and on.

How do you divide those Greek letters above into words that form sentences and whole thoughts? In the article mentioned above, I talk about Acts 21:14 where a problem like that was explored. Here are the text and translated words.

The use of a comma here dramatically changes the meaning of this verse.  A lot of translators translate this, “We stopped,  saying the will of the Lord be done.”  But without the comma, it is, “we stopped saying the will of the Lord be done.” A single comma there makes a difference as to whether or not something was even said. And it certainly dramatically changes the meaning. That’s how important the translator is. And it shows how impactful his theology (and the theology of his “school”) is in translation.

An example of that ambiguity is found in some verses that call Jesus God, and maybe not just God, but appear to at least imply God over all.

looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ; (Tit 2:13 WEB)

Once again, the Greek text does have these words; God, and, Savior, Jesus Christ. To see the difference that punctuation makes look at the same verse in Webster’s version.

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ; (Tit 2:13 Webster)

Do you see the difference? The WEB version says “our great God and Savior” as if it’s one and the same person. The Webster version says “great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ”, recognizing two different beings.

Let’s compare how these two versions translate second Peter 1:1 which is another example of the same thing.

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: (2Pe 1:1 WEB)

Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ: (2Pe 1:1 Webster)

This one is a little less conspicuous, but is still there. The WEB version says “God and Savior, Jesus Christ”, making Jesus both God and Savior. In contrast, Webster’s version says “God and our Savior Jesus Christ”. It doesn’t put the comma after Savior thereby lumping God and Savior as the descriptor for Jesus Christ. And, you can see here, hopefully, that the translators could have just as easily written, “God, and our Savior Jesus Christ”, clearly distinguishing between God, and Savior as two different entities.

The lesson here is that Trinitarian doctrine has influenced the translation as there is absolutely nothing in the Greek text that requires “God and Savior”.  And “God and Savior” contradicts verses like Eph 4:4-6 and 1 Cor 15 below. With the ambiguity these verses have they certainly don’t prove the  Trinity.

Compare the above two verses above with:

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in us all. (Eph 4:4-6 WEB)

Lord and God are both in this verse but they are not next to each other. The separation alone between “Lord”, and “one God and Father of all” indicates that they are not the same person. Also, it is itemized here that the “one God and Father” is of all, over all, through all, and in us all. God alone is over all. It is clear here that Jesus Christ is the Lord while God the Father is the one who is over all.

We have discussed this next one in Philosophy in Christianity – Welcome Addition or Intrusion of Worldly Reasoning?.

Without controversy, the mystery of godliness is great: God was revealed in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, and received up in glory. (1Ti 3:16 WEB)

How can “God was revealed in the flesh” not prove the Incarnation and thus the Trinity? It must, right? The truth is that there is a problem with the word God there. Instead of Theos in Greek, the Greek word used in texts other than the Alexandrian family is hos which simply means which or who. The verse actually talks about the mystery of godliness which was manifest in the flesh.  Every being with the holy spirit, which includes all true Christians, manifests godliness whenever they walk in the spirit. Every time someone speaks in tongues or hears from God or heals someone, they are manifesting godliness. This verse is talking about the mystery of godliness and how that works.  It is not a declaration of Jesus as part of a trinity.  No, this verse does not prove the Trinity.

Here is a translation that says “which” instead of God.

And evidently great is the mystery of godliness, which was manifested in the flesh, was justified in the spirit, appeared unto angels, hath been preached unto the Gentiles, is believed in the world, is taken up in glory. (1Ti 3:16 DRB)

This next verse is talking about Jesus Christ as the greatest example of godliness on earth. That is something we are charged to seek

For bodily exercise has some value, but godliness has value in all things, having the promise of the life which is now, and of that which is to come. (1Ti 4:8 WEB)

So we see that despite having a number of verses that look like what the Trinitarians say are clearly teaching both that Jesus Christ is God, and even God the father, it is not that simple.

Who, again is Jesus in relation to the Father? Remember Jesus’ words as he talked about who he was in relation to God:

This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ. (Joh 17:3 WEB)

Jesus delineates between God the Father who he declares is the only true God, and himself who he declares is the sent one, God’s agent, the Christ, the Messiah. God the Father is God over all.  Jesus Christ is his agent.  His power is totally dependent on the Father:

Jesus therefore answered them, “Most certainly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father doing. For whatever things he does, these the Son also does likewise. (Joh 5:19 WEB)

And next, in first Corinthians, we see that even though it reads that everything is subject to Christ, Christ is still subject to God the father.

Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (1Co 15:24-28 ESV)

God, whether from elohim in Hebrew or theos in Greek may refer to God the Father, Jesus, prophets, angels, priests, judges, kings, the adversary, devil spirits, and false gods. But it is the verse above that sets the pecking order in the spiritual realm for men and gods.  Part of the Trinity doctrine is that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are co-equal and co-eternal.  But these verses above as well as other verses mentioned all put Jesus as not co-equal, but subject to the Father.  Jesus is not an equal partner in a trinity, Jesus is an underling.  Albeit, he is the Lord, he is the savior, he is second in command, he is still an underling who carries out what the Father directs.

That is Unitarianism.  God is one. There are other entities called god in scripture, angels, devils, judges, prophets, kings, even Jesus, but there is only one God who is over all, and through all, and in us all, and that is the Father.

Further Reading on Christian Unitarianism (including links to resources available online)

Encyclopedia Americana, 1920 Edition, Vol XXVII, p. O301 available online at https://ia800305.us.archive.org/33/items/encyclopediaame23unkngoog/encyclopediaame23unkngoog.pdf. This article in this century old Encyclopedia Americana is the better part of 10 pages long and reflects that Unitarianism was more known then. Find the topic Unitarianism

Statement of Reasons For Not Believing The Doctrines of the Trinitarians, Andrews Norton, London, 1846

The Doctrine of the Trinity, Anthony F. Buzzard and Charles F. Hunting, Atlanta Bible College and Restoration Fellowship, 1990

The Elements of Unitarianism, George Chryssides, Element Books, Dorset, 1998

The Epic of Unitarianism, David B. Parke, Skinner House Books, Boston, 1957

The History of The Doctrine of the Trinity The True Scriptural Picture, http://www.antipas.org/books/trinity/trinity1.html  

The Trinity: True Or False? Peter J. Southgate, Dawn Book Supply, 1995, A Christadelphian book available at https://www.the1way.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/THE-TRINITY-true-or-false-2nd-edition.pdf

The Racovian Catechism, available at http://thehumanjesus.org/media/pdf/The_Racovian_Catechism.pdf

The Two Treatises of Servetus on the Trinity, Michael Serveto, Translated by Earl Morse Wilbur, Wipf & Stock, Eugene, Published 2013

One God & One Lord : Reconsidering the Cornerstone of Christian Faith, Mark H Graeser, John A. Lynn, John W Schoenheit, Christian Educational Services, 2000

One God Over All (Class), Living Hope International Ministries, available at https://lhim.org/lhim-class/?id=84

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy; Trinity, at https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/trinity/ (Completely from a purely philosophical point of view – shows the debate about the philosophical merits and flaws in Trinitarian arguments)

Further Reading Pro – Trinitarian Sources including Philosophy, and Heresies

The New Bible Dictionary, Eerdman’s, Grand Rapids, 1962, Reprinted 1974, p. 1298-1300

The Trinity, Evidence & Issues, Dr. Robert A Morey, Xulon Press, 1996

The Trinity, The Classic Study of Biblical Unitarianism, Edward Henry Bickersteth, Kregal, Grand Rapids

The Doctrine of the Trinity, Leonard Hodgson, Nisbit, Digswell Place, Seventh Printing  1964

Delighting in the Trinity, An Introduction to the Christian Faith, IVP Academic, Downers Grove, 2012

Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem, Zondervan, Grand Rapids,1994, p. 226-261

Lectures in Systematic Theology, Henry C Theissen, Erdman’s, Grand Rapids, revised 1979, P. 89-99

Systematic Theology, Volume 3, Paul Tillich, the University of Chicago press, Chicago 1950 1P. 289-294

Heresies, Harold O. J. Brown, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody Massachusetts, 1984, P. 96, see index

Introduction to Philosophy, A Christian Perspective, Norman L Geisler and Paul D Feinberg, Baker books, Grand Rapids, 1980, P. 75, 174-177

The Blessed Trinity, New Advent (a Catholic organization)  at  https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15047a.htm

Early Christian Doctrines, J N D Kelly, Harper Collins, 1978

A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, David Bercot, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Seventh Printing, 2008, p. 651-657

Catechism of the Catholic Church, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 18th Printing 2007, sections 232-260, see Index

The Code of Canon Law, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Published 1983

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[1] Heresies, Harold O. J. Brown, Hendrickson publishers, Peabody Massachusetts, 1984, P. 96

[2] New Bible Dictionary, Erdman’s, Grand Rapids, 1962, P. 1299

[3] For ex., Strong’s definition is: el-o-heem’, Plural of H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative: – angels, X exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty. In Strong’s definition, see how Elohim is defined as the supreme God or just gods, also magistrates, angels judges, or even godly or mighty.  Clearly, Elohim doesn’t just mean God the Father. Thayer says that besides God,  theos can also mean God’s representative or viceregent,  including magistrates and judges

last edited 11/11/21

November 8th, 2021 Posted by | Biblical Translation And Interpretation, Tradition | no comments

T 1.10 Tradition in Original Christianity, Part 10, The Apostles taught the Father alone was God, one of the Most Hidden Truths in Christianity Today

So then, brothers, stand firm, and hold the traditions which you were taught by us, whether by word, or by letter. (2Th 2:15 WEB)

OriginalChristianity.Net has been looking at where the Church is today doctrinally and in practice, and how the church has gotten from the exciting, powerful times of the New Testament to the church of today with many people professing Christianity, teaching scripture, even proclaiming manifestations of the spirit but also with many divisions and opposing viewpoints on many scriptural issues.  And we read again in the verse above the Apostles’ charge to us to maintain the traditions that they handed to us.  Traditions include beliefs and practices. We are charged to follow what they taught.  And we have been warned in Acts 20 that after the Apostles’ passing that there would be people from both outside the church and inside that would twist the scriptures, drawing people away from the truth that Paul and the Apostles taught.

I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. (Act 20:29-30 ESV)

This verse is a prophecy that there would be people teaching things twisted from what the Apostles taught. The doctrine that we are looking at today has both extra-biblical thinking, for example, Jesus had two wills, and terms like homoousia, of the same substance, that are not in scripture, which are crucial to the Trinitarian argument.

This verse and other prophecies of things that would happen before Christ’s return also indicate that what Paul and the Apostles taught was not just for the Apostles’ time on earth.  Their teaching was for the church age. As we are still awaiting the return of Christ, that includes us.

We are looking at a critical issue today, Unity vs Trinity, one person or three, what did the Apostles believe, teach, and practice?  The answer lies in the fact that while “essential Christian Doctrine” today focuses on the Trinity, the Trinity was not present in original Christianity but scholars all agree that it was developed in the early centuries after Christ. So, the question is then what was the belief, if not the Trinity, about the natures of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the holy spirit.[1]

The answer is that, in fact, as is discussed in John 1 – The meaning of the Logos; The Slippery Slope of Applying Mathematical Precision to Language Expressions and, as it is stated at places as a historical reality, original Christianity started out Unitarian.

(Before proceeding any further it must be emphasized that we are talking about Christian or biblical Unitarianism and not Unitarian Universalism which is totally different and may not be Christian at all.)

Unitarian comes from the number one just as Trinity comes from the number three.  It’s as simple as that, look it up.  Unitarianism, simply put, is the belief that God is one.  In contrast, Trinitarianism is the belief that God is three. Trinitarians say God is three persons while Unitarian just say God is one.  Look at these references to what people believed in the first centuries about whether they believed that God is one or three persons:

“Justin nowhere asserts that the father, Son, and Spirit constitute one God, as became the custom in later ages, after the doctrine of the Trinity was fully matured. Strictly speaking, he was a Unitarian, as were the orthodox fathers generally of his time: that is, they believe the Son to be being really distinct from the Father, and inferior to him; which we take to be the very essence of Unitarianism.”[2]

That is another reference to the fact that the “orthodox fathers” of Justin Martyr’s time were generally Unitarian, God is one, not three persons.  Look at this:

Even after the elimination of Gnosticism, the church remained without any uniform Christology; the Trinitarians and the Unitarians continue to confront each other, the latter at the beginning of the third century still forming the large majority.[3]

As it says above, Unitarians still formed a large majority at the beginning of the third century, indicating the Original Christian church started out Unitarian and continued that way for a least a couple of centuries.

And look at this Encyclopedia Americana reference to Unitarianism and its start:

“The most conspicuous point of departure from trinitarianism, the point usually emphasized, is the refusal to regard Jesus as “very God of very God” and the assertion that he was distinctly and unqualifiedly a human being. This belief in some form in a varying degree has accompanied Christianity from the beginning, at least as one of its forms.” [4]

There it is again; this belief [Unitarianism]… has accompanied Christianity from the beginning! That is the truth. But it’s also a truth that many theologians work to deny as evidenced in the next paragraph in the above-mentioned article. The Unitarianism of the original church is often denied today and it is barely conceded that the original church was not Trinitarian. Look at this careful wording as the article reads on:

It is usually conceded that even though it might not be correct to speak of Christianity during the first two or three centuries as being substantially Unitarian, it at least was not Trinitarian. It was this generally held belief that Christ was a man that Arius was trying to save in his conflict with Athanasius. It was this championship of Arius, of the human side of Jesus, that for centuries gave the name Arianism to any belief in the humanity of Jesus.[5]

“It is usually conceded” alludes to the reluctance that the Trinitarian faction in the Church to admit the legacy of Unitarianism and that the Church took centuries of human debate over scripture that also included extra-biblical thinking and extrabiblical terms like homoousia (of the same substance) before it was declared official doctrine and more centuries to be put into its final form. “That it might not be correct” allows for a small chance for error, possibly because the Trinitarian contingent is widespread and regular with anti-Unitarian rhetoric.  And it alludes to the fact that Unitarianism has never gone away, but has continued to be believed by some despite severe unscriptural practices like burning at the stake, the Inquisition, not to mention forfeiture of property, status, and position when churches and states were so intertwined.  This quote also alludes to the fact that Unitarianism is most commonly called Arianism which was denounced when the deity of Christ and Trinitarianism began to replace Unitarian doctrine in the fourth century. I say began because Arius’ Unitarian teaching continued for some time after the council of Nicea.

So, while many Trinitarians do not want to concede that the church started out as Unitarian, it did and we are going to look at what they believed.

Tertullian was the first to introduce the concept of a trinity at the start of the third century.  So, up until Tertullian the terms Trinitarianism, Unitarianism, and anti-trinitarianism didn’t apply so believers didn’t identify themselves as believing any of those doctrines, but in today’s terms, they were Unitarian.

Also, Trinitarians label Unitarianism as Arianism as if Arius invented it, but he didn’t.  While what Arius taught completely about his viewpoint is unknown and we don’t know how much it resembles scriptural Unitarianism in its entirety Arius just tried to continue some of what had been received by most as correct doctrine since the Church began, that Jesus was a man, a very special man, inferior to God, and certainly not God himself.

Also, in regards to terminology, there is a bias in being known as anti-anything,  For example, anti-abortion paints people as a negative while pro-life paints people in a positive. Is the other camp pro-choice or anti-fetal rights?  While Trinitarians like to call Unitarians “anti-trinitarian” they weren’t anti-trinitarian because Trinitarianism didn’t exist so there wasn’t even anything to be “anti” against at that in the first century. If anything, it is Trinitarians that are anti-Unitarian because Unitarianism predates Trinitarianism. And that makes Anathasius, Constantine, the majority of the Nicene council, and every one up to now that is Trinitarian “anti-Unitarian”.

Once again, as Merriam-Webster defines a Unitarian as someone who believes that the Deity exists only in one person, then they, the original Christian believers were Unitarian.  Unitarianism, though, has been seen in different forms.

Here’s another quote showing that Unitarianism came first, that it is the Apostles’ tradition:

“Unitarianism as a theological movement began much earlier in history; indeed it antedated trinitarianism by many decades. Christianity derives from Judaism, and Judaism was strictly Unitarian. The road which led from Jerusalem to Nicaea was scarcely a straight one. Fourth century trinitarianism did not reflect accurately early Christian teaching regarding the nature of God; it was on the contrary a deviation from this teaching. It developed therefore against constant Unitarian or at least anti-Trinitarian opposition.[6]

What is Unitarianism?  Compared to the Trinity, Unitarianism is simple and uncomplicated without the impossible to understand incongruities that the Trinity carries with it.  The Father alone is God.  Jesus was a special man, fathered by God, but just a man who took on the assignment of our salvation and died for our sins, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of God. As God is holy, and God is spirit, holy spirit is just God in action. Holy spirit is the term used when the power of God is communicated in creation and inspiration.  It’s that simple.

As Judaism is and was strictly Unitarian, no Jew misunderstood King David when he wrote:

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me. Don’t throw me from your presence, and don’t take your holy Spirit from me. (Psa 51:10-11 WEB)

David would have been shocked had someone said to him that the holy spirit he was talking about was another person in a triune Godhead! David understood that the holy spirit he had was his connection to God, placed upon him for inspiration and guidance. His request shows how God uses the holy spirit to form a relationship with him. He begs the father to not discard him and take his holy spirit away from him because he knows when his holy spirit is gone from him he is no longer in God’s presence. Remember that in the Old Testament holy spirit was placed upon select people whereas Christ made it available for all believers to receive the holy spirit in us. David’s predecessor, Saul, is an example of someone who lost his holy spirit in Old Testament times.

The original Christians believed that Jesus was subordinate to the father, not coequal, not coeternal, and not part of a Trinity!  Only the Father is God eternal!  Look at Jesus’ words:

This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ.  (Joh 17:3 WEB)

Jesus called the Father the only True God. That’s Unitarian doctrine. Jesus didn’t say they were God together, he said the Father is the only true God.

Paul, likewise, wrote of one God, the Father, and one Lord (Master, ruler, the guy in charge while he may have a boss).  Yahweh is God, while Jesus is Lord because Yahweh empowered him.

So, in this original Christian setting, who is the Father?

Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God. Yahweh is one. You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. (Deu 6:4-5 WEB)

The Lord God is one.  He is one person!  He alone is God.

Yahweh… says: “I am Yahweh, who makes all things; who alone stretches out the heavens; who spreads out the earth by myself;  (Isa 44:24b WEB)

Yahweh says he alone spread out creation.  Alone refers to a single person. Myself refers to one person! Yahweh says “I” here and in so many places. (Yes, there are a few places where the pronoun “we” is used but even there the verb indicates singular, not plural persons acting.) Yahweh is referred to as a person, but only one person.

Who is this God the Father, Yahweh? Yahweh’s declaration of his name to the children of Israel speaks loudly to who God is and how hard he is to comprehend to us mere humans.

Now Moses was keeping the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the back of the wilderness, and came to God’s mountain, to Horeb. Yahweh’s angel appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the middle of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. Moses said, “I will go now, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When Yahweh saw that he came over to see, God called to him out of the middle of the bush, and said, “Moses! Moses!” He said, “Here I am.” He said, “Don’t come close. Take off your sandals, for the place you are standing on is holy ground.” Moreover he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look at God. Yahweh said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey; to the place of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite. Now, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to me. Moreover I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” He said, “Certainly I will be with you. This will be the token to you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” Moses said to God, “Behold, when I come to the children of Israel, and tell them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you;’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ What should I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM,” and he said, “You shall tell the children of Israel this: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”  (Exo 3:1-14 WEB)

God is not a person like you and me.  God is so awesome that we cannot look at him in our weak state.

“I am that I am” as a name is so powerful and speaks more to who God is than calling him just a person like the rest of us.

God named himself YHWH to which the vowels were added and became Yahweh, as it says in the next verse.

God said moreover to Moses, “You shall tell the children of Israel this, ‘Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and this is my memorial to all generations. (Exo 3:15 WEB)

Yahweh is the creator.  Scripture starts with the declaration that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  And as we read above (Isa 44:24) he did it alone.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Gen 1:1 WEB)

Now, in that creation, he created a lot of stuff, stars, worlds, etc.  He also created angels, though there is little about this in scripture.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. (Gen 2:1 ESV)

The host referred to above could mean all the stars, galaxies, planets, and such but it could also refer to angels.  Angels aren’t Yahweh, they are created spirit beings with power and responsibilities.

God alone is God, and his being, his power is beyond us to measure.

But will God in very deed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens can’t contain you; how much less this house that I have built! (1Ki 8:27 WEB)

But our God is in the heavens. He does whatever he pleases. (Psa 115:3 WEB)

Great is our Lord, and mighty in power. His understanding is infinite. (Psa 147:5 WEB)

We can’t fathom his thought processes, his mind, his intelligence.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa 55:9 WEB)

God speaks and things happen.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways,” says Yahweh. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down and the snow from the sky, and doesn’t return there, but waters the earth, and makes it grow and bud, and gives seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so is my word that goes out of my mouth: it will not return to me void, but it will accomplish that which I please, and it will prosper in the thing I sent it to do. (Isa 55:8-11 WEB)

God’s word, his planning, his intelligence, his Logos, gets spoken and starts to work at the same time.

Now, while this does say that God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts that we can’t understand them, we can understand the things that he tells us.

The secret things belong to Yahweh our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deu 29:29 WEB)

Yes, God is this incredible reality beyond our comprehension, but we can understand what he tells us because he knows what we will be able to understand and he wants us to know some things.  There is one and only way to know something about Yahweh; what he has revealed to us, the other things are secret.

In the physical world, we have a grasp of a lot of things and can experiment to test to see how things are.  That’s science. That’s inductive reasoning, and we can use it in the physical world to learn things.

Beyond what he has revealed we cannot be sure of how God works or his nature because he is so beyond our understanding.  Beyond what is revealed cannot be determined because of the uncertainty of trying to figure out something beyond measure and beyond our comprehension. Yes, we know some things he has revealed in his word, but there is so much that we don’t know that we cannot make determinations about what is not revealed.

But as it is written, “Things which an eye didn’t see, and an ear didn’t hear, which didn’t enter into the heart of man, these God has prepared for those who love him.” But to us, God revealed them through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For who among men knows the things of a man, except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so, no one knows the things of God, except God’s Spirit. But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that were freely given to us by God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things. Now the natural man doesn’t receive the things of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to him, and he can’t know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1Co 2:9-14 WEB)

The words in these verses are all about the futility of trying to understand the nature and workings of God through human means like philosophizing and making hypotheses and testing them with inductive logic, incorporated with deductive logic and a priori assumptions, and the like which is how the doctrine of the Trinity was constructed.  Men can’t understand God with philosophy, human wisdom.  That’s what the verse above says.

“God revealed them through the Spirit” is how we know things about God!  Natural man can’t know them because they are spiritually discerned.

We know the things freely given to us by God via the spirit. That is what scripture says.  It also says we can’t know them with man’s wisdom.  Our philosophies (wisdom of men) can teach a lot of things but not things of the spirit of God. If we know a truth from God it has been spiritually discerned either by prophecy in scripture or personal revelation (refers more to things happening in a person’s life).

Jesus Christ in Unitarianism is a man who accepted the commission to be the Messiah.  Jesus clearly taught that by himself he did not have God’s power, but he was just following God the Father in what he did. Therefore, he is God’s appointed agent, his Messiah, his Christ. Here Yahweh’s Messiah talks about his relationship to the Father:

Jesus therefore answered them, “Most certainly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father doing. For whatever things he does, these the Son also does likewise. (Joh 5:19 WEB)

Jesus can do nothing of himself!  God can do things of himself, Jesus can’t. Jesus is subordinate.

Jesus was a man, a seed (offspring) of Eve, who was promised to rectify the debacle in the Garden of Eden when the Devil deceived Eve into sinning and Adam followed suit.

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Gen 3:15 KJV)

Jesus was special in that he was the second Adam, and born by the power of the holy spirit.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. (Mat 1:18 KJV)

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. (1Co 15:45 KJV)

Jesus, being a man, didn’t know everything, he was limited in certain ways and had to grow as all people do.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (Luk 2:52 WEB)

But no one knows of that day and hour, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only. (Mat 24:36 WEB)

But Jesus fulfilled his mission!  And Jesus was elevated to God’s second in command when he fulfilled that mission and was raised from the dead.  All power is given to him, except it is known that it is God the Father that gives him this power and is truly God over all, even over Christ.

This Jesus God raised up, to which we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted by the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this, which you now see and hear. (Act 2:32-33 WEB)

Still in all this Christ is subject to the Father as it says in the following verse.

The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For, “He put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when he says, “All things are put in subjection”, it is evident that he is excepted who subjected all things to him. When all things have been subjected to him, then the Son will also himself be subjected to him who subjected all things to him, that God may be all in all. (1Co 15:26-28 WEB)

The above verse says that God the Father put Christ over all things except the Father.  Everywhere and at all times Jesus was and is subordinate to the Father.

God is holy spirit because God is holy and God is spirit.  That is just who he is.  Whenever holy spirit is used in scripture it refers to God inspiring and empowering others in the gift he gives to us.

For I am Yahweh your God. Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be holy; for I am holy. (Lev 11:44a WEB)

God is spirit…” (Joh 4:24a WEB)

There it is: God is holy and God is spirit; God is holy spirit. When we believe, Yahweh gives us some of his holy spirit;

Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Act 2:38 WEB)

Yahweh communicates with the spirit he puts in us;

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God; (Rom 8:16 WEB)

Yahweh empowers us through his spirit;

that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that you may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; (Eph 3:16 WEB)

Yahweh enables different gifts to people through holy spirit;

Having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us, if prophecy, let’s prophesy according to the proportion of our faith; or service, let’s give ourselves to service; or he who teaches, to his teaching; or he who exhorts, to his exhorting; he who gives, let him do it with generosity; he who rules, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.  (Rom 12:6-8 WEB)

That is the Apostles’ tradition, what they handed down to us.  It’s what they put in practice.  It is what we are charged to follow in 2Tim 2:15 and other places.

Compared to the incomprehensible doctrine of the Trinity Unitarianism is a welcome breeze of fresh air.  It is much simpler.  It is understandable.  It is freeing not to be bound under the weight of the mind-boggling complexities of the Trinity, a man-made doctrine that took centuries to formulate, and then the Roman Church took extreme measure to enforce compliance to point that it is still embedded in so many Christian lives today.

Be free from the ravages of this incomprehensible doctrine.  If the Father is God and the Son is God and the Spirit is God why aren’t they equal to each other? In Philosophy that is called incongruence. It doesn’t work.  Where in scripture does it say that Jesus had two wills? Yet that is what the doctrine of the Trinity demands because Scripture says that God cannot be tempted but Jesus was tempted in all ways.  The incongruities go on and on. Be like the original Christians, accept the Unitarian view, God the Father alone is God, Jesus Christ, a man, was the son of God, and holy spirit refers to God in action with us as he gives the gift of holy spirit to men and interacts with them.

Always remember that we are charged by the Apostles to follow their tradition.

So then, brothers, stand firm, and hold the traditions which you were taught by us, whether by word, or by letter. (2Th 2:15 WEB)

In closing, I want to ask an interesting question. What do Henry W Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Cullen Bryant, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, John Q Adams, Millard Fillmore, William H Taft, and Daniel Webster all have in common? The answer is they were all Unitarians![7]  So were Isaac Newton and John Milton.[8] These are just some of the many notable people that have realized the truth in this area.  This is not a doctrine believed by just unlearned and ignorant men.

It’s time for all who call upon the name of the Lord to embrace Unitarianism again.

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Further Reading on Christian Unitarianism (including links to resources available online)

Encyclopedia Americana, 1920 Edition, Vol XXVII, p. O301 available online at https://ia800305.us.archive.org/33/items/encyclopediaame23unkngoog/encyclopediaame23unkngoog.pdf. This article in this century old Encyclopedia Americana is the better part of 10 pages long and reflects that Unitarianism was more known then. Find the topic Unitarianism

Statement of Reasons For Not Believing The Doctrines of the Trinitarians, Andrews Norton, London, 1846

The Doctrine of the Trinity, Anthony F. Buzzard and Charles F. Hunting, Atlanta Bible College and Restoration Fellowship, 1990

The Elements of Unitarianism, George Chryssides, Element Books, Dorset, 1998

The Epic of Unitarianism, David B. Parke, Skinner House Books, Boston, 1957

The History of The Doctrine of the Trinity The True Scriptural Picture, http://www.antipas.org/books/trinity/trinity1.html  

The Trinity: True Or False? Peter J. Southgate, Dawn Book Supply, 1995, A Christadelphian book available at https://www.the1way.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/THE-TRINITY-true-or-false-2nd-edition.pdf

The Racovian Catechism, available at http://thehumanjesus.org/media/pdf/The_Racovian_Catechism.pdf

The Two Treatises of Servetus on the Trinity, Michael Serveto, Translated by Earl Morse Wilbur, Wipf & Stock, Eugene, Published 2013

One God & One Lord : Reconsidering the Cornerstone of Christian Faith, Mark H Graeser, John A. Lynn, John W Schoenheit, Christian Educational Services, 2000

One God Over All (Class), Living Hope International Ministries, available at https://lhim.org/lhim-class/?id=84

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[1] Much of the groundwork for this has already been laid. In 03.25.1 The Great Councils Continued, Finishing the Development of Trinitarian Doctrine and Related Issues; Over 500 Years of Debate on the Nature of Christ and the Trinity we see that the Trinity was a slowly developed doctrine based on philosophical arguments that started early in the second century and was initially put in place at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD.  That article explains how beliefs changed from original Christianity slowly and all of the changes to fully develop the Trinity weren’t fully in place until the seventh century A.D.  It also explains that in the process of developing this doctrine, extra-biblical terms and thinking processes were used to formulate it.
Also, the co-equality and co-eternality of the persons in the Trinity are building blocks of Trinitarian doctrine.  In John 1 – The meaning of the Logos; The Slippery Slope of Applying Mathematical Precision to Language Expressions. the true meaning of the Logos is presented. And it is shown that this section of John’s gospel does not substantiate the Trinitarian view.  Not only that, it is recognized and shown in the article that originally Christianity was not Trinitarian, but was actually Unitarian and this is written in sources such as:
The Encyclopaedia Britannica Vol.23 :  Internet Archive p.963, says “the Trinitarians and the Unitarians continued to confront each other, the latter at the beginning of the 3rd century still forming the large majority”[1].
Furthermore, it is impossible to prove the trinity without the a priori assumption of a triune God.  Only Trinitarian Christians believe in a triune God. Despite some imaginative research into Jewish writings, look at any Jewish site for support of the Trinity and you won’t find any. The original Apostles were all Jewish and believed likewise. Look at this statement on the Jewish encyclopedia.
(Despite arguments by Trinitarians purporting that the Jews believed in the Trinity),” The controversies between the Christians and the Jews concerning the Trinity centered for the most part about the problem whether the writers of the Old Testament bore witness to it or not, the Jews naturally rejecting every proof brought forward by their opponents.” (TRINITY: https://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14519-trinity).
According to Supplement to Trinity, Judaic and Islamic Objections, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/trinity/judaic-islamic-trinity.html, it is generally accepted that neither Jews nor Muslims believe in a triune God.  As the number of people believing in the trinity is not even a majority of persons this a priori assumption has poor justification.
Much of this including a priori assumptions is also discussed in Philosophy in Christianity – Welcome Addition or Intrusion of Worldly Reasoning?  A priori comes from the Latin meaning “before”. A priori claims are things that you can base your argument on because they are self-evident.  You don’t have to prove these claims because everyone knows that they are true, or at least that is the claim of the philosopher.  In math, all angles in a triangle add up to 180 degrees.  When you are arguing math, you don’t have to prove that.  Or that 1+1=2. In your argument, you can assume them to be true. When you use a priori claims you are starting with an assumption that something is true.  That is part of this process.

Do all math knowledgeable Christians, Jews, Muslims, and every other kind of religion all believe that the angles in a triangle add up to 180°? There is no dispute, no matter the religion on that claim. But, do all Christians, Jews, Muslims, and every other kind of religion all believe that God is triune? Of course, the answer is no, they do not. While some Christian groups have attempted to “prove” the existence of Trinitarian ideology in Jewish writings, there are no Jews or Muslims that believe in a triune God. That makes using the existence of a triune God as an a priori claim not justified. The original Apostles were all Jews and didn’t believe in the Trinity.

Additionally, in these and other articles, scripture verses that are used to preach the Trinity are shown that they don’t actually prove the Trinity as it is defined. Part of the reason for this that some verses are mistranslated to appear to substantiate the Trinity when they do not.  For example, things created on account of Jesus Christ are not the same as things created by Jesus Christ. That all things were written on account of Jesus Christ is what is written, and so forth.

[2] The Church of the First Three Centuries, Alva Lamson D.D., Horace Fuller, Boston, 1880, p.80 available at https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Church_of_the_First_Three_Centuries/i21QAQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&printsec=frontcover

[3] The Encyclopaedia Britannica Vol.23 :  Internet Archive p.963

[4] Encyclopedia Americana, Vol 23,  page 301.

[5] Encyclopedia Americana, 1920 Edition, Vol XXVII, p. O301 available online at https://ia800305.us.archive.org/33/items/encyclopediaame23unkngoog/encyclopediaame23unkngoog.pdf. This article in the Encyclopedia Americana is the better part of 10 pages long. In a much more recent addition of the World Book Encyclopedia, the entry on Unitarianism was a long paragraph, a fraction of a page. That again demonstrates that the prominence of Unitarianism, the original belief of Judaism and its successor Christianity, has been slowly hidden over time. In searching the library catalog of my local library, there were no whole books on Unitarianism, and there were three books that had small references to the subject while a century ago Unitarianism was still a huge topic as demonstrated by the size of the entry into this encyclopedia that is about a century old!

[6] Encyclopedia Americana, volume 27, 1956, P. 2941, quoted in The Doctrine of the Trinity, Anthony F. Buzzard and Charles F. Hunting, Atlanta Bible College and Restoration Fellowship, 1990 P. 19

[7] Encyclopedia Americana, 1920 Edition, Vol XXVII, p. O301 available online at https://ia800305.us.archive.org/33/items/encyclopediaame23unkngoog/encyclopediaame23unkngoog.pdf

[8] The Doctrine of the Trinity, Anthony F. Buzzard and Charles F. Hunting, Atlanta Bible College and Restoration Fellowship, 1990 P. 112-113

revised 11/3/2021

November 1st, 2021 Posted by | Tradition | no comments

T 1.9 Tradition in Original Christianity, Part 9, Church Government in the Body of Christ

Who was in Charge in the Apostles’ Tradition?

While there is no manual on Church government in the New Testament, there are numerous sections of scripture that itemize requirements of leadership as well as records of leadership decisions. But, most importantly, the role of the headship of Christ and the operational capacity of the Holy Spirit in the church is emphasized.

Jesus Christ is in charge, the body operates in sync in The Holy Spirit.

The Apostles’ tradition shows a church under Jesus Christ via Holy Spirit guidance.  First Christ is in charge:

which he worked in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come. He put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things for the assembly, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.  (Eph 1:20-23 WEB)

Yahweh gave Christ to be head over all, the above verse says.  The prophet, the apostle, the pastor and teacher, the bishop all are under Christ.  Christ heads the church and directs the church via the Holy Spirit.

Take heed, therefore, to yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the assembly of the Lord and God which he purchased with his own blood.  (Act 20:28 WEB)

We read in the above verse that the Holy Spirit makes people overseers. Christ is the head but the energization, the enablement is done via the Holy Spirit.  That concept is explained more in John chapter 16, starting in verse 13:

However when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself; but whatever he hears, he will speak. He will declare to you things that are coming.  (Joh 16:13 WEB)

The above verse explains that it is the Holy Spirit that does the guiding, but the Spirit is only acting on what he is told.  The next verse tells the source who is telling the spirit:

He will glorify me, for he will take from what is mine, and will declare it to you. (Joh 16:14 WEB)

This is Jesus speaking, and he said that the spirit gets his information from him.  Next, Jesus said where he, Jesus, gets his information:

All things whatever the Father has are mine; therefore I said that he takes of mine, and will declare it to you.  (Joh 16:15 WEB)

Here Jesus said that he gets his information from the Father. Putting these verses together Jesus is declaring that He will be in charge, but he is just reflecting the Father’s will, and the Holy Spirit is carrying out that same will of the Father via Christ when he guides the church.

In T 1.7 Tradition in Original Christianity, Part 7, The Apostles Taught the Body of Christ Energized in the Spirit we read how Christ’s church works as a body where every member has been set by God. The members include apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers, miracle workers, healers, helps, government, speakers in tongues, interpreters of tongues, and more.  All members manifest the spirit in the work that they do.  The holy spirit is the glue and the driving force of all the members of the body.

Government is listed as one of those members. Government is the Greek word kubernesis, G2941 in Strong’s, and means pilotage, directorship. The church needs Holy Spirit guided government.

When the term church is used it refers both to the local congregation and to the total body of believers. I Corinthians 1:2 refers to a local church.

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:  (1Co 1:2 ESV)

Colossians 1:18 refers to the whole body as the church.

And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. (Col 1:18 ESV)

Acts 20:28 above refers to the whole body of believers.  The Holy Spirit is to make all the overseers in the whole body, the whole church.  That doesn’t mean that overseers can’t be mistakenly appointed without the Spirit’s guidance, just that the Father set it up that the Spirit appoints the ones that are to be made overseer.

While we are on the topic of churches it is important to note that the church is a group or assembly of believers, not a building.

However, the Most High doesn’t dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says, ‘heaven is my throne, and the earth a footstool for my feet. What kind of house will you build me?’ says the Lord. ‘Or what is the place of my rest? Didn’t my hand make all these things?’ (Act 7:48-50 WEB)

As far as the buildings go this new church was very practical as to where these new churches would meet. For the most part they met in houses:

Likewise, greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.  (Rom 16:5 KJV)

It says greet the church that is in their house. First-century churches often met in houses for the most part.

The word church above is the Greek word ekklesia, G1577 in Strong’s, and means assembly. The church is that group or assembly of people, not the building. Interestingly, while the word for synagogue is a different word in Greek, it also means assembly. Ekklesia is translated assembly in the WEB version and others while it is translated church is still others.

The assemblies of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you much in the Lord, together with the assembly that is in their house. (1Co 16:19 WEB)

to the beloved Apphia, to Archippus, our fellow soldier, and to the assembly in your house: (Phm 1:2 WEB)

Paul rented a house in Rome to teach from.

Paul stayed two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who were coming to him, (Act 28:30 WEB)

There is Paul’s Christian teaching center in a rented house. The fact that there is not more guidance about facilities is indicative a lot of flexibility in the choice of this matter. And, notice that there are no building drives in scripture, nor are there mentions of expensive temples in the New Testament. Not that it would be wrong to buy a building, or even have a large beautiful facility, but that was not the emphasis. The place where they met for fellowship was of lessor concern. The greatest concern was the spread of the word of God.

There are records of churches being started and leaders put in place in the New Testament but there are no intricate guidelines in the bible for church governance. Jesus Christ is the head, who guides through the Spirit. And sometimes we will see that the guidance included elections by the members of the church which means there was human input, but only with the validation of the Spirit.   This all indicates that there is some freedom and flexibility built into the plan on how to spread the word of God, and build and govern churches.

The initial headquarters of the church was at Jerusalem which coordinated efforts in spreading the word, including resolving issues.

Who was the overseer in Jerusalem?  Many people assume that Peter was the first overseer because of his acts of leadership. Peter stands up in Acts 2 and becomes the spokesman. Yet we see when we look at Acts that it was James who is actually the head of the church at least when Paul went there. Notice that when Paul went in to present himself to the church it was to “James” and the elders.

And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.
And when he had saluted them, he rehearsed one by one the things which God had wrought among the Gentiles through his ministry. [Act 21:17-19 ASV]

This is really a case of Paul presenting himself to leadership, in this case it appears it was James who was in charge of the Apostles.  And, incidentally. James is listed with the apostles,

But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. [Gal 1:19 ASV]

There are numerous records that show that the leadership at Jerusalem directed the efforts on different fronts. For example, the Jerusalem leadership had heard that there were believers in Samaria that had received the word of God but did not manifest the spirit of God (the Holy Spirit had not fallen on them). Jerusalem sent Peter and John.

Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for as yet he had fallen on none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of Christ Jesus.  (Act 8:14-16 WEB)

Here is another record of Jerusalem’s oversight. There was a quarrel over the gentiles who had received the spirit and what needed to be done.

Now the apostles and the brothers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. When Peter had come up to Jerusalem, those who were of the circumcision contended with him, saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men, and ate with them!” (Act 11:1-3 WEB)

This is the fantastic record where the Jerusalem leadership learns that Peter was directed by the spirit to minister to Gentiles and that they had received the Holy Spirit just like they had.

And another example of oversight was recognizing who to minister to Jews and who to the Gentiles.

(for he who worked through Peter in the apostleship with the circumcised also worked through me with the Gentiles); and when they perceived the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, they who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcision. (Gal 2:8-9 WEB)

Headquarters received some of the moneys collected. Here we see that local churches sent offerings for different purposes to Jerusalem. First, we see a general collection.

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I commanded the assemblies of Galatia, you do likewise. On the first day of every week, let each one of you save, as he may prosper, that no collections are made when I come. When I arrive, I will send whoever you approve with letters to carry your gracious gift to Jerusalem. (1Co 16:1-3 WEB)

Next, we see a collection for the poor at Jerusalem.

For it has been the good pleasure of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are at Jerusalem. (Rom 15:26 WEB)

As far as collections for the saints went, Jerusalem was not the only recipient. Not all moneys went to the headquarters.  Here different local churches are supporting Paul’s missionary journeys directly.

However you did well that you shared in my affliction. You yourselves also know, you Philippians, that in the beginning of the Good News, when I departed from Macedonia, no assembly shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you only. (Php 4:14-15 WEB)

Missionaries were sent by Church Leadership with guidance from the Spirit and not just from the main headquarters.  There were more than one centers of Christianity.  Antioch was a center of Christianity while Jerusalem was the main headquarters initially.  The leaders at Antioch prayed and fasted and were told by the Spirit to send Barnabas and Saul on a missionary journey.

Now in the assembly that was at Antioch there were some prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen the foster brother of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they served the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Separate Barnabas and Saul for me, for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.  (Act 13:1-3 WEB)

Significantly, Barnabas and Saul returned to Antioch and reported back to them what had transpired.

From there they sailed to Antioch, from where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work which they had fulfilled. When they had arrived, and had gathered the assembly together, they reported all the things that God had done with them, and that he had opened a door of faith to the nations. (Act 14:26-27 WEB)

Paul and other Apostles appointed leaders in places where they started churches.  Here is a record of Paul and Barnabas appointing elders.

When they had appointed elders for them in every assembly, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they had believed. (Act 14:23 WEB)

There is no record that headquarters in Jerusalem had any say in this matter.  Paul’s ministry, the administration of the church to the Gentiles, included appointing the elders in those churches. This indicates the office of apostle includes governance.

Here Paul appoints Titus to oversee Crete including appointing elders in the cities.

I left you in Crete for this reason, that you would set in order the things that were lacking, and appoint elders in every city, as I directed you; (Tit 1:5 WEB)

As far as Paul’s ministry with concerned, he had a number of people, a team if you will, whom he sent to minister and he wrote recommendations for them so that they would be well received.

All my affairs will be made known to you by Tychicus, the beloved brother, faithful servant, and fellow bondservant in the Lord. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts, together with Onesimus, the faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you everything that is going on here. Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, greets you, and Mark, the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you received commandments, “if he comes to you, receive him”), and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for God’s Kingdom who are of the circumcision, men who have been a comfort to me. (Col 4:7-11 WEB)

But we beg you, brothers, to know those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you, and to respect and honor them in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. (1Th 5:12-13 WEB)

Demetrius has the testimony of all, and of the truth itself; yes, we also testify, and you know that our testimony is true. (3Jn 1:12 WEB)

Paul also “unrecommended” people.

I wrote to the assembly, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, doesn’t accept what we say. Therefore if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words. Not content with this, neither does he himself receive the brothers, and those who would, he forbids and throws out of the assembly. (3Jn 1:9-10 WEB)

On the other hand, Acts 15 shows that Paul subjected himself to the leadership in Jerusalem.  And we have this:

As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered the decrees to them to keep which had been ordained by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem. So the assemblies were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily. (Act 16:4-5 WEB)

Each local church was connected to headquarters from which decrees were disseminated from and sometimes these missionaries disseminated the decrees personally.

Now, there was some hierarchy in these appointments by Paul:

I left you in Crete for this reason, that you would set in order the things that were lacking, and appoint elders in every city, as I directed you; (Tit 1:5 WEB)

Now, we see Titus, under Paul’s authority appointing elders. Paul appointed elders who appointed other elders.  However, there is no record that these elders reported exclusively to Titus who reported to Paul, although that may be what happened most of the time.

Additionally, although Paul was the apostle that founded many churches, when he later dealt with problems in those churches, he didn’t just rule on everything but delegated to the local leadership which was wasn’t necessarily just one overseer.

I exhort Euodia, and I exhort Syntyche, to think the same way in the Lord. Yes, I beg you also, true partner, help these women, for they labored with me in the Good News, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.  (Php 4:2-3 WEB)

Evidently Euodia and Syntyche had a dispute.  Paul asked some unnamed partner to help resolve it. Next, in Corinth someone did something sinful and was rebuked and the person repented but the matter was not quite resolved.

But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow, not to me, but in part (that I not press too heavily) to you all. This punishment which was inflicted by the many is sufficient for such a one; so that on the contrary you should rather forgive him and comfort him, lest by any means such a one should be swallowed up with his excessive sorrow. Therefore I beg you to confirm your love toward him. For to this end I also wrote, that I might know the proof of you, whether you are obedient in all things. Now I also forgive whomever you forgive anything. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, that no advantage may be gained over us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes. (2Co 2:5-11 WEB)

Then there is the matter of incest that evidently wasn’t taken care of.  Paul wrote:

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles, that one has his father’s wife. You are arrogant, and didn’t mourn instead, that he who had done this deed might be removed from among you. For I most certainly, as being absent in body but present in spirit, have already, as though I were present, judged him who has done this thing. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, you being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, are to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1Co 5:1-5 WEB)

So, Paul ordained elders and he even charged some elders to ordain more elders.  The local elders handled some things but Paul intervened at times. And it is an apostle that is setting up these government positions.

There is no New Testament example of a stronger hierarchy than this. But there is an Old Testament example of spirit led hierarchy of authority under Moses.  Remember that while we are no longer under the law the Old Testament it is given for our learning and there is some useful wisdom in Old Testament examples:

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that through perseverance and through encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Rom 15:4 WEB)

If you read management advice you will find that one person can only successfully lead a small number of people in a team.  The optimal size is 8-10 people under you.[1]  That is not a biblical law expressly but there is the example of Jethro’s advice to Moses that suggests that.

Moses appointed a hierarchy:

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God. Aaron came with all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God. On the next day, Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from the morning to the evening. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said, “What is this thing that you do for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning to evening?” Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. When they have a matter, they come to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor, and I make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.” Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you do is not good. You will surely wear away, both you, and this people that is with you; for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to perform it yourself alone. Listen now to my voice. I will give you counsel, and God be with you. You represent the people before God, and bring the causes to God. You shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and shall show them the way in which they must walk, and the work that they must do. Moreover you shall provide out of all the people able men which fear God: men of truth, hating unjust gain; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. Let them judge the people at all times. It shall be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they shall judge themselves. So shall it be easier for you, and they shall share the load with you. If you will do this thing, and God commands you so, then you will be able to endure, and all these people also will go to their place in peace.” So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had said. Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. They judged the people at all times. They brought the hard causes to Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves. Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went his way into his own land. (Exo 18:12-27 WEB)

“Rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens” indicates a hierarchy where the basic unit is about 10.  And the advice is simple, everyone is trained in the statutes and laws and how everyone should walk and what work needs to be done.  Each ruler has oversight over his group and advises that group, handling most matters at the local level. Issues in the group are handled in the group unless it is a great matter which would go up the hierarchy all the way to Moses if necessary.  So, there is a biblical example for a hierarchy.

And there is more.  You see the great Moses, and he truly was great, got so burned out that he literally said to Yahweh, “Kill me now.”  Yes, it’s true.

Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, every man at the door of his tent; and Yahweh’s anger burned greatly; and Moses was displeased. Moses said to Yahweh, “Why have you treated your servant so badly? Why haven’t I found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? Have I conceived all this people? Have I brought them out, that you should tell me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing infant, to the land which you swore to their fathers?’ Where could I get meat to give all these people? For they weep before me, saying, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. If you treat me this way, please kill me right now, if I have found favor in your sight; and don’t let me see my wretchedness.”  (Num 11:10-15 WEB)

Moses was pretty upset here.  But the Lord was gracious and provided help. Moses received revelation, word of wisdom, to farm out his responsibilities even further:

Yahweh said to Moses, “Gather to me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you. I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit which is on you, and will put it on them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you don’t bear it yourself alone.  (Num 11:16-17 WEB)

So, there we have the example of division of labor in leadership.  Moses was led by the Spirit to start a council of leadership that shared his leadership responsibilities.  These new counselors were empowered with the holy spirit to make godly decisions.

Back in the New Testament, there are guidelines given for the selection of these elders that were appointed,

I left you in Crete for this reason, that you would set in order the things that were lacking, and appoint elders in every city, as I directed you; if anyone is blameless, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, who are not accused of loose or unruly behavior. For the overseer must be blameless, as God’s steward; not self-pleasing, not easily angered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for dishonest gain; but given to hospitality, a lover of good, sober minded, fair, holy, self-controlled; holding to the faithful word which is according to the teaching, that he may be able to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict those who contradict him. (Tit 1:5-9 WEB)

This is quite the list of requirements and will be discussed further in a future article. Notice it says the overseer needs to be faithful to the “word which is according to the teaching”. Part of the tradition of the apostles is that the elders, the overseers, teach what the Apostles taught. And not only the elder himself needs to be upright but also his family needs to be godly.  Timothy was told this:

This is a faithful saying: someone who seeks to be an overseer desires a good work. The overseer therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, modest, hospitable, good at teaching; not a drinker, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having children in subjection with all reverence; (but how could someone who doesn’t know how to rule one’s own house take care of God’s assembly?) not a new convert, lest being puffed up he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover, he must have good testimony from those who are outside, to avoid falling into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1Ti 3:1-7 WEB)

This is a similar list to what is in Titus. One thing new in this list is that he can’t be a new convert, a bishop, an overseer, has got to be experienced.

As far as the deacons are concerned, in Acts 6:1-6 the apostles directed the people to select seven men to act as administrators in the business end of the ministry. These men were the first deacons.

Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, a complaint arose from the Hellenists against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily service. The twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not appropriate for us to forsake the word of God and serve tables. Therefore select from among you, brothers, seven men of good report, full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will continue steadfastly in prayer and in the ministry of the word.” These words pleased the whole multitude. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch; whom they set before the apostles. When they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. (Act 6:1-6 WEB)

The word deacon in the bible is the Greek word diakoneo, G1247 in Strong’s, and means to be an attendant, or to wait upon.  These men were to oversee the daily distribution which was either food, or money provided to the widows in the church.  This service identifies them as deacons. The apostles, and other gift ministries ministered the word and prayed steadfastly.  But the other work, in this case, the daily ministration required appointment of people of good report, full of holy spirit, and wisdom. These people are deacons.

There are guidelines for selecting deacons also in Timothy.

Servants, in the same way, must be reverent, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for money; holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. Let them also first be tested; then let them serve if they are blameless. Their wives in the same way must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. Let servants be husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For those who have served well gain for themselves a good standing, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.  (1Ti 3:8-13 WEB)

The Church Council

There is one church council in the New Testament from which we can learn a few things.  The council at Jerusalem was called to settle the matter of circumcising the believers. It was held at headquarters in Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas reported to the whole assembly where the Judaizers called for both circumcising the gentiles and keeping the law of Moses. (No wonder Paul writes so heavily about the law in his epistles.) The apostles and elders gathered to reconcile the question.  The Apostle Peter rose up and gave his judgement that they “abstain from the pollution of idols, from sexual immorality, from what is strangled, and from blood”, but not troubled with trying to keep the law.  And they qualified their judgement with:

For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay no greater burden on you than these necessary things: (Act 15:28 WEB)

How did they know that it seemed good to the Holy Spirit?  There is only one way, the manifestations of the spirit.  That means word of knowledge and/or word of wisdom.  And we know that there were prophets there who are charged with the task of confirming whether something or not is of the spirit:

Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged the brothers with many words, and strengthened them. (Act 15:32 WEB)

So, the apostles and elders decided the question under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Notice that there is no mention here of bishops in the decision.  The offices mentioned in this outcome were apostles, elders, and prophets.

Prophets as spokesmen for God, encouragers and comforters and confirmers of the Word are seen here and other places. They also were instrumental at times in governing the church.  Here Agabus foretold the famine and a relief effort was set up.

Now in these days, prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up, and indicated by the Spirit that there should be a great famine all over the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius. As any of the disciples had plenty, each determined to send relief to the brothers who lived in Judea; which they also did, sending it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul. (Act 11:27-30 WEB)

We also have the record of multiple prophets telling Paul not to go to Jerusalem.

Having found disciples, we stayed there seven days. These said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem. (Act 21:4 WEB)

Coming to us, and taking Paul’s belt, he bound his own feet and hands, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit: ‘So will the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and will deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” (Act 21:11 WEB)

As I state in T 1.31 More on Paul’s Decision To Go To Jerusalem, How Tradition Can Affect Translation And Meaning, Accepting Deliverance When Available I believe Paul was being told not to go to Jerusalem and he couldn’t hear it so he went anyway.

Prophets were at the Jerusalem council and spoke encouraging words about the decisions made there.

So far it appears that the church in original Christianity operated pretty much in a hierarchical way.  I believe that to be true. But we do have records in the time of Jesus’s ministry, and in the time of the apostles that show believers administering independently of the main organization.

First, Jesus himself was asked a question in this topic.

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone who doesn’t follow us casting out demons in your name; and we forbade him, because he doesn’t follow us.” But Jesus said, “Don’t forbid him, for there is no one who will do a mighty work in my name, and be able quickly to speak evil of me. For whoever is not against us is on our side. For whoever will give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you are Christ’s, most certainly I tell you, he will in no way lose his reward. (Mar 9:38-41 WEB)

This is the Lord Jesus himself talking. John asked him about someone else who was, according to the script, casting out devils in Jesus’s name! How amazing is that? Almost as amazing to me is that God says the Apostles forbade him to continue. But Jesus straightened them out. He said not to forbid anyone. He said that whoever is not against us is on our side. If this isn’t an endorsement of the availability for people to start ministries independent of the main group, I don’t know what is.

And we have the record of Apollo in the book of Acts.

Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by race, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus. He was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside, and explained to him the way of God more accurately. When he had determined to pass over into Achaia, the brothers encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples to receive him. When he had come, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he powerfully refuted the Jews, publicly showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. (Act 18:24-28 WEB)

So here we have an independent, a man named Apollos. He is mighty in the Scriptures. It says he taught accurately the things concerning Jesus. That’s a good thing, right? Yes, it is.

Look what happens next, Priscilla and Aquila heard him, and they told him to quit, right? No, they “explained to him the way of God more accurately”. Then it says the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to receive him.  From this point it looks like Apollos was incorporated into the church.

So, we have a couple of records that show that there is no authority to stop people from preaching and/or performing the mighty works to God for people.

We have been looking at the records in the New Testament that describe the governing of the church. First, we acknowledged that Jesus is the head who gets his guidance from the father. Then we acknowledged that the Holy Spirit, who gets his info from Jesus Christ, works in us in this awesome body of Christ. There are many members in the body of Christ, and some of those members relate to the governing, the directing, the pilotage of the church.

We saw that there is a headquarters at Jerusalem from which a lot of activity was directed. We also saw that there were other centers like Antioch. Most people today see the bishop and his staff as the leadership of the church. We saw that in original Christianity the leadership of the church was directed via the spirit through apostles, prophets besides overseers (bishops) and deacons.

Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, are necessary for the church to grow up because those are the offices that God has set in the body to enable that.

He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, Christ; from whom all the body, being fitted and knit together through that which every joint supplies, according to the working in measure of each individual part, makes the body increase to the building up of itself in love.  (Eph 4:11-16 WEB)

Remember the teaching about the uniqueness of the members of the body. The eye is the eye and does the seeing. The ear is the ear and it does the hearing. The eye can’t hear and the ear can’t see. For the Holy Spirit to operate it assigns functions to different members. Now, in truth some people have multiple functions like pastors and teachers, Paul was an apostle and a teacher and he prophesied. But one of the points about this lesson is that we need to call things what they are, and set things up the way God does set them up to be.  The role of the bishop is not the role of the apostle, or prophet. The office of Bishop doesn’t automatically include the office of apostle and/or prophet.  God set up the church with apostles, and prophets etc. because all those capacities are needed for the body to work.

The need for “building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine” did not go away with the passing of the apostles. Thus, the need for apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers didn’t go away either. And they are of vital part of the body of Christ, including the governing of the body of Christ.

Bishops are vital in their roles. They need to be well grounded in the apostles doctrine, apt to teach, given to hospitality and the like. But the bishop’s role is not the apostle’s role, or the prophet’s role. The bishop’s role is the bishop’s role.. The apostle’s role is the apostles role. The prophet’s role is the prophet’s role.

As far as hierarchy is concerned, and division of authority, we see in these records in the New Testament great examples from which to work. There is some hierarchy, but it is not rigid and it is always flexible to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

That is the apostles tradition that was set up in Original Christianity, and it is what we are charged to follow.

[1] https://wideangle.com/many-direct-reports-can-manager-successfully-lead/, https://www.quantumworkplace.com/future-of-work/whats-the-optimal-span-of-control-for-people-managers

June 11th, 2021 Posted by | Tradition | no comments

T 1.7 Tradition in Original Christianity, Part 7, The Apostles Taught the Body of Christ Energized in the Spirit

The epistles are packed with references to the body of Christ.

For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all given to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot would say, “Because I’m not the hand, I’m not part of the body,” it is not therefore not part of the body. If the ear would say, “Because I’m not the eye, I’m not part of the body,” it’s not therefore not part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the smelling be? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body, just as he desired. (1Co 12:12-18 WEB)

We are not actually the physical ears, eyes, feet, hands, elbows, and knees of the physical body of Jesus Christ.  This is an analogy.

Google defines an analogy as “a comparison between two things, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification.”  Here a physical human body is used as an analogy of how Christ’s church works.   A body has many parts like the eyes, ears, hands, and feet mentioned above. It’s just a partial list, we know there are many more; arms, elbows, knees, lungs, liver, on and on.  We are going to see below a comparison of how the body with a list of these parts is like our great church with its parts and we will see a lot of these church parts or roles mentioned.  We will see verses with these parts of Christ’s church; apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers, miracle workers, healers, leaders (governments), helps, speakers in tongues, and interpreters of tongues.  This also is a partial list as there are more church roles talked about in Scripture, but we will see verses with these offices below in the article.  These church roles are comparable to how the different parts of a human body consist of different parts with each one having unique functions and all of them being important to the essential operation of a human body.  All of the roles listed for the church are just as unique and important for the essential operation of the church.

In this analogy, the inference of, say, “Because I’m not the eye, I’m not part of the body” is that the help can’t say, “Because I’m not the apostle, I’m not part of the body.”  And, just like God set the hand to be the hand, he set each office, the help, the prophet, the apostle, the speaker in tongues, etc., where it is.  If God sets something up, who are we to change it, or to say it is changed because we don’t see it or agree with it or whatever reason.

And one point from the above verse I want to focus on now is that we are baptized into this body in one Spirit, and we as a body are energized by that same spirit.  Paul emphasizes the Spirit as both the driving force and the glue! We are baptized in one Spirit and we all drink of that same Spirit.  Above these verses, we read some about how the Spirit works.

No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” but by the Holy Spirit. Now there are various kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are various kinds of service, and the same Lord. There are various kinds of workings, but the same God, who works all things in all. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the profit of all. (1Co 12:3b-7 WEB)

Simply put, these verses just say that there are different kinds of gifts, different kinds of service, different kinds of workings, and there are those awesome manifestations. These are all different things. In other parts of Scripture Paul elaborates more on what those spiritual things are. For example, Paul writes specifically about gifts:

But to each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Therefore he says, “When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to people.” (Eph 4:7-8 WEB)

THE gift of Christ is the gift we all receive when we accept him as Lord when we are baptized in the same Spirit; holy spirit, eternal life, new birth, Christ in us.  But beyond that there are other things that are taught in Scripture as gifts:

He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, Christ; from whom all the body, being fitted and knit together through that which every joint supplies, according to the working in measure of each individual part, makes the body increase to the building up of itself in love. (Eph 4:11-16 WEB)

Here’s more scripture about these gifts given to the body as well as some other roles and functions discussed:

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. God has set some in the assembly: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracle workers, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, and various kinds of languages. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all miracle workers? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with various languages? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. (1Co 12:27-31a WEB)

The apostle Paul used the analogy of a body to describe how this wonderful church of ours works with its apostles, prophets, helps, miracle workers, and the like. This section talks about how each believer is a member with specific roles and functions. The last point that Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 12:12-18 above is that God has set the members! God sets us where we are! We need to accept how he has set it. We’re not to mess with how God has set up the roles and functions of each member.  In this simple analogy, it’s easy to see how a foot needs to be a foot and an ear needs to be an ear. So, by the same token whatever role and functions that God has set up it’s not up to us to change it because of what we think.  The role of help is to be a help and not a miracle worker, apostle, or evangelist.  The role of government is to provide oversight and administration, but that government role is not the role of a prophet, or healer.  The prophet’s job is done by the prophet and miracle worker is done by the miracle worker.

And we should not feel left out if we are not an apostle, or prophet, or healer, but our role is a vital part of the body of Christ.

Paul writes about workings, operations, services, gifts, and manifestations of the spirit in the body. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers are listed as gifts. You can see that because it says, “He gave” in Ephesians 4:11. When something is given it is a gift. However, these gifts are not to that person, they are to the body of Christ. Some people call these gift ministries, they are gifts to the body to minister to them. You can see that because of the purposes listed for the gifts, the perfecting of the saints, the work of serving, and the building up of the body of Christ. These gift ministries are given to keep we believers from being tossed about by every wind of doctrine.  They are gifts to the body.

It must be noted that while the gift ministry is given to the body, it is work for the believer who is given the ministry.  It is a blessing to the body, and the minister himself is blessed with the rest of the body as he/she ministers, but it is a gift to the church.

Notice that in the particular verses above it specifically says apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers when it comes to who God has set up help the individual believers grow up to adulthood. It doesn’t say it is the healers, miracle workers, bishops, or governments and the other gifts talked about in other places in the epistles. Those are important functions in the church too but they accomplish other things. Those five gift ministries do the main work of the perfecting of the saints, and other things as mentioned in the verses above.  It’s not that people without those gift ministries don’t teach some, prophesy here and there, maybe take care of people, and so forth, they do, but in order for saints to be perfected, built up, and led to be full-grown believers God sets some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers who are the real driving forces in their roles.

These scriptures are talking about the uniqueness of roles.  Just like hands, feet, ears, eyes do different things in our bodies different members of the church do different things, they are unique in their function.  The foot can’t say it is the eye!  Just like the eye, ear, hands, and feet are unique with their own distinct function and role so the apostle, prophet, teacher, leader, administrator, aide have their unique function and role.  And they are not interchangeable.  The role of the prophet is different than the role of the director which is different than the miracle worker.  You can’t substitute one for the other.

But and this is a big but.  There are people with multiple gifts. In fact, it is not uncommon in scripture or in life.    David was anointed king and he was a prophet.  Some are pastors and teachers. Paul was an apostle, a teacher, and he prophesied. So, while the shepherd role is different than the teacher, one person could be gifted with both roles if God chooses, and more than that, we can desire that;

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. God has set some in the assembly: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracle workers, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, and various kinds of languages. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all miracle workers? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with various languages? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. (1Co 12:27-31a WEB)

The above verse ends with “earnestly desire the best gifts.” We are charged to desire the gifts.  Each of us is a part of the body and we have been set into a certain place by God.  In the above verses Paul talks about a number of ministries; apostles, prophets, and teachers, miracle workers, gifts of healing (healers), helps (assistants, aides, ushers, staff), governments (leaders, administrators, overseers).  Again, Paul is not listing all of the ministries available here, just some of them. And he ends with the point that we should earnestly desire the best gifts!  That means we have some input into this. God does the setting in place of these roles, but we can desire for certain gifts, not necessarily just for us, but for us to have contact with where we are in our group of believers.

So, apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists, pastors, miracle workers, healers, helps, administrators, overseers, are the eyes, ears, mouth, legs, liver, lungs, hands, and other parts of the body. We see that in the above verses because of the first sentence where it says you are the body of Christ and members individually and then it talks about these different functions.

Let’s talk a little bit about what these functions are.

Apostles are sent by the Spirit to do something, to administer something as God’s representative. Apostle is apostolos in the Greek, G652 in Strongs, and means delegate, a sent one, a commissioned one.  Did you know that the word missionary comes from the Latin word missionem (to send) which corresponds to how apostle comes from the Greek word apostello ( to send)?   Missionary and apostle are synonymous words. The original apostles were sent by the Lord to start the church age in Jerusalem and outward from there. Paul’s apostleship was the administration of the mystery, that the gentiles were joint heirs of the same promises as Israel.  Paul was sent to the Gentiles.

if it is so that you have heard of the administration of that grace of God which was given me toward you; how that by revelation the mystery was made known to me, as I wrote before in few words, by which, when you read, you can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ; (Eph 3:2-4 WEB)

Prophets speak for God; they are God’s spokespeople. They not only speak God’s word they confirm God’s word. And they judge whether what people say is of the Lord or not.

And let the prophets give their words, but not more than two or three, and let the others be judges of what they say. (1Co 14:29 BBE)

Now, really all believers are supposed to do that some but prophets are really empowered to do it big time.

If any man thinks himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him recognize the things which I write to you, that they are the commandment of the Lord.  (1Co 14:37 WEB)

Prophets also build up believers with words of exhortation and comfort.

Evangelists are empowered by the spirit to reach unbelievers with the message of God’s word. They are preachers, usually traveling.  All believers are lights, and hopefully, that light reaches unsaved people within their sphere, but evangelists have a Spirit-empowered calling where you see people being reached and saved on a regular basis. In the Bible Phillip is the only named evangelist. And it says he “he preached the Good News to all the cities.” (Acts 8:40b WEB)

Pastors, also called shepherds, shepherd the flock. They care for people spiritually; they look over them. Teachers are empowered by the spirit to teach the rightly divided word of God and explain things by the spirit so that it makes sense to people and reaches them.

Miracle workers, healers, helps are pretty self-explanatory.  Governments include people who administer: overseers (bishops), deacons, and elders.

Now maybe in your experience, you haven’t seen a lot of these roles. That sounds all great and good for these believers in Corinth, but does this really apply to believers in New York, or Kansas, or Botswana?  I mean this was a letter to those believers in Corinth that were missing the boat on so many issues at the time of Paul, right? Well, let’s just take a quick look at the beginning of the letter:

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, to the assembly of God which is at Corinth; those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints, with all who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, both theirs and ours: (1Co 1:1-2 WEB)

Yes, this is a letter to Corinth. But Paul doesn’t just say that he is addressing the Corinthians with this letter. He writes “with all who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place.”  In fact, as Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians he charges us believers to follow the Apostles traditions as contained in the words and letters of the apostles:

So then, brothers, stand firm, and hold the traditions which you were taught by us, whether by word, or by letter. (2Th 2:15 WEB)

So, yes, this teaching of the body of Christ and how it is to work applies to all believers in every place. And, there is no one-generation time limit stated anywhere in these letters. In fact, we know that Paul was writing to believers on what would happen after his death when he gave warnings like in Acts 20.

Take heed, therefore, to yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the assembly of the Lord and God which he purchased with his own blood. For I know that after my departure, vicious wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Men will arise from among your own selves, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore watch, remembering that for a period of three years I didn’t cease to admonish everyone night and day with tears. Now, brothers, I entrust you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build up, and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (Act 20:28-32 WEB)

Paul is warning that after he departs there will be wolves from outside the church but also teachers from the flock (“from among your own selves”) that will teach perverse (twisted) things.  That means that his teaching isn’t just for his time, but carries on after his departure.  The end date for the administration of the church that was given to Paul is the return of Christ, not Paul’s and the other apostles’ deaths.

So, this teaching about how the church works as a body with all the different roles and functions applies to all believers in the church age including now.

So, this is what the epistles teach about how the body of Christ is to operate.  It is different from a lot of peoples’ experience in their Church.  But, our experience is often not as much revelation about God as much as it is an indicator of what is happening in the world.  A lot of people can’t visualize churches with apostles and/or prophets, miracle workers, healers, and the like.  Some can’t recognize the spirit in the church, not only in the ministers but in the people around them.  But, as Peter proclaimed on Pentecost God has wanted to pour out his spirit for a long time as prophesied in Joel.

But this is what has been spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘It will be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions. Your old men will dream dreams. (Act 2:16-17 WEB)

God wants people to be filled with the spirit and to manifest the holy spirit. God has wanted that since the beginning. Getting people to be filled with his spirit into manifestation a desire of God and God’s leaders. Look at this section:

But two men remained in the camp. The name of one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the Spirit rested on them; and they were of those who were written, but had not gone out to the Tent; and they prophesied in the camp. A young man ran, and told Moses, and said, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!” Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his chosen men, answered, “My lord Moses, forbid them!” Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all Yahweh’s people were prophets, that Yahweh would put his Spirit on them!” (Num 11:26-29 WEB)

Look at that, the great Joshua was shocked when a couple of Israelites prophesied in the camp. He actually said to Moses, “forbid them”.

How much of the time in the Old Testament do you think prophets were well known to be around? The answer is only a minority of the time, and part of the reason can be inferred from the verses above. People may be shocked when they hear someone prophesy. People may be uncomfortable that someone prophesies. Not only that but there were different times in the Old Testament when people were taught that prophecy had ceased like after Malachi and after the age of the apostles some people started teaching that prophecy and other workings of the spirit had ceased.

But God has always been in business. God has always wanted to manifest himself to people. God has always desired to pour out his spirit. But also God will only manifest himself to people who look for him.  God doesn’t respond to unbelief.  God responds to belief.

It is available for people to manifest spirit now as years ago at the time of the apostles. In response to 1 Corinthians chapter twelve, no, not all are apostles, not all are prophets, not all are teachers, not all are miracle workers. But all believers can manifest spirit:

But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the profit of all. (1Co 12:7 WEB)

That verse says “each one is given”. That means all believers are given the manifestation of the spirit. Not only that it says these manifestations are given to profit all, the whole church. The next verses talk about what the manifestations are:

For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom, and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit; to another faith, by the same Spirit; and to another gifts of healings, by the same Spirit; and to another workings of miracles; and to another prophecy; and to another discerning of spirits; to another different kinds of languages; and to another the interpretation of languages. But the one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing to each one separately as he desires. (1Co 12:8-11 WEB)

There really is so much in here. First of all, it lists nine manifestations; word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith or believing, gifts of healings, workings of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, different kinds of languages (speaking in tongues), interpretation of tongues.

To manifest means to display. Spirit is not something that you can see of itself in the natural world. The way that spirit is seen is in displays, manifestations. The word of wisdom is being informed what to do about something. Word of knowledge is being informed by the spirit of some knowledge that isn’t available by natural means. Believing faith is the spiritual power to accomplish things spiritually. Gifts of healings are the spiritual ability to cause healing through means that aren’t natural, they’re supernatural. Miracles are when things happen supernaturally like walking on water, or drying up a fig tree. Discerning of spirits is the supernatural ability to ascertain the presence of spirit, either holy or unholy. Speaking in tongues is the ability to speak languages of men and of angels without training as a means of perfect communication with the father. And the interpretation of tongues is the supernatural ability to interpret what has been spoken in an unknown tongue.

If God is displayed to men in any way, it is by way of one or more of these manifestations by themselves or in combination. The manifestations themselves are a subject that needs a thorough investigation to understand.

If you are a believer, you may have already experienced some of these manifestations without being able to identify their names. I know people who have known God has told them something, and he did, and that was either a manifestation of word of knowledge and/or word of wisdom. Or in a circumstance perhaps, people have looked to God and have been miraculously delivered from something or given something. Their faith manifested the working of a miracle, they just didn’t know to explain it that way in scriptural terms.

So, wrapping this up, the Apostles taught that the church is one body. All believers are members together in this one body having been baptized in the spirit in their new birth and continued drinking in the spirit in the spiritual life. God has set people in this body. The analogy explains believers and their roles as eyes and ears and feet and so forth. But it also explains that God gives gifts, specific functions, and roles to believers as he sees fit. He has designed the body this way and that is how it works best. He designed the body to be built up by apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. He empowers people as healers, miracle workers, leaders, aides, and a host of other functions. He empowers people with abilities of mercy, generosity, and other aids to the body. Each role or office is important and useful within the body. On top of all that, each believer is empowered with the manifestation of the spirit and while different believers may be more capable in different manifestations than others, all are profitable. We are warned to not think that if we don’t like our function that we are not of the body. But we are also encouraged to seek the best gifts to help the body.

The church operating as a body with all these gifts, services, workings, and manifestations are how original Christianity worked and is part of the apostles’ tradition that we are charged to follow.

God has always wanted to pour out his spirit upon all flesh. With Jesus’ death, he paid the price so that men can once again have spirit, and God has designed the church to be a body united spiritually that so that all the members minister to each other.  If you want to experience this and haven’t yet, these words in the Scriptures say that you can. If your church doesn’t look like this one-body model then look for one that is more like the biblical model.

The Word says that God is a rewarder of those that diligently seek him.  Seek and you shall find.

May 31st, 2021 Posted by | Tradition | no comments

T 18.1 The Prohibition Tradition in Some Modern Churches

Today’s topic is an emotionally charged one.  Many of us know or have known people who have been affected by the destructive power of the overuse of alcohol. God forbid that you know someone who has killed someone while driving drunk, or lost their house, job, and/or marriage because of the inability to overcome the lure of drinking to the point that some people do. Or just the poor decisions or poor health that can happen due to forming a dependence on alcohol.

Or perhaps you have been ingrained with the doctrine that any use of alcohol is sin, to the point where you have not only committed yourself to not using it, but also to be one preaching against all alcohol use.

I’m going to ask you to just consider these words. We are interested in learning and adhering to the word and will of God. What is God’s viewpoint, and direction on this important matter?

Remember we are comparing modern traditions with the apostles’ traditions in original Christianity which we are charged to do in Scripture (2Th 2:15). The Apostles’ traditions are both the beliefs and practices handed down by the apostles.  And, in fact, 2Thessalonians 3:6 says to avoid the fellowship of those who don’t follow the apostles’ traditions. Jesus taught that the traditions of men, including religious ones, make void the word of God. (Matt 15:3-6)

We are going to look at the ban on alcohol which is part of some churches’ traditions today and see whether it is apostles’ tradition or man’s tradition.

The doctrine of prohibition, the banning of alcohol, in the churches is relatively new. In fact, in the United States, the Temperance movement was established in the early nineteenth century when it picked up enough support from evangelical preachers who started preaching that any alcohol drinking was sinful[1]. This is despite the fact that there is a long history in the Scriptures that show the acceptance of alcoholic beverages from ancient days through the book of Acts.

The Law definitely supports the use of alcoholic spirits.

You shall trade the money for whatever your soul desires, for cattle, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatever your soul asks of you; and you shall eat there before Yahweh your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. (Deu 14:26 WEB)

This verse endorses that it is acceptable to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages, in this case as part of the tithe.

The word for wine above is yayin in Hebrew, H3196 in Strongs, and has the root of effervesce as in fermented.  Strong drink is shekar in Hebrew, H7941 and means intoxicant.  There is another Hebrew word for wine, tiyrosh, which means new wine, which was not the mature wine that yayin is. In this article we will be talking about yayin and shekar .

Strong drink always refers to alcoholic beverages, and yayin wine is an intoxicating beverage.  With this verse in the law establishing fermented wine as acceptable as tithe along with what the words for wine and strong drink mean we see that there is no question that alcoholic beverages are what is being discussed here.  Next, look at this in the New Testament.

And be not drunk with wine, in which is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;  (Eph 5:18 Webster)

This is an instruction by the Apostle Paul which certainly qualifies as part of the apostles’ tradition.  It sets a standard for drinking alcohol.   The word drunk is methusko, G3182, and means intoxicated or impaired, and this is reinforced with the word excess, asotia, G810, which means profligacy, excess, or riot.  Drinking a glass of wine is moderate, drinking a whole bottle of wine is excessive or riotous.  This verse is not a ban on all drinking, rather it is a warning to not drink excessively to the point of not being clear headed enough to follow the spirit.  The phrase “in which is excess” clearly draws a line between acceptable moderate drinking and unacceptable drunkenness, and makes this the central issue in the verse.

Paul advised Timothy to drink wine moderately.

Be no longer a drinker of water only, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities. (1Ti 5:23 WEB)

This verse not only lists wine as an acceptable thing to drink, but as a recommended practice in certain circumstances.  The next set of verses is about Jesus’s first miracle as described in the Gospel of John.

The third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. Jesus also was invited, with his disciples, to the marriage. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with you and me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever he says to you, do it.” Now there were six water pots of stone set there after the Jews’ way of purifying, containing two or three metretes apiece. Jesus said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.” They filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the ruler of the feast.” So they took it. When the ruler of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and didn’t know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the ruler of the feast called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when the guests have drunk freely, then that which is worse. You have kept the good wine until now!” This beginning of his signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. (Joh 2:1-11 WEB)

Wine was part of celebrations worldwide thousands of years before Christ.  We mentioned Deuteronomy 14:26 above, but the truth is that wine as part of celebrations is a theme in the Old testament. Wine is part of the celebration of the conquering of death. Wine is part of the communion memorial.  Notice the next verse says choice wines. That is not grape juice, ladies and gentlemen. That is choice, fermented, wine.

This next verse is a proclamation of a feast by Yahweh, and it includes choice wines.  Surely you are not saying Yahweh is sinning here by serving yayin, intoxicating wine?

In this mountain, Yahweh of Armies will make all peoples a feast of choice meat, a feast of choice wines, of choice meat full of marrow, of well refined choice wines. (Isa 25:6 WEB)

After the book of Acts, there is a long history of acceptance of alcoholic beverages including Christians, ministers, and churches all not only consuming alcoholic beverages but making them.

In the second century, Clement of Alexandria affirmed the use of alcohol in the church then with these words in his book Paedagogus:

“And he bound, it is said, the colt to the vine, having bound this simple and childlike people to the word, whom He figuratively represents as a vine. For the vine produces wine, as the Word produces blood, and both drink for health to men — wine for the body, blood for the spirit.[2]

Brett McCracken documents the use of alcohol by Christians throughout the ages including at ministry functions like ordinations[3].

In fact, at a relatively recent Southern Baptist Convention, the topic of allowing alcohol was brought up again with some people on the side of no longer banning alcohol consumption. And things that were brought up included the fact that it was a Baptist minister named Elijah Craig that invented bourbon whiskey[4].

Drinking of alcoholic beverages was not forbidden for 18 centuries after Christ.  Look at this quote acknowledging that from an anti-alcohol book:

“ In the 17th century all Old England and New England drank. The Puritans were no exception. Puritans’ soldiers drank heavily. Farmers, doctors, laborers, lawyers, magistrates, ministers, mothers, selectmen, governors, judges, babies, the sad, the gay, the well, the sick – all drank.”

This quote is from a 1943 book put out by the Southern Baptist convention against drinking.[5]

What the above timeline establishes is that the doctrine of drinking alcohol is sinful is a modern doctrine and not one that traces back to the apostles.  In the 19th century, a movement started to counter the damaging effects of the excessive consumption of alcohol. That movement was called the temperance movement. And eventually, laws were enacted to ban alcohol from society. Those laws were called prohibition.  This movement really got traction when it was adopted by some churches.

It’s not that the bible doesn’t warn against the dangers of overconsumption.

The Lord has sent among them a spirit of error: and by them Egypt is turned out of the right way in all her doings, as a man overcome by wine is uncertain in his steps. And in Egypt there will be no work for any man, head or tail, high or low, to do.  (Isa 19:14-15 BBE)

This verse above clearly describes the state of being overcome with wine as being uncertain in your steps.  Or how about this one?

They made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father. He didn’t know when she lay down, nor when she arose.  (Gen 19:33 WEB)

Lot’s daughters got their father so drunk he didn’t know he was having intercourse with them?  Now, who says wine in the bible isn’t that alcoholic?  This next verse equates drunkenness with ruination.

Do not get drunk with wine, which will only ruin you; instead, be filled with the Spirit. (Eph 5:18 GNB)

There are many more verses that pronounce the dangers of drunkenness.  Here’s one:

Those who stay long at the wine; those who go to seek out mixed wine. Don’t look at the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly. In the end, it bites like a snake, and poisons like a viper. (Pro 23:30-32 WEB)

“Those who stay long at the wine” refers to overindulging and the effect is likened to being bit and poisoned.  Next, here’s one that includes what effect drunkenness has on the ministers and prophets.

They also reel with wine, and stagger with strong drink. The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink. They are swallowed up by wine. They stagger with strong drink. They err in vision. They stumble in judgment.  (Isa 28:7 WEB)

Drunkenness blocks the spiritual connection with Yahweh.  Drunk prophets err in vision. Drunk ministers stumble in judgment.

But it is twisting scripture to turn a scriptural ban on drunkenness into a ban on drinking in moderate amounts.  For example, the Alcohol THE DESTROYER book cites this verse as a denunciation by Habakkuk on all drinking[6]:

“Woe to him who gives his neighbor drink, pouring your inflaming wine until they are drunk, so that you may gaze at their naked bodies! You are filled with shame, and not glory. You will also drink, and be exposed! The cup of Yahweh’s right hand will come around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory. (Hab 2:15-16 WEB)

Context, context, context!  Yes, there are people that get other people to drink to the point where they will agree to have sex with them, and that is clearly a maneuver of the adversary. It is wrong and no one disputes that. Alcohol overindulgence is a major problem and we can never forget that.

But every Presbyterian or Methodist sipping a glass of wine at home or at a restaurant is not pouring wine down their neighbor’s throat to see them naked!  Habbakuk 2:15-16 are verses against overindulgence, not against moderate use of alcohol.  But it is twisted in the prohibition literature to make it look like it is saying something it is not.  And so are a lot of verses.

Yes, there are many verses on the dangers of overconsumption. Shouldn’t all those warnings be the overriding factor?

In civil law here in the United States, decisions are based upon the preponderance of the evidence weighing more heavily on one side or the other.  Both sides present their cases and the judge or jury decides who will win.  Sometimes I think that some people think that the word of God is like that, especially in cases like this.  If someone can present more verses that point to the dangers of something, in this case, drinking alcohol, than verses that can be found allowing for alcohol consumption then the alcohol banning folk should win their case, according to that logic.   But the word of God is not like that.  If there are verses that allow something under certain circumstances, then even if there are more verses against overconsumption of alcohol, they will never be sufficient to overrule the sanctioned use of alcohol in the word of God

So again, as stated above, the moderate use of alcohol is something sanctioned by the Father.  The moderate use of alcohol is allowed with many warnings against overindulgence given.

Remember the two sources of wisdom; the wisdom from above, and the wisdom of the world, ultimately from the adversary. If God the Father gives us something to enjoy then denying people that enjoyment goes against the purposes of God even if there is a problem with overconsumption. The correct response to the overconsumption of alcohol is to stop over-consuming, not to ban it.

That is not to say that some individuals don’t need to stop themselves from drinking, at least in the short term, and possibly long-term.  So I’m not saying that people in AA shouldn’t be in AA or going to counseling.  Some people need programs to stop the destruction that alcohol can cause when people lose control. But, making laws that ban alcohol, in general, is a man-made doctrine in the tradition of men.  And the people twisting scripture to say that the biblical standard is to ban alcohol make void the Word of God.

Remember this too. It may be okay for you to drink, but if you are with someone who has a problem with alcohol, then you don’t want to be a source of temptation for that person.  As Paul wrote, all things are lawful for us, but not all things are expedient. We don’t want our liberty to be a stumbling block for someone who is weak. (Romans 14:21)

Here are some anti-alcohol teaching statements in the anti-alcohol tradition taught that make void the word of God:

“The Bible gives principles of Christian living, not rules.… If Christ were in our midst today, there can be no doubt in the light of truth that he would utterly condemn the liquor traffic and oppose the drinking of alcoholic beverages on the part of his followers.”[7]

This is nowhere taught or practiced by the Apostles.  Jesus not would not condemn the drinking of alcohol.  He is going to be at the Yahweh for armies party with wine.  He ate and drank while he was here!

“One who opens the door to physical indulgences such as drink closes his ears to the voice of his finer sensibilities.”

The context of this statement is not the overindulgence of drink, it is regarding any drinking of alcohol whatsoever, contrary to what the bible teaches.  While having a lot of wine impairs judgement, having a little wine does not close someone’s ears to their sensibilities, or else Jesus would not have drank (Luke 5:27-32).

“Beverage alcohol is the foe of spiritual living and the destroyer of everything dear to the heart of my Lord.”[8]

This statement is part of a Baptist pledge. This statement goes way beyond preaching against the dangers of overindulgence while allowing for the temperate use of alcohol that the Bible teaches. I’ll agree that alcoholism is a foe, and can work to destroy people, but statements like this twist the Scriptures into what looks like an attempt to manipulate people away from any use of alcohol at all.  Jesus told us that the truth sets us free, but unfortunately, this isn’t it.  The scriptural standard is not to avoid alcohol or you are a lost sinner. That standard makes the Lutheran and Episcopalian having a glass of wine or beer an unbeliever or at the very least a lost Christian. Having a glass of wine does not destroy everything dear to the heart of the Lord.

Here are more scriptures that show moderate alcohol use as part of God’s wisdom.  Wine was acceptable as part of the drink offering instituted by the Lord.

and for the drink offering you shall offer the third part of a hin of wine, of a pleasant aroma to Yahweh.  (Num 15:7 WEB)

The word for wine there is the word yayin in Hebrew, meaning fermented drink. We know that yayin was intoxicating because the first time yayin was used the person got drunk from drinking it.

He drank of the wine and got drunk. (Gen 9:21a WEB)

We’re not talking about grape juice here.  He got drunk from it!  Again, the wine talked about in these verses is intoxicating!  Intoxicating wine is in this next verse:

When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bulls, and one ephah of meal, and a container of wine, and brought him to Yahweh’s house in Shiloh. The child was young. (1Sa 1:24 WEB)

These verses show where intoxicating wine was part of the offering that Yahweh told his people to offer, and thus wine was included in offerings to the Lord.  If God calls something acceptable and pleasant who are men to say otherwise?

Or is the Lord compared to a sinner in this verse?

Then the Lord awakened as one out of sleep, like a mighty man who shouts by reason of wine. (Psa 78:65 WEB)

No, this is a favorable comparison where the Lord was awakened with the force like someone shouting with wine.  Or look at these verses that include wine as one of the blessings of the Father who created us.  Psalm 104 is a litany on the blessings of the Lord and wine is listed in the long list of favors Yahweh has granted:

He sends springs into the valleys. They run among the mountains. They give drink to every animal of the field. The wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the sky nest by them. They sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his rooms. The earth is filled with the fruit of your works. He causes the grass to grow for the livestock, and plants for man to cultivate, that he may produce food out of the earth: wine that makes glad the heart of man, oil to make his face to shine, and bread that strengthens man’s heart. Yahweh’s trees are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon, which he has planted; (Psa 104:10-16 WEB)

“Wine that makes glad the heart of man” is listed with animals drinking freely from springs in valleys and on mountains, the grass growing for livestock to feed upon, oil to make a man’s face shine, and bread to strengthen a man’s heart as great blessings from the Lord!  And there are many more blessings listed in this psalm for which the psalmist praises the Lord.

“Wine that makes glad the heart of man” is a blessing from the Lord, so says the psalmist, and calling all alcohol use sinful makes that verse wrong!  Again, wine there is yayin in Hebrew, intoxicating drink!  Wine, intoxicating drink, was given to make glad the heart of man?  Saying otherwise is nullifying the word of God.

Or are you going to throw out this wisdom?

Give strong drink to him who is ready to perish; and wine to the bitter in soul: (Pro 31:6 WEB)

This verse says a little wine to ease bitterness or ease someone who is suffering or dying is a good thing.  Saying otherwise nullifies the word of God!

Or is this actually a good thing that Yahweh does in this verse when it is prophesied that wine will stop being produced for these people?  Remember, this is supposed to be something bad happening because these people were not following the Lord.

Gladness is taken away, and joy out of the fruitful field; and in the vineyards there will be no singing, neither joyful noise. Nobody will tread out wine in the presses. I have made the shouting stop. (Isa 16:10 WEB)

The same thing is seen here.

The earth also is polluted under its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse has devoured the earth, and those who dwell therein are found guilty. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left. The new wine mourns. The vine languishes. All the merry-hearted sigh. The mirth of tambourines ceases. The sound of those who rejoice ends. The joy of the harp ceases. They will not drink wine with a song. Strong drink will be bitter to those who drink it. (Isa 24:5-9 WEB)

These sections are talking about being cursed, the opposite of being blessed by the Lord. So, these people are cursed (v. 6).  Part of the curse is that singing and celebrating has stopped.  “They will not drink wine with a song” is presented as something that shows the blessing of God is stopped.  But if intoxicating wine use is sinful then how are they cursed?  The answer is that they are cursed and part of the curse is that they no longer drink wine with a song!  Drinking wine with a song, having a heart made glad with wine, having bitterness eased with wine is part of the word of God and preaching against any alcohol use makes that word of God void!

Also, while there are many secular articles on the destructive nature of alcohol abuse, there are some on the beneficial nature of moderate drinking, including links to improved cardiovascular health, improved diabetes management, improved digestion and general wellbeing[9]. The article cited gives some details on the many factors of alcohol consumption.

It’s key to note that scripture says the traditions of men make void the word of God. It doesn’t matter how bad the problem, or how noble the intentions are.  It is also key that statements of faith affirming the primacy of scripture do not guarantee that the teaching the church is following is the rightly divided, actual word of God.  This is one of many examples where scripture is twisted to the point where the actual word of God is nullified.

The ban on all alcohol by certain traditions is no different than the Jewish leaders in Jesus’s time creating bans and laws that work against the word of God. An example is the Sabbath being given as a day of rest. In the law, there were details given to further define work like not starting any fires.  And exceptions were listed like pulling oxen out of ditches they might have fallen into.  But the religious leaders overreacted and tried to make any action into an act of work. So, we all know how the Jews accused Jesus of not honoring the Sabbath when he healed people on the Sabbath.  Likewise, the anti-alcohol crowd is over reacting and going way beyond scripture with their reasoning in making any alcohol use a sin.

The ban on all alcohol is an overreaction. It is not godly. The teaching around it makes the word of God void.  That makes it a false doctrine according to the standard of original Christianity, the apostles’ tradition, and it needs to be proclaimed as such.

In this mountain, Yahweh of Armies will make all peoples a feast of choice meat, a feast of choice wines, of choice meat full of marrow, of well refined choice wines. (Isa 25:6 WEB)

Further Reading:

THE BIBLE AND THE QUESTION OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES, Kenneth L Gentry Jr available at https://intoxicatedonlifedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/ctrgentryformatted.pdf  This looks like an early version of some of the material in the book in the next line.

GOD Gave Wine, What the Bible says about Alcohol, Kenneth L Gentry Jr, Victorious Hope Publishing, Fountain Inn, South Carolina, third printing, 2015

[1] https://law.jrank.org/pages/10714/Temperance-Movement.html#:~:text=The%20TEMPERANCE%20MOVEMENT%20in%20the,drinking%20alcohol%20as%20a%20sin.

[2] The Paedagogus (Book I) at https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/02091.htm

[3] CHRISTIANS AND ALCOHOL: A TIMELINE at https://www.brettmccracken.com/blog/blog/2013/07/17/christians-and-alcohol-a-timeline

[4] Baptist history on alcohol: not totally teetotaling – Baptist News Global

[5] Alcohol – THE DESTROYER, C Aubrey Hearn, Convention Press, Nashville Tennessee, 1943, P. 3

[6] Alcohol – THE DESTROYER, C Aubrey Hearn, Convention Press, Nashville Tennessee, 1943, P. 16

[7] Alcohol – THE DESTROYER, C Aubrey Hearn, Convention Press, Nashville Tennessee, 1943, P. 17

[8] ibid., P. 123

[9]  Alcohol: Balancing Risks and Benefits | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

 

May 8th, 2021 Posted by | Tradition | no comments