Trinity Is Wrong : Historical Perspective

Excerpts from 'Astonished At His Doctrine: Volume I : The Godhead'
By Mark Strohkorb
A Historical Examination of the Doctrine of
William Marrion Branham

Some Christians think it futile to trouble themselves with such matters as theology, especially when it deals with the very nature of God. They seem to believe these things are best left to scholars. Nothing could be more shortsighted. No dogma so clearly defines Christian orthodoxy as the doctrine of the Trinity. Yet none has ever been so manipulated, misapplied, and misunderstood.
Within these pages one can begin to understand why the great Jehovah wants His children to fully appreciate His nature as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Christians can finally believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in the manner originally taught by the Apostles. If you have often wondered about the standard orthodox formula, this book will answer some very important questions.
How and why ... did the Church ever come to profess a God in three Persons? One cannot read this book without being deeply affected and possibly changed forever.

Note: This book goes into depth with each point presented with all sources listed on each page. This book is currently being re-released and made available at: Believers Christian Fellowship Believers Christian Fellowship is Not related to this summary or website.

Print Version of this Summary is here. 24-28 pages

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A major change was taking place during the mid-third century, understood ... as a "paradigm shift." The dynamic model of "word-immanent-in-God" - as it was conceived by the vast majority of the Apologists (which took on flesh before becoming an active agent in men's lives by the Holy Spirit) - was giving way to a pre-existent second Person (i.e., a second God in the Origenist model); "eternally begotten" by a static, other-worldly Platonic Being far removed from the world of sin and death, the world of changing particulars:...

When tenets of orthodoxy (by the middle of the third century) began to be viewed as part of the political process; whether implicitly, explicitly, consciously or unconsciously, the decline of spiritual sensitivity had set in and the Nicolaitane spirit, spoken of in the book of Revelation, was clearly ascendant. This trend was characterized by central authority from above and the strict adherence to an agreed-upon dogma by a small closed hierarchy, versus revelation spread abroad by the Holy Spirit on an individual basis.

It is clear, then, how Roman Catholicism began to take hold; strangling the life from the Body of Christ as a community of faith: "families" of believers on the local level were no longer autonomous. Established over them was a hierarchical system of "doctrine-defined" rather thatn "Word-of-God applied" religion in which (eventually) the Pope and not Jesus, was seen as the mediator between God and men and the local priest, representing the Pope (in place of the Holy Ghost), was teacher and interpreter of Scripture. Thus appeared the onset of antichrist, spoken of by both the Apostles John and Paul in the New Testament.

"That great ecclesiastical and political community presents itself as a league of individual communities spanning the empire from end to end. Althought independent they are all constituted essentially alike, and interconnected by one and the same law of doctrine... The living faith seems to be transformed into a creed to be believed:
devotion to Christ, into Christology;
the ardent hope of rhe coming of "the kingdom," into a doctrine of immortality and deification;
prophecy, into technical exegesis and theological learning;
the ministers of the Spirit, into clerics;
the brothers, into laymen in a state of tutelage;
miracles and miraculous cures disappear altogether, or else are priestly devices;
fervent prayers become solemn hymns and litanies;
the "Spirit" becomes law and compulsion...
Even had this youthful religion not severed the tie which bound it to Judaism... The influx of Hellenism, of the Greek spirit, and the union of the gospel with it, form the greatest fact in the history of the Church in the second century, and when the fact was once established as a foundation it continued through the following centuries."

A "theological trifle" (as the Emperor described it) had disrupted the peace of the realm and he - Constantine - intended to have the matter resolved expeditiously... "Constantine probably found it useful to pray to all sorts of gods for assistance, and if he thought that the Christian God had helped him gain the crown, he may have felt a certain gratitude toward Him. but his decision to encourage Christianity almost certainly stemmed from political considerations... For the emperors did not like ecclesiastical squabbling and found it desireable to encourage "uniformity." Indeed, it was Constantive who convoked the Council of Nicaea, let it the prestige of his presence, and though he must have been indifferent to the theological issues being debated, gave his invaluable support to the Athanasian party."

The Athanasians were in direct conflict with Arians whose namesake, Arius, a North African priest, had been made a deacon in Alexandrea during the bishopic of Peter of Alexandreia (300-311)....

Arius claimed that the Father alone was fully God. The Son, he said, was "only begotten God." He taught that Christ was not of the same substance as the Father and did not possess any of the divine qualities of immortality, sovereignty, and perfect wisdom.

... the notion that Christ was of the order, first among creatures, and therefore less than fully God. ... 'And the Word was made flesh...' He understood as meaning "made from nothing" John 1:14

The Son may be called God, to be sure, but his divinity is not an attribute of his being. It is something bestowed upon him by God's grace.
Arius managed to tap a longing within the laity to obviate rather than obfuscate the basic biblical doctrines. His theology was enthusiastically embraced by a large segment of the working class artisans and craftsmen. Arius genius for propaganda is evident in the favorite slogan of his followers. 'There was a time when the Son was not".

In the Spring of 325 a council met at Antioch to appoint a bishop. Because Ariansim was an issue of intesnse speculation at the time, and becuase the Emperor had only recently written letters to both Alexander and Arius, with the recommendation that the opposing parties amicably resolve their differences, the presbyters passed a resolution in the form of a statement of faith which supported Alexander and condemned those who opposed him.

Finally Constantine himself stepped in to keep the conflict from erupting throughout the empire.
The issue that wasn't even an issue at the outset (homoousios), would suddenly rise from the collective confusion to take on a life of its own, and (with the insertion of the additional term; hypostases) would eventually change forever the face of Christian theology.

The Emperor was surrounded by survivors of the great persectuion, men who just a few years before were either in prison or in hiding! It is only natural to assume a degree of suspicion and distrust. However, one cannot underestimate the psychological impact upon this group of scholars - of simple churchmen - who traveled by emperial post and were catered to like foreign dignitaries at one of the plushest sites the empire had to offer. There is no question that a degree of difference existed among them in honor of their Emperor, the first to actually claim as his own this upstart religion, that only a few years before had been reviled publicly with cruel animosity and oppressed by brute force. In fact, to read the later account of Eusebius, one would nearly think that the Apostle Peter himself (the one with the keys to the kingdom) had been present to preside.

Eusebius of Caesarea "And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, God from God...
"Athanasuis describes with much with and penetration," we are told by Schaff, "how he saw them [the opposition] nodding and winking to each other when the orthodox proposed expressions which they had thought of a way of escaping from the force of. After a series of attempts of this sort it was found that something clearer and more unequivocal [than mere Bible verses] must be adopted if real unity of the faith was to be attained; and accordingly the word homoousios was adopted.

It turns out that the real siginificance of the document is centered in the word homoousios, meaning "of one substance," a word submitted by none other than the Emperor himself! No one is certain how Constantine might have arrived at such technical locution: was this something he developed on his own, or was it given to him by another?

If the Father was the sun and Christ merely one ray coming out of the sun, then Christ was clearly subordinate to the Father. Tertullian admitted as much: 'For the Father is the entire substance, but the Son is a derivation and portion of the whole as He Himself acknowledges: "My Father is great than I." ' The difficulties of this view became clear only in the theories of Arius [who] wanted to make it absolutely clear that the Son is not identical with the Father. Only the Father, he said, is eternal; the Son is subordinate to the Father and was created at some point in time"

By arguing that certain passages of the New Testament which proved Jesus' humanity could not be predicated of deity, the Arians forced the Apologists to abandon the very basis of their position. (An example is found in Lk.2:52; "Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature."). ... "...If caught in this dizzy circle [of Arius' reasoning] they would eventually have to grant the Arian claim that the Logos is subordinate to the Father..." in a manner that would imply the Son's identitiy as a creature rather than as an extension of the Creator. Naturally, in their minds, this had to be avoided at all cost.

...Arius lowered Christ to the level of a created being, his theology was a genuine threat to redemption - the very heart of the Christian message. If Christ's deity were in any way tampered with, it would mean the sure unraveling of the Christian faith. No longer would the great I AM, as Christians had come to know Him in Jesus Christ, stand alone - distinct from all of the Mesopotamian mystery cults, the stoic logos philosophies, or the Zoroastionism of the Persian Gulf hight priests. Arius had taken the very presuppostional basis of the Apologists' conceptual paradigm (which was moderately modal in nature) and driven it to its furthest implied extreme.

The Apologist's moderately modal paradigm under attack was this:
1. The Logos was immanent in God the Father from all eternity as His Reason and/or Wisdom.
2. By an act of will the Father begot the Son in order to facilitate the creation. A process of condescension had begun by which God cold express His attributes - attribtes as Father, Son, Healer, redeemer, Teacher, Friend, etc. The speaking forth of God's immanent Reason and/or Wisom was the introduction of the Logos (not as a second "Person,") but as God's own inner-most Being.
3. This same Logos became human in the womb of Mary and was known thereafter as Jesus Christ.
4. By the instrumentality of the Logos, the Spirit indwelled God's redeemed race of (what is now) the body of Christ on earth (after the resurrection of Jesus). The self-same Logos, having taken on flesh, now took another form - the Holy Ghost - and was indwelling His Church (His Bride) on earth.

Sabellianism recognized only the Father, Himself, taking the name sequentially of Son, and then Holy Spirit, but remaining entirely an undifferentiated unity; contacting man through the mask (as it were) of each subsequent dispensation. The Apologists conceived a real change in form of the One true God. That is the difference between the Apologists' type of Modalism and the extreme form utilized by Sabellius. ... It lies precisely between the two opposite poles of Sabellianism and tritheism and is conceptually integrated only in terms of process; a dynamic paradigm. In fact, it is beyond explanations if one wants to push words to their absolte extreme - as in fact - Arius did.

...There is little possibility today that a character like Arius could pose any real threat to Christian theology. In fact, we have our own twentieth-centurey Arians in the guise of Jehovah's Witnesses. Case closed. Who, that understands the real issues, is fooled into thinking the Russelism has anything to do with Biblical Christianity? It is not so however during a time when Platonic/Neoplatonic models were predominatnt. Arius pushed every one of the four categories above to the very limit.
Nicea was only the start. from that point on, all of the continued sets of questions, only made each successive set of answers less satisfying to an age in which change (ie. process) was conceived as a metaphiscal distortion; a synonym for deformity and sin. A conceptual monster had been loosed for which a cage had to be specially constructed to snare it! This was the work of three men known to histoy as the Cappadocians. ... create, solve and create more problems, until the final solution (of the Cappadocians) became the problem we are still attempting to deal with.

...the two "orthodox" views of successive Church ages (before and after Nicaea) shared similar distinguishing characteristics with their more radical theological cousins. This caused each perspective to be identified (by their opponents) with the more extreme view most closely akin to their own dominant traits. ... near fanaticism which surrounded the issue, given that the Homoiousians, viewed as the party of compromise, were embroiled in the same kind of name-calling typical of the two major opponents. In advocating that the Son be held as similar to the Father instead of as "the same substance," the Homoiousians (or semi-Arians) - "... charged their opponents with Sabellianism; these in turn accused the Holoiousians of tritheism."

The fact is this: The whole homoousios issue brought plainly into the open the West's natural inclination towards Modalism (a more fluid Aristotelian view which had been associated philosophically with Stoicism as a result of Tertullian). The East's proclivity towards tritheism (a more static Platonic perspective) was associated with Neo platonism as a result of Origen. It is interesting to note that the same views are still with us now, with one very distinguishable exception.
A thorough understanding of the Early Fathers' modalist concept has been largely swallowed up in its erroneous identification with Sabellianism.

Either the Ante-Nicene Fathers were heretics or they held to a view all their own: This was a view distinguishable from both Sabellianism ( a.k.a. Monarchianism or Patripassianism)... on the one had and orthodoxy (i.e., three hypostases in one ousia) on the other.

Tertullian (c. 160-225)
His propensity for coining new terminology has made him particularly visible to posterity, along with the only real intellectual giant of that age; Origen in the East (c. 185-254), a theological virtuoso without equal until the time of Augustine.

Tertullian conceptualized an economic Trinity based on the Son and Holy Ghost as individual and distinct from the Father, while yet maintaining their complete deity in the classic Stoic style of the immanent Word.

Tertullian's pronouncement that "there was a time when.. the Son was not," played right into the hands of the the Arians, making it that much harder for the Western bishops to get a credible hearing at the Council of Nicaea. The fact that Tertullian's words had now become a rallying cry fot the opposition impelled the bishops at Nicaea to meet this populist (now politcal, as well as theological) upheaval with equally forceful language in order to repudiate it. A view such as Tertullian's - decidedly not the same as Aruis', which declared the Logos (not the man Jesus; and this is the distinction) as art of the creation - would require a delicate and elaborate explanation. There simply wasn't the political will, at the time, to undertake such an effort. By this point more than technical jargon was at stake. The entire realm, as it were, was intently peering over the shoulders of the bishops as they convened at the First Ecumenical Council - and they could feel the eight of those stares on their backs.

Once it became plain at Nicaea that Constantine would support the Alexandrian theological perspective, the unflinching determination among Eastern Fathers to censor any view other than theirs, led to use of political power to purge the realm of any conceptual model that did not match their own, point for point. This effort to propagandize the empire becomes apparent in the provocative attempt by Basil at theological/political anrm-twisting: "... those who identify essence or substance and hypostasis are compelled to confess only three Persons, and, in their hesitation to speak of three hypostases, are convicted of failure to avoid the error of Sabellius."

The suggestion by Basil the Great, bishop of Cappadocia - that anyone even "hesitating" to agree with the Cappadocian "three hypostases" trinitarian model was thereby considered the rank and file member of a Sabellianist fifth column - soon took on the character of a political cloak and dagger matinee. ... "Why were so many labeled Sabellianists during the early centuries of the Church?" If Basil's assertion alone should be used as a theological barometer, one would be hard-pressed to find an orthodox soul alive before the late fourth century! Anyone even modestly familiar with Church history knows that many highly regarded theologians felt less than "compelled... to speak of three hypostases" in the style advocated by the Cappadocians. In fact, Augustine did much less that hesitate: he resolutely refused to use the term; claim that the only reason he should choose to use any term was "that we may be able in some way to utter what we are able in no way to utter fully [otherwise]."

At this point one of the great ironies of Church history becomes apparent: Augustine held to a trinitarian doctrine essentially Modal in nature; modality being the one thing which the Trinity doctrine's purveyors had intended to supplant by its very inception!

Of Irenaeus, as the classic example of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, ..."He insisted that the entire process of salvation...was the work of one and the same God. There was a single economy of salvation, in which the one God who was both creator and redeemer was at work to redeem his creation. In his Demonstration of the Preaching of the Apostles, Irenaeus insisted upon the distinct yet related roles of Father, Son, and Spirit within the economy of salvation...that is to say, an understanding of the nature of the Godhead in which each person is responsible for an aspect of the economy of salvation"
Again, Irenaeus is speaking here of one God making Himself known "in different ways, at different times"....
Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, in his doctrine of God...first ...spoke of God's inner being, and, second, of his progressive self-disclosure in the history of salvation (Heilsgeschichte) ... Irenaeus was of the same opinion as the Apologists of the ancient church, especially Theophilus of Antioch, when he taught that God had with hm from all eternity his Word and his Wisdom... God brought them forth from himself before the creation of the world. The Son was begotten of the Father before time. To every further speculation, which tries to enter into the mystery of the begetting of the Son, Irenaeus objects.
In this way Irenaeus developed the basic features of a doctrine of the Trinity... Its characteristic feature is that it does not begin with three co-eternal persons, as does the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity in the fourth century, but with the person of the Father, who has with and beside himself his Word and his Wisdom.

The obvious and quite remarkable fact of the matter is that in both Irenaeus (in the second century) and Augustine (in the fifth), as well as nearly all of the Ante-Nicene Fathers in between - there is the same conceptual model. Every one of them expresses a view of the Godhead which emphasizes Jehovah's oneness and conceives of His plurality (His "threeness") as a function of the one God making Hmself known "in different ways at different times" In other words, the Apologists promote and economic version of the Trinity, which tends to blur the distinctions between the "Persons" and accentuate their common unity in a single "Person" having three separate modes, relations or attributes. Granted, the radical cast of this modal trinity becomes Sabellianism, plain and simple: a heretical form of Modalism when taken to extreme. But this leap in logic is not necessary. It is not compulsory. And it simply does not apply to every single instance of a generally moderate modality; proof of which are the consistent examples of the many second and third-centurey Church Fathers whose writings are still available to us today.

"Western trinitarianism.. stems from Augustine...The West begins with the unity of the being of God and then seeks to fit the three persons into that framework.... In Eastern view...the three persons are...regarded as a community each of which is divine. This also gives a better basis for a social nature of the faith and is a paradigm for church and society. If one follows this line of thinking it helps to overcome the view attributed to Augustine.. that the persons are simply relations. [Thompson]" It would appear that advocating a social trinity of "Persons," in his coaching of the reader to "overcome the view attributed to Augustine." Ironically, Basil's remark - convicting his intellectual foes of falling into "the error of Sabellius" - represents the same kind of preconceived judgement (and distorted logic) so plainly employed in the passage above by Thompson.

That the identical bias associated with this Trinitarian model is thriving after nearly two millennia is remarkable - given the knowledge on the part of the accusers (in both instances) - that there are no substantial grounds (Biblically or logically) for the assertions! ... "The vast majority of bishops [at the Nicene Council] had been under the influence of Origen, and were more afraid of Sabellianism than of Arianism."

Little has changed since the time of Basil: Currently, there is more fear of the United Pentecostal Church than there is of Jehovah's Winesses - today's Sabellianist and Arians, respectively! Unfortunately, we find the origins of modern-day misconceptions right here in the erroneously applied eclectic use of this label - Sabellianism - for any dynamic concept which strays from the orthodox hypostatic model.

As Hans Kung so deftly notes:
If we wanted to judge Christians of the pre-Nicene period after the event, in the light of the Council of Nicaea, then not only the Jewish Christians would be heretics but also almost all the Greek church fathers (at least in essence), since as a matter of course they taught a subordination of the "Son" to the "Father" which according to the later criterion of the definition of "sameness of substance" (homoousia) was regarded by the Council of Nicaea as heretical. In the light of this we can hardly avoid the question: if one wants to make just the council of Nicaea the criterion instead of the new Testament, was anyone at all orthodox in the early church of the first centuries?

The whole point of this effort is to demonstrate the exact nature of the Early Father's beliefs. They were not Sabellian (i.e., "Jesus Only" or "Oneness") as has often been charged. Likewise, William Branham's teachings line up precisely with what Lohse determines to be the "Western" tradition - help by nearly 100% of the Apologists. William Branham, then, is certainly in good company; for all of those in the list assembled at the end of this chapter have been called Sabellianists (a.k.a.; Patripassianists or Monarchianists) for holding the very same perspective William Branham himself held: a moderate modalist position to be sure, but one which falls far short of the distinct singularity of the Godhead which was advocated by Sabellius.

"The immoderate Sabellian...denies that the divine persons are distinct" In other words Sabellianism denied any distinction in the persons or the pluratlity of the Godhead... There was simply the Father who "hid" Himself behind the outward "mask" of Son or Holy Ghost, using these nominal "titles" to fulfill His purposes within the divine economies. The moderate Sabellian however, ... is willing to grant distinction in the Godhead, but not in the same manner as Origen or the Cappadocians. The Aplogists saw the Son and Holy Spirit as distinct subsistences in their own relational economies (as expressed functionally to mankind) but would deny that the Son and Holy Spirit were completely separate subsistences unto themselves as eternally distinct from the Father.

...the Apologists differed with Sabellius: Thought the apologists wished to avoid the idea of "amputation"...(emphasizing distinct "Personhood" in the Godhead) they also intended to avoid any conceptualization which would render the Son a mere facade... .

The Apologists' modalistic model, then, is more than just a matter of "renaming" the Father - as Son - and renaming Him again - as Holy Spirit -... which dissolves the differences between them, as if the Son were merely a 'mask' behind which the Father hides himself. This was Sabellius' conception. As William Branham would put it, in chiding the UPCs: "And you Oneness brethren, many of you get off the wrong track when you try to think that God is one like your finger is one. He can't be His own Father."

Tertullian conceived of the change as real. Sabellius conceived of it "in name only." For Sabellius it was the Father, all along, merely changing His appearance. There was no ultimate reality to Jesus as distinct from the Father. it was the Father who suffered and died on the cross.
Tertullian, and the other Apologists conceived of a God who was progressively moving (Heilgeschichte) from one form to another, changing into a completely different prosopon to procure His purpose in the process of redemption. When Jesus told Philip that Philip had "seen" the Father, what did He mean?...

Philip hadn't seen the father's mask, in the sense of a discardable stage prop, he had seen the form of the Logos which the Father had moved into: God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself... (II Cor.5:19) For in [Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (Col.2:9) ...the Father is in me, and I in him. (Jn.10:38)

Jesus wasn't a phantom; a shroud which hid the Father as something illusory masking that which is real... the mask is not worn by God to hide but to reveal his true character.
Jesus was demonstrating to mankind, what could not be "seen" of God otherwise. Jesus was the prosopon: the face or the visible presence of the invisible God. he was as real - as much God - to Philip as the burning bush was to Moses... The Logos, that part of God's innermost Being, came forth from God and was planted in the womb of a woman, where He took on flesh, was born a man, lived, died, and raised from the grave. Jehovah (the Logos) of the Old Testament had become Jesus of the new. God was not wearing a mask (sabellius), He had become a mask: God had begotten a Son and moved into a form by which He could contact His own creation: the creator assuming the role of Redeemer.

After the semantic debacle of Nicaea the church Fathers were forced, rather conspicuously, to return to the original problem: If the Father and the Son are numerically one (which was the only way the bishops could contrive to interpret homoousios ("of one substance"), and still have anything remotely resembling the Biblical God), then how do Father and Son differ? Obviously the only way they can be different is in the way that God chooses to make Himself known to mankind: dispensationally.
Nothing at all had been solved as far as set formularies are concerned. ... any doctrine of the Godhead should ".. be stated in formulae which should not contradict the Bibleical passages and yet should avid the rocks on which the ecclesiastical presentation [orthodox trinitarianism] comes to grief." Indeed, it was precisely such a formula which the Apologists had held for three centuries! They knew they had to maintain God's Oneness above all else to be Biblically sound, understanding at the same time - that in face, Sabellius had been wrong - that you cannot make God a simple unity. In William Branham's earthy way of describing it, "you cant's make Him one like your finger is one." The meaning is nevertheless clear: "...Already it was considered a heresy to maintain that God is a numerical unity. But the self-unfolding (not partitioning) of the Godhead had made a beginning."

As William Branham points out on so many occasions, such is the fine line he endeavors to straddle conceptually. For he ever remains in concert with the Early Fathers - those such as Irenaeus, Justin, Tatian, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Athenagoras, Theophius, and Clement - holding firmly to that razor's edge between the two theological extremes. ... In both of these quotes one can clearly see that William Branham in no way advocates a "Oneness" conceptual paradigm in the mold of either the modern UPCs or ancient Sabellianism:
"You got one side of the road over here saying, "God is one like you finger's one." He can't be His own Father. Got them over here saying "He's three different Gods." Well, if He's three different Gods then God the Holy Ghost and God the Father is [sic] two different people, [since] the virgin... conceived by the Holy Ghost {Mt.!:18b "She was found with child of the Holy Ghost."]. Which one was His Father?"
Now in saint John 1, He said, "In the beginning was the Word... and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." God unfolding Himself, down to a human being. Now watch how He did it... "Let us, " [Gen.1:26] Who" Father and Son - "make man in our own image." Now... He manifested or unfolded Himself a little more, to make a trinity of Himself by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."

The following are examples --- fifteen in all - of various Church Fathers who have been identified with Sabellianism (also Monarchianism or Patripassianism each a different name for the same heresy) at one time or another.

We can see, by now, how all of those failing to adhere to Basil's "three hypostastes" conceptual model would in fact - ostensibly - be "convicted of failure to avoid the error of Sabellius". This is particularly obvious in retrospect, given the suspicious intolerance present after Nicaea - and especially given that prior to Nicaea, nearly all of the Apologists were moderate modalists: even those such as Irenaeus of Lyons and Clement of Alexaandria; from totally different backgrounds!
The purpose of the following list is to confirm the effectiveness of Basil's charge as theological propaganda, and by so doing, to demonstrate that (despite the inane attempt to influence his peers) Basil's own fears demonstrate as clearly as any single fifth-century factor that:
A. There had to be an established doctrine of the Godhead, widely accepted by Christian Apologists, during the first centuries of the Church.
B. This moderate Modalism was common enough to the Apologists, to have been held within the limits of vastly different theological perspectives.
C. This is a serious reason for considering this form of apologetic in some detail. It preceded Nicaea and all other orthodox attempts to put a cohesive intellectual stamp on the various Scriptural threads related to God's "oneness" and His "threeness."
D. Considering the pluralsim of the early centuries, this fact in itself is astounding. Thus, this is a doctrine that by its unanimity alone, should bear great significance to Church history.

Clement... Marcellus... Eustathius... Commodian... Tertullian... Irenaeus... Athanasuis... Cyril... Alexander... Melito... Justin... Theophilus... Hippolytus... Dionysius... Paul of Samosata.

The Apologists were not simply grasping at an archaic form of hermeneutic which they were obstinately refusing to relinquish to the progress of superior Biblical exegesis. They were genuinely apprehensive of the kind of formula Greek metaphysical categories were likely to produce - and eventually did produce - which they feared would take the Church away from the original intent of the New Testament writers. Theirs was an attempt to reinforce that which had been laid down originally by the age just preceding theirs; the Apostolic age, in which a clearly defined apologetic had been delivered and maintained: The earliest writers we have to consider, the Apostolic Fathers, appear as witnesses to the traditional faith rather than interpreters striving to understand it...

The theologian who summed up the thought of the second century, and dominated Chrisian othodoxy before Origen, was Irenaeus. He for his part was deeply indebted to the Apologists... the framework of his thinking remained substantially the same as theirs.

How then could the church have turned on its own and labeled the very core of its previous theology as heretical? ... "because orthodoxy itself was continually developing toward greater precision of doctrine." "The original gospel was pure and complete as Jesus gave it to his apostles,... Error, results from changing things ... that heresy precedes orthodoxy [in that] ... the original Chrisianity was of a form later labeled heretical by the great Church, as it began to clarify its belief and to impose norms of orthodoxy."

"Was Jesus divine because He lived a perfect life, or was He able to live a perfect life because He was divine?... Thus the dilemma... We frankly recognize that in the doctrine of the Incarnation there is a paradox which cannot be rationalized"

This type of assessment misses the entire point of the matter. I include it because it typifies the thinking of most theologians, demonstrating a remarkably distorted conception of human genetics and the spiritual application thereof. ... When we understand that Jesus of Nazareth came forth from the womb of a woman as Adam did from the womb of the earth, we come to realize that Jesus' genetics had no more to do with Mary, than Adam's did with gypsum or potash.

Jesus Christ, the "last Adam," just as the first Adam, himself, was the literal offstpring of God (spiritually and biologically). In both cases their genetics were not derived from a human source; and neither, therefore, could have sinned other than willfully. This revelation profoundly alters our view of the matter. The problem like in our perception of Jesus' (and Adam's) manhood; for they remain the only such indivuduals ever to have lived on earth!

... becomes apparent that when all of the extraneous issues are lifted and their arguments are reduced to the least common denominator, orginal sin is the only matter left...

...each of the perspectives being defended by these fifth-century Fathers is seen to be based entirely upon incorrect assumptions.
Many of todays's theologians still do not seem to understand that the Theotokos issue (Mary as the "Mother of God") was not merely a corollary to the theological problematics of the fifth century or a catalyst which sparked the debate, but in fact was the keynote upon which all else depended. It remains so to this very moment in time (in lieu of the fact that this issue has yet to be resolved theologically by modern Protestatism). Thus we can trace the Roman Catholic support today for the elevation of Mary to "Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces and Advocate for the People of God" directly to the topic being addressed in the current chapter. This popular movement is the outgrowth of the nineteenth-century declaration of Mary's conception as "Immaculate," which itself was based on the fifth-centy declaration of her title as Theotokos; "Mother of God." All of it began with a need to explain the sinlessness of Jesus. Amazingly William Branham is the only Protestant cleric ever to seriously propose a comprehensive doctrinal solution which addresses the fundamentals of proper Biblical exegesis and remains true to historic Christian orthodoxy.

"Such a move would elevate Mary's status dramatically beyond what most Christians profess... If the drive succeeds, Catholics would be obliged as a matter of faith to accept three extraordianty doctrines: that Mary participates in the redemption achieved by her son, that all graces that flow from the suffering and death of Jesus Christ are granted only though Mary's intercession with her son, and that all prayers and petitions from the faithful on earth must likewise flow through mary, who brings them to the attention of Jesus"

When Nestorius came to occupy the patriachal see of Constantinople in 428, a conflict soon broke out over the title "Bearer of God", as applied to the Virgin Mary. This designation of Mary had been current since at least the beginning of the fourth century although it was unknown during apostolic times. Essentially it meant that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was in the strictiest sense the mother of the humanity of Jesus which had been united in her womb with the divine nature of the Logos. It was not meant to suggest that Mary was the mother Christ's divine nature, only the human and that, as a result of such closeness of the two natures (divine and human) in Christ, she is to then be called "the Mother of God."

This appellative - Theotokos - became an open invitation to every kind of pagan theological arasite. The foulest of evil sirits vaunting the "Virgin-cult, Mary-cult" doctrines remain to this day within Roman Catholicism as a sour testimony to the path taken when traditions of men are placed above God's Word.

"[Nestorius] rightly observes that in denying the soul of Christ the Arians and the Apollinarians {i.e., the Alexandrians] give a special significance to the title Theotokos. Because in their Christology the Logos enters into a physical, natural unity with the flesh, he is also involved in whatever happens to the body, such as birth, suffering and death. The Arians seek to spread the title Theotokos so as to have the opportunity of attacking the very divinity of Christ. Nestorius sees the abolition of this title as the only way out."

Finally a church-wide council was called at Ephesus in 431 to hash out the various claims, charges, and counter-charges. ... The predicate "God-bearing" was reasserted of Mary. ... Nestorius was banished and lived out his life a broken man.
The council which met in 451 at Chalcedon, a city on the eastern shore of the Bosphorus overlooking Constantinople, is know as the Fourth Ecumenical Council. ... The final draft emphasized the unity of the two natures in such a way that each is said to operate as a separate entity. Yet a unison of action is understood by which an even exchange of properties occurs. ..."...the union the Logos acquired the characteristics of man; and the human in Christ, in turn, those of God.

Keep in mind that the weaknesses of both arguments are directly related to Christ's human connection with Mary. It is through this connection that Christ receives His manhood, but also the taint of original sin.

"...the Alexandrine theologians did it in such a way that the human nature of Jesus Christ was mutilated - that is, Jesus lacked a rational human soul [or mind]... The traditional Antiochene pattern...though [having] adjusted to theological developments of that era... emphasizing the distinction between Christ's two natures much more than the unity of his person."

What we are witnessing here is the jockeying for political position in order that each school might be perceived as properly complying with catholic ... church doctrine, while simultaneously attempting to remain in a practical position from which to maneuver should it be necessary to adapt to the prevailing turbulence of political winds.

The Alexandrian concern... given Jesus' human connection to Mary: How could the sacrificial Lamp (Jn.1:29) pay the price of redemption for mankind, if He Himself was in need of redemption? ... the two-natures in Christ, to the Alexandrian way of thinking, was not really a union at all... really meant that the human was lost in the divine.

...these two views... Alexandria: Logos assumes a general human nature. Antioch: Logos assumes a specific human nature...believed the Alexandrian position led to the mingling... of the divine and human natures in Christ. To avoid this...they...maintained...They never interact, or mingle with one another. They remain distinct...

The historical undertow ... debate ... is directly related to the onslaught of Arianism. The prevalence of...thinking with regard to Christ's humanity permeated the Church as a result of this single priest's popular theology. ... the great effort of orthodoxy at Nicaea was ... to protect Christ's deity at all costs.

Both camps (Alexandrian and Antiochene) based their Christology upon the mistaken notion that Jesus received His humantiy through Mary ... that Jesus was actually the genetic offspring of Mary; according to His humanity. Thus their preoccupation with preserving Christ's deity - over against a fallen human nature - ... it is the flesh of Jesus which each of these schools is so desperately attempting to quarantine!

Athanasius... 1. There must be an equal balance between Christ's deity and His humanity. 2. Christ's relation to Mary tips that balance to the side of humanity. 3. Therefore, to even the scales, deity must prevail over humanity in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Is it any wonder that Western man finds it so difficult to relate to the Savior of historical orthodoxy? What kind of real human being has to allow Himself to feel pain in order to authenticate his own humanity? - or (conversely) how can a Siamese-Savior have more than a schizpohrenic relationship with humanity?

Each of these traditions grappled with the threat of Arianism ... Antiochene... Alexandrian...The bitter rivalry between these two perspectives, by the time of Chalcedon, represents a growing split... due as much to political concerns as ecclesiastical ones.

The point to keep in mind ... is this: As the Church became the influential political powerhouse which history records for us, the implications of its theological viewpoints were actually the cause of its political outlook and not the effect! ... the church's politics followed from it philosophical worldview and not vice versa.

249 "Above all, the Church and the priests, the guardians of the revelation, perverted it in every way they could to serve their own selfish interests, and so was up... the simplictiy and purity of apostolic Christianity was altogether obscured and lost."

250 Alexandrians, the Son is the Logos, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, who is assuming flesh at the incarnation, becomes the controlling Spirit of an abstract human nature.
Antiochenes conceive of a real and specific human being in who God's full deity; the Logos, is regarded as dwelling in the flesh as in a temple.

The issue of Christ's suffering is... a key point here theologically because of its implied connection to inherited depravity through Christ's humanity. The Late Church Fathers could not imagine Jesus deriving His humanity from any source other than Mary! ... The only plausible way for christ's humanity to be tainted with original sin is through Mary! Thus the falacy in the Fathers' thinking: their inability to grasp deity genetically. "...Zeal for the full true deity and perfect sinlessness of Christ by very nature was thus a foremost motive to Apollinarius [and the entire Alexandrian school].

The problem of original sin is eliminated in the
1. Arian model, since the Son of God is conceived as an entirely separate and individually created Being.
2. Alexandrian model... due to the primacy of deity in the Son of God.
3. ... properly correct one...according to the Council of Chalcedon ... recognizes the Son of God as acknowledged in two natures, unconfusedly, unchangeable, indivisibly, inseparably.
Roman Catholicism demonstrates another option for avoiding the impossible theological consequences of a Savior with inherited depravity. ... Archbishop of St. Louis "Being conceived in the natural manner, Mary.. would have been conceived without the grace of God and would have inherited the state of lost innocence as do all those who descend from Adam by natural human generation. But God saved her from it because of the part she was to play in His divine plan... the infection of original sin was prevented in her case... at the very first instant of her existence in her mother's womb. She was conceived immaculate by her mother - free from sin and endowed with the grace of Christ by reason of the anticipated merits of His passion and death"

...Catholics... have understood all along the impossibility of Christ redeeming a fallen race if He... is tainted with the same sin-nature.

How then does Chrisianity get around original sin - the taint of inherited depravity - in Jesus Christ the Savior? This is the big problem. Arianism did it but failed to make Christ fully God. Alexandrian orthodoxy did it, but failed to make Christ fully human. Catholicism did it, but failed to remain true to Scriptural revelation. This is the doctrine of the "Immaculate Conception."

Catholicism does not see God's Word, The Holy Bible... as their final authority. Their own declarations - Papal Bulls, ecumenical councils,... take precedence over God's Word, always. This was the primary issue at the heart of the Protestant Reformation, and remains so to this very day.
"Mary... By that sanctifying grace she was redeemed at the first moment of her being; it was a redemptive grace for which her Son was to pay by His death on the Cross."

Unfortunately, Protestantism never was able to provide an answer beyond the documents of Church history inherited from Catholiciam. The declaration at Chalcedon, ... only posted the form of the solution, without ever providing it. Antiochene... got stuck on the same side of the equation as Arianism... Nestorius was as close to the truth as any... of his generation. He just didn't have the one missing ingredient.

... the Chalcedonian formula only strengthened the antagonism between east and West,...

As the Trinitarian doctine evolved in the orthodox Church, the emphasis change from an insistence on One God, to an insistence on One God Christ, with a single nature, not two.

The reason for this imbalance follows from original sin (in either of its two forms as inherited from Judaism by Christianity) in the early centuries A.D.:
1. Conceived as an evil inclination ... part of human nature in it original created form ... Adam and Eve as they were created before the fall, or
2. Conceived as inherited depravity - injected in to human race subsequent to the original creation ... Adam and Eve as they were infected at or by the fall.

"Was Jesus divine because He lived a perfect life, or was He able to live a perfect life because He was divine? ... Did the Incarnation depend upon the daily human choices made by Jesus, or did he always choose aright because He was God incarnate?"

We find then that the Church Fathers saw no other alternative than to shift the focus of the argument from a typically Hebrew, dynamic, and dispensational perspective...

The problem with the orthodox view, as it was finalized in three hypostatic subsistences, is that the issue of Christ's suffering (and therefore His humanity) was never fully resolved.

... Chalcedon's... formula ... only stated the problem in a clear and concise fashion which was designed to bring peace between the Alexandrians and Antiochenes.

Let us make man in our image, after our likeness... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Gen. 1:26,27)

This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. (Gen.5:1,2)

...two examples from the Old Testament which are sometimes used to infer a plurality of Persons in the Godhead. The first had to do with the names of God - such as Elohim - which, as a Hebrew noun, is plural in form... The second example occurs in such passages as the ones above; "Let us make man in our image,"...

Adam... becomes the individual to bear the likeness of God. Adam... is a perfect reflection of Jehovah: male and female. Since Christ, as the "last Adam" (I Cor. 15:45), bears the "express image" of God (Heb.1:3), then Christ also must be male and female: So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies, He that loveth his wife loveth himself. ... For we are members of His body, ... this is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Eph.5:28-32)

... this revelation was a functioning part of the early Church, which can be seen in a number of works of the Ante-Nicene Fathers. This concept is not one of pre-existence as was common to Gnosticism and is found today in... the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormonism)...

... a conception which clearly does not imply a pre-existence of souls in the Platonic sense, but rather predestination in the Pauline.

It is this concept of pre-existence in the counsels of God (i.e., in His thoughts or in His mind) that is crucial to an understanding of the trinitarian and Christological issures of Apostolic times. It will also lead us to an understanding of the Serpent's Seed doctrine,... Christ's humanity, His role as the "last Adam," and His relationship to the Church both as head and husband reveal to us a picture of redemption... Christ's consubstantiality with the Father, His two natures; divine and human - and on the human side, His relationship to original sin - ... these doctrines ... all return us to a basic understanding of God's nature and His plan of redemption as a whole.

"The eternal thoughts of God!... God is infinite in His abilities so therefore He as God must be omniscient. If He is ominscient, then He is not now learning, nor is He taking counsel even with Himself, nor is He at any time adding to his knowledge. ... He has never had a new thought about anything because all His thoughts He has, always had, and always will have, and knows the end from the beginning because He is God. Thus the thoughts of God are eternal. They are real.

When Adam... was formed of the dust of the earth and his spiritual being was created by God, then Adam became God's thought expressed, and those eternal thoughts were now manifested. Down through the centuries we could go. We find a Moses, a Jeremiah, a John the Baptist, and each one of these was God's eternal thought expressed in it season. Then we come to Jesus who.. was the perfect and complete thought expressed...
...the True Bride of Christ was in the mind of God eternally ... a part of the Logos - thus part of God - though not expressed until each [member of the Bride] came forth in the designated, decreed season. As each member came forth it became expressed and took it place in the body. Thus this Bride is the literal spoken Word Seed Bride.
And though she is feminine in designation she is also called the body of Christ. It is very apparent that she ought to be called that for she was predestinated in Him [Eph.1:5], came from the same source {Heb.2:11], was eternal with Him [Eph.1:4], and is now manifesting God in a many-membered body whereas once God was manifested in one member, even our Lord Jesus Christ." (William Branham, Church Ages, pp 149-152)

In Holy Writ Jesus Christ is spoken of as the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," in the same manner that "God hath chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world." Jesus Christ and His Bride were always and forever as much a part of one another in God's thinking as Adam and Eve were when they were created together as one being.

"... In Spirit we are sons and daughters ... Not some other being of some other tribe, but a real union and offspring of the Almighty."

God knows His own from the beginning, for His elect are eternally a part of His thinking.

The plurality that we find in Genesis is not a Trinity of Persons, but is simply the Family of God (in type): Father (Jehovah), Son (Adam/Jesus Christ), and Spirit (Eve/Christ's Bride). The third "Person" of the Trinity, as orthodoxy would have it, is the Church: Christ's spiritual body on earth!

The Godhead... does not consist of three eternal subsistences but of - three eternal modes of subsistence -
1. the Spirit of God
2. the Spirit of God abiding in Jesus Christ
3. the Spirit of God through Jesus Christ abiding in His Bride:
At that day ye shall know that I am in my father, and ye in me, and I in you. (John 14:20)

These modes of subsistence are eternally present in the mind of God (His Logos) and are expressed dispensationally as part of His great plan of redemption. It's the same Spirit all along, moving into a different form and manifesting a different attribute so that the thoughts of God can be relaized in space/time. It's God unfoldig Himself in order to manifest His family! All that God had in His mind He poured into Christ. All that Christ was He poured into His Bride: God communicating Himself and then communing with Himself:
And Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (Jn.14:23)

When Jehovah declared "Let us make man in our image..." He was looking down through time.. and seeing His "whole family in heaven and earth" (Eph.3:15). Contained within the Logos was the same plurality (male/female) which served as a model for the creation of Adam: one God; male and female. The Bride was taken from the side of Jesus Christ in the same manner that Eve was taken from the side of Adam: "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." (Eph.5:30)

Only though the plan of redemption itself can the Godhead be understood.

Jesus, ... does not dwell in the Godhead, the Godhead dwells in Him! Many theologians have simply musunderstood the Scriptural distinction between the Logos (the Word; the Spirit of God) and Jesus (the Jewish Messiah; the man) in the process... of incarnation: This is God's kenosis or movement from eternity to space/time; from Spirit to flesh.
There is more than a single step involved in the "begetting" of the "Son":
1. God's leaving eternity (begetting of the Logos: Thought expressed as Word);
2. His entering this dimension to procure redemption of the world (begetting of Jesus in flesh: the Virgin birth), that;
3. Through the operation of the Spirit (the begetting of Christ's ministry: at baptism);
4. He might prove Himself in flesh to be Lord of all (begetting of a new race: at the resurrection).

[The Son] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created ... And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he might have the preeminence ... through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven. (Col.1:15...20)

Together the two natures form on Person: Jesus Christ our Lord raised up to power and majesty of God on high. However, in order to become fully man (... to take on physical form "God is a Spirit" Jn.4:24),
God had to temporatily divest Himself of deity (Phi.2:6-8 [see addendum] ) by creating Himself in flesh.
Then, to make Himself know as fully God in flesh (Col.2:9, "God, was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself," II Cor.5:19)
the fullness of the Godhead indwelled that "Body of God" when Jesus was baptized.

This explains how, as a young man Jesus "learned obedience by the things which he suffered," (Heb.5:8) and "increased in wisdom and stature" (Lk.2:52) neigher of which ... is appropriate to the fullness of deity. Yet Jesus Christ - for 3 1/2 years - became Jehovah's full expression of Himself to mankind.

Jesus was both God made flesh (... the Alexandrian view: God becoming or assuming flesh; at birth) and the receptacle, the house, or the tabernacle that the Spirit of eternal God dwelt in (... the Antiochene view; at baptism).

And the Word was made flesh [at Jesus' birth] and tabernacled [at Jesus' baptism] among us. Jn.1:14
Wherefore when he cometh into the world [at baptism], he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me [at birth]. Heb.10:5

Jesus Christ, the flesh and blood of God; begotten as the Son (at birth) - was indwelled by th Spirit of God at baptism (... the Logos; begotten before time as the Word, "firstborn of every creature" Col.1:15) - that He might declare (Jn.1:18) "the brightness of God's glory and the express image of his person" (Heb.1:3). At the Resurrection Jesus was begotten as Lord "firstborn from the dead" Col.1:18, the first member of a new creation: "These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God," "that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." Rev.3:14 Rom.8:29

The Word made flesh (Jn.1:14) was the man Christ Jesus (I Tim.2:5), mediator between God and men, in whom, Christ Jesus (Col.2:6) dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col.2:9). He was then proven to be Lord, in that He overcame death and was granted to sit upon the throne of God in heaven (Mt.28:18, Acts 2:36, Rom.1:4). Thenceforth God shall evermore be known to man in this form only - the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ.

... The Creed of Caesarea accentuates Christ's deity and The Creed of Nicaea stresses His humanity.

"Both creeds feature 'Only-begotten' but very differently. In Eusebius [the Creed of Caesarea]... [Christ] is unique ... in the sense that he is first-born of all creation; these words from Col.1:15 are taken by the Arians to mean that Christ is head of all created things... The drafters of [the Nicene Creed] would have found that unacceptable: bishops like Marcellus and Eustathius could not accept only-begotten in that sense, since they took Col.1:15 of Christ's manhood."

Without a Bible understanding of "begotten" once can easily slip into any number of heterdox views ... difficulties of their own.

Scripture, in each of three New Testament passages, actually speaks of the "Son" as being begotten four different times! In each instance the reference is never in relation to 1) the Logos only, or 2) Jesus alone:
but always involves a conjunction of the two and is a fulfillment of Psalm 2:
I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. (Psa.2:7)

... For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? (Heb.1:3-5)

(Heb.1:3-5, Heb.1:6, Heb.5:5, Acts 13:29-33)
When and how ... was the Son begotten - according to Psa.2:7 - as fulfilled in the New Testament: Was it:
1. before time?
2. at Christ's birth?
3. at His baptism?
4. or His resurrection?

Obviously the answer cannot be pinned down to any one place or time, though each one plays a significant part. And that is exactly the way God intended it. God's kenosis is part of a process... which is not available to our inspection. it is a process by which God condescends from eternity to space/time to assume the human form and from that form, to rise again - becoming the firstborn - the firstbegotten of a new race.We, as human beings, can thereby "be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." II Pet.1:4 "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." II Cor.5:21

The "Son of God," as we use the Biblical appellation to designate Jesus of Nazareth, is quite different from the Nicene concept of God the Son. This latter phrase is non-existent in the new Testament. Jesus had a beginning when He was born of a virgin ... The man Jesus did not pre-exist in heaven any more than His brethren pre-existed (other than in the mind of the Creator). ... Jesus to be considered eternal (just as all of God's elect are eternal Eph.1:4,5): as they exist eternally in the counsels of God before all time. The Logos is thus eternal while the man Jesus is not.

... Greek theoreticians confused these two ideas: God's pre-existent Logos and the historical man, Jesus.

... Greek speculations ... that the Lord Jesus' himself, not the Logos or Wisdom or Spirit that was incarnate in Jesus, left the heavenly sphere to 'make us rich through his poverty.' In other words, Jesus Christ has been errantly conceived as pre-existent and eternal - God the eternal Son, rather than Son of the eternal God - a belief that the pre-existent Logos in heaven, had taken on the identity of the historical Jesus of the gospel events.

... Thus, instead of that which was eternal remaining simply the Logos: the full expression of God's thoughts at the beginning (Jn.1:1), the eternal Word became an eternal Son: a Second Person, loving and being loved by the Father for all eternity. This concept is nowhere present in the Bible. It was the Logos becoming flesh which gave to us the Son "that in the dispensation of the fullness of times [God] might gather together in one all thins in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth [male and female: Christ and the Church]: even in him." Eph.1:10

Before time and space (... before the creation) John is speaking of the divine Logos, not the divine Jesus! There is a distinct difference;...
"... Jesus of Nazareth is the Word made flesh, God's Logos in person, God's Wisdom in human form."

"For since the writings of John the title of 'Son of God' is given only to the historic Christ so called, neither the Logos alone, nor Jesus alone, but... Jesus through the Logos united with God is 'the only begotten Son of God.'"

This is precisely the point made by the Apologists. ... the conjuction of the two natures in Christ, ...

"St. John uses Logos as a title of the pre-existent, never as a title of the incarnate ... For him the Logos is called Son only proleptically (... something as existing before its proper or historical time...). He was called Son of God and Son of Man only because he was to become such at the incarnation ... The Son of God is Logos plus flesh.

In his first epistle John emphasizes ... that it is the Word which is pre-existent and not the Son. For nowhere in the Bible do we find an eternal Son!
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word [... the Logos], and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. (I Jn.5:7)

... scholars agree the best translation reads, "No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God [not Son], who is in the bosom of the Father, he has explained him." [footnoted]

If we are to apply "monogenes" (only begotten) to our understanding of John 1:18, it must be in a manner that takes into account these two discordant concetps - "God" and "only begotten" -
"monogenes, from monos; only, and geno; to form, to make. To be differentiated from gennao; to begat to generate ... Only John uses monogenes [only begotten] to describe the relation of Jesus to God the Father, presenting Him as the unique, the only One (monos) of the family (genos), in the discussion of the relationship of the Son to the Father."

The Logos is neither eternal Son (Origen) nor generated in the sense of brought into being from nothing (Arius). Rather, the Logos is God, as geno would suggest - unfolding, condescending - forming Himself into His own family. For that purpose the invisible God became His own mask ... in the form of the Logos plus flesh - that mode of being, that dispensation which reveals, declares or explains His nature as Son - Kinsman Redeemer - God with us Emmanuel.

As God continues to make Himself known through historical advenst, the Logos continues to be revealed as both male (the Bridegroom) and female (the Bride) ... of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones, until the voice of the two finally become one (Rev.22:17).

"... the New Testament is interested only in revelation. This is the source of the New Testament paradox that the Father and Son are at once one and yet distinct - a paradox which the later Christian theologians could not explain because they attempted to do so by speculative philosophical means."

William Branham's simple concept of the Logos can only be fully appreciated in terms of redemption - God as He relates directly to mankind by His saving Grace. The way of the cross is the way of divine love in action. This is the method which Jehovah employed throughout the ages to demonstrate to His children, the progressively expanding revelation of Himself in historical advents. Always, in every age, the prophets declared some aspect of the coming Messiah, until Jesus - the full manifestation of God in flesh - came to fulfill what the prophets could only accomplish in measure. Redemption was not procured by the intellectual contemplation of some technical locution concerning Christ's ontological status, but was demonstrated when a flesh-and-blood man, motivated by nothing more or less than divine love, suffered an agonizing death on a cruel Roman cross.

We must not lose sight of the fact that Scripture never conceives of Chirst ontologically. Throughout the Bible, the Savior is always understood in terms of redemption only - His action in relation to mankind generally, and to God's elect specifically.

This is a crucial distinction to recognize between trinitarian orthodoxy centered in Neoplatonist Greek mythology - which sees the Son as the object of the Father's love in a reciprocal self-sustaining relationship. The focus of God's love in the New Testament is His redeemed - His elect lady (2Jn.1), for whom the Son of God pays the ultimate price: Jesus Christ of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named is the historical focus of God's redemptive action in history.

"... We recall how significant is the contrast between the obedience of Christ as the pre-existent image of God and the disobedience of Adam, who was created in the image of God. The concepts 'Son of Man' and 'Logos' are thus very closely related."

It is ultimately the fact that Jesus was indeed the "last Adam," identical to Adam as pertaining to the flesh, which distinguishes William Branhams's view of redemption from orthodoxy's as it has evolved historically from the Council of Chalcedon. Both Jesus and Adam were direct Sons of God. There was no human instrumentation involved in Jesus' birth whatsoever! The difference between Adam and Jesus lay in Christ's being the full revelation to man of Jehovah in flesh. This came at Jesus' baptism, not His birth.

It is William Branham's contention, that according to Scripture (Acts 20:28) Mary did not provide the egg which determined Jesus' manhood. This would have tainted Jesus with original sin. His blood... would not have been the blood of God and there could not have been a true incarnation. ... Jesus had to escape the infection of inherited depravity; bypassing original sin. Mary ... was only an incubator. God miraculously planted the embryo (seed and egg) in her womb, making Jesus truly God in flesh!
--- "the precious blood of Christ" (I Pet.1:19) which saves us ...

... consistent conceptually - continuing to recognize that eternal Word is not the same as eternal Son - another individual - ... William Branham maintains such a balance: always conceptually elevating the Lord Jesus Christ to His rightful position as God, by an act of the Father's will.

William Branham ... does not recognize Jesus as God, simply because He can be tentatively conceptualized as a Platonic co-eternal, second hypostasis among three. As fully man Jesus of Nazareth was literally God in flesh. Mary had nothing to do with his manhood. Only "the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot," could have served as a sacrifice for the sin of the world. The fullness of God's Spirit (at Jesus' baptism) indwelled the body of God (prepared without human instrumentality in the womb of Mary) and proved at Calvary that He truly was God! He thus declared to every demon power that the price of redemption was paid in full. A man - a real flesh-and-blood human bing (albeit, genetically divine) - allowed the Spirit of Almighty God to live in Him without measure. Thus, motivated by love, the Bridegroom willingly laid down His life for His Bride.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasing life. (Jn.3:16)

And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,
God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it also is written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. (Acts 13:32,33)

A very subtle and sinister implication has been made in promoting the Trinity doctrine as a touchstone for orthodoxy. It makes man's conceptual categories, instead of faith in God's Word, the basis of one's salvation. It removes the fundamental historical event - the death, burial, and resurrection of our beloved Savior and Lord - as faith's focal point, and interjects instead a pre-existent Neoplatonic Formula in its place. The nearness and immediacy of the historical Jesus is surreptitiously supplanted by "another Jesus": to whom the common man or woman has no intuitive conncection, and cannot fathom, much less feel free to reach out to.

William Branham recognized that Jesus was a special-made God-man - having come directly from Jehovah by virgin birth - in whom dwelled the full anointing (Christos - the Logos of god) without measure.
The true significance of the virgin birth - in relation to the Lord's deity - is often lost upon many Christians.
... in order to reassert a properly biblical view, we must lay aside theology (study about God) and rely instead upon God Himself t teach us - not what theologians have extrapolated from the Bible - but what is actually in the Bible.


Glossary Excerpts:

Adoptionists: ... adoptionism is the theory that Jesus was in nature a man who became God by adoption ... It taught that the Redeemer was a ... man chose by God, and with him the Spirit of God was united ... Therefore he was by divine decree adopted as a son and exalted to great power and lordship.

Apollinarianism: ... the theological system of Apollinarius ... of Laodicea. ... held that Christ had a human body and a human soul but no human mind or spirit. In Him this was replaced by the diven Logos, the source of Christ's self-consciousness.

Arminian Theology: ... place its chief emphasis upon man's freedom of choice. ... a protest against the extreme form of Calvinism ... The protest of Arminius ... was against thedogmas of unconditional election and irresistible grace. Their opponents held that God elects certain persons for salvation while others are denied the privilege... Arminius held that divine foreknowledge enables God to foresee the purely contingent ... that God knows in advance that a man will sin by free choice but that God does not will nor predestine the man to do so.

Docetism: Belief that Christ was flesh only in appearance. ... perpetrated largely by the Platonic Greek thinking... of th first centuries A.D. ... The reasoning went, that if God could not suffer, then Christ must have been merely a Spirit. His flesh was not real but only appeared such to those who were present with Him during His incarnation. A modern application of this view,... writings of Mary Baker Eddy who founded Christian Science. ... are modern docetists because they deny altogether the reality of physical, material existence. The only thing which is real is mind or ideas. ... idealism.

Ebionite: One who believed that Christ was just a man with a special call from God, much the same as the Old Testament prophets.

Filoque: The term means 'and from the Son' and refers to the phrase in the Western version of the Nicene Creed which says that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. Orginally this was not in the confessions agreed to at Nicaea (325) and Constantinople (381). It seems to have been first inserted at the Council of Toledo (589) and in spite of opposition gradually established itself in the West, being officially endorsed in 1017. In the East the Holy Ghost was said to proceed "from the Father through the Son."

Gnosticism: ... as the product of the combination of Greek philosophy and Christianity. ... An assortment of Gnostic beliefs were common in the ancient world... Most believed in various levels of deity and heavens (or stages of consciousness) that represented an esoteric kind of wisdom, typically attained through an ascetic lifestyle - which included induction ... into a secret knowledge that could only be attained to by a chosen few.

Homoousios: Greek term meaning "of one substance" employed at the Council of Nicaea to describe the relationship of the Son to the Father. ... same (homo) in substance (ousia). Its Latin equivalent "consubstantial" is used interchangeably.

Modalism: An ancient doctrine that the members of the Trinity were not three distinct personalities but only successive modes in which the one God has manifested himself. The most famous... Sabellius (230 AD) and early presbyter an theologian. ... Modalism... decribe ... writers who were concered to safeguard the unity of the Godhead, fearing a lapse into some form of tritheism as a result of the doctrine of the Trinity. (As will become clear, this fear was amply justified.) This vigorous defense of the absolute unity of God (monarchianism, meaning 'single principle of authority') led these writers to insist that the self-revelation of the one and only God took place in different ways at different times. The divinity of Christ and the Holy Spirit is to be explained in terms of three different ways or modes of divine self-revelation ...
1. The one God is revealed in the manner of creator and lawgiver ... Father.
2. The same God is then revealed in the manner of savior ... the Son.
3. The same God is then revealed in the manner of the one who sanctifies ... the Spirit.

Monarchianism or Patripassianism: [NOT modalistic see above] ... primarily Western attempts in the third century to defend monotheism against suspected tritheism by denying personal; distinctiveness of a divine Son and Holy Spirit in contast to God the Father ... Jesus was viewed as a mere man who was endowed with the Holy Spirit ... Patripassianism is the teaching that it was the father who became incarnate, was born of a virgin, and who suffered and died on the cross.

Monarchianism Modal View: ... attempted to ... making a distinction between the Christ who is the Father and the Son who was simply a man. In this way the Father cosuffers with the human Jesus.

Monophysitism: Doctrine holding that Christ had a single divine nature, clad in human flesh. ... Apollinarius and Eutyches both held versions of this, and essentially all of the Alexandrians leaned towards some form or another of this conceptual strain.

Monotheism: The belief that the cosmos is a unity, that only one God exists in the universe, and that he has created and orders all things.

Nestorianism: The doctrine of the Person of Christ set for by Nestorius, Patriach of Constantinople (428-431) ... opposition to the attribute Theotokos "Mother of God" applied to the Mother of Christ; in its place Nestorius suggested Christokos "mother of Christ", which offended contemporary piety. ... a view reasserting the manhood of Christ, largely as a reaction to Apollinarianism.

Pelagianism: ... denied original sin and man's hereditary guilt. Physical death whether in the case of Adam or of his descendants is not the result of sin, but is necessarily involved in nature. Spiritual death is not the inherited consequence of Adam's sin, but comes to each individual will, which misuses its power of free choice by choosing to sin. All men by virtue of their reason and free will have the power to avoid making this unrighteous choice. If in the exercise of his free and morally responsible will man so chooses, he may grasp the external aid of divine grace which is bestowed according to man's merit. Divine grace is... God's Law which reveals the divine will ... The unassisted human will however takes the determining initiative in the matter of salvation.

Prevenient Grace: Does man of himself desire grace, or does the presence of desire mean that grace is already given? Augustine held the latter, contending against Pelagius that God bestows will as well as the grace that is willed. ... This question has ... divided Evangelicals (Calvinists and Arminians); those who hold grace to be irresistible adduce predestination to explain apparent resistance in the unsaved.

Sabellianism: (modalism) A theory of the Godhead named after ... Sabellius ... who affirmed that there is but one divine exxence which became operative in three temporally successive manifestations: as Creator and Lawgiver in the Father, as Redeemer in the Son, and as Life-Giver in the Holy Ghost.

Subsistence: Something that has real or substantial existence. Hypostatsis.

Superfecundation: The fertilization of a second ovum after the onset of pregnancy, resulting in the presence of two fetuses of different degrees of maturity developing within the utersus simultaneously. (Mosby's Medical and Nursing Dictionary, 2nd edition)

Theophany: A theological term used to refer to either a visible or auditory manifestation of God. ... angel appearing in human form ... a flame in a burning bush ... fire, smoke and thunder on Mount Sinai ... voice of God in the garden .. the still small voice to Elijah ... voice from heaven at the baptism of Jesus ... Various interpretations have been suggested including an appearance of God himself, an qppearance of a messenger or one of God's many angesl, or an appearance of the preincarnate Christ.

Tranucianism: The belief that the first man bore within him the germ of all mankind: his soul was the fountain-head of all human souls; all varieties of individual human nature were only different modifications of that one original spiritual substance. ... There are variations of this theory ... There is also a view that not all mankind originated in Adam, but that an infection perceived as affecting man's body and spirit became universal at the time of the deluge. Traducianism distinguishes itself with the idea that some constituent of the soul is hereditary.

Universalism: The belief that all men will finally be saved.

Yahwism: A term used by scholars to denote the ancient message of Yahweh ... Jehovah ... as delivered to the prophets by God and by the prophets to the people. This is to be distinguished from what became, historically, an often conflicting set of traditions adhered to by the political and religious hierarchy within Judaism and which is typically identified with the Talmud and its various attendant writings.

Note: This book goes into depth with each point presented with all sources listed on each page. This book is currently being re-released and made available at: Believers Christian Fellowship Believers Christian Fellowship is Not related to this summary or website.


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