Can Oneness and Trinitarians Unite Around the Creeds?

Jason Dulle has a very interesting post about the historic creeds of Christendom, from a oneness pentecostal angle. If Oneness Pentecostals would approach it the way Jason has done, I believe that in at least one Creed those who hold to the deity of Christ could start to understand one another, and more than that, find some common ground:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;

He descended into hell1.

The third day He arose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy catholic church2;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting.

Amen.

1 If this only means Jesus went to the place of the dead, I think it is acceptable.  If, however, it means Jesus descended into the place of hell, it is not.
2 As I understand it, this is not a reference to the Roman Catholic Church, but rather to the universal church.  This creed was a response to the Gnostics who taught that salvation was only for a select few.  In opposition to this, the creed believes the church is universal (catholic).

I think this creed can be affirmed by Oneness Pentecostals without much issue.

While I might would disagree with Jason on his second note – that instead that universal church is rather thought of instead of single congregations (which is highlighted by the phrase ‘communion of saints’), he makes a good case that indeed, those who hold to the deity of Christ – whether Oneness, Economic, or Trinitarian – we can unite around the Apostle’s Creed, which in some form or another, dates from the 2nd century.

One of the things that I have come to learn, is that the Trinity is seen differently by different people – and sometimes, differences revolve around emphasis and terminology. While some Trinitarians emphasize the One God in three, others emphasis the three-ness so much as to have three distinct beings walking around heaven, in communication with one another.

You can read the rest of dissection of the historic creeds:

Historic Creeds: Identifying What’s Chicken and What’s Bones.

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92 Replies to “Can Oneness and Trinitarians Unite Around the Creeds?”

  1. An interesting article, for sure. With the Apostles’ Creed being used historically as a baptismal creed of the Church (i.e., part of the baptismal liturgy), and with baptism being explicitly Trinitarian in form, I think Jason is grasping at the wind and missing a huge historical aspect, i.e. that while the Apostles’ Creed doesn’t explicitly articulate the Trinity, it has without exception so far as I know been interpreted as Trinitarian.

    I also find it rather interesting that a Unitarian is trying to make inroads with historic Christian formulations that have also without exception rejected Unitarianism as heresy. You’re right to point out the different emphases within Trinitarian thought…the West has historically emphasized the unity of God while the East has emphasized the threeness of God…but both emphases have always been understood as orthodox, unlike Unitarianism.

    Just my two pennies…

    T.C.
    @st_polycarp

  2. PS…For my two cents, there can be no ground here between Oneness and Trinitarians, not here on this Creed! And for Trinitarians there is always the “hypostatic union” – the union of the divine and human natures in the person of Jesus Christ. The doctrine was elaborated by St. Cyril of Alexandria and incorporated in the Definition of Chalcedon. It stated that Jesus Christ was true God and true man, consubsantial with the Father in all things as to his divinity, yet in his humanity consubstantial with us in all things, sin apart. He exists in two natures without confusion, without conversion, without severance, and without division, the distinction of natures being in no wise abolished by their union, but the peculiarity of each nature being maintained, both concurring in one person (prosopon) and hypostasis.
    Fr. R.

  3. Joel,
    In reality, I see the Tri-theism as a very stale argument. Note really in Christendom, that too many evangelical Christian Churches are so Christological, or Christ centered, that they really don’t have a common worship of the Truine God hardly at all. In words maybe, but not in practise. If any Tri-theism really can be leveled? It might be toward the Orthodox with their position or dominance of the Father in the Godhead. But even here, it does not stick in my view.
    Fr. R.

  4. Joel,
    For you, what we know about “hypostasis” of the Father is disclosed in Jesus Christ, thru the illumination of the Holy Spirit. How can the Spirit of God be not a “person”, both divine & human in attributes. With such HE too is “prosopon”.
    Fr. R.

  5. Sorry, I was the one that got the quotes in misalignment. Again, forget Bruce Ware, he does not effect the scripture reality and argument. And if your not going to seek to look at the texts of St. John 1:1; 1:14; 1:18, and then to chapters 14-16..even 17? Then we are not in any real dialogue or debate.

    As to the “hypostatic union”, it comes out of eternity (the mind and will of God) into time and eternity, again! Again, it also touches the reality of the eternal union of the Father and the Son. What in theology we call the eternal generation of the Son. Not to mention again the eternal “procession” (to proceed out of, to lead or pass out of, ‘having regard to the end that is reached.’ Gk.) of the Holy Spirit. Yes, in time the Spirit “proceeds” from the Father but thru the Son. This is the salvific work, again from eternity to time, back to eternity! Thus even for Mary, as Council of Ephesus noted, she is the Mother of God (incarnate). A vessel of grace and election “In Christ”. Not eternal, but certainly part of the eternal plan of God!

    Finally, very simply there can be no real and lasting Christology without the Trinity of God! (St. John 1:1; 1:14; 1:18)

    Fr. Robert +
    2 Cor.13:14

  6. Jason,
    I agree that the nature of a blog is very limited to discuss such profound issues theologically. I made the point that the creed (here) cannot be brought into the ground or agreement with Oneness. Your “oneness” is always going to lead to modalism!

    And of course you cannot understand the true unity of the Godhead, it is “three persons in one God.” You are already enstranged from, and certainly against it. We could speak simply from scripture…”Holy, Holy, Holy” (Isa. 6:3 / Rev. 4:8). But this would not be enough to even start on our humble but certain path to the Triune God, not if our presuppostions are againist it. The only real approach to God Triune is with ‘a faith seeking understanding’! As the Anglican prayer and collect says, “in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity; We beseech thee [you]”. Thus really I cannot argue you or anyone into that place of faith and belief. But, it is good to seek good reason and an open mind. Only here, can we begin.

    I think I have made good points that you cannot really separate the reality of the Incarnation, in both time and eternity. You certainly cannot negate or neglect the profundity of the mystery of the doctrine of God! But this appears to be what your “Oneness” seeks to do. In the end, this seems closer (oneness) to the Greeks idea of Monad, their philosophy of the ultimate and indivisible unit. Than the Oneness of God in the triunity of God, the Holy Trinity.

    Also, you have perhaps not read our Eastern Orthodox Brethren on this (their by the way) history and the great dogmatic work, the Eastern Creeds, that portion of the creed of Christendom which concerns theology proper – the doctrines of the essential nature of the Godhead and the doctrine of the Godhead in relation with manhood in the incarnation. As you say, without looking at scripture (which you have not done), we really can say not much else?
    Fr. R.

  7. Jason,

    Since Christ is “the image of the invisible God” (Col.1:15), HE is always the center of the Godhead! Also since Christ is the one and only Mediator, “between God (and note “men”) not man. (1 Tim. 2:5). He alone brings us to the Father! (St. John 14:6) See also St. Paul, (Eph. 2:18). A wonderful Trinitarian verse!

    With simple scripture, we can see that Christ is always the Archetype and pattern / stamp and approach to God the Father. And thus in scripture & theology, Himself the eternal generation of the Father! But always with the Holy Spirit of God. Again, we have Trinitarian life and reality! Very simple, but very profound!
    Fr. R.

    1. Since Christ is the image of the invisible God as you stated what would be the point of a Triune exsistance .the Notion of the Trinity is speculation ,imagination and double talk of the scriptures .

  8. Jaaon, I have been following the discussion on this topic and must say that you have taken a ver well articulated approach in trying to communicate your knowledge. I belong to the trinitarian belief but after careful studies of the topic from scripture, I tend to believe that God is essentially one in nature, who in time Has revealed Himself to human being in the person of Jesus Christ our God and Saviour. In the same vein, He has given us of His Spirit to help the church His bride. There is no need arguing about all these issues, Deut 6:4 says that the Lord our God is one YHWH. That should be the fulcrum of our theology, any other seeming confusion in the scriptures should be view in light of this. God will give us more understanding concerning His person.

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