Unus Deus – Where we are…

Some time ago, I engaged in a discussion concerning Modalism and Trinitarianism. These following articles/posts are a result of that discussion that is on again, off again. I hear tell that it might start again, so in part because of that (and in part because I wanted to collect it all on one page, and in part because I recently discovered how to tag) I am posting this.

Pt 1 Pt 2 Pt 3 Pt 4 Pt 5 Pt 6 Pt 7 Pt 8 Pt 9 Pt 10 Pt 11 Pt 12 Genesis 1.26

Various writings,

Tertullian on the Generation of the Son, Stone-Campbellite Thoughts, William Penn, Athenagoras, The Apology of Aristides, From Eusebius

I have continued working on this, modifing it, polishing it, and getting it to a point for publication. Below is the introduction. Once completed, I will add the entire file to the blog for download and heavy criticism by my Trinitarian friends, if I have any left… Please bare in mind, that it is not completed.

Unus Deus

Author’s Note

I have attempted to create an apology for common use by The Church of Jesus Christ in an effort to avoid the use of materials published under any other banner but of the name of the Lord. It is my earnest desire to see The Church of Jesus Christ stand on her own when it comes to defending the historical Faith once for all delivered by the Apostles of Jesus Christ.

I have attempted to use the King James Version of the bible (1769 Oxford), but have found myself needing other versions as well. The most common of these is the New King James Version (NKJV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), and the New English Translation (NET). For the Septuagint I used the NETS (New English Translation of the Septuagint). I have found it necessary at times to diverge from the traditional KJV and use others because they may prove the point more thoroughly. Do not be dismayed at this. Doctrine is established in the Original Languages by the original words, not by a mere translation made by human hand. To rely upon only one translation when studying doctrine is to severely limit ourselves and find ourselves in the same pit as Tertullian and other who preferred Latin, and thus changing concepts, to the Greek.

With that said, I used the same Greek text (Byzantine Textual Tradition) for the New Testament that the KJV does as well as the Hebrew Text of the Masoretic Tradition. For the Septuagint, LXX, I used the critical text established for the NETS. I understand that for the lay person, koine Greek is as useful as ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and just as foreign, if not more so; however, I have attempted to include enough language tools in the same passage so that the point that I am attempting to make from the Greek is clearly seen and just as understood as if it were in English.

I have attempted, as well, to include in the footnotes the proper documentation as well as other helpful information. Some sections are amalgamated from various sources and therefore it is difficult to site every source, but efforts have been made to do so where required. The one thing that I do not want to be questioned on – not because of some imaginary ivory tower but because a falsehood will quickly dispel even truthful arguments – is scholarship.

It is my prayer not that this becomes the standard apologetic defense for The Church, but that it leads others into many works of defense of the great and Historical Doctrine. It is also my hope that this is the first of many works in developing a full and well versed Systematic Theology for The Church of Jesus Christ.

Introduction and History

And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Enquire, I pray thee, at the word of the LORD to day. Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king. And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him? And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so…. And the messenger that was gone to call Micaiah spake unto him, saying, Behold now, the words of the prophets declare good unto the king with one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak that which is good. And Micaiah said, As the LORD liveth, what the LORD saith unto me, that will I speak. So he came to the king. And the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall we forbear? And he answered him, Go, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the hand of the king. And the king said unto him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of the LORD? And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace. And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil? And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left. 1st Kings 22:1-19 KJV (selected)

This passage illustrates a most important principle: not always is the majority opinion true. Though many may support a theory and that theory may be supported by Tradition, that theory is not necessarily right. In Church History there have been many Micaiahs. They have, for the most part, constituted the minority, but that doesn’t make them heretics.

The Church of Jesus Christ has suffered many setbacks in her history and it has seemed from time to time that Hell has almost prevailed and through persecutions, torments and laws against us she has withstood all, but the worst of those hindrances have been when men went outside of the Word of God and tried to bring in false doctrine. Throughout the Bible, we find great evil occurs when scriptures are either wrestled with, or used impart, to create something new. The Church needs nothing outside of the Bible to substantiate creeds or dogmas. The Holy Scripture, the very God-breathed Word, is all we need. The great injustice of the Second Century and subsequent centuries was that the Church leaders went outside of the Bible for their authority, essentially leaving the Church itself behind. They invoked the decisions of Church Councils, saying they had just as much authority as the Bible and even today, these Councils are considered the only way to approach Scripture. With these Councils and Synods, men met to determine the current view of ‘Apostolic Doctrine’, thus damning heresies started began to creep in. The greatest of these is the Trinitarian Doctrine. This scripturally unsafe doctrine is found only in creeds established by men with almost total disregard for Scripture. Its thoughts were borrowed from paganism. As we know, when one foundation is removed, man is liable to remove other supports, such as baptism, holiness, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.

When man looks to man, his end is confusion. The Trinitarian doctrine was formulated by men and thus we see the present denominational world in a steady state of confusion concerning doctrines, traditions, and conversions. The people are rarely firmly rooted in their tradition, but confused as to doctrinal boundaries. The entire denominational world is crumbling into a pool of waste.

Since the final formulation of the Trinitarian dogma in 381 the Catholic Church has persecuted and condemned any who would question it. It matters not that their dogma came from man and was recognized as something foreign to Scripture, Rome pretends to be the representatives of God. The Vatican claimed authority to condemn people for simply rejecting their human dogma, and in making the denial of the Trinitarian dogma a capital offense, they revealed their hearts and their master. The New Testament never gives license to kill. Neither does it sanction torture. The Early Church knew nothing but persecution, but sometime after the Third Century the tables turned and the Catholic Church began persecution in the name of the Lord, forcing true believers underground while declaring them heretics. They issued polemics against them, and removed them from Church office. They literally attempted to write them out of the history books.

And those who wrote the books, as well as those who write the books now, either label us falsely or attempt to fallaciously portray our doctrine.

It is difficult to escape terms that we have placed erroneously on ourselves or have had placed on us. I fully recognize that the term ‘oneness’ cannot be found in the Bible, in any language in any honest translation. I will accept the term ‘Modalist’, only so far as it is recognized that this too is a man made concept, and one imposed on us by ancient Trinitarians. Granted, ‘oneness’ seems to be a much more Biblical term than ‘Trinity’, but if I am going to criticize the Trinitarians based on the fact that ‘trinity is not found in the Bible’, then we should be honest and recognize that neither is ‘oneness’. I prefer ‘people of the one God’, or’ monotheists’, or even Unitarians (however that term has taken on a negative con notation due to the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Unitarian-Universalists, but Trinitarians will claim that as well (although I believe for a majority of them, this is made in error). Unless absolutely necessary, I will try to avoid placing Modalism in opposition to Trinitarianism. Although they are opposed one to another, to define doctrine in opposition to another doctrine does justice to neither, and creates a reality that the other doctrine has merit as well at the situation that develops whereby we use the terms of the opposing doctrine and assign them our own definitions.

For our attempt to build a systematic theology of the One God, I would like to begin by recognizing areas of agreement and disagreements between the Trinitarians and Oneness believers. In doing so, I hope to demonstrate that our differences are not merely over semantics, but over concepts. For example, a concept that is foreign to the Modalist view of God is the theory of the ‘unified’ Godhead. For most Modalists the term ‘unified’ still carries within itself the idea that a separation or distinction exists. Here, we must cast doubt on the notion that distinction does not mean separation. According to Webster’s Dictionary, distinct means (1)’separate in place; not conjunct; not united by growth or otherwise;’, and (2) ‘so separated as not to be confounded with any other thing; not liable to be misunderstood; not confused; well-defined; clear; as, we have a distinct or indistinct view of a prospect.’ To the lay person, a distinction in the Godhead more than alludes to a separation but calls for an outright separation. We have to remember that in the bible, the διαστολή, which means ‘distinction’, is only applied to musical notes and to the believers, and never to God (1st Co 14.7). In the former, there is a distinction among the musical notes; in the latter, there is no difference, distinction, or separation in the believers (Jews or Greeks).

Both Oneness and Trinitarian theologians agree that the Bible teaches the existence of only ‘one’ God; both agree that the New Testament sees a difference between the Father and the Son; both views maintain that the Scripture speaks of Father and the Son as God. The question remains: to what level is there a distinction, if any, which exists in the Godhead? I believe that there is no distinction, or separation, in person; however, there remains a difference in manifestations, or spheres of operation, and that difference is temporary, caused by nature and condition.

Oneness and Trinitarian theology both attempt to answer certain questions concerning God, but we do so from different starting points, and end up with two different conclusions. I start with the clear and historically recognized teaching of the Old Testament and the Jews that God is one, and like the Apostles I seek to know Christ and interpret His gospel in light of His words while understanding the different New Testament manifestations between Father and Son in light of the foundation the Law and the Prophets. Trinitarians start with the terms ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ and attempt to justify the OT assertions that God is one in light of these, often relying upon one another’s interpretations. The result is that Oneness theologians usually understand the temporary differences as arising in the incarnation, while Trinitarians understand the differences as absolute eternal distinctions of divine persons in the Godhead both prior to, and after the incarnation. Further, while some Modalists see the Spirit as being the divine power, Trinitarians see the Spirit as being a third person co-equal with the Father and the Son. Throughout the New Testament, Christ and His apostles interpret the current events in light of the Old Testament; however we see no fundamental change in the understanding of what was being interpreted. We must not deviate from that example.

Many assume that the oneness doctrine is new, existing only shortly after the Azusa Street Revival in 1916, but in reality, Modalism goes back to the patristic Church, and past them, even to the Apostles themselves (as it would be natural to do so). To the victor go the spoils, so for Praxeas, Sabellius, and Noetus, we have nothing but the interpretation of their doctrines, perhaps even mischaracterizations, and the guile bestowed upon them by their opponents.

Praxeas explained that while Christ was the Father incarnate, Jesus died only in His humanity as the Son. Sabellius attempted to answer the charge of Patripassianism in a similar way. Noetus, according to his opponent Hippolytus, said, “When indeed, then, the Father had not been born, He yet was justly styled Father; and when it pleased Him to undergo generation, having been begotten, He Himself became His own Son, not another’s.” Hippolytus comments on Noetus saying, “For in this manner he thinks to establish the sovereignty of God, alleging that Father and Son, so called, are one and the same (substance), not one individual produced from a different one, but Himself from Himself; and that He is styled by name Father and Son, according to vicissitude of times. But that He is one who has appeared amongst us, both having submitted to generation from a virgin, and as a man having held converse among men. And, on account of the birth that had taken place, He confessed Himself to those beholding Him a Son, no doubt; yet He made no secret to those who could comprehend Him of His being a Father. That this person suffered by being fastened to the tree, and that He commended His spirit unto Himself, having died to appearance, and not being (in reality) dead. And He raised Himself up the third day, after having been interred in a sepulcher, and wounded with a spear, and perforated with nails. “ Noetus, although presumably a disciple of Praxeas, is derided by Hippolytus as being a disciple of Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher some 600 years before Christ (although Justin Martyr calls this long dead philosopher a Christian), who promoted an idea akin to pantheism. Nothing of the writings of Noetus, Praxeas or Sabelliusremains, only the words of their detractors.

The same Hippolytus who said, “The one God, the first and only, both Creator and Lord of all things, had nothing co-eternal. . . . No, he was one, to himself alone. And when he so willed, he created those things which before had no existence other than in his willing to make them and inasmuch as he had knowledge of what would be, for he also has foreknowledge”, is the one that the Trinitarians who promote co-eternal pre-existence promote as a great defender of the Faith. Hippolytus’ attacks were not limited to Modalists, but also to Quartodecimans and Montanists. (Polycarp, saying that he received his doctrine from the Apostle John, was a Quartodeciman and Tertullian became a Montanist.)

Tertullian, the founder of Latin theology, is widely quoted as saying, “the simple, indeed (I will not call them unwise and unlearned), who always constitute the majority of believers, are startled at the dispensation (of the Three in One), on the ground that their very rule of faith withdraws them from the world’s plurality of gods to the one only true God….They are constantly throwing out against us that we are preachers of two gods and three gods, while they take to themselves pre-eminently the credit of being worshipers of the One God.” In his discussion of the Trinity, Tertullian acknowledged that the majority of believers did not accept the Trinity. Calling them simple, Tertullian failed to follow Paul’s directive of ‘not going beyond what is written’ and found himself ‘puffed up’. Tertullian goes on further to say that it was Praxeas that brought Modalism to Asia. What must be noted as well, are the many times this Latin father spoke of the Father and the Son as two separate beings.

Praxeas, Sabellius, and Noetus seemed to preach what some hold today as Modalism, although they might not recognize the term. They preached that the Father incarnated His Word as Himself from Himself, or God speaking Himself. They preached that it was the Son that died, or rather the human nature, while also preaching subordination of the Son to the Father, and a temporary, albeit only by nature and condition, distinction.

Contrary to what Tertullian assumed, Oneness theology does not believe that the Son is the Father, but rather that the Father is in the Son and that when you see the Son you see the Father. As Commodian, and ancient Christian Latin poet, said, “The Father went into the Son, one God everywhere.” Sabellius explained that the Logos was not the Son but was clothed by the Son, referring to the Son as the temporary human nature. Although Modalism holds to the passability of God (in opposition to one of the philosophical errors that gave rise to the Trinity, that of the impassibility of God); however, we fully recognize that the Father cannot die in any physical sense but can be affected by or that he participates in the suffering of the Son (the flesh). During the schism created by Hippolytus, Bishop Zephyrinus of Rome said, “I know only one God, Jesus Christ, and apart from Him no other who was born or could suffer… It was not the Father who died but the Son.” (There are minor variations in the quote, but the sense is still the same.)

We have a historical tradition of a firm doctrine of what the world calls Modalism which conflicts with Trinitarianism which simply has a history of development. We also have seen that the greatest Trinitarian theologians, those giving the most to the development of said doctrine, have been found to themselves to be separated against the Church. Be it Hippolytus or Tertullian, both men were members of sects that were later declared heretical by Rome, yet their theology is retained.

Trinitarians point to the ‘one in substance’ argument, but that is a human notion that is troubling on more than one front. What substance? Would not the feeble human analogy of triplets being of one substance yet distinct be accurate? If you have a set of identical triplets, they are literally of the same substance, and distinct. Applying this picture to the Trinitarians view, they would have us believe that the triplets are one person. Yet, distinction clearly means separation. Do we see a separation at all in the Godhead? We know that Father was assigned a person in scripture, but neither the Son nor Spirit was. If the substance is the Father’s as is the Person, and if the Son and Spirit have neither Substance nor Person, then Son and Spirit must originate from the Father.

As noted later the Nicene Council in 325 was a failure

Not only them, but others as well, notably John Calvin who had Michael Servatus burned at the stake for being a Modalist.

However, Athenagoras used it about 177ad (see the section on his writings)

The Cathecism of the Catholic Church admits the Church (not the Bible) had to come up with terms of “philosophical” (pagan) origin to explain it: (251) In order to articulate the dogma of the Trinity, the Church had to develop its own terminology with the help of certain notions of philosophical origin: “substance,” “person,” or “hypostasis,” “relation” and so on (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 74). So, not only is the word unbiblical, but the concepts that have greated the word and theology as well.

In Scripture there is as yet no single term by which the Three Divine Persons are denoted together…The word trias (of which the Latin trinitas is a translation) is first found in Theophilus of Antioch about A.D. 180 (We will read some of Theophilus writings and allow the reader to examine the usage). Afterwards it appears in its Latin form of trinitas in Tertullian (“De pud.” c. xxi) (The Blessed Trinity. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight).

For that matter, ‘Godhead’ is a foreign concept as well, which we will address later

“distinct.” Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary. MICRA, Inc. 01 May. 2008. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/distinct>.

An example being the Atonement. A sacrifice was needed in the OT and the NT. That fundamental requirement was not changed. What changed was the sacrifice itself. From the blood of goats and lambs to that of the Son.

“Monarchianism,” Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, VIII, 780.

Hippolytus stood uncompromisingly for a real difference between the Son (Logos) and the Father, but so as to represent the Former as a Divine Person almost completely separate from God (Ditheism) and at the same time altogether subordinate to the Father (Subordinationism). – New Advent Catholic Encylcopedia

Hippolytus was Church Elder in Rome, and some say that he was a student of Irenaeus, but that cannot be collaborated. He was a follower of Novatian, who has also divided the Church having set up for himself his own sect and Church. He died c. 236 after being reconciled back to the Church.

Refutation of All Heresies A.D. 228

See Appendix B

Montanism was a sect, very much kin to the modern Charismatic movement. Montanus and his two female attendants, Maximilla and Prisca, were enthusiastic revivalists of the mid-second century. They believed that in Montanus the Paraclete dwelt bodily, and that the heavenly Jerusalem would soon come down at Pepuza in Asia Minor. Their theology is thus largely based on the Johannine writings, which at this time were becoming very popular in Asia, and Gaius of Rome (XXVI) tried to cut the ground from under them by ascribing Gospel and Apocalypse to Cerinthus (Pseudo-Tertullian, 10). The visions and the prophecy of Montanism (which was sometimes called the New Prophecy, XXIII. I) have been thought of as a return to first-century Christianity; but there is little evidence that, except at Corinth, apostolic Christian- ity was ordinarily so effervescent. One of their Oracles (prophecies) reads Montanus: “I am the Father and the Son and the Paraclete.” (Didymus, De trinitate iii. 41. 1.) Assembled in P. de Labriolle, La crise montaniste (1913), 34-105, by Bates College, Lewston (Maine)

‘Most of Tertullian’s writings after 206 exhibit strong Montanistic leanings, although Tertullian was still part of the church. Around 213, Tertullian may have left the church and joined a Montanist group.’ – Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs. What should be noted is that all of Tertullian’s Trinitarian writings come from the period of his Montanist membership. According to Williston Walker, in his 1918 History of the Christian Church, ‘The Spirit had been the inspiration of the prophecy of the Old Testament. He guided the New Testament writers. Christian thought at the beginning of the second century the Holy Spirit was differentiated from Christ, but was classed, like Him, with God. This appears in the Trinitarian baptismal formula, which was displacing the older baptism in the name of Christ. Trinitarian formula were frequently in use by the close of the first and beginning of the second century.’

Tertullian seems to suggest that the majority of believers at that time favored the Sabellian view of the oneness of God. Epiphanius (Haeres 62) about 375 AD notes that the adherents of Sabellius were still to be found in great numbers, both in Mesopotamia and at Rome. The second general council at Constantinople in 533 AD declared the baptism of Sabellius to be invalid, which indicates that Sabellianism was still extant.

The ‘us’ is the Montantist sect that Tertullian was apart of. How apparent the priorities of Rome that they draw their theology from those that sought to divide the Church.

1st Co 4.6

The Christian common people held firmly, above all, to the Unity of God and at the same time to the true Godhead of Jesus Christ. Originally no distrust of this doctrine was felt among them. Pope Zephyrinus did not interpose authoritatively in the dispute between the two schools. The heresy of the Modalists was not at first clearly evident, and the doctrine of Hippolytus offered many difficulties as regards the tradition of the Church. Zephyrinus said simply that he acknowledged only one God, and this was the Lord Jesus Christ, but it was the Son, not the Father, Who had died. This was the doctrine of the tradition of the Church. Hippolytus urged that the pope should approve of a distinct dogma which represented the Person of Christ as actually different from that of the Father and condemned the opposing views of the Monarchians and Patripassians. However, Zephyrinus would not consent to this.

You Might Also Like

0 Replies to “Unus Deus – Where we are…”

  1. Polycarp,

    Very interesting! I think it is interesting however, also, how you must seek to use some form of historical theology! (Which you said you did not believe in?)

    The flow of both the best of the Judeo and Jewish truth, into that of Christian and the Apostolic truth, is always in the reality of the living and Christ-Incarnate Church of God! This is not an attack, but your “Church” is not very old, and cannot claim connection to the historical, and orthodox Church at all. This is what you are trying so hard to do, but without success to my mind.

    To place your Church on the ground of Praxeas (who recanted his Patripassian before he died), Sabellius, and Noetus (or Epigonus) puts your Church and its theology squarely on Modalism. Now you must historically and theologically prove that this is apostolic and orthodox (the apostles and right doctrine). And this you can never do!

    But it will be interesting to watch you try! Again, this is not an attack, just my observation. For myself, I can only hope and pray that perhaps Kelly’s grand book will open your heart and mind? But, this must be a work of the Triune God also!

    The only place as to the nature of God that we can perhaps agree on? Is the Judeo or Jewish-monotheism.

    Fr. Robert

    PS I am on my laptop, away from me home at present.

  2. Laptop? No!!!!! And here I thought you were on a wee bit of a holiday! (kidding of course)

    Fr. Robert, I don’t mind theology from History, or basing our theology in the historical Tradition; what I did mind is historical development of doctrine and Tradition. These are two separate concepts, with the first with a designate point in history that is both starting and ending while the latter has a starting point but no ending point.

    I appreciate you stance that your words are not an attack, and I really don’t care if they seem to be, but our Church has the starting point of the Apostles and was indeed the true ‘apostolic’ faith (no connection to modern day Apostolics) that John handed to Polycarp. Success does not have to register in your mind for it be thus, it just has to be true. As I develop more of my thesis, polish it, support it and finally release what I have, I will fully show that ‘modalism’ is the historical faith of the Church and thus the historic and orthodox faith and the Church that accepts this faith is the true and historic and orthodox faith.

    Do you have concrete evidence that Praxeas recanted or is it tradition? Didn’t Hippolytus recant his position and end his schism with modalistic Rome before his death? At least we have evidence of that. I believe that is easily shown that the doctrine of the Church, even by Tertullians words and admissions by the Catholics, was the historic tradition and doctrine of the church, yet you dismiss that?

    Yes, I think can agree on the nature of God is Jewish-monotheism, contrary to Philo and others.

    Fr. Robert, if you would like I can send you a hard copy of what I have, which is more than I have published on line, so that you can get your heart rate up! Let me know and I can email it to you. – Polycarp

  3. Polycarp,

    First as regards historical theology, from my point of reference, it would include development. In some sense, the development of doctrine will not end until the “eschaton” of Christ. Thus my quotation of Eph.4:1-13 (note verses 15-16 also). As I wrote to Lanis, the growth and finality of the Mystical Body of Christ is St. Paul’s most profound truth! (See the doctrine of “theosis” here).

    However, in some sense the Oecumenical Councils (and as an Anglican) the first seven are the outlines of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. These councils of ‘the whole inhabited world’. The assemblies of bishops and other ecclesiastical representatives of the whole world whose decisions on doctrine, cultus, discipline, etc. are considered binding on all Christians. And according to the teaching of most Christian communions outside the RC Church there have been no Oecumenical Councils since the schism between East and West, the last being the second of Nicaea in 787. And now even many modern Reformed acquiesce here also.

    Sadly, it is the fundamentalist churches, much like yours that do not reverence almost anything High Church, etc. And this no doubt comes from a false biblical, theological, and historical antithesis. Look at Lanis, who was charging me with “head knowledge”. (By the way, is Lanis male or female? Somehow I got female, but I could be wrong?)

    As to Modalism being the historic and orthodox faith? History and theology proves otherwise. But, I will read and look at your arguments. But when I get home, then you can send me your thesis, please? But please look at Kelly’s book? It is not perfect, it was written (last edition in the late 70’s). But it is still a profound work and study! And as I also wrote, you simply must read Serguis Bulgakov’s book: The Comforter! He also is not perfect, and like all men has feet of clay, but is perhaps one of the best books on the Trinitarian truth. (Though the book is strictly on the Spirit of God, but covers much more.)

    Finally as to Praxeas, this was from my remembrance and reading, but it came from a historical and theological dictionary. I will give you chapter and verse when I am home again.

    Fr. Robert

  4. Ah, yes, Fr., we can discuss in great detail points of references, but from my point of reference, you are wrong. Doctrine has been fully developed since the Apostles, without the help Creeds and Councils and the thoughts of men.

    Why reverence ‘high church’? Is that biblical? Honestly, how can we reverence ‘high church’ when such things are unbiblical. Do they not generally believe in doctrinal procession? Do they not dismiss the totality of the the inspiration of the Scriptures? Do they hold to Tradition over that which is breathed by God?

    I am interested in reading Kelly’s book, but I am trying to muddle my way through Cahill’s book, which I should just lay down now.

    I look forward to continued discussion, and as always, willing to learn another’s view point.

  5. Polycarp,

    In reality without the history of both the Roman Catholic (West) and the Orthodox Catholic Church (East), we would have very little as to both Scripture and Apostolic Doctrine. They both have been true guardians here! I know this is foreign to you, but your presuppositions are simply flawed! This has been my point from the beginning. And I don’t say this in so much with polemics, as with both the authority of history and theology, and here both salvation history and the Scripture. Yes, indeed God allowed the West to have a Reformation, and in many ways it was needed here. But when we look at the East, and their history, theology, etc. This is simply NOT the case. But we should note, that there has been a complete renewal in the West as to theology, etc. In fact in the West, the E. Orthodox Church is growing, with many Evangelicals going over and joining this great and enduring tradition. Again, this is just factual. I am Orthodox friendly myself, as you can see, but I am still a western minded Christian. I am always critical of the High Churches too! This will aways be part of my own personal approach to any part of the Church Catholic, both East & West!

    One area I can see that you completely misunderstand, is the truth of both Scripture & Tradition! They are really not opposed at all. Not at least properly so. I admit that the Roman Church has errored here some, but I don’t see this type of error with the Orthodox Church, at least fully so. As the Anglican Church and Communion, they hold to the first Seven Ecumenical Councils. Though I must admit also, that the Anglican Church has failed morally and spiritually. And this includes some areas of moral doctrine. On paper at least the liberal elements in the Church of England give lip service to the proper doctrine of God, but then diminish it with added moral loss, and thus spiritual error and loss.

    If we look closely at the NT, Corinth and the Corinthians..we see that sexual problems were still very real. This does not advocate or allow such at all, but we can see that now the Church, in both the end of modernism, and postmodernism in full gear, is like the early pagans. For the fallen human nature does not change. (St.John 3:6 / 1 Cor.5; 6:11;15-18; 2 Cor.12:21; 13:10) Indeed, the sexual desire is very strong still in the regenerate Christian! And put in it’s proper place of love and marriage is guarded (but even here there must be love and restraint used. I have seen sexual abuse even in marriage.) The old nature is not eradicated until death and glory even in the Christian, (Rom.7:25). We must as St. Paul did go to war with the old nature, (1 Cor.9:25-27). My point to say all this, is that this battle and warfare is real for all Christians, even conservative ones..and ‘fundamentalists’! I have some former Pentecostal Christians who have told me stories of grave sins and great delusion in supposed deliverance. Very sad! (This is not a shot at you or your church, but always a problem really with human beings, Christians included!)

    I look forward also to continued discussion. I too am always seeking to learn. The true pastor-teacher must always seek this. (See 1 Tim.4:15-16)

    Fr. R.

  6. You know, if you were on holiday, you should be out enjoying yourself.

    Fr. Robert, if I was not so concerned for my soul, I would learn East, or maybe Methodist…

    I do not think that Tradition and a high value of Scripture are naturally opposed to each other, but Scripture must inform, curtail, and correct Tradition, while Tradition must never have a part in Scripture. While working with a Catholic Seminary student, we happened on the discussion of Matthew 28.19 and where some commentators have stated that they feel that it was added at a later day. He responded that this was quite natural since Tradition informs Scripture. This idea is foreign to me, again, Scripture must inform Tradition.

    I have watched with great disgust and sadness, and even surprise, the state of the Communion these past few years. Indeed, so many denominations faced challenges of a sexual nature, and in the end, whether it is homosexuality or heterosexual affairs, it comes down to the nature of humanity, a sinful nature. And it seems which each passing year, the Anglican Communion suffers greater loss of it’s foundation. (I have to wonder if Henry had foreseen all of this, would he had just stayed married? – kidding of course)

  7. Polycarp,

    I would agree with the first part of your sentence: “I do not think Tradition and a high value of Scripture are naturally opposed to each other..” But how can then Tradition “never have a part in Scripture”? In theology we call for example the differences of the same subject (like the Atonement) different scripture traditions. And would not Acts 2:42 be a verse that gives us both Scripture and Tradition?

    Finally do you believe in the oral tradition that existed before the NT text?

    My Anglican Church is a sad mess really. Look at the most recent news from the Bishops to ordain women bishops..very sad! The conservatives like myself, will not let this go down easy however. I have been an auxiliary bishop, and have seen the layers of that politics. I can only hope that the Anglican Church and Communion (like that in the Third world, which is very conservative) will renew their theology and pressure. Here is where many American Episcopals (so-called) have gone for authority and support.

    And by the way, I am very interested in the history and theology of both John and Charles Weseley. I wrote a book (now OP) on John Wesley The Anglican. It was only in the UK. Perhaps the best book I have read on John Wesley’s theology, is “Wesley And Sanctification” by Harald Lindstrom (Lindstrom was Swedish Lutheran). It is an older book (early 50’s?). But I think it is still in print?

    Also it is interesting that Henry VIII when he was 30 years old wrote and published a book, An Asserion of the Seven Sacraments Against Martin Luther. From which he was given the title, Defender of the Faith. By the then reigning pope Leo X. Later the King was again ‘Defender of the Faith’, as part of the official designation of the King of England in his capacity of supreme Governor of the Protestant Reformed Church of England as by law established then. Strange, very strange! And later the Convocation of Canterbury declared (1534), that “the Roman Bishop hath no greater jurisdiction given to him by God in this kingdom than any other foreign bishop.” Although as we know that fine title Defender of the Faith was seldom to do duty as the ensign of the Catholic rule in England, it was fated to serve as the symbol of a regime as rigid and inhuman as any papal tyranny for the English.

    Fr. R.

  8. Tradition must never have a part in development of Scripture (which seemed fine to my young seminary friend from Boston), and should not be used to inform Scripture. Since the earliest NT writings come from the 50’s, the oral tradition had a very limited time to develop, and since we have been given four very unique gospels, it seems that the writings were use to quell divergances that seemed to be beginning in the oral tradition. On the other hand, Paul preached from the oral tradition of the Apostles who had witnessed Christ and from the Hebrew bible, which cemented him in something more firm than Tradition.

    I dealt a great deal with religious leaders in certain parts of the country and it was surpising to see the Episcopals so divided, not only politically, but as to what the gospel was. Many seemed ready to not only devoid themselves of morality but of doctrine and tradition of Canterbury and the wider world of Tradition. I met very few Episcopals here that were conservative and even less that were willing to fight to preserve their identity and doctrine.

    The Wesleyan Tradition is still very much alive here in this part of the world, although the United Methodist Church seems to be rushing head long into the abyss of the Episcopals and the Presbyterian Church USA. Of course, the Nazarenes and Pentecostals, whether they know it or not, are direct descendents of Wesley. (So are Freewill Baptists, Holiness denominations, and others.)

  9. Ploycarp,

    Truely the subject of the place, formation, history and canon of the Scripture is very profound in the Church of God! And the history of both the Judeo & Christian reality in the Church is one of trustee, guardian and defender of Holy Scripture. (This to me includes history & tradition) We really cannot do justice to this great subject on the limitations of a blog.

    We are not going to agree here. So rather than trade ideas and information, we should let this drop. I will only end this with the statement that the so-called oral-history was no short or small thing. The NT Church was alive for at least 30 years before a line was written as reguards the Church of God. This is really quite amazing when you think about it! And I would of course modify Rome’s position on Scripture and Tradition. But overall their position in history has been providential. If God is sovereign, and He is! Then God’s hand has been on the historic Church, both East and West! However for myself, this does not include infallibility in the RC sense. I would be closer to the position of the East here. But again, this is too vast a subject. And really does not need the aspect of the western debate either. Again, my thoughts at least. (But check out 1 Cor. 15:1-11 closely.)

    Thankfully the Anglican Church in the UK, though under grave attack, still has more conservatives than many people are aware. We are much stronger than the American Episcopals. Though there are some strong American conservative Anglican synods. They just dodn’t get the headlines, etc. My own view is that in spite of the attacks within and without, the Anglican conservative Church is alive and well…alone with Christ above! He will always be our strength and Headship! (Colossians)

    I have some British Methodist friends. Some of the Methodist Churches in the UK are conservative, and even more liturgical than the past. The fact that they have seen their Anglican history has been most real for them also. Charles Wesley was more liturgical and closer to the High Church model than John. Though both were very “sacramental”! As I have written many papers on the Wesleys, they were both a mixture of Anglican, evangelical truth, but also the spirituality of certain Catholic ideas and some strains from some Catholic saints. This is the center of true Wesleyan theology and history, at least from the Wesleys. I have a copy of an American Study Bible: The Wesley Bible NKJV (Nelson), which is more American Nazarene. I am very interested in John Wesley the man, and theologian. Also Charles too! (Love his hymns!) Both great Christians, and great Englishmen!

    Back at me digs now. Till another time.

    Fr. Robert

  10. For all of our disagreements, I still like having you hang around the blog, as you have increased my interest in learning about the East and pointing me into different directions and viewpoints. I do hope that you stay around.

  11. Poly,

    I too have learned, that though we may disagree, you are a seeker type. I hope the best for you and your studies. I am after that curve myself. It is always a humbling thing to seek the character and will of God! Have you discovered Apophatic Theology? This Christian theology uses the language of poetry and images, etc. for the interpretation of dogma much more the the language of the conventional logic and schematic concepts. People like Dionysius the Areopagite come to mind.

    I have been thinking about dropping out of this blog site? I have friends on another blog. But I use this because my younger brother is in the US and has a blog here. He is a baseball and sports writer. But we shall see? Since I don’t have much time to write my own blogs, etc.

    Good day mate.

    Fr. Robert

  12. Polycarp,

    Thanks for the kind words, rare on this here blogs. As you can perhaps see, there are few Judeo-Christian sites on the blogs that are not in some way advocating either some man’s doctrine, or even those that are orthodox in doctrine, do so in a sectarian manner. Very sad! The Spirit of Christ is also rare! I use this blog mainly to see my brother’s sport’s blog. But I shall just wait and see? As to my being around much longer. You have many of your church people on this site, which is nice for you.

    That quote about Praxeas was taken from Nelson’s New Christian Dictionary – The Authoritative Resource On the Christan World, (2001). George Thomas Kurian is the editor. He is a well known encyclopedist. He has a larger two volume: World Christian Encyclopedia (Oxford). The quote from this Nelson work, is page 622. I will give the whole quote:

    Praxeas (c.200) Heretic. Leader of Patripassian Monarchians who declared that God the Father also suffered the agony of the crucifixion. Before the end of his life he recanted. Tertullian wrote an important treatise on the Trinity against him.

    The substance of his history and teaching is known only from the treatise ‘Adversus Praxean’ (c.213?) of his opponent Tertullian. He is said to have arrived in Rome towards the end of the 2nd century from Asia, where he had suffered imprisonment for his faith. And may have succeeded in turning the then Pope (Victor or Zephyrinus) against the Montanists? He proclaimed himself a leader of the ‘Patripassian Monarchians’, i.e. of those who were concerned to maintain the unity of the Godhead even at the cost of saying that God suffered. But as Tertullian put it, he ‘crucified the Father’ (Patrem crucifixit). Praxeas conceived of the Godhead as emptied into the person of Christ in order to assume the temporary role of Redeemer. But again the end of his life he recanted his heretical doctrines (Tertullian).
    *Sidenote, ‘Praxeas’ is prob. a real name and not as a pseudonym (busybody) for Noetus or Epigonus. See E. Evans English tr. and comm. of Tertullian’s Adversus Praxean. (London, 1948).

    Fr. Robert

  13. Polycarp,

    In many ways Tertullian’s work against Praxeas, which shows his best thought about the Trinity of God, he must be considered one of the most important early Trinitarian thinkers! His terminology provided the base for the Trinitarianism and Christology of later centuries. Both Tertullian and Origen struggled, but helped make the categories and language to elucidate that doctrine of God triune, for which there was no precedent but the apostolic word itself! A real dogmatist also! Of course the Father of Latin theology.


  14. Fr. Robert, I have. If I may, what do you think of Tertullian’s writings, especially his Montanusist days in which he wrote anti-modalists diatribes? Doesn’t his schismatic ways prevent him from actually commenting on those still in the Church?

  15. Polycarp,

    Oh my yes, Tertullan is a piece of work! But, the second century was perhaps one of the hardest times in the Church in many ways. (Much like our own now?) His work and activity as a Christian falls between 190 and 220, a very hard time indeed for the Church Catholic. His master in apologetics is Justin, and in theology proper and into it with Gnostics, Irenaeus.

    As to your question, it is so hard to really place in a chronology Tertullian. Indeed because he was critical with the Catholic Church and the leadership, he does have some real ill here. Because of his Montanist days and ways, it is hard to determine his one ruling principle…Spirit and Prophets verses Catholic Church? We can say that he was involved in contradictions which taxed all of his skill. At last (c. 207-208?) he felt compelled to break off with the Church, and became head of a small Montanist group in Carthage. But he still clung fast, in spite of his separation from the Catholic Church, to his belief and position that the Church possesses the true doctrine, that the bishops are the respositories of the grace of the teaching office, and so forth. The growing violence of his late works is to be accounted for, not only by his burning zeal against the incompatibility between the authorites which he recognized and yet was unable to reconcile.

    I must confess I like this man very much however! A true man of God, churchman, and yet bound by the NT faith and doctrine to the work and life of the Spirit of God! Would that we had more men of God like this, who felt and feel the need to work at both. Church Catholic and yet the full Spirit and work of God!


  16. Polycarp,

    Off the subject a bit, but I wondered what your eschatological position was..premill? I have read much here myself, historical premill. But I am perhaps more “idealist”. Still an open question and search for me.


  17. I am not premill,or postmill either. I believe that the Church will go through ‘seven’ years of tribulation along with the world, and be ‘raptured’ in Rev. chp 14.

  18. Poly,

    Premill, means you believe in a “premillennial” coming of Christ (before the thousand year reign of Christ on earth). So you do believe in a literal millennial (thousand years) but before that the rapture after the tribulation? In other words, pre-mill and post-trib.

    I am not of the literal thousand year millennial belief myself, thus as I said…”Idealist” as it is called. The “rapture”, for me, might be outside of time, and at the end, “eschatological”. But I am not sure right now? I have been historic premill, but always post on any rapture. (In the past).

    Is this dogma in your church, i.e. your position?

    Fr. R.

  19. Fr. Robert, you are right, of course concerning pre-mill (Yesterday was a long day). Our Church doesn’t really have a position except that it is not preterist. (I guess some would say that I am a partial preterist, as I believe that everything but the seventh seal has happened, with the sixth seal being the Crucifixion.

    Like so many numbers in the Scriptures, I am not sure how to take the 1,000 year statement. (After all, if God has cattle on a 1,000 hills, what about the other hills? And we know that certain numbers are not meant to be literal)

    I believe that Church will go through the trumpets and be ‘raptures’ leaving the earth to face the bowls, but Christ and a myriad of His saints will return to defeat the army of the false prophet and then He will establish His kingdom on earth for a period of years (1000?).

    Again, this is just me speaking, as there are varying degrees of thought in the Church as a whole, but the one thing that we do agree on is that if you are ‘left behind’ you will not have a second chance to escape.

  20. Polycarp,

    Thanks to share your position somewhat. Indeed eschatology is important, but not as easy sometimes to understand. I am not certain on many issues here, but one thing is certain: the last enemy to be destroyed is death! Thank God Christ has already accomplished this! “O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is is thy victory?” (1 Cor.15)


Leave a Reply, Please!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.