[This article was taken from “Our Heavenly Father Has No Equals” by Don Snedeker.]
One of the primary elements of trinitarian dogma is that Jesus Christ has two natures, one of God and the other of man. This is a different claim than that of the Trinity, which is that God exists in three persons. The doctrine of the “double nature of Christ” arose from the circumstances that Jesus is called a man throughout the Bible, but some of his followers began to think he was also God. In order to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable views, arguments were developed over the centuries to account for the fact that Jesus is clearly delineated as a man in Scripture, and this would seem to disqualify him from being God.
The special need for this doctrinal development arose because Scripture presents Jesus in a different “class” than the Father. The Father is always spoken of as having no limitations. Jesus, being a man, implies he was limited, and there are explicit statements in Scripture that make his limitations clear. Jesus was ignorant of the day and hour of his return. He said his Father was greater than himself. John said that nobody has seen God at any time. Timothy informs us that there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. To maintain the belief that Jesus is God, Trinitarians needed to account for the many verses that so clearly represent Jesus as a man:
We now proceed to examine another branch of orthodoxy intimately connected with the Trinity, which is the hypostatic union of the second person of the Trinity with the man Christ Jesus. The opponents of anti-Trinitarianism cannot deny that Jesus is frequently spoken of in Scripture as a man, and as distinct from and inferior to the Being who is usually spoken of under the name of ‘God.’ But they maintain also that the names and titles, the attributes, the works, and the worship of the Father are also given to the Son. Hence they are led to suppose that he was constituted of a nature both human and divine, which constitution of his person took place at his birth of the Virgin Mary, by his taking the manhood into the Godhead, or by his taking the human nature into union with his Deity.
The reasoning employed in the development of the doctrine is so arbitrary it is as if those who developed it decided to accept it as true without considering what their arguments and conclusions sounded like. It requires very little scrutiny before the mind recoils at the propositions put forth in support of the doctrine of the two natures in Christ. The so-called truth of the doctrine appears to have been (or perhaps become) a foregone conclusion. The claim that Jesus is a man and God is a matter of prejudice, and is manifestly absurd in light of Jesus’ own statements on this subject:
Assuredly, his language, as recorded by St. Mark, must then be understood to admit, nay, with emphasis to declare his ignorance both as man and as God, both in his human and in his divine nature, “of that day and hour.” If ignorant in that respect, if ignorant on any one, and but one point, he was not Omniscient. And I cannot help adding, though not discussing that topic now, that if in his divine nature, if as God the Son, he was not Omniscient, then that divine nature was not the highest; then, as God the Son he was not the Supreme; he was God only in an inferior and subordinate sense, or as he himself, on another occasion, expressed it, as being one “to whom the word of God came.”
The argument is not weakened by reading “no one” instead of “no man” in the first clause, as the Greek might at least with equal correctness be rendered. For the words “the Son” are still there; they still stand in full force, used by Christ himself to distinguish himself from the Father, whom he describes as “the ONLY TRUE GOD;” while the expression “no one” is so sweeping of itself as to carry with it all other beings, even if none of them were specified, and unless some were excepted. One glorious exception, as we have seen, is made—”the Father only.” The Father alone being Omniscient, is GOD alone and supreme.
It seems it should be unnecessary to make assertions such as “God is not a man.” But it is necessary to state things as elementary as this when addressing the arguments in favor of the doctrine of two natures in Christ. By his own admission Jesus was ignorant of the day and hour of his return. This immediately disqualifies him from being God. This is not only because of his claim of his own ignorance on the issue, but because he said that only the Father, and therefore not the holy spirit, knew the day and hour of his return. If, as Trinitarians argue, Jesus said this in his capacity as a man, why is the holy spirit, which is, according to Trinitarians, co-equally God, omitted from having knowledge of Jesus’ return? If “he” were co-equal with the Father, “he” would have been just as knowledgeable as the Father. But trinitarian arguments continue unabatedly, trying by any means to save what was absurd from the very beginning. The Father is the only being without any limitations—limitations which Jesus himself admitted to having:
The frequency with which God is called or described as “the Father,” is also in this connection to be borne in mind. In the New Testament He is called simply “the Father” in no less than one hundred and twenty-two passages; in nineteen, “God the Father;” in various places, “God our Father,” “Our Father,” “God, even our Father,” “God, even the Father,” “Father of Mercies,” or merciful Father, “Father of Glory,” or glorious Father. He is declared in express terms to be “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ;” while our Lord himself described Him as “your Father which is in heaven,” “thy Father,” “your Heavenly Father,” “your Father;” and after his Resurrection, directed Mary to say to his disciples: “I ascend unto my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Never in Scripture, not in one solitary instance, is there the phrase God the Son—which is so familiar to our ears that its profanity passes unnoticed.
There are a few verses that are used to support the doctrine of the double nature of Christ. In these Jesus is thought to be called God. So, taken literally, the inference is made that Jesus must be God as well as a man. One such verse is Hebrews 1:8: But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom; thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity. Contrary to the contentions of some Trinitarians, this verse is recognized by other Trinitarians as an incorrect translation, and therefore does not contain the proof that many had hoped it would. Even if we allow the title God to be applied to Christ in this verse, it still does not mean that he is the supreme God. The title God (or god) was applied to people who were obviously not the supreme God. This custom is not practiced in the West, but by looking at a few parts of Scripture we may see how it was applied:
There is probably no text oftener quoted against us, than the first part of the Epistle to the Hebrews, particularly the eighth verse: “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom; thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity.” The word God is here applied to Christ, and is understood as proof of his deity. This, however, would be an uncertain proof, for the same word is applied quite frequently in a subordinate sense. It was applied to Moses, who was said to be “a god to Pharaoh.” Exod. vii. 1. Those also were called Gods to whom the word of God came. See John x. 35. We must look, therefore, to the connection to see what its meaning is in this case; and we read directly after the words quoted, “Therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” Observe, therefore, which is the point of our argument in this case, that, even when spoken of as God, there is the Supreme God over him, from whom he receives his anointing, and by whom he is raised above his equals. Let me read to you, also, the beginning of that same chapter, that you may see how plainly the dependence of Christ upon the Father is expressed.
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 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?” We admit that words cannot easily express higher exaltation than this. It was the Apostle’s intention to speak in the strongest terms which were consistent with truth, and he has done so. In reading them we perceive that the exaltation of Christ is greater than we can fully comprehend. But at the same time we perceive, with equal plainness, delegated authority and absolute dependence on the Father. On the one hand, we can have no doubt that his highest nature is here spoken of, for there is no passage in which stronger words are used. On the other hand, we read that he did not speak of himself, but that God spoke by him; that in all his highest offices he was the agent of God; working only by God’s power; that he obtained a more excellent name than the angels by inheritance, according to the appointment of God; that there was a time when his existence began, as plainly expressed in these words, “This day have I begotten thee.” In the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth verses, which are a quotation from Psalm cii., the Almighty himself is addressed as the source of all power and might; after which the Apostle returns to his former subject, the dignity of Christ, which he again ascribes to God as the Author and Giver.
This is an important point in the debate regarding the supremacy of the Father. He is always designated as the origin and giver of power and authority. So if Jesus is anywhere called God, it is to be understood in a subordinate sense. He is one unto whom the word of God came and, just as the prophets and judges before him, is, by idiom, entitled to the title God.
Another verse that some think is proof of Jesus’ deity is Philippians 2:6: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal to God. If this verse were meant to prove Christ’s deity, it would stand as a singular example of verbosity and circumlocution. Thinking that the phrase thought it not robbery to be equal with God is the equivalent of the phrase is God is to pervert the sense of the words employed. If Jesus were God, this verse would say something like, “Who, being God, etc.” But it is unnecessary to address this verse at length here. The following quotation sheds light on the meaning of this verse, and is an interpretation which harmonizes with the whole of Scripture:
In the sixth verse it is said of Christ, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal to God.”; of which Calvin says, “The form of God here signifies majesty; I acknowledge, indeed, that Paul does not make mention of Christ’s divine essence.” To be in the form of God means, to be the image or manifestation of God; which is also the interpretation adopted by Le Clerc and Macknight. The proper meaning of the words, “Thought it not robbery to be equal with God,” is that given by Bishop Sherlock, namely, “He was not tenacious of appearing as God; did not eagerly insist to be equal with God.” This is the meaning adopted by Coleridge, Professor Stuart, Martin Luther, Melancthon, Archbishop Tillotson, Paley, and many others of the most eminent Trinitarian writers. But the exact meaning of the words is not important to our present argument. Whatever they mean, their limitation is found in the ninth and following verses. “Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every name shall bow, of those in heaven, and those in earth and those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
It is important to understand the doctrine of the double nature of Christ in light of the doctrine of a triune God. The doctrine of the Trinity asserts there are three persons in one nature, while the doctrine of the double nature reverses the order of this terminology and states that there are two natures in one person:
“As before, of the doctrine of the Trinity, so now of the doctrine of the Hypostatic Union, as it is called, I ask for a single hint throughout the New Testament of the inconceivable fact that, in the body of Jesus, resided the mind of God and the mind of man—two natures, the one finite, the other infinite, yet making but one person—a difficulty you will perceive the very opposite of that of the Trinity; for whereas that teaches three persons in one nature, this teaches two natures in one person.”
The doctrine of the double nature of Christ creates a distorted view of Jesus. If we try to conceive of a being who is both God and man, we become unhappily bewildered. Our notions of what it is to be man are very different from our notions of what it is to be the almighty God. The two terms have their own unique characteristics and are so different that they cannot be predicated of the same being:
Now by the nature of a thing we mean its qualities. To say therefore that Christ possesses both a divine and a human nature, is to say that he possesses both the qualities of God and the qualities of man; that the same mind consequently is both created and uncreated, both finite and infinite, both dependent and independent, both changeable and unchangeable, both mortal and immortal, both susceptible of pain and incapable of it, both able to do all things and not able, both acquainted with all things and not acquainted with them. Here is one of the persons of the Trinity united to the person of the man; here there is a person or mind both finite and infinite. Now, to use the words of another in expressing my own sentiments, if it be not certain that such a doctrine as this is false, there is no certainty on any subject. It is in vain to call it a mystery; it is an absurdity—it is an impossibility. According to my ideas of propriety and duty, by assenting to it I should culpably abuse those faculties of understanding which God has given me to distinguish between right and wrong, truth and error.
The doctrine of the double nature of Christ, like that of the Trinity, is a doctrine of inference. Neither doctrine is declared in any verse, nor can they be expressed in the language of Scripture. Scattered verses are assembled in quasi-syllogistic form, inferences are drawn from newly-created contexts, and it is assumed that the Messiah is both a mortal man and the almighty God. The absurdity of this method is manifest in the body of theology that comes from it:
The Church of England, like the Catholic church, says: “The Son—took man’s nature—so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and manhood were joined together in one person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very man.”
Professor Stewart, speaking of Jesus Christ, says, “He must, as it seems to me, be God omniscient and omnipotent, and still a feeble man and of imperfect knowledge.”
Now this doctrine is to be rejected, because, like that of the Trinity, it is essentially incredible. It is not a mystery, but as palpable a contradiction as can be stated. By the nature of any person or being, is always meant his essential qualities. If Christ possess a Divine and Human nature, he must possess the essential qualities of God and the distinctive qualities of man. But these qualities are totally incompatible with one another. The qualities of God are eternity, independence, immutability, exemption from pain, sorrow, and death, omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. But the qualities of MAN are derived existence, dependence, mutability, susceptibility of pain, sorrow and death, comparative weakness and ignorance, and locomotivity. To assert, therefore, that the same mind possesses both a Human and a Divine nature, is to assert that the same mind is both created and uncreated, both finite and infinite, both dependent and independent, both mutable and immutable, both mortal and immortal, both susceptible of pain and unsusceptible of it, both able to do all things and unable, both acquainted with all things and not acquainted with them, both ignorant of some things and possessed of the most intimate knowledge of them, both in all places and only in one place at the same time. Now if this doctrine is not an absurdity, I know not how to conceive of or describe an absurdity. It is a doctrine “which councils and parliaments may decree, but which miracles cannot prove.” It is not pretended that any passage of Scripture expressly asserts the doctrine of the Two Natures. Like that of the Trinity, it is a mere inference from the premises laid down by Trinitarians. I know of no allusion in the Bible to the doctrine of the Two Natures, either with or without modification.
This doctrine makes utter confusion of our understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, and the Bible, the written Word of God. There is simply nothing in Scripture that supports the amazing supposition that he is both God and man. There is nothing anywhere, no analogy, no terminology, no defense of any sort that can be produced to support the idea that anybody could be both God Almighty and a man. The doctrine of the double nature of Christ, like that of the Trinity, turns the Bible into confusion, rendering the clearest verses obscure and clouding what we know to be true about God and man:
According to those that maintain the doctrine of the two natures in Christ, Christ speaks of himself, and is spoken of by his Apostles, sometimes as a man, sometimes as God, and sometimes as both God and man. He speaks, and is spoken of, under these different characters indiscriminately, without any explanation, and without its being anywhere declared that he existed in these different conditions of being. He prays to that being whom he himself was. He declares to be ignorant of what (being God) he knew, and unable to perform what (being God) he could perform. He affirms that he could do nothing of himself, or by his own power, though he was omnipotent. He, being God, prays for the glory which he had with God, and declares another is greater than himself (see John xvii; Mark xiii. 32; John v. 30; xiv. 28). In one of the passages QUOTED IN PROOF OF HIS DIVINITY, he is called the image of the invisible God; in another of these passages, he, the God over all, blessed for ever, is said to have been anointed by God with the oil of gladness above his fellows; and in a third of them, it is affirmed that he became obedient to death, even the death of the cross (Colossians i. 15, seqq.; Hebrews i. 8, 9; Philippians ii. 5—8). If my readers are shocked by the combinations which I have brought together, I beg them to do me the justice to believe that my feelings are the same with their own. But these combinations necessarily result from the doctrine which we are considering. Page after page might be filled with inconsistencies as gross and as glaring. The doctrine has turned Scriptures, as far as they relate to this subject, into a book of riddles, and, what is worse, of riddles admitting of no solution. I willingly refrain from the use of stronger language which will occur to many of my readers.
As the very Infinite, his [Jesus’] words can have no sincere meaning,— his suffering must be unreal,— his temptation a dramatic show,— his prayers an insincerity,— his sorrowing affection an assumed disguise,— his example of no application to our mortal state. Analyze your own thought of him, and you will find it resolves itself very much into what I have said. . . Forced and strained beyond this simple truth, the doctrine is one reposing on insufficient evidence, and in the highest degree confounding to our reason. He is taken from the sphere of our sympathy, and put in a position merely official towards us. An arbitrary and artificial array of “offices” is assigned him, in place of the free, natural, spontaneous exercise of spiritual power by a gloriously endowed and sincerely faithful soul. The charge of assuming such a character he repels as explicitly as possible, in the words which best express his true spiritual relation to man and God:— “If he called them gods unto whom the word of God came, how say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God?” His own exposition of his lofty claim, “I and my Father are one,” is when he prays for all his disciples throughout the world, “that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”
If Jesus were a man who could not have failed in his mission, there would be no way for us to relate to him. His life would become devoid of meaning because we relate to others based on our experience. Our experience tells us we can fail. If Jesus were God he could not have failed, and therefore could not be somebody with whom we can relate. The doctrine of the double nature of Christ strips us of a true appreciation of the challenges he faced and the manner in which he handled them.
Biblical research is to be conducted in a manner that is no different than any other form of investigation we undertake. In all areas of research we use our minds to sort out information we are presented with. When we examine trinitarianism, though, we are confronted with a new approach, one in which common sense is not required or employed. New words and phrases are invented that are unbiblical and incomprehensible and that find their final resting place in the realm of “mystery.” I wonder if a person who accepts the tenets of his religion on such grounds would confidently embrace flying in an airplane which was constructed by engineers employing the same methodology. If the method of constructing the airplane were a mystery to its builders, who in his right mind would get on it? This is because confidence is based upon the reasonableness of the way in which a final product, whether an airplane or a doctrine, is constructed. An exception to standards of reasonableness must be made by someone who decides to accept trinitarian dogma. It is preferable to accentuate or heighten our implementation of those mental faculties which God has given us to interpret the Bible. The Bible, with the exception of our acceptance of its divine origins, is to be interpreted like other books:
For the obvious principle that Scripture is to be interpreted like any other book, we have the high orthodox authority of Prof. Stuart, and of other orthodox critics of equal eminence with him. “If there be,” he says, “any book on earth that is addressed to the reason and common sense of mankind, the Bible is preëminently that book. . . . . . If the Bible is not a Book which is intelligible in the same way as other books are, then it is difficult to see how it is a revelation . . . . the Bible is addressed to our reason and understanding and moral feelings; and consequently we are to interpret it in such a way as we do any other book that is addressed to these same faculties.” These principles and the rule they involve, are inevitably violated by this hypothesis. By its admission, the Bible cannot be interpreted like other books. Plain language in other books is taken in its plain significance; but here the plainest becomes a riddle. When our Lord says, “My Father is greater than I,” he meant only that his divine nature was greater than his human nature! But who can prove that he so meant? Neither he nor his disciples, give the slightest reason to suppose that he or they meant any thing but what their words obviously mean. Besides, we cannot tell when to apply the hypothesis. We are all in the dark; and the Scripture may be made to mean by it the most contradictory things. Whatever Christ said or did may thus be done away, and the entire New Testament become a mass of enigma.
If we are to gain anything from Scripture, we must understand words according to their plain meaning. Unless some part of speech requires an unusual interpretation, such as an idiom, we ought to interpret the words according to their normal meanings. But exceptions to this must constantly be made for one to accept Trinitarian doctrines as true. Jesus said such things as My Father is greater than I. The obvious meaning of this must be circumvented in order to sustain the notion that he is co-equal with God. The notion of a double nature in Christ was invented to do exactly this. It makes it possible, even acceptable, to cast our Lord’s words in an entirely different sense than they were meant when they were originally spoken:
We find no fault with those who are satisfied with this answer, but it does not satisfy us. It does not seem to us the fair interpretation of plain language. For, first, we find no passage in the Bible, and there is none, in which it is taught that our Savior had two natures, one human and one divine; but he is always spoken of as a single being, “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” And secondly we think that when he spoke of himself without qualification, using the personal pronouns, I, and myself, and me, he must have used them in their common meaning, and he was certainly, at the time, so understood. If he had intended to have been understood differently, he would have given some indication of it. As he gave none, we take his words in their plain and obvious meaning. Just as you would understand me, if I were to say, “I do not know such a thing,” without qualifying the words, so do we understand him. We dare not understand him otherwise. For would it be right for me to say, “I do not know such a thing,” if I really know it? and defend myself by saying, that my body does not know it, but my mind does? or that I know it as a clergyman, but not as a citizen? Such would not be a fair use of language; and if the Scriptures were to be interpreted in such a manner, there is absolutely no doctrine that could not be proved from it. We understand Jesus simply as he spoke, and therefore, while we pray for the time when “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue confess him to be the Lord,” we remember that this must always be done “to the glory of God the Father.”
The practices of interpretation that give rise to the doctrine of the double nature of Christ foster the negation of the words of Jesus and render them unintelligible. That Christians would accept a mechanism that allows such blatant disregard for Jesus’ own words is shocking. The idea that our Lord delivered distinct precepts to his church, and then following generations would work feverishly to alter his words and make them a mysterious hypothesis, is unconscionable. It is impossible to understand the words of Jesus without a clear idea of who he is, and the doctrine of the double nature prevents us from obtaining this necessary understanding of his identity:
No words can be more destitute of meaning, so far as they are intended to convey a proposition which the mind is capable of admitting, than such language as we sometimes find used, in which Christ is declared to be at once the Creator of the universe, and a man of sorrows; God omniscient, and a feeble man of imperfect knowledge.
By inventing a theory which makes Jesus to be both God and man, Trinitarians have, perhaps unwittingly, assigned to him a split personality:
A being of complex constitution like man is not a being of a double nature. The very term double nature, when one professes to use it in a strict, philosophical sense, implies an absurdity. The nature of a being is ALL which constitutes it what it is; and when one speaks of a double nature, it is the same sort of language as if we were to speak of a double individuality.
Entertaining the notion that Jesus has a split personality is damaging to one’s relationship with him. To have a fruitful relationship with our Lord we must know him as he is. But the doctrine of two natures causes him to be an unknowable creature. If we view him as a man, then the biblical records that supposedly speak of him as God will mean nothing to us. If we think of him in his supposed capacity as God, then the records of him as a man will mean nothing to us. The two views are too disparate to combine. If we endeavor to merge the two views, we must end by saying we do not understand him since there is such a large gap between our conception of what God is and what man is. This is the effect that representing him as having two natures has. Happily, nowhere in Scripture do we find Jesus affirming any such thing about himself. This was something attributed to him after his resurrection. It is merely the inferences of misguided and prejudiced theologians that impute such contrary characteristics to him:
And what becomes of this individuality, the personality of Christ, the consistency of his character, and the identity of his consciousness, when in the sacred drama of his Gospel manifestation he is represented as performing in two parts, and without change of fleshy garb or tone or speech lays aside now his Deity and now his humanity in alternate moments and in successive sentences of his discourse? His prayers must be construed as soliloquies: his deeds of power must be referred to himself, and his professions of dependence to one element of that self, speaking of another element in the same self. The incongruity, the incoherence, which the Orthodox doctrine of two natures in Christ either puts into or draws from the Scriptures, is not the least of the confounding conditions of the theory. When an individual speaks of himself to others, they understand him as speaking of all that is embraced under his seeming and his real individuality. Unless he has announced himself as representing two characters, and as free to pass from one impersonation into the other without giving warning of the transition, his two characters will be regarded as making up one character, and some deeds and utterances which would have been intelligible if assigned to either of his impersonations, become inexplicable if referred to his composite character. Only through the help of an illustration—for which, however, we need not apologize, as the candid will recognize the simple intent of a parallelism at only one point—can we express the real embarrassment which we meet in attempting to deal with the theory of a double nature in Christ. Let it be allowed us, then, to conceive of a man who is concerned in business under two relations,—first as an individual, and second as a member of a firm of three partners. Under each of these he receives and writes letters, meets at his two offices those whom he has dealings, and speaks and acts under the exigencies of his double mercantile connections. As a member of the firm he has visited its place of business, consulted its books, and read letters which have made known to him certain facts of a very serious import and interest to others. He goes to his place for transacting the business which he does on his private account. While there, a friend, who is deeply concerned in the very matters of which he has just come to the knowledge, enters and asks for information about them, addressing him as an individual possessing one mind, one consciousness. He replies that he knows nothing about the matter, keeping in reserve, however, the explanation which he makes to himself, that he means that his private letters are silent on the subject. Does he deal fairly with his questioner, especially if that questioner has appealed to him on the very ground of his well-known extended and various relations to the business affairs of the world, and perhaps on the day previous has heard him speak in that character? Precisely this question would be continually presenting itself to us in embarrassing and painful shapes if we accepted the theory of a double nature in Christ, under which, when questioned as an individual on the ground of all he ever claimed to know and to be, he replied according to his choice of characters for the moment, by a claim founded on his Deity, or a profession of limited knowledge or ignorance justified by his humanity.
The doctrine of the double nature of Christ develops the idea that there are two distinct persons in Christ, each with different cognizant abilities. Trinitarians refute the claim that they have made two distinct persons out of Jesus, but the language employed is demonstrative of this undesired consequence. It is argued that he made some of his statements as God and others as a man. This hypothesis shows that trinitarians represent Jesus as two separate persons:
But, our Trinitarian brethren, believing in the two natures of Christ, a doctrine, the consequences of which it is impossible to conceive anything more fatal to Christianity, deserves our particular attention. Having during the last winter evenings, directed your attention to the doctrine of the two natures of Christ, it will only be necessary for me on the present occasion, to beseech of you to look at the consequences of such an hypothesis. If Christ possessed two perfectly distinct natures—perfect manhood and perfect Deity, then he certainly must have had two distinct minds, and consequently two distinct persons; a being this, which even the most mystery-loving mind cannot acknowledge.
The following quote from a trinitarian writer is an example of how God is viewed as having a split personality. In it we can see just how acceptable it is to believe, fantasy-like, that God can be construed as constituting multiple personalities:
The more one studies the work of the Holy Spirit compared to that of God as Jehovah, or as “The Almighty,” the more one grows convinced of a divine being that overflows the bounds of single personality.
The doctrine of the double nature of Christ is an extension of this way of thinking about God. But Scripture represents Jesus, in arguably his most important mission, as a man:
The Apostle says, that, since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.—1 Cor. xv, 21. This declaration favours not the notion of two natures in our redeemer: it rather seems to exclude the necessity of such an hypothesis.—Heb. x, 10.
It is frequently argued by those who favor the doctrine of two natures in Christ that whatever Jesus did on earth prior to his resurrection he did as man, but after his resurrection he returned to being God. This does not at all agree with Scripture, which says that after Jesus’ resurrection he is still a man: For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Paul’s letter to Timothy was written approximately five years after Christ ascended and Jesus was still spoken of as a man.
The idea that Jesus is God is negated by his own testimony of his reliance upon the Father. What need would there have been for the Father to be instrumental in Jesus’ life and resurrection if Jesus could have done it himself? Every part of Scripture that speaks of God’s involvement in Jesus’ resurrection would be pretentious if the Father were not really needed:
For it is apparent that, had he enjoyed such an Independent Divine Nature, he would have lived necessarily; and it is highly reasonable to think, that his inferior part would have been raised by his own omnipotence (and the fact specially recorded; the very contrary seems to be recorded, remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead, according to my Gospel.—2 Tim. ii. 8), without any aid or interference of the Father: the exertion of whose mighty Power (Eph., i. 19, 20), where it was really wanted, would appear nugatory, and unbecoming of the divine wisdom. This must be allowed by those who, to solve the difficulties which Scripture presents against their system; so often insist on the two natures complete in Christ, the divine and human. But they do not seem to reflect that, if they were pressed on this article, they would find themselves driven to maintain that Jesus Christ is not one, but two persons or intelligent agents. This was the doctrine of Nestorius, condemned and anathematized in the Council of Ephesus, at which more than two hundred Bishops assisted.
Trinitarians argue that Jesus said My Father is greater than I in his human capacity, though as God he was co-equal with the Father. What trinitarians are really arguing is that Jesus’ statement is not true. This is an outright dismissal of Jesus’ own declaration that his Father is supreme, and has the effect of making Jesus a liar. It should also be observed that the holy spirit, which is supposedly co-equal with the Father and therefore entitled to the same degree of reverence, is not even mentioned here. The Father is uniformly described as the supreme God, the only one who is greater than Jesus. With the supremacy of the Father recognized, Jesus’ words may be easily understood and trusted; without this recognition, Jesus’ words are untrustworthy:
An objection of a graver character lies against the doctrine of the Two Natures. It implicates the moral character of the Holy Jesus; it impeaches his veracity; and exposes him to the charge of equivocation, duplicity, and falsehood. These are weighty charges; and we cannot endure, for a moment, an hypothesis which throws suspicion of dishonesty upon our blessed Saviour.
Jesus said, “I can of mine own self do nothing.” The Trinitarian says, Jesus can of himself do everything that God can do. Jesus said, “My Father is greater than I.” The Trinitarian says, Jesus is as great as the Father. To one unacquainted with the use that is made of the doctrine of the Two Natures, these assertions appear to be palpable contradictions. He cannot perceive how the assertions of Jesus, and those of Trinitarians, can both be true. But here comes in the doctrine of the Two Natures to reconcile the apparent contradictions. “Jesus is both God and man,” says the Trinitarian. “And though as man, he can do nothing of himself, yet as God, he can do everything. Though as man, he is not his Father’s equal, yet as God, he is equal with the Father in substance, and power, and glory.” But if he is God, can he say in truth, that he can do nothing of himself? What, can God do nothing of himself! If he is God, can he say in truth, My Father is greater than I? What, is the Father greater than God! For a man to assert that he cannot do what he is conscious that he can do, is to say what is not true. For what a man can do, in any way, or by any means, he can certainly do. Suppose a man should be required to subscribe his name to a written instrument; and that he should refuse to do it, saying, “I cannot write. I cannot wield the pen. I never learned to write.” Suppose it should be known that this man could write; that an explanation should be demanded; and that he should say, he only meant that he could not write with his left hand, though he could use the pen with his right hand as well as any man. Would not such a man subject himself to the charge of equivocation, duplicity, and falsehood?
Let us suppose that a murder is committed in the city of Boston, at noon, by some person or persons unknown—that suspicion fastens upon an innocent man, who, at the time of the murder, was in New York—and that he is charged with the crime, apprehended, and brought to trial. The prisoner summons in his defence a witness, who saw him in New York, about noon, the same day the murder was committed in Boston. This witness, being under oath, is asked, “Did you see the prisoner in New York on the day?” The witness answers, “I did not.” This being the only witness for the defendant, he is convicted, and hanged. After the execution, this witness confesses that he did see the man that was hanged, in New York, on the day and hour specified at the trial. Being required to answer for himself, he says, under oath, that his left eye was defective; only his right eye was sound. And when he testified in court that he did not see the prisoner, he meant that he did not see him with his defective eye; but he saw him distinctly with his sound eye. Now, I ask, would not all honest men consider such a witness perjured? The only difference I can see, between the conduct of such a witness, and that which the doctrine of the Two Natures imputes to Jesus, is, that what Jesus said was not said under the solemnity of an oath. Knowledge is the eye of the mind. Jesus is said to have two capacities of knowledge—his divine and his human nature. The one is strong and piercing, knowing all things. The other is weak and defective, being ignorant of many things. As such an one, he says, in regard to the time of a certain event, he does not know the day nor the hour. He makes no exception of one of his capacities of knowledge; but says, absolutely, he does not know the time. No one knows but the Father. Yet the doctrine of the Two Natures supposes that Jesus did know the day and hour; and that when he said he did not know, he spoke only of his capacity of knowledge which is weak and defective.
Another objection to the doctrine of the Two Natures is, that it renders it impossible to understand or believe any thing that Jesus says of himself. The terms I, me, myself, mine own self, always denote one person, an individual; they include the whole person, all that constitutes him a person. In this sense they were unquestionably used by Christ. When he said, I, me, myself, he could not have meant a part of himself. He could not have meant that part of himself which is infinitely less than another part of himself. If it be admitted that Jesus did not mean himself, his whole self, all that constitutes his proper personality, there is no assertion he ever made but what may be contradicted. One has only to say, “This he did as man, it is not true of him as God, therefore it is not true; and this he did as God, it is not true of him as man, therefore it is not true.” In this way, every assertion he ever made of himself, may be contradicted. In this way, we may deny his birth, his crucifixion, his death, and his resurrection, because these were true of him only as man, not as God. If, instead of saying, “My Father is greater than I,” he had said, “I am not so great as my Father, I am not equal with the Father, I am not God, I am not equal with God,” we have only to say, “This he spoke as man, hence it is not true,” in order to set his testimony, concerning himself, aside. Now can a doctrine be admitted which renders his plainest sayings unintelligible, and makes it absolutely impossible for him to deny that he is God, if he had a mind to do so?
The implications of making the words of Jesus mean the opposite of what they were originally designed to mean are not hard to discover. Christianity is founded in large part upon the words of Jesus. By changing the meaning of his words, Christianity cannot shine as the light it is supposed to be. Jesus’ words are life, and they have been altered.
It is thought that elevating him to the status of God bestows greater honor upon him, but it has produced the opposite effect. His words have become nonsense when explained according to the trinitarian model. The reasoning employed by Trinitarians to overthrow the clear meaning of Jesus’ words not only make themselves deceitful, but make Jesus appear to be deceitful as well. Those who embrace the supremacy of the Father have no difficulty accepting our Lord’s words in their obvious sense, just as if we were present when he spoke them, and just as those who were present received them. At that time his words were not equivocated away as they are today by those who espouse two natures in Christ:
Regarding it then as the merest hypothesis, for that is all it is, we object, aside of its superfluity, that its admission makes difficulty where there is none; renders vague or obscure the plainest and most explicit language of Scripture. It demands on its face the surrender of reason, and involves positive absurdity. Divine and human qualities, as the essence of being, cannot co-exist in the same person. God is infinite, man is finite, and no being can be at once and essentially finite and infinite. It estops inquiry by its plea of mystery; and drives us, would we believe it, to the old position of Tertullian: Credo quia impossibile est, (I believe because it is impossible.)
It destroys Christ’s unity, and makes him two distinct and opposite beings. That Christ is both God and man, is a proposition plain enough in its statement; but the two predicates are incompatible. But a graver objection is, that in effect it charges our Lord with duplicity. When he declared on one occasion: “Of that day and hour knoweth no man; no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father”—what more precise and significant words could he have used, to show that he laid no claim to omniscience, that attribute essential to Deity, without which no being could be God? If there was any one thing of which our Lord was ignorant, he could not be God. And how should we have understood him, had we been present—how did the Apostles, how did the multitude who were present, understand him at the time? They must have understood him as we do, to have made a positive, express declaration, that “of that day and hour” he had no knowledge; and therefore to suppose that he made a mental reservation, as to his divine knowledge, while he declared only his human want of it, is to charge him with duplicity, with double-dealing, with deceit.
When Christ declares, without qualification, that there was a certain day and hour of which he knew nothing, we, who are Unitarians, believe him. You, on the contrary, make him prevaricate, and, in one nature, deny what he certainly must have known in the other; and yet these two natures you declare to have been in constant and intimate union. You continually make him contradict himself. This is, in my view, sadly to dishonor him.
One of the effects of a long-standing doctrine is that its terminologies become so entrenched that it no longer seems strange to hear them. The words and phrases that constitute trinitarian theology have been heard so frequently that the most absurd, confusing and meaningless terms and phrases go unchallenged. This is a prime example of the old adage, “If you say something long enough and loud enough, people will believe it.” Jesus, because of his alleged double nature, is represented as knowing what he said he did not. Whatever the current arguments are, his hearers at that time did not take years to deliberate on his supposed meaning when he spoke to them. Those present understood him as he spoke, and it is certain that Jesus was well aware of this:
It is a law of veracity, laid down in the most common books which treat of moral obligation, that to speak the truth, you must say that which is true in the sense you will be understood by your hearers. To say that, which, without further explanation will mislead your hearers, without giving the explanation, is to equivocate.
No one, surely, will deny that Jesus lived and was known among his contemporaries as a man. As such he was loved, welcomed, followed, entreated; as such he was arrested, tried, accused, and put to death; and even his nearest friends were so far from suspecting a superior nature in him, that on his death they fell into complete despair, as if his project of restoring “the kingdom of Israel” had wholly failed. Evidently, then, during his ministry he had displayed only the qualities, attributes, characteristics of a man.
If the Bible were written to prove the doctrine of two natures in Christ or the doctrine of a triune God, it would have to have been written entirely differently:
On this hypothesis, what mean all his declarations of dependence on God? “Of mine own self I can do nothing; as I hear I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me;” just as he had before said: “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do.”—What mean his expressions of trust in God? To Pilate’s haughty menace he replied, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above;” and in that most solemn hour when he was drawing his last breath upon the cross, he said: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit!” To whom were these words addressed? To whom was he accustomed to pray? To one part of his nature—to himself—to a part of himself? What mockery all this seems!
One seeking comfort from the example Jesus was while here on earth will not find it in the Jesus of trinitarianism. Trinitarians present a doctrine that makes it impossible to obtain comfort from his example since he has become, on their hypotheses, an utterly incomprehensible being. We cannot identify with a being whom we do not comprehend. For example, if he were God, what sort of example could his prayers to God be?
We object to the doctrine of the Two Natures, because it would, if admitted, deprive us of the comforts and advantages arising from the example of Christ’s prayers and sufferings. In commenting on the secret morning prayer of Jesus, (Mark i. 35) Dr. Adam Clark, in his great zeal for the doctrine of the Two Natures, says—”Not that he needed any thing, for in him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; but that he might be a pattern to us.” If the learned Doctor be correct, Jesus must have asked his heavenly Father for innumerable blessings which he did not need, that he might be a pattern to us. But how can we imitate such a pattern without praying for such things as we do not need? If Jesus is God, he must have prayed to himself. But of what benefit to us can such an example be? What comfort or instruction can be derived from contemplating the prayers of Jesus, if every prayer he offered was addressed to himself, and he was so independent that he needed nothing? “Being in agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Was all this only to set us an example? What sympathy can we feel with the sufferer, if he needed nothing he prayed for? Prayer is an expression of dependence and want. If a person who needs nothing prays, is it not mere pretence?—is it not hypocrisy?
All this has the unfortunate effect of pushing Jesus farther from us, which is distinctly un-Christian. If everybody were to accept the varied trinitarian opinions on how to read the Bible and what to find there, Jesus would forever remain an enigma to the entire church. Despite Jesus’ best efforts to teach the Hebrew people in a simple manner, the new readings of these simple texts render his and other sayings obscure:
The doctrine of the Two Natures throws obscurity over the sacred pages, and renders passages which are sufficiently plain, quite unintelligible. Take, for example, Heb. i. 1, 2: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.” Admitting that this passage relates to the creation of the natural world, what does the word Son denote according to the doctrine of the Two Natures? Does it denote the divine, or the human nature? Or does it comprehend both natures? Son cannot mean the divine nature, because God cannot be appointed heir of all things, inasmuch as he is the original proprietor and independent owner of all things. Son cannot mean the human nature, because the worlds were created thousands of years before the human nature existed. Son cannot denote both natures, because that would involve both the difficulties just stated; and render the passage more unintelligible and contradictory than either of the other expositions. Thus, by applying the hypothesis of the Two Natures, this perfectly clear and easy text becomes totally unintelligible.
The language employed in defining the doctrine of the double nature of Christ implies that our salvation has not yet been obtained. For example, the human “nature” of Jesus is said to have died on the cross, while his divine nature lived on elsewhere. At the same time we are told that since sin is “infinite,” mankind needed an infinite atonement which only the death of God could satisfy. Now, aside from the fact that God could (and did) provide a one-time, permanent substitute of His own choosing to assist man in atoning for sin, just as He did when He instructed Israel to sacrifice a lamb once a year for their sins, the argument that only the human part of Jesus died is a denial that God died for us. So the doctrine of the double nature of Christ not only conflicts with Scripture, it conflicts with other trinitarian dogma:
A comparable difficulty faces Trinitarians when they assert that only the human part of Jesus died. If Jesus were God, and God is immortal, Jesus could not have died. We wonder how it is possible to maintain that “Jesus” does not represent the whole person. Nothing in the Bible suggests that Jesus is the name of his human nature only. If Jesus is the whole person and Jesus died, he cannot be immortal Deity. It appears that Trinitarians argue that only Deity is sufficient to provide the necessary atonement. But if the divine nature did not die, how on the Trinitarian theory is the atonement secured?
Another consequence of the doctrine of the two natures in Christ is that it obviates the need for a mediator between God and man. If Jesus is God, then what, according to 1 Timothy 2:5, would be his function as a mediator?
In regard to the necessity of an infinite mediator, Emlyn says: “I judge, that to assert Jesus Christ to be the Supreme God, subverts the Gospel doctrine of his mediation; for if I must have one, who is Supreme God and man, for my mediator with God, then, when I address Jesus Christ as the Supreme God, where is the God-man that must be my mediator with him? To say he mediates with himself, is the same as to say that I must go to him without a mediator; and turns the whole business of mediation into a metaphor, contrary to the common sense of things, as well as against the Scripture.”
Now, I ask, is he mediator in his divine or in his human nature? If in his human, he cannot, according to your ideas, know what all God’s creatures want and pray for. If he mediates in his divine nature, or in both united, then, as Emlyn says, he mediates with himself. But St. Paul says, 1 Tim. ii. 5, “There is but one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
When, in Scripture, God is declared to be the head of Christ: When our Lord says, The Son can do nothing of himself: My Father is greater than I, &c., the meaning is, say the writers, that the Father is indeed superior with respect to Christ’s human nature, but not with respect to his divine. Now, this amounts to the very same as to say, that the Father is greater than the human person of Christ, but not greater than his divine person; Which is directly supposing Christ to consist of Two Persons, the one very different from the other. . . . The scheme of two natures in Christ, was adopted pretty early (to support the opinion of his equality with the Father), but it was sometimes thought to be very weakly applied. Gregory Nazianzen, about the latter end of the Fourth Century, treats it with great indifference. “To affirm (says he) that the Father is greater than Christ, considered in his human nature, is True, indeed, but of no great Moment; For what wonder is it, that God should be greater than a man?”—Orat. 36.
Again, when Christ said expressly, my Father is greater than I; did he then allude to his divine, or to his human nature? If to the first, then he certainly declared the Father to be greater than himself in the highest respect: But if he referred to his human nature only, then we must suppose that he affirmed the Almighty Father, the all-perfect, unchangeable, and eternal GOD of the universe, to be greater than his human nature! Could such a declaration as this be at all necessary? It is utterly incompatible with the wisdom of our Lord, and therefore impossible that he should have intended it. “When any person affirms another to be greater than himself, he must of necessity mean, greater than he himself is in his greatest capacity.”—Dr. Clarke
Trinitarians apply the phrase divine nature exclusively to Christ. It is never applied to the Father or to the holy spirit. This demonstrates that the three supposed members of the Godhead are different in some way, and if different in any way, then the hypothesis that these three are not distinct beings is not true. When applied to Jesus, Trinitarians use the terms divine and deity synonymously. The inference is that, since Jesus has divine qualities, he is therefore deity. But the two terms are not synonymous. In 2 Peter 2:14, we are told that Christians are “partakers of the divine nature,” and it is never argued that we are God. But by applying Trinitarian reasoning to this verse, we may conclude that each Christian is God or part of the godhead, which is absurd. There must be some other explanation as to what it is to be divine:
St. Paul says to the Corinthians, in the 2nd epistle, 2c. 6-16v., “Ye are the temple of the living God, as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them.” Christ tells the Philippians, in 2c. 13v., “That God worketh in them both to will and to do.” He tells the Ephesians in 4c. 6v., “There is one God and Father of all, who is in you all.” John says, 1 John 4c. 15v., “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him and he in God.” St. Peter declares, 2 Pet. 1c. 4v. that “By the precious promises of the Gospel, Christians are made partakers of the divine nature.” This is a very strong expression—and when St. Paul says, “That in Christ dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead,” he must have used this language in the sense in which he prayed that the Ephesians might be filled with all the fulness of God,—Ephesians 3c. 19v. and in John 1c. 16v. In both cases the texts show that divine knowledge, and not essence, is intended. Hence, then, when God is said to dwell in Christ, it evidently means that Christ was inspired by God—filled or actuated by a divine power.
Our effort to obtain a greater understanding of spiritual matters is partly what makes Jesus such an example to us. He grew in grace and wisdom. Both Jesus and Christians, by virtue of being born from above, are filled with the same divine attributes; Jesus simply took greater advantage of his than anyone else ever has and he was never corrupted by sin. He has therefore become an example to us. He was a man who always walked by inspiration of God and, because of his manner of life, we have someone to emulate:
We do think that the doctrine of our Lord’s two natures, actually impeaches his veracity. What scope it affords for tampering with his words—for is there be a particular moral precept which may not accord with a man’s desire and judgment—can he not escape the applying such an injunction, by saying that it was evidently spoken by our Lord in his human capacity and not in his divine nature. Thanks be to God, Unitarians entertain no such views of their Saviour, but maintain that he always spoke under divine inspiration.
In spite of the irrationality of trinitarian doctrines and the arguments brought against these doctrines, efforts to sustain them persist. The most unreasonable means of maintaining trinitarian dogma are still employed, and with each new development the trinitarian system produces greater confusion:
Here perhaps the advocates of the contrary opinion will interpose with the same argument which was advanced before; for they are constantly shifting the form of their reasoning, Vertumnus-like, and using the twofold nature of Christ developed in his office of mediator, as a ready subterfuge by which to evade any arguments that may be brought against them. What Scripture says of the Son generally, they apply, as suits their purpose, in a partial and restricted sense; at one time to the Son of God, at another to the Son of Man—now to the Mediator in his divine, now in his human capacity, and now again in his union of both natures.
With so much depending on our view of Christ, we must understand the simple verses according to their plain meanings, then build our understanding of our Lord upon them. When we read in John 20:31, These were written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, we accept this and build upon it as a simple truth. To reason that he actually meant that he was equal with God from statements such as My Father is greater than I, or that he actually knew the day and hour of his return from his outright denial of it, defies all sensibility that God has given us:
No resort can here be had, as has been attempted by Trinitarians, to their favorite hypothesis—that merest hypothesis, that shallowest assumption, as I hope hereafter to show—namely, the Double Nature, or, as it is technically and theologically called, the Hypostatic Union; according to which Christ is both God and man. Whenever attempted, the conclusion has been only the more palpably impotent. The obvious difficulty of the text, on the supposition of the truth of the doctrine of the Trinity, cannot be overcome “by supposing that our Lord spake of himself here only as a man.” For as the orthodox Macknight says: “The name Father following that of Son, shows that he spake of himself as the Son of God, and not as the Son of man. Besides, the gradation in the sentence seems to forbid this solution. For the Son being mentioned after the angels, and immediately before the Father, is thereby declared to be more excellent then they, which he is not in respect of his human nature; and therefore he cannot be supposed to speak of himself in that nature.”
Our Lord Jesus, in respect to his authority, is placed above the angels, as is all mankind. He is also elevated above the sphere of mere humanity due to his exaltation by the Father. He is subordinate to only the Father in all of creation. He is therefore divine, as he partook of the divine nature to a greater extent than anybody ever has. He was rewarded for his obedience. Acts 2:36 says, Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Jesus was made Lord and Christ. All others have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. As such, and though we are partakers of the divine nature, we need a spiritual guide, and this guide is our Lord Jesus. We are to regard all that Jesus did as divine, since none of it was of a corrupt nature nor did it yield corruption in any of its manifestations. Everything he did was the will of the Father, so it is properly spoken of as divine. There is no difficulty in saying our Lord Jesus is divine, but this does not equate him with God, since God is the originator and definer of that which is divine:
Another definition of the word Divinity is, state of being divine, or godlike. In this sense of word we speak of the Divinity of the Scriptures; meaning that they came from God. According to this interpretation of the phrase, also, we firmly believe in the Divinity of Christ. We believe in the Divinity of his person and nature; because he is the Son of God. If every son is the image and likeness of his father, and if Jesus is “God’s own Son,” he must be divine or Godlike. If we believed him not to be divine, we should also believe him not to be the Son of God, but the Son of Joseph, or some other man.
We believe in the Divinity of his mission; because God sent him. He said, “I am come in my Father’s name…. I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.”—John v. 43, and viii. 42. This is an explicit declaration of the Divinity of his mission. God confirmed the Divinity of Christ’s mission by wonders and miracles which he wrought by him; and also by raising him from the dead, and exalting him at his own right hand. Nicodemus testified that no one but a messenger sent from God could do the works which Christ did. The miraculous powers he communicated to his Apostles, the fulfillment of his predictions in the destruction of the holy city, the dispersion of the Jews, and the early triumphs of the gospel, completed the evidence of the Divinity of Christ’s mission.
We believe in the Divinity of his office; because it was established not by human authority, but by the will of heaven. God qualified him for his office, appointed him to it, and sustained him in it. Jesus opened his commission in these words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”—Luke iv. 18, 19.
We believe in the Divinity of his doctrine; because it did not originate from himself, but came from God. As he came not to do his own will, but the will of God, so he spake not his own words, but the words of God. He said, “My doctrine is not mine, but he that sent me… I have not spoken of myself, but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say and what I should speak.”—John vii. 16, and xii. 49. The message Jesus brought was divine. It was the message of God, who hath spoken unto us in these last days by his Son.—Heb. i. 2. The revelation of Jesus Christ was a revelation which God gave unto him.—Rev. i. 1.
We believe in the Divinity of his works; because of himself he could do nothing; but it was the Father that performed the works by him. “The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.”—John xiv. 10. “Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by him.”—Acts ii. 22.
We believe in the Divinity of the fullness that was in Christ, and the blessings he communicated. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell. In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.—Col. i. 19, and ii. 9. As the Son of God he was full of grace and truth.—John i. 14. God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.—John iii. 34.
We believe in the Divinity of his authority, wisdom, power, and glory; because God gave them to him. He said, all things are delivered unto me of my Father.—Matt. xi. 27. We believe in the Divinity of all he was, all he did, and all he suffered, because God made him both Lord and Christ, exalted him to be a Prince and Saviour, and ordained him Prophet, Priest, and King; and all he did, and all he suffered, was by the grace of God.
And so it is written in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, that, after Jesus accomplishes his redemptive mission with the church, our Lord will also be subject unto the Father: And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
1. Mark 13:39 Back to top
2. John 14:28 Back to top
3. John 1:18 Back to top
4. 1 Timothy 2:5 Back to top
5. Hyndman, p. 33 Back to top
6. Farley, pp. 12-13 Back to top
7. Ibid., pp. 13-14 Back to top
8. This verse is discussed at greater length in Chapter 16 Back to top
9. Eliot, pp. 52-3 Back to top
10. Ibid., pp. 54-5 Back to top
11. Rev. J. H. Thom, Liv. Lect. 7th Unitarian Lec., p. 72: quoted in Farley, p. 129, footnote Back to top
12. Hyndman, pp. 34-5 Back to top
13. Morgridge, pp. 69-71 Back to top
14. Norton, pp. 60-1 Back to top
15. Allen, pp. 87-8 Back to top
16. Farley, pp. 130-1 Back to top
17. John 14:28 Back to top
18. Eliot, pp. 50-1 Back to top
19. Norton, p. 58 Back to top
20. Ibid., p. 60 Back to top
21. Ellis, pp. 139-40 Back to top
22. Thomas, p. 29 Back to top
23. Verkuyl, p. 83 Back to top
24. Gifford, p. 189, footnote Back to top
25. 1 Timothy 2:5 Back to top
26. Gifford, p. 151 Back to top
27. Morgridge, pp. 71-2, 73-4 Back to top
28. Farley, pp. 129-30 Back to top
29. Dana, p. 97 Back to top
30. Burnap, pp. 59-60 Back to top
31. Allen pp. 81-2 Back to top
32. Farley p. 131 Back to top
33. Morgridge, p. 78 Back to top
34. Ibid., pp. 75-6 Back to top
35. Sir Anthony Buzzard and Charles Hunting, The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound (Restoration Fellowship and Atlanta Bible College, 1994), p. 132 Back to top
36. Dana, pp. 212-13 Back to top
37. Gifford, pp. 209, 211, 131-2 Back to top
38. Thomas, p. 22 Back to top
39. Ibid., p. 31 Back to top
40. John Milton, Milton on The Son of God and The Holy Spirit (London: British and Foreign Unitarian Association, 1908), pp. 76-7 Back to top
41. Farley, pp. 11-12 Back to top
42. Morgridge, pp. 21-3 Back to top
43. 1 Corinthians 15:28 Back to top