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One to four, or maybe more?

March 24, 2013
Andrei Rublev's Trinity, representing the Fath...

Andrei Rublev’s Trinity, representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in a similar manner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Daniele B.March 2013

From the very beginning until today, Christianity has found itself divided in its perception of the nature of God. Is God one, in the most singular sense of the word, or is He a One made of two, three, or more consubstantial divine “persons”? And what of the two natures of Christ, human and divine? How do these fit together and interplay with one another? In the new imperial Christianity of the fourth century a particular formula was finally made “official”. To end all debates and bring about unity the Trinitarian view of a Godhead made of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, was made into “orthodoxy” and all other views were outlawed. In spite of this “imposition” dissent was always around and no sooner was the threat removed of being burned as a heretic, that varying speculations began to flourish again. Theologians and religious historians have since cast considerable doubts on the process that brought about the Trinitarian dogma. New forms of Christianity have since arisen which find their roots on the pre-Constantinian era. Once again we seem to have returned to that diversified Christianity which the “converted” empire tried to force into a single mold. Once again there are Christian who are Unitarians, Binitarians and, of course, Trinitarians (the vast majority), all further subdivided into varying shades of interpretation. Lately the theological debate has been very lively but the answer as to which formula rightly describes the Almighty, still remains a mystery. In this writing I don’t intend to pit one formula against another in the usual and inconclusive debate that has come forth from various sources supporting either one or the other. I am not up to that and such debates are plentiful all around. What I wish to do, instead, is to see where we fit, or rather where I fit. After forty years in TFI and taking into consideration the bulk of our pubs and the direction received from it, what do I believe about God’s nature?

A brief history

I must first go back in time, to the people to whom Christ first announced his message and who were strict monotheists. Such were, therefore, the earliest Christians, who saw the Father as the one and only God, and the Son as a powerful, divinely endowed, but nonetheless human Messiah. Christ definitely rated above all earlier prophets, perhaps even above angels, to almost divine, but was not equal to God the Father, to whom He was subordinate. Theologians define this early view as “low Christology”.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when, but a “higher Christology” gradually appeared in the following decades, as demonstrated by the gospel of John (dated around 90 ad) in which Christ is first defined as the logos of God, as part or equal to God, though disagreements exist on the interpretation of the prologue. Paul also espoused a higher Christology than that of the Concision in Jerusalem; nonetheless he continued to view the Son as subordinate to the Father: “Then cometh the end, when he (Christ) shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him (God). 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 Cor 15:24-28) In the “higher Christology” of Paul and John, however, the Holy Spirit does not yet appear nearly as equal to either the Son or the Father. A Binitarian view of God, composed of the close relationship of Father and Son, seemed to be an intermediary stage between the first lower Christology and the later Trinitarian view. That Binitarian view was fairly widespread until the fourth century and continued until the sixth.

Needless to say the idea of the divinity, or near divinity, of Jesus had a troubled relationship with the previous monotheistic model. OT monotheism lacked the instruments by which to make any rational sense of the divinity of Christ. Paul did find some ground for it, but failed to convince his fellow Jews. At most, Jewish culture might have been able to accommodate the “lower Christology” but anything more looked like the betrayal of its fundamental premise and a compromise with polytheism. For early Christianity this was a veritable dilemma and from Paul to John, and onward, began the struggle to find a new model that would preserve the divinity of Jesus, as well as monotheism. An incredible variety of formulas and suppositions started to take shape. To some degree, philosophy seemed better equipped at handling the quandary of a God who needed to share His deity with a Son, and then even with a Spirit. Philosophy, after all, had dealt with the paradox of polytheism for a very long time and had developed the concept of a unified force behind it all, a sort of triune God with multiple gods in a single Godhead. The idea of the logos of God was in fact borrowed from Plato, and that’s why it was not readily received at first.

Because of the open question on the nature of God and the many assumptions circulating, some felt the need to settle the matter, especially those who envisioned a united Christianity for a united empire. Gradually the idea of a Trinity, a God-head with three persons in it, gained considerable support. There were innumerable disagreements on it and mainly because the biblical text did not provide sufficient support. There were only vague allusions to it, so that making the Trinitarian view into official orthodoxy for all, was a laborious process, a veritable battle that raged through the fourth and beginning of the fifth century. Eventually all opposing ideas were outlawed and the new Trinitarian dogma also settled questions of polytheism, ditheism, gnosticism, docetism and a whole lot of other supposed misunderstandings about the relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It was by far the most complex, intricate, rational definition of a God made of three consubstantial persons, and was the winning argument over all other formulas – though some believe that the victory was politically motivated, rather than “inspired”.

Not everyone liked the idea and many continued to dissent from it, so much so that the first known case of a Christian martyred by other Christians, happen just five years after emperor Theodosius outlawed non-Trinitarian preaching. Priscillanous, a Christian bishop, dared to disagree and was legally executed for it. It is the first known case of inquisition.

In spite of all that has been said and written on the Nature of God, the question remains unsettled, and a mystery which will not be solved anytime soon. It is so because nowhere in the scriptures does it speak specifically of such a thing as a Trinity. All that one can find in the Bible are allusions to it, but there are even more in support of other models, such as the Unitarian or Binitarian ones, and so the debate continues. From the 19th century onward a number of theologians have challenged the traditional Trinitarian view, searching for better models. Even “Karl Barth”, a Trinitarian, brought into question some aspects of it.

A brief look at each model:

Non-Trinitarian/Unitarian: This is a strictly monotheistic understanding of God. There are variables but it is the usual OT view. It is most common amongst Jews and Muslims, though there are differences between the two. Christian Unitarians believe that this was the prevailing idea in earliest Christianity. Outlawed from the 4th century onward, it resurfaced with the Cathars and Gnostics of the 11 to 13 century, but reappeared most significantly after the reformation. Unitarian churches are now everywhere and some of the best known are Oness Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witness, Unitarian Universalist Christians and United Church of God.

Binitarian: It could be defined as a transitional stage from Unitarianism to Trinitarianism. Was widespread in the early centuries, then banned in the fourth and finally disappeared in the sixth. Contrary to Unitarianism, Binitarianism did not reappear significantly after the Reformation, though some people did found churches with Binitarian inclinations. The most notorious was Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide Church of God. Armstrong taught that “the Father and the Word were co-eternal, but that the Holy Spirit was not an actual person. He believed that the Holy spirit was part of God’s essence, a power emanating from him that suffused all creation, and especially believers, and through which God was omnipresent and able to act at all places and at all times” (Wikipedia).

Trinitarian: It is by far the prevailing view amongst Christians, though not all agree on exactly the same formula. The great schism that divided western and eastern Christianity revolved around such a disagreement. Obviously there were other reasons for it, but the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was when the Roman Church, without a proper Ecumenical Council, decided to arbitrarily change the old Trinitarian formula by adding a significant clause to it. This dispute between Eastern and Western Christianity is still unresolved. Catholics and Protestants, both part of the Western-Latin tradition, share a common view on it.

Where do we stand?

Why is all this important and what does it really matter what one believes along those lines, as long as he has Jesus? What is that to us? Where do we fit in this?

Dear Peter recently gave us the HOIA series, featuring a traditional Trinitarian formula and its ramifications. As informative as it was it presented me with a different picture of the nature of God than I had derived from ML-GNs dealing with the same subject. So much, from David’s writings, cannot possibly be reconciled with traditional Trinitarian theology, not to speak of even more recent messages in which Jesus supposedly revealed a completely different view of his own nature, relationship with the Father, his life on earth, his life in heaven, etc. A number of questions do arise:

A: Was David wrong in his doubts of Trinitarian theology, in his view of a female Holy Spirit and host of other revelations that do not fit the “orthodox” view?

B: Is the same process happening to us as it did with a number of other churches (like Worldwide Church of God) who renounced the theology of their founder in order to be accepted by “mainstream” evangelical churches? Was Max Weber right in saying that every movement begins with prophecy but ends with priesthood?

C: Are the newer revelations received in prophecy, many of which contradict traditional Trinitarian theology, “tainted” or simply “influenced” by our past culture, therefore no longer valid?

D: Does the HOIA series represent the laying of a new foundation which is intended to correct “unsound” teachings from our past?

E: Are none of the above considerations valid and the HOIA is only a helpful course on basic theology?

My personal bias

I have long struggled with these questions. Though I fully support recent changes, I am not as sure about “traditional” theology. I find the principle of majority opinion “what most Christians believe” unconvincing. I have no difficulty in recognizing that David might have been off the track a number of times, and maybe even Mama, and Peter too, which would account for some questionable “thus saith the Lord” statements. Nonetheless I remain fairly convinced that God was involved with it, in spite of human blunders, and when I look at His footprints, well… there is a lot that makes more sense than traditional theology.

My reluctance, however, could also be due to my slow learning ability, to the fact that I am still so full of thoughts and ideas from the past that I simply short-circuit when I come in contact with “churchy” elements. I have also studied a fair bit of history, especially that of Christianity and perhaps I have become all too aware of what contributed to its “institutional” development, especially of the doctrines sustaining the process. I do realize that the problem might just be with me.

On the Trinity

On the question of the Trinity and its ramifications, I took considerable time to research it from a number of different sources. I first looked into our pubs and that simply confirmed my previous thoughts. Then I read and reread on the origins and history of the idea and how it got developed into its present formulation. I also looked into the longstanding debate between Trinitarians and non-Trinitarians and, honestly, I remain unconvinced of either. It appears to me as if each has become so entangled within an exegetical net of supposed scriptural “confirmations” that neither can escape. Things have been so polarized, for so long, that a dialogue is nearly impossible.

I admit that I never took a course solely on Trinitarian theology, nonetheless I understand enough of it to know that it is neither a science, nor something revealed, but simply a dogma; something arrived at through a laborious process, jostling between complex philosophical ideas and exegetical work, all the while considering the multitude of competing ideas, and with the intent of finding a single truth. Though reason and scripture failed to demonstrate its superior value, the Trinitarian formula was the best they had come up with and was finally made into a church dogma. The formula is a mystery which cannot be understood (they lie those who say they do) and Christians are simply to accept it “by faith”. It is in essence a theory, but if accepted, it then sustains an intricate process of rational theological thinking, upon which rest all Trinitarian institutions.

Our alternative?

The same “suppositional” status goes also for any alternative to the Trinitarian view, for “no man has seen God…” If I have bashed Trinitarian theology a bit, it is not to deny its claims, but rather to lower it from its “infallibility” status and bring it back to a negotiating table with alternatives, including our own. Our pubs are, in fact, loaded with “revelations” that present a very different picture. Most likely, if we were to build a theology on the nature of God from our pubs, we would end up with a sort of subordinational, semi-Arian, or perhaps even Binitarian view of God.

The most amazing thing is that we managed to function for over forty years without even taking the issue into serious consideration. Certainly this is something worth meditating on. Until recently we simply had an experiential approach to the issue. We were strong proponents of a progressive revelation in the prophetic tradition. If God said something, it was so; if He didn’t, well… we simply had no position on it, not yet.

Scriptural proof

Those who, instead, look only to the past for God’s revelation, thinking that whatever the Bible text says is all the infallible revelation that He has given, seem to ignore the very nature of the Bible narrative. They forget that much blood has been spilled for the sake of “correct” Bible interpretation, and that if the Bible indeed spoke with a single unmistakable voice, not a drop would have been spilled. Take, for example, the martyrdom of Priscillanous (already mentioned), or of Servetus, killed by the Calvinist inquisition, not to speak of the countless wars fought to suppress Arianism and other non Trinitarians who, by the way, were firmly convinced that the scripture was on their side. They claimed that there was no Scriptural backing for the doctrine of the co-divinity of Jesus with the Father. That Jesus even questioned being called “good” (Matt 19: 16-17); that he said the Father is greater than he (John 14:28) that he disavowed omniscience as the Son (John 8:28 Mark 13:32); that he “learned obedience” (Heb 5:8); that he was called the “firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15) and “the beginning of God’s creation” (Rev 3:14); that he referred to ascending to “my Father, and to your Father; and to my God, and to your God” (John 20:17) and that he said “the Father is the only true God” (John 17:3).

It is not hard to understand why Trinitarian theology fought an uphill battle to establish itself as “orthodox”. That is not to say that there isn’t scriptural allusions to a possible Trinity, for there is, but it is mostly just that, allusions, while Unitarians have loads of direct Bible references on their side. The only direct quotation of Jesus in favor of a Trinity is the command to go and baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in (Matt 28:19), but there are some real problems even with that. First, that simple command does not demonstrate a Trinity and, second, it appears to be a later interpolation and not part of the original text. No time to get into a lengthy explanation but suffice it to say that of all gospels, Matthew is the most Jewish, the one favored by the concision, as well as the Ebionites, who denied the divinity of Jesus. Ultimately all those Christians who would be less likely to accept a Trinitarian concept of God favored the Gospel of Matthew and its “lower” Christology. Perhaps that is exactly why the interpolation was added there, in order to harmonize that gospel with the Trinitarian theology that developed later from John’s higher Christology.

On the other hand Unitarians aren’t necessarily right simply because they have more scriptures in their side. It is true that the word Trinity is never mentioned in the Bible, that the idea came much later and was a new doctrine, but that isn’t reason enough to discount it. Most Unitarians appear stuck in the past, in Bible literalism, legalism, the OT and its regulations, but I admit my limited experience with such churches. In any case the idea of a Trinity cannot simply be discarded on the basis of lacking scriptural evidence, as Jesus did say that the Holy Spirit would reveal new things. Christianity itself was a new thing. Jesus did change all previous exegetical understanding of Scripture and continued to do so even after he ascended to the Father.

How important is it to know?

The remaining question is, how certain can we really be, or even need to be, on any of these things? Can’t it just be enough to know Jesus and His Spirit, without pushing to know things that aren’t specifically revealed? I mean, if God deemed it important, wouldn’t He have cleared it up, instead of letting the theologians do all the guesswork?

I suppose there is a balance, but Latin-Western theology went wild trying to figure out every little detail by rational means. Even the Greek Fathers were more reluctant to borrow from their own philosophy, the rational science of that day, than the Latin West was. The Greeks, for example, wouldn’t accept Augustine’s Neo-Platonism and his rational analysis of God. I tend to agree, as no matter how smart or sophisticated our thinking, how can we really know for sure how the Godhead works? As Christian we have Jesus, the revelation par excellence, the evidence of the Father’s character and intents. The spirit is the token of our destiny with God. We have a lot to go by, but how can we wrap our minds around God and understand Him? All we can do, and that only to a point, is understand what’s revealed and that’s exactly what’s missing from Trinitarian theology, a revelation.

I do admit that the Trinitarian formula does make sense and could indeed be valid, but it can’t be demonstrated (not by the usual tools of theology, except maybe by invoking a dubious majority vote in the fourth century), so it’s best to remain open about it. It also does not matter how convenient the formula might be, as convenience isn’t a sufficiently reliable criterion. It was a determinant factor in the fourth century, when deciding on the Trinitarian dogma. It did partly accomplish its goal of unification, of silencing heretical dissent, of eliminating some “strange” forms of Christianity, but how do we know that Trinitarianism isn’t itself a heresy? We don’t!

Our heresy

As I said, if we look at our own pubs, we see that they are plenty heretical. Let us take for example the series on the Holy Spirit, the Queen of Heaven, or the more recent “Jesus’ life on earth 1 to 4”, “Intimate details of my life” and many other “direct” revelations from Jesus himself. If Trinitarianism is right, then these are all made up and we can simply throw them away, along with forty-some years of pubs. Certainly some can be found that will not necessarily clash with Trinitarianism, but the underlying premise of “new wine” revelation on which our pubs stand is undermined. The way I see it is that there is no middle ground in which our Christian experience can negotiate a compromise with traditional theology. It is either one or the other.

Which formula do I believe in? Well that’s what I am trying to understand! If I take the traditional Trinitarian formula, now in the HOIA series, I am forced to reject my previous understanding of things. If I take instead the former understanding, which I derived from previous teachings, I am forced to reject some fundamental premises of the HOIA series. Could it be that what’s happening to us is the same as what happened with the WCG (Worldwide Church Of God) and Armstrong, its founder? He had many unusual doctrines, including Binitarianism, and after he died in 1986 a gradual revision of his teachings began to happen. Now the WCG has changed name to Grace Communion International and has completely renounced its founder’s teachings, even declaring him heretical and a false prophet. They have now embraced Trinitarianism and have thus been finally accepted into the evangelical fold. Other groups, such as the Mormons, have followed a similar pattern, though not to the same extent. Is this process unavoidable and, perhaps, even the better way? I am just confused.

There are some apparent inconsistencies which I am unable to resolve. One is the fact that much of what David said on the nature of God, does make more sense to me than traditional protestant theology. Another is the fact that even if we consider the HOIA as a better theological foundation, it is so different from the previous that it will inevitably invalidate it. Two contradictory statements, both claiming to be divine truths, cannot stand together. It is either one or the other, or perhaps a third. To make an example (I will include a separate file with relevant quotes), in the pubs which I listed above, Jesus does not appear as part of a Trinity, but as a separate being still referring to the Father as our God and His God. There is definitely a subordinational stance, similar to that proposed by Arius, though it would rate ours as Semi-Arian. There are also some definite similarities to Latter Day Saints theology and Armstrongism.

Which is best?

The theology of the HOIA clashes with David’s doubts on the Trinitarian formula (see separate file). Most precisely, it invalidates his view of the Male-Female nature of God, where the Holy Spirit is female and the most likely co-eternal partner of God the Father, with the Son proceeding from them, instead of the Spirit proceeding from Father and Son.

By the criterion of traditional Trinitarian theology, all revelations from David until recent times are heretical. I have no problem recognizing that some might indeed be and I would be happy to be wiser today than I was yesterday. If David, Maria or Peter got it wrong, I certainly wish to correct it. There is a problem, however, with the assumptions of traditional theology. If David and Maria have mistakes to account for, traditional theology has even more. If David’s doctrines resulted in some controversial and negative outgrowths, all the more so with traditional theology, with centuries of wars in the name of its dogmas. Ultimately I am willing to doubt some, or even much of what we had, but I am not so ready to buy into traditional theology.

Furthermore I find a better and more harmonious theodicy emerging from the bulk of our writings, than from Protestant theology. Taken to its logical, rational conclusion, traditional theology does no justice to God, but creates a negative image of Him, one that fits better the necessities of religious institutions, rather than humanity.

Implications of David’s writings

Before hastily consigning David’s ideas to the loony department, I suggest we look at them a little deeper, considering what possible theological development they could support. Though David never wrote exhaustive theological treaties, only what he felt God was showing him through dreams, visions and prophecies, and maybe even a little too much wine, there are nonetheless some worthy theological implications. Sure, I have my reservations about some of it, but to discount it all as “false” and label him as a “heretic”, like the WCO has done with Armstrong, is a political move which I am not ready to make, even if it were convenient. After all, God does use the unlikely and one thing I know is that, somehow, God had a lot to do with it.

So, since we are speaking of the nature of God and the irreconcilable differences that exist between our past views and traditional theology, let us examine a moment one such “heresy” and see what could possibly be drawn from it. From his vision of the Queen of Heaven onward, David kept referring to the Holy Spirit as female and wrote some specific MLs on it.

In “More on the Spirit of God!”, ML 820, David wrote: “Let us make man in Our Own Image,” it says in Genesis, the first chapter. “And male and female created He them.” (Gen.1:26,27) Do you get the connection? “Let us make man in Our Own Image,” God said. “Male and female!” What is God saying “Our Image” is?–Male and female!! That’s a shocker, huh? I thought that was pretty good! About three different people who have written in about that said when they read that, it suddenly dawned on them what God said. …the evangelicals and the fundamentalists and probably even the Catholics are calling us absolute wild, fanatical heretics by this time for depicting the Holy Spirit as a female!”

Let us now turn to a theologian, Jacques Ellul, who also spoke on these same verses from Genesis: “Elohim created humanity in his image (or in his form), in the image of Elohim he created him (or her), male and female he created them.” It cannot be more straightforward: what is the image of God in this text is that he is man and woman. That is the image of God. However, this is not first and foremost a question of sexuality, but of his being two in one. The text is intriguing: “Elohim created humanity, Adam (which is in the singular) in his form/image, in the form of Elohim he created him” (or her), (in the singular), which is followed by: “male and female he created them” (in the plural). Because there is no punctuation, the Hebrew text could also be read as follows: “In the image of Elohim he create him (or her) male and female. He created them.” So he created him (male and female), and he created them afterwards. In what ways is this the image of God? Recall that Elohim is a plural singular, that is, that name Elohim is a plural which grammatically is always treated as a singular. Hence, God is several in one. Humanity is the only being created as one person separated into two forms. This, I believe is what the texts tells us.

This raises the question of what the relationship is between these two who are one. It can only be love. The relationship between man and woman is love, which expresses the fundamental relation, as Jesus puts it later, that the two will not be two but become one. Here we are faced with something complex because this love is, at the same time and in inseparable ways, a sexual and physical love and a spiritual love of the entire being. The Bible does not distinguish between these two elements. Hence the image of God is love; and this corresponds exactly to what the text has already taught us in speaking of Elohim. God is love. When we spoke about this plurality within the unity of God, we were in effect saying that the only relationship is that of love. This confirms what we saw from the very beginning of this text. Elohim is the One who at the same time creates and reveals himself; and this establishes a relationship, that of love. I acknowledge, of course, that the word love is never mentioned. It is for these reasons that the relationship between a man and a woman is so fundamental throughout the entire Bible. I believe this is a vision of the image of God as love, and the love of a man and a woman as two in one. (From “Remarks on Genesis 1-3” Jacques Ellul)

For sure this reminds us of many other things David wrote on the subject. Obviously he wasn’t the only one thinking about it. In any case, when taking into consideration David and Maria’s words we do not come up with with the traditional formula, but with some rather different pictures. Let us see some:

One: In the bulk of our pubs we see the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as three separate entities comprising a divine family, a sort of heavenly teamwork, or social Trinity. There is no traditional Trinity there and the Father alone is referred to as God, though Jesus is also divine and everything pertaining to this world has been placed in His hands. In “The name of Jesus!” (ML 345) David says “it’s almost presumptuous to talk to God: Jesus is my mediator. I really don’t know how to talk to God–He’s too big for me! Jesus is the One you have to approach God through, our Intercessor, our High Priest. The people never even dreamed of rushing into the holy of holies & talking to God themselves. They talked to the priest & then he went in & talked to God for them. What right does little old pip-squeak man have to be yelling at God? Everything we have is in Jesus’ name. We have no right to even talk to God without Jesus.”

More recently, in the series “Jesus’ life on earth” (1 to 4), Jesus Himself supposedly says: “You see, My Father had a marvelous plan for Me, as I have for you. …I simply obeyed what God told Me to do… I went through the experience of being separated from My Father, yet in the end I became closer to Him than ever before… if He could have, the Father would have come down and taken My place on the cross… The agony He felt at seeing what I had to suffer was every bit as painful for Him as it was for Me. But had He done so, He would have robbed Me of My bride-you! (more on this later) He would have taken away My crown, because it was in going through what I went through that I am now able to rule and reign and love you in a way that I could not have otherwise… All that I have promised unto you I will perform, just as My Father has done for Me. As I am glorified in My Father, so you will be glorified in Me… I did learn things on Earth that I didn’t know in Heaven… I came and lived as a man–but that was as much for your sake as for Mine… this was all a part of My training (Philippians 2:5-8; Isaiah 53:3-9; Hebrews 5:8-9).

In these and many other messages from heaven we see that the Father is God and that there is a Divinity of Jesus but it is subordinate to the Father, our God and His God. In essence we could consider ourselves non-Trinitarian/Unitarians, with a tendency towards Arianism and a host of other options.

Two: If we, instead, consider David’s view of a male-female God, there would not be a Godhead with three males (or genderless entities), of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but a male-female one of Father (male) and Holy Spirit (female). While in the classic Trinitarian view it is the Spirit that proceeds from Father and Son, it would then be the Son to proceed from the Father and the Spirit. If, however, we take into consideration point one, the result would be that we are Binitarians. God is two, Father and Spirit, male-female, and the Son proceeds from them but as the “firstborn of all creation” (Col 1:15) and “the beginning of God’s creation” (Rev 3:14). Here we could add a host of scriptural support, but I will try to put it in a separate file.

Three: We can also take the above and conclude that indeed there is a Trinity which consists of Father, Spirit and Son. The male-female of Father and Spirit eternally generating the Son and all being consubstantial and the three persons of the same Godhead. Some scriptural support can also be worked for this.

Four: Here comes an interesting aspect, one that could connect even more Bible scriptures with a lot our pubs. Let us say that the male-female image of God is correct. Let us say that Jesus is divine but subordinate, one with the Father (Joh 17) but also separate. Let us say there is a sort of Binitarian male-female Godhead, with a Son who’s also divine because He proceeds directly from it. We thus have a two persons Godhead, but a divine family of three. The divine family then creates humanity as the “other half” (bride) for the Son, as the previous excerpt from “Jesus’ life on earth” described. As humanity was created male and female, in the image of God but is one, as God is One, so the Son is missing its counterpart, humanity, which, in relation to the Son is female. Jesus and humanity thus become one male-female complete oness, bringing into play and making sense of our special brand of “bridal theology”. From the Bible we would have scriptures such as “Ye are Gods” (Ps 82:6 John 10:34), “when He shall appear, we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2), “The Spirit (female Godhead) and the Bride (generated female) say come (become one with the Son and generate more)” (Rev 22:17).

Conclusion? By becoming one with Him, humanity would in effect join the divine family. Being that He already is one with the Father (and Spirit) (John 17:21), humanity would be adopted into God and inherit divine attributes. The whole process would develop into a sort of Quadrinity, or at least a divine family of four, even if the Godhead remained two. It is a sort of Armstrongism, where God is a “Family” that expands eventually and humanity, by stages, joins it, though not quite the same as he saw it. So Unitarianism can be right, as well as Binitarianism and Trinitarianism, but in this last option the Divine family could even grow to four, to a social Quadrinity.

Mind boggling? Perhaps. What do I believe? I don’t know! Whether He is one, two, three or four “I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see (John 9:25)”. Jesus I know, His power I have felt, His voice I have heard and His care has sustained me, the rest is mere supposition which I might like to indulge in but has limited bearing on my faith. The God I speak of is knowable, but he’s also too big for my rational mind to fully understand. What I wrote, therefore, is not to be taken too seriously. It was merely an attempt at exploring ideas, at showing that there are more than one way of looking at it, that our “out of the ordinary” revelations are not so “outlandish” after all, but may contain valuable glimpses into the invisible. To show also that no model conceived by human understanding can be so arrogant as to impose itself as “divine” dogma; that neither scripture, or reason, can confer it such finality, and that none can prevail over another by the mere cry of “heresy”. “God is in heaven and we upon hearth” (Ecc 5:2), so let us assume less and hunger for more.

When faith is a question rather than an answer

Ours has always been an open posture, a readiness to be shown newer and better things, a longing for new wine and new glimpses into the realities beyond. We were not limited by the Bible alone, much less by a single interpretation of it. The case for the Trinity, Unity, Binity, or other formula, was never settled with us, as David did not hesitate to cross the boundaries of orthodoxy and go where new evidence might lead. Somewhat comforting is that we are not unique in this, others like Armstrong, Latter Day Saints, some branches of the Adventists, people from the past as well as the present, have espoused similar views. Proponents of a “progressive revelation”, otherwise known as “prophetic tradition”, do not see the Bible as a complete revelation, as God’s last word to humanity, and are thus better equipped at handling the new than those who insist on a fixed orthodoxy.

The Family has always held to such a progressive posture, to leaving the old behind and embracing the new, and I continue to favor that. It would be unfortunate, however, to take the new and transform it into a fixed dogma, as it happened with some of the folks I mentioned. We must retain the awareness that the Living Word can never become static, that when humans attempt to make it so, it spoils, like manna from heaven. We do have a deposit for our hope, but we must never assume to have reached a complete or final understanding of it. We must hear from Him fresh every day and constantly stand in awe at Him, continually hungering for more, for “we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes (only then), the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known (1Cor 13)”.

Until then we are destined to continually shed the old and reach for the new, destined to realize that whatever we knew yesterday was childish, and to look back again tomorrow and see what we know today as the same, childish. If at any time this process stops, then we are stuck. If we are looking back for answers, instead of forward, if we are trying to preserve instead of shedding and moving on, then we have turned religious, and are no longer a movement of life, but a memorial to a life that was.

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From → Nature of God

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