When pressed, 'Oneness' Pentecostals will agree that Jesus Christ, who is both man and God, is only one person. After all, what
would be remarkable about one person who is a
man praying to another person who is God? Happens all the time: "O
You who hear prayer, to You all flesh will come." (Psalm 65:2). But
if the incarnation is a reality rather than a myth, we do not see here
one individual who is a man praying to another individual who is God!:
"He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying,
'O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless,
not as I will, but as You will.'" (Matthew 26:39).
Yet they segregate life episodes pertaining to the 'humanity' from those
deemed appropriate to deity, assigning one set of life experiences to 'the
Son,' the other to 'the Father.' They then recount two non-intersecting
biographies, only one of which leads to Calvary. They tell of one subject:
'the Son,' who hungers, thirsts and dies, and of another, 'the Father,'
who heals and walks on water.
'Oneness' Pentecostals are not the only ones who believe the title 'Son'
addresses the Lord's humanity; devotees of Adam Clarke's Commentary do
so as well. But these latter do not go on to report two biographies flying
off at a tangent, one belonging to 'the Son,' the other to 'the Logos.'
If the Son is one person, not two, then He has one biography, not two of 'em! A sentence like 'The mayor
plays the flute,' need not be 'corrected' to, 'The flautist plays the flute,
while the mayor does nothing but preside over town business,' because the
self-same, one person who is mayor also plays the flute, not qua mayor but qua flautist. So long as we're talking
about one person, although our descriptive
titles mean different things, we cannot report differing biographies: 'The
mayor went out to dinner on Tuesday, while the uncle stayed home.' If 'the
mayor' and 'the uncle' are the same person, then what the mayor did, the uncle did.
Proponents of an 'incarnational Sonship' allege that the title 'Son,' given
to the Logos in describing creation (Colossians 1:12-18), is ascribed 'prophetically.'
It is as if a later biographer were to report (supposing Prince William
to go on to become king), 'King William lost his mother at an early age,'--
not that he was already king when his mother died, but that he would later
become king. This already strains credulity, because the references to
be explained away are more like, 'King William was playing with marbles,
King William caught a frog,'- there is no distancing mechanism like 'at
an early age.' The best explanation for 'King William was playing with
marbles' is that this would not be so phrased. Nor is 'Son' any more evocative
of 'humanity' or 'subordination' than its correlative, 'Father.'
But in any case, whether or not the title 'Son' intends to point to the incarnation,
the biography 'the Son' then goes on to experience cannot be the biography of a part of Christ
Jesus: His 'humanity.' Natures do not experience biographies,
any more than they love or carry on conversation!
Arm of Flesh
The Bible curses those who trust in an arm of flesh:
"Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and
maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD." (Jeremiah 17:5).
"With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon
the words of Hezekiah king of Judah." (2 Chronicles 32:8).
Christians believe in 'the Son': "And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him,
may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
(John 6:40); "He that believeth on the Son hath
everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see
life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." (John 3:36).
Trusting in the Son, we trust in a faithful source of help, because Jesus
Christ, the Son, is both man and God. In trusting in the Son, we are not
trusting in mere 'flesh.' What futility that would be!:
"None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God
a ransom for him: (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it
ceaseth for ever:) That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption.
For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person
perish, and leave their wealth to others...But God will redeem my soul
from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah." (Psalm
"O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help. I
will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities?
and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes?...I will
ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death:
O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance
shall be hid from mine eyes." (Hosea 13:9-14).
The Bible knows of only one Savior who truly can save:
"Yet I am the LORD your God
Ever since the land of Egypt,
And you shall know no God but Me;
For there is no savior besides Me." (Hosea 13:4).
Is the only Savior who avails the 'flesh'? No, the Son:
"And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as
Savior of the world." (1 John 4:14).
"God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past
to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by
His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He
made the worlds..." (Hebrews 1:1-2).
Fleshy Revised Version: 'God...has in these last days spoken to us by the Flesh...through whom also He made the worlds...' Wait
a minute -- how could the 'flesh' of the incarnation even have been present at creation, much less have been instrumental? It was
not until "the fullness of the time" - 4 B.C. or thereabouts - that the Son took on flesh: "But when the fullness of the
time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive
the adoption as sons." (Galatians 4:4-5).
The failure of the 'Son' = 'flesh' theory is especially glaring with these passages which ascribe creation to
the "Son": "...giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in
the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love...For by Him
all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities
or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things
consist." (Colossians 1:12-18).
Fleshy Revised Version: 'He has delivered us from the power of darkness
and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Flesh of His love...For by said
Flesh all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth...'
According to the Bible, there was a "first" man: "And so it is written, 'The first man Adam became a living
being.'" (1 Corinthians 15:45). Man was created:
"So God created man..." (Genesis 1:27). Is "the Son"
who created "all things" a 'man'...or God?
God spoke the worlds into being:
Before My Father
As noted, 'Oneness' Pentecostals are obliged to shuttle between two very
different definitions of 'the Son': a.) the flesh, b.) Father in the flesh.
It's common enough for words and phrases to have differing meanings. For
instance 'arche', in the Bible, is applied to Jesus as the 'source' and 'origin' of creation...and also to a bedsheet!: "And saw
heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners ['arche'], and let
down to the earth:..." (Acts 10:11). The differing meanings
of a word have been likened to a family portrait,-- not a line-up of identical
twins, but with perceptible resemblances running throughout. Perhaps the
'corners' of a sail are called 'archai' because the weavers 'began' at a corner, thus making the corner the 'beginning'
of the sheet. It's pushing it a bit, though, to base an entire theology
upon an estoeric definition ('Son'='flesh')...then cavalierly to admit
the definition can't consistently be applied! The proposed definition can
be found neither in the dictionary nor in the Bible, nor can it be applied
consistently. Why, then, should it be adopted?
How it is that, some of the time, 'the Son' means 'the Father', while at other times 'the Son' is 'the flesh?' Is there a rule of thumb
as to which definition to apply? In practice, 'Oneness' Pentecostals need 'the Son' to mean 'the flesh' in those scriptures which display
a distinction between Father and Son, then allow 'Son' to mean 'God' (to them, as to the Unitarians, 'Father-only') in those scriptures which
explicitly ascribe deity to the Son. So the best scriptures to overturn this man-made system are those which are two-fers: which both
display a relation between Father and Son and explicitly ascribe deity to the Son.
Paradoxical as it may seem, the Bible books most rich in anti-'Oneness' Pentecostal verses are the same books which most openly teach the
deity of Jesus Christ. Hebrews is one, Revelation is another:
"To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as
I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." (Revelation 3:21).
"He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not
blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before
My Father and before His angels." (Revelation 3:5).
Who is the Speaker? "One like the Son of Man"...who is God: the "first and and the last": 'Do not be afraid;
I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen."
(Revelation 1:17-18). And
the Speaker promises to confess our names before His Father. So how can
'the Son' can be 'the flesh,' when we realize the "first and last"
promises to confess our names before "My Father?" The theory fails.