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Harlot of Babylon According to Irvin Baxter; Trinity and Oneness, Part 6

by Karl Kemp  
2/12/2016 / Bible Studies

I'll list three cross-references where Trinitarian writers deal with John 1:1 (or John 1:1-18) and give a few brief excerpts from them here at the beginning of Part 6 of this paper.

Michael R. Burgos ("Kiss the Son," 2012) discusses John 1:1 on pages 55-64. He interacts extensively with what David Bernard says on John 1:1. Chapter 4 of Gregory A. Boyd's "Oneness Pentecostals & The Trinity" is titled "Did the Son of God Exist Before His Birth" (pages 93-114). He discusses John 1:1-18, especially John 1:1 on pages 94-97. I'll quote a few sentences from what Boyd says here: "There is perhaps no stronger testimony to the actual distinct pre-existence of Christ than the entire first chapter of the Gospel of John. It was, in fact, largely my own study of this chapter that finally convinced me that the Oneness view of the Son of God [which he previously held] could not possibly be correct" (page 94). And "The conclusion that John understood Jesus actually and personally to preexist with God [the Father] and as God [as deity] prior to His becoming flesh seems unavoidable. Therefore, the Oneness attempt to explain Christ's preexistence as an existence either as the actual Father or as the idealized envisaged Son [the One who oneness Christians say did not exist until the virgin birth] cannot succeed in this passage" (page 96).

Edward L. Dalcour ("A Definitive Look at Oneness Theology," 2011) discusses John 1:1 in some detail on pages 119-131. He rightly says that this verse shows the eternality of the Son, the distinction between the Father and the Son, and the full deity of the Son. He interacts with Bernard to some extent. I'll give one short excerpt: "...Oneness theology says the Son is the humanity and not the deity of Jesus. They also assert that since the Sonship began (was created) in Bethlehem, the Sonship will cease to exist after time (cf. Bernard, 1983, page 106)" (page 121).

JOHN 8:58 (WITH 8:57, 59). "So the Jews said to Him, 'You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?' (58) Jesus said to them, 'Truly [Amen], truly [Amen], I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.' (59) Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself [A note in the margin of the NASB has "was hidden"; if this is the idea God hid Him, one way, or another; it is clear that this wasn't the right time for Jesus to die, and He was not to die by stoning.] and went out of the temple."

Jesus clearly spoke of His preexistence (His preexistence as a Person) in verse 58, having existed before Abraham (who lived some two thousand years before Jesus was born of the virgin), but He did more than that: There is very widespread agreement that He was declaring His deity with the words "I am." The words "I am" here (also compare John 8:24, 28; 13:19) undoubtedly build on the super-important words "I AM" and "I AM WHO I AM" (or, probably better, "I AM FOR I AM") of Ex. 3:14, where God gave these words as His name. The name "I AM" is very closely related to the name "Yahweh," which was used in Ex. 3:15, and that Hebrew noun is used more than 6,800 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. See the discussion on the super-important meaning of these names at the beginning of my paper titled, "The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son" (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching).

Those Jews would have undoubtedly stoned Jesus for just saying that He existed before Abraham, but they would have been much more angered by His claim to be deity with the words "I AM." It was totally legitimate for Jesus to take that name for Himself because that name, which referred first and foremost to God the Father in the Old Testament, was applicable for Him too in that He (the Son of God) was deity with the Father, and it was used for Him several times in the Old Testament. In fact, there is widespread agreement that it was God the Son who appeared to Moses in Exodus chapter 3, as the Angel of Yahweh. (See Ex. 3:2 and my paper, "The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son.")

JOHN 17:1-5. ((Jesus' words here, especially verses 3-5, clearly show that He, the Word, God the Son, in His preincarnate state, had been existing in glory with God the Father before the world was created, as in John 1:1-3. And they show that the Father sent Him (this Person through whom all creating took place) into the world to become the God-man. As this paper shows, many verses in the Gospel of John confirm that the preexistent Son was sent into the world to become the God-man. John 17:24 mentions that God the Father loved the Son (loved the Son as a Person who existed with Him at that time) before the creation of the world. Jesus spoke these things to the Father before His apostles after the Lord's Supper and before He was arrested the evening before He was crucified.)) "Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, 'Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, (2) even as You gave Him authority over all flesh [cf., e.g., Matt. 28:18; John 3:35], that to all whom You have given Him [cf., e.g., John 17:6, 9, 20-24], He may give eternal life. [[On Jesus' being glorified see John 17:5. The Father glorifies the Son by raising Him from the dead (He was the first man, though He was much more than just a man, to be raised with a glorified body), by exalting Him to His right hand, by "giving Him authority over all flesh" (over all mankind), etc. Christ's authority over all flesh includes His "[giving] eternal life" to those chosen by God ((the elect [Taken in the fullest sense, God's elect includes all the people who will have a place in the new heaven and new earth with its new Jerusalem, very much including all the believers who lived in the days before the new covenant was ratified through the atoning death of the Lamb of God. The names of the elect are written in the Lamb's book of life (see, for example, Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 20:15, and 21:27).])) and His judging and removing all who persist in rebellion, without repentance (compare John 5:21-29). We enter "eternal life" through the new birth by the Spirit (see, for example John 3:3-8, 15, 16, 36; 5:24). The resurrected Christ was also given authority to judge and remove Satan, the evil angels, and the demons at the right time. God the Father, who has the preeminent role in the Trinity, will also be active in the end-time judgments (cf., e.g., Rev. 11:15-18; 12:10; and 20:11-15).]] (3) This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God [[The full deity of the Lord Jesus Christ (and the Holy Spirit) is clearly taught in the New Testament (including here in John 17:1-5), but there are quite a few verses like this in the New Testament that emphasize the preeminent role of God the Father (cf., e.g., Rom. 16:26, 27; 1 Cor. 8:4-6; 15:27, 28; Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Tim. 1:17; 2:5; 6:13-16; and Jude 1:24, 25). Here He is called "the only true God." I'm totally sure that the Lord Jesus (and the Holy Spirit) love the fact that God the Father has the preeminent role in the Trinity.]], and Jesus Christ whom You have sent [God the Father sent His Son, who always existed with Him, into the world to become the God-man and to save us (cf., e.g., John 3:17; 17:8, 21, 23, 25)]. [[The triune God is the only source of life, very much including "eternal life," and of everything else that is good. We have the great privilege through new-covenant salvation to be right with, to be in union with, and to know (know in an experiential sense) God the Father with a person to Person relationship. So too with Jesus Christ whom He has sent, who brings us to the Father through His incarnation and all-important atoning death (cf. John 14:6). So too with the Holy Spirit of life who dwells in every born-again Christian (cf. Rom. 8:9). Christians partake of spiritual/eternal life in a preliminary sense from the time they are born again by the Spirit of God, but most of the glory of eternal life is reserved for the end of this age, when we will be born into the fullness of eternal life (cf., e.g., Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:42-57; Col. 1:27; Titus 3:7; and Rev. 12:5).]] (4) I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. [[Compare John 4:34; 6:38. The Lord Jesus always perfectly obeyed the Father and perfectly accomplished the work assigned to Him. His greatest work involved His voluntary atoning death, which hadn't been accomplished when He spoke these words, but there is widespread agreement that Jesus spoke here from the point of view that it had been accomplished in that the time had now arrived for His crucifixion and He was fully committed to carry out that one last great work on the earth (cf., e.g., John 1:29, 36; 3:14-18; 10:11-18; 12:20-33; 13:21-33; 18:11; and 19:28-30). It was perfectly accomplished!]] (5) Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I [God the Son, a Person who was with God the Father in the beginning (clearly not a thought or plan in the mind of God the Father), before any creating had taken place] had with You before the world was [Compare John 1:1-3, 14; 17:24 ("for you [Father] loved Me, a Person [and not the thought or idea of Me] before the foundation of the world"); Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 1:15-17; and Heb. 1:1-3]." It is very important to see that a whole lot more is taking place here than God the Son's being restored to the glory that He had with the Father before He condescended to become a man, the God-man (cf. Phil. 2:7, 8; John 1:14). Now the Lord Jesus Christ (the God-man), having overcome sin and God's enemies through His sinless life and His all-important atoning death, was to be glorified by the Father, which included His resurrection and ascension. Now He (the God-man) would have the commission and authority to save (with a very full salvation) all believers and to judge and remove all unrepentant rebels, including the devil, evil angels and demons.

Genesis 3:15 had prophesied that Satan and his followers would be defeated by man. The God-man makes this work, but we (His people) have the privilege to participate in that warfare and judgment (see, for example, Rom. 16:20; 1 Cor. 6:2, 3; Rev. 2:26, 27; 5:10; 12:5; 17:14; and 19:19). All the verses I just listed refer to the time after we are glorified. Pretty soon comes eternal glory!

Those who are united with the Lord Jesus Christ by faith will ultimately be glorified with Him and reign with Him (see, for example Rom. 8:17, 18, 29; Rev. 3:21; 20:6; 22:5 [Rev. 22:5 shows that this will be a NEVER-ENDING reign]). If He had not become a man (the God-man), we could not have been saved through His all-important atoning death, and have become united with Him, and be glorified in union with Him. Christ Jesus exalts His people FAR ABOVE what Adam had before the fall (compare 1 Cor. 15:45-52). We will be glorified with Him and reign with Him forever! What a salvation plan! We will not, of course, become deity/God with Christ. We will be worshipping God (the triune God), serving Him, and enjoying Him and everything else in His kingdom forever. We will not be worshipped in any sense.

I'm going to discuss what David K. Bernard says on John 17:5 in his "The Oneness of God," pages 183, 184. It sure is confusing to me, and I'm sure it's wrong. I'll try to unpack what Bernard says here. I'm trying to be fair to what he says. He says "In John 17:5 [KJV] Jesus [[From Bernard's oneness point of view this has to be the humanity of Jesus praying to God the Father, who (the Father) had taken on flesh and who was the divine part of Jesus. For Bernard the name Jesus includes the Father and the Son (and the Holy Spirit too, but the Spirit isn't involved in this passage), but for him the Son doesn't exist (except in the mind of God) until the virgin birth. I'll quote part of a sentence from his page 67, "Jesus was not only the Son in His humanity but also the Father in His deity."]] prayed, 'O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was [[Here, according to Bernard, Jesus is speaking as the Father, the One who had the glory in the beginning and He is speaking as the Son who "had the glory in the plan and mind of God." In his next sentence he says this.]].' Again, Jesus spoke of the glory He had as God in the beginning and the glory the Son had in the plan and mind of God. It could not mean that Jesus pre-existed with glory as the Son. [[Here Bernard is denying (as he is forced to do in order to believe in his oneness view of God) that the Son existed and had glory with the Father as a Person in the beginning, which He clearly did according to this verse and quite a few other verses. Bernard is forced to say that the Son, who didn't exist in the beginning, had the glory only in the plan and mind of God the Father. To say that the Son, who did not yet exist, had the glory in the plan and mind of God the Father is a very strained idea as is much of what Bernard is saying.]] It could not mean that Jesus pre-existed with glory as the Son. [Bernard said "It could not mean that Jesus pre-existed with glory as the Son," because that would show that the oneness view is wrong.] Jesus was praying, so He must have been speaking as a man and not as God. [Actually He was speaking/praying as the eternal Son of God who had condescended to become the God-man.] We know [we know if we accept the oneness point of view that] the humanity [the human part of Jesus from a oneness point of view] did not pre-exist the Incarnation, so Jesus [the human part of Jesus] was talking about the glory the Son had in the plan of God from the beginning." However, Bernard has already told us that "Jesus [also] spoke of the glory He had as God in the beginning." The fact that Jesus speaks as the Father and the Son in one super-complicated sentence, and that this is rather typical for oneness interpretations, testifies that something is wrong here. Sentences like John 17:5 are easy to understand if we accept the Trinity.

I don't believe these verses could make it any more clear that Jesus, having been sent into the world by the Father and having perfectly fulfilled His mission except for His all-important atoning death, which He would complete long before the next twenty-four hours were over, was requesting the Father to glorify Him together with the Father with the glory He (a Person, the Son of God) had always had with Him before He was sent into the world.

Michael R. Burgos ("Kiss the Son," 2012,) discusses John 17:5 on pages 85-89, including interacting with what Bernard says on this verse. Edward L. Dalcour ("A Definitive Look at Oneness Theology," 2011) discusses John 17:5 on pages 131-134. I'll include two short excerpts from what Dalcour says here: "Even though the plainness of the passage cannot be denied (the Father and the Son sharing glory before time), Oneness teachers (cf. Bernard, 1983: pages 116, 117 [Dalcour was referring to a different section in Bernard's book]) argue that the glory that Jesus (the Son) had with the Father only signified the future glory or plan in the Father's mind" (page 132). Oneness doctrine contorts Jesus' High Priestly prayer to the Father [of John chapter 17], reducing it to a mere un-intimate mirage: Jesus as the non-divine Son [the humanity of Jesus] praying to His own divine nature (the Father), only appearing to be numerically distinct. [In other words, from a oneness point of view, there really is only one Person, Jesus, not the Father and the Son.] ...."

PHILIPPIANS 2:5-11. "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus [[The apostle Paul was speaking of the attitude of humility, as the preceding and following verses show. If God the Son could humble Himself to become a man (the God-man) and die for us as the Lamb of God, certainly we Christians can, and we must, humble ourselves before God and before one another. Humility is the opposite of pride, which (with unbelief) is the root of sin.]], (6) who although He existed in the form of God [[In verse 6, as the context shows, we are seeing God the Son, a Person who existed with God the Father (and God the Holy Spirit) before He humbled Himself to become the God-man. The Greek noun translated "form" could also be translated "nature." The NIV, for example, translates, "Who being in very nature God." He was deity, God the Son. He existed in the form of God, being God the Son, who was there with God the Father before anything was ever created, and through whom all things were created (see John 1:1-3, Col. 1:16, 17; and Heb. 1:1-3, 8-13).]], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped [[Even though the Son of God always was fully deity with God the Father, He always recognized (and loved) the fact that He had a subordinate role to God the Father in the Trinity. I didn't say He was inferior to the Father. God the Father created through Him; God the Father sent Him into the world; He was the Son of the Father; and many verses throughout the Bible show that God the Father has the preeminent role. (See my papers "Who Do We Pray To?" and "The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son" for many examples, and quite a few examples are included in this paper. Also my next paper will deal with the subordinate role of God the Son.)

Rather than grasp for more (which would include trying to get rid of His subordinate role in the Trinity), He (as the next verses show) humbled Himself to leave the glory behind and become a man (the God-man), which was a gigantic condescension, and then to die a shameful death on the cross, all in loving submission to the Father's will. He understood that He would be saving all believers and overthrowing all rebels through His incarnation, sinless life, and all-important atoning death.]] (7) but emptied Himself [I'll quote part of what the BAGD Greek Lexicon gives for the meaning here: "he emptied himself, divested himself of his prestige or privileges."], taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. [[He didn't cease being deity, God the Son, but He temporarily exchanged an infinitely high place for a place of little reputation (that included becoming a man, the GOD-man) that involved great suffering, but was infinitely important.]] (8) Being found in appearance as a man [after His incarnation], He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [[Having become the God-man, He humbled Himself much further by voluntarily submitting to the crucifixion and all that it involved (cf. John 10:17, 18), doing the Father's will (cf. Matt. 26:38-44; Mark 14:34-39). The physical suffering was a small part of what He submitted to. The Scriptures make it quite clear that this was a very difficult assignment: "And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground" (Luke 22:44). "Then He said to them, 'My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.' And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not My will, but as You will' " (Matt. 26:38, 39). "About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?' that is, 'MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?' " (Matt. 27:46). He was totally committed to always do the Father's will, and He knew that He was earning the right to save us and to judge and remove the devil and all those who follow him. Talk about two super-important accomplishments!]] (9) For this purpose also [or, "Therefore" with the NIV.], God [God the Father] highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name [[Before God the Son humbled Himself (as pictured in verses 7, 8), He had a name above every name, excluding the name of God the Father. But now He had earned the right to save us with a very full salvation; we are even united with Him (with God the Son, and through Him with God the Father) through His incarnation, atoning death and resurrection, and we are destined to be glorified with Him and to reign with Him forever. (I am emphasizing God the Father and God the Son, but none of this would work without the Holy Spirit, who dwells in every born-again Christian, for one thing). And now He has totally defeated the devil (see, for example, John 12:31; 16:11; and Heb. 2:14 [see Heb. 2:15-18 on His saving us]). This defeat will be fully manifested at the end of this age (cf., e.g., Rev. 12:7-9; 20:1-3, 10).]], (10) so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (11) and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." God's people bow willingly; His enemies (including Satan and his followers) will be subdued and forced to bow and acknowledge that God has defeated them through His beloved Son and that Jesus Christ is Lord, all to the glory of God the Father, who always had, and always will have, the preeminent role in the Trinity. God the Father did not give His Son a name above His name, nor could He have.

David K. Bernard ("The Oneness of God," 1983) discusses Phil. 2:6-8 on pages 220-224. I'll quote and comment on part of what Bernard says about Phil. 2:6. (He is using the KJV.) "Apparently, this verse of Scripture is saying that Jesus had the nature of God, that He was God Himself. [[Keep in mind that from a oneness point of view (including Bernard) in the days before the incarnation (and Phil. 2:6 is speaking of a time before the incarnation) God the Father (who Bernard calls "God" and "Jesus" here) was totally by Himself; there was no humanity, no human nature. As far as I can see, it doesn't communicate anything reasonable or meaningful to say that God the Father "thought it not robbery to be equal with God [that is to be equal with Himself]" or with the NASB translation, "did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped."]] God has no equal (Isaiah 40:25; 46:5, 9). The only way God the Father [[in the days before His incarnation in this context; keep in mind that Bernard believes that God the Father, not God the Son, took on flesh (became incarnate)]] can be equal with God is for Him to be God. So, Jesus [more specifically from the oneness point of view, the divine nature of Jesus] was equal with (the same as) God because He was God. [Again, I don't think that anything reasonable or meaningful is being said here.] However, He did not consider His prerogatives as God something to be held or retained at all costs, but He was willing to lay these aside and assume a human nature so that He could save lost mankind. [[However, from Bernard's oneness point of view, and it seems from a totally necessary point of view, God the Father continued to function as the God of the universe, so in that sense He didn't lay His glory aside, if I understand what he is saying. I'm sure he believes that God the Father (whatever He is called) continued to function as the God of the universe, without laying His glory aside. (What the apostle Paul says here is that the Son of God, not God the Father laid His glory aside. However, Bernard doesn't believe the Son of God even existed at that time.) This much has to be true even though He believes that God the Father was incarnate in the God-man Jesus and He was the Spirit (the divine nature) of Jesus. After the incarnation He still functioned as God (if not the universe could not continue to exist), but now (according to the oneness viewpoint) the humanity of Jesus could now pray to, and interact with, His divine nature, His divine nature that was functioning as God of the universe.]] He willingly became a humble, obedient servant and even submitted to death on the cross. [[Who did this? It seems that everyone will have to agree that God the Father continued to function as the God of the universe. Surely the God who was, and always continued to be God over the universe was a different Person than the One who "emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of man" (Phil. 2:7 NASB) or "made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men" (Phil. 2:7 KJV). (I am not in any way denying the full deity of the humble, obedient servant who submitted to death on the cross; for one thing, His deity was required for this PERFECT SACRIFICE to be accepted. It seems to me that when we get into the details the oneness viewpoint is impossible, not to mention that I don't believe any verses actually teach oneness. It was God the Son, who was with the Father in the beginning (before creation began), who became incarnate. Then everything fits perfectly, even if we don't know enough to fully understand the Trinity!]] (page 221).

Michael R. Burgos ("Kiss the Son," 2012) discusses Phil. 2:5-11 on pages 75-85, including interacting with David Bernard and another oneness writer. I'll include a brief excerpt where Burgos (on page 78) quotes from Bernard and comments on what Bernard said on pages 392, 399 of "The Oneness View of Jesus Christ," 1994. "Bernard has also argued: 'if "equal with" indicates a distinct person [referring to the fact that Trinitarians believe God the Son is a distinct person from God the Father], then Jesus [God the Son from a Trinitarian point of view] would not merely be a distinct person from the Father, as Trinitarians teach, but a distinct person from God altogether, which they deny; for verse 6 does not say 'equal with the Father' but 'equal with God.' If God is a trinity and if equality implies a personal distinction, then Jesus is equal to the whole trinity yet a distinct person from the trinity." As Burgos rightly points out, Bernard is wrongly assuming that the word "God" in "equal with God" (KJV) in Phil. 2:6 refers to the Trinity. It refers to God the Father as the word typically does in the New Testament. I'll quote Phil. 1:2 for one of a very large number of examples: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." I should mention that Bernard (see his "The Oneness of God" on pages 207-211, for example) believes that the word "and" after the word "Father" (in Phil. 1:2) should be translated "even," not "and." There are several places where the Greek "kai" should be translated "even" in the New Testament, but I don't believe there is any possibility that it should be translated "even" in Phil. 1:2 or in many similar passages. I consider that to be a desperate attempt to eliminate quite a few super-important verses that clearly demonstrate that the oneness view is wrong.

We will continue discussing Phil. 2:5-11 in Part 7.

Copyright by Karl Kemp Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.

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