This is the usual depiction of Jesus, but no one today knows what He looked like. He may have discouraged a portrait being made of Him so that people wouldn’t decide to “worship the work of their own hands” (Isa. 2:8). Since Jesus was God manifested in the flesh (I Tim. 3:16), the ones who worship (what they believe to be) His image might say they obey the First Commandment that prohibits worshipping any god but the true god (Ex. 20:3). Yet the Second Commandment forbids worshipping any type of graven image, even of what is in Heaven (Ex. 20:4, 5). Worshipping an image of what you believe to be the true God is still idol worship. It’s for good reason that more than one commandment covers this issue.
The Catholic Church considers the First and Second Commandments to be one commandment that states, “Thou shalt not have strange gods before Me; thou shalt not make to thyself any graven thing to adore it.” So for them the Third Commandment is the Second, the Fourth is the Third, and so on. To ensure there are still “Ten Commandments” (Ex. 34:28), the Last Commandment, “Thou shalt not covet” (Ex. 20:17), is split in two. The reasoning is if it takes two commandments to forbid adultery and theft, there should also be two commandments to forbid the types of coveting that can lead to those sins. But the question arises, if coveting another person’s spouse and property were meant to be separate commandments, why does it start with property, then mention a wife, and then go back to property? Clearly there is one commandment that covers all types of coveting.
The renumbering of the Ten Commandments was first done in the fifth century by Augustine and was then adopted by Catholics during the Council of Trent (1545-1563). Another alteration of the Bible that took place during this time was having the Apocrypha added to it (officially removed by Protestants in 1885). These additional books do have historical value, but they also have flaws. The most troubling thing to me about the Council of Trent was the decision that tradition could be taught as doctrine, something Jesus condemned the Pharisees for (Mark 7:5-7). To their credit, Catholics did decide during this council to abolish their most corrupt practices that resulted in the Protestant Reformation. But many bad decisions were made as well.
A false doctrine many protestants unfortunately share with Catholics is that of the Trinity, which alleges that the one God mysteriously exists as three Persons. (I'd like to add I don't think merely misunderstanding the nature of the Godhead means someone isn't a true Christian. I know there are trinitarians who worship the same God I do.) The truth is Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three manifestations, not three Persons. I can’t believe there’s even a need for me to say that when Christians have fellowship with God in Heaven, they won’t be in the company of two invisible Persons and one visible Person, Jesus. Strict monotheists such as myself have been labeled heretics for denying an “eternal Son.” For the record, I don’t reject that Jesus is eternal. I reject the concept of an eternal sonship, because the begotten body of Jesus did have a beginning. That’s Scripture, not some recent “revelation,” like that of Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormonism). To say my view is a recent development is like saying the Protestant Reformation introduced new doctrine when restoring biblical doctrine to churches.
The doctrine of the Trinity is part of the Nicene Creed, a by-product of the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325), during which Emperor Constantine promoted the Trinity as a compromise doctrine to prevent division in his empire. (It's not surprising he had this non-Christian motive considering he put off being baptized until shortly before his death to "wash away" a lifetime of sinful behavior, and many suspect another reason he put off baptism was to appeal to pagans and Christians both.) The arguments for God being three Persons could also be used to argue that Jesus is two Persons. Being both God and Man, He had a dual nature. (Have you ever noticed He often spoke of Himself in the third Person? Was He speaking of another Person? No.) Trinitarians say God exists as three co-equal Persons, which contradicts Jesus saying, “My Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28) But there’s no problem with this statement if Jesus meant His manifestation in “sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3) was lesser than His role as our Father God. I make my case for absolute monotheism in my essay God is One, which I’m sure upsets a lot of people, and that is not my intention. I will never have that “told you so” attitude. I’m trying to help people get a better understanding of God’s true nature and I hate that in the process I have to criticize what so many devout members of churches believe in. I do not enjoy writing about controversial subjects like this, but I feel compelled to do so for the sake of biblical truth. I’m also tired of reading that absolute monotheists are cult members, a myth that needs to be put in the grave.
Along with my belief in God’s absolute oneness is my belief that Jesus wasn’t giving word-for-word instructions when saying baptism should be “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost [Spirit] (Matt. 28:19). Peter knew what he was doing when telling people to be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 2:38). Some opponents of Acts 2:38 baptism say that when there’s a contradiction between something Jesus taught and something a man taught, we must yield to the words of Jesus. So what they’re saying is the apostle Peter contradicted Jesus when preaching on the day the church began, and also that Luke erroneous recorded this as doctrine (Acts 2:42)! Others say Luke was merely recording a historical account and not word-for-word instructions for baptism. I suggest they read Luke’s record of Jesus, speaking in the third person, saying “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations” (Luke 24:47). When Jesus said remission of sins should be preached “in His name,” Luke certainly got it right when writing that Christians should be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). For further reading on this topic, I’ll refer you to some additional sources: Why We Baptize in Jesus’ Name, History of Baptism in Jesus’ Name, and Water Baptism in the Name of Jesus.
I’ve noticed when reading articles in support of the Trinity that many of the arguments used are ones that I use myself to make the point that Jesus is fully God. The issue I don't agree with trinitarians on is that in the beginning there were three invisible Spirit Persons, three holy Spirits, in fact, and that one of them took on flesh to become visible. Whereas I see the same roles being performed by Father, Son and Holy Spirit as evidence that they are the same Person referred to as different titles, trinitarians see this as three Persons working together to do something. Sometimes I feel I’ve reached a stalemate when debating them, but anyone who digs deep enough into the issue can see that God is one Person with more than one title. To add to the above links, there’s a group of writings under the name What About God? I encourage you to take all of this in with an open mind and rely completely on the Bible for what to make of it.
In an earlier post called Deception, I mentioned someone I had been debating in back-and-forth emails, and how my opponent had a very condescending attitude. That man was a trinitarian, and I recently emailed him requesting to have a respectful discussion so that we could better understand each other. His response didn’t come off as cocky, so I replied to him with a respectful email. He then went back to attack mode, with one of his statements being, “If you have the anti-intellectual idea that all ‘recognized’ conservative biblical scholars, and esp. grammars are all wrong due to their conclusions of a triune God, then you have a defect in your epistemology.” This attitude is reminiscent of cocky evolutionists who proclaim all “recognized” biologists accept evolution. It aggravates me when biologists teach something that contradicts science, such as life coming from nonlife, and then say it’s an attack on science when people don’t accept their doctrine. Likewise, it aggravates me when theologians teach something that contradicts the Bible, and then say people who won’t accept their doctrine are attacking the Bible. My biblical views aren't weakened when biologists dispute them, and neither are they weakened when theologians dispute them. My opponents may have numbers on their side, but I have God on my side, and a popular vote will never change God's eternal truth.
Jesus said He could do nothing of Himself (John 5:19, 30), because it’s the Father who does the works (John 5:17, 36; 14:10, 11), while the Holy Spirit is recorded as doing the work of casting out devils (Matt. 12:22-32; Mark 3:10-30). I see this as a clear indication that the Father is not a holy Spirit distinct from "the" Holy Spirit. I don’t share the trinitarian view that both “Persons” worked together. Whether or not the one God is one Person should not be a complicated issue. There is one Spirit (Eph. 4:4), yet the doctrine of the Trinity is that in the beginning there were three invisible Spirit Persons, one of whom took on flesh to become visible. Sound biblical doctrine teaches that God’s full Deity dwells in the single Person of Jesus Christ (Col. 2:9), so “whatsoever [we] do in word or deed [should] all [be done] in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col.3:17). Most trinitarians rightfully pray in the name of Jesus, not in the “name” of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I wish they would also baptize in the name of Jesus. I’m going to end this by again saying I’m not out to attack anyone. Sometimes I write things for my blog and later get the awful feeling that readers will take it the wrong way and think I have malicious intent. I don’t want to give that impression.
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