Why I’m Not Roman Catholic Or Eastern Orthodox Part 4; Theses 61-80

  1. The hypostatic union is a doctrine designed for and by the anchorectic system of theology not the Protestant. Taylor says,

“for everyone feels that Nazianzen’s Christianity, and the Christianity of Jewell, Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer, Hooper, were two systems, the one excluding, or forgetting, that which the other made the most account of; the one dry, abstruse, extravagant, turgid, formal, vapid; the other, cordial, rich, efficacious; and, if tinged with superstition, yet immeasurably more concerned with the momentous realities than with the mere rites of piety.”[1]

Protestants need to take Taylor’s advice and exclude and forget one aspect of that anchoretic system, the hypostatic union. Taylor says again,

“We ought, then, either to embrace asceticism, on the ground of this ‘catholic consent,’ and so to renounce the reformation; or, adhering to the reformation, to disown the Nicene fathers. There is no consistency in a middle course; nor can there be coherence in a system which would bind in the same bundle the two opposed authorities.”[2]

  1. In the Patristic construction, the Logos is the direct and only subject of all incarnate acts. (McGuckin, St. Cyril of Alexandria 150, 154) Reformed say only the human nature suffers on the cross, not the Logos, and is therefore another subject as he refers to himself as “me” in Mat 27:46 when the divine nature forsakes him. Shedd says,

“My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ The Logos at this moment did not support and comfort the human soul and body of Jesus. This may be regarded equally as desertion by the Father or by the Logos, because of the unity of essence…As God the Father raised Christ from the dead, and Christ also raised himself from the dead, so also God the father deserted the human nature, and God the Logos also deserted it.” (278)

Here he shows the impossibility of a metaphysical union in Protestant theology. He explicitly admits that the Logos is not the one suffering or being forsaken but the one doing the forsaking. I then ask who is the “me” that is being forsaken? A generic nature? An impersonal nature? How can an impersonal nature that is not hypostatized with a human hypostatization but receives it from the Logos refer to himself as a person when the Logos is the one doing the forsaking and the one not being forsaken? The only way his construction could work is if he said that the Logos is the hypostasis of the human and the Logos is forsaken of the Father but then that would destroy the Trinity doctrine. The Semi-Arian view answers this with ease. The human “me ” being forsaken is a human person. I used to think Turretin answered this and he did in part but he failed to deal with the “me” in Matt. 27:46.

  1. The Reformed religion has yet to answer the Patristic’s first defense of icons of Messiah. The hypostatic union is the reason for icons in the Patristic system and the Reformation has yet to touch it. Turretin 11th topic in his Institutes never mentions the first argument for images in the ancient church, namely, the hypostatic union. John of Damascus in his famous Exposition of the Orthodox faith Book 4.16 says

“And hence it is that in the Old Testament the use of images was not common. But after God in His bowels of pity became in truth man for our salvation, not as He was seen by Abraham in the semblance of a man, nor as He was seen by the prophets, but in being truly man, and after He lived upon the earth and dwelt among men Baruch 3:38, worked miracles, suffered, was crucified, rose again and was taken back to Heaven, since all these things actually took place and were seen by men, they were written for the remembrance and instruction of us who were not alive at that time in order that though we saw not, we may still, hearing and believing, obtain the blessing of the Lord.”

The hypostatic union is the first response of the iconodule to the issue of images and what does Turretin say in response? Not a word. He does not even touch the issue. Read Institutes 11th topic. My P &R version has it page 48- 66. Robert Letham in his book Through Western Eyes[3] admits that the issue has yet to be resolved. Letham says on page 160, “These are the two positions and I suppose this issue will not be resolved for some considerable time.” The iconoclasts say that the hypostatic union creates one person and therefore you can’t make an image of the divine. The iconodule responds that the hypostatic union itself posits God metaphysically in the flesh and therefore the image of the invisible God Col 1:15, therefore a new economy and therefore images. What is the solution? If there is no solution what is left of the validity of good and necessary inference that is so vital to sola scriptura and to the Reformed faith in toto? What is left of the sufficiency of scripture?

The Second Helvetic Confession Chapter 4 says,

“IMAGES OF CHRIST. Although Christ assumed human nature, yet he did not on that account assume it in order to provide a model for carvers and painters. He denied that he had come “to abolish the law and the prophets” (Matt. 5:17). But images are forbidden by the law and the prophets” (Deut. 4:15; Isa. 44:9). He denied that his bodily presence would be profitable for the Church, and promised that he would be near us by his Spirit forever (John 16:7). Who, therefore, would believe that a shadow or likeness of his body would contribute any benefit to the pious? (II Cor. 5:5). Since he abides in us by his Spirit, we are therefore the temple of God (I Cor. 3:16). But “what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” (II Cor. 6:16).”

Here the scriptural arguments are foisted against the implications of the Christological argument and not the argument itself.

Calvin, in his A Treatise on Relics[4] acknowledges the argument on page 93,

“The most celebrated of these sufferers was Theodore Studites; and as he has obtained on this account the honour of saintship, his opinions on the nature of images deserve a particular notice. He maintained that as the shadow cannot be separated from the body, as the rays of the sun are inseparable from, that planet, so the images are inseparable from the subjects which they represent. He pretended that an image of Christ should be treated as if it were Christ himself, saying-, ” The image is nothing else than Christ himself, except the difference of their essence; therefore, the worship of the image is the worship of Jesus Christ.” He considered those who were removing images as ” destroyers of the incarnation of Christ, because he does not exist if he cannot be painted. We renounce Christ if we reject his image; and refuse to worship him, if we refuse to adore his image.

This defense of image-worship is, I think, a faithful exposition of the anthropomorphistic ideas, which, as I have mentioned before, p. 9, had been chiefly generated by the morbid imagination of the Egyptian monks, and were supported by that numerous class, which formed the most zealous and efficient defenders of the images”

On page 8-9 Calvin deals with the problems inherent in teaching people with images instead of words. He says,

“It was replacing intellect by sight. Instead of elevating man towards God, it was bringing down the Deity to the level of his finite intellect, and it could not but powerfully contribute to the rapid spread of a pagan anthropomorphism in the church.”[5]

The problem is that is what the hypostatic union is. First, the anthropomorphite heresy is indistinguishable from the hypostatic union. In the hypostatic union the divine ontologically becomes human. It is a nonsensical anthropomorphic paradox, the same as the argument by Theodore Studites.  Calvin either cannot answer the argument or does not want to remain consistent and admit that the hypostatic union is not Protestant. He never touches Theodore’s Christological argument.

  1. The hypostatic union commits one to the Eastern Theosis view of redemption. The method of union one believes governs the type of salvation one believes. Nestorius says, Bazaar, Book 1Part 1.54

“And, further, whereby gave he to those who received him to become the sons of God? [Was it] to those who were born of the nature of God? [Or to those who] have been changed in nature into the nature of God [Eastern Theosis] and have become that which God the Word is in so far as he is born of the Father? Or have they remained in the same nature in which they are and have they become sons of God and have they been born of God by adoption and by acknowledgement? As they have received him as being God, who has become |49 [their] kin-byadoption, and as they have acknowledged that he is their God who has made everything and who has come unto his own, so also he has made them his kin-byadoption and has acknowledged them to be the sons of God, as sons who have entered into sonship but who possess not the nature.”

Here Nestorius traces the effects back to the cause. What is clear is that justification is a legal and covenantal issue not a metaphysical issue. We are sons by adoption not ontology. The reason the Eastern Church thinks that salvation is metaphysical is because they believe the union is metaphysical. In order for Yah to be the sole subject of all incarnate acts then Yah (paradoxically) suffers to heal man’s ontology conquering death ontologically and bringing immortality to all men. Where men spend this immortal life is up to them, heaven or hell is their choice (Yet even at this point many have understood this to mean that the incarnation and atonement provide universal salvation for all men. McGuckin says “What Christ has naturally deified in his own flesh he ‘gratuitously’ deifies in the human race at large.” (187) Some say this is simply a universal offering of the salvation but the way they use the term “deified” can be confusing as it is soteric in most of their writings where as those who reject universal salvation see it merely restorative in this context. McGuckin says again on page 195, “the particular incarnation of the Logos becomes the principle cause of a universalized divinization of the believer by grace.” How the divinization can be universal and only to the believer, remains a mystery.) The covenantal satisfaction view is not so. It is the human nature who suffers for the sins of mankind not God. God is united to the divine to support the human as it drinks down the dregs of God’s wrath but the Logos in no way changes his relationship to the Father here, which is what the hypostatic union must say if posited in the satisfaction system. The satisfaction view does not require a hypostatic union and the whole infinite value talk comes straight from the penance, indulgence system of Cyprian. The Eastern view requires the hypostatic union because it must have God metaphysically become human nature to ontologically raise it and for God to die and resurrect to repair the creation and human nature, ontologically. A restored Pantheism.

On the Reformed system all men are natural sons in the sense that they have all been created by Elohim. Yet they are not spiritual sons. Adam was a spiritual son but this is what he lost in the fall. Girardeau says,

“It would seem that the condition to which we are restored by regeneration or new creation is one which man had, in a certain degree, previously held, and which he had lost.”[6]

It is spiritual sonship which men lost in the fall, not immortality in the “physical” sense. So we lost spiritual and legal affinity with the Father in the fall, but we are still recognized as Elohim’s natural children, though totally depraved. Spiritual and legal affinity is remade in the atonement for the elect. Legally, man’s sin disinherited him as a son. He has been excommunicated from El’s household and has inherited wrath. Spiritually, (not physically) he lost his holy nature (Which is why regeneration cannot be a “physical” act upon the “nature” in the Scholastic sense or the Eastern sense) in that he lost his spiritual sonship (Yet retains his natural sonship and here we contradict the Eastern Orthodox) and is now a spiritual son of the devil (Gen. 3:15) and no longer reflects the moral uprightness of his natural father.

Nestorius relates Christology with the type of salvation that accompanies the given position one takes on the union. He denies the metaphysical salvation of the East as a rising of nature into Elohim’s nature in deification and posits a covenantal view of salvation:

Nestorius said, Bazaar Book 1 Part 1.55,

“for he has not given to those, who are not born of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of the man, to become the sons of God—-for that should have been possessed by them beforehand in their natures—-but they were born of God by adoption. Thus therefore he who came into his own and was received gave to those who believed in his name authority to become the sons of God, and he will be their flesh by the taking of the flesh and he will make it [his] by adoption and he will acknowledge it as his body by adoption. Consequently he has said: The Word became flesh; balancing in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and so on. He also adduced the Word became flesh and sojourned among us. As those who have received him have become voluntarily by reception the natural [sons] of God, so also he, in that he received the flesh and sojourned in it, became their flesh by adoption and not by change of ousia. Therefore also he adduced the peculiar property of God, saying And we have seen his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of / the |50 Father.”

 WGT Shedd says, “it was fitting that by the incarnation men should become God’s adopted sons, through him who is God’s natural Son,” (266)

Patristics like to complain that the Protestant Reformation took an imputational view of righteousness because of the effects of Occam’s nominalism. But Nestorius “by acknowledgement” is before Occam’s nominalism. So a covenantal forensic view of salvation does not require nominalism.  On page 109 Aulen in Christus Victor gets to the bottom of the whole idea that Messiah’s atonement must have “infinite value” on the patristic satisfaction scheme,

“the payment is primarily the work of Christ’s human nature, but it gains increased meritorious value on account of the union of human nature with the Divine nature  in Christ. So Thomas Aquinas teaches explicitly: the human nature of Christ makes the offering, but because he is God, the merit of His work is not merely sufficient, but superabundant.” (Summa Theologiae 3:48:2)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church  970 says,

“970 “Mary’s function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin’s salutary influence on men . . . flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it.”511 “No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source.”

The Baltimore Catechism 1941 Lesson 33, 439 says,

“439. How does the Church by means of indulgences remit the temporal punishment due to sin?

The Church by means of indulgences remits the temporal punishment due to sin by applying to us from her spiritual treasury part of the infinite satisfaction of Jesus Christ and of the superabundant satisfaction of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the saints.”

On page 110 Aulen criticizes the satisfaction view of the west in saying,

“The work of Christ has not value necessarily belonging to it, but only such value as God is pleased to recognize in it.[7]  It could not be called necessary that mankind should make the satisfaction which Anselm had laid down, for the sin committed by finite men could not involve an infinite guilt. Nor, again, could the merit of Christ be infinite, since He only suffered in His human nature.”

What is the point? The point is, a Reformed Protestant who holds to the satisfaction view does not require a hypostatic union. Reformed Protestants do not believe in metaphysical salvation (And by the way for those who think Reformed sanctification requires metaphysical salvation read Calvin on 2 Peter 1:4), and they don’t believe in penance, indulgences or treasuries of merit that need to be distributed among the saints and so the Reformed do not require the hypostatic union to make the value of the atonement infinite and superabundant. Clark denied that Elohim is infinite and most who have used it do not understand what infinite means. What is required in respect to the value of the atonement is the perfect righteousness and obedience of Yeshua.

Clark made the point that Thomas Aquinas is the first to speak of God this way. Clark is every clear, “The God of the Bible consists of three Persons, and neither individually nor collectively are they infinite.”[8] Pages 56-64 are devoted to denying the point that God is infinite or persons in general for that matter. Jesus did have physical limitations. He slept, he got tired, etc. He also had epistemic limitations for he did not know a certain eschatological event in Mat 24:36.  True none of these limitations applies to Yahovah. Clark makes the point that in the Second Helvetic Confession of 1566 immensum is used. He says, “Yet this word more likely means immeasurable than infinite, as a reference to human inability to match God’s knowledge and power.” (57) This would explain the passage that speaks of Elohim giving the Spirit to Yeshua without measure. (John3:34)  In the glorification of saints, we take the same body as Messiah had, we become perfect, but we are dependent on Elohim.

  1. Singleness of subject demands deification. If the union is ontological the human nature is deified.
  1. The “Theotokos” is an application of the acceptance of the doctrine that the Logos is the sole subject of all incarnate acts.

“After the Council of Chalcedon, some made of Christ’s human nature a kind of personal subject. Against them, the fifth ecumenical council, at Constantinople in 553, confessed that “there is but one hypostasis [or person], which is our Lord Jesus Christ, one of the Trinity.” Thus everything in Christ’s human nature is to be attributed to his divine person as its proper subject, not only his miracles but also his sufferings and even his death: “He who was crucified in the flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ, is true God, Lord of glory, and one of the Holy Trinity.”[9]

Not only does this deny the traditional Trinitarian Protestant(Oxymoron) atonement which posits only the human nature suffering it commits the adherent to the Theotokos.

  1. Nestorius’ criticism of Sophrinius saying that a metaphysical union posits a metamorphosis is vindicated in that the doctrine of transubstantiation implies this very thing. (Shedd, pg. 266) McGukin says on page 187 and 188 that the metaphysical transformation in the incarnation is the basis for adoring the bread and wine in the sacrament. It is for this reason that the believer himself is metamorphosized and deified.
  1. Shedd says, “In saying that ‘the Word was made flesh’…it is meant that the Word came to possess human characteristics in addition to his divine, which still remained as before. The properties of the divine nature cannot be either destroyed or altered.”(266) First, the Greek word for made does not mean addition it means metamorphosis. Here it would seem he remains Orthodox but the hypostatic union continually commits the adherents to inconsistencies and Shedd is here at his worst when he says,

“A theanthropic person is a trinitarian person modified by union with a human nature, similarly as a trinitarian person is the Divine essence modified by generation, or spiration.”(268 ) and on page 281 “Yet the Trinity itself is not altered or modified by the incarnation. Only the second person is modified.”

Yet all throughout the chapter he makes significant effort to assert that no essential change happened to the Second Person. It can safely be said, those who hold to the hypostatic union struggle at this point. This presents strong evidence for the Semi-Arian position.

In an exchange with Sophrinius, Nestorius presents a devastating argument.  Sophronius says in Bazaar of Heracleides Book 1, Part 1.21,

Divine Scripture solves for us this problem and does not permit us to be obstinate and to speak arbitrarily. For the staff of Moses, when it became truly a serpent, was a serpent as well as a staff; and the waters of the Nile, which became blood, became the nature of blood as well as of water. The ousia was the same although it was changed and for this reason / the children of Israel used water which had become blood as the nature of the water, and Moses [used] a serpent as a staff, in that it was truly both of them. For God sustains natures as he will. |18  Sophronius. Divine Scripture solves for us this problem and does not permit us to be obstinate and to speak arbitrarily. For the staff of Moses, when it became truly a serpent, was a serpent as well as a staff; and the waters of the Nile, which became blood, became the nature of blood as well as of water. The ousia was the same although it was changed and for this reason / the children of Israel used water which had become blood as the nature of the water, and Moses [used] a serpent as a staff, in that it was truly both of them. For God sustains natures as he will. “

Nestorius replies,

“22. Concerning this: that the waters of the Nile, when they were transformed into the ousia of blood, were only that ousia into which they were changed.

‘Nestorius. Again thou usest proofs like these because, as I suppose, thou art bewildered. There were then two ousias; for the water which was taken by the Hebrews was blood and water and that which was taken by the Egyptians was both in the same way. But if the former was only water and the latter only blood, then they were afterwards changed; for when they were taken, those which were taken were changed and further were something else, namely that which they became. How then is it not seen that that which it became by nature is by all means that which it has become and nothing else?”

The rod turning into a snake is one thing metaphysically becoming something else and so John 1:14 is no basis for the hypostatic union but the Arian doctrine. The hypostatic union is the basis for the heresy of transubstantiation and any Protestant who knows about the doctrine of necessary inference cannot believe the hypostatic union. I attended an Eastern Orthodox Church and let it be clear, after the priest sanctified the bread and wine in preparation for the sacrament the acolytes and the priest’s associate prostrated themselves on the ground before the bread and wine. They don’t just think the bread and wine are blessed, they believe the sanctified  bread and wine is Yahovah. And why? The hypostatic union.

  1. The hypostatic union commits one to Patristic implicit faith: 1. It cannot even be defined. 2. It cannot be deduced from scripture; it can only be denoted without any univocal point to create necessary inference. 3. The arguments for it are based on analogical(proportionality) epistemology. I have received emails from Reformed ministers that have said these exact things: that though they can’t explain it the Church has taught it and therefore the Church has spoken.
  1. The hypostatic union denies the sufficiency of scripture. The hypostatic construction was never able to solve the iconoclast-iconodule controversy. Robert Letham in his book Through Western Eyes admits that the issue has yet to be resolved. Letham says on page 160, “These are the two positions and I suppose this issue will not be resolved for some considerable time.” The iconoclasts say that the hypostatic union creates one person and therefore you can’t make an image of the divine. The iconodule responds that the hypostatic union itself posits God metaphysically in the flesh and therefore the image of the invisible God Col 1:15, therefore a new economy and therefore images. The hypostatic union was not able to solve the dispute; it aggravated it.
  1. The Clarkian Protestants who refuse to be consistent and take Clark’s view of the incarnation are Eutychian. Eutychianism, “which asserts that the union of the Logos with a human nature results in a single nature of a third species, which nature is neither divine nor human, but theanthropic.” (Shedd, 313). I have been told by Clarkian types that refuse to take Clark’s position on Christology that the union of the two persons produces a “third I”, or a third metaphysical subject. That is Eutychianism, plain and simple.
  1. The Reformation was not confronted with these issues because the hypostatic Christology is the primary emphasis of the Eastern Church and the Reformed have had little to no contact with the Eastern Theologians until the 20th century. Where are our Puritans or Reformers from Russia? The Turkish Empire? The Orthodox faith gained root in Russia after the split of 1054 A.D. and even after that with the sack of Constantinople. I read Meet the Puritans by Joel R. Beeke And Randall J. Pederson from cover to cover and don’t remember reading one Biography from a Puritan from Russia or from the Turkish Empire. Why not? Because the Roman Church did not have ground in Russia or the Turkish Empire during the Reformation and the criticisms mostly did not apply. The Orthodox held sway there.
  1. The reader may be surprised to know that the Semi-Arian position was acquitted of heresy by the likes of Athanasius and Hilary of Poitiers.

De Synodis, Athanasius,

“41. Those who deny the Council altogether, are sufficiently exposed by these brief remarks; those, however, who accept everything else that was defined at Nicæa, and doubt only about the Coessential, must not be treated as enemies; nor do we here attack them as Ario-maniacs, nor as opponents of the Fathers, but we discuss the matter with them as brothers with brothers, who mean what we mean, and dispute only about the word. For, confessing that the Son is from the essence of the Father, and not from other subsistence, and that He is not a creature nor work, but His genuine and natural offspring, and that He is eternally with the Father as being His Word and Wisdom, they are not far from accepting even the phrase, ‘Coessential.’ Now such is Basil, who wrote from Ancyra concerning the faith. For only to say ‘like according to essence,’ is very far from signifying ‘of the essence,’ by which, rather, as they say themselves, the genuineness of the Son to the Father is signified. Thus tin is only like to silver, a wolf to a dog, and gilt brass to the true metal; but tin is not from silver, nor could a wolf be accounted the offspring of a dog. But since they say that He is ‘of the essence’ and ‘Like-in-essence,’ what do they signify by these but ‘Coessential ?’ For, while to say only ‘Like-in-essence,’ does not necessarily convey ‘of the essence,’ on the contrary, to say ‘Coessential,’ is to signify the meaning of both terms, ‘Like-in-essence,’ and ‘of the essence.’ And accordingly they themselves in controversy with those who say that the Word is a creature, instead of allowing Him to be genuine Son, have taken their proofs against them from human illustrations of son and father , with this exception that God is not as man, nor the generation of the Son as issue of man, but such as may be ascribed to God, and is fit for us to think. Thus they have called the Father the Fount of Wisdom and Life, and the Son the Radiance of the Eternal Light, and the Offspring from the Fountain, as He says, ‘I am the Life,’ and, ‘I Wisdom dwell with Prudence’ John 14:6; Proverbs 8:12. But the Radiance from the Light, and Offspring from Fountain, and Son from Father, how can these be so fitly expressed as by ‘Coessential?’ And is there any cause of fear, lest, because the offspring from men are coessential, the Son, by being called Coessential, be Himself considered as a human offspring too? Perish the thought! not so; but the explanation is easy. For the Son is the Father’s Word and Wisdom; whence we learn the impassibility and indivisibility of such a generation from the Father. For not even man’s word is part of him, nor proceeds from him according to passion ; much less God’s Word; whom the Father has declared to be His own Son, lest, on the other hand, if we merely heard of ‘Word,’ we should suppose Him, such as is the word of man, impersonal; but that, hearing that He is Son, we may acknowledge Him to be living Word and substantive Wisdom.”[10]

On the Councils, St. Hilary of Poitiers,

“88. Holy brethren, I understand by ὁμοούσιον God of God, not of an essence that is unlike, not divided but born, and that the Son has a birth which is unique, of the substance of the unborn God, that He is begotten yet co-eternal and wholly like the Father. I believed this before I knew the word ὁμοούσιον but it greatly helped my belief. Why do you condemn my faith when I express it by ὁμοούσιον while you cannot disapprove it when expressed by ὁμοιούσιον? For you condemn my faith, or rather your own, when you condemn its verbal equivalent. Do others misunderstand it? Let us join in condemning the misunderstanding, but not deprive our faith of its security. Do you think we must subscribe to the Samosatene Council to prevent any one from using ὁμοούσιον in the sense of Paul of Samosata? Then let us also subscribe to the Council of Nicæa, so that the Arians may not impugn the word. Have we to fear that ὁμοιούσιον does not imply the same belief as ὁμοούσιον? Let us decree that there is no difference between being of one or of a similar substance. The word ὁμοούσιον can be understood in a wrong sense. Let us prove that it can be understood in a very good sense. We hold one and the same sacred truth. I beseech you that we should agree that this truth, which is one and the same, should be regarded as sacred. Forgive me, brethren, as I have so often asked you to do. You are not Arians: why should you be thought to be Arians by denying the ὁμοούσιον?”[11]

  1. The following is a list of verbal confusions that comprise the sorcery of the Trinitarian system:
  1. Person-Nature (Property-Attribute) Conflation. “God is three persons”-“God is His attributes”
  1. Existence (That something is)-Essence (What something is) Conflation. “One may say, God is good, and one may say, This man is good; but the predicate has two different meanings. There is no term, not a single one, that can be predicated univocally of God and of anything else”. Gordon Clark speaking of Aquinas, Three Types of Religious Philosophy (The Trinity Foundation: Jefferson, Maryland, 1989), 63.
  1. Being-Will-Activity Conflation. God’s thinking (activity) is infinite, thus God’s being is infinite.
  1. Being-Relation Conflation. God and his Son are united thus they are the same numeric being.
  1. Generic-Numeric Nature (Universal-Particular) Conflation. The Father and his Son have the same type of being (homoousios), thus they must be the same cardinally numeric being (monoousios).
  1. Dialectic of Opposition. Man and God are distinct thus they are opposed (Totally Other) and if God ever said anything, man could never understand it in any univocal sense and there could never be any real union between divine and human in Messiah. The infinite being is borrowed from Plotinus’ Pantheism.
  1. The essence of God and truth itself transcend human language categories. Thus, the Father is the Father and the first person, and the Son is the Son and the second person for no reason we will ever understand.
  1. Because of Huperousia Nature is Arbitrary. There is no basis to activity. It just is what it is and does what it does, without any deliberation or ontological groundwork.

The following is a review of History Of The Christian Church By Philip Schaff, Vol. 3, Chapter 9, beginning with Section 127.[12]

  1. The principle of Homoousios is buried in endless confusion, contradiction and priest-craft. Schaff begins,

“The Nicene, Homo-Ousian, or Athanasian doctrine was most clearly and powerfully represented in the East by Athanasius, in whom it became flesh and blood and next to him, by Alexander of Alexandria, Marcellus of Ancyra (who however strayed into Sabellianism [Telling is it not reader?-DS], Basil, and the two Gregories of Cappadocia; and in the West by Ambrose and Hilary. The central point of the Nicene doctrine in the contest with Arianism is the identity of essence or the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father, and is expressed in this article of the (original) Nicene Creed: “[We believe] in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God; who is begotten the only-begotten of the Father; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God, and Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.”

The problem is, the word “Homo-Ousian” did not originally mean “one substance”. From my article Documentation For the Assertion that the Meaning of the Term Homoousios was Misunderstood and Changed in the West:

I would like to thank Mark Xu for his work as the following will be taken from research that he did. I am simply editing and putting it in my words. Good work Mark!

I have argued, that the meaning of the term homoousios was changed into monoousios which in the Latin was translated, “unius substantiae cum Patre”. Thus, a generic unity in the Greek was changed into a numeric unity in the Latin. This comparison can be seen at the Early Church Texts website here:


Sir Isaac Newton (Peace be upon him) fingered Hosius for this deceit in his Twentythree Queries About the Word ὁμοούσιος saying,

“Quære 7. Whether Hosius (or whoever translated that Creed into Latin) did not impose upon the western Churches by translating ὁμοούσιος by the words unius substantiæ instead of consubstantialis & whether by that translation the Latin

Churches were not drawn into an opinion that the father & son had one common

substance called in the Greek Hypostasis & whether they did not thereby give occasion to the eastern Churches to cry out ( presently after the Council of Serdica)

that the western Churches were become Sabellian.” http://www.newtonproject.sussex.ac.uk/view/texts/normalized/THEM00011 adding,

 “Qu. 8. Whether the Greeks in opposition to this notion & language did not use the language of three hypostases, & whether in those days the word hyposta{sis} did not signify a substance.”

Mark Xu says,

“For the legend of the great Hosius, please see Schaff Vol. III, Chapter 9; note, he is portrayed as the leading Athanasian orthodox bishop from the Latin West by Schaff, a champion so to speak who fought and restored the true Nicene doctrine of consubstantiality; and “true Nicene consubstantiality” in Schaff’s eyes is NUMERICAL UNITY.

‘Basil turns the term oJmoouvsio” against the Sabellian denial of the personal distinctions in the Trinity, since it is not the same thing that is consubstantial with itself, but one thing that is consubstantial with another.  Consubstantiality among men, indeed, is predicated of different individuals who partake of the same nature, and the term in this view might denote also unity of species in a tritheistic sense.

But in the case before us the personal distinction of the Son from the Father must not be pressed to a duality of substances of the same kind; the homoousion, on the contrary, must be understood as identity or numerical unity of substance, in distinction from mere generic unity. Otherwise it leads manifestly into dualism or tritheism. The Nicene doctrine refuses to swerve from the monotheistic basis, and stands between Sabellianism and tritheism’.

Schaff, Nicene And Post Nicene Christianity: History Of The Christian Church Vol. III, Chapter 9, Section 127

Seeing the so-called “Nicene orthodox numerical unity” portrayed by Schaff, and the later Eastern “tri-theism” attempt, and Hosius’ defense of orthodoxy, I am of the supposition that Sir. Newton is correct; the Latin West really, truly thought numerical unity was the “true orthodoxy”.

Afraid of not being very clear about Nicene numerical unity, Schaff further wrote:

“The Nicene Creed does not expressly assert the singleness or numerical unity of the divine essence (unless it be in the first article: “We believe in one God”); and the main point with the Nicene fathers was to urge against Arianism the strict divinity and essential equality of the Son and Holy Ghost with the Father. If we press the difference of homoousion from monoousion, and overlook the many passages in which they assert with equal emphasis the monarchia or numerical unity of the Godhead, we must charge them with tritheism.

But in the divine Trinity consubstantiality denotes not only sameness of kind, but at the same time numerical unity; not merely the unum in specie, but also the unum in numero. The, three persons are related to the divine substance not as three individuals to their species, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or Peter, John, and Paul, to human nature; they are only one God. The divine substance is absolutely indivisible by reason of its simplicity, and absolutely inextensible and untransferable by reason of its infinity; whereas a corporeal substance can be divided, and the human nature can be multiplied by generation. Three divine substances would limit and exclude each other, and therefore could not be infinite or absolute. The whole fulness of the one undivided essence of God, with all its attributes, is in all the persons of the Trinity, though in each in his own way: in the Father as original principle, in the Son by eternal generation, in the Spirit by, eternal procession. The church teaches not one divine essence and three persons, but one essence in three persons. [Unless you make the distinction between being and hypostasis ontological as I know many Dionysians do.-DS] Father, Son, and Spirit cannot be conceived as three separate individuals, [Why does he only offer us two options: one numeric substance or 3 separate beings? What is wrong with 3 or more correctly 2 inseparable beings?-DS] but are in one another, and form a solidaric unity.

Here the orthodox doctrine forsook Sabellianism or modalism, which, it is true, made Father, Son, and Spirit strictly coordinate, but only as different denominations and forms of manifestation of the one God. [Notice, he didn’t tell us how they differed, he only asserted it.-DS]

But, on the other hand, as we have already intimated, the term person must not be taken here in the sense current among men, as if the three persons were three different individuals, or three self-conscious and separately acting beings. [DID YOU CATCH THAT? -DS] The trinitarian idea of personality lies midway between that of a mere form of manifestation, [But isn’t manifestation the definition we run into frequently?-DS] or a personation, which would lead to Sabellianism, and the idea of an independent, limited human personality, which would result in tritheism.’

Ibid, Section 130”

Now that ends Mark’s quotation but I want to keep going with Schaaf’s quotation because he admits something utterly damning to the anti-Nicene, Neoplatonist construction:

“In other words, it avoids the monoousian or unitarian trinity of a threefold conception and aspect of one and the same being [It does no such thing and isn’t it interesting that Schaaf knows better to associate the Sabellian view with Unitarianism and not the Generic Unity view!-DS], and the triousian or tritheistic trinity of three distinct and separate beings [Why do three beings need to be inseparable in order to be so defined? He never says.-DS]. In each person there is the same inseparable divine substance, united with the individual property and relation which distinguishes that person from the others. [So if I am a cousin, a father and a brother I am multiple persons because I have multiple relations? This is stupid.-DS] The word person is in reality only a make-shift, in the absence of a more adequate term. Our idea of God is more true and deep than our terminology, and the essence and character of God far transcends our highest ideas.”

Thats the Check right there to any Protestant and especially any Scripturalist.  Schaff here admits that the departure from Nicene Orthodoxy was the first plunge into what those in the Reformed Community call Van-Tilism. It is the idea that God is outside of human language categories and thus outside of univocal predication. On the Van Tillian view, which is really the same Neoplatonism that came into Christianity with Origen and fully with PseudoDionysius, God is “Totally Other”.  When Schaff said, “the essence and character of God far transcends our highest ideas”, he is expressing the essence of Van Tillian philosophy.

John Robbins said in Cornelius Van Til The Man and the Myth,

“But the Van Til faction was not satisfied. It attempted to redefine incomprehensibility to mean that God cannot be understood at all…God cannot even be conceived by the mind of man, according to Van Til: ‘If we take the highest being of which we can think, in the sense of have a concept of, and attribute to it actual existence, we do not have the Biblical notion of God…Man cannot think an absolutely self-contained being…God is infinitely higher than the highest being of which man can form a concept’ (An Introduction to Systematic Theology, p. 206).” pg. 33.

Are you starting to get it guys? Robbins’ primary mistake in this booklet is that he thinks this language is new with Van Til. It is not new! Gnosticism tried to make its way into Christianity right at the start and then some of the early Fathers were influenced by Hellenistic thinking, but Neoplatonism primarily and formally came into Christianity by a man named Pseudo-Dionysius. Neoplatonism is the basis of the departure from Nicea. Neoplatonism is also the basis of Van Tilism.

In Van Til’s philosophy God and Man are represented by the infamous two circles:


You see, in their foolishness, the Dionysians thought they could take a Neoplatonic Monad and make it fit into a religion that is not pantheistic. Both of these are wrong. The real diagram should look like this:


 Here we have the analogy of proportion. Man is made in God’s image. Thus there is a generic ontological overlap between divinity and humanity. There are SOME things about God that cannot be said of man. However, there are SOME things about God that can be said of man. This provides an uncreated logos; a design; a compatibility between God and man whereby a created divine image is possible, and a real revelation can be given.   

Now what did Dr. Clark say about predication of the divine?

“The first part of the answer, the first element in the formulation of a Christian theory of language, and therefore the first criterion for judging the adequacy of biblical revelation, is the doctrine of the image of God in man. Or, rather, the very first part is the biblical doctrine of God. Is God the ‘Totally Other”? Do God and the medium of conceptuality ‘schliessen einander aus,’ completely exclude each other? Or is God an object of thought and knowledge as much as or even more than the square root of minus one?…Such verses [John 5:6, 17:3] as these indicate that God is a rational, thinking, being, whose thought exhibits the structure of Aristotelian logic.”

Language and Theology, pages 136-137

Moreover, Leo Donald Davis says,

“However, homoousios was at the time a notoriously slippery word and could have three principal meanings. First, it could be generic; of one substance could be said of two individual men, both of whom share human nature while remaining individuals.Secondly, it could signify numerical identity, that is, that the Father and the Son are identical in concrete being. Finally, it could refer to material things, as two pots are of the same substance because both are made of the same clay. Constantine himself explained that “homoousios was not used in the sense of bodily affections, for the Son did not derive His existence from the Father by means of division or severance, since an immaterial, intellectual and incorporeal nature could not be subject to any bodily affection. These things must be understood as bearing a divine and ineffable signification.” The point was that the third meaning of homoousios, with its connotations of materiality was not the meaning used in the creed. That left the two previous meanings. It seems that the Council, intent on stressing the equality of the Son with the Father, had the first meaning explicitly in mind. Father and Son are homoousioi in that they are equally divine.”[13]


And also J.N.D. Kelly,

“It is reasonable to suppose, pace Eusebius, that a similar meaning, viz. ‘of the same nature’, was read into the homoousion. But if this is granted, a further question at once arises: are we to understand ‘of the same nature’ in the ‘generic’ sense in which Origen, for example, had employed ὁμοούσιος, or are we to take it as having the meaning accepted by later Catholic [i.e. Western] theology, viz. numerical identity of substance? The root word οὺσία could signify the kind of substance or stuff common to several individuals of a class, or it could connote an individual thing as such…Indeed, the doctrine of numerical identity of substance has been widely assumed to have been the specific teaching of the Nicene Council. Nevertheless there are the strongest possible reasons for doubting this. The chief of these is the history of the term ὁμοούσιος itself, for in both its secular and its theological usage prior to Nicaea it always conveyed, primarily at any rate, the ‘generic’ sense.”[14]

Schaff continues,

“The same divine, eternal, unchangeable essence, which is in an original way in the Father, is, from eternity, in a derived way, through generation, in the Son; just as the water of the fountain is in the stream, or the light of the sun is in the ray, and cannot be separated from it.”

This is a conflation between a thing and a relation between a plurality of things. In a fountain there is more than one water molecule.

  1. The Trinitarian understanding of the Son’s generation is also buried under a pile of confusion contradiction and priest craft. As for the Bible’s affirmation that the Son is begotten of the Father (John 1:18, 3:16-18) Schaff says,

“But the divine generation differs from all human generation, not only in its absolute spirituality, but also in the fact that it does not produce a new essence of the same kind, but that the begotten is identical in essence with the begetter; for the divine essence is by reason of its simplicity, incapable of division, and by reason of its infinity, incapable of increase. The generation, properly speaking, has no reference at all to the essence, but only to the hypostatical distinction.”

This is as meaningful as if he were to flip his fingers through his lips. If no being or essence is generated then there is no generation. He wants us to believe that the generation of a subsistence, which he himself admitted was a make-shift definition of person and thus meaningless, is sufficient enough to warrant the concept of generation or begotten. What then is generated? A legal fiction? A subsistence is not a thing. It is the mode or quality of a thing. This is why Schaff admits,

“The mode of the divine generation is and must be a mystery.”

This is among many reasons why many modern Trinitarians think the word begotten or generation, monogenes in the Greek of John 1:18 and 3:16, 18 means unique and not generated. Thus, the unique position asserts that the Sonship of Messiah began at his incarnation.

First, on the meaning of monogenes I would suggest David Waltz’s article The Eternal Generation of the Son. On the face of it, the most embarrassing problem for the unique interpretation is that it makes the Son one of a kind, while affirming that the Son is one substance with the Father. That is two of a kind.  I find the Triunist position extremely inconsistent and contradictory concerning this issue. They reject the generation of the Son because it doesn’t make sense to them, yet they turn around and provide their alternative, the Triune God, which they admit, doesn’t make sense either. On the issue of the Incarnational Sonship heresy that uses Heb. 1, Acts 13:33, Psalm 2:7, Rev. 1:5, and Col. 1:18, Paul Liberati says in Incarnational Sonship?,

“The problem is easily solved when we recognize that there are two aspects to the sonship of Jesus Christ in Scripture:

  • The eternal [I would qualify that simply by saying it pre-existed the creation of the heavens and the Earth. -DS] reality of it: (Colossians 1:13-16; Hebrews 1:2; John 20:21; Galatians 4:4; 1 John 4:14; 1 John 4:10 etc.)
  • The redemptive manifestation of it: (Hebrews 1:5 is an excellent example)

Although Christ was eternally begotten of the Father before all ages, and always existed as the Son of God, there came a time when he “veiled” this glory for a short while, particularly during the course of his earthly ministry. According to Scripture, the Father and the Son entered into a covenant of Redemption wherein the Son was assigned to assume a human nature and accomplish the salvation of God’s elect. All through the course of his earthly ministry the revelation of Christ’s sonship was a special and private (not totally public) revelation which the Father would sovereignly grant to those who were His (Matthew 16:13-17).

Now after the accomplishment of this redemptive work (the terms of the covenant), and as his official reward (covenantal inheritance), Christ would be visibly raised from the dead and publicly “declared to be the Son of God … by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). The glory which was once veiled would now be fully restored (John 17:1-5) and fully proclaimed as the Father would “declare the decree” publicly to the “kings” of the earth (Psalm 2:6-12). Therefore – they must recognize, with the resurrection as their final proof that they must either “kiss the Son” or “perish in the way.” The resurrection therefore, was simply the redemptive manifestation of Christ’s true and eternal sonship.”[15]

Samuel Clarke said in his Modest Plea, page 69,

“There are indeed figurative and metaphorical senses, wherein persons may very elegantly be said to be begotten or generated into a New State when they are invested with some extraordinary New Powers, Thus God is said in Scripture to have Begotten us unto a lively Hope by the Resurrection of Christ from the Dead [1 Pet. 1:3-DS]. And to Christ himself, upon his being raised from the Dead, he saith, (Acts xiii; 33,) Thou art my Son, This Day have I begotten thee. But never was That, stiled in any senfe a Generating or Begetting, before which the person generated was Everything he could be after it; A Generating, which implied in it “- No Change at all, no not so “much as in any Mode of Existence; “No Change “more,”  than there is in God the Father  himself, upon Every New Act or Exertion of his Power. What the Writers before and at the time of the Council of Nice, call the Generation of the Son , always means a Real Generation…by which he was really…generated from the Father by his Power and Will.”

Now the Marcellian Triunist will also quote:

Luke 1:30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.

Firstly, one cannot escape realizing that if it is the case that the Logos became a Son in the economia and not from the beginning then the Holy Ghost really is the Father for the Holy Ghost is the one who brings forth the conception in the womb of Mary. Anyone familiar with the history of early Sabellian Monarchism sees the necessary connection with this interpretation of Luke 1:35.

Now to some scriptural proofs of Messiah’s eternal Sonship or that his Sonship pre-existed the creation:

Heb 1:1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

Here the Son was said to be involved in the creation of the world, which is before the incarnation.

John 5:18 For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

Here we see that his Sonship was ontological in that it pertained to an ontological relationship to a divine person not merely his role in the economia.

John 1:18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God [Some versions say Son. -DS] who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

Here we see that the Son is in the bosom of the Father. On the Marcellian view, the Sonship of Messiah pertains to his human nature which could never be in the Father’s bosom.

In John 5:18, the Father is denoted as the Father of Yeshua by the Greek πατέρα ἴδιον. In Rom. 8:32 Yeshua is referred to as the Father’s ἰδίου υἱοῦ. This Greek word ἴδιος denotes what belongs to someone properly or that is predicated of someone properly. In Rom. 8:3 Messiah is described as ἑαυτοῦ υἱὸν. This word ἑαυτοῦ is used by Paul in Rom. 14:14 when he says that nothing is evil in itself; thus evil is not necessary to created essences. Thus, when we read that the Son is the Father’s OWN Son, what the scripture is telling us is that he is the Father’s Son properly and that to be a Father of a Son is something necessary to the Father. Thus, πατέρα ἴδιον, ἰδίου υἱοῦ, and ἑαυτοῦ υἱὸν denote NATURAL SONSHIP, not Adopted Sonship which in the Greek is υἱοθεσία (Rom. 8:15, 23, 9:4, Gal. 4:5, Eph. 1:5).

If as the Marcellian Triunists maintain, that the Sonship of Messiah was created with his incarnation, it then must be that his Sonship pertains to his human nature, not his pre-existent  nature. However,

Rom 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning  His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord

Here we learn that Messiah’s Sonship, as it pertains to his human nature, relates to David, not to Elohim the Father.

Consider these passages:

Rev. 3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning [archē] of the creation of God, says this:

Col. 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation [πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως]. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 

Col. 1: 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning [archē]

Samuel Clark says,

“The First-begotten, brought into the World by the Father before all ages, (for by Him did He make the Ages, Heb. i, 2;) before the whole Creation, (for by him did he create all things, Eph. iii, 9, and Col. i, 16.)

It is observable that St. Paul does not here call our Saviour…the first created of all Creatures, but…the first-born of every creature, the first-begotten before all creatures; signifying that he was (before the Creation of Things,) …produced by, derived  from the Father…”[16]

 Rev. 3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning [archē] of the creation of God, says this:

Col 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation [πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως]. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 

Col 1: 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning [archē]

Samuel Clark says,

“The First-begotten, brought into the World by the Father before all ages, (for by Him did He make the Ages, Heb. i, 2;) before the whole Creation, (for by him did he create all things, Eph. iii, 9, and Col. i, 16.)

It is observable that St. Paul does not here call our Saviour, …the first created of all Creatures, but…the first-born of every creature, the first-begotten before all creatures; signifying that he was (before the Creation of Things,) …produced by, derived  from the Father…”

In his article, The Pre-Existence of Christ, Trinitarian scholar James White says,

“Finally, in 1:18(9), John seals the case by calling Jesus the “only-begotten God,” or, more accurately, the “unique God” (10) who reveals the Father, who “exegetes”(11) God to man.”[17]

You will notice that there is not a single mention of the eternal sonship or eternal generation of the Son in this entire article. Do you want to know why? Because he does not believe it.

In our quotation we see endnote: (10). If you reference the endnote you will read,

“10) For the true meaning of monogenes see J. H. Moulton and George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1935) pp. 416-417.”

This work can be read here at archives.org:



In this work we read that monogenes,

“is literally ‘one of a kind,’ ‘only,’ ‘unique’ (unicus), not ‘only-begotten,’ which would be [monogennetos] (unigenitus)…and is so applied in a special sense to Christ in Jn 1:14, 18, 3:16, 18, 1 Jn 4:9, where the emphasis is on the thought that, as the ‘only’ Son of God, he has no equal and is able fully to reveal the Father.”

Dr. Gordon Clark refuted this use of the word “monogenes” in his The Trinity but David Waltz’s article The Eternal Generation of the Son refutes White’s heretical and nonsensical interpretation of the word “monogenes” in much greater detail. Folks, if monogenes meant “one of a kind”, then the Son could not be consubstantial with the Father. He would be of a different kind. And get this: these people actually accuse my position of Arianism! What a laugh!

  1. It is admitted the distinct personhood of the Holy Spirit is impossible to demonstrate.

Schaff comments on the personhood of the Holy Spirit as distinguished from the Sonship of Messiah,

“The distinction between generation and procession is not particularly defined. Augustine calls both ineffable and inexplicable”.

Then how can his personhood be defined? This is one of many questions that has kept me from being dogmatic about the alleged distinct personhood of the Holy Spirit.

  1. Schaff then moves away from the 4th century to the fuller and traditional understanding of the Trinity in section 130 where he begins by admitting the irrationality and thus the unrevealability of this doctrine:

“All speculation on divine things ends in a mystery, and reaches an inexplicable residue, before which the thinking mind must bow in humble devotion. “Man,” says Athanasius, “can perceive only the hem of the garment of the triune God; the cherubim cover the rest with their wings.”  In his letter to the Monks, written about 358, he confesses that the further he examines, the more the mystery eludes his understanding, and he exclaims with the Psalmist: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”

Thus this doctrine necessitates an abandonment of private judgment, perspicuity of Scripture and plenary verbal inspiration.

  1. The Trinitarian affirmation of one essence is also buried in confusion, contradiction and priest-craft. Schaff continues,

            “The essential points of the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity are these:

  1. There is only one divine essence or substance.”

As we have seen this is priest-craft. By one he doesn’t mean one in the cardinal sense of numbers. By one he means unity. A Pantheist could just as easily affirm this principle. The esoteric nature of this doctrine is made known to the proficient student. At first you are introduced to one numeric essence. Then as one is further initiated one finds that the one numeric essence mean unity. Then as one is further initiated one finds that unity means Absolute Divine Simplicity. Then as one is further initiated one finds that Absolute Divine Simplicity means huperousia. At this point the blatant mysticism is revealed and the proficient student must make a decision to either remain in the Church as a deliberate agent of deception or leave the Church and plunge head first into open Paganism or Atheism.

  1. The Trinitarian distinction from Sabellianism is meaningless contradictory priest-craft. Schaff says,

“Here the orthodox doctrine forsook Sabellianism or modalism, which, it is true, made Father, Son, and Spirit strictly coordinate, but only as different denominations and forms of manifestation of the one God.”

No they didn’t. All they did was change the definition of the word person to trick and deceive.  Augustine himself states as the title of Chapter 9 of his On the Trinity, “Chapter 9.—All are Sometimes Understood in One Person.” The following is from my article Triunism and Sabellianism; Is There a Difference?:

It is the desperate and hopeless cause of the Triunists to distinguish their view from Sabellianism. There is a reason for this: it cannot be done. I have cataloged here a list of popular historic Triunist Theologians, their accounts of Sabellianism and their desperate and meaningless attempts to distinguish the Triune view from it.

Aquinas, Summa, 

“On the contrary, Boethius says (De Trin.) that in God “the substance contains the unity; and relation multiplies the trinity.” Therefore, if the relations were not really distinguished from each other, there would be no real trinity in God, but only an ideal trinity, which is the error of Sabellius.”

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/aquinas/summa.FP.iii.FP_Q28.FP_Q28_A3.html?highli ght=sabellius#highlight

The problem with Aquinas’ view is that his theology makes persons relations. This is ad hoc nonsense. I am a brother, I am a son, I am a cousin, but that does not make me multiple persons. This is ad hoc. It is ad hoc to affirm another cardinally numeric person that does not have its own numeric being/substance; a point which John Owen admits to later. Secondly, the Bible does not say,

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is a united LORD

It says,

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God [is] one [echad] LORD- Deut 6:4.

Echad can refer to a union, but it primarily refers to a cardinal singularity. The context must determine. Even when it is used for the idea of ordinal first, it is referring to the first cardinally numeric day of a month.


Moreover, anyone who knows Hebrew knows that echad is the masculine word for the cardinal number 1.

Systematic and Polemic Theology by R. L. Dabney, Second Edition, pgs. 177-178,

“Now, if these personal names, of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, meant no more than three influences or energies, or three phases of action of the same person, or three forms of one substance, is it not incredible that all these properties of personality, choosing, loving, hating, sending and being sent, understanding, acting, should be asserted of them? It would be the wildest abuse of language ever dreamed of.  The doctrine of the Trinity, as held by the Catholic Church, cannot be better defined, than in the words of our Confession. (Recite ch. II, § 3.)…

  1. The subsistence of a threefold personal distinction, marked by a part of the properties of separate personalities, (in some inscrutable [Definition: Impossible to understand or interpret; impenetrable; mysterious.-DS] manner, entirely compatible with true unity) as intelligence, active principles, volition, action…

Now, that it is inscrutable how these things can be, we freely admit. Did they involve a necessary self-contradiction, we should also admit that the understanding would be incapable of receiving them all together. But we do not hold that the persons are three in the same sense in which they are one. If it be asked what is the precise meaning of the phrase, person in the Godhead ? we very freely answer, that we know only in part.”

Now this is very curious that he would admit that the differences between the persons is not understandable because later in his treatment of Private Judgment he says,

“Protestants, on the other hand, hold that faith must be explicit and intelligent; or it cannot be proper faith—that the propositions embraced must be known; and the evidence therefore comprehended intelligently…but his conclusion in favour of an unintelligent faith is absurd, because voluntary moral dispositions can only act legitimately, through an intelligent knowledge of their objects. The right intelligence is in order to the right feeling. Protestants, again distinguish between a comprehension of the evidence, and a full comprehension of the proposition. The former is the rational ground of belief, not the latter.” (pg. 602)


I admit that we only have a proportional understanding of God but that does not mean our portion is not univocal. We admit it is. Thus Dabney contradicts himself here.

In Charles Hodge’s  Systematic Theology, page 452, he offers no explanation at all concerning the difference between Sabellianisnm and Triunism.

Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof, pg. 89, 

“The Church confesses the Trinity to be a mystery beyond the comprehension of man. The Trinity is a mystery, not merely in the Biblical sense that it is a truth, which was formerly hidden but is now revealed; but in the sense that man cannot comprehend it and make it intelligible. It is intelligible in some of its relations and modes of manifestation, but unintelligible in its essential nature. The many efforts that were made to explain the mystery were speculative rather than theological. They invariably resulted in the development of tritheistic or modalistic conceptions of God, in the denial of either the unity of the divine essence or the reality of the personal distinctions within the essence. The real difficulty lies in the relation in which the persons in the Godhead stand to the divine essence and to one another; and this is a difficulty which the Church cannot remove, but only try to reduce to its proper proportion by a proper definition of terms. It has never tried to explain the mystery of the Trinity, but only sought to formulate the doctrine of the Trinity in such a manner that the errors which endangered it were warded off.”

This is devastating. Anyone who believes this must be bound by conscience to join a Prelatic Church that denies Private Judgment. We then cannot determine orthodoxy from heresy. It must then be handed over to tradition.

John Owen , Works Vol. 2 ed. Goold, pg. 388,

“That in one essence there can be but one person, may be true where the substance is finite and limited, but hath no place in that which is infinite.”

One wonders then how the finite could understand the infinite in order to make a private judgment about what he should believe about the divine persons. My other arguments against divine infinity have been strained out in great detail. The appeal to infinity is an appeal to pagan philosophy. You see it is the Triune view that is the philosophical innovation and quagmire, not the Nicene or Semi-Arian view.

New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia in its article “Monarchians” states,

“Once the Monarchian system was put into philosophical language, it was seen to be no longer the old Christianity. Ridicule was used; the heretics were told that if the Father and the Son were really identified, then no denial on their part could prevent the conclusion that the Father suffered and died, and sat at His own right hand…but Sabellius seems to have meant “three modes or characters of one person”. The Father is the Monad of whom the Son is a kind of manifestation: for the Father is in Himself silent, inactive (siopon, hanenerletos), and speaks, creates, works, as Son (Athan., 1. c., 11).”


Here then we see that the Sabellian/Modalist/Monarchian Theology taught that the Father and Son were identified and that the divine persons were modes and manifestations of a single person/monad.

Is this not exactly what the Triunists believe?

De Synodis by Athanasius states,

“53. Even this is sufficient to dissuade you from blaming those who have said that the Son was coessential with the Father, and yet let us examine the very term ‘Coessential,’ in itself, by way of seeing whether we ought to use it at all, and whether it be a proper term, and is suitable to apply to the Son. For you know yourselves, and no one can dispute it, that Like is not predicated of essence, but of habits, and qualities; for in the case of essences we speak, not of likeness, but of identity.”


What kind of identity? That is the issue. Generic or numeric sir? You people cannot get it straight. A father and son are not equal in authority and attributes. An infant boy is completely helpless yet just as human as his father. 

Turretin says in Institutes of Elenctic Theology Volume 1 (P & R Publishing: Phillipsburg, NJ, 1992), 3rd Topic Q. 27, 

“Thus the person may be said to differ from the essence not really…but modally as a mode from the thing (pg. 278)…the Orthodox hold…Against the Tritheists they reject the real or essential distinction because although there are more persons than one mutually distinct, yet there is only one essence. But they hold TO A MODAL DISTINCTION because as the persons are constituted by personal properties as incommunicable MODES OF SUBSISTING, so they may properly be said to be distinguished by them.”[Emphasis mine. – DS]

Early Christian Doctrines by J. N. D. Kelly, pg. 120,

“To his accusers, Noetus [An early Monarchist/Sabellian-DS] retorted, “What wrong have I done, glorifying one only God, Christ, who was born, suffered and died?” For Scriptural support, his followers appealed to such texts as Isa. 44:6, which proclaimed the uniqueness of God, and John 10:30, 14:8-10 and Rom. 9:5, which seemed to point to the identity of the Father and the Son.”

Is this not exactly how the Triunists argue from the exact same scriptures? Owen, in the work cited above spends pages 383-387 doing nothing but trying to prove this point from Scripture, which I will be refuting in the near future.

Kelly states again,

“Who Praxeas was is unknown; the name “Praxeas” may be a nickname, meaning “busybody”. Some have identified him with Noetus or Epigonus, or even with Pope Callistus. Whoever he was, he seems to have taught that the Father and Son were one identical Being (duos unum volunt esse, ut idem pater et filius habecatur), the Word having no independent subsistence and being a mere voice and sound (vox et sonus oris)”. (pg. 121)

At this point Kelly footnotes Against Praxeas by Tertullian Chapter 7 which states,  

“Do you then, (you ask,) grant that the Word is a certain substance, constructed by the Spirit and the communication of Wisdom? Certainly I do. But you will not allow Him to be really a substantive being, by having a substance of His own; in such a way that He may be regarded as an objective thing and a person, and so be able (as being constituted second to God the Father,) to make two, the Father and the Son, God and the Word. For you will say, what is a word, but a voice and sound of the mouth, and (as the grammarians teach) air when struck against, intelligible to the ear, but for the rest a sort of void, empty, and incorporeal thing. I, on the contrary, contend that nothing empty and void could have come forth from God, seeing that it is not put forth from that which is empty and void; nor could that possibly be devoid of substance which has proceeded from so great a substance, and has produced such mighty substances: for all things which were made through Him, He Himself (personally) made. How could it be, that He Himself is nothing, without whom nothing was made? How could He who is empty have made things which are solid, and He who is void have made things which are full, and He who is incorporeal have made things which have body? For although a thing may sometimes be made different from him by whom it is made, yet nothing can be made by that which is a void and empty thing.”


Notice the strong affirmation of Tertullian to ascribe a distinct substance, not simply a mode, subsistence or hypostasis to the Son.

Kelly states again,

“Sabellianism, tried to meet some of the objections to which the earlier form was exposed. Sabellius, we are told by Epiphanius, regarded the Godhead as a monad (his name for it was huiopator) which expressed itself in three operations. He used the analogy of the sun, a single object which radiates both warmth and light; the Father was, as it were, the form or essence, and the Son and the Spirit His modes of self-expression or “dilation” (platusmos) of the divine monad, the Father by process of development projecting Himself first as Son and then as Spirit…The term prosopon, as we noticed above, was used by Hippolytus to signify the otherness, or separate subsistence, of the Son from the Father, as revealed in the economy, and it is most unlikely that Sabellius used it with a diametrically opposite meaning. Indeed, Hippolytus clearly implies that for Callistus, whom he regarded as a Sabellian, the Godhead was but a single prosopon, that is, an individual or Person.”(pg. 122-123)

Marcellus who was thought a Sabellian by the Eusebians (Kelly, pg. 240) taught,

“that God is spirit, ‘an invisible Monad’, ‘a single prosopon’. Before all ages the Logos was in God as His immanent reason, identical with him…as a man’s reason is with himself. So he condemns the Origenist conception that the Logos is a distinct hypostasis or ousia as threatening to disrupt this unity and lead to polytheism. All that can be said about the pre-existent Logos is that he was Logos; there can be no talk of His generation, and Marcellus restricts the title ‘Son’ to the Incarnate.  But if the Logos was thus immanent in God as ‘potency’…He was also externalized as God’s active energy…for creation and revelation, since everything that the Father says or does is accomplished through his word. Indeed, it is precisely His function as God’s self-activization and self-revelation which Marcellus claims, distinguishes the Logos from His possessor, and it is the recognition of this, he holds, that differentiates his own position from Sabellianism. We need not be surprised that it scandalized the Eusebians. The frequent appearance of the clause ‘Of whose reign there will be no end’ in the creeds they manufactured testifies their dread of it.” (Kelly, 240-241)

He denied hypostasis to the Son to buttress the unity of being and the single prosopon. Sound familiar? 

On the Councils by Hilary of Poitiers, 67, states,

“If we assert the one substance, understanding it to mean the likeness of natural qualities and such a likeness as includes not only the species but the genus, we assert it in a truly religious spirit, provided we believe that the one substance signifies such a similitude of qualities that the unity is not the unity of a monad but of equals. By equality I mean exact similarity so that the likeness may be called an equality, provided that the equality imply unity because it implies an equal pair, and that the unity which implies an equal pair be not wrested to mean a single  Person.”

At this point, the Triunists can do little but go into emotional meltdown. They will shout, “you are Rationalists trying to put God’s things into man’s terms! It is beyond our understanding!” To which we reply, then it cannot be subject to private judgment! Be consistent, be honest and leave Protestantism! Go back into Romanism, Anchorism and Prelacy. That is honest. That is consistent. I find it comforting that on page 243, Kelly says that Eusebius of Caesarea was a rationalist at heart…Good for him.

At this point, a Protestant Triunist may try to seek refuge in the meaning of the Nicene Creed just to find any confusion he can throw to divert attention from his heresies.

On my blog, and others, as well as forums and private emails, the meaning of the Nicene Creed continues to be an ongoing confusion. Did the Nicene Creed establish numeric identity of essence when they creedalized the word Homoousios? … Kelly admits,

“the great issue before the council, as all our sources agree, was not the unity of the Godhead as such; it was the Son’s co-eternity with the Father, which the Arians denied, His full divinity in contrast to the creaturely status they ascribed Him. Thirdly, we may be sure that, if Eusebius and his allies had had the slightest suspicion that numerical identity of substance was being foisted on them in homousious, they would have loudly objected to it as Sabellian. In fact, as we know from his apologia to the Caesarean church, it was its materialistic flavour that he found awkward. Lastly, we know that afterwards, when the identity of substance of the three Persons were fully acknowledged, the most orthodox theologians continued to use homousious, in the appropriate contexts, with the sense of generic unity.” Early Christian Doctrines, 236

There is a very good reason for the Eusebians’ complaints:  They are true!

Thus, let us attempt a Sabellian acid test:

Do you think that the divine persons are predicates (like a relation) and not subjects?

Do you think that the divine persons are modes of a single being?

Do you think that the divine persons are manifestations of some antecedent reality?

Do you think unity means a cardinal singularity?

Do you think distinct persons can exist without their own distinct being?

Do you think the distinction between the divine persons and the definition of a divine person transcends human language?

Do you think that the Father and the Son are united in concrete identity?

Do you believe that Yeshua is the only God?

Do you believe that the Father and the Son share or are the same numeric being?

Do you believe in one God and that the word God logically pertains to nature and not person?

Do you believe that the Son is not a subject but the faculty, or power or ability of a subject?

Do you believe that the Godhead is a Monad?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you my friend are a Sabellian and/or you are a man that has cornered himself in a Prelatical Ecclesiology.

My Triunist friend, why do you spit poison at the word of God? Why do you subject it to your many lies? Why do you say you know not the God of this book and cannot understand its teachings? Why do you leave the Church with no rational way to determine Orthodoxy from Heresy? Why do you contradict the Scriptures and slander them saying that they are dark and are outside of our understanding? The Bible gives us great confidence that it is sufficient and clear and written to be understood:

Luk 1:3  It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

Col 2:1  For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; Col 2:2  That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; Col 2:3  In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge… Col 2:7  Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

Heb 6:1  Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Heb 6:2  Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

2 Ti 3:16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 2Ti 3:17  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

1Pe 3:15  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Heb 6:18  That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Heb 6:19  Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

Eph 4:14  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

Heb 5:12  For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. Heb 5:13  For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. Heb 5:14  But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Eph 4:11  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; Eph 4:12  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Eph 4:13  until we all attain to the unity of the faith, [That was a promise not just a command!-DS] and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. Eph 4:14  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; Eph 4:15  but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.

Schaff then admits,

“The word person is in reality only a make-shift, in the absence of a more adequate term. Our idea of God is more true and deep than our terminology, and the essence and character of God far transcends our highest ideas.”

[1] Isaac Taylor, Ancient Christianity,(Philadelphia, PA: Herman Hooker, 1840) 282

[2]  Isaac Taylor, Ancient Christianity, 449

[3] Robert Letham in his book Through Western Eyes, (Mentor, 2007)

[4] John Calvin, A Treatise on Relics, (Edinburgh: Johnstone and Hunter, 1854)

[5] John Calvin, A Treatise on Relics, (Edinburgh: Johnstone and Hunter, 1854), 8

[6] Girardeau, Discussions, 431.

[7] This is not true. The value of the atonement is based on the righteousness of Messiah. The righteousness of the human nature of Messiah is based on his conformity to the law which was indeed perfect.  The moral law is a reflection of Elohim’s essential nature and so the value of Messiah’s obedience is not a simple ad extra acknowledgement. It is a recognition of essential righteousness.

[8] Gordon Clark, The Incarnation,  (Jefferson, Maryland: The Trinity Foundation, 1988), 61

[9] Catechism of the Catholic Church, Official Website of the Vatican, January 2010, available at, http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p122a3p1.htm#1; Internet; accessed January 2010

[10] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2817.htm

[11] http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3301.htm

[12] http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/history/3_ch09.htm

[13] Leo Donald Davis, The First Seven Ecumenical Councils, pg. 61

[14] J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, pgs., 234-235

[15] http://therodofiron.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/incarnational-sonship/

[16] Samuel Clarke, The Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity, 182

[17] http://vintage.aomin.org/The_Pre_Existence_of_Christ.html#10



2 thoughts on “Why I’m Not Roman Catholic Or Eastern Orthodox Part 4; Theses 61-80”

  1. Great stuff, I think you are absolutely correct on the Neoplatonism thing and the immortal soul doctrine.

    I used to be a Full Preterist Universalist, but God brought me back to the Reformation faith that I believed when He first regenerated me. I believe in a future bodily resurrection again. I’m once saved always saved.

    Have you ever actually debated with a Full Preterist? such as Don K. Preston, for example.

    Also, I think I’m the guy who told you (on your Uncreated Light blog, remember?) about 1 year ago that the earth is flat, and now 1 year later you are a flat earther. Was I a catalyst for your flat earth investigation? just curious


    1. “Have you ever actually debated with a Full Preterist? such as Don K. Preston, for example.”

      >>>No. I think that work has already been done.


      “Also, I think I’m the guy who told you (on your Uncreated Light blog, remember?) about 1 year ago that the earth is flat, and now 1 year later you are a flat earther. Was I a catalyst for your flat earth investigation? just curious”

      >>>No, an Ebionite friend of mine brought me to that.


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