Larry Ray Hafley
Examining the "Oneness" Position
In this the first edition of Queries and Explications, I will endeavor to answer six common questions raised by "Oneness Pentecostals" who deny the Godhead in three Persons.
Is it true that the name of God the Father is 'Jesus' according to John 5:43?
The answer is "no," and here is why. First, the term, "name," in John 5:43 does not refer to one's proper name, like "John" or "Larry." It refers to the Father's authority. Jesus did not come in his own name; that is, he did not come by his own authority. Jesus did not speak by his own authority (Jn. 12:49). His doctrine was not his. It was not of his devising, but it was the doctrine which his Father gave to him to deliver (Jn. 5:30; 7:16; 8:28). In that way, he came in his Father's name; that is, by his Father's authority.
Second, see John 17. In verse six, Jesus says, "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me...." In verse eight, he says, "For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me...." He made known the Father's name, his power and authority, when he gave them "the words" which God had given him to speak. Further, he said, "I have given them thy word" (v. 14). Then, he said, "I have declared unto them thy name" (v. 26).
Third, in 1 Samuel 25:5-9, David sent some young men to Nabal and said, "Greet him in my name." Verse 9 says they "spoke to Nabal all those words in the name of David and ceased." What does that mean? It means they spoke only those words which David authorized them to speak. They did not speak of their own accord, but they spoke the words which David gave them to speak. That is how they spoke "in the name of David."
The Pentecostal might be asked if "the name" of the young men was "David." Since they came in David's "name," does that mean that their name was "David?" No, it simply means they spoke only that which David authorized them to speak.
Fourth, when he fought Goliath, David said, "I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts" (1 Sam. 17:45). Was David's name, "Lord of hosts"? Or, was the Lord's name, "David"? If the Pentecostals are consistent, they will have to say that God's name was "David," since David came in the name of the Lord of hosts. See the point? What did David mean when he told Goliath, "I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts?" He meant that he came by the power and authority of God.
Is it not true that the Son inherited the name of the Father according to Hebrews 1:4? If so, Christ is the Father.
First, if I had given one of my sons my name, Larry Ray Hafley, would that mean that my son was me? If I gave him my name, Larry Ray Hafley, would I be him? Would we be the same person? If so, he would be married to his mother, and I would be married to my daughter in law, and he would be the Father of his brother!
Second, the name Jesus received in Hebrews 1:4 was not the name, "Jesus." He received the name, "Jesus," at his birth (Lk. 1:31). However, the "name" in Hebrews 1:4 was not that kind of name. It referred to his power and authority which he received after his death on the cross (Phil. 2:9-11). Read that text carefully. After his death, and because of his death on the cross, Jesus was given a "name which is above every name." That cannot refer to the name, "Jesus," for he was given that name at his birth. He was given a "name," a power, an authority, which is above every name, power, or authority. This "name," or power, or authority was given to him after his death on the cross. "Wherefore," because he was willing to die, God gave him "a name," a power, an authority which is above every name, power or authority--"Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come" (Eph. 1:21; Cf. Phil. 2:9-11; Col. 1:15-19; Heb. 1:4).
Third, if Hebrews 1:4 teaches that "Christ is the Father," then upon whose right hand did the Son sit when he ascended into heaven? Hebrews 1:3 says he "sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." It would be an amazing feat for a man to sit on his own right hand! I cannot do it, but one of my sons could. As David showed in Psalm 110, two persons are involved in the concept of one sitting on the right hand of another--"The Lord (that is one person) said unto my Lord (that is another person), sit thou (one person) at my (another person) right hand." See also Acts 7:56; Hebrews 8:1; 1 Peter 3:22.
Fourth, if Hebrews 1:4 teaches that "Christ is the Father," why does verse eight say, "Unto the Son (one person) he (another person) saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom"? Sounds to me like two different persons are contemplated in the text. Hence, verse four cannot be teaching that Christ is the (same person as) the Father.
Fifth, Hebrews 1:4 cannot be teaching that the Father and the Son are the same person, for in Hebrews 5:4, 5, the writer makes an argument which demands two separate persons. "No man," he argues, makes himself a high priest. He must be called and selected of God, "as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest...." In other words, just as Aaron did not appoint himself to be a high priest, neither did Christ! However, if the Father and the Son are the same person, as Pentecostals contend, then Jesus did appoint himself. Observe the words, "So also." They are crucial. Just as Aaron was appointed by another person, "So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest...." Since he did not take this honor upon himself, since he did not glorify himself, who did?
Sixth, Hebrews 1:4 cannot be showing that the Father and the Son are the same person, for in Hebrews 10:5, he cites a Psalm which says, "A body hast thou prepared me." The Pentecostal should be asked to explain what "body" is referred to. Ask them, "Who is the thou in the text?" Then, ask them, "Who is the me in the text?" "Thou," one person, has prepared "a body" for "me," another person.
So, even if I could not explain Hebrews 1:4, I would know from Hebrews 5:4, 5 and 10:5 that it could not be teaching that the Father and the Son are the same person.
Is the name of the Holy Spirit 'Jesus' according to John 14:26?
First, go back to the argument made earlier from 1 Samuel 25:5-9. If John 14:26 "proves" that the Holy Spirit's name is "Jesus," then the servants of David were named "David." Since David, as also noted earlier, came against Goliath "in the name of the Lord of hosts," was his name "Lord of hosts"?
Second, just look at the text of John 14:26. "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit (a person, as 'whom' implies), whom the Father (another person) will send in my (another person) name, he (the person referred to as 'the Holy Spirit,' and 'Comforter') shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I (Jesus) have said unto you." Simply look at the pronouns used in the text! They reveal more than one person!
A good way to begin dealing with John 14:26 with a "oneness" Pentecostal is to look at the last part of the verse first. When the text says, "he shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance," ask them if they understand who is being referred to by the pronouns, "you" and "your." Generally, they will see that "you" and "your" refers to the disciples being addressed. Once they agree to that, they have shown their ability to distinguish between persons mentioned in the text. If they can see that "you" and "your" refers to certain people, and if they can infer from those pronouns who those people are, they should have no problem being able to see the same thing with respect to the other pronouns used in the text.
Then ask them, "To whom does the pronoun "whom" refer?" To whom does the pronoun "he" refer? To whom does the pronoun "I" refer? They cannot tell you they are unable to understand to whom the pronouns refer, because they have already identified the pronouns "you" and "your," which shows their ability to distinguish between the various pronouns.
Third, in John 14:26, the Holy Spirit is called "the Comforter." Earlier, Jesus called the Spirit "another Comforter" (Jn. 14:16). How could he be "another Comforter" if the Holy Spirit and Jesus are the same person? If they are the same person, the Spirit could not be "another." Note, too, that "the Father" (yet another person) "he" (personal pronoun) "will give you another Comforter;" that is, one other than I, Jesus, will give you "another Comforter."
Fourth, the Holy Spirit was sent in Jesus' name; that is, by his authority. The Father gave "all authority" to the Son, Jesus (Matt. 28:18). Hence, the Spirit was sent to guide the apostles into "all truth," speaking and revealing the things which Jesus had spoken and taught (Jn. 14:26; 16:13, 14).
Fifth, read John 14:21-23, the verses right above verse 26. Note the plural pronouns. For example, "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we (My Father and I) will come unto him and make our abode with him."
If the Holy Spirit is not Jesus, is it not true that the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Jesus Christ according to Philippians 1:19?
Yes, the Spirit "is called the Spirit of Jesus Christ," but that does not say they are the same person. In John 14:17, the Holy Spirit is called "the Spirit of truth." Are the Holy Spirit and the truth the same thing? No, the Holy Spirit revealed the truth; he was not the truth itself, but he revealed it (Jn. 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:12, 13). If calling the Holy Spirit "the Spirit of Jesus Christ" means that the Holy Spirit and Jesus are the same person, then calling the Holy Spirit "the Spirit of truth" would mean that the Holy Spirit and the truth are one and the same thing. If not, why not?
John the Baptist came "in the spirit and power of Elijah," but he was not literal, physical Elijah (Lk. 1:17; Jn. 1:21). We could say that John was "the spirit of Elijah," but that would not mean that they were the same person. Likewise, to say that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus is not to say that they are one and the same person.
How can we answer this question, 'Is there any verse in the Bible which says that there are three separate and distinct persons in one God?'
Let me ask, "Is there any verse in the Bible which says there is only one person in the Godhead?" If the fact that no single verse says there are three separate and distinct persons in the Godhead "proves" the doctrine is not true, then the fact that there is no verse which says there is only one person in the Godhead also proves that doctrine is not true!
In response, oneness Pentecostals will usually cite John 10:30--"I am my Father are one." The text does not say they are one person. It says they are "one," but it does not say they are "one person." Husband and wife are "one," but they are not one person (Matt. 19:5). So, I might say, "I and my wife are one," as Jesus said, "I and my Father are one." My wife and I are no more one person than the Father and the Son are one person. Paul and Apollos were "one," but they were not one person (1 Cor. 3:6, 8). Genesis 11:6 says, "Behold they are one people" (NASB). Were they one person? No; they were "one," but they were not one person.
In John 17:20-22, Jesus prayed that believers might be "one." How are believers to be "one"? They are to be "one, even as we are one." If the Father and the Son are one in person, then Jesus was praying that the disciples all might be one person! Obviously, that was not his prayer. He wanted the disciples to be "one in us." The disciples were not to be one person, but "one, even as we are one." Note the plural pronouns, "us" and "we." Jesus used them to speak of himself and of his Father.
If Christ is God, but he is not God the Father, and at the same time he is not God the Holy Spirit, because they are distinct, are we not teaching that there are three Gods?
First, Christ is God, Deity (Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8). The Father is God, Deity (Eph. 4:6). The Holy Spirit is God, Deity (Acts 5:3, 4).
Second, there is only one mankind, one humanity, "one blood." I am a man, of mankind, bearing the nature of humanity. You are a man, of mankind, bearing all the qualities and characteristics of humanity. We are two separate and distinct individual persons. Does that mean there are "two" mankinds, two humanities? No, there are two persons in one mankind. There are billions of persons on the earth who are of mankind, of one nature (Acts 17:26). Though there are many separate and distinct persons, there is still only one mankind, one humanity, one human nature. Likewise, there are three separate and distinct persons who are Deity, God. There is only one Divine essence or nature, one Godhood, but there are three separate and distinct persons who are God.
Third, "one God" does not mean "one person," anymore than "one nation" means there is only one person in the nation (2 Sam. 7:23). "One God" does not demand only "one person" anymore than "one people" demands just one person (Gen. 34:16). "One God" does not require "one person" anymore than "one tribe" requires only one person in that tribe (1 Kgs. 11:36). "One God" does not nullify more than one person anymore than "one body" negates the fact that numerous persons are parts of that one body (Eph. 4:4; 1 Cor. 12:14, 20). "One God" does not mean only "one person" anymore than "one flesh" means that husband and wife are just one person (Matt. 19:5). Many persons constitute "one nation." Many persons are contemplated when we speak of "one people." Many separate and distinct individuals make up "one tribe." Many persons are seen when we speak of "one body," the church. Two persons are "one flesh" in marriage. Thus, the fact that there is "one God" does not mean that there is only one person.
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