Comments on the Godhead
To material in earlier issues of Watchman regarding the number of persons in the Godhead, Mr. Bob James, replied thusly:
To Mr. James, I responded:
Thank you for your thoughtful letter. I always appreciate hearing from those who are willing to study the Bible. Accordingly, I suggest that we enter into a public, oral discussion of some of our issues of difference. Will you, or one of your brethren, be willing to study these vital issues with us so that we may all search the Scriptures?
We would be happy to host at least half the discussion in our building here in Baytown, TX. I am sure you and your brethren will want to open one of their buildings, too. I am sending a copy of your letter to me to some of your persuasion as well as to our brethren.
1) I will affirm:
2) I will affirm:
3) I will affirm:
As you can see, these topics clearly and concisely state the issues of difference between us. We could debate each of the three segments of topics at different times. Perhaps a week on Holy Spirit baptism, a week on the baptismal question, and another week on a study of the Godhead would work best. (The weeks would not have to run consecutively, but spaced out over a reasonable period of time.) I will be happy to begin making the necessary arrangements with you or with whomever you select to affirm and defend your faith.
Thanks again for writing. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Larry Ray Hafley
Our Pentecostal, "oneness" friend, Mr. James, replied again, telling me that I am "unregenerate," which is the nicest thing he had to say about me. I am truly humbled. He also took a shot at the entire church of God, when, speaking of me, he said, "his Church folk (are those) who deny the True and living God, Jesus."
Before proceeding, I cannot help but wonder if those who think we are too harsh and unkind will take Mr. James to task for his less than complimentary comments, or are gospel preachers the only ones who should be criticized and condemned for issuing a "hard saying"? Why is it that men like Mr. James can say whatever they want to say, engage in subjective namecalling, refuse an appeal for objective study, and go unscathed by those who scorn us when we simply use "great plainness of speech" (2 Cor. 3:12)? Has anyone ever seen an example in this medium that parallels that of Mr. James? If so, produce the proof.
Below are some of the more coherent arguments set forth by Mr. James in his follow-up:
Mr. James is unaware that the singular, "name," as used in Matthew 28:19 may include more than one person. In Genesis 5:2, the record says, God created Adam and Eve, "and blessed them, and called their name Adam." Speaking to Joseph's children as he blessed them, Jacob said, "and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac." Even though, "name," singular, is in Matthew 28:19, it still may refer to more than one person.
Neither Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; nor 19:5 tells us what was said when those folks were baptized. The passages tell us what was done, not what was said. The passages show that "they," the ones being baptized, were "baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." The passages do not say what, if anything, the baptizer said.
Incidentally, Acts 2:38 not only says one is to be "baptized...in the name of Jesus Christ," it also says that one is to "repent...in the name of Jesus Christ." Perhaps Mr. James could tell us if someone must "orally pronounce" the name, "Jesus," over a person when he repents. In fact, whatever we do "in word or deed" is to be done "in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Col. 3:17). When Mr. James sent his response to us, did he do it "in the name of Jesus Christ"? Surely, he would say he did. If so, who called the name, "Jesus" over him? Who "audibly invoked" or orally pronounced" the name, "Jesus" over him while he was typing? Since he says that to be scripturally "baptized in the name of Jesus Christ," one must have the name, "Jesus," spoken over him, must one have that name spoken over him when he repents and when he types his articles? What about it, Mr. James? Will you give us an answer to those questions "in the name of the Lord"? If you do, be sure to have someone speak the name, "Jesus," over you when you type your reply.
Acts 4:12 says there is no salvation apart from the name of the Lord Jesus. The passage tells us where salvation is to be found. The passage does not specifically mention either water or Holy Spirit baptism. But, even if it did, the passage says nothing about what is to be spoken or orally pronounced over anyone for any purpose!
Mr. James still has not found the passage which tells the baptizer what to say. We agree that those being baptized are to be baptized in the name of the Lord (Acts 2:38; 10:48; 19:5). Now, he needs to find a verse which tells the administrator of the baptism what to say. Can he do it? Will he do it? If he could, he would not refuse to debate the issue.
Below is another snippet from Bob James:
I have not used the word, "trinity," or "triune," to describe or define what the Bible teaches regarding the Godhead. Those are Bob's terms. Perhaps he needs to find them, since he is the one who uses them. However, Mr. James, since you have asked for the location of "trinity" in the Scriptures, "I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you" the answer to your question. "Where is God called 'Oneness,' or where is 'one person' ever mentioned one time in the Bible?" Remember, Bob, you could save a lot of time and money if you could find those exact words in the Bible! "I WANT THE PASSAGE, BOB, not a string of unrelated passages that 'you' feel must mean 'oneness.'"
We shall not give a string of passages. We shall give Bob one passage. One at a time, that is.
There is more, but in order not to offend Mr. James, we do not want to give a "string" of passages. We have just given one passage at a time, not a "string" of three.
Bob says, "Larry I want to know the passage that says I must believe in the Trinity or Three persons to be saved!?" Bob, where is the passage that says "I must believe in Oneness or one person to be saved?" When you answer that question, I will answer yours. Remember, now, according to your rule, you must cite the passage, not a "string" of them, but just one!
Before closing, in an oral debate, we will deal with Mr. James arguments on Hebrews 1:3, where Jesus is said to be the express image of the Father's person. Meantime, we wonder if Jesus was the express image of his very own essence or substance? Also, the passage says that Jesus, "sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." Bob, whomever you get to do your debating for you, remind that person that we shall want to know if Jesus sat down on his own right hand, or did he sit down on the right hand of the Father? In a debate, Bob, dismissing arguments by telling us that our mother is "Rome" will not suffice.
Whether or not there is one person in the Godhead, or three persons in the Godhead, this much is certain, "He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son" (2 Jn. 9).
No, it is not likely there will be a debate. Bob James will not do it. However, if these Pentecostal folks have what they say they have, a debate should be no trouble for them at all. If they truly have been "baptized in the Holy Ghost," with the power of the Spirit of God, they should have no difficulty in refuting what we teach.
I do not have what they claim they have, yet I have more power than they do. Barring the second coming of our Lord, I command that all the dead stay in their graves. Further, I will not allow anyone with a missing ear, arm, or leg to have it re-attached as Jesus restored Malchus' ear (Lk. 22:50, 51; Jn. 18:10). I forbid that any Pentecostal preacher shall restore a single missing appendage as the Lord did. Though I will grant them access to our building and baptistery, I forbid any Pentecostal to take a single step, lengthwise, across our baptistery, walking on the water. Without exercising any physical force against them at all, I simply deny them the power to walk on the water of our baptistery, as Jesus and Peter walked on the water (Matt. 14:25-29). Though I had rather that they not do so, I will grant them permission to walk across the Mississippi River, if they so choose, but that is all I will tolerate. Sorry, no other exceptions will be allowed! (I do not believe any Pentecostal will go against me and walk across the Mississippi, even though I have not totally forbidden it. I just do not believe they want to go against my will in these matters.) Watch and see if I do not have more power than they do!
Finally, IF the Pentecostals are able to scour land and sea and find at least one of their brethren with the courage to defend their doctrine, during the debate, I am going to pray that God will not make a sound "as of a rushing mighty wind" (Acts 2:2). I am going to ask the Lord that he not send "cloven tongues like as of fire" to sit upon my opponent and his brethren (Acts 2:3). Barring an earthquake, I am going to pray that God will not "shake the house" wherein we are having the debate (Acts 4:31).
It will not do for our Pentecostal friends to say that we are "sign seekers." No, verily, for we forbid them to give such signs as were given in the New Testament (Acts 9:36-41). I predict that they will obey me, and that they will not be able to work a single one of the signs we have prohibited.
Now, let us see just who has "the power." Will the Pentecostals countermand my will in these matters? I forbid them to do so. When they do my bidding in these areas, and fail to act, you will see who truly has "the power."
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