CG7, the Paulini, and CCOG on binitarianism


Parts of the January-February 2018 edition of the Bible Advocate

COGwriter

In a previous edition of its Bible Advocate magazine (Jan-Feb 2018), Church of God, Seventh Day-Denver (CG7) somewhat asserted its binitarian view of the Godhead:

Statement of Faith 2 The Deity

This we believe:

The sovereign deity of the universe is God Almighty, who is to be worshiped in spirit and in truth. He is eternal, infinite, holy, self-existent Spirit who created, sustains, rules, redeems, and judges His creation. He is one in nature, essence and being. God is revealed in Scripture as Father and Son. …

One God, revealed as Father and Son From start to finish, the Bible knows only one God. The Hebrew shema says it best: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4; see also Deuteronomy 4:35; 32:39; 2 Samuel 7:22; 1 Chronicles 17:20; Psalm 86:10; Isaiah 43:10; 44:6; 45:5, 14, 18; Mark 12:29; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Ephesians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:5. While Christianity is a monotheistic faith and our God is numerically one, the best biblical evidence points to the fact that He is uniplural in His divine person. Uniplural suggests that God is one in essence but more than one in expression.

Now this is a bit tricky as they are correct in general, but have some issues with specifics.

Before getting to the specifics, let me note that there are some associated with CG7 who are not binitarian, but are trinitarian.

The assertions in the magazine are binitarian, but partially use a trinitarian explanation.

God is not really one essence with more than one expression, God is one as a divine family, currently consisting of the Father and the Son. It is not a closed family as resurrected Christians will be born into it (see What is Your Destiny? Deification? Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God?).

Now, if one looks through church history, an honest reading of it shows that most who professed Christ were NOT trinitarians until the latter portion of the 4th century (see ).

Last century, CG7 put out the following information:

We find the identification of the true church, both by the name and doctrine, scattered from Palestine to Spain, and from the Piedmont valley of Italy to Scotland, Ireland and England. As has already been shown that the people honoring the true faith, and bearing the Scriptural name, were called by the world, Waldenses, Vaudois, Henricians, Catharists, Puritans, Bougres, Paulicans, Publicans, Lombardists, Albigenses, and also other names from leading preachers among them, and from countries from which they would be expelled; but they disowned these names, calling themselves the Church of God. (Dugger AN, Dodd CO. A History of True Religion, 3rd ed. Jerusalem, 1972 (Church of God, 7th Day). 1990 reprint, Chapter 10)

The above list mentioned the Paulicians–they were associated with the Manicheans.

The following from the late fourth century, by Orthodox saint and bishop Gregory of Nyssa shows that the Manichaean/Paulicians did accept the Father and Son as God, but not the Holy Spirit, hence they held a binitarian view:

I am aware, too, that the Manichees go about vaunting the name of Christ. Because they hold revered the Name to which we bow the knee, shall we therefore number them amongst Christians? So, too, he who both believes in the Father and receives the Son, but sets aside the Majesty of the Spirit, has “denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel,” and belies the name of Christ which he bears (Gregory of Nyssa. On the Holy Spirit, Against the Macedonians. Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 5. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1893).

Notice that Gregory condemned those for being binitarian as they did not accept the personage deity of the Holy Spirit.

The Continuing Church of God would like to state that it is clearly binitarian.

For those wanting more information on binitarianism, the Continuing Church of God has the following sermon posted at its ContinuingCOG channel:

How many beings currently compose the Godhead? What is binitarianism? Were early Christians binitarian or trinitarian? What does the Bible teach? What do the records of early Christianity reveal? Where did the trinity come from? Who adopted the trinity? Were most COG and Greco-Roman professors of Christ binitarian or trinitarian through the middle of the fourth century A.D.?

Here is a link to a related written article: Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning

Many Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox are unaware of the binitarian views that early professors of Christ had.

Some, who have chosen to misinterpret these scriptures have claimed that the idea of God consisting of two beings is a relatively recent invention. However scholars have noted:

Earliest Christian worship specifies two figures, God and Jesus, as recipients (Hurtado Larry. Abstract: “The Binitarian Shape of Early Christian Worship.” International Conference on the Historical Origins of the Worship of Jesus. 13-17 June 1998).

And in the New Testament and among second century Christians historians recognize:

…there are a fairly consistent linkage and subordination of Jesus to God “the Father” in these circles, evident even in the Christian texts from the latter decades of the first century that are commonly regarded as a very ‘high’ Christology, such as the Gospel of John and Revelation. This is why I referred to this Jesus-devotion as a “binitarian” form of monotheism: there are two distinguishable figures (God and Jesus), but they are posited in a relation to each other that seems intended to avoid the ditheism of two gods, and the devotional practices show a similar concern…In my judgment this Jesus-devotion amounts to a treatment of him as a recipient of worship at a surprisingly early point in the first century, and is certainly a programmatic inclusion of a second figure unparalleled in the monotheistic tradition of the time (Hurtado LW. Lord Jesus Christ, Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, 2003, pp. 52-53).

Interestingly, his book, (which at least one University of Notre Dame scholar calls “A fantastic work! Larry Hurtado has written what may well prove to be one of the more important works on Jesus in this generation”), demonstrates that there was a binitarian view in Christianity that can be proven from the early first century (from about the time of Christ’s death) and that Professor Hurtado concludes that the trinitarian view came to be dominant later (Ibid, p.651).

And while Professor Hurtado does not personally seem to clearly refer to Christ as God, he specifically acknowledges:

…the “binitarian” pattern of devotion in which both God (the “Father”) and Jesus are objects of such reverence goes back to the earliest observable stages of the movement that became Christianity…The central place given to Jesus…and…their concern to avoid ditheism by reverencing Jesus rather consistently with reference to “the Father”, combine to shape the proto-orthodox “binitarian” pattern of devotion. Jesus truly is reverenced as divine” (Ibid, pp. 605, 618).

Professor Hurtado also notes that:

there are numerous places where Ignatius refers to Jesus as “God” (theos)…Yet Ignatius refers to Jesus as theos while still portraying him as subordinate to the “”Father” (Ibid. pp.637, 638).

That is a binitarian view. I would suggest that the early Christians were careful about avoiding the charge of ditheism because they were reinforcing the binitarian position that God is one family, currently consisting of the Father and the Son–a family relationship, in which the Father is greater than the Son (John 14:28).

Furthermore another scholar noted:

The argument that Christianity is not binitarian but trinitarian, hence could not be perceived as a two-powers heresy, ignores the fact that it is not so much what Christianity thought of itself that counts but how it appeared to its rabbinic critics. And there we see clearly that it was often described as binitarian or dualistic rather than trinitarian (Summary of response by Alan F. Segal. International Conference on the Historical Origins of the Worship of Jesus. 13-17 June 1998).

Hence, the early Jewish rabbis recognized early Christianity as binitarian, not trinitarian or unitarian.

The Continuing Church of God still holds to the original binitarian view of the Godhead. CG7 has a version of the view and I hope they will not move closer to trinitarianism.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning Is binitarianism the correct position? What about unitarianism or trinitarianism?
Is The Father God? What is the view of the Bible? What was the view of the early church?
Jesus: The Son of God and Saviour Who was Jesus? Why did He come to earth? What message did He bring? Is there evidence outside the Bible that He existed? Here is a YouTube sermon titled Jesus: Son of God and Saviour.
Jesus is God, But Became Flesh Was Jesus fully human and fully God or what? Here is information in the Spanish language¿Es Jesucristo Dios?.
Virgin Birth: Does the Bible Teach It? What does the Bible teach? What is claimed in The Da Vinci Code?
Why Does Jesus Have Two Different Genealogies listed in Matthew 1 and Luke 3? Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38 seemingly list two different genealogies for Jesus. Why? Here is a version in the Spanish language: ¿Por qué Jesús tiene dos genealogías diferentes las cuales aparecen en Mateo 1 y Lucas 3?
Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity? Or did they have a different view? A related sermon is available: Truth about the Holy Spirit: What THEY do not want you to know!
Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? Most act like this is so, but is it? Here is an old, by somewhat related, article in the Spanish language LA DOCTRINA DE LA TRINIDAD. A related sermon is available: Trinity: Fundamental to Christianity or Something Else? A brief video is also available: Three trinitarian scriptures?
Was Unitarianism the Teaching of the Bible or Early Church? Many, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, claim it was, but was it?
Did the Archangel Michael become Jesus? The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach this, and SDA Ellen White did, but does the Bible allow for this?
Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning This is a longer article than the Binitarian View article, and has a little more information on binitarianism, and less about unitarianism. A related sermon is also available: Binitarian view of the Godhead.
Church of God, (Seventh Day): History and Teachings Nearly all COG’s I am aware of trace part of their history through some affiliation with this group. Loren Stacy is the president of the largest CG7 group (Denver). Do you know much about them?
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differs from most Protestants How the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background. As far as some changes affecting Protestantism, watch the video Charismatic Kenneth Copeland and Anglican Tony Palmer: Protestants Beware! [Português: Esperança do salvação: Como a igreja do deus difere da maioria de protestantes]. A sermon is also available: How Does the Church of God Differ from Protestantism?
OGwriter Position on Other Churches and Religions What is the fate of those who do not know Christ? What about those who profess Christ outside the Church of God?
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.



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