COGSC’s David Antion Against Unitarianism

History of Early Christianity 

Although the following was from his personal Guardian Ministries site, David Antion is affiliated with COGSC, hence its use in the title of today’s post:

I have listened to, read and studied the arguments of the “One God” presenters or as I have renamed their theory: “God Can Only Be One Person.”  The purpose of Guardian Ministries is to “guard the treasure” of the New Testament – the “truth of the Gospel.”  After considerable study and analysis I have presented a 13-sermon series in answer to these arguments…

Truthfully, the New Testament is very cautious to avoid any hint of polytheism.  There is only one God – the Old Testaments says so, and Jesus said so (Mark 12:29-30).  But, the man Jesus is a unique man.  He was a sinless man according to the New Testament (1 Pet. 2:22-24; 1John 3:5; 2Cor. 5:21). 

But, according the both Old and New Testament passages, no human person can be sinless (Ecc. 7:20; Psa. 130:3; Prov. 20:9).  “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 5:12).  Remember also, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us”(1 John 1:8). Here is an interesting passage that opponents to the deity of Jesus quote.  A man came to Jesus and said, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”  They place great weight on the fact that Jesus wouldn’t even call himself “good”.  But was He good?  Of course he was and many N.T. passages show that Jesus used the same Greek word for “good” to refer to other men and things.

But, those who quote this passage to say that Jesus rebuked a man for calling him “good” pass right over the statement of Thomas in the Gospel of John when he said to Jesus, “My Lord and my God.”  John records no comment from Jesus.  Now, why not rebuke Thomas right there and then?  “Hey, Thomas, don’t call me God.  I don’t even let men call me “good” let alone call me “God.”  You’ve just committed blasphemy!”  In the Book of Revelation on two occasions when John was overwhelmed with what he saw and bowed before an angel, he was told to worship God only.  See Rev. 19:10 and 22:9. The N.T. definitely shows a much greater reverence, exaltation and praise for the risen Christ than for the flesh and blood Christ.  Jesus did not want anyone to look on flesh and blood as “God.”

THE WORSHIP OF JESUS:  Worship of Jesus began in the earliest Palestinian Jewish Christianity the evidence shows.  In the earliest Christian community Jesus was already understood to be at God’s right hand in heaven, risen from the dead, and active in the Church by His Spirit, and coming in the future as king, ruler and judge of the world…

Philippians 2:6-9 is a most power passage.  Most scholars believe that Paul was quoting a hymn already sung in the early church.  The phrase “being in the form of God” has been explained away by those who believe God can only be one person.  They say, “The text does not say he was God.”  In other words he was in the form of God but not God.

But, to be fair, we have to consider the rest of the passage.  We see that he emptied himself and took the “form of a servant (slave).”  Now, was Jesus the “servant” of God or was he just in the form of a servant but not really a servant?  On the night he was betrayed he said, “I am among you as he that serves.”  The book of Acts refers to Jesus as “servant.”  If “in the form of God” does not mean he was equal with God, then “in the form of a servant” does not mean he was a servant!  The Greek words, “in the form of,” are the same!! (Antion, David. THE DEITY OF JESUS A response to the “One God” theory being widely presented to the Churches of God

Comments by COGwriter:

In the past, David Antion has attended one or more of the “One God” seminars that Ken Westby has put together.  He has essentially been one of the main opposition speakers there.  The “One God” unitarians essentially normally claim that Jesus is not God.

History shows that those who early confessed Christ understood that both the Father and the Son were God.  For example, in what has been called “the oldest complete Christian sermon that has survived” (Holmes M.W. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 2nd ed. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2004, p. 102)–outside those in the Bible–sometimes erroneously referred to as Second Letter of Clement, it seems to support binitarianism. It was given perhaps with a year or so of John’s death and begins with the following:

Brothers, we ought so to think of Jesus Christ, as of God, as “Judge of the living and the dead (An Ancient Christian Sermon, 1:1. In Holmes M.W., p. 107).

So then, brothers, if we do the will of God our Father…(An Ancient Christian Sermon, 14:1. In Holmes M.W. , p.121).

Now the church, being spiritual was revealed in the flesh of Christ, thereby showing us that if any of us guard her in the flesh and do not corrupt her, he will receive her back again in the Holy Spirit. For this flesh is a copy of the Spirit. No one, therefore, who corrupts the copy, will share in the original. This, therefore, is what he means, brothers: guard the flesh, in order that you may receive of the Spirit. Now if we say that the flesh is the church and the Spirit is Christ, then the one who abuses the flesh hath abuses the church. Consequently such a person will not receive the Spirit, which is Christ. So great is the life and immortality which this flesh is able to receive, if the Holy Spirit is closely joined with it, that no one is able to proclaim or to tell “what things the Lord hath prepared” for his chosen ones (An Ancient Christian Sermon, 14:3-5. In Holmes M.W., p.121).

Thus, what may be the oldest preserved sermon (which can be seen at the link Ancient “Christian” Sermon) says to think of Jesus as God and that the Father is God, but it never indicates that the Holy Spirit is God. This is consistent with the binitarian view.

Polycarp was known as the Bishop of Smyrna and probably the first physical head (under Jesus Christ) of the era when Smyrna dominated. He was neither trinitarian nor unitarian according to various historical documents. The following quote attributed to him shows that he (and thus by inference the rest of Smyrna) was not unitarian,

Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal High-priest Himself, the [Son of] God Jesus Christ, build you up in faith and truth, and in all gentleness and in all avoidance of wrath and in forbearance and long suffering and in patient endurance and in purity; and may He grant unto you a lot and portion among His saints, and to us with you, and to all that are under heaven, who shall believe on our Lord and God Jesus Christ and on His Father (The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians in APOSTOLIC FATHERS (as translated by J.B. LIGHTFOOT) 12:6,7).

There are other quotes from true Christians, as well as those not in the Church of God, that show that unitarianism simply was not the teaching that Christians held to from the earliest times, in the following articles (most of which have been recently updated, and thus, contain additional documented materials): 

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 is God, But Was Made Man Was Jesus fully human and fully God or what?
Virgin Birth: Does the Bible Teach It? What does the Bible teach? What is claimed in The Da Vinci Code?
Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity? Or did they have a different view?
Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? Most act like this is so, but is it?
Was Unitarianism the Teaching of the Bible or Early Church? Many, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, claim it was, but was it?
Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning This is a shorter article than the Binitarian View article, but has a little more information on binitarianism.

More information on early Christianity can be found at The History of Early Christianity page.

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