1: I was raised Oneness, but didn’t start realizing it until I was a teenager. (My parents were more neutral on this in the home. We were just taught to believe in God, Jesus, live a Christian life, and love people. I am thankful for my parents and my upbringing.)
I was pretty heavy into Oneness (the belief that “God is one person who has manifested Himself in three primary ways: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”) from 1996 to 2002 (I married in 1998). My pastors were all Oneness, and in my studies I learned the “big texts.”
2: I rejected Oneness around 2003. What got me to thinking was how I kept reading about the “Father and Son” in the Bible (plus my Bible study skills were sharpening then). I didn’t understand near as much “Bible” as I do now, but I just couldn’t see how Scripture would speak of a Father and Son (the Father speaks about his Son at the baptism; the Son prays to the Father; John 17:5 “the glory I had with you”; John 8 “two witnesses”) and there not really be a Father and a Son.
This is what scares me about the Oneness position, there isn’t really a Son, it’s just a different mode or manifestation. (Illustration: Clark Kent gets into a phone booth and becomes Superman. Two roles are being played, but there’s only one person.) The one person is God Almighty, so the Son is just God turning into the Son to play a role.
So I accepted the Trinity, because at the time all I knew was either Oneness or Trinitarian - and I got my hand on several scholarly works on the Trinity, because I wanted the best this side had to offer. I have in-depth books/studies on Oneness and the Trinity, and of course I listened to lectures and debates constantly, always cross-referencing Scripture.
A good Oneness vs. Trinity Debate is: David Bernard vs. Gene Cook, and in my opinion Bernard crushed him. If I was an outsider listening in, I would have for sure thought Bernard’s position was the Scriptural one. Here’s the link: https://youtu.be/lyGbol-YUH0
But… I still ended up on the Trinity, because I was trying to be honest with the text of Scripture. The scholarly books on the Trinity - their exegesis and explanation of key texts in Scripture - answered Bernard’s points adequately (I felt), even though Gene Cook didn’t do the best job.
3: In 2004 I began to find out there were other (minority) views, namely Arianism (Jehovah’s Witnesses) and Biblical Unitarianism. I studied both views out and the Arian position made more Biblical sense to me after watching and dissecting a debate between James White and Greg Stafford (I believe from 2003). Here’s the link: https://youtu.be/x-L3IoUq-fk
My studies developed from there through 2004 and 2005, and I accepted Biblical Unitarianism (mid 2005) studying tons through Anthony Buzzard, a professor at that time of the Atlanta Bible College. Through his website I listened to lectures, debates, read books, and I’ve been at this position since 2005 (constantly developing my views and arguments). I believe it’s the most well-rounded position on the subject, taking all the Biblical data into account.
Here’s some good debates and discussions on Biblical Unitarianism vs. Trinitarianism:
1 - https://youtu.be/-77IYnZq8Io
2 - https://youtu.be/b0t90eJe0q4
3 - https://youtu.be/c35_uFjEbx8
4 - (A) https://youtu.be/GL476wkUhqs (B) https://youtu.be/gqh09OByaBE
5 - https://youtu.be/9z3lS7cZV5Y
4: Answering the main verses I used to use…
ANSWER: Yahweh is one (cp. Mark 12:28-32), but the actual word Lord (Adonai or Adoni) isn’t used in Deut. 6:4. Yeshua is Adoni-Master-Lord, but he was made Lord by the one Yahweh (Acts 2:36). He is the second Lord in the English versions of Psalm 110:1, and the language there is post-resurrection (Ephesians 1:20-23). For God to have a Son doesn’t contradict the Shema - God the Father is still the one of the Shema, He just has a unique Son that He sent to accomplish the greatest of all missions upon the earth.
ANSWER: Interestingly enough, this verse is never quoted in the NT as pertaining to Yeshua. (Isaiah 9:1-2 is, but verses 6-7 are not specifically.) Some scholars view it as a reference to Isaiah’s son, others say it’s King Hezekiah’s royal succession after the death of King Ahaz. “Mighty God” is the king portrayed as divinity in that he represents Elohim on earth (Ancient Near Eastern context). “Everlasting Father” represents the king’s fatherly concern over the nation.
I think it’s okay to find a second fulfillment in Yeshua here, and the titles “El Gibbor” and “Aviad” can be viewed in a similar, but greater light (as in Hezekiah). No doubt Yeshua is a mighty one, look at his ministry: virgin born, sinless life, powerful teaching, healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons, opening blind eyes, walking on water, predicting his own death and resurrection. Aviad - father of eternity - could be Yeshua’s fatherly concern for humanity, but it could be father in the sense of first to obtain eternal, immortal life (Gen. 4:20-21, Jubal was the father of all who play the lyre and flute). [There are additional ways to understand Isaiah 9:6; “one long Hebrew name praising Yahweh.]
Trinitarians vigorously argue for “Mighty God” but explain “Father of Eternity” in a way that doesn’t conflate Yeshua with being THE Father. Oneness take them both as showing the absolute deity of Yeshua. I don’t think either position is a must.
ANSWER: Isaiah 43’s context is in the midst of the trial of the false elohim. A string of chapters where Yahweh speaks of His uniqueness as the one, true Elohim of Israel, who rescued Israel, and none of the elohim of the other nations did it.
It does not mean Yahweh can’t send a savior. In the post-Pentateuch book of Judges, Ehud, Othniel, and Shamgar are called savior - yasha in Hebrew - the same word Yahweh says he alone is. Nehemiah 9:27 says Yahweh sent saviors plural to Israel. Moshe was the savior of Israel. Yeshua is the sent savior that Yahweh raised up (see Acts 5:29-31).
Ultimately, all salvation comes from Yahweh. Think of a generator (Yahweh) and an extension cord (Yeshua) to your camper. You need both, but the ultimate power comes from the generator.
ANSWER: John 1:1 - ton Theon (noun) vs. Theos (adjective) in one sentence. Word = thought, speech (cp. Gen. 1 and Psalm 33). “All things were made by it” in some English translations from the Greek prior to the KJV. Illustration: blueprints in the mind of their designer. I told my young son once (5), “That Dodge caravan was at one time in the mind of its designer.” He said, “Daddy, how can that big van fit inside a man’s head?”
John 10:30 - It’s not one in person here but one in unity, togetherness, mind, will, and plan. The context is about keeping the sheep, and the Father is spoken of by Yeshua as the greatest (Jn. 10:29), and the sheep were given by the Father to the Son. A similar Greek construction is found in 1 Corinthians 3:6-8). The word one still means one, but it can function as a unifier. Our English word works the same way.
John 14:9 is understood easily by just reading the next verses. Yeshua is speaking of the miraculous works he is doing - the Father *in* him does the works. No doubt, there is a close relationship here, Yeshua is the greatest man to ever live, and no one will ever be as close to Yahweh as Yeshua.
ANSWER: There is a textual variant here, but it’s highly debatable (Nomina Sacra; Theos shortened and “he” or “who” look almost identical in Greek). I think “Theos” is a probable reading, but I think the understanding of manifested is key - to make known or reveal. Yahweh Elohim made himself known through the man Yeshua of Nazareth. When you look at Yeshua, it’s as close as you can get to looking at Yahweh - his character, demeanor, actions, speech, conduct.
ANSWER: First, Jesus is not the name of the Father. You can’t look at the NT and superimpose that over (back into) the OT (that’s anachronistic). So *name* of the Father in Mt28:19 is Yahweh.
“And the name of the Son” does NOT have to be the same name. Look at Genesis 48:16 - name (singular) and then two names are mentioned.
The baptisms in Acts are centered around calling on Yahweh (Acts 22:16) and confessing Yeshua (Acts 8, the eunuch). There’s never a case in Acts where we read of the person doing the baptism as having something specific to say (“baptismal formula”), it was the baptizee - the person being baptized - that called on Yahweh (the Father) and confessed the Son (Yeshua). [NOTE: The Holy Spirit could be better read as the beginning of verse 20, since we are taught by the Spirit of Yahweh upon our hearts and minds per John 16:13.]
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Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.