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.]
The birth of Yeshua is recorded in Luke 2. Here are some key verses (KJV) in this chapter showing that Yeshua is separate from Yahweh.
Lu 2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
Lu 2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Lu 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Notice that the baby was lying in the manger, but God was in the highest. The baby in the manger is Yeshua. The God in the highest is Yahweh. This hearkens back to Luke 1:32 where Yeshua is called the Son of the Highest. Yahweh is the Highest, Yeshua is His Son.
Lu 2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Yeshua, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
Lu 2:22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
Lu 2:23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to Yahweh;)
Lu 2:24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
Once Mary's purification was accomplished, her and Joseph brought Yeshua to Jerusalem to present him to Yahweh. Do we really think they thought they were presenting God to God? Yeshua was a firstborn male, and thus was holy to Yahweh, so they presented the baby Yeshua to Almighty Yahweh, as Yahweh's law required.
Lu 2:39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
Lu 2:40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
The child that grew here is Yeshua. He waxed strong in spirit. Waxed means he had to grow. God's grace was upon him. He wasn't God, but God's grace was great in his life.
Lu 2:52 And Yeshua increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
Yeshua had to increase in three things here: wisdom, stature, and favor. He increased in these things with both God and man. Catch that. Yeshua increased in favor with Yahweh. The more he learned and grew, he became more favorable in Yahweh's sight.
These are points that are very easy to see, but I think man-made theologies have caused people to pass over these verses without really believing them.
1. In John 10:29 Yeshua says that his Father *gave* him the sheep. This proves he is not the Father. We have one person giving something to another person.
2. In John 10:29 Yeshua says his Father is greater than all. This again proves that Yeshua is not the Father. Yeshua is great, but his Father is greater.
3. The context before John 10:30, verses 25-29, show that Yeshua and the Father are ONE in keeping the sheep. Yeshua wasn't talking about being one and the same person as the Father, but one in purpose, goal, mind, etc.
4. The Greek word for one in John 10:30 is "hen." It is the neuter tense for one (eis) and means one in unity/purpose. The neuter tense never means one in number in the Greek NT.
5. When the Jews picked up stones to stone him for claiming to be God or a god (the Greek can be translated either way), whatever was in their minds doesn't prove what was in Yeshua's mind. All through the Gospel of John we see people misunderstanding Yeshua's words. We shouldn't take our lead from his accusers. We should base what we believe about Yeshua, upon what he said.
6. If people would keep reading, they would see that Yeshua attempts to answer their accusation by quoting Psalm 82:6, a scripture about lesser gods under Yahweh. In Psalm 82, Yahweh called lesser beings (some say judges; some say angels) gods or mighty ones. If Yeshua is Yahweh Elohim, why in the world does he quote Psalm 82:6 in his defense? Psalm 82 is not about Yahweh Elohim, it's about lesser elohim under Yahweh.
7. Yeshua is quoting Psalm 82:6 in John 10:34 as a scripture that cannot be broken. In Psalm 82:6, the same beings that are called "gods" are also called "sons of the most high." Yeshua was/is THE Son of the Most High (Luke 1:32). He's the most powerful elohim, second only to Yahweh.
8. If Yahweh called those beings "gods" back in Psalm 82, how is it blasphemy for Yeshua to say he is the Son of God? (John 10:36). That's Yeshua's point. The Father sanctified him and sent him into the world (this again proves he's not Yahweh the Father). Yeshua is greater than the gods of Psalm 82, but lesser than Yahweh Elohim, the Father.
9. Yeshua not only said he was the Son of God, but that the Father was in him and he in the Father (John 10:38). The Jews listening that day were only hearing with their natural ears. They weren't really concerned with his claims, so they tried to grab him again by force.
10. This passage has Yeshua saying "I am the Son of God," not that he is God. To be the Son of God immediately proves you are not the God that you are the Son of.
Over the years, one of the arguments I've heard in attempts to prove that "Yeshua is really Yahweh," is that Yahweh had to die in order to be able to re-marry the nation of Israel. I've even heard it said that this is the argument that clinches the belief. I heard this come again just the other day, so I thought I would comment on it here.
People who promote this basically say (in a nutshell): "Yahweh was married to the nation of Israel. Yahweh later divorced Israel, because of her harlotry (with other gods). After the divorce she continued her harlotry, and based upon Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Yahweh could not have taken her back as His wife again. But, He could die and be resurrected, making it possible for Him to remarry Israel (based upon Romans 7:1-4)."
I must say that it seems odd to me to try to prove that Yeshua is Yahweh by piecing Scriptures together like this (arguing from reasoning instead of direct scriptures). I would suggest that if we want to know who Yeshua is, we start with the Bible verses that specifically address the issue. Luke 1:26-38 and Matthew 16:13-18 are a good place to start. I believe anyone who reads those verses (among many others) with no "axe to grind," will easily see that Yeshua is Yahweh's Son.
Here are 5 reasons why this idea of "dying to remarry" just does not work at all.
1. Yahweh's marriage relationship with Israel is strictly metaphorical. It is certainly not like the marriage I have with my wife (Yahweh didn't ask "Israel's father" for her hand in marriage). We can know this further by looking at Exodus 4:22-23 where Yahweh calls the same people (Israel) His son. So which is it? Is Israel's Yahweh's bride or Yahweh's son? Is Yahweh married to His own son? Ridiculous I know, but these points show that Yahweh's relationship with Israel can be described as both a Father and a Husband because they are metaphorical relationships, not literal ones. Literally, Yahweh is our Creator and we are His creation.
2. The law of Deuteronomy 24 is a law that Yahweh gave for His people Israel to abide by. We should not take that law given for human beings and try to apply it to Yahweh who is Spirit. The law is speaking about a man of Israel divorcing a woman of Israel, and then she being allowed to go and be another man's wife. If then this second husband divorces her or dies, she is not allowed to go back and marry her former husband. How in the world does this apply to Yahweh? First of all, Yahweh cannot die (I'll get more into that in the next point). Secondly, if hypothetically He did die, then to whom does Israel marry? A resurrected Yahweh? How does that follow the law of Deuteronomy 24? The law in Deuteronomy is talking about the first husband divorcing her, and then she marrying another man who is not her first husband. To apply all of this to a metaphorical relationship that Yahweh has with His people is absurd.
3. Yahweh is immortal (1 Timothy 6:16). Immortal carries the meaning of "not able to die." Immortality is what Yeshua obtained at his resurrection from the dead, and it is what we are seeking to obtain in the future as well. Now that Yeshua has been resurrected to immortality, is it still possible for him to die? How then can the word immortality even have a meaning to it? To say that Yahweh can die is to say that He is not really immortal. We would then have to say that Yeshua, although immortal, still has the possibility of dying again, and also that we (when we obtain immortality) will still have the possibility of being able to die. All of this makes the word immortal not really have a meaning at all. If we start changing the meaning of words we can come up with any teaching we want to come up with.
4. I've heard some try to use Romans 7:1-4 in pushing this doctrine of Yahweh having to die to remarry Israel, but go read Romans 7. Paul is talking about a woman being bound to her husband as long as he lives. It's like my wife and I. She is my wife. If she tries to "marry" another man, she is an adulteress. But, if I die, she is free to get married to another man because I'm no longer in the picture (alive). Paul uses this as a means to get across his point that we have become dead to the law through the death of Messiah. In other words, the law's death penalty had us bound, but through Yeshua's death we are set free to be married (metaphorical here) to him who is raised from the dead. Married here literally carries the idea of "attached to" rather than wedded to, but Paul uses married to go along with the point he just made. There is zero here about Yahweh having to die in order to remarry Israel. In Romans 7 it is us who die to the penalty of the law through the one who died in our place, Yeshua.
5. Some have asked how we can be both the bride of Yahweh and the bride of Yeshua. The answer is simple. Seeing that the relationship is metaphorical and not literal, there is not a problem. In the same way Israel can be Yahweh's son (Exodus 4:22-23) and bride (Ex. 19:1-6) and it not be a problem, because these are not literal relationships. It's not like one woman is married to both a man and his son in the natural. That would be adultery. The relationships that Yahweh and Yeshua have with us aren't literal in this sense.
As I said before, instead of trying to reason our way into believe that Yeshua is Yahweh from texts that do not say such, why not go to texts that are explicitly about who he is?
"You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call his name Yeshua. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and [Yahweh] Almighty will give him the throne of his father David." ~ Gabriel (to the virgin Mary; Luke 1:31-32)
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.