The ‘One GOD’ of Christ in Me International (Part 1) by PS Rudolph P. Boshoff.

(Average read: 5 Minutes).

I am appreciative of ‘Christ in Me International’s attempt to explain their perspective on the roots and definition of the Doctrine of the Trinity and Jesus Christ. In this article, I will look at the context of the Scriptures they mention as well as the validity of their own teachings surrounding these portions and clarify the orthodox (original) historical understanding of what these Scriptures teach in the Biblical context (exegesis[1]). From here on, I will refer to ‘Christ in Me International’ in abbreviated terms as ‘CIMI’. The availability of their article is found at the following link: ‘One God’. Let us look at their perspective and reply to it step by step.

 

CIMI states:

We all grew up with the trinity doctrine that there is a ‘GOD the Father’, ‘GOD the Son’ and ‘GOD the Spirit’.

I could never quite grasp the concept of three-beings-in-one as one GOD.

 

Response: First, the author questions the anatomy of God, and gives us his definition of the Trinity. Christians have always maintained that God is ‘like’ us, yet, essentially ‘beyond’ us, and equally ‘unique’ from us. Asserting there are ‘three Beings’ (Tritheism) as the author expressed, is simply never been the position of the orthodoxy. There is One God, not ‘Three’ gods, and Scripture reveals three distinct ‘persons’ (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) that are One (Matt. 28:19). It is important to note that “the” Father, and “the” Son, and “the” Holy Spirit,” indicates the definite article before each personal noun, which designates their distinctiveness as persons (Joh.14:1; 6; 11; 16-17; 26). Even though man bares God’s image (‘imago Dei’ cf. Gen.1:26-27,) God is not apprehended and contrast through the limited contours of man. The question is therefore not one about apprehension but rather a question about unity. In other words, the creaturely understanding of individuals cannot succinctly bring a full disclosure to the One God because God is unique (Jer.10:6, Isa.46:9). Everyone is on equal footing when trying to comprehend the unique ‘threeness’ of God and the essential ‘oneness’ described in Scripture but it is a Biblical fact, and for the Christian the epitome of God’s self-revelation which is made sure through His Son Jesus Christ (John1, Col.2:9, Heb.1:3).  

 

CIMI states:

It also left me confused as to whom I should pray… Should I pray to the Holy Spirit to help me out of a situation, or to the Son to forgive my trespasses, and what should I pray to the Father, if at all? I asked these questions but was made to understand that it was not right to ask them and was told that I was rebellious because of these questions.

 

Response: Our understanding of the Triune God should encourage and not discourage how we pray. Scripture clearly shows that the very function and nature of Christian prayer is Triune. We pray to the Father (Matt.6:9) in the name of the Son (Eph.5:20) by the Holy Spirit (Eph.2:18). The very first Christian communities prayers were Triune. Paul prays for the Church; “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Cor.13:14). Fred Sanders writes;

“God the Father knows what we need before we ask (Matt.6:8); God the Son is a High Priest who can sympathize with our weakness, giving us confidence to draw near the throne of grace (Heb.4:15-16; and God the Spirit knows how to pray even when we do not, interceding for us with groanings to deep for words (Rom.8:26)… Whether or not we understand the doctrine of the Trinity, God has his trinitarian theology in good working order long before we show up, and our prayers are founded on the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.”[2]

Biblical prayer is never confusing because it is inspired by the instruction of the Word of God and should be pursued with sole obedience in the manner befitting to Our Lord.

 

CIMI states:

The Scripture teaches us that no one can serve two masters (Matt 6:24), as he would automatically give more glory to the one than the other. I can testify to this… At times I gave more glory to the Son, although he said that no servant (referring to himself) was greater than his Master. Jesus Christ also said that a kingdom divided against itself will not stand. I interpreted that a kingdom could not be divided or have more than one Head, yet we divided GOD? Today, the church is divided because we divided GOD, thereby depriving GOD of power, as in unity lies strength.

This subject is probably one of the most sensitive subjects to discuss because the doctrine of the Triune God is the generally accepted doctrine amongst Christian denominations.

 

Response: The analogy the author tries to make fails because of the context of the Scripture he quotes from (Matt.6:24). First, the context of the verse the author draws from is dealing with money, not essentially the priority of the devotee in prayer. Verse 24 reads: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” The priority in Matthew 6 does not exclude the intention of the heart, but definitely does not undermine all of the precepts mentioned in Scripture concerning prayer. As for the order of prayer Fred Sanders writes;

 “Who do I pray to? The Father? The Son? The Holy Spirit? God? The Trinity? All of the above? Here is the theologically correct answer: pray to the Father, in the name of the Son, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Most New Testament prayers follow that pattern.”[3]

Another point of consideration, when the author claims ‘’the Church is divided because we divided God’’, he simply commits the genetic fallacy. The author does not define what the nature of the division he is writing about but assumes it is “dividing God.” Denominations essentially disagree on constitutions, autonomy, liturgy, the means of church, geography, and their essential emphasis in Worship. This in no way harms or divides God, as He is a God of diversity. The New Testament displays a tapestry of diversity from the book of Acts to the seven churches in the apocalypse of John. What is important amongst all of these is the essentials of the faith biblically and what separates the Church from orthodoxy and heresy. God is not ‘divided’ based on the global Church’s disagreement with the doctrines of CIMI nor is God’s ‘power’ declared impotent because of their lack of disagreement on the above-mentioned prescriptions. To state this is simply an oversimplification of the tenets that are represented in all the different Churches globally and their statement just an inflated idea of their own self-importance.    

 

 CIMI states:

Whenever one would differ from the teaching of a Triune God one would immediately be classified with religions like Islam, Buddhism and Judaism – religions that do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of GOD, therefore not accepting him as the only sacrifice for sin.

On the other hand, when you do believe in Jesus Christ as the only sacrifice for sin and that he was born of a virgin and that he is the anointed Son of GOD, although not ‘GOD the son’, you are easily classified as a cult or a sect.

With this study, our aim is to not dig too deep into this doctrine theologically, because many theologians even disagree on this matter.

 

Response: To deny the Triune God is to deny the God revealed in Scripture. Walter R. Martin writes that the clearest definition of a cult; “is any major deviation from Orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith.”[4] Dave Breese defines a Cult as “A religious perversion. It is a belief and practice in the World of religion, which calls for devotion to a religious view of a leader-centred, in false doctrine. It is an organized heresy. A cult may take many forms but it is a religious movement, which distorts or wraps orthodox faith to the point where truth becomes perverted into a lie. A cult is impossible to define except against the absolute standard of the teaching of Holy Scripture.” [5] Please click on the following link where the leader of the Church confirm that they are in fact a cult:

Xandre declares they are a cult – time 27:46

 

CIMI states:

Ever since the Roman Catholic Council of Nicaea accepted a Triune God doctrine, by means of a vote, many Biblical translations and written works have been done from a Triune perspective. However, when we look at the studies and works of many theologians who lived in the years 120-325 AD (before the Council of Nicaea) we clearly see that many of them did not believe in a Trinity doctrine and differed with one another on several aspects.

Looking at what Jesus Christ and the Apostles taught in the Bible we cannot find such a doctrine, but rather the opposite (almost on every page of the New Testament).

 

Response: The above-given assumption is based on the Historian’s fallacy. The council of Nicaea did not ‘accept’ or ‘vote’ the doctrine of the Trinity in, nor did Biblical translators endeavour to interpret any normative translation of the text to validate their own theological perspectives. I am not sure where the author gets the perspective that the pre-Nicaean Church was slim in their apprehension of this cardinal doctrine. There are quite clearly Fathers of the Church before the council of Nicaea and after the Apostolic age that wholly confirms the Biblical reality of the Trinity as well as the Divinity of Christ. I have written in detail about this here: The Council of Nicaea  and as for the Biblical evidence I would suggest Rob Bowman’s evidence of this here: The Biblical Basis of the Doctrine of the Trinity.

 

CIMI states:

In Christ in Me International we do not believe as the mainstream teaches. We believe in the one true GOD – the FATHER of Jesus Christ our Lord. You may ask, what about the Holy Spirit then? Well GOD is SPIRIT (John 4:24) and HE is holy. HE is not a SPIRIT with a Spirit. HE IS SPIRIT.

 

Response: I am glad to see that CIMI acknowledge they do not teach mainstream Christianity. In the reader’s mind, this should already indicate that something is amiss. The author of this article is committing the definist fallacy, which is to confuse the one notion by defining it in terms of the other. This is why Orthodox Christians find the only imperative to be succinct with the Biblical revelation to be that the Spirit of God is a distinct person from God, yet, He is God in Himself. Biblically we are assured that the Spirit of God is a distinct person. The Spirit guides (Acts 8:29; 10:19-20; 13:2; 20:28; 16:7, 9); can be lied to (Acts 5:3); blasphemed against (Matt.12:31-32); can be tested (Acts 5:9); can be resisted (Acts 7:51; 1 Thes.5:19); and can be grieved (Eph 4:30).CIMI contends that the word ‘God’ is unanimously the ‘Spirit’, and in the Biblical context both these are essentially one and the same. It is important to note that in the Biblical context the Spirit is associated with the work of the Father (Gal. 1:1; Rom. 8:11, 2 Cor. 1:3-4; John 14:26, Jude 1; 1 Pet. 1:2), but is never identified as being the Father. John the Apostle mentions “when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” The Spirit is distinctly ‘from’ the Father and never associated as the Father. Even in the Old Testament, we recognize this distinction when the Prophet Isaiah affirms that the intention of the Father was to send the Son and the Spirit (Isa.48:16). The Apostle Paul also affirms that the Spirit intercedes for us in accordance with the ‘will of the Father’ (Rom.8:26-27) and the Psalmist exclaims that God sends His Spirit (Ps.104:30). I have illustrated above that the Holy Spirit is a person from the Father which denotes personality AND distinction. Jesus lays it out so beautifully in John’s Gospel (16:13-15) when he says; “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”         

 

 CIMI states:

GOD expresses HIMSELF in diverse ways and sadly, because of some of these expressions, different identities have been attributed to GOD than that which is the one absolute truth. Here are a few simple examples:

There are various scriptures in the Bible that indicate and explain the Person of GOD, HIS identity and who HE is.

  1. GOD is Word (John 1:1)
  2. GOD is Spirit (John 4:24)
  3. GOD is Father (1 Cor 15:24)

From the above, we used to conclude that GOD was three. But the scripture also says:

  1. GOD is Light (1 John 1:5)
  2. GOD is Love (1 John 4:8)

According to this, there is already a five-in-one GOD?

  1. GOD is Judge (Ps 75:7)
  2. GOD is a consuming fire (Heb 12:29)
  3. GOD is King (Ps 47:7)
  4. GOD is sun and shield (Ps 84:11)
  5. GOD is Creator (Isa 40:28, Isa 43:15, Rom 1:25-27)

Is there now a ten-in-one GOD?

We misinterpreted the diverse ways that GOD expresses HIMSELF – to illustrate HIS fullness of functions – and we made it HIS identity. Thus, GOD became so divided, just naming a few make HIM at least a ten-in-one GOD. We combined and confused GOD’s Person with HIS functions.

Let us look at a familiar example in the natural. A man may have a wife and a son, making him a husband and a father (and since he was also born from a mother and a father, he is also a son). This, however, does not make him three individuals because of his different functions.

 

Response: The above statement commits two essential fallacies. First, the author quotes passages out of its context (contextomy) to imply his own intended meaning and then defines terms based on his interpretation of the other (definist fallacy).To avoid both of these fallacies we need to look at the context. We agree with the author that God express Himself in His attributes AND personally. The author seems to affirm that God is the Word (Joh.1:1); Spirit (Joh.4:24); and Father (1 Cor.15:24). When the author denotes that God is light (1 Joh.1:5); Love (1 Joh.4:8), Judge (Ps.75:7); fire (Heb.12:29); King (Ps.47:7); sun and shield (Ps 84:11) and creator (Isa 40:28, Isa 43:15, Rom 1:25-27). The author cautions us not to equate God’s functions with God’s person. This argument is a classic straw man argument and no orthodox Christian has ever confused the essential person of God with the work or attributes of God. We agree when we look at the authors first three examples we can clearly denote the difference. In John 1, we note that the Word was God. Dr Edward Dalcour writes on the context of John 1 and note: JOHN 1:1 (trans. mine):

 “In the beginning before time, the Word was (ēn) already existing [eternally, cf. Phil. 2:6], and the Word was with [pros], distinctly and intimately, God [the Father], and the Word as to His essential nature/essence [i.e., qualitatively] was fully God [theos—in the same sense, but not the same person as that of God the Father].” Two distinct persons sharing the same nature of God.”

 I have written quite extensively in a previous article on the perspective of CIMI concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ and it can be accessed in the footnote.[6]  When the author uses John 4:24 to denote the orthodox interpretation of the person of the Holy Spirit, I doubt that he has ever attempted to look at both the context and text he uses when trying to interact with this reality? Above I have already indicated the central premise orthodox Christians would identify in the Biblical text and in his own estimation John 4 is seemingly void from such interaction. I also think we can agree that the Father is God as indicated in 1 Corinthians 15:24.    

 

CIMI states:

Scripture teaches us that the most important commandment is this: “Hear, O Israel, The LORD our God, the LORD is one(Mark 12:29 NKJV). This is quoted by Jesus from Deuteronomy 6:4.

 

Response: I have written extensively on the Shema [שְׁמַ֖ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ יְהוָ֥ה ׀ אֶחָֽד ׃] and show quite clearly that the accusation of God absolute unitariness is not explicit in this context. “The pericope of this prayer always seem to move to the “unitariness” or “oneness” of Yahweh in its context, but a closer study shows that the very heart of the Shema has always been to obey! This is what the word “Shema” actually means! To pray the Shema is to commit one’s self to loving God and obeying his laws…the entire Shema is composed of the three Bible passages: Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21; and Numbers 15:37-41″. The priority emphasized in the Old Testament Scriptures has always been to “obey” the Lord your God.” Please read the entire article here. When the author mentions Mark 12:29 it is important to note that Jesus speaks to a Scribe that observes the knowledge of Jesus and asks for the most important command, which leads Jesus to the Shema (v/29-30) and the law of love (v/31). As we have argued before the point of the Shema is not to describe the anatomy of God but Jesus shows in both these it is essentially about the attitude of the worshipper that need to give sole credence or obedience to God in absolute unadulterated love and affection. What should also be noted is that even after these confirmation Jesus says to the young scribe he was not far from the Kingdom (not there yet) (v/34). The author then clearly shows immediately that Jesus is an occupant on the throne of God (v/36), being called the ‘Lord’ [kurios] of David (v/37). This shows Jesus enjoyed a functional place of authority and title of the One God!     

 

CIMI states:

Why do we divide GOD into three Beings or Persons when there are so many scriptures stating that GOD is one? The more we divide GOD the more we allow ourselves (even as the church) to be divided and to make allowance for differing from others under the pretence that GOD is divided (thus many denominations worldwide instead of one church). The common assumption is that we are ‘allowed to’ differ in opinion from one another because GOD (as three) differed from one another – for example, Jesus (the Son) praying against the will of his FATHER in Gethsemane. Was GOD then divided in HIMSELF? NO, because GOD is only one

 

Response: Orthodox Christians do not divide God into three beings, as that would be the ancient heresy of tritheism. As for the Three Persons of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), we confirm that the reality of Scripture shows three person. The foundation of the Trinity is pure ontological monotheism: ONE GOD. We do not ‘divide’ the One God but acknowledge the biblically reveals ‘one being’ in ‘three distinct persons’ (coexistent, coequal, and coeternal). The New Testament presents a consistent triad of Father, Son, Holy Spirit (God, Christ, Spirit): Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; also Luke 1:35; 3:21-22 par.; 4:1-12; John 4:10-25; 7:37-39; 14-16; 20:21-22; Acts 1:4-8; 2:33, 38-39; 5:3-4, 9, 30-32; 7:55-56; 10:36-38, 44-48; 11:15-18; 15:8-11; 20:38; 28:25-31; Rom. 1:1-4; 5:5-10; 8:2-4, 9-11, 14-17; 1 Cor. 6:11; 12:4-6, 11-12, 18; 2 Cor. 1:19-22; 3:6-8, 14-18; Gal. 3:8-14; 4:4-7; Eph. 1:3-17; 2:18, 21-22; 3:14-19; 4:4-6, 29-32; 5:18-20; Phil. 3:3; 1 Thess. 1:3-6; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; Tit. 3:4-6; Heb. 2:3-4; 9:14; 10:28-31; 1 Pet. 1:2; 1 John 3:21-24; 4:13-14; Jude 20-21; Rev. 2:18, 27-29. I have written quite extensively on the definition of the Trinity Here as well as the Christian understanding of both being and person here.

We will look at part 2 next week.

Selah,

Rudolph P. Boshoff.

 

Sources:

[1] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exegesis

[2] ‘The Deep things of God: How the Trinity changes everything’; Pg 211.

[3] Ibid. Pg.224.

[4] Russell Spitter. Cults and Isms Pg. 12.

[5] Dave Breese. Know the marks of Cults. Pg.14.

[6] http://adlucem.co/theology-christ-international-evaluated-ps-rudolph-p-boshoff/

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