(Average read: 5 Minutes).
This is the second instalment where I set out to show the simple inconsistencies and the poor reflection on the Scriptures from “Christ In Me International” (PTA). 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.
Scripture also states that GOD cannot be tempted by evil, yet Jesus was tempted by the devil.
Response: Is it true that because Jesus was tempted by the devil it excuses Him from being God? (James 1:13). First, it is important to note that God cannot be tempted ‘by evil’. I put these words in parenthesis because Unitarians from all shades use this argument forgetting the obvious emphasis. When we look at the very temptation of Jesus in Luke’s account, he was not tempted by anything that was considered inherently evil, but was tested in every way as the perfect man without the possibility to sin (cf. Luke 4:1-13, Heb.4:15). Clearly, James also notes (v/14) that we are tempted by our own lusts and tempted by our own desires; yet, Jesus was impeccable and without sin, even though He was tempted, he could not have been enticed by what was evil because the divine Son had no malice (1 Pet.2:22, 1 Joh.3:5). Was Jesus truly tempted by the devil? Absolutely, but we need to remember that he was without sin because he was the perfect man and our perfect example. Reformed Theologian, Herman Bavinck stated that;
“[Scripture] prompts us to recognize in Christ, not just an empirical sinlessness, but a necessary sinlessness as well”
Christians hold that Jesus was the perfect GodMan, and as our perfect example and redeemer he bore our sins without becoming our sins (1 Pet.2:24, Heb.9:28; 10:10) Theologian Bruce Ware comments on Bavinck’s distinction and adds;
“the innate holiness of his [Christ] divine nature renders Christ genuinely impeccable, while at the ethical holiness of his human nature renders Christ open to temptation, struggle, obedience, and growth.”
Unitarians usually lament at this point and add that his temptations were not real, forgetting the fact that Jesus could sympathize with all our weaknesses without being culpable to sin (Heb.4:15).Consider this example; I do not have to experience the devastation of drug abuse before I can sympathize with the drug addict or before I can account for the devastation of its effects on society and the human body. Similarly, Jesus could actually sympathize with our human weaknesses but was not in any way tempted by doing evil innately because there was nothing inherently depraved in his own human constitutes. Lastly, it is important to note that Luke in his temptation narrative parallels the Old Testament temptation of God in the desert when Israel was led from Egypt to the Promised Land over 40 years. God was tempted by the Israelites in the desert. Psalm 106:13-15 says;
“They quickly forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel, but craved intensely in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. So He gave them their request, but sent a wasting disease among them.” (NASB).
Matt Slick writes;
“The Hebrew word for “tempt” here is nasaw. According to the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, it means to “to test, try, prove, tempt, assay, put to the proof or test.” The NIV says, “they put God to the test.” The KJV says, “and tempted God in the desert.” The NKJV says, “and tested God in the desert.” The 1901 ASV says, “and tempted God in the desert.” Therefore, we can see that God was “tempted in the desert.” Yet, this temptation in no way negates the divinity of God Himself.”
We can therefore say without violation of God’s character that Him being tempted does not impugn on His Divinity in any way. Neither was Jesus excluding the fact that people could tempt God (Luk.4:12). There would be no religious prescription against tempting God if it was not seemingly possible, but we need to understand that the fact of temptation does not violate the sacredness of Gods essential holiness and the impeccability of Christ in any way.
Scripture is clear that there is only one GOD and FATHER of us all; there also should only be one church, one calling, one Spirit, one faith and one baptism (Eph 4:4-6). As Christians we seem to think that it is acceptable to differentiate between different church denominations; we may see these “one’s” Paul is referring to as “diverse” because GOD is “diverse”. It is commonly accepted to look from different angles at the same GOD, and still hit the mark. By accepting and allowing this, we are dividing GOD, going up against HIS most important commandment.
Response: CIMI demands a monolateral conception of the expressed Church and our faith, as well as a monadic understanding of God. There is no doubt that there is only One God (Deut.6:4) but the One God is also distinctively triplex in Scripture as Father (Joh.6:27, Rom.1:7 1 Pet.1:2); Son (Joh.1:1-14, Rom.9:5, Col.2:9, Heb.1:8, 1 Joh.5:20); and Spirit (Acts 5:3, 1 Cor.3:16). As for their demand that there should be one Church, it underestimates the governance of Christ to build and steer His Church. Christ clearly builds His Church on the exclusive centrality of His own self-expression (Matt.16:18) but makes it clear that there is a diversity that will mark the true Church evident in all its manifestations (Rom.12:6-8, Eph.4:7-16). The Church reflects the character and nature of its Master, singular in purpose (Rom.8:29) expressed through diverse ordinances (Matt.28:19). Diversity is therefore not going against God’s ‘most important command’, but simply an affirmation of our subjecting to it.
Let’s look at the general way this doctrine is explained.
This picture makes it very clear that both the FATHER and the Son, as well as the Holy Spirit are GOD, yet that the FATHER is not the Son and the Son is not the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is not the FATHER.
With this in mind, it immediately causes a great confusion when just looking at the following two scriptures:
And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”
10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.
Thus, according to Trinity doctrine, Luke 3:22 says that ‘God the Son’ receives ‘God the Holy Spirit’ but according to John 14:10 it is ‘God the Father’ who lives in the Son, but God is not the Spirit?
Response: I am not sure what the confusion is but allow me to say that the orthodox Christian perspective was always that the Three persons indwell each other completely. The Apostle John confirms this wholeheartedly:
“If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.” (John 10:37-38).
“Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.” (John 14:10-11).
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me … I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:21,23).
The theological term is ‘perichoresis’ and the only dependable explanation to consistently look at these Biblical passages. John of Damascus writes;
“The subsistences [i.e., the three Persons] dwell and are established firmly in one another. For they are inseparable and cannot part from one another, but keep to their separate courses within one another, without coalescing or mingling, but cleaving to each other. For the Son is in the Father and the Spirit: and the Spirit in the Father and the Son: and the Father in the Son and the Spirit, but there is no coalescence, commingling, or confusion. And there is one and the same motion: for there is one impulse and one motion of the three subsistences, which is not to be observed in any created nature.”
When orthodox Christians mention the mutual indwelling of the triune God (perichoresis) it is clearly because the Biblical revelation is constituted by it.
There are no scriptures in the Bible that refer to a Trinity. The word “Trinity” does not even appear in the Bible. There are only two scriptures in the Bible that might seem to refer to a Trinity until you look at it without the ‘glasses of a Triune doctrine’.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Take note: It does not say “make disciples in our name”. It also does not say “make disciples in the name of the Father and in the name of the Son and in the name of the Holy Spirit”, referring to “three Gods”. Furthermore, it also does not say “baptize them in the names (plural) of …“
Here it clearly refers to one name. “Name” refers to “authority and character” in the Greek language. Let us look at the following example, there could be thousands of employees working at Sanlam but when one of them wants to sell a policy to anyone, he comes in the name of Sanlam – the authority of Sanlam, one name and one authority. Similarly, when a traffic cop pulls me off the road, he does so in the name of the government, with that authority.
Response: It is simply ridiculous to say a doctrine does not exist in Scripture simply because it is not explicitly mentioned anywhere? This is a classic straw man argument. Biblically we can hold to numerous doctrines that are not explicitly mentioned, by a title, in the text, without any implication as to its credibility (For example: the word ‘incarnation’ and ‘divinity’ as well as ‘monotheism’ is not mentioned in the bible). In Part 1 I looked at the necessity of the singular name (one) mentioned in the three (Matt.28:19) but I want to also stipulate that CIMI here once more commits the definist fallacy. They equate the name[s] as being three gods, and that is not what orthodox Christians affirm. Orthodox Christians affirm the one and only God (singular ‘name’) that belongs to three distinct persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) that is the triune God (1 Cor.13:14) and these three are One. In fact their analogy fails because it does not say the Three comes in the authority of the One, but rather, the Three explicitly encapsulates the salvific constitutes of the One God (1 Tim.1:1, 2:3, 2 Tim.1:10, Tit.1:4, 3:6) bearing the ‘name’.
The other scripture that seems to point to a possible Trinity doctrine is…
1 John 5:7
7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.
Notice the two expressions used here… “are one” and “agree as one”. “Are one” means it is the same thing, whereas “agree as one” means that there are three different things that speak of the same thing. The Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit is one being… GOD HIMSELF.
Response: Modern translators deny the authenticity of the words found in 1 John 5:7-8 in the King James Version that reads;
“testify in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are One.”
Known as the ‘Comma Jahanneum’, this verse is not contained in the earliest Greek manuscripts or quoted by the earliest Church Fathers. St. Jerome (4th Century) in his Latin Vulgate includes a scribal footnote that affirms the doctrine of the Trinity more clearly and the KJV (1611) makes this basic interpretation foundational to the text. All modern translations indicate this interpolation and affirm this verse is not found in the earliest manuscript traditions. The Church has never endeavoured to use singular verses to constitute essential doctrines neither should we? We do however affirm with CIMI that; “The Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit is one being… GOD HIMSELF.” We do not, however, believe this portion of Scripture identifies the persons with one another (Modalism) neither divides the essence of the One God (tritheism). We should also affirm that the whole of John’s first Epistle mentions that Jesus was the eternal life that was with the Father (1 Joh.1:1-2); separate from the Father as a personal entity (1 Joh.1:3); being the righteous judge of all mankind (1 Joh.2:1-2); being eternal (1 Joh.2:14); the Holy One (1 Joh.2:20); essential for our salvation (1 Joh.2:2 & 22-25); in who’s likeness we will be resurrected (1 Joh.3:2); commanded to be believed on by the Father by the Holy Spirit (1 Joh.3:23-24; 4:9-14); having eternal life in the Son (1 Joh.5:11-13) who is God (1 Joh.5:19-20). Here we can clearly by the context of the book of John affirm the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit essential to the inner working and accomplishment of the work of Salvation.
‘But the Word is Jesus Christ’ you may say. This is not what Scripture teaches us. The Word is GOD and it lived in Jesus Christ first.
The two general ‘go to’ scriptures that are used to try and ‘prove’ that Jesus is GOD, are John 1 verses 1 and 14.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
It is very important to understand that the word ‘Word’ in John 1 is the word logos (G3056) which is definitely not the word ‘Jesus’ translating to Iēsous/ Ἰησοῦς (G2424), meaning “Jehovah is salvation” according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon.
John 1:1, 14 (NKJV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, G3056 and the Word G3056 was with God, and the Word G3056 was God.
14 And the Word G3056 became flesh and dwelt among [also translated as “in”] us, and we beheld His glory, [the Word’s glory, GOD’s glory] the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
This word “logos” is the same Word that we are born again from.
1 Peter 1:23
23 Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word G3056 of God which lives and abides forever.
Response: The proposition that the Word was what inhabited Jesus first seems out of place when you look at the context. From the Old Testament, we find that there is an understanding that the ‘word’ can be personal (Jonah 1:1) and an idea or instruction (Ps.119).
The Word as a Divine Person – The Old Testament mentions that the Word was a divine person that appeared to Abraham and spoke to him (Genesis 15:1) [HEB: הָאֵ֗לֶּה הָיָ֤ה דְבַר־ יְהוָה֙ אֶל־]; spoke to Samuel (1 Samuel 3:7) [HEB: יִגָּלֶ֥ה אֵלָ֖יו דְּבַר־ יְהוָֽה׃]; and denounced Saul (1 Samuel 15:10) [HEB: וַֽיְהִי֙ דְּבַר־ יְהוָ֔ה אֶל־]. The Word is also associated as being the Lord YWHW (1Kings 12:22-24) that brought judgement (1 Kings 16:7) [HEB: חֲנָ֜נִי הַנָּבִ֗יא דְּבַר־ יְהוָ֡ה הָיָה֩] and grants prayers to the afflicted (Isaiah 38:4) [HEB: וַֽיְהִי֙ דְּבַר־ יְהוָ֔ה אֶֽל־].
The Word as an instruction – Solomon calls upon the Lord to allow the promise or word his Father, David, received to come to pass (1 Kings 8:26) [HEB: [דְּבָרֶיךָ כ] (דְּבָ֣רְךָ֔ ק) אֲשֶׁ֣ר].The Psalmist prays to keep God’s word (instruction) (Psalm 119:17) [HEB: אֶֽחְיֶ֗ה וְאֶשְׁמְרָ֥ה דְבָרֶֽךָ] and that the word would guide him (Psalm 119:105) [HEB: נֵר־ לְרַגְלִ֥י דְבָרֶ֑ךָ וְ֝א֗וֹר לִנְתִיבָתִֽי׃].
For the sake of brevity, I will stop here, but I think it is important to notice that the Word of God was both a person and an instruction in the Old Testament. Did John use the Word in John 1 in an impersonal or personal capacity? Leon Morris comments on John 1 and says;
“John is saying to his readers, then, that the glory that had been manifested in one way or another in the wilderness wanderings and later, as at the dedication of Solomon’s temple… was manifested in its fullness in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.”
I have shown here under the subtitle, “Jesus as logos, not God,” that CIMI is missing the mark completely when trying to fit a notional impersonal interpretation to the overall context of John’s prologue. Describing the Word as a personal Divine entity my friend, Dr James White mentions;
“The Word… is already in existence when the ‘beginning’ takes place… the Word has always existed. The Word is not a creation… the word is eternal. The Word has eternally been with [pros] God… the term speaks to a personal relationship, in fact, to intimacy.”
The whole context of John’s Prologue shows a Divine Personal entity that is the Word. He exists personally with God as God (v/1), life was in Him (v/4) and He was in the World (v/10), bringing salvation (v/12) to us being full of grace and truth (v/14). Verse 1 does not show an impersonal ‘logos’ when verse 2-18 reveals an actual man enfleshed as our Lord.
What about the virgin birth (thus supernatural conception) of Jesus?
The fact that Jesus, as son of man, was supernaturally born from Mary’s womb is not a valid argument with which to try and prove his divinity. Adam and Eve were also created supernaturally, even more supernaturally than Jesus. In Jesus’ case, he was at least born from the womb of a woman. Adam was created from the dust of the earth and Eve from Adam’s rib bone – and that did not make them GOD.
Response: The Virgin Birth in itself was an indication of an incredible event. I would suggest that supernatural events in the Bible always highlighted special events as well as God’s unique workings amongst men and when we look at the Virginal conception, it is not any different. There are quite a few points that need consideration when we account for the conception of Jesus and for the sake of time, I will mention three. CIMI hold to the view that their leader, Xandre Strydom, is now God’s vice-regent or king upon the earth although Luke in his Gospel narrative makes it absolutely clear that Jesus would take the throne of his ancestor David, and to His [Jesus] Kingdom and rulership there will be no end (Luk.1:32-33). Second, the angel appears to declare how this miracle will come to be and it is done by the ‘power of the most High, by His Holy Spirit, to bring forth the Son of God’ (v/35). The virginal conception of Christ is a triune act. Lastly, John the Baptist is prophesied to be the forerunner of ‘Ha Adon’ and the ‘way maker’ of the Lord Himself that would be the Most High (cf.Luk.1:76). The Virginal conception, therefore, is more than just a supernatural event, but also the announcement of Yahweh Himself coming to earth (Joh.1:1&14). Mark in his account shows the Virginal conception points to the Gospel of God/Jesus Christ (v/1&14-15) being announced by God’s herald, John the Baptist, declaring the Lord will return to Zion (Mark.1:2; Isa.40:1-11; Mal.3:1-6, Ex23:20). The Virgin Birth is, therefore, a supernatural intervention of God’s person and grace to accomplish salvation for all mankind (Luk.1:46-48; 77).
Even the prophecy over Jesus’ life in Isaiah 7:14 (that Jesus would be born of a virgin and would be called Immanuel, ‘GOD with us’), has no reference to Jesus being GOD. Jesus as Jesus Christ would eventually become the first man in whom GOD’s SPIRIT would dwell and through whom GOD would reveal HIMSELF in the earth. As was the case with Jesus Christ, each of us that is born of the SPIRIT of GOD can now also be called Immanuel, GOD with us.
The reference in Isaiah 9:5 that Jesus will be called: “Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace” also does not indicate that he is GOD.
Remember, Trinitarians teach that the Son is not the FATHER and the FATHER is not the Son, but Isaiah 9:5 says that Jesus would also be called the Everlasting FATHER… These are ‘spirit terms or functions’ that prophesied on what Jesus Christ would be called because of the indwelling of GOD’s SPIRIT after his baptism. It also applies to all of GOD’s Sons who would follow.
Response: Concerning Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the fact that Jesus would be ‘God with us’,(Isa.7:14) I have written an article here that will go into it under point 3.3. I will just say for now that F.F. Bruce comments on Matthew’s use of this passage (Matt.1:23) and calls for the significance of the name used and not just the name. Jesus was God amongst us! As for CIMI’s interpretation of Isaiah 9:5, I was shocked at their flippancy when looking at this passage. First, we can see that the child that was to be born would be one to whose Kingdom there will be no end (Isa.9:7) [Sorry Xandre]. The Prophet Zechariah affirms exactly what Isaiah is prophesying here: The Son will be sent (2:8-9) and Yahweh will dwell amongst them (2:10-11). The Lord will come to His dwelling (2:13) just as Isaiah the Prophet have predicated (Isa.48:16) and provide salvation Himself (Zech.3:8-10). As above mentioned the Child born would be Christ, the Messiah, and the Son given the eternal Divine Son coming to earth (cf.Micah.5:2-4). Now CIMI mentions that Jesus was not the Father because these are mere ‘spirit terms that applies to Jesus and us all’. I would rather let the context of Scripture highlight the definitions of these terms and not the individual author of this article!
- The Son was ‘Wonderful Counselor’- When the Angel of the Lord reveals Himself to Manoah, father of Samson, he described Himself as ‘wonderful’ (Judges.13:18).
- The Son was ‘Mighty God’- The Son would be called mighty God [‘El-Gibbor’ HEB: הֵחֵ֔ל לִֽהְי֥וֹת גִּבֹּ֖ר בָּאָֽרֶץ] (Isa.10:21).
- The Son was ‘Eternal Father’ – The Hebrew phrase is simply ‘father of eternity’ [HEB: אֵ֣ל גִּבּ֔וֹר אֲבִיעַ֖ד שַׂר־ שָׁלֽוֹם׃]. Jesus clearly is described as eternal and one without beginning or end (Ps.90:2, Mic.5:2-3, Joh.8:58, Col. 1:17, cf. 1:12-20).
- The Son was ‘Prince of Peace’ – Jesus is prophesied by Isaiah to be the Prince of peace [HEB: אֲבִיעַ֖ד שַׂר־ שָׁלֽוֹם׃]. He will teach the people and bring them peace (Isa.2:3-4, Zech.9:10).
These terms are not applicable to us at all and neither can we ignore it’s reasons when it describes the full understanding of the context! Jesus was the Unique Son of God and these terms describe with clarity the distinctiveness and the exactness of Christ in purpose and being!
GOD is SPIRIT (John 4:24), HE does not have a Spirit, HE is SPIRIT… the Holy SPIRIT.
The moment when GOD’s SPIRIT becomes one with your spirit, is the moment when you are born again, and GOD becomes your FATHER and you become a Son of GOD because of HIS SPIRIT that is now joined with yours. As Jesus Christ was born of GOD, so every reborn Child of GOD is also born of GOD.
Response: CIMI assumes that God’s Spirit is synonymous with the Holy Spirit and I have conclusively shown in part 1 that this just is not what the Bible shows. Even though God is Spirit, the Holy Spirit is not the Father because they are clearly distinct and mentioned apart in the Scripture (John 14:15 & 26; 15:26; Rom. 8:11, 26-27; Matt. 1:18, 28:19; Luke 1:35; Gal. 1:1; 2 Cor. 1:3-4; Jude 1; 1 Pet. 1:2). Even in our union with God there is a clear distinct nature to who God is and man (1Cor.6:17; Rom.1:18) even though we are united with God in Jesus Christ and are now Children through adoption, where Jesus was the Son of God by Nature (Eph.1:5, Gal.4:7-9, Rom.8:15).
GOD is very clear when HE refers to Jesus Christ in the Bible – HE refers to him as HIS beloved Son. HE never introduced Jesus to us as GOD or a ‘co-God’. Jesus Christ also never introduced himself to us as GOD or ‘GOD the Son’. Jesus always referred to GOD as his FATHER.
If by any chance it might have been true that Jesus Christ was GOD, one would think that GOD (or Jesus himself then) would have introduced himself to us in that way. This is not the case. To try and prove that Jesus is GOD, one needs to drastically distort the Scriptures and form unmotivated linguistic arguments.
Response: CIMI makes a huge blunder when they assert ‘God…never introduces Jesus to us as God’. They have obviously never read the Book of Hebrews where the author shows the Father declaring the Son to be God (Heb.1:5-8). CIMI says Jesus was also never called a ‘co-God’. Here we would affirm that notion, Jesus is not another ‘co-God’, but He is the One True God in union with the Father (Joh.17:3 & 5). CIMI also assert that the fact that Jesus was called Son invalidates the prescribed understanding of His Divinity. This cannot be so for two reasons: The term Son clearly denotes a relational aspect between the Father and Jesus but nowhere demean the essence of the Son. In fact, the Son declares to be one with the Father in essence (Joh.10:30 – GK ‘ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ Πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν.”) as well as One in purpose (Joh.5:16-31). The Scriptural context clearly shows then that CIMI are the ones that “drastically distort the Scriptures and form unmotivated linguistic arguments.”
The question still remains, why would GOD withhold such a great and important truth from us, if indeed it was the case?
Christ in Me International teaches that:
- GOD is not a Triune GOD
- that Jesus is not GOD
- and that “in my name” means “in my authority”
…all of which were official views of many of the early church historians.
Unfortunately, there is nothing in the Theology or way of reasoning presented by CIMI that shows a clearly delineated understanding of the core tenets of the Christian faith. Neither is there any understanding of orthodoxy as described in the Church throughout the ages. They merely speculate and assume, ascribing definitions to orthodox Christian concepts that is seemingly not even true. Hopefully, this article will not only give you an understanding of their faith but also give you a Biblical response to their fallacies!
Rudolph P. Boshoff.
 Reformed Dogmatics, Vol.3, Pg.314.
 The Man Christ Jesus, Pg.75.
 John of Damascus, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, trans. S. D. F. Salmond, in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, eds. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, vol. 9 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, repr. 1989). 1:14.
 The Word was made flesh, Pg.20.
 The Forgotten Trinity, Pg.49-53.