Oneness Christology by David K Bernard (Oneness Symposium 1986)

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Oneness Christology By: David K. Bernard
Christology simply means the doctrine of Christ. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as the “theological interpretation of the person and work of Christ.” The heart of Christology is the study of the Incarnation-the union of deity and humanity in Jesus Christ. The Oneness Pentecostal movement as a whole has given inadequate attention to the nature of this union. This paper seeks to formulate a consistent, biblical Christology compatible with the biblical doctrine of the Oneness of God. It will seek to identify problems in this area, such as unstated assumptions, inconsistencies, and uncritical acceptance of trinitarian terms and ideas. It will also briefly evaluate various Christological views in early church history. The Absolute Deity of Jesus Christ. The Bible clearly teaches, and the Oneness doctrine strongly affirms, the absolute deity of Jesus Christ. “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). “The Word was God” (John 1:1). Many passages refer to Jesus as God Himself) Acknowledging the deity of Christ is essential to salvation. Jesus said, “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). The Greek text does not contain the pronoun he, and it places extra emphasis on the pronoun L The effect is to identify Jesus with the name God used for Himself in the Old Testament: I AM (Exodus 3:14-16). A few verses later Jesus emphasized this truth: “Verily, verily I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). The Jews understood His point; they immediately took up stones to kill Him for claiming to be God (John 8:59; 10:33). Christianity rests on Jesus Christ’s identity as God incarnate. Christians look solely to Jesus as Savior. Only if Jesus is truly God does He have power to save from sin, for no one can forgive sins except God (Isaiah 43:25; Mark 2:7). John 8:24 does not demand a thorough comprehension of the Godhead as a prerequisite for salvation. It is possible and indeed likely for someone to obey John 3:5 and Acts 2:38 without a theologically accurate understanding of the Oneness doctrine. It is impossible, however, to receive remission of sins in the name of Jesus and to receive the Holy Spirit without acknowledging the deity of Jesus Christ.

* Body. “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me … the body of Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 10:5, 10).

* Soul “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death” (Matthew 26:38). “His soul was not left in hell” (Acts 2:31).

* Spirit. “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit” (Luke 2:40). “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

* Mind. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

* Will. “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus was a perfect human. He was more than a theophany (God in a visible form). He was more than God animating a human body-God in a human shell. He was actually God incarnate-God dwelling and manifesting Himself in true humanity, with everything genuine humanity includes. If Jesus had anything less than complete humanity, the Incarnation would not be real. We could not explain His agony and struggle in Gethsemane. He could not truly be “in all points tempted like as we are” (Hebrews 4:15). His life and death could not adequately substitute for ours. He could not qualify as our kinsman redeemer. His atoning sacrifice could not be sufficient to redeem man.

Belief in Christ’s true humanity is essential to salvation. “Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist” (I John 4:3). Again, this does not mean a complete theological understanding of Christology, but a belief that Jesus actually came in the flesh. Christ’s humanity is necessary to salvation because without it there is no death, burial, and resurrection for justification, no blood for remission of sin, no sacrifice of atonement.