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WHO DIED ON THE CROSS ?

Oneness believes there is only one person who is deity and in prayer the humanity is communicating to God in himself, as the humanness prays to the Father. There are two different views in Oneness one is that deity left his body while on the cross, the other is a deity that stands by completely uninvolved with Christ’s suffering.

If there is no eternal Son or Father relationship then numerous statements in the New Testament, not only make no sense, but they becomes a farce. When we come to the Lord's statement's from the cross this becomes most obvious. "Jesus (humanity) cried out on the cross, My God, My God why have you forsaken me, thereby proving that the spirit (God) that dwelt in Jesus had to leave that human body before it could have even died because God cannot die." (Debate on the Godhead, p.110, Hutchinson) I have not found this to be the view of the majority. This affects the very reason God came. When he says "My God, my God why have you forsaken me, who is the me? Did the Father leave his body? If God forsook his humanness, than Jesus is no longer the God/man dying for our sins, and he died before he stated "it is finished"! Nowhere do we find the Father dying for our sins, nor his vacating before the task was done. James says, "the body without the Spirit is dead. For one to die, their spirit must have a permanent separation from their body, exactly what is proposed.

Bernard’s view is the Father is in Christ but instead " the Spirit did not depart but that there was no help from the spirit."(p.178) The Scripture says the Spirit was involved, not standing by idly. How could Christ have been persevered through the atonement by only his humanity. Heb.9:14 "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God." 2 Cor.5:19 says "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself," this took place on the cross. What it does not say is the Father was in Christ which is there own insertion. Col.1:19-20 "For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross." God was involved in the sufferings on the cross. Bernard states "the divine spirit could not be separated from the human nature." "And then says that the divine nature could not participate in the suffering. Which is it?

Bernard also tries to address Patripassionism of which he states Sabellius denied. While he does affirm the Spirit inside Jesus must have been affected and participated in the suffering there is an element missing. For even before his death their was suffering and what the body went through in some way the inner man did also. He quotes Tertullian as misunderstanding the modalists. They were not saying the Father is the Son but " As Commodian said, "The Father went into the Son, one God everywhere . Similarly, Sabellius explained that the Logos was not the Son but was clothed by the Son". …"accordingly, Zephyrinus said, "I know only one God, Christ Jesus, and apart from him no other who was born or could suffer…It was not the Father who died but the Son." (Oneness of God p.251) Here we have their own definition that the Son was humanity and the Father was the deity. So the Father who is God did not die. We agree with this to the extent that deity did not die.

Yet from the writings of Tertullian which are extensive on the debates of God’s nature he wrote, "the devil has striven against the truth in manifold ways. He has sometimes endeavored to destroy it by defending it. He champions the unity of God, the omnipotent creator of the world , only to make out of that unity a heresy." (Tertullian Adv, Praxean, I) He further stated that Praxeas believed " that the Father Himself came down into the virgin, was Himself born of her, Himself suffered, indeed was Himself Jesus Christ". (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III, Tertullian "Against Praxeas", p. 597.) As was previously quoted their is no contradiction Of Tertullians statements and their own quotes.

Heb.2:18, "he also suffered once for sins…that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit." However if there is no organic connection of Spirit to man then it is all accomplished by only a human. Hardly a reasonable position to take since this was the reason he became a man, for reconciliation.

Bernard writes that it was the humanity of Jesus which suffered for our sins and that the nature of God cannot suffer (Oneness of God, p.178-180, 291). He holds to the position the deity cannot and did not suffer for our sins. Yet he states "this death was more than physical death; it involved spiritual death." "It was the Father who was manifest to take away our sins." If deity who is the Father cannot suffer for our sins and the Father was manifested to take away our sins, doesn't this make the Father the humanity? How can he take away our sins when he stood by uninvolved? The whole concept of the atonement is the God/man, one person paying the price for sin. While we agree saying that God cannot actually die, we need to clear up confusion by defining what death actually is.

What is death? The Bible says clearly Jesus died for our sins, death involves the whole person not just his flesh. Certainly the spirit lives on, however it becomes separated at the point of death. If it was only the flesh involved in the redemption what eternal value is that? The concept of the crucifixion is not that God actually died, but that God as Jesus was separated spiritually, and died in the flesh. In Gethsamane it was this cup that Jesus asked to be removed. If he was praying that he would not have to experience physical death, he would be rejecting the very reason he came. His obedience is shown as in Phil.2 says even to the death on the cross. He would not be praying that the very purpose of his coming be removed.

When we look at the symbolic usage of cups, we find it can represent Gods wrath poured out as punishment. This is cup that he had asked to be removed, the wrath of God that would result in separation he would experience on the cross. This is the baptism he said he had to experience. While we are all born in a sinful state, and have by nature the consequences of spiritual death separation from God. Jesus never knew of this, he was always in perfect fellowship with the Father and the Spirit from eternity. He knew something would take place he never experienced before. As soon as the sins of the world were placed on him he was in contact with the effects of sin which is separation from God. As our substitute he was separated, suffering the wrath of God for us, he cried out to the Father "my God, my God why have you forsaken me?" His eternal fellowship was broken as he experienced the punishment for sin. He now understood its affect on the human condition, body and soul. While no one knows what exactly transpired in this separation which lasted an agonizing 3 hours, we do know fellowship was fully restored before he died.

If what God did not experience is the same as what Jesus experienced, this event would be meaningless. The two natures are united organically in one person. As he cried out it is finished the debt for sin was paid. He cried out Father once again saying, "into your hands I commit my Spirit" and then breathed his last and died. Notice he did not say I commend your spirit, separating Gods spirit from himself, his spirit was deity. He determined the moment his own Spirit would be dismissed. (You try doing that, it won't happen) No mere man can control his own Spirit and the time of his death by speaking. Only God has this ability, as he said in Jn.I0 "I have the power to lay it down and take it up." His pleas "Father forgive them..."and "Father into your hands I commit my Spirit" would be fraudulent, if there is no other genuine person he is speaking to. Then he has his human nature that is not a person, speaking to his divine nature which is a role. According to the Oneness view, the Father is the Spirit. Who is he entrusting his Spirit to? Is not his Spirit the Father according to Oneness? Bernard states it was the divine spirit that left at this point. He's not saying he's entrusting his body but his inner man (Spirit) over to another. If the Father is in him, is he entrusting the Father over to the Father? Is the Spirit in Christ less then God? This poses a huge problem for the Oneness view but not for Trinitarians. Another problem is that if the Father forsook him and the Father is the deity in Christ, then doesn’t this make him dead before his atonement was finished. Separation of the spirit from the body means physical death, the very life that animated him was God, if he left, he is no longer the God/ man, and is not alive. If he only stood by then Christ is doing it all from his humanity which means he is a separate person from deity.

In Jn.10:18 Jesus said "no one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of myself I have the power to take it again." (Jn. 2:19) This commandment have I received from my Father." Here Jesus states he has the power to give his life and to revive it, this command comes from another, the Father. One does not receive instruction from himself as one person. If Jesus is to raise himself from the dead obviously he is referring to his body. Only his God self is capable of doing this, so this is the one who receives the instruction, which clearly indicates communion between two different persons both who are deity. In other words only what will survive death can raise his dead body which means that something is deity.

Heb 2:17, "that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people". Propitiation, sacrifices are always Godward, he did not sacrifice himself to himself as one person. He as God gave his life (his body) as a sacrifice to the Father. Heb. 9:14 "he offered himself without spot to God, we know from the scriptures that it was the Son who was on the cross and the Father who accepted his atonement. Yet we must not put aside that he was on the cross as God or we have only a human atoning for sins that would amount to of no effect. God is then reduced to a nature and not a person if his deity did not suffer along with the humanity.

Bernard insists that it was only the humanity of Jesus that suffered for our sins, and that the nature of God cannot suffer. If we look at the Biblical record the evidence speaks otherwise. God is described as having emotions such as, love, joy, pleasure, gladness, kindness and mercy, he is long suffering. On the other hand he is also described as being grieved, having hate and anger. We need to also understand that he does not feel these in the exact same way we do as humans, but he is communicating that he is possessing emotion, not that he does not. Since man was made in his image, not the other way around, we must reflect in some limited fashion his capacity to feel. God is not impassive, which would make him not only incapable of suffering, but unable to have all the other feelings that are previously mentioned. Then his love, mercy, compassion are all done away with as well. Take away this ability to feel and we are left with a personality of a lifeless rock, a human puppet. Without the organic union of the humanity with the Spirit in man there are no feelings or emotions. If the Spirit does not feel the pain of the body, it is dead. We can feel anguish and hurt in our spirit without our body necessarily being affected, but hardly the other way around.

Christ experienced things that the Father and the Spirit could not because of his incarnation. He alone experienced temptation and the functions of the human body. While they could not experience these things first hand they did understand them by Christ doing it. There is nothing that none cannot understand of the other, but their is a difference in their experiencing it. For this reason he prayed to the Father expressing his feelings. He learned by obedience Rom.5:19, Heb.5:8. He learned by suffering as in Heb.2:18, and in 1 Peter 3 parallels our suffering with Christ’s in vs.14 and in vs.18 in that "he also suffered once for sins…that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit."

If there is only one person who is God and Christ cried out on the cross that God had forsaken him (left him) then this means we have only a  man dying for the sins of the world. This becomes a difficulty that can hardly be explained from a biblical perspective.

 

Introduction to the Oneness Movement  Oneness Theology The Word One     Mt.28 Baptism 
  The Word Persons   God Does not change Are Tongues and Baptism Necessary ?
  Proofs of the Trinity    Preexistence of the Son Who died on the Cross ? 
  The Trinity in the Resurrection The Grace of God Jn.1:1   The Son being Sent 
History of Heresies   The Right Hand of God  Today I have Begotten Thee
From the mouth of Two or three Witnesses  Oneness Pentecostals and Trinitarians Unite
Modern beginnings of Oneness The Early Church on Oneness Who was manifested in the flesh?

 

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These are excerpts from the book Who is Jesus ? Answering Oneness Pentecostals attacks on the Trinity.  Spiral book by Mike Oppenheimer of Let Us Reason ministries Wahiawa HI 96786

 

 

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