Why Individual (or Numerical) Unity of Substance is Damnable Heresy

In a recent dialogue with modalists, I was once again reminded how vile and blasphemous their heresy is. At once they dishonor the Father and nail Him to a cross, and at the same time deny the existence of the Son. For by making the Father and Son one and the same individual being or substance, and making the Father and Son out to each be mere consciousnesses of this one Supreme Being, they deny the true existence of the Son, and crucify the Father.

For by making the Son and Father each one and the same numerically individual being, they make the Son and Father identical. Since they will deny that the Father is one part of this Supreme Being, and the Son another, but will make each to be equal to the whole Supreme Being, it will necessarily follow that the consciousness they call ‘Father’ and the consciousness they call ‘Son’ are identically the same. For if the Father is the whole being, and the Son is the whole being, then it follows of logical necessity, that the Father must be identical with the Son, as surely as it follows that is A=C, and B=C, then A must equal B. They then believe not in Father and Son, but in the Son-Father of Sabellius.

It follows then (and I have heard them utter these blasphemies with my own ears) that since the Son is the Supreme Being, that the Supreme being died on the cross, having been united to a man and a human nature, that the Supreme Being suffered and died for our sins. And so they say that the uncaused Cause of all, the one Sovereign over all, the Almighty, died on the cross, and not His Son. For to them, ‘Son’ signifies not another Who is the Son of this one God, the Supreme Being, but the Supreme being Himself. And since the Son and Father are, in their incoherent and inconsistent view, the same person (for They cannot in any true way not be said to be one another) it follows that we might just as well say that the Father died on the cross. For the Son and Father being equated with one another, the only difference that can be found is one of name only, so that if we may use the name ‘Son’ for the Supreme Being as He suffered on the cross, we might with equal legitimacy call Him ‘Father’.

Who will not stop their ears at such insanity? This is truly no other heresy than that of Sabellius and Noetus of old, who were likewise rightly declared ‘Patripassionists’ for declaring, by necessary implication of what they taught, that the Father suffered and died on the cross as the man Jesus Christ. One would not expect to find such blasphemy tolerated by any church as being Christianity, perhaps, but I have heard them utter with my own ears, and readily affirm, while pretending to be trinitarians, that the Supreme Being died on the cross.

As as if their vile blasphemy of the Father, the one God, the Supreme Being, Who is alone without cause, source, or origin, and is Himself the Cause, Source, and Origin of all else that exists, and Himself with supreme dominion rules over all else that exists, humbled Himself to die on a cross, was not enough, they have denied the very existence of the Son as well. For they deny the real Son of God, as they make ‘Son’ just another consciousness (or in reality, only another name) for the Supreme Being Himself. In their view then the Supreme being did not atemporally beget another individual being prior to creation, Who is His Son. The Son has no real distinct existence then in their scheme; and so being reduced to nothing more than another name for the Father Himself, they like the Jews deny the very foundation of the Christian faith, that God has a Son, Who he sent for our salvation.

For anyone can plainly see that to be the son of someone requires that the one who is son be another besides the one Whose son they are. Yet these do not confess the Son to be another besides God, but the one God, the Supreme Being Himself. The truth of the matter though, as the scriptures teach, requires us to believe that the Son is not the same individual being as the Father, but another; for it says not merely that Christ is the ‘Son of the Father’, which they might explain my a sort of insanity within the Supreme Being, in which one of His consciousness merely relates to another as though it is its Son, without any ground for so doing, but rather scripture declares that Christ is really the Son of God.

Let us consider this phrase ‘Son of God’ carefully. If one will say it is equivalent to Son of the Father, then it will follow from that, that not only is the Father God, but God is the Father; and so, the point will be proved, that the Supreme Being, the one God, is the Father in particular, and the Father the Supreme Being, their exact identity being confirmed. But if one be inclined to resist this conclusion, then of what God is Christ the Son? Of a false God? Or of the only true God? For this will show that the Son is not the only true God, but another, Who relates to Him as Son. And so it is demonstrated, that to believe that Christ is the Son of God, as the scriptures say and teach, at the most basic of levels requires that we believe that He is not Himself the Supreme Being, the one God (Who is His Father), but another individual being besides the one God, Who is genuinely His Son, not in name only, as a mere mode or consciousness of the Supreme Being, but in real existence as a distinct individual being.

Let it be seen then, as plainly as possible, that the doctrine that the Father and Son are one and the same individual being is soul-damning heresy, the vilest blasphemy, and a total denial of the Christian faith, to be resisted by every true Christian. Such is taught by the wretched scholastics, and worse still, if worse can be imagined, by the Van Tillians; children of Sabellius all of them.

“For neither do we hold a Son-Father, as do the Sabellians, calling Him of one but not of the same essence, and thus destroying the existence of the Son.” Athanasius, Statement of Faith.

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