Why Can’t Protestants Affirm the Athanasian Creed?

The pseudo-athanasian creed, usually simply referred to by its supporters by the misleading name of ‘the Athanasian Creed’, was neither authored by Athanasius, nor does it represent his understanding of the Trinity. Athanasius strongly affirmed, for example, that the one God is the first person of the Trinity in particular, the Father:

“But if this is not to be seen, but while the creatures are many, the Word is one, any one will collect from this, that the Son differs from all, and is not on a level with the creatures, but proper to the Father. Hence there are not many Words, but one only Word of the one Father, and one Image of the one God.” (Against the Arians, Discourse II.)

“For, as the illustration shows, we do not introduce three Origins or three Fathers, as the followers of Marcion and Manichæus; since we have not suggested the image of three suns, but sun and radiance. And one is the light from the sun in the radiance; and so we know of but one origin; and the All-framing Word we profess to have no other manner of godhead, than that of the Only God, because He is born from Him.” (Against the Arians, Discourse III.)

We see that unlike the creed, Athanasius’s theology was marked by a confession that the one God is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ; and Christ stands in relation to the one God, as His Word and Son. Rather than being truly Athanasian, then, in reality the pseudo-Athanasian Creed is representative of early medieval scholastic articulations of the Trinity, especially following the theology of Augustine.

Despite the creed’s anonymous authorship and its theological clash with the real teaching of Athanasius, it has gained very wide acceptance in the west, in traditions which in some way stem from that latin medieval scholastic tradition, out of which it was formed. Not only do the Roman Catholics affirm it, but also Lutherans, many Anglicans, Presbyterians, and other Protestant groups. It is regarded by many Protestants (falsely so) to be an ecumenical creed; yet this is of course impossible, when we consider the contents of it in relation to the Eastern churches. Many Eastern Orthodox, for example, not only affirm the monarchical trinitarianism Athanasius taught in opposition to Augustinian semi-modalism, but they also universally reject the filoque- the doctrine that the Holy Spirit not only eternally proceeds from the Father, but also from the Son (‘filoque’ means, ‘and the Son’).

Yet, despite the creed being paraded around under so many false pretenses (false authorship, false claim to conceptually Athanasian theology, false claim to being ecumenical) it stills finds acceptance among many tradition-loving Protestants. I want to briefly observe here that this is in fact, grossly inconsistent with the founding principles and ideas of Protestantism; and this is not a difficult point to demonstrate. To do so, we need not dive into the theology presented in the creed itself, but only note that which frames the confession. It begins by saying:

“Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith; Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.”

After 25 lengthly lines of words about the Trinity, we read:

“He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.”

After going on talking about the incarnation for many more lines, the creed closes by reiterating:

“This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.”

Perhaps the only thing in the entire creed that can truly be said to be clear or intelligible to the average person, are these threats against the eternal salvation of anyone who dares not lend their assent to all the things this creed says. Yet, as we noted above, this creed goes into detail explaining not only what is more widely accepted regarding the Trinity by those following Nicea, but a specifically western, latin, and augustinian version of these doctrines. It includes this line, for example, that no professing Christian from, or in agreement with the Eastern Orthodox churches, would ever assent to:

“The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.”

Here we can spot the filoque -the Holy Spirit is said not only to proceed from the Father, but also the Son. This doctrine is repugnant to all Eastern Orthodox, and anyone in the West who happens to side with them on this point. Yet, here it is included in this creed, among things which, according to the repeated expression of the same creed, must be believed in order to be saved, and without which, no one can be saved. In other words, everything in the creed is effectively part of the gospel; for that which must be believed to be saved, and receive Christian baptism, and to be received into Christian fellowship, is the gospel. All then which is included in this creed is gospel, apart from which there is no salvation; for “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith; Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.”

Yet, such a confession is completely opposed to the founding principles of Protestantism; among which, is that no one may add to or alter the gospel preached by the apostles. For it was on account of this very sin that the various Protestant groups have felt free to depart from the Roman Catholic church, and often to declare it no church at all. They rightly appeal to these verses:

“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel more than what we have preached to you, he is to be anathema! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel more than what you received, he is to be anathema!” (Galatians 1:6-9 NASB)

‘Anathema’ simply means accursed, and has since the time of the above epistle’s authorship frequently been declared by churches upon those they consider heretics. In this case, there can be no question the legitimacy of the anathemas; these are not the decisions of any human council, but of an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. But they no not anathematize a trinitarian error: they anathematize anyone who preaches a gospel more than what the apostles preached. This is extremely serious; anyone adding to the gospel, by doing so, jeopardizes their own standing, according to scripture.

For this reason, Protestants rightly protested various ways in which the Roman church had added to and/or altered the apostolic gospel. Yet, here we see a great hypocrisy among many Protestants: while condemning others for altering the gospel, they do so themselves, by adding so many lines of incoherent ramblings about the Trinity to the gospel. And, if one of them should argue that every line of those Augustinian speculations is not only biblical, but part of the gospel, he shall have an enormously difficult time trying to prove that even a small portion of it was preached by the apostles as part of the gospel. For all through the book of Acts, we see men were saved by believing a gospel that included almost none of what the pseudo-athanasian creed says. If this is so, then the doctrines of the creed are not part of the apostolic gospel- and to add them to that gospel, is to be accursed by Paul himself, who spoke in the authority of the Lord Jesus, under the inspiration of the Spirit.

But one will argue that all of Augustine’s dogmas are found in scripture, and perhaps that they are even part of the gospel; so be it, we need not address this question, to prove that the creed adds to the gospel. The Protestants who accept the creed need only answer this question: is it possible for one to be saved without believing the filoque? Or put another way, is the filoque itself part of the gospel, and so, something which a person must believe to be a Christian?

If they answer ‘no’, they do well, in not adding to the gospel, and avoiding the anathemas of Galatians chapter one. But if this is so, then why do they affirm a creed which adds to the gospel? By teaching people to believe that creed, they will by their own admission be encouraging people to learn from it a gospel more than that preached by the apostles. If, on the other hand, they should answer in the affirmative, and say that the filoque is part of the gospel, and required for salvation, they will be far more consistent in affirming the creed; only they will have this problem, that they are anathema. For by adding to the gospel, as they say Rome does, they are just as accursed as they say Rome is, for the same sin.

It is plain then that no Protestant can consistently affirm the pseudo-Athanasian creed, unless they are prepared to deny the possibility of salvation of everyone who sides against the filoque; namely, all Eastern Christians, and all western Christians who agree with them. If they do, they certainly add to the gospel, by teaching that which the apostles did not teach is required for salvation. If they do not however wish to proclaim all Christians who do not believe the filoque to be damned, then let them forsake the pseudo-athanasian creed as something wicked, as something which adds to the apostolic gospel and is anathema for it. For if one can be saved while rejecting the filoque, what good will come from reciting a creed which damns to hell those who you admit may well be your brothers in Christ, over such a minor disagreement? For the creed is as unbending as it is incoherent: there is no leeway given to accept the greater part of it, yet reject some, but it declares “This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.”

It is the duty of all true Christians to reject additions to the gospel, and to preserve whole and intact the gospel, as preached and delivered by the apostles. We have no right to add any doctrine or work to it, which they themselves did not enjoin as part of it. Yet that is precisely what this creed does. Given the pattern of the Roman church, it is unsurprising that they rush into this great sin; but those who keep themselves separate from the Roman church on that very account, would do well to pay heed that they do not, like the Roman church, add to the gospel by way of this wretched creed. Those that do, are inconsistent Protestants; they ought either to reject the creed for its additions to the gospel, or else side with Rome, and accept all of their additions to the gospel beyond that found in this creed, if additions to the gospel are acceptable.

Could the One God Become a Man?

Modalism and all its variations face a significant problem in the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. These theologies teach that the Son of God is the same individual being as the Father; they are together the one God, the same sole Supreme Being. The Son, in these views, is just as much the one God as the Father is. But if that is so- if the Lord Jesus Christ is Himself a person, mode, subsistence, or part of the Supreme Being in some way, can He also be a man?

The answer we are forced to by scripture is a resounding ‘no’. Consider the following:

1) The one God declares that He is not a man: “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent;” (Numbers 23:19 NASB); He also declares that He never changes: “For I, the Lord, do not change” (Malachi 3:6 NASB); thus is follows, that if it was once true of Him that He was not a man, then it is true of Him always, eternally and unchangingly, that He is never a man. For if He went from not being a man to being a man, this would, undeniably, be a change; and so it follows that in order for Him to have become man, He will either need to be mutable, or else, if God is immutable, He will either need to have always been a man. And if He is immutable, and has not always been man, then if follows necessarily that He is never a man. We know that He is immutable; and we know there was a time when He was not a man; and so, He cannot have always been a man. And so the remaining option must be true, that the one God never is and never will be a man. And so, the one Who became incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, cannot possibly have been the one God.

2) The one God is invisible; no one has ever seen Him, and no one can see Him: “No one has seen God at any time” (1 John 4:12 NASB), “who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see.” (1 Timothy 6:16 NASB); yet, the Lord Jesus Christ, as a man, was undoubtedly seen: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes” (1 John 1:1 NASB). And so, were the Supreme Being incarnate, the Supreme Being would very much have been seen, a thing which scripture repeatedly declares has never, and indeed, cannot, occur. And if it is objected to that only a human part of the Lord Jesus was seen, this will not help; for we will ask, was this human part united to the one incarnated so as to be part of His own person, or not? If not, then the being in question was never incarnated at all; if yes, then it follows that the one incarnated was seen in His own person, since the humanity was part of His own person. And so, if the one incarnated was the Supreme Being, then the Supreme Being was, in His own person, seen by men; a thing which scripture repeatedly denies has ever occurred.

3) The one God is immortal: “who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light” (1 Timothy 6:16 NASB); to be man involves being mortal, and certainly, as the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins, His mortality was proved beyond doubt. He cannot then be the Supreme Being, for this would be to assert that He that is incapable of ever dying, died. And while some modalists rejoice in such contradictions, and declare them heavenly mysteries, they ought not; for a contradiction which arises from incoherent interpretations, theories, and inferences, is not so much a mystery as a plain contradiction, and, as it stems not from divine revelation but human reasoning, it cannot be called heavenly, but is earthly and human. For the scriptures never once assert that the immortal Supreme Being, the only true God, was incarnate in the Lord Jesus, or that the one God died. Rather they declare that the one God is another besides the Lord Jesus, the Father of the Lord, and that He is wholly incapable of dying. And so it was not the one God, the Supreme Being, Who died on the cross as a man, but another, namely, His Son.

It follows clearly from these considerations that the one God is not, and never has been, in part or whole, a man; and therefore, that the one incarnated in Jesus of Nazareth is not the one God, the Supreme Being, but another, the Son of that one God.

Questions For Protestants About the Trinity And the Papacy

1. Did not the Protestant Reformers, and the churches that followed them, believe and even formally confess as their doctrine, that the Pope of Rome is the antichrist?

2. If the Pope is the antichrist, or an antichrist, is it reasonable to suppose that he preserved pure and intact, the most important and foundational doctrines of the Christian faith?

3. Does not Protestantism teach that the Papacy corrupted some of the most important and fundamental doctrines of the faith, including the gospel itself?

4. Did not the Papacy, during the middle ages, not only purport to preserve the teaching on the Trinity they had received from earlier generations, but even claim to improve it and expand upon it?

5. If the Pope, being antichrist according to the Reformers, is the corrupter of the church’s polity, worship, soteriology, and morals, is it reasonable to suppose that he not only faithfully preserved the doctrine of the Trinity pure and intact, but even improved it?

6. Is it not the belief of the Reformers and early Protestants that the Papacy sought to undermine the gospel and prevent men from giving worship to the true God and His Christ?

7. If one sought to undermine the gospel and prevent men from giving worship to the true God and His Christ, would not corrupting the doctrine of the Trinity, as being intimately connected to the very identity of God and Christ, and to the gospel itself, be one of the best places to start?

8. Is it reasonable to suppose that the doctrines respecting the identity of God, and His Son, and the Holy Spirit, viz, the doctrines pertaining to the Trinity, would be the same and identical when based on of scripture alone as they are when they are based of tradition, human philosophy, and scripture together?

9. Is it not strange that the Roman Catholic notion of the Trinity, and the mainline Protestant notion of the Trinity, are precisely the same, when they are supposed to each be founded on two entirely different foundations, the one upon scripture alone, and the other upon a human magisterium, with its human traditions and philosophical notions?

10. How did the Protestant and Roman notions of the Trinity turn out to be the same, when each builds upon a starkly different foundation?

11. If the Protestant and Roman notions of the Trinity are identical, does it not make it appear as though they are both drawn from the very same source and foundation? Does it not stand to reason that their identicality must come from either both being founded on scripture, or both being founded on human tradition?

12. Is it reasonable for anyone to believe that the Roman notion of the Trinity is drawn from scripture alone, a claim which the Roman church itself would deny?

13. Is not the best explanation of the identicality of the Roman and Protestant views of the Trinity, that mainline Protestantism has drawn its notion of the Trinity from the same source the Roman Church has, namely, human tradition and philosophy foreign to the scriptures?

14. Is drawing such a notion of the Trinity from the same sources the Roman church draws hers, in any way consistent with the principles of Protestantism, namely, sola scriptura?

15. In short, can taking one’s knowledge of God from antichrist be anything but the utmost foolishness? And is it not more consistent to, if the Pope of Rome is the antichrist, throughly reject any part of his doctrines respecting God and the trinity not found in scripture, as not only being uncertain, but as very likely being gross corruptions of the Christian faith?

16. Has not mainline Protestantism largely showed itself to be committed to sola scriptura in name and not in practice, by upholding the Roman version of the Trinity, without either testing it or revising it along scriptural lines?

17. Is it consistent for Protestants to unquestioningly accept the papal version of the Trinity as a holy mystery, taken on faith, while they have freely tested by scripture and logic other supposed mysteries of the Roman church, such as transubstantiation, and rejected them as unscriptural?

18. Is it not far more consistent, to either accept all the mysteries of the Roman church on blind faith, or none of them? And if some of them should be tested by scripture, and only accepted inasmuch as they agree with it, why not the rest?

19. Is it not clear from the writings of the Nicene fathers, such as Athanasius and the Cappadocians, that all that was intended to be signified by the term ‘homoousias’ is that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as three distinct individual beings or persons (hypostases), share a common nature or species among themselves, as three men share a common human nature? And did they not use precisely that illustration, of three men sharing a common nature, to explain what they meant?

20. Did not Athanasius, Basil, and other Nicene fathers from that time expressly denounce the interpretation of homoousias which says that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are numerically and individually one substance, as Sabellian heresy? For an individual substance or being, if it is rational, is nothing but a person, and so, to say that all three persons are one individual substance, is to agree with Sabellius that They are in fact one person.

21. Is it not this latter notion of the Trinity, that the three persons are individually and numerically co-essential, which prevailed in the Roman church, to the exclusion of that taught by Athanasius, Basil and those with them? For were not the opinions of Athanasius and the other Nicene fathers represented by Abbot Joachim, whose views were condemned as heresy by the fourth lateran council?

22. Did not then the Pope (for he lead the fourth lateran council and authored its decisions) condemn and reject the orthodoxy of the Nicene church, and embrace in its place what they considered the rank heresy of Sabellius, by proclaiming in council that the Father, Son, and Spirit are numerically and individually co-essential in one supreme hypostasis, rather than generically co-essential as three distinct hypostases?

23. Has not mainline Protestantism, then, in agreeing with the Pope rather than the Nicene fathers, embraced the same serious errors on the Trinity the Roman church has, according to the teaching of Athanasius, Basil, and those with them?

24. Is it in any way consistent or sensible for the Reformed churches to have embraced the theology of the fourth lateran council respecting the Trinity, and yet, reject its decisions on papal authority and transubstantiation? If the latter are deemed gross corruptions of the faith, why should the former not likewise have been examined as a possible corruption?

25. Was it not, all along, only the Homoians in the fourth through eight centuries, who according to their own testimony tried diligently to believe about the Trinity only what could be known from the scriptures, without respect for extra-biblical speculation? And did not their Nicene contemporaries freely appeal to extra-biblical traditions to justify their doctrines?

26. Which then of the ancient views on the Trinity, is most consistent with the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura, that of the Homoians, or the Nicenes?

27. Why then, if the Protestant Reformers were truly serious about sola scriptura, was no serious consideration given to the Homoian doctrine of the Trinity? And is it reasonable or consistent to prejudice the papal view of the Trinity, which makes no profession to be truly grounded in scripture, over that of the Homoians, who professed scripture to be the only source of their doctrine?

 

Can Jesus Be Called ‘God Most High’?

Some have argued that the title ‘God Most High’ belongs to the Son as well as the Father; a simple examination of the subject will show us that is not the case:

The title ‘Most High’ denotes supremacy; being above all others. When applied to the title ‘God’, it denotes the Supreme God, the God Who is above all else. We must consider that such a title is not a sharable or communicable title, but is exclusive; it cannot be possessed by more than one person, as it is only possible for one person to be above all others, absolutely. If two persons were to be considered equal, neither would individually be ‘Most High’, as neither would be above the other; so only one person can be ‘Most High’. Only the person Who is supreme above all else absolutely can be fittingly called ‘God Most High’.

It should be obvious that this person, this God, is the Father, and no other. He alone is the Supreme Being (see Five Simple Proofs That the Father Alone Is the Supreme Being). The Son is not equal to Him, but declared that “the Father is greater than I” (Jn 14:28). The Son everywhere declares that He is another besides His Father, that He lives because of His Father, and that He is always subject to His Father and does nothing on His own initiative. And so it is clear that the Father, not the Son, is the Most High God, as He alone is supreme over all absolutely.

We may also note that the scriptures, as we should expect, reserve this title for the Father alone, and use it as a title for Him in contradistinction to the Son:

“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1:32 NASB)

“Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me.” (Luke 8:28 NASB)

Finally its worth noting that if the title were applied to the Son, due to its exclusive nature, one would not be declaring the Son equal to the Father, but greater than the Father. For, to again reiterate, the title ‘Most High’ is an exclusive and incommunicable title, which denotes the one Who is above all others absolutely. When we apply the title ‘Most High’ to someone, we declare that they are above everyone else. If, therefore, one were to say that the Son were ‘God Most High’, this would be to say that the Son is greater than even the Father, and that He is supreme over Him. Thus Origen rightly said:

“Grant that there may be some individuals among the multitudes of believers who are not in entire agreement with us, and who incautiously assert that the Saviour is the Most High God; however, we do not hold with them, but rather believe Him when He says, “The Father who sent Me is greater than I.”  We would not therefore make Him whom we call Father inferior — as Celsus accuses us of doing — to the Son of God.” (Contra Celsum, 8.14)

We can see there that Origen employs the same logic as above; that since the title ‘Most High’ denotes absolute supremacy above all, calling the Son ‘God Most High’ would be to falsely assert that He is supreme over and greater than the Father; when in truth, the Father is Supreme over all, and greater than the Son. Thus the scriptures and all reason compel us to ascribe the title of ‘God Most High’ to one only, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, “the only true God” (Jn 17:3).

5 Arguments Showing that Jesus is Not the One God

The following arguments set out to briefly argue that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is not Himself the one God, the Supreme Being, Who is one person only, the Father, but that He is another distinct person (rational individual being) besides that one God.

Argument 1: Jesus is the Son of God.

A son is necessarily another person than his father, and is not his father.

Jesus is the Son of the one God;

Therefore Jesus is another person besides the one God, and is not the one God.

The first premise is plain in itself, according to the very thing signified by the words ‘father’ and ‘son’, that they denote a relation between two distinct individuals, and never a relation between an individual and himself. The second is made plain in many passages of scripture, including Jn 3:38, 18, Rom 5:10, and 1 Jn 4:15. It is plain that the ‘God’ Who Jesus is declared to be the Son of is the one God; and this is made even more explicit by John 17:1-3 “Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, 2 even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. 3 This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (NASB). Here the same one that Jesus calls ‘Father’ He also calls ‘the only true God’, showing that the God that Jesus is declared to be the Son of is the one and only true God. And so scripture declares that Jesus is the Son of the one God.

Argument 2: Jesus is the Mediator between God and man.

A mediator between two parties, must be another third party besides those two.

Jesus is the Mediator between two parties, the one God and man.

Therefore, Jesus is not the one God.

The first premise is clear from the very function of a mediator, as one who intervenes between two or more parties. The one who so mediates cannot be himself one of the parties in need of mediation, or else, if he interacts with the opposing party, the interaction between parties will be direct and immediate, rather than through mediation. And the apostle Paul mentions as well, that a mediator is not for one party only (Gal 3:20); and if a mediator is not for one party only, much less could the mediator himself be one of the parties in need of mediation.

The second premise is clear from the text of scripture: “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Tim 2:5 NASB). We see here that the one mediator and the one God are distinguished from one another as two distinct parties, and that the Lord Jesus Christ is that one mediator, Who intervenes between two parties: one God, and mankind.

Argument 3: Jesus is the High Priest of God.

The high priest of a God is distinct from that God he is priest to.

Jesus is the High Priest of the one God.

Therefore Jesus is not the one God.

The first premise is clear from the very nature and function of priesthood; for a priest both mediates between men and a deity, leads men in worship of his deity, and himself worships and serves his deity. A mediator, as we have shown above, must be distinct from the parties between which he mediates; and so no priest can be the God he is priest to. And so in leading men to worship God, a priest leads men to worship another, and not himself. And to be priest to a God involves worshipping that God; and yet proper worship is always paid to another, and not to one’s self. It follows from all these things then that a priest of a God must be distinct from that God he is priest to.

That Jesus is the High Priest of God is the express teaching of scripture: “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession;” (Heb 3:1 NASB) “And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, 10 being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb 5:9-10 NASB). And Hebrews 7:1 tells us this Melchizedek was the priest of “God Most High”, that is, the one God, the Supreme Being. And therefore, Jesus, being priest according to the order of Melchizedek, is likewise High Priest to no other than the same God Most High, the one and only God.

It may also be added, as a related argument, that the one God, being supreme over all, worships none. And so then that the Lord Jesus worships the Father, as the High Priest of God, shows that He is not Himself the one God, the Supreme Being, since He worships another, a thing which the one God does not do.

Argument 4: Jesus is our One Lord in contradistinction to the Father as our one God.

Scripture proclaims that Christians believe distinctly in one God and in one Lord; and so one is not the other.

Jesus is our one Lord, in contradistinction to the Father as our one God.

Therefore, Jesus is not the one God.

The first premise can be seen from several passages of scripture, including 1 Cor 8:6 and Eph 4:4-6, which both teach that Christians believe distinctly in one God and in one Lord. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph 4:4-6 NASB). If then we have one God and one Lord, these must be distinct from one another, so that the one Lord is not the one God, and the one God is not our one Lord.

The second premise is proved from 1 Corinthians 8:5-6: “For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.” (NASB). So the one God is equated particularly with one person, the Father, and our one Lord particularly with another person, Jesus Christ. And unique functions of each of these are also mentioned, to still more clearly set the two in contradistinction to one another; namely, that our one God is the one from Whom are all things, that is, the one supreme cause of all, while our one Lord is the one through Whom are all things, that is, the one instrumental cause of all. And so it is shown that Jesus Christ is our one Lord, in contradistinction to our one God, the Father.

Argument 5: Jesus is the Christ of God.

To be Christ of God is to be anointed by God, and therefore, distinct from Him.

Jesus is the Christ of the one God.

Therefore Jesus is not the one God.

The first premise is apparent from the meaning of the very terms Christ, and its Hebrew equivalent, Messiah, which both mean ‘anointed one’. And so in Acts 10:38 Peter preached “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (NASB). And in Acts 2:36 he preached “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”” (NASB). So the one Who is anointed by God with power and the Holy Spirit, is obviously distinct from that God Who anointed Him.

That Jesus is the Christ of God has already been shown in the paragraph above, and is one of the most clear and repeated teachings of the New Testament. Peter quotes Psalm 2 as about Jesus in his preaching : “‘The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the LORD and against His Christ.’” (Acts 4:26 NASB). “And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”” (Luke 9:20). “Christ” then, as we have said, is a title literally denoting having been anointed by another, and particularly in scriptures, denotes the one Who would come and be anointed by God as His prophet, priest, and king (for each of these offices were ordained by anointing in the Old Testament). And so then, that Jesus is the Christ of God is clear, and this shows that He is another besides the one God Who anointed Him, the God Jesus serves as His prophet, priest, and appointed king over the people of God.

John Biddle’s 12 Arguments Showing That the Holy Spirit is Not the One God

John Biddle set forth twelve arguments from the scriptures to demonstrate that the Holy Spirit is not Himself the one God; rather He acknowledged Him to be a third distinct person besides God and His Christ. Biddle expressed his view in another place: “I believe there is one principal Minister of God and Christ, peculiarly sent from heaven to sanctify the church, who, by reason of his eminency and intimacy with God, is singled out of the number of other heavenly ministers or angels, and comprised in the Holy Trinity, being the third person thereof; and that this minister of God and Christ is the Holy Spirit.” His endeavor here is to show that the Holy Spirit is not Himself the Supreme Being, the one God, viz, the Father, but another distinct person (or rational individual being) besides Him.

Argument 1:

He that is distinguished from God, is not God. The Holy Spirit is distinguished from God: therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The major premise is evident: for if he should be both God, and distinguished from God, he would be distinguished from himself; which implieth a contradiction. The Minor is confirmed by the whole current of the Scripture, which calleth him the Spirit of God, and saith that he is sent by God, and searcheth the depths of God, &c. Neither let any man here think to fly to that ignorant refuge of making a distinction between the Essence and Person of God, saying that the holy Spirit is distinguished from God, taken Personally, not Essentially: For this wretched distinction (to omit the mention of the Primitive Fathers) is not only unheard-of in Scripture, and so to be rejected, it being presumption to affirm any thing of the unsearchable nature of God, which he hath not first affirmed of Himself in the Scripture; but is also disclaimed by Reason. For first, it is impossible for any man, if he would but endeavour to conceive the thing, and not delude both himself and others with empty terms, and words without understanding, to distinguish the Person from the Essence of God, and not to frame two beings or things in his mind, and consequently two Gods. Secondly, If the person be distinct from the Essence of God, then it must needs be something; since nothing hath no accident, and therefore neither can it happen to it to be distinguished. If something, then either some finite or infinite thing: if finite, then there will be something finite in God, and consequently, since by the confession of the adversaries every thing in God is God himself, God will be finite; which the adversaries themselves will likewise confess to be absurd. If infinite, then there will be two infinites in God, to wit, the Person and Essence of God, and consequently two Gods; which is more absurd then the former. Thirdly, to talk of God taken impersonally, is ridiculous, not only because there is no example thereof in Scripture, but because God is the name of a Person, and signifies him that hath sublime dominion or power: and when it is put for the most high God, it denotes Him who with Sovereign and absolute authority rules over all; but none but a person can rule over others, all actions being proper to persons: wherefore to take God otherwise then personally, is to take him otherwise then he is, and indeed to mistake him.

Argument 2:

If he that gave the Holy Spirit to the Israelites to instruct them, be the LORD alone, then the Holy Spirit is not the LORD or God.

But he that gave the Holy to the Israelites to instruct them, is the LORD alone:

therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The sequele of the major premise is plain; for if he that gave the Holy Spirit be the LORD alone, and yet the Holy Spirit that was given be the LORD too, the same will be the LORD alone, and not the LORD alone, which implies a contradiction. The minor is evidenced by Neh. 9. 6, 20. ““You alone are the LORD. You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You… You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth, And You gave them water for their thirst.” (NASB)

Argument 3:

He that speaketh not of himself, is not God.

The Holy Spirit speaketh not of himself.

Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The minor premise is clear from Joh. 16. 13. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (NASB) The major premise is proved thus: God speaks of Himself; therefore if there be any one that speaks not of himself, he is not God. The antecedent is of itself apparent; for God is the primary Author of whatsoever he doth; but should he not speak of Himself, He must speak from another, and so not be the primary, but secondary author of His speech; which is absurd, if at least that may be called absurd, which is impossible. The consequence is undeniable. For further confirmation of this Argument, it is to be observed, that to speak or to do any thing not of Himself, according to the ordinary phrase of the Scripture, is to speak or do by the shewing, teaching, commanding, authorizing, or enabling of another, and consequently incompatible with the supreme and self-sufficient Majesty of God. Vid. John 5. 19. 20, 30. Joh. 7. 15, 16, 17, 18, 28. John 8. 28, 42. Joh. 11. 50, 51. John 12. 49, 50. John 14. 10, 24. John 15. 4. John 18. 34. Luke 12. 56, 57. Luke 21. 30. 2 Cor. 3. 5.

Argument 4:

He that heareth from another what he shall speak, is not God.

The Holy Spirit doth so:

Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The Minor premise is plain from the forecited place, John 16. 13. The Major premise is proved thus:

He that is taught, is not God.

He that heareth from another, what he shall speak, is taught:

Therefore, He is not God.

The Major is clear by Isa. 40. 13, 14. compared with Rom. 11. 34. 1 Cor. 2. 16. For these places of the Apostle, compared with that of the Prophet, shew that Isaiah did not by the Spirit of the Lord there understand the Holy Spirit, but the mind, or intention of God. The Minor is evidenced by John B. where our Saviour having said in the 26. verse, Whatsoever I have heard from him (the Father) these things I speak; in the 28. verse he expresses the same sense thus; According as the Father hath taught me, these things I speak. Neither let any man go about to elude so pregnant an Argument, by saying that this is spoken of the Holy Spirit improperly: For let him turn himself every way, and scrue the words as he pleases, yet shall he never be able to make it out to a wise and considering man, how it can possibly be said, that any one heareth from another what he will speak, who is the prime Author of his speech, and into whom it is not at a certain time insinuated by another. For this expression plainly intimates, that whatsoever the Holy Spirit speaks to the Disciples, is first discovered and committed to him by Christ, whose Embassadour he is, it being proper to an Embassador to be the Interpreter not of his own, but of another’s will. But it is contradictious, to imagine that the most high God can have any thing discovered and committed to Him by another.

Argument 5:

He that receiveth of another’s, is not God.

The Holy Spirit doth so: Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The Minor premise is witnessed by the aforesaid place, John 16. 14. The Major is proved thus; God is he that giveth all things to all; wherefore if there be any one that receiveth of another’s, he cannot be God. The antecedent is plain by Acts 17. 25. Rom. 11. 35, 36. The consequence is undeniable: for if God should give all things to all, and yet receive of another’s, He would both give all things, and not give all things; have all things of his own, and have something of another’s; both which imply a contradiction. The Major of the Prosyllogisme is otherwise urged, thus: He that is dependent, is not God. He that receiveth of another’s, is dependent: Therefore He is not God. The Major is unquestionable: for, to say that one is dependent, and yet God, is in effect to say he is God, and not God, which implies a contradiction. The Minor also is evident: for to receive of another’s, is the notion of dependency.

Argument 6:

He that is sent by another, is not God.

The Holy Spirit is sent by another:

Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The Minor is plain from the fore-quoted place, John. 16. 7. The Major is evinced thus:

He that Ministreth, is not God.

He that is sent, Ministreth:

Therefore, He is not God.

The Major is indubitable, it being dissonant to the supreme Majesty of God to Minister, and serve another; for that were to be God and not God; to exercise sovereign dominion over all, and not to exercise it. The Minor is confirmed by Heb. 1. ult. where the divine Author shows, that the Angels are all Ministring Spirits, in that they are sent forth; as he before intimates Christ to be Lord, because he sitteth at the right hand of God. Thus David, Psal. 2. declareth the Sovereignty of God, in saying that he sitteth in Heaven. The Minor is further proved thus:

He that receives a command for the performance of something, doth Minister:

He that is sent forth, receiveth a command for the performance of something:

Therefore, He ministers.

The Major is evident to common sense, since it suiteth with none but Ministers and inferiours to receive commands. The Minor is manifested by John 12. 49. The Father that hath sent me, he gave me a Command what I shall speak. Neither let any man here reply, that this very thing is spoken also of Christ, unless, having first proved that Christ is the supreme God, he will grant that whatsoever is spoken of him, is spoken of him as God; or can make good that to be sent at least may agree to him as God. The contrary whereof I suppose I have clearly proved in this Argument, shewing that it is unsutable to the divine Majesty.

Argument 7:

He that is the gift of God, is not God.

The Holy Spirit is the gift of God:

Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The Minor premise is plain by Acts. 12. 17. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift (meaning the Spirit) as he did unto us, who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, was I one that could withstand God? The Major, though of it self sufficiently clear, is yet further evidenced thus:

He that is not the giver of all things, is not God.

He that is the gift of God, is not the giver of all things:

Therefore, He is not God.

The Major premise is apparent from Act. 17. 25. God giveth to all, life, breath, and all things. The Minor premise is proved thus:

He that is himself given, is not the giver of all things:

He that is the gift of God, is himself given:

Therefore He is not the giver of all things.

The Major premise is undeniable, for otherwise the same would be the giver of all things, and yet not the giver of all things, inasmuch as he himself, a principal thing, is given, which implies a contradiction. The Minor premise needs no proof. Moreover, a gift is in the power, and at the disposal of the giver; but it is gross and absurd to imagine that God can be in the power, or at the disposal of another. Neither let any man here think to evade, by saying, that not the Holy Spirit himself, but only his gifts are imparted to men; Since both the more learned adversaries themselves confess, that the Person of the Holy Spirit is given together with his gifts, and the Scripture puts the matter out of doubt, if you consult Neh. 9. 20. and Rom. 5. 5. In both which places, the Holy Spirit is said to be given contradistinctly from his gifts and operations: in the first, contradistinctly from the instruction flowing from him; in the other, contradistinctly from the love of God diffused in our hearts by him. Whence we may draw this Corollary, that if the Person of the Holy Spirit be out of favour given to certain men, as the aforesaid places testify, then he was not personally present with them before, and consequently, by the concession of the adversaries themselves, cannot be God, since they will not deny that God is always personally present with all alike. But I forestal the following Argument.

Argument 8:

He that changes place, is not God.

The Holy Spirit changes place:

Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The Major premise is plain: for if God should change place, he would cease to be where he was before, and begin to be where he was not before; which everteth his Omnipresence, and consequently, by the confession of the adversaries themselves, his Deity. The Minor premise is ocularly apparent, if following the advice of the adversaries, you will but go to Jordan; for there you shall have the holy Spirit in a bodily shape descending from heaven, which is the terminus a quo; and alighting upon Christ, which is the terminus ad-quem, Luke 3. 21, 22. Joh. 1. 32. Neither let any man alledge, that as much is spoken of God, Exod. 3. and chap. 20. and Gen. 18. For if you compare Acts 7. 30, 35, 38, 53. Gal. 3. 19. Heb. 2. 2, 3. and chap. 13. 2. with the foresaid places, you shall find, that it was not God himself that came down, but only an Angel, sustaining the Person and Name of God; which hath no place in the history touching the descent of the holy Spirit.

Argument 9:

He that prayeth unto Christ, to come to judgement, is not God.

The Holy Spirit doth so:

Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The Major premise is granted. The Minor is evident from Revel. 22. 17. compared with the 12 verse. “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”… He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.”” (NASB). Neither let any man think to elude this proof, by saying, that the Spirit is here said to pray, only because he makes the Bride to pray: for when the Scripture would signify the assistance of the Holy Spirit in causing men to speak, it is wont to affirm, either that the Holy Spirit speaks in them, as Matth. 10. 20. or that they spake by the Holy Spirit, as Rom. 8. 15. We have received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, Abba, Father. But here it is expressly said, that the Spirit and the Bride say, Come; not the Spirit in the Bride, nor the Bride by the Spirit.

Argument 10:

He in whom men have not believed, and yet have been disciples and believers, is not God.

Men have not believed in the Holy Spirit, and yet have been so:

Therefore the Holy Spirit is not God.

The Major premise is plain: for how can they be disciples and believers, according to the phrase of Scripture, and not believe in him that is God? The Minor premise is proved thus:

Men have not so much as heard whether there were an Holy Spirit, and yet have been disciples and believers:

Therefore, They have not believed in the holy Spirit, and yet have been disciples and believers.

The Antecedent is apparent from Acts 19. 2. “He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”” (NASB) The Consequence is grounded on that of the Apostle, Rom. 10. 14. [How shall they believe in him, of whom they have not heard?] Now if any man, to decline the dint of this Argument, shall say, that by Holy Spirit in these words is meant not the Person, but the Gifts of the Holy Spirit; He, besides that he perverts the plain and genuine meaning of the words, and speaks without example; doth also evacuate the emphasis of the Particles 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which imply that these disciples were so far from having received the gifts of the holy Spirit, whereof we may, without prejudice to our cause, grant that the question made mention, that they had not so much as heard whether there were an Holy Spirit or not. Again, that the Holy Spirit is not God, doth further appear by this very instance, since the Apostle, when there was so ample an occasion offered to declare it, (if it had been so) doth quite decline it: for it is incredible that he, who was so intent and vigilant in propagating the Truth, as that casually seeing an Altar at Athens inscribed To the unknown God, he presently took a hint from thence, to preach unto the Heathen the true God; yet here being told by disciples that they had not so much as heard whether there were an Holy Spirit, or not, should not make use of the opportunity to discover unto them, and in them to us, the Deity of the holy Spirit, but suffer them to remain in ignorance touching a point of such consequence, that without the knowledge thereof, (if we believe many now-a-days) men cannot be saved. Certainly, the Apostle had a greater care both of the Truth of God, and the salvation of men, then to do so.

Argument 11:

He that hath an understanding distinct from that of God, is not God.

The Holy Spirit hath an understanding distinct from that of God:

Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The Major premise is clear: for he that hath an understanding distinct from that of another, must needs likewise have a distinct individual essence, wherein that understanding may reside. The Minor is proved thus:

He that hears from God at the second hand, namely, by Christ Jesus, what he shall speak, hath an understanding distinct from that of God.

The Holy Spirit so hears from God:

Therefore the Holy Spirit has an understanding distinct from that of God.

The Minor premise is evident from Joh. 16. 13, 14, 15.

The Major is confirmed thus:

He that is taught of God, hath an understanding distinct from that of God.

He that heareth from God what he shall speak, is taught of God:

Therefore, he that hears from God has an understanding distinct from God.

The Minor is manifest from Joh. 8. where our Saviour Christ having said, in vers. 26. Whatsoever I have heard from him (the Father) these things I speak. In vers. 28. he expresseth the same sense thus: According as the Father hath taught me, these things I speak. The Major premise is of itself clear: for he that is taught, hath an unknowing understand∣ing, since none can be taught what he knows already; and he that teaches, hath a knowing understanding, otherwise he could not teach another something; but it implies a contradiction, that the same understanding should at the same time be both knowing & unknowing of the same thing. Besides, that the Holy Spirit hath an understanding distinct from that of God, is easily deducible from the words of the Apostle, 1 Cor. 2. 10. where he affirms, that the Spirit searches the depths of God, (as Rom. 8. 27. he intimates, that God searches the heart of the Spirit:) but to search the depths of any one, necessarily supposes one understanding in him that searches, and another understanding in him-whose depths are searched, as is evident not only by collation of other places of the Scripture, as 1 Pet. 1. 11. Rev. 2. 23. but even by common sense, dictating to every man so much, that none can without absurdity be said to search the depths of his own understanding. Whence the Apostle going about to illustrate what he had spoken of the Spirit of God, by a similitude drawn from the spirit of a man, doth not say, that the spirit of a man doth search, but know the things of a man, though his former words did seem to lead him thereunto.

Argument 12:

He that hath a will distinct in number from that of God, is not God.

The Holy Spirit hath a will distinct in number from that of God.

Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The Major premise is irrefragable. The Minor premise is asserted thus.

He that wills conformably to the will of God, hath a will distinct in number from that of God.

The Holy Spirit so willeth:

Therefore, the Holy Spirit has a will distinct in number from that of God.

The Major is plain: for conformity must be between two at least, else it will not be conformity, but Identity. The Minor is confirmed by Rom. 8. 26, 27. “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (NASB) Neither let any man here reply, that there is no mention made in the Greek either of the will of the Spirit, or of the will of God: For first, the word intercede, which signifies to make suit for something, implies both the will of him that makes the suit, for if he did not will the thing, he would not make suit for it; and also the will of him to whom the suit is made, for were he not endued with a will, it would be bootless to make suit unto him, all suits whatsoever being made to bend the will of him to whom they are made: so that this, without any more, sufficiently sheweth that the Holy Spirit hath a will distinct in number from that of God; since the one sueth, the other is sued to at the same time, and for the same thing. Secondly, the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, in English rendered Mind, doth here signify the same with Will or Desire, as appeareth from the 6. and 7. verses of this Chapter, and also from the verb 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, whence it is derived, which signifies to Affect, Will, Desire, Pursue: see verse 5. of the same chapter, and Col. 3. 2. Thirdly, though the Greek hath 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, according to God, yet is this, in the judgement of the English Translators themselves, the same as if it had been said, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, according to the will of God; neither can any other commodious interpretation be put upon the words.

But this passage of the Apostle, doth further afford us a second and third impregnable Argument of the Holy Spirit’s being inferiour to God. For first, he is here said to make intercession for us (as we before urged his praying to Christ, Argument 9.) and that with grones unutterable; which is not so to be understood, as if the Holy Spirit were here said to help our infirmities, only by suggesting petitions and groans unto us (as is commonly, but falsely affirmed) for the very words of the context sufficiently exclude such a gloss; since they say, that the Spirit himself, not we by the Spirit, (as we have it in the 15. verse of the same chapter) makes intercession for us: yea, vicarious intercession, as the Greek word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 signifies: But to help others infirmities, by making intercession; and, what is more, vicarious intercession for them, is not to instil petitions into them, but to pour out petitions apart in their behalf; as is apparent both from the thing is self; since none can intercede for himself, all intercession (at least such as is here spoken of) requiring the entermise of a third person; and by the Collation of verse 34. of the same Chapter, and 1 Tim. 2. 1. Heb. 7. 25. Neither let any man think to baffle off this place, (which is written with a beam of the Sun, and hath together with that, Joh. 16. 13, 14. quite nonplussed, not only Modern Authors, but the Fathers themselves,) by saying, that this is improperly spoken of the Holy Spirit: for, besides that he hath no other ground to say so, but his own preconceived opinion touching the Deity of the Holy Spirit, he ought to know that the Scripture, though it speaks some things of God in a figure, and improperly, yet doth it nowhere say any thing that argues his inferiority to, and dependance on another. But this passage of the Apostle plainly intimates, that the Holy Spirit is inferiour to God, and dependent on him; otherwise what need had he to make intercession to God, and that with groans unutterable, for the Saints? Secondly, the Holy Spirit is here distinguished from him that searcheth the hearts; and this description is made use of to put a difference between God and the Holy Spirit: but how could this be done, were the holy Spirit also a searcher of the hearts? For can a description that is common, yea alike common to two (for so the Adversaries hold concerning God, and the Holy Spirit) be set to distinguish the one from the other? For instance; to prepare the Passover for Christ, is an action common to Peter with John, for they two were sent by Christ to that purpose, and did accordingly perform it; see Luke 22. 8, 13. wherefore can a description taken from this action, be fit to difference Peter from John? and is it suitable to say, He that prepared the Passover for Christ, was a greater Apostle then John? would not this plainly argue, that John did not prepare the Passover for Christ? So that it is apparent, that the Holy Spirit is not a searcher of the hearts. If therefore it would not follow that the Holy Spirit is God, although it had been said in the Scripture, that he searcheth the hearts, unless he had such a faculty originally, and of himself (for nothing hinders but that God may confer it upon others, as we see by the Scripture, that he hath de facto conferred it on Christ, having given him all judgement, and that because he is the Son of man, John 5. 22, 27. for such judgement requires that he be a searcher of the hearts) If, I say, it would not even then follow that he is God; how clearly, how irrefragably doth it on the contrary follow, that he is not God, but hath an understanding distinct from, and inferiour to that of God; inasmuch as he is destitute of such a perfection, as the searching of the hearts, which is inseparable from the divine majesty? These two considerations have I added at the close of my twelfth Argument; because they are not so much new Arguments, as props and further confirmations of the ninth and eleventh Arguments.

Distinct Actions of the Persons of the Trinity

“If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;” 1 Peter 1:17 NASB

“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,” John 5:22 NASB

Here we read from Peter, firstly, that the Father judges men impartially; then we read from John, that the Father judges no one, but has given all judgement to the Son. Is there disagreement between Peter and John? Does scripture contradict itself? Not at all; but rather, the difficulty is resolved when we read “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31 NASB; and, “And He [the Son] commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.” Acts 10:42 NASB

What we have then, is this: scripture says that God, the Father, judges all men; and yet, in another place, it says He judges no one at all. Unless we will say that these statements contradict one another, we must acknowledge each to be speaking in a different sense; one speaks of God judging all men indirectly through Christ, through Whom are all things 1 Cor 8:6. The Father is the ultimate Cause of all judgement, and all judgment is according to His will and command, although it is executed through the Son. And so the Son said “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 5:30 NASB. The Father then may truly and rightly be said to “impartially judge according to each one’s work”, because He so judges mediately, through the Son, Who judges not on His own initiative, but according to the will and command of the Father.

On the other hand, the Son has all judgement given to Him by the Father, and the Father judges no one, in this second sense, in reference to immediate action, since the Father immediately judges no one, but all immediate judgment is given to the Son. For the Son clearly says that He does not judge according to His own initiative but according to the will of the Father; and so the Father judges through the Son, and so, Himself truly judges all- not immediately and directly, but mediately, through the Son, the one Mediator between God and man. Meanwhile the Son alone judges immediately and directly. Since all things from God through Son, so God judges through Son, the Son judging according to the will and command of the Father. The Son alone, however, judges immediately, and in that immediate sense, God judges no one.

We can apply this same sort of logic reasonably to all things that God does through His Son. So there is shown a significant difference between the actions of God and of His Son towards creation; the Father acts towards creation mediately, the Son both immediately, and through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit only acts immediately towards the universe, never through another person of the Trinity. So the actions of the persons are not entirely identical, but each acts towards creation differently and distinctly. This shows that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct individual beings, or persons.

In all this we still see that the persons are united in their actions; the one God, the Father, works through His only-begotten Son, and the Son through the Holy Spirit. This is the pattern of all God’s great works toward the universe: all things are from Him, through His Son. “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.” 1 Corinthians 8:6 NKJV. God created the universe through His Son; God upholds the existence of the universe through His Son; God rules over all things through His Son; God reconciles all things to Himself through His Son; and as we read above, God judges the world through His Son. In the immediate and most high sense, as being the Supreme Cause and Instigator of all these things, the Father is the one Creator, the one Sustainer, the Only Ruler, the Only Savior, and the one Judge of the universe; performing all these actions through the mediation of His Son.

And in the same manner as that judgement was spoken of, we might reasonably speak of any of these acts of God; God, the Father, alone in truth performing all these actions, not immediately and directly, but through the mediation of His only-begotten Son, Who acts upon the universe directly and immediately, according to the will and command of the Father. And so the Son, and not the Father, is the immediate Creator, Sustainer, Savior, and Judge of the universe; in this immediate sense the Father creates no one, sustains no one, saves no one, and judges no one, in the whole of the universe that is through His Son. And so, we see the distinct roles of each person; and we see that although God acts through His Son, and His Son acts on His behalf, and according to His will and command, the roles, and so, the actions, of each person, within these greater works are distinguished from one another.

We cannot speak of the Father as the immediate worker of any of those works; nor can we speak of the Son as the ultimate cause of any of those works. The Father alone is the one from Whom are all things; and the Son alone the one through Whom are all things. Therefore the actions of the persons are shown to be distinct and different; the one working mediately and indirectly, the other working immediately and directly on the universe. As mentioned earlier, this distinction in action proves that God and His Son are distinct persons; the Father, the one God, and His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, are two distinct rational individual beings, not one and the same. Otherwise, if They were the same, one could not be said to do something through the other; and one could not be said to be the one from which an action was, the other the one through Whom an action was performed, unless They are two really distinct persons.