Basic Biblical Christology for Unitarian Christians

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Is Yahushua God? To most Christians for the past 1700 years, the answer has been a firm Yes. To them, the question was settled in the fourth century at the Council of Nicea, which proclaimed Christ to be “God of God, Light of Light...of one essence with the Father” in its Christological creed (Christology being the study of Christ’s nature). Not everyone agreed and, to this day, many people dissent. We, of course, are in that minority. As a result, we unitarians are frequently accused of demeaning Yahushua by disagreeing with the creed.

Questions Every Sincere Trinitarian/Binitarian Should Contemplate

Questions Every Sincere Trinitarian/Binitarian Should Contemplate: Yahuwah is one. Yahushua, the Christ, is His only begotten human son. Contrary to popular belief, Scripture does not teach that Christ is the Creator, that the Father and Son are the same being, or that Yahushua existed prior to his birth in Bethlehem. Some thought-provoking questions for sincere truth seekers...

In fact, many of us were not always unitarians; we may have been raised in a Trinitarian household. When we first learn that Yahushua is not the Supreme Being, we can indeed easily come to think less of him, and this is what happened with the unitarian movements that later became Transcendentalism and Unitarian Universalism. Nevertheless, the first unitarians in America were all passionate Christians; open-minded and liberal to be sure, but all were deeply devoted to Christ and Yahuwah. Undeniably, it was this intense devotion that led them to unitarian affirmations: to reject the doctrine of the Trinity and the dual nature of Christ.

Scholarship has come quite a long way since the unitarian “Enlightenment.” We have learned things about Yahushua and his times that were unknown to the early unitarians. And we have learned much more about the Bible itself.

So how can we, as unitarian Christians, say Biblically correct things about Yahushua? Clearly, we have to get back to what the Bible has to say about Christ. Such a study is beyond the scope of this paper. For the time, we will simply focus on the works of Paul whose beliefs represent the original Jerusalem churches’.

For Paul, Yahushua is not Yahuwah, but he is Yahuwah’s Son; Yahuwah’s image. As such, Christ reveals Yahuwah to us, but he also reveals Yahuwah’s will for humanity in an unprecedented way. These are things the early unitarian pioneers all affirmed. But only tangentially did they touch on another extremely important aspect of Paul’s Christology: the fact that Christ accomplishes for Yahuwah what only Yahuwah gets to do. This is the womb from which Trinitarian theology emerged; but this is also where we can most easily see the mistakes made by Trinitarians. For when we study what Christ did in his crucifixion and resurrection, and when we study what he currently does at the right hand of Yahuwah, can we find Christ’s staggering significance woven together with his clear inferiority to Yahuwah. This is what we must now explore.

Throughout the Old Testament, Yahuwah promised that one day, He would renew His covenant with Israel, forgive their sins, and defeat evil. But throughout Paul, and even the Synoptics, we see that all these things occurred in Christ. Yahushua renewed the covenant; Yahushua’ death and resurrection accomplished the saving act of Yahuwah by forgiving the sins of the world and defeating evil. In other words, Christ had done what only Yahuwah could do.

Sharing Your One God Faith

Sharing Your One God Faith (By Anthony Buzzard)

This saving act Christ accomplished on earth — but currently he is in heaven at the right hand of the Father. What’ s he doing now? The answer is striking, breathtaking, and amazing: Christ currently functions as Yahuwah. Many of Christ’s functions are duties Yahuwah either used to take or was supposed to take. We begin with Philippians 2:9: “For this reason [Christ’s humility], Yahuwah highly exalted him and gave him the Name that is above every name.” Two main questions stem from this verse: What is “the Name,” and what does its bestowal on Yahushua mean? First, “the Name that is above every name” would undoubtedly be understood as a euphemism for Yahuwah’s own Name, i.e., YHWH. That is to say, Yahushua has received Yahuwah’s own unique Name. But second, this does not mean Yahushua changed his name to Yahuwah’s, as when my wife changed her last name to mine. In ancient Jewish culture, when someone was bequeathed a new name, this meant his function or status had changed. The point of the verse, therefore, is that Yahushua now functions accordingly with anything associated with the Name, YHWH; he is functionally Yahuwah. He functions for Yahuwah without of course being Yahuwah Himself, because Yahuwah is only One Person. Simply put, Yahuwah exalted Yahushua to His right hand and bestowed on him His own unique Lordship and Office.

It is not surprising, then, to find Christ acting correspondingly. Clearly, there is a “functional overlap” between Yahuwah and Christ, who now exercises divine prerogatives. There are many examples of this, but a few will do for our purposes. In Romans 10:13, Paul says that “everyone who calls upon the Name of the Lord will indeed be saved.” This verse is a direct quotation from Joel 2:32 which envisioned “everyone” calling on the Lord Yahuwah for salvation. This accomplishment, though, Paul now attributes to Yahushua, who is the lord of Romans 10:13. Clearly, Christ stands in loco Dei; that is, in the place of Yahuwah. Similarly, Paul can speak of the “judgment seat” of Yahuwah and Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). Even more striking, he takes up the well-known Old Testament theme of the “Day of the Lord,” which envisioned Yahuwah coming to earth to bring divine judgment, and understands the lord in question as Christ who acts in Yahuwah’s role as His agent or representative. Again, we can see an arresting functional overlap.

Some Thoughts on the History of the Trinity

Some Thoughts on the History of the Trinity: The Trinity is a product of Greek philosophy. It cannot be substantiated by Scripture.

Equally significant is another passage, 1 Corinthians 15:45: “the first Adam became a living soul...the last Adam (Christ) became a life-giving Spirit.” Paul’ s readers could hardly have failed to notice the obvious: that he has just attributed the function of “life-giving Spirit” to Christ. To “give life” was always the job of the Holy Spirit, who is not a person per se, but Yahuwah Himself in His outreach to humankind. And yet, in Paul’s thought, this task has been taken up by the exalted Christ.

Therefore, whether it was in his existence on earth or his post-existence at the right hand of Yahuwah, Christ does what only Yahuwah can do. Yet, he is constantly distinguished from Yahuwah. Never is the title “God” given to him, and even though he has the Name, this was bestowed on him by Yahuwah; it is not his by nature. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:6 that there is “one God...and one Lord.” There are two choices we can now make. We can say that the reason Paul can attribute divine functions to Christ is because Yahuwah is a Trinity, thereby ignoring Christ’s essential inferiority to Yahuwah, or we can resolve the tension the way Paul does: Christ can function this way precisely because he was authorized by Yahuwah to do so. To be sure, Christ functions in ways in which he is clearly aligned with the one God. Nevertheless, our Christology never says more than that Christ is Yahuwah’s agent; His representative; or His functionary. This is an extremely exalted way of speaking about Christ; to say he is functionally Yahuwah is to say things about him that we can say of none other. But the earliest people who made such formulations did not take it the further step into the confusing territory of the Trinity.

Earlier I mentioned that no intermediary would do; only “the arm of the Lord” could accomplish for Yahuwah what only Yahuwah could do. This is undoubtedly true. Here we see the heart of the unitarian controversy. For while unitarians wished to dispute the claim that Yahuwah was a Trinity and that Christ was therefore dual-natured, they likewise upheld the idea that Yahushua, precisely as a man, was created to fulfill the role of Yahuwah. Let me explain this.

Christ was and is a man; his existence began in the womb of Mary. He worshipped, loved, and prayed to his God, and any equality he claimed was a functional equality (Phil. 2:6). But he is thus the one who fulfills the role of Yahuwah; precisely as a man — no more, no less — he embodies the saving power of Yahuwah Himself.

We must approach the Bible as a grand narrative. From first to last, an enormous story is being told. Yahuwah created all things; all things have become corrupt; Yahuwah will restore all things. Scripture affirms that this act of restoration would be the work of Yahuwah Himself. But the central figure in this drama is no longer Yahuwah, but Christ. Or rather, as I am convinced we must say, Christ existed solely to be, in his function, Yahuwah for the world. Yahuwah is transcendent; He cannot be beheld lest the beholder instantly disintegrate. So if He is going to act in history, He must do so through a chosen agent. But not just any agent will do; this is a job for Yahuwah himself. Yahuwah therefore created Yahushua to be His personal representative on earth, to do for Him what only He alone can do. Yahushua was born for this purpose. And what is more, if Paul can believe such things and arrive at neither a Trinitarian theology nor a belief in a dual-natured-Jesus, neither should we.

Therefore, we can reclaim Paul’s Christology, and can add more to the unitarian debates, things that hitherto were unknown to our spiritual pioneers. Christ was and is a man; his existence began in the womb of Mary. He worshipped, loved, and prayed to his God, and any equality he claimed was a functional equality (Phil. 2:6). But he is thus the one who fulfills the role of Yahuwah; precisely as a man — no more, no less — he embodies the saving power of Yahuwah Himself. He completes the tasks, which only Yahuwah can do. And this is because it was always Yahuwah’s intention that He, through Christ, would complete the grand work of salvation prophesied millennia ago. As unitarians, knowing and believing this, we cannot add more to Scripture by affirming the words of the Nicene Creed; but moreover, as unitarian Christians, neither can we ever be accused of demeaning our Lord and Savior, Yahushua Christ.

For more on this important subject, visit WLC's Content Directory: The Trinity (doctrinal error)

This is a non-WLC article written by Anthony DeMarco.

We have taken out from the original article all pagan names and titles of the Father and Son, and have replaced them with the original given names. Furthermore, we have restored in the Scriptures quoted the names of the Father and Son, as they were originally written by the inspired authors of the Bible. -WLC Team