The Doctrine of Pronouns Applied to Christ’s Testimony of Himself

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The Doctrine of Pronouns Applied to Christ’s Testimony of Himself

No. 1. The Doctrine of Pronouns stated.

1Pronouns are words used as substitutes for the names of persons or things to avoid too frequent repetition of the same word or sound. A personal pronoun is a substitute for the name or title of a person, and it implies all that the name or title would imply if used in the same place.

Example: Abraham was a good man, he was the friend of Yahuwah, and Yahuwah loved him and made a covenant with him. In this sentence, he is used once and him twice as a substitute for the name Abraham. The meaning would be the same in the following form: Abraham was a good man, Abraham was the friend of Yahuwah, and Yahuwah loved Abraham and made a covenant with Abraham. He and him, therefore, are pronouns. The word person is applied to any intelligent being — to Yahuwah, to Christ, to any angel, or any man, whether in the body or out of the body.

No. 2. The Doctrine of Pronouns applied.

2Let the preceding remarks be applied to the Trinitarian mode of explaining the testimony of Christ respecting his dependence on Yahuwah. It is well known that the Trinitarians adopt this hypothesis that Christ is Yahuwah and man in one person. Here we have two distinct minds to one body, supposed to be united and identified in the one person, Yahushua Christ. The possibility of such a union I shall neither deny nor discuss. I am ignorant on that subject. But admitting the hypothesis to be correct, it is evident that the man is nothing to the Deity in this person. The Divinity must be all in all, as to the sufficiency, the operations, and the glory of Christ. In this case, as in the one before stated, some things might be genuinely affirmed of one part of the person, which could not with propriety be said of the other. But when Christ or any other person says, I can, or I cannot do this or that, the pronoun I embraces all the powers of the person. Everyone will admit that it would be improper for me to say, “I cannot think,” expecting to clear myself from falsehood on being questioned by saying that I spoke only of my body or my little finger. How unfortunate then is the method which has been adopted in explaining the language of Christ. He said, “I can do nothing of myself; the Father in me, he does the works.” “My Father is greater than I.” When such language is urged as proof that Christ was not the independent Yahuwah, the Trinitarians venture to say that, in such declarations, “Christ spoke only of his human nature. As a man he was dependent, yet as God he was independent.”

Let it now be supposed that, in the trial of Christ before the Jewish Sanhedrim, he had been questioned as to his meaning in so often declaring his dependence on Yahuwah; suppose too that he had given the Trinitarian explanation, saying, “I spoke then of my human nature only; yet I am Yahuwah, equal with the Father. Nay, I am the God of Abraham, who was worshipped by your fathers, and whom you profess to worship.” Would not his judges have had ground for a more serious accusation than they had on his claim that he was the Son of Yahuwah? Might they not very justly have said to him “Either the language which you adopted in your preaching to the people was equivocal and deceptive, or what you have now said is positively false. Asserting, as you did, that you could do nothing of yourself as a full declaration that you had no claim to be regarded as Yahuwah. How then can you now expect to be believed in saying that you are God equal with the Father? Besides, who before this ever heard of the Father of Abraham’s God?”

But no such formidable accusation could his enemies bring against “the Faithful and True Witness.” Never, I believe, did the Messiah, in any instance, so contradict his testimony respecting his dependence, as to intimate even to his apostles that he was God and man in one person; or that he was in any sense or respect the independent Yahuwah. Nor does it appear that his apostles ever understood him to assert his independence or self-existence.

No. 3. John’s care to prevent misapprehensions.

3John was the disciple whom Yahushua loved, the last of the Evangelists who wrote his history, and the one who recorded the discourses in which Christ most explicitly asserted his dependence on Yahuwah, for his commission and authority, his wisdom and power, in all he said or did. In many instances, John evinced special care to have the words of Christ understood or to prevent any misapprehensions of his meaning. He not only explained several names and titles, such as Cephas, Thomas, Siloam, Rabbi, and Messiah, but he also told Christ’s meaning in several instances, in which he had been misapprehended by his hearers and some which were likely to be misunderstood by the readers of his history.

In the second chapter, we are told that the Jews said to Yahushua: “What sign do you show us seeing you do these things?” To this demand, Yahushua answered, “Destroy this temple, and in three days, I will raise it up.” By their reply, the Jews fully evinced that they misunderstood what he meant by the temple. Yahushua did not then deem it incumbent on him to correct their mistake. But lest readers should be at a loss respecting Christ’s meaning, John thus explains: “But Yahushua spoke of the temple of his body” (vs. 18-21).

In chapter 6:64, Yahushua told his audience, “But there are some of you who do not believe.” John explains, “For Yahushua knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray him.”

John 7:38, 39: Yahushua had said, “He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly will flow rivers of living water.” In this metaphorical language, John observes, “But this he spoke of the spirit which those who believe in him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given [i.e., was not given from the risen Christ], because Yahushua was not yet glorified.”

John 11:11, 12, 13: Yahushua said to his disciples, “Our friend Lazarus is sleeping, and I am going to wake him out of sleep.” Then said his disciples, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will do well.” John explains, “Yahushua spoke of his death, but they thought he had spoken of taking rest in sleep.”

John 12:32: Yahushua said, “And I if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to me.” John again explains, “This he said, signifying what death he was about to die.”

John 13:10, 11: While washing his disciples’ feet, Yahushua said, “You are clean, but not all of you.” The reason for this remark is given by John: “For he knew who should betray him; therefore he said, you are not all clean.”

John 21:18: Yahushua said to Peter, “Truly, truly I say to you, When you were young you dressed yourself and walked where you wanted to; but when you are old, you will stretch forth your hands and another will dress you, and take you where you do not wish to go.” Here John adds, “This he spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify Yahuwah.”

In the last mentioned chapter, John relates that “Peter, seeing him, said to Yahushua, ‘And what will this man do?’ Yahushua said to him, ‘If I want him to wait until I come, what is that to you?’” Having related the question and the answer, John states and corrects a mistake that occurred: “Then this saying went abroad among the brothers and sisters that that disciple would not die. Yet Yahushua did not say to him, He will not die, but if I want him to wait till I come, what does this matter to you?”

Now let it be seriously considered how often Christ had in a direct form declared his dependence on Yahuwah or disclaimed self-sufficiency — and how certain it is that John must have known that such language was adapted to impress the belief that Christ was not the independent Yahuwah. We may ask, why did not John give an explanation, as in less urgent cases, and say, “These things Christ spoke of his human nature, and not of himself as God?” Surely if John knew or believed that Christ was an independent person or being, he must also have known that such an explanation was of vastly greater importance than any now found in his Gospel. Had he been a Trinitarian, like those of modern times, he would not have suffered such a mass of testimony describing the personal and absolute dependence of Christ to have passed without endeavoring to neutralize it by some explanation. Had John regarded Christ as Yahuwah, of how little importance it would have appeared to him to explain what Christ meant by the sleep of Lazarus or the temple that he would raise up in three days, compared with telling what he meant by a hundred passages which implied that he was a dependent being, and received all his sufficiency from the Father!

It is not in my heart to call in question the uprightness or sincerity of my Trinitarian friends. Still, I am compelled to wonder if they do not see that their explanation of our Lord’s words imputes to him such a habit of using equivocal and deceptive language, as would ruin the character of any other person. Had he been an independent person, I do not know what language he could have used more false and deceptive than many things which John has recorded as said by him. Yet this language was not explained by himself, nor by his careful and friendly disciple. Neither by himself nor by John is it so intimated that, in speaking of his dependence, he did not say of his whole person as Moses would have done in using the same language. Is it not an extraordinary method of honoring the Messiah, to assert his independence as God at the expense of his veracity? Yet this seems to be done with very great confidence by his Trinitarian disciples. But let any Trinitarian ask himself whether he would feel safe in frequently using such deceptive language, without explanation, as his theory imputes to Yahushua in whose lips there was no guile? May I not say that a good man would shrink with horror at the thought of adopting such a practice?

No. 4. The Trinitarian explanation not in accordance with his own hypothesis.

4I may now advance a step farther. If Yahushua Christ was personally the independent God, his declarations of dependence on the Father could not be accurate, in a sense contended for by Trinitarians. For their hypothesis is not that the human nature was united to the Father, but a second person, as independent as the Father. Now, who cannot see that self-sufficiency precludes the possibility of personal dependence? If Christ was personally self-sufficient, how could his human nature need any help from another person? Yet Christ did assert his reliance on the Father. He did not say, “My human nature can do nothing of itself, yet I as God do the work.” But speaking of himself as a distinct, single person, as the Messiah, the Son of Yahuwah, he says, “Of my own self I can do nothing.” “The words which I speak to you, I speak not of myself: but the Father who dwells in me, He does the works.” “If you loved me you would rejoice that I said I go to my Father, for the Father is greater than I.” “I do nothing of myself, but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.”

Could such declarations possibly be valid if Christ had been like the Father, self-sufficient and independent? If it had been a particular object of Christ to put his disciples on their guard against deifying himself, I hardly know what language he could have used better adapted to such a purpose. If he had said, “I am not God, but the dependent Son and Ambassador of Yahuwah,” the Trinitarian might still have said “he spoke only of his human nature.

Another question occurs. If the Messiah was personally the living God, what occasion or motive could he have had to speak of the dependence of his human nature on a different person? Was not his infinite wisdom and almighty power sufficient to supply all the defects and wants of his human nature? Besides, what motive could there have been for him to speak of the dependence of his human nature in a manner which he must have known implied the reliance of his whole person? The question of whether he was a dependent or an independent being was one of great importance. It is so viewed this day by his friends of all denominations. It could not be otherwise considered by the Messiah and his apostles. If, then, on a subject so serious and interesting to mankind, he could habitually speak in language so equivocal, so deceptive, so wholly adapted to mislead both the learned and the ignorant, what confidence can be placed in what he said on other subjects? If he could repeatedly say “I can do nothing of myself,” while in fact, he could do everything of himself, what evidence can we have that he had not in all he said a concealed meaning, directly opposite to what his words naturally conveyed? Something more serious, in my view, than the natural dignity of the Messiah is involved in the present inquiry — that is, his moral grace, his uprightness, his benevolence, and his veracity as a Teacher sent from Yahuwah.

No. 5. Two important texts considered.

In the affectionate interview between Christ and his apostles a little before the crucifixion, he said to them, “The Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came forth from Yahuwah.” In his prayer immediately following, while speaking of the apostles, Christ said to the Father, “Now they have known that all things that You have given me are of You; for I have given to them the words which You gave to me, and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You, and have believed that You sent me.”

These passages deserve the serious attention of Christians. To have known indeed that Christ “came forth from Yahuwah” and to “believe that Yahuwah sent him” must be very different from knowing that Christ was God, equal with the Father, and believing that he was an independent being. This must be admitted by Trinitarians, for they censure the faith of unitarians as heretical or defective. However, they truly believe Christ “came forth from Yahuwah” and was sent by Yahuwah. Yet I think it must be owned that Christ, in his prayer, approved the faith of his apostles in saying, “They have believed that You sent me” — and that too without the slightest intimation that they ever had believed, or ever would believe, that he was the living God.

I may further remark that in the passage first quoted, Christ gave them a solemn assurance of Yahuwah’s love for them and explicitly stated why they were so beloved by Yahuwah. He did not say, “The Father loves you because you have believed that I am God and his equal,” — but these are his words: “The Father himself loves you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came forth from Yahuwah.” After having heard the numerous and dreadful censures which have been passed on all who believe that Christ was not Yahuwah, but a beloved Son who “came forth from Yahuwah,” as commissioned and sent by the Father; who would have supposed that such a text as we have now before us could be found in the Bible? If Christ did not make a mistake as to the ground of Yahuwah’s approving love of the apostles, there certainly appears a significant difference of opinion and feeling between Yahuwah and too many Trinitarians. The faith approved by Yahuwah and his Son has been censured by Trinitarians as blasphemous by many who would have it supposed that they are genuinely orthodox in their views of the Messiah.

It can be of no avail here to say, “It was only the human nature that the apostles believed ‘came forth from Yahuwah.’” Their love for Christ, and their belief that he came forth from Yahuwah, are the only grounds on which it is said: “the Father Himself loves you.” Besides, believing that Christ “came forth from Yahuwah” is the only article of faith mentioned in the text. Whether the doctrine that Christ is the independent God be true or false, it certainly was not a belief in this doctrine that secured to the apostles the Father’s love.

This is a non-WLC article written by Noah Worcester, D.D., 1827.

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