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A STATEMENT OF PROOFS THAT THE FATHER IS THE
ONE SUPREME GOD.
“Glory be to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.” Ancient Doxology.
" The more I endeavour to realize the manner of thinking and speaking current in the New Testament, the more I feel myself called upon to give it as my decided opinion, that the historical Son of God, as such, cannot be called God, without completely destroying the monotheistical system of the apostles." -Lücke, Studien und Kritiken, 1840, i., p. 91. Hagenbach's Hist. of Doctrines, vol. i., p. 117.
In the foregoing chapters I have stated, as briefly as I could, how it seems to me that passages, which are adduced from Scripture in favor of Trinitarianism, may be interpreted consistently with the central Christian truth, that there is but one supreme God the Father. To complete the argument, it is necessary that I should point out declarations and facts, in the Old and New Testaments, irreconcilable with the plain doctrine of the Trinity. The method, in which the theologian will hope to aid the thoughtful inquirer, is by the reconciliation of those portions of Holy Writ, which are obscure and difficult, with those which are clearly revealed and easy to be understood.
When it is asked why we do not believe that Christ is God in the same sense as the Father, it appears to me that we can answer nothing less than that our Lord himself has expressly declared it is not so. From himself and his apostles we have the declaration in so many words, not simply that there is one only true God, but that the one only true God is the Father. In John xvii. 3, we read, “ This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” He to whom this is addressed is, then, the only true God; and looking to the context we find the epithets used are, “Father,” “Holy Father," “Righteous Father ;" and it is to be observed that Jesus Christ speaks of himself as apart from, and sent by the only true God, to whom he is praying. This would appear completely to identify the one only Jehovah of the Jews with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly, when asked by the scribe, which is the first commandment of all, Jesus answered by a quotation from Deuteronomy, “ The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord,” Mark xii. 29. Some persons have regarded it as a sufficient reply to this statement to quote such texts as, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God,” or the passage of doubtful punctuation in Rom. ix. 5. But “the only true God, the Father," is not ambiguous language. Hence Whitby, who, in his commentary, had given an elaborate and lengthened reply to the Socinian argument, as he then termed it, renounced in his Last Thoughts, the doctrine he had previously defended. In his Preface he says, “It is rightly and truly observed by Justin
Martyr, in the beginning of his exhortation to the Greeks, "That an exact scrutiny into things doth often produce conviction, that those things which we once judged to be right, are, after a more diligent inquiry into truth, found to be far otherwise.' And, truly, I am not ashamed to say, this is my very case; for when I wrote my Commentaries on the New Testament, I went on (too hastily, I own) in the common beaten road of other reputed orthodox divines.”
In 1 Cor. viii. 4, St. Paul writes, “We know that there is no other God but one," and in the 6th verse we learn who this one God is : “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” To this Mr. Bickersteth replies in the words of Dr. Pye Smith, who says, “ Lord is not put as a designation secondary and inferior to God. It attributes dominion, and the extent of the dominion must be according to the nature of the case in any given instance.” As to the expression by or through him, di aŭtov, Dr. Smith goes on to say, “The identical phrase is used, which is twice by the same writer employed with regard to the eternal Father .... but at all events the Deity of Christ can no more be denied because the Father is here called the one God, than the dominion of the Father can be denied because the Son is called the One Lord.* » The first of these statements amounts to this, that éos, God, is not a higher title than Kúplos, Lord. If this need an answer, one is suggested by Dr. Smith's own words, “The extent of the dominioni (implied by
*Lord') must be according to the nature of the case in any given instance." Now, the dominion of the one God is supreme and absolute, and not dependent on the nature of the case. Is it said that Christ is called “ the one Lord ?” Let the reader recall the declaration of St. Peter, “God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” As to the expressions " of him” and “through him," they distinguish, as I have said, when used in contrast, the source and the instrument. It is true that in Rom. xi. 36, “through Him” is applied to the Father Himself, but it is in addition to “of Him," and in a connection peculiarly expressive of His absolute supremacy; “ of Him, ¢, and through Him, did, and to Him are all things.” It is not doubted by us at least that the Father worketh hitherto, though He employs instruments, and has sent His Son into the world. The other passage in which dià is used in reference to God is Heb. ii. 10, “It became Him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Does this imply equality ? “At all events,” argues Dr. Smith, “if we deny the Deity of Christ because the Father is called the one God, we must also deny the dominion of the Father because the Son is called the one Lord.” But is it not written that God hath made Jesus Lord, and that he is “Lord to the glory of God the Father," and that when it is said, “ all things are put under his feet, it is manifest that He is excepted who did put all things under him?" The distinction between God the Father and Christ our Lord is, if possible, yet more explicit in Eph. iv. 5, 6, “ One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
Not only does the title, “the only true God,” belong to the Father, but we constantly meet with the appellations, “God, the Father,” “God, our Father," “God, even the Father.” I can only refer to a few of these. “Grace be to you, and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,” Gal. i. 3, “Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” Eph. vi. 23. “ Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father and preserved in Jesus Christ," Jude i. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father (or our God and Father) is this,” etc., James i. 27. “Therewith bless we God, even the Father," James iii. 9. “Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ," 1 Cor. i. 3. “Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ," 2 Thess. i. 1. “Who gave himself for our sins that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father,” Gal. i. 4. “Now, God Himself and our Father (or rather, our God and Father Himself), and our Lord Jesus Christ direct our way unto you," 1 Thess. iii. 11. “To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints," 1 Thess. iii. 13. “Blessed be God, even the Father