How can we better show that the differences between the Apostolic view of Christ and the Trinitarian view of Christ are not merely semantics?
What a great question to consider at Christmas time. “Unto us a child is born…” (Is. 9:6). Six words. The words are at the beginning of a wonderful prophecy, written by inspiration of the Spirit of God, through a prophet centuries ago. Our trinitarian friends often miss the truth about the incarnation. They miss not just the facts of the incarnation; they also miss seeing that God’s revelation is not intended to merely “create a sense of mystery” that we stand in awe of, but cannot understand.
A growing number of scholars even outside our movement are pointing this out. Hendrikus Berkhof says, “How can God be one and three? How can God be a person and at the same time consist of three persons? And how can Jesus regard God as greater than himself if from eternity he is ‘one in essence with the Father’? So God became a mystery in which the covenant partner, man, does not share. The latter can only adore this mystery; for his faith, it has no significance.” The real truth about God and His intention for humanity in the incarnation is often lost! Even Kohnstamm says regarding the trinity, “…but even as a member of the church I have for many years understood nothing of what is nevertheless regarded as its central dogma.” The eternal truth is lost in the muddied doctrines of tradition.
What is disclosed? Nothing less than God’s heart. How far would God go to reach us? This prophecy shows us! God’s love would make Him go to a manger! When no man could be our priest and advocate because of their own sin, the desire of God refused to allow Him to stand aside as merely an Observer.
As I have written in another publication, “…that little bit of flesh, born in Bethlehem, became the tip of the spear in the greatest battle in human history.” Even trinitarian scholars like James Dunn admit this is going on in passages like Phil. 2:8, showing that the phrase “And being found in fashion as a man,” “…provides the bridge to the next movement… the end result of Christ’s odyssey, and by means of passive construction makes it the basis for the next thought, the next stage — Christ’s death.”
We often just rush to His death, but before death, God had to come as a man! Not as a second person… So, as Oscar Cullmann rightly points out, “…the Second Adam must correct the first Adam’s sin of disobedience.” As even Berkhof admits, “…this sonship has its origin in eternity; and it realizes itself in a history of struggle and obedience.” God must enter the fray legally as a man. As so He did in Bethlehem… and the world has never been the same.