God is eternal and does not change. If there is an eternal Father, then there is an eternal Son, and an eternal Spirit; one cannot have a Father without having a Son. These are terms of relationship. The title, Lord Jesus, applies to the Son alone. It does not apply to the Father, nor does not apply to the Spirit. All three are called LORD, meaning YAHWEH. They are three persons but identical in nature. The Oneness view is the Bermuda triangle of Christianity. One can never pinpoint where God is located; or who he is at which time, the Father, then the Son, the Spirit, then the Son, then the Father, ad infinitum. What they cannot deny is that all three are God, so they change the meaning. According to the Oneness view of God being as a singular person , their Trinity becomes “me, myself and I.”
D.Bernard claims that “Modalism is the same as the modern doctrine of Oneness.” (the Oneness of God p.318) This is hardly the case.
Monarchianism as it was first called came about in the late 2nd century by Theodotus of Byzantium and later Paul of Samosata which developed it even further (that’s right their doctrine was developed and refined too). There were two basic forms of Monarchianism, one was called “Modal” and the other was “adoptionism”. The Adoption view said Jesus was a only human until he was adopted which occurred at his baptism when God spoke he was his beloved Son.( Another view of adoption was that it occurred at the resurrection related to Peters declaration in Acts 2:32-36). This is the view Paul of Samosata taught, he also believed “the Logos was co-substantial with the Father, but was not a distinct person in the Godhead. He could be identified with God, because he existed in him just as human reason in exists in man.” (Berkhof, History of Christian doctrines p.78) (this can be considered relevant to the Oneness of today). So not only does God change into different roles, but given enough time, so does there doctrine on his nature!
The most prevalent form of Monarchianism was that the Father, Son and Spirit are numerically one. Sabellius taught there were three modes or manifestations of the one God. They appear at different times (dispensations) throughout history under the different forms, it is specifically this modalistic view that I will address here, since this is historically the original teaching.
The Bible describes God as unchangeable, eternal, immutable always existing. Whatever he reveals of himself as is eternal . All his attributes are eternal, as they flow from his infinite nature who’s essence is also eternal, unchangeable.
God himself says to the Son in Heb.1:10″ And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands… and they shall be changed: but thou art the same,( quote of Psalm 102:25)
Mal.3:6 ” I the Lord do not change. The God of the scriptures is presented as eternal in his nature, unchanging.
The Bible teaches that God is eternal Duet. 33:27 Ps.90:2 ” From everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
The word teaches also teaches that all three persons of the Godhead are also eternal, all belong to the order of eternity. The Father is eternal James 1:17, the Son is eternal Hebrews 13:8 ” Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Micah 5:2 ” speaking of Jesus-whose goings forth are from old (ancient times) from everlasting (from eternity)” the Holy Spirit is eternal Heb. 9:14.Jn.2:24 God is spirit. In the scriptures only three persons are ever called God, no more than three are ever seen together as God.
In Modalism we have a God who temporarily exists in one of three or more different modes (roles) as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Since God is presented as eternal in his nature, unchanging, he reveals himself as who he is, not as who he is not! The persons (who they call modes) are also eternal. In other words, he can’t be revealed in Scripture (known) in three persons unless in truthfulness that is who he is permanently. Something that has an eternal (infinite) nature never comes into or out of existence. Otherwise it has a beginning, which means it did not always exist. This also means it has an end, since it changes to another mode. Ancient Oneness’ claim was God’s persons (manifestations) are sequential in order. They had to do this because they recognized The Father, Son and Holy Spirit as personal. The Bible portrays the persons as simultaneously existing. There was never a time when one, two or three were not. The same way God always had wisdom, truth and eternal life. All his attributes are as eternal as his persons, and each shares in these qualities of his nature. These attributes are not persons but are the characteristics of nature in the person.
The Bible portrays the persons as simultaneously existing as God.There was never a time when they all were not. In the same way God always had wisdom, truth and eternal life. All his attributes are as eternal as his persons.
Let me give a human example: what if I came to you one day and said I’m married and my name is John. Two years later I come back and say I’m no John but his Son. Two years later I come back and say I’m Johns wife. We all of the same family but none of us exist at the same time, we are only exchanging roles.This is the concept of God by oneness that showed itself in the churches beginnings.
Ex. 3:15 ” I am who I am” Jesus applies this name of God for himself in Jn.8:58 ” I tell you before Abraham was, I am.” Ego emi; which is in the present indicative active form of the verb “to be“, meaning, what is true of this being before is true of him today, that he has no change from eternity past to eternity future. According to the Oneness view of changing into different roles God is no longer the eternal “I Am” but the eternal “I was”. I was the Father, now I’m the Son and Next I’ll be the H.Spirit, and next you fill in the blank. In Modalism God is actually more than 3 because all forms and titles are counted as his one person so they do not believe he is limited to only three roles.
If God is strictly a single person then modalism fails by its own theology, because God did not change form before or afterward (I the lord do not change). Manifestations of God do NOT interact with God, (with each other) but only with the mankind. Does a manifestation speak to another manifestation? On the contrary, we see these as personal communication of one to another before the incarnation , during and afterwards.
If one is to claim 3 different forms of God each having his personhood or being, then they must permanently exist. Modalism claims the father, Son, and Holy Spirit are only forms God creates to appear in. God is then like an actor putting on different masks for the different roles. These forms manifest temporarily and then they are discarded and cease to exist, until he becomes that again. So these forms and titles have a beginning and an end, which means they are not the eternal God of the Bible. As Bernard readily admits the sonship will cease because it is only a temporary role. When Jesus prayed for us to become one as he and the Father are one, are we now to assume that we become united with a role and not the essential being of God. Do we now have a role dwelling within?
Its not that God can be manifested in three or more ways at once, but was he? Nowhere can you find a Scripture where God was manifested in three ways or where Scripture states three manifestations? All three are called manifestations by Oneness yet they are eternal according to Scripture. So if God is a person, how does a non- personal manifestation reveal that? For God to reveal himself for who he is, he would of necessity use the most ideal means as an exact revelation. This is what is conveyed in Heb.1:3 he the Son is the exact image of his person. The son of man is personal just as the God whose image he represents.
What we know is that forms, titles are not the actual persons, so they are not revealing God’s authentic nature. Then God has not revealed his essential personhood to anyone throughout time. Then all the knowledge of God we have gathered is transient. What the OT. prophets saw was an illusion something he was not , something he wore for that time. No one ever got to know God for who he is except by the role he played. What is to make us think that the Son whose last form God took would be any different? Could this not also be a temporary formality ? What undergoes a change cannot be God. Change describes something not retaining its own being, only something that is created is subject to change.
Isaiah 43:10 “before me there was no God formed nor is there after me.”
Mal. 3:6 “I the Lord do not change” so what undergoes a change cannot be the eternal God. If God is given to only as he appears temporarily in each form using names for his different forms such as Father and Son. Then the personal revelation is hidden and inaccessible to man. In oneness (Modalism) we do not meet God as he is, but only as he appears temporarily in each form. then we are being deceived because he has not revealed himself for who he truly is in nature and person.
These manifestations are time centered illusory appearances. If there is a time they disappear and reappear in a different person then they are not eternal, which proves they are not the God of the Bible who is unchangeable. indivisible and unquantifiable in his being. Because that which is eternal exists outside of time and change.
This needs repeating, to have these manifestations of God constantly changing without any explanation from his word contradicts his word. If there is a time they disappear and reappear in a different person then they are not eternal, which proves they are not the God of the Bible who is unchangeable, indivisible and unquantifiable. What is at stake here is the authenticity of Gods self revelation, how can one know or understand who he is if he has temporary roles changing back and forth indiscriminately into another person. Each time he appears he needs to re-identify who he currently is. He left as Jesus and came back as the comforter and then he may leave again to come back as Jesus, but then what? He no longer is the eternal I am, but I was. What is the purpose of switching roles and becoming another anyway? This also proves there is no everlasting father (Isa.9:6) as well.