Personhood, the Father, and Jesus

Oneness Pentecostals say that when Jesus was praying to God the Father, he was praying to himself. They sometimes explain that the human nature of Jesus was praying to the divine nature of Jesus. But, when we look at the phrases “pray to,” “prayed to,” and “prays to” in the Bible we find 40 occurrences (See the Table examining the phrases pray to, prayed to, and prays to). There is never an instance of someone praying to himself. Instead, prayer is always offered by a human being to God or false gods (Isaiah 44:17). So, the oneness idea that Jesus was praying to himself is not consistent with scripture. 

Personhood, the Father, and Jesus

Are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit three persons? The Oneness adherents must say no. But for them to deny that God is three persons means they understand what “person” means in the context of the Trinity. Otherwise, how could they justify denying that God is three persons?

A person is a set of characteristics that encompass identity, self-awareness, awareness of others, emotions, self-determination, and rational nature. Personhood is the condition shared by God, angels, and people that involves the ability to think, speak, be self-aware, aware of others, can love, be rational, etc. Both God and angels are non-corporeal yet exhibit the characteristics of personhood. Therefore, the word ‘person’ deals with that set of characteristics and is not restricted to just human beings in physical form.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each exhibit attributes of personhood. For example, the Father speaks (Matthew 3:15); the Son speaks (Luke 5:20); and the Holy Spirit speaks (Acts 13:2). The Father has a will (Luke 22:42); the Son is a will (Luke 22:42), and the Holy Spirit has a will (1 Cor. 12:11). The Father loves (John 3:16); the Son loves (Eph. 5:25), and the Holy Spirit loves (Rom. 15:30).

So, is the Father a person? Is the Son a person?

Trinitarians can answer both questions in the affirmative. But oneness adherents have difficulty because to admit that the Father is a person and the Son is a person is to refute their own idea that God is a single person. After all, the person of the Father speaks of the person of the Son and vice versa. This negates the idea that Jesus was praying to himself.

Jesus human nature praying to the divine nature?

In light of this, oneness adherents often say that Jesus’ human nature was praying to his divine nature. Then how is that possible since Jesus prays to the person of the Father who is in heaven (Matt. 6:9; John 17:1-5)? So, concerning the incarnation, the oneness adherents risk denying the true incarnation of the word of God in the flesh (John 1:1, 14).

If Jesus’ human nature was praying to his divine nature, then that implies that Jesus, who was supposed to be a single person with two natures, apparently switched back and forth when talking. Sometimes the divine nature would speak, and at other times the human nature would speak.

The following is from my notes of a debate I had with a onenes leader named Biship Hayes. (link to vid) When I asked him which nature of Jesus was speaking in John 6:38, this is what he said. “For I [DIVINE NATURE] have come down from heaven, not to do My [HUMAN NATURE] own will, but the will of Him who sent Me [DIVINE NATURE].”

Of course, this kind of alternate-nature-speaking is not how the single person of Jesus communicates. Jesus is one person, not two. After all, persons speak, not natures.

Incarnation and Indwelling

In the context of Jesus, the difference between incarnation and indwelling is that ‘incarnation’ means to be embodied in a permanent way. To ‘indwell’ means to be embodied temporarily or, in the case of God, as a property of His omnipresence. In the incarnation of the Word was made flesh and became a man (John 1:1, 14; Phil. 2:5-8; Col. 2:9).  We call this the hypostatic union where the single person of Christ has two distinct natures. This union of two natures does not dissolve upon the physical death of Christ.

God dwells within the tent curtains (2 Sam. 7:2), in Jerusalem (1 Chron. 23:25), and in Zion (Joel 3:17). God dwells in them, but He is not incarnate in them. There is a difference.

Furthermore, God and Jesus, (two persons) indwell us (John 14:23; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 3:17). God indwelling us is not the same thing as being incarnate in us. That incarnation is reserved for Christ alone, the Word became flesh (John 1:1, 14). Again, this is called the Hypostatic Union.

Conclusion

Oneness theology divides Christ into two persons, the divine person and the human person. This is because it is only the case that persons speak and have wills. But when they teach that the human nature praise to the divine nature, then they are promoting to persons in Jesus. This is called Nestorianism and is a heresy. Instead, Jesus is the one person with two distinct natures. The natures don’t speak alternately. They don’t switch back and forth as if, no disrespect meant, the human body of Christ was a puppet manipulated and controlled by alternating natures.

Oneness theology is not true.

The post Personhood, the Father, and Jesus appeared first on Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry.

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