The "Trinitarian" Godhead
“GODS” – “LORDS”
A RECONCILIATION OF THE JEWISH
AND CHRISTIAN VIEW OF THE GODHEAD
The time has come for a clarification and emphasis on the nature of the Godhead relating to terminology, for the understanding and edification of those who claim to be advanced in knowledge. Of course, a full reconciliation between the Christian and Jewish views of the Godhead will certainly not come about from a brief discussion or summary point study such as this. The Christian view is influenced with significant pagan issues, and the Jewish view holds to a theoretical perpetual Divine Singularity, however masking an ancient truth, when qualified and understood in the concept of the “step-down” transformer principle known as “Elohim” (Deity plural).
Certain terms and concepts of a purely Christian origin, mixed with paganism, manifest the ignorance and insensitivity of some Sabbath keeping believers. Many do not recognize that our Jewish brethren are ‘put-off’ or quietly offended by our use of certain words relating to Deity. Some do not care about offending others unnecessarily, but I do. Nevertheless, I do not accept the rabbinic definition of “idolatry”, based upon an extremely restricted definition of Deuteronomy 6:4 of “one”, and, as some Jewish Messianic leaders today assert also, using the New Testament Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., where upon examination of the Greek text in the New Testament in 1 John 5:7, the words of “parsopa” and “prosepon” (“person” and “substance” respectively), were interchanged, thus, supposedly confirming that the long held rabbinic, Pharasaic position, that The Father, Most High, could not have a specially “Begotton” Divine Son.
On the other hand, we cannot accept, as the Advent Movement founders also rejected, the original Christian Trinitarian Creed, of a “Triune” Singularity, in three sections, in reality, closely paralleling the Jewish rabbinic concept of Divine “Aspects”, not actually personages of a Divine Family, a composite Unity. Nor, can we find any Scriptural basis for a “Trinitarian” “Tri-Theistic” concept of Three self-originating Beings, co-equal and co-eternal, which is the main contention of this study.
Certainly, we can never capitulate to the rabbinic position of a pure Divine Singularity, known as the “Father” - Creator, without a family dimension archetype. Mystical Judaism freely uses the term of “Godhead”, as permutations of distinct Divine personalities, but only as “aspects” of a singular being, not “Persons”. I reject this notion because it does not consider or relate to the concept of progressive manifestation and revelation of Deity, beginning with the ”Ein Sof”, the Original Singular concept of the Infinite Eternal Mind, which is NOT comprehendable to finite beings. I only mention the “Ein Sof” in passing, to introduce the concept, not to fully define the term or fully discuss. There is a great deal written on this original concept in Mystical Judaism. Hence, the need for the “step-down” transformer principle, of “Elohim”, not just in theory but a progressive manifestation and revelation of the Eternal One, becoming a Family, the archetype of humanity.
The concept of the “Ein Sof”, is true, without question, in the mind of this author, and is well supported by Scripture and Spirit of Prophecy, nicely brought out in the landmark study in 1984 by Charles Pace, in the Daughter Message, but only in passing as a starting point. The part I reject is that Judaism stagnates on the concept of “Ein Sof”.
The Ein Sof is DYNAMIC, and unfolds to ITS (His) intended (seed) design to become perfection, a Family, with a Heavenly Delineation of Authority. The number ‘one’ is not a perfect number, in that, it certainly has limitations, not only in the human realm, but in the Divine realm as well. “It is not good that man should be alone.” Genesis 2:18.
We cannot please everyone with this effort, but we can become more accurate and scriptural in our understanding which is the purpose of this brief discussion.
Christians and Torah observant believers cannot think that they, or we, have invented a concept and constitute the first or singular chosen repositories of the Divine Family concept. One book available from Jewish book sources is entitled “On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead.” From this source, in general, we can build a more correct concept of Deity, and at least begin to bridge the conceptual gap between Jewish and Christian understanding of the “Creator”. Again, not to capitulate to the rabbinic position in any concept of the Godhead, or to deny the true and full concept of the Divine Family, but to initiate reconciliation through use of Hebrew words and Hebrew ancient concepts. This we may do, for …
“….the Jewish economy is full of instruction for us.” Ellen G. White, R&H Feb. 4, 1902.
PREMISE AND FOUNDATION OF DISCUSSION
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord –YHWH our Elohim is one Lord –YHVH:” Deut. 6:4
These words are the watchword of Judaism, from its foundation and inception from the time of Moses. We, as New Covenant believers understand these words to reveal a Composite UNITY of Deity, known as Elohim, not a Divine Singularity as the mainstream Jewish thinking understands. Jewish thinking. in general, chooses to ignore the well established concept of “composite unity” relating to the word “one” (echad) in the Hebrew text of Deut. 6:4. However, Christian and New Covenant believers choose to ignore the oneness through delineation of authority from the Father, the Most High. The word here in Deut. 6:4, “one”, certainly has more than one meaning, which probably cannot be understood completely by finite beings this side of eternity, if ever, but we do need to begin to understand the breadth and depth of the term “one” in the above verse. Deity is not to be locked-up or confined in a conceptual box by any religious thought, individual or group. What is ‘locked-up’ and otherwise forever established, that cannot be changed, will not be changed or altered, is the concept of “delineation of authority”, in Heaven and on earth.
Our Creator, is a “composite Unity”, but the delineation of authority is SINGULAR, without question. This may seem to many believers to be a rudimentary and well established concept. It is. But why does not our language in terminology referring to “God”, the Creator, reflect this basic concept? Why do we, or at least some, speak and teach concerning “the Trinity”, or why do some use the terms “Gods” and “Lords”, referring to the Godhead? No such language or concept is used in Scripture. Even to use the English plural reference to “God” to emphasize the Divine Family, or a Member of that Family, is unwise. This is because it gives the wrong impression, communicates an easily distorted concept of Deity based on the Greco-Roman model, specifically, the pantheon of gods that was embraced by the ancient pagan cultures. These ancient cultures still have an influence in New Covenant religious thought today. One only need look at the Roman Church, and all the subordinate churches of modern day Protestantism [in name only] to validate this observation. So what can be done to enlighten, clarify and correct this misuse of words and infiltration of a paganized concept of the Godhead?
DELINEATION OF AUTHORITY – NOTHING HAS CHANGED
Lets take a look at what the Master said. Here is a commonly overlooked reference in the New Covenant Scripture.
“And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
“Y’shua (Jesus) answered him, The FIRST of the commandments is, Hear O Israel; The Lord-YHVH our Elohim is ONE Lord -YHVH.” Mark 12:29
Most New Covenant believers have some greater or lesser difficulty in understanding this verse, not to mention Deut. 6:4, but it no longer need be the case. The above verses leave no room for any concept of “Trinitarian” view of the Godhead. By “Trinitarian”, I mean, specifically the “co-equal” and “co-eternal” aspects of the doctrine. The co-equal and co-eternal components invites a variation of the pagan concepts of the Greco-Roman pantheon of deities, which of course is idolatry.
Co-equal and co-eternal provisions have no part in the true understanding of the Divine Family in Heaven (Eph. 3:15). This is because according to the progressive revelation of the Family nature of the Creator, as taught in the Advent (SDA) Movement since the 1888 Message, and its subsequent rejection by the leadership, the authors of that message, in the landmark book by E.J. Wagonner, Christ and His Righteousness, on several pages stated and clearly taught that there was a time when the Son of “God” was “begotten”, as Micah 5:2 reveals, and “brought forth”, “but that it was so far back in the ages of eternity”, “it is practically without beginning.” Christ and His Righteousness, by E.J. Wagonner, pages 9,21,22. So much for the co-eternal aspect of the Trinity doctrine, from an SDA point of view.
I believe that the denial of the true nature of Messiah, Christ, His pre-existance, His Divinity [in the Flesh] and/or the revelation of the Divine Family structure in Heaven, is the omega of apostasy that Sister White prophesied.
In the late 1990s, I once heard, personally, from an SDA head elder and his wife, who was the church Bible worker no less, that “Christ did not pre-exist His earthly birth!” What a statement!
It may be surprising for many, that Judaism teaches a Divine Family concept of the Godhead, which is found in the intellectual spiritual foundation of Judaism, the Kaballah, in the writings of the Zohar, which many believe, including the author of this study, is a spiritual core teaching of the oral law since the time of Moses.
The Zohar, though it is controversial in its origin, was codified beginning around the 6th century by a famous rabbi in Spain at the time. Unfortunately, Judaism tended to mystify or purely spiritualize the important concepts and truth found in the Zohar or Kabblistic teachings in general. The author of this study does not wholly endorse or accept every teaching or tenant of the Zohar or Kabbalistic origin. There are certainly wonderful Jewels of truth buried in the Zohar, which is a five volume set. Lois Roden, in her landmark teaching of the Divine Family in Heaven, freely quoted from Zohar writings in many places in her publications in the early 1980s.
As far as the “co-equal” provision of the Trinity doctrine, well, Scripture can answer that one very quickly. There is a singular delineation of authority in all Scripture, even though it is well understood that “all power in Heaven and earth is given unto the Son.” True indeed. We do need to understand and emphasize however the Divine Authorization that made it so. I am only emphasizing this truth here. It is not a revelation.
This, in my view of this topic, is the core reality of what Deut. 6:4 and Mark 12:29 are revealing in the “One Lord”, that is, the composite Unity of the Creator, under the SINGULAR authority of the Most High, the Father. He is not called the “Most High” for no good reason. He is the Delineation of Authority, for The Family, as it were, even though the Divine Mother, The Divine Son and the Divine Daughter have unconditional life within Themselves as Deity. This is not a pantheon of deities and it is NOT idolatry to understand and embrace this concept, which was first taught in Mystical Judaism, but unfortunately, spiritualized to the point of depersonalizing all but the Most High.
The scriptural basis for this understanding is further given in 1 Cor. 15:28.
“Then comes the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
“For He must reign, till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
“For He has put all things under His feet. But when He says, all thing are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him.
“And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be ALL in ALL.”
The above verse, particularly the “All in All”, sounds like ONE Big ONE to me, in a composite Unity concept.
There in is a good phrase to summarize the intended concept of “one” in the Deut. 6:4 concept, that “God”, the Father, “may be ALL in ALL.” He is the first cause. He is the Head of the Delineation of Authority. Some advanced students of truth already understand this. This study is not directed at those of you who already understand this.
E.J. Wagonner stated it simply and direct. “All things proceed ultimately from God, the Father, even Christ Himself proceeded and came forth from the Father;” [which he later describes as the “Bosom of the Father”, meaning, the Divine Mother]. CHR p. 19.
This brief discussion is only an overview, more like the forward of an extensive or comprehensive study. It may surprise most readers that the founders of the church did not believe or teach the doctrine of the Trinity. In fact, I have yet to find one the founders that did believe in the Trinity doctrine probably because of the co-equal and co-eternal components. Unfortunately, the anti-Trinitarian faction in the SDA church disposes with the Personhood of the Holy Spirit in rejection of the "Trinity" doctrine. The author of this study is NOT Trinitarian, but I believe in the Person and Personality of the Holy Spirit.
The founders of the church understood well the truth about delineation of authority, from Father to Son. An argument could be made that the Divine Mother, the Divine Matron, has co-equal authority with the Father, and I have no problem with it, but that is way beyond the scope of this discussion. But nature and revelation teaches, ultimately, that the Father is the Head, the first and final Authority.
In her seven year ministry teaching the Holy Spirit Mother, in the early 1980s, it is true that Lois Roden did use, and wrote, if not [unwittingly] encourage the use of the terms “Gods” and “Lords”, emphasizing a ministerial equality or equal or virtual equal nature of the Godhead. All of this had its place and purpose in the mind of the messenger during the time of her teaching and publishing. But this is what I have to say about it, in the final analysis. If Lois Roden was alive today, I would go to her personally, prayerfully, and share the above information and position I have given. I would entreat her to carefully use correct terminology and the concept of oneness, a composite unity, clearly denoting the primacy of the Father, avoiding any terms that could be viewed as idolatry, particularly as not to offend the rabbinic Jewish mind or the advanced student of the Torah observant believer in Messiah. It would not be the first time I gave counsel, or shared a point of truth, with Lois Roden, which she readily accepted.
Since the Scriptures make the proclamation in Deut. 6:4 by Moses, and since the Master re-emphasized it, substantiating the Hebrew practice, and since the Spirit of Prophecy declares to us, “the Jewish economy is full of instruction for us” [one of my favorite quotes], and since it is the practice of all observant Jews (Orthodox) to recite the “Shema” [meaning to “Listen”] twice daily, “Hear O Israel, YHWH our Elohim is ONE YHWH”, the author of this study has made it a practice for many years to also recite the Shema at the beginning of prayer during the Daily Hours of prayer. The introduction of original sin in humanity has brought a division in the Divine Family in Heaven for the need of advocacy and intercessory office. The “Shema” is not only a declaration of Israel proclaiming the Unity of the Creator, the delineation of Authority of the Father, that He, as the Apostle Paul advocates, is the “All in All”, but to us it is a prayer for reconciliation of the Divine Family in Heaven. The Shema is the central tenant of faith of Judaism. It should be ours as well.
“Shema Yisrael, YHVH Elohainu, YHVH Echad.”
Your fellow servant,