by Norman P. Grubb
July-Aug 1981 Union Life|
What do you mean in your statement of faith by saying “there is only one Person in the universe”? Does this mean that you are rejecting the Doctrine of the Trinity, or that you do not recognize the personhood of human beings, angels, etc.? Does it mean that you are teaching a kind of pantheism into which all is to be absorbed into the “One”? I cannot believe that this is what you mean, but I do think some explanation is in order, because Christian leaders are going to be curious about your position and I would like an interpretation.
Rev. D. Bennett, Seattle, WA
A. As to your straightforward inquiries, yes, indeed we seek to accept the whole Bible and totally believe in God in Three Persons, for by no other way could He manifest Himself except by the Son and through the Spirit. But we see the Triune God as the only one “in the beginning”: and He “all in all” at the end (1 Cor. 15:28). And the “in all” of that statement means that all people and all things are created and thus derivative forms of Him. Thus even Jesus the Son on earth said He could do and say nothing except what He saw and heard the Father doing and saying, and He finally summed it up to His disciples at the Last Supper preparing them for His coming as the Spirit into them, by saying “If you see me, you see the Father”! Jesus further explained Himself in John 14:10. John doesn’t mince words but says right out in his epistle, “as He is, so are we in this world.”
It is clear we are God-containers, God-expressors. He actually says we are the light of the world, but that can only mean He in my form as the lamp. The only meaning and function of a human in the image of God is as the vessel, temple, branch, body-member—containers of God. You see, we never have had a human nature, but we express another. As a result of the Fall, Satan expressed his independent self-nature by us (John 8:44). Now, through the death of Jesus, His blood removed our sins, guilt, and condemnation, while His body removed our sin nature. When we link II Corinthians 5:14 with verse 21, we see that just as our bodies naturally contain the sin-spirit of error (1 John 4:6) and thus express sin-Satan, so His body on the cross representing all our bodies was “made sin” in the sense of expressing the Satan-sin who indwells us. When he died, out went that sin-spirit (Rom. 6:10—dead to sin), and into that same body representing all of us came His own Spirit of truth!
Thus Paul at last discovered in Romans 7 that his self-loving tendencies such as covetousness were not and never had been his human self, but that indwelling Liar expressing his self-lusts by us. “That is it, says Paul—not my human I (which has no nature of its own), but the sin-spirit dwelling in me” (7:20). Then Paul sees that through Christ’s body-death, sin in its self-loving drive is out of us and Christ in His Self-giving nature is in us (Rom. 8:2-4, 10). So the gospel is really a change of Gods! (Of course the god of this world was only a created being masquerading as god, and so always remains God’s agent. And the human doesn’t change, but only the “deity” expressing himself in the human.)
It is in this sense that we mean God is “the Only Person,” for we are derivative, created containers, yet in the great paradox of Galatians 2:20 we arise in our new union totally self-accepting when we know that He is the inner Operator! He does the keeping (Phil. 2:13, both the willing and the doing), so I’m free to just be. Great fun!
Yes, we are often accused of pantheism. Not being a trained theologian I don’t even know the actual definition of the word. We speak what we know and have experienced, that all things and people are forms of Him. In that sense, in every situation and with every person we are see-throughers instead of see-aters. John 7:24 is a key Scripture on this point.
So I thank you, D_____, for your love and fairness in writing to inquire.