Commentary on the Godhead

Dear Editor,

This month The Journal published an article by you the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald on a sermon given in Texas by Dr. Don Ward.

In that sermon an attack was launched by Don Ward against what was alleged to be Satan's greatest deception. By that he appears to mean anything that does not agree with his and the Trinitarian view of the nature God. It appears from the comments that Unitarian theology is more abhorrent than Trinitarianism.

He attacks firstly Messianic Judaism which he later seems to acknowledge is a serious and bizarre mishmash of Trinitarian and Sabelian theology although he does not use the technical terms and seems in fact ignorant of the theological history of the doctrine of the nature of God.

In that article we get a mention although it appears indirectly from Don Ward in the actual sermon.

One might ask: Why, after seven years, are they now attacking us, and this doctrine, when they have been at great pains to pretend we did not exist up until now?

Indeed, from our understanding, perhaps some ten percent of the UCG ministry are what we term radical Unitarians which is a doctrine that emerged from Unitarianism in the period of the Reformation and which denies the preexistence of Jesus Christ

The answer is simple. The tactic of ignoring us and hoping we will go away which has worked so well in the pre-computer age did not work with us and they are now dying the death of thousand cuts as their "brethren" study the doctrines. As our people all know, and have found to their pain, that when they come to an understanding of the truth and the history and when asking questions find there are no satisfactory answers forthcoming.

One of the things I find interesting about Dr. Ward is that he is a Ph.D. albeit in Physical Education and he was in charge of Ambassador College at Big Sandy. Given those facts or perhaps those facts notwithstanding, one would expect a better performance and more academic integrity and discipline from one who holds a terminal degree in his field.

He reportedly begins his sermon "by noting that the study of the nature of God - His existence, the question of the Father's origin and the origin and nature of the Son of God - are subjects near and dear to his heart." From the report, he then proceeds to demonstrate that he has absolutely no idea of the history of doctrines and then explains his view. He says that the WCG always taught that God is two separate "beings" in one "family." He reportedly says that sometimes WCG teachers and writers would profess belief in one God because, they said, there exists one God family. Other times they would say they believed in two Gods -- the Father and the Son in the God family."

One can attest to such imbecility as I myself heard WCG evangelists such as Gerald Waterhouse give sermons to the effect that Christ and God were two co-eternal beings who had a discussion and Christ decided to come down and be sacrificed. I even saw this blasphemy printed in the Good News and the above sermon followed this in the feast of 1991 at Canberra ACT. I also heard a WCG deacon give a sermonette on this aspect previously. I rebuked him for the blasphemy but he showed me the Good News article and then apologised. He then did some study and became a Unitarian.

How did such bizarre and blasphemous confusion arise in WCG? How is UCG still producing this aberrant unbiblical doctrine?

The answer is that they didn't do any study. It also appears they were following a strategy in WCG of making the doctrines more appealing to a mass market used to Trinitarian theology. The ministry carried this error into the offshoots.

There is no historical church of God that ever believed the doctrines they now say are explanatory of the true Nature of God. The doctrine that God is two aspects of one God as Father and Son is not a Christian doctrine. It entered Christianity as Modalism in the Third century from the worship of the god Attis in Rome and became Binitarianism in the beginning of the Fourth century at Nicaea in 325.

Dr Ward seem oblivious to the history. He seems never to have read the history of the doctrine or even studied Roman Catholic history such as that of C. M La Cugna in God For Us which is freely quoted by us in our booklets and papers on the subject. He even reportedly makes the bizarre statement that "Catholics and Protestants do not deny the preexistence of Christ, 'yet they try to make the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit into one God, yet three persons, or hypostases, within one. So you get this three in one, which never quite adds up.'" He seems to have forgotten that he used the same argument regarding the Father and Son to say they were one God as a family which is exactly the same bizarre logic if one seeks to confine it to Christ and not extend it to the other sons of God as elohim in the host. He seems to be unaware that the theology of the Godhead from Augustine of Hippo was concentrated at the intradivine relationships which he might have analysed but did not.

The Psalms are not concerned with the Council of the angels, they are concerned with the council of the gods or elohim. The terms "angel" or "angels" are used in the NT to refer, for example, to the entities in Psalm 8 when translated into Greek in the Septuagint (LXX), or when it is explained in the early chapters of Hebrews (see the paper Psalm 8 (No. 14). The entire concept of the elohim as sons of God is not understood by UCG and particularly it seems by Don Ward.

There appears a recurrent theme of Roman Catholic propaganda in the sermon along the lines of: "If Christ were not really God how could his sacrifice atone for the sins of the world." Now most of you would be aware that this argument is a Catholic/Orthodox argument which stems from Greek Philosophy due to the fact that there was no concept in Greek of agape love, that is the love of God for mankind and His creation. This word agape which is taken now to be a Greek word is actually a loan word ahabah from Hebrew in the Song of Songs created by the LXX when they translated the Septuagint version of the OT. This argument has been answered in detail in the paper The Purpose of the Creation and the Sacrifice of Christ (No. 160).

Apparently he has read none of the articles; at least he addresses none of the issues. The Christian Churches of God, and myself as its spokesman, are seriously misquoted in the Journal article and our position misrepresented. This may be in part due to the fact that the entire article The Pre-existence of Jesus Christ (No. 243) was not published in the Journal. However, enough of it was published to warrant a better explanation of our position. Perhaps it should be republished in its entirety by the Journal to further illustrate the issues.

Now I know for a fact that Dr Ward knows that my personal position is that Jesus Christ was the Monogenese theos, or "only born god" of John 1:18 and that this position had been explored most comprehensively by Dr Hort in 1876 in his paper On monogenes theos in Scripture and Tradition. I informed him a decade ago when I wrote to him over the issue of the nature of God which was being butchered by the ministry of WCG. He did not want to address it then and he seems still bent on leaving the issues improperly explored today. We will publish this treatise soon, having obtained it from the British Library. Hort was faced with affirming or qualifying his orthodoxy when this was published due to its implications as I will explain in the commentary.

The doctrinal position of CCG is that of Psalm 45:6-7 and as developed in Psalm 8 and explained in Hebrews 1:8-9 and following chapters.

Christ is an elohim (a god). He was anointed as elohim by his elohim (his God) with the oil of gladness above his partners. He was the Elohim of the OT that gave the law to Moses and who spoke with the Patriarchs. He was the Great Angel or Malak of the OT, the God that wrestled with Jacob and gave the Law to Moses as recognised by the early church. (cf Justin Martyr First Apology; and the paper Early Theology of the Godhead (No. 127). Nothing has changed in two thousand years. That was always our position. John taught Polycarp and Polycarp taught Irenaeus that God has nothing coeval with Himself in the beginning. Christ was a product of the Father who alone is true God (cf. Against Heresies and ibid (No. 127) above). The Goths had the same creed as we see from the creed of Ulfilas published in the paper ibid No. 243 above.

The council of the elohim are the sons of God, of which there are many. These beings only became messengers (malak or aggelos), as ministering spirits, when humans were created.

The fact is that the doctrine of UCG has only been held by a small section of the church over the last few decades and at no other time in history by the church. It rests on a pagan doctrine and is a pagan doctrine that was the start of Trinitarianism in Christianity.

Even WCGs own doctrines from their Bible studies in the long course said that the word for God is Eloah which is the singular form and from which the plural word elohim is derived (Long course lesson 12?).
The Father is Eloah and the elohim are the sons of God as an extension of His being. How can WCG claim that God is singular as Eloah who becomes elohim as a plurality for fifty years and now say that they have always said there were two Gods but when they said there was one they were really referring to two Gods as one God. What nonsense.

Many of CCG officers throughout the world are in the category of WCG and UCG officers or committee members who have left over this doctrine and the incoherence of WCG/UCG in addressing it.

It is our understanding that it was for this reason WCG and its ministry had their authority removed as Church of God and they were never allowed to keep the correct calendar and feasts. They were one of the few Churches of God in history who were not allowed to do so.

The attempt at pretending that CCG is not a major force in the churches of God does not seem to be working as most of us are well aware. We are already in, or interviewing churches for incorporation in, fifteen nations. To our certain knowledge an entire UCG church has left UCG and parts of UCG churches have left UCG and WCG in the last few months over these very issues. That is the real reason for this sermon of Dr. Ward, and in Texas.

It is for this reason that I write this letter. I am now faced with traveling to a number of countries to credential officers and speak to partial or entire churches who have been exposed to the UCG doctrines and have found them philosophically and theologically incoherent. I have no doubt that some of our officers will address this issue as well in the Journal. We will be dealing with churches in Asia and then in Canada and the US speaking to people who simply have had enough of this illogical, unhistorical, incoherent doctrine of the nature of God and their Calendar. This will take from before Trumpets, over the feast period until well after the feast. I will then go to Africa via Europe.

The church of God was penetrated by Trinitarian quislings and when they could not get us to swallow Trinitarianism, they tried to revert to this pagan doctrine of the worship of Attis which was used to undermine the church in the first place. This is not new. It has been standard practice over the centuries.

The Timeline of the Churches of God (No. 030) shows the structure of the church and the progress of the doctrinal positions that were used to undermine it. We have placed this Timeline in the Journal for ease of reference of the readers.

At no time in any church of God have I heard a prayer that was not addressed to the Father as true God in the name of the son. We are called and chosen, as Christ was set aside, to become sons of God and elohim from the resurrection of the dead (see the Elect as Elohim (No. 1)). We do not argue as Christ did not argue. Being in the form of God, Christ did not seek to grasp equality with God (as Satan had sought to do) but made himself of no account and became a man and humbled himself in obedience suffering death on the stake (cf. Phil. 2:5-8). There is one true God and this is eternal life that you know the one true God and Jesus Christ whom He sent (Jn. 17:3).

We contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.

Wade Cox
Christian Churches of God