July 1, 2014

200 Words: Denomination or Abomination?

by Nathan Busenitz

200wordsBaptists, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. All three claim to believe in Jesus. Yet, only one of these groups can be rightly classified as a denomination rather than a false religion.
With that in mind, the question we are asking today might be stated as follows:

What are the marks of cult groups and apostate forms of Christianity that identify them as false religions—such that we can and should label them as heresies, rather than simply classifying them as different denominations?

Here is my attempt to answer that question in 200 words or less:

The New Testament articulates three fundamental doctrinal criteria by which false teachers (and false religions) can be identified:

1. A Wrong View of Salvation

False religions (whether they claim to be Christian or not) attempt to add good works to the gospel of grace (cf. Rom. 11:6). Rather than trusting in Christ alone for salvation, they seek to earn God’s favor through self-righteous works and human effort (cf. Acts 15:1–11; Gal. 1:6–9; Eph. 2:8–9; Php. 3:8–9; Titus 3:5–7).

2. A Wrong View of Scripture

False teachers distort, deny, and deliberately disobey the Scriptures (2 Pet. 2:1, 3:16). They add to or subtract from God’s revealed truth (cf. John 17:17; Rev. 22:18–19), looking to some other false authority for their beliefs (Mark 7:6–12; cf. 2 Cor. 10:5).

3. A Wrong View of the Savior

False religions twist the truth about Jesus Christ. They deny aspects of either His Person (e.g. His deity, humanity, eternality, uniqueness, etc.) or His work (e.g. His death, resurrection, ascension, etc.). Those who do not worship the true Christ are not truly Christian (John 4:24; cf. John 1:1, 14; 1 John 1:1; 2:22–23; 4:1–3; 2 John 7–11).

Nathan Busenitz

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Nathan serves on the pastoral staff of Grace Church and teaches theology at The Master's Seminary in Los Angeles.
  • Dan_Cartwright

    This is an excellent summary and easy to remember talking point topics – 3 Wrong views-Salvtion, Scripture & Savior!

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  • Joe

    Will you be doing a series with a post for each denomination/cult (similar to the recent 200 words RCC post) or is this post a “catch all”? Although it is straightforward to see how these 3 questions can be applied and the appropriate conclusions drawn, I benefited from your succinct breakdown of the RCC and would really enjoy it if you did so for each of the 3 listed above(and hopefully more!).

  • Philip

    Catholicism. (a) Cult or (b) denomination? Pick one of the above.

    • http://snyderssoapbox.wordpress.com/ xiqtem

      apostate

      • Philip

        So…(a)?

        • http://snyderssoapbox.wordpress.com/ xiqtem

          cult.

    • http://almostreadytogoamish.blogspot.com/ Johnny

      antichrist

      • Philip

        Antichrist? I don’t believe that this was one of the categories provided or described in the original post. So, again, (a) or (b)?

        I thought that the Antichrist was an individual. Catholicism is a set of beliefs. Or do you mean this to be an adjective? Most confusing.

        • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

          a) cult

          • Philip

            So, how long has Catholicism been a cult?

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            Since Constantine declared himself the first pope in 312 AD.

          • Philip

            Constantine was a pope?

            Is the Eastern Orthodox Church a cult?

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            Does the Eastern Orthodox Church fit the criteria stated in the article?

          • Philip

            I have no idea of the EOC fits the criteria, because I know little about it. I figure that you all are the experts here when it comes to declaring something a cult, so I figured that you would know.

            And again, was Constantine a pope?

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            Philip, I have yet to understand the reason for your sarcasm here. As for Constantine, his title was Pontifex Maximus which I understood to be pope. I may be wrong.

          • Philip

            I’m not trying to be sarcastic at all. I truly don’t know if the EOC is a cult. I would not have thought that the Catholic Church is a cult, but you all say that it is. This surprised me. So with respect to the EOC, I’d like to ask those who appear to be experts at identifying cults.

            More broadly, I’m fascinated by the interest in labeling the many variation on the Christian theme as cults. This seems to be a perennial activity among many Christians groups. Of course, back in the day, this was a good way to excuse killing folks, but thankfully, those days seem to have passed.

            As far as I can tell, Constantine was not a pope. So, why is the Catholic Church a cult as of AD 312?

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            I think the more important question is whether the catholic church is a cult today and I would hope all the resources on this site would help you to determine that biblically.

            As I’ve seen in other posts, you know your Bible, yet you claim to be surprised or confused by many articles. Perhaps if you look up each referenced verse it may help your understanding.

          • Philip

            Well, it’s always useful to do more looking up and more reading. However, I not sure this will solve the problem with respect understanding things, either in the case of cults versus denominations or in the case of other questions.

            Historically, there seems to be a correlation between greater access to the Bible (via printing presses, etc.) and the proliferation of denominations and/or what you call cults. When a greater proportion of the population can read the Bible, you get more cults and more denominations. Over time and with more people reading the Bible, there is a decreasing probability that opinion will coalesce around a single conclusion or answer. You do not get more understanding or more unity.

            The problem here is that the Bible is a text, a collection of sometimes contradictory words, and different people will inevitably read the same text in different ways. Everyone comes to their own conclusion. One group of people will find one set of verses can be used to support one position and another group will find another set of verses to support the opposite position.

            And then…

            “Your group is a cult!”

            “No, your group is a cult!”

            “Heretic, apostate, antichrist!”.

            Such is the history of Christianity.

            So, unfortunately, “looking up verses” may not do the trick.

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            Philip, I understand what you’re saying. And I would hope the differing positions and interpretations that Christians have would not distract you from the message of the gospel and the grace that is offered through Christ.

            You may take issue with those identifying cults, but please understand the saving work that is. Being raised in a cult, (JW) I am so grateful someone was bold enough to expose the watchtower organization and its false teachings regarding Christ.

            Because from there I read through the Bible, asking God to help me understand and so was saved in it’s pages. Not that salvation is an intellectual exercise, but rather “having heard the word of truth, the good news of your salvation, having believed you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:13,14).

            It appears you are very knowledgeable in religion and scripture, may I ask where you are with respect to faith?

          • Philip

            Where am I with respect to faith? Interesting question. No short answer to that one, but it seems unlikely to me that what you would call Christianity has the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything.

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            I agree, Christianity does not have the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything, but Christ does. And I hope someday He makes that clear to you. :)

          • 4Commencefiring4

            Too much effort is expended trying to rope this or that group into the “cult” pen. I see a huge difference between “false teaching” and a “cult.” There’s no local church that has everything right, and some are more correct than others–just as some math answers are closer to right than others.

            But are we going to be justified by how many doctrines we–or our church–got “right”, or whether we have trusted the Christ of the Bible alone to save us?

            No matter what we think of this or that group, “cult status” is something which, as I understand it, is rather rare and unusual. Mainline churches–even the most liberal–do not qualify at all, as they do not practice a key ingredient to true cultism: isolation from, and avoidance of, outsiders– especially family. No Catholic or Mormon or 7th Day Adventist or JW is prevented from venturing out into the world and being with family and friends, speaking with outsiders, even engaging with them.

            But not so a real cult, like Heaven’s Gate or Branch Davidians or Children of God. People in those groups were a camp unto themselves and were strictly controlled by one major leader, often one who abused them and sexually controlled many of them. That’s a REAL cult, not a religion that teaches some one-off doctrine about baptism or our creation. Those may be way, way off and highly dangerous in their own way.

            But a “cult”? Not the same animal.

        • Jeremiah Jameson

          Antichrist is a spirit. [1 John 4:3] as well as ANYONE who denies Jesus is Christ.[1 John 2:22] Anyone who denies Jesus has come in the flesh is antichrist as well [2 John 1:7].

          Why would it be confusing? There are only four references to the word “antichrist” in the Bible–none of which reference some scary guy who is more properly called “the man of sin.”

          Antichrist is anyone or any spirit which seeks to deny Jesus is the Christ and is the Son of God, setting the stage for the coming man of sin.

    • Frank

      Neither. The Church that Jesus founded.

      • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

        False.

  • Senorita Daffy

    I have a question regarding a VERY popular female teacher of the Baptist denomination, who claims personal revelation, promotes contemplative prayer( practiced in the eastern mystic style), claims automatic writing, teaches scripture way out of context, and that the Catholic church is Christian.
    Would she be considered a heretic, or just a poor teacher?
    I realize and agree that the Baptist church is considered a sound Christian denomination, but what’s to be thought and said when such teachings as those noted above are in play?

    • http://snyderssoapbox.wordpress.com/ xiqtem

      You’re talking about B. Moore correct? She is a false teacher and false prophet. The SBC does not recognize women as teachers over men.

      • Senorita Daffy

        Correct, and I agree with your assessment of her as being a false teacher/prophet. Sadly, her errors are so many more than teaching over men…

        I guess what I’m really asking (using her as an example) is, when does error become heresy? The “H” word is not one that should be tossed about carelessly, but I am seeing more and more Christian denominations drifting further and further from sound, accepted doctrines of Christianity.

        I believe that we are called to expose things for what they are, according to the truth of God’s word.

        • http://snyderssoapbox.wordpress.com/ xiqtem

          Error becomes heresy when it teaches false things about primary articles of faith like, the deity of Christ, or soteriology, or the trinity.

    • http://almostreadytogoamish.blogspot.com/ Johnny

      “Baptist church is considered a sound Christian denomination”… well, that’s debatable considering some of the lunacy in the SBC. Sadly too many apostates and prosperity charlatans have made it into the ranks (some mega-churches hide away the Baptist label). As a reformed Baptist I LOATHE the fact that the church I attend, and similar churches, take any part of the SBC, and I wish we’d wash our hands of this wonky gathering and form something of a stronger doctrinally-driven, confessional basis.

      • Senorita Daffy

        Yes, Johnny, you are right about some of the lunacy…However, the SBC is still considered a Christian denomination-at least for the time being. My heart aches for those being misled in great number :(

        My husband and I attend a community bible church that is under the IFCA. We enjoy truthful and sound teaching without any of the “Razzle Dazzle” or “Grandstanding” that has become so prevalent in churches today.

        TRUTH-it’s what I came for!

  • http://almostreadytogoamish.blogspot.com/ Johnny

    Very good summary. With all of these (and also including some of the sillier sects such as Church of Christ, KJVO and full-gospel pentacostalism) it really boils down to one word:
    gospel+

  • Rebecca Schwem

    You can add HRM to the list. They are part of the group that distorts scripture, in that they claim to believe in salvation by grace but also believe the New Testament says we are still under The Law. They claim the NT was originally written in Hebrew and so most of us have a corrupt NT. Like JW’s they have their own translation of the bible.

  • http://www.nomadicministry.com Kyle Hawkins

    I disagree with a couple of things in here. I do not believe that holding good works as necessary for true salvation is correct. I believe that good works are the byproduct of someone who truly knows Jesus and a number of people who claim to know the Lord truly do not.

    Also cannot entirely agree with point two as I do not believe everything the apostle Paul wrote about.

    • Jeff Schlottmann

      Like what? Since the Bible is the inspired Word of God, then you’re disagreeing with what God wrote, not just Paul.

  • Tammy Demoreuille

    I would love to see you take each religion and specify what they have wrong as compared to true Christianity.

  • Richard b

    I have a problem with your logic. all three can coll themselves denominations. The are Christian denomination and apostate denominations. Our chach came out of a now huge apostate denomination called the Episcopal Church USA.

  • http://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/ SLIMJIM

    I like the brevity of the article…and that there’s even an alliteration!

  • Samuel H Kennedy

    Thank You Brother Nathan. It is an absolute phenomenon to witness the perversion of Christianity through false teachers & preachers who present a counterfeit message that ‘looks authentic’ yet when placed un Biblical scrutiny…is false. Thank you for sharing this. The timing is so necessary, particularly in Africa as this heresy spreads like cancer…!God Bless You.

  • Scott Sherrell

    On that basis I would argue JWs are Christians. They do not believe in salvation by works, do not add additional holy books to the scriptures, and confess all the beliefs listed under #3 except Christ’s eternality.

    • 4Commencefiring4

      Except that? Oh well, then…nothing to worry about.

    • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

      Sorry, but as an ex-JW, do they strike out on all three.

      • Scott Sherrell

        Aren’t you the girl who thought that Constantine was a Pope?

        • Daryl Little

          They believe in salvation by the work of Christ plus works. If you fail to repent of all your specific sins, you are lost. And whatever you do tomorrow starts you back on the lost and in need of salvation road.
          At least that’s what they tell me at the door.

    • Nate_Busenitz

      Actually, the JWs fail the test on all three levels:

      1) They deny the deity of Jesus Christ (and by extension, the Trinity). In so doing, they have regurgitated the Arian heresy of the fourth century. They also deny the bodily resurrection of Christ.

      2) They intentionally distort the Scriptures through their New World Translation.

      3) They do teach that good works are necessary for salvation. Moreover, they deny that anyone can be saved outside of the Watchtower.

      For more on what the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe see: http://carm.org/jehovahs-witnesses-beliefs

      • Scott Sherrell

        1) As Arians, JWs believe in the deity of Christ, although they do not believe that he is the supreme deity par excellence. Hence to say that they do not believe in the deity of Christ is misleading. It would be more accurate to say that they do not believe in the deity of Christ in a Trinitarian sense.

        2) This is an unsubstantiated accusation. While the NWT is not my translation of choice, it is a more or less accurate representation of the original text.

        3) Both of these statements are false

        • http://thecripplegate.com Mike Riccardi

          From “Studies in the Scriptures,” page 150: “The ‘ransom for all’ given by ‘the man Christ Jesus’ does not give or guarantee everlasting life or blessing to any man; but it does guarantee to every man another opportunity or trial for life everlasting. … But the fact that men are ransomed from the first penalty [i.e., Adam’s original sin] does not guarantee that they may not, when individually tried for everlasting life, fail to render the obedience without which none will be permitted to live everlastingly.”

          From “Studies in the Scriptures,” page 152: “The ransom given does not excuse sin in any; it does not propose to count sinners as saints, and usher them thus into everlasting bliss. It merely releases the accepting sinner from the first condemnation and its results, both direct and indirect, and places him again on trial for life, in which trial his own willful obedience or willful disobedience will decide whether he may or may not have life everlasting.”

          That is salvation by works, an utter corruption of the biblical Gospel.

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            Great resource quote, Mike! I roasted marshmallows over all my old books.

          • 4Commencefiring4

            Hard to get happy after that, Scott. You have the initial stain removed by Christ, so you’ve got THAT going for you–which is nice. But now the problem is how to remain stain free for the rest of your life because there’s no stain remover left for that. And if “stain free” living isn’t realistic, because none of us are going to make that, are you expecting God is going to weigh our righteous acts against our sin and see which is more prominent? How do you know what His formula will be? Maybe it’s 1:1, but maybe it’s 100:1 or 10,000:1. Or maybe He doesn’t cotton to ANY sin (where my money is, BTW), so no one is going to pass.

            Ever gotten into a line at the store to buy something and you didn’t know what it cost? And you were expecting it would be about ‘X’ and when they rang it up, it was 3X and you didn’t have that much on you?

            Welcome to works-based salvation. It’s a real downer.

      • Scott Sherrell

        I do not consider CARM to be an accurate, unbiased, or scholarly source.

        • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

          Well having been a Jehovah’s Witness for 33 years, I am an accurate, unbiased and scholarly source and Nathan is 100% correct! Thanks, Nathan!

    • LittleShaun

      Christ’s deity is an indispensable doctrine, and without it, the atonement means nothing and the gospel is no longer the gospel. How can a mere teacher or prophet atone for the sins of anyone? The basis for Christianity is bound up in Christ being made the propitiation for our sins.

      • Scott Sherrell

        Funny how the bible never connects Christ’s deity with the atonement if one is a precondition for the other.

        • LittleShaun

          I would wonder how He could have been spotless and blameless to atone for anything apart from the fullness of the godhead dwelling in Him bodily. Seems like your just looking for irrelevant weak spots in my argument to discredit me like you did to Jane about the Constantine thing.

          • Scott Sherrell

            Christ’s atonement was effectual by virtue of the fact that he was the sinless Son of God. Where does scripture make deity a precondition for sinlessness?

          • LittleShaun

            Aside from Christ no one is sinless, but like Him, His sinlessness pre-existed creation. It’s not a precondition, it just has always been, as it has always been with the Father. What is your view on the resurrection before I make anymore assumptions?

      • Scott Sherrell

        Last I checked JWs don’t believe that Jesus is merely a human prophet.

        • LittleShaun

          Forgive me if I misrepresented your position on this matter. The JWs that lived next door to me when I was a kid certainly did not believe in the deity of Christ. Have they changed some of the doctrines like the Mormons did to better fit the Bible?

          • Scott Sherrell

            JWs believe that Jesus was Jehovah’s first creation and the co-creator of all other things and can be referred to as “god” but in a lesser and secondary sense.
            While Trinitarians would see this as a denial of the deity of Christ, many JWs would insist that they do believe in the deity of Christ, albeit not in the Trinitarian sense.
            This belief is different from Unitarianism, the belief that Jesus was merely a human being.

          • http://thecripplegate.com Mike Riccardi

            Scott, I don’t think you’ve accurately represented the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

            First, I just want to observe that if Christ is “a god,” or a “deity” in any sense, then you’ve run directly into polytheism. If Jehovah says He is the only God and besides Him there is no other (Isa 43:10; 45:21) — if He is the only true God (John 17:3) — then it is utter nonsense to claim that Jesus is merely a god. There is no God but Jehovah!

            Secondly, I’ve never read any JW literature that is OK with calling Jesus “deity.” I’ve read plenty of things where they openly disavow the notion of deity, and try to run with the notion of “divinity” — that Jesus is godlike, or has a divine quality to Him. That’s why, in the NWT of Col 2:9, they translate theotes as “divine quality” rather than what every responsible lexical authority agrees means “deity.” To say there is more than one deity is to ascribe to polytheism. Yet the JWs can’t avoid this contradiction and maintain their heretical Christology.

            Further, JWs do not believe that Jesus, in His earthly sojourn, was anything more than a man. In Should You Believe in the Trinity?, a Watchtower publication, it says, “Jesus, no more and no less than a perfect human, became a ransom that compensated exactly for what Adam lost—the right to perfect human life on earth.”

            Again, in You May Survive Armageddon Into God’s New
            World
            , page 39, it says, “The human life that Jesus Christ laid down in sacrifice must be exactly equal to that life which Adam forfeited for all his offspring: it must be a perfect human life, no more, no less.”

            And though they may teach that Christ pre-existed as the archangel Michael, they do not teach that Jesus was an incarnation of that archangel, but that he was merely human, “no more, no less.” From What Has Religion Done for Mankind, page 231, it says, “Jesus’ birth on earth was not an incarnation. … He was not a spirit-human hybrid, a man and at the same time a spirit person. … He was flesh.”

            So, understanding that they believe Jesus pre-existed as a spirit creature and was raised as a spirit creature, the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not teach that Jesus, in His earthly sojourn, was anything more than a human being. The problems with this are manifold. Aside from violating an enormous amount of Scripture (e.g., John 1:1; 8:58; 10:30; Titus 2:13; Heb 1:8; 2 Pet 1:1), there’s no way for Jesus, if He’s not an incarnation either of Jehovah Himself or (maybe) an angel, to escape the stain of Adam’s sin. There’s no such thing as a perfect human unless that perfect human is also God, because spiritual death spread to all men (i.e., all who were in Adam; i.e., all human beings) because all men sinned in Adam (Rom 5:12). If He was merely human, He was born with a sinful nature, and we know that a sinful nature always carries out the work of the flesh, i.e., sin. So, first, a merely-human Jesus undermines His sinlessness, and thus disqualifies Him from being a perfect atonement.

            Second, the standard of righteousness that is required for restored fellowship with God is God’s own righteousness. We are to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect, Jesus says (Matt 5:48). And there’s no way that a “perfect” human could ever achieve the kind of perfection that is attributed to the Father alone. The righteousness that we need to have imputed to us is far greater than a “perfect” man could ever achieve (cf. Matt 5:20). And even if he could achieve it, there’s absolutely no mechanism for that righteousness to be infinite, such that it could be counted to be the righteousness of an innumerable number of souls (i.e., all who trust in Christ). In other words, if Jesus’ righteousness was just one man’s righteousness — even if it was on the level of God’s righteousness (which it could never be) — it could only justly avail for one another human life. But because the righteousness that Christ achieved is the righteousness of God, it is infinite, and so can be justly imputed (or counted, credited, etc.) to all who believe.

            So, both on the grounds of original sin and imputed righteousness, a merely human Jesus does not get you the Gospel of the Scriptures.

            And that’s because “Christ as the end of the law for righteousness to all who believe” (Rom 10:4) is not what the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ “gospel” is trying to accomplish. As I quoted above from Studies in the Scriptures, pages 150 and 152, the JW conception of the work of Christ is that Christ comes to pay for the removal of Adam’s sin alone. Christ wipes the slate clean for all who believe, but then it’s up to us to make a good run of our new trial of obedience. And if we do well enough, we get to live in the earthly paradise that Adam lost. This, too, friend, is not the Gospel. It is the vilest form of heretical semi-pelagianism.

            I’m not sure why you’ve taken up the JWs’ cause here, especially since you seem to distance yourself from them by referring to them in the third person. Perhaps it’s because you feel they’re being misrepresented, but according to the passages from their own literature that I’ve been citing, you’ve been misrepresenting them yourself. I can only hope that you’ve not allowed yourself to be deceived by their false teachings. And if you have, I would lovingly call you to repent of your self-righteousness and find a perfect righteousness accomplished by Christ alone that can be counted yours through faith alone.

          • Scott Sherrell

            You are correct in assuming I am not a JW, and I have no intention of ever joining their sect.

            Yes, JWs believe that Jesus emptied himself of divinity while on earth. Other Trinitarians, known as Kenoticists, believe similarly.

            None of the passages of scripture that you cited unambiguously support the Trinitarian position.

            For starters, there is a textual problem in 2 Peter 1:1. Codex Sinaiticus, the Syriac, and the Sahidic Coptic read “our Lord and Savior” instead of “our God and Savior.” This is probably the correct variant. Not only is “our Lord and Savior” more in keeping with Peter’s style (he uses the same expression in II Peter 1:11, 2:20, 3:2 and 3:18), but Trinitarian scribes would also naturally have a proclivity to change “Lord” to “God.” Furthermore, the very next verse distinguishes “God” from “Jesus our Lord.”

            And even if your preferred textual variant in II Peter 1:1 is correct, the Granville Sharpe rule does not apply to proper nouns. If Peter viewed “Savior Jesus Christ” as a proper noun, then it would not be necessary to add an article to distinguish him from God.

            Titus 2:13 could easily be translated “the advent of our great God and Savior’s glory, Jesus Christ.” Indeed, the notable scholar Gordon Fee has argued for this translation.

            Hebrews 1:8 cannot legitimately be used as proof of the divinity of Christ because the whole verse is a quotation from a psalm originally written about an Israelite king

          • Scott Sherrell

            To continue my post from above,

            If Christ is called “god” in Hebrews 1:8, it would only be in the sense in which Solomon was called “elohim” in Psalm 45:6 – that is, in a limited, poetic, and figurative sense.

            Furthermore, the very next verse shows that Christ has a God who is above him.

            It would also be possible to translate the verse as “God is your throne forever and ever” which would mean that God is the source of the Messiah’s throne and right to rule in the Messianic Age, a privilege not granted to angels. If this interpretation is correct, Jesus is not even called god in this verse

          • Scott Sherrell

            Continued from above

            I have neither the time nor the space to comment on the Johannine proof texts for the Trinity.

            You asserted “there is no such thing as a perfect human unless that human is also God.” You have yet to prove this assertion.

            The scripture passages you cited prove the opposite

            u cited prove the opposite of what you are intending them to. Instead of saying that Christ had to be God to atone for the sins of mankind, they say that he had to be a perfect man to do it, the Second Adam

          • http://thecripplegate.com Mike Riccardi

            The scripture passages you cited prove the opposite of what you are intending them to. Instead of saying that Christ had to be God to atone for the sins of mankind, they say that he had to be a perfect man to do it, the Second Adam.

            This is a bare, unproven assertion that is false on its face. The reasoning in my comment shows that Christ needed to be something more than a perfect human to avoid the stain of original sin and to provide an infinite righteousness that could be imputed to innumerable souls who believe. You haven’t actually provided any argument that this is not the case, but have merely asserted it, which assertion I reject.

            Given that, the only portion of my 950+ word comment that you actually responded to is this:

            Aside from violating an enormous amount of Scripture (e.g., John 1:1; 8:58; 10:30; Titus 2:13; Heb 1:8; 2 Pet 1:1),

            And you did that with the same tired, long-refuted eisegesis of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

            Your selectivity is telling.

          • Scott Sherrell

            “The reasoning in my post shows that Christ needed to be something more than a perfect human to avoid the stain of original sin and provide infinite righteousness that could be imputed to innumerable souls who believe.”

            1) Why couldn’t God supernaturally prevent original sin from spreading to one human being? Are you saying that God lacks the power to do this?

            2) Why is it necessary to provide an infinite amount of righteousness to cover a finite number of sins?

            3) Wouldn’t a perfect human being by definition be infinitely righteous? Isn’t infinite righteousness included in the very definition of perfection?

          • http://thecripplegate.com Mike Riccardi

            1) Why couldn’t God supernaturally prevent original sin from spreading to one human being? Are you saying that God lacks the power to do this?

            It’s not about a matter of power. It’s a matter of what Scripture says. And Romans 5:12 says that death spread to all men because all sinned in Adam. If Christ was merely human, He falls within that number.

            If your argument is that God somehow made an exception for Jesus, that’s an unproven assertion that needs to be clearly demonstrated from Scripture. Yet it’s a fruitless endeavor, because no Scripture teaches such things.

            2) Why is it necessary to provide an infinite amount of righteousness to cover a finite number of sins?

            I didn’t say that it was. I simply stated that Christ’s righteousness, as God, was infinite. But the point is, for there to be a penal substitution, you’ve got to have the righteousness of the substitute availing for more than just one man. If Christ is merely human, that doesn’t happen.

            3) Wouldn’t a perfect human being by definition be infinitely righteous? Isn’t infinite righteousness included in the very definition of perfection?

            No. There’s a difference between innocence and righteousness. Adam was created and lived in the garden as a perfect man. Yet he was not righteous. The test of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was to demonstrate his righteousness, which he failed to do.

            That is why Christ has to have “fulfilled all righteousness” (cf. Matt 3:15) in order that we should be counted righteous (cf. Rom 4). He can’t just wipe the slate clean, because we not only need the payment of our sin’s penalty, but also the provision of a positive righteousness that counts us as having fulfilled all the demands of God’s law as well. It’s why salvation in Christ is much better than simply Eden regained.

            You’re making progress, but are still not addressing the whole of my comments. And at this point, I’m wondering about the potential fruitfulness of the conversation if you’re only addressing 10 to 30% of what I actually write.

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            Scott, read Isaiah 45:21-23 and tell me who is speaking. The NWT attributes that to Jehovah.

            Now read Philippians 2:10 and tell me why would Paul say that? Did he misquote Isaiah?

            You see, of all the verses the witnesses have changed, that is the one they forgot.

            It’s also interesting to note that they changed the word “worshiped” to “obeisance” in Matthew 28:9 because even they understood that if Jesus would allow himself to be worshiped He would be showing Himself to be God. And btw, as a witness, to refer to Christ as deity in any form was blasphemy.

            Trinity aside, I am curious on your view of how one can be saved?

          • Scott Sherrell

            “It’s also interesting to note that they changed the word ‘worshiped’ to ‘obeisance’ in Matthew 28:9 because even they understood that if Jesus would allow himself to be worshiped He would be showing Himself to be God.”

            This is a common Trinitarian misunderstanding. The Greek word translated ‘worship’ throughout the New Testament is Proskuneo. In the NT, proskuneo is not only used with reference to God. Cf. the following web article:

            http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/videos/can-we-worship-jesus-christ

          • Scott Sherrell

            “Trinity aside, I am curious on your view of how one can be saved”

            My views on salvation are more or less the same as those of all conservative protestant denominations

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            Then why would you ever defend JW’s, as well as cite a unitarian webpage? What conservative protestant denomination denies the deity of Christ and salvation by grace?

          • Scott Sherrell

            First you asked me a question beginning with “Trinity aside,” and now you are trying to bring the Trinity into this.

            I have never denied salvation by the grace of God alone.

            I do not defend everything taught by the Jehovah’s Witnesses (especially concerning 1914, blood transfusions, ect.), nor do I defend everything taught by Unitarians.

            I will cite any information that I have verified through personal research. Truth is truth, regardless of its source.

  • alexguggenheim

    “Funny how the bible never connects Christ’s deity with the atonement if one is a precondition for the other.

    In fact, it does more than connect it, it presents it as an essential property. Colossians 2:8-15:

    9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.

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