Unitarianism:  Is it Taught in the Bible And Was it the Position of the True Church?

By COGwriter

The Old Testament
Isaiah 45:22 and 44:6
The New Testament
We Are to Be One With the Father and the Son
Jehovah's Witnesses
Modern Scholars Properly Conclude That Binitarianism is Not a New Concept
Early, Post New Testament, Writers
Dr. Arius
Only God Can Be Worshipped
Some Who CLAIM to be in the Church of God Teach Unitarianism
Anthony Buzzard's Book
Appendix A - Addressing Additional Unitarian Objections

Here is a link to a related sermon: Unitarianism? How is God One? 


What is God?

How is God one?

Are the Father and Son God?

Is God some type of a family?

This article will attempt to provide biblical and historical evidence on the nature of God and contrast it with unitarian teachings.

This article will discuss the Bible, unitarian views, church writings, and the writings of certain historians to provide biblical and historical proofs to see if unitarianism should be considered to be the correct view of the Christian Godhead.

While Islam is the world's largest "unitarian" religion in number of adherents, this article will focus on unitarians who claim to be Christian.

(One reason that Islam will be ignored is that it teaches that the essentially the entire Bible has been corrupted by Jews and Christians, hence no statement from the Bible would be considered conclusive from the perspective of Islam.)

This article will also discuss the beliefs of some who claim to be in the Church of God--yet who espouse unitarianism.

The Old Testament

To begin this, we will start with the beginning of the Bible:

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1, NKJV throughout, unless otherwise noted).

The Hebrew word translated as 'God' in the above passage is 'elohiym (or sometimes spelled elohim). So the first time God is mentioned in the Bible, the indication is that God is mentioned as plural ("indication" because in some places 'elohim can refer to singular).

And to make sure the plurality of God was known, and Elohiym was plural related to the Godhead, Genesis 1:26 states:

26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.

Genesis 1:26 shows that 'Elohim above refers to a plural.

As the next verse shows humans were made in the image of God (and not angels or anything else):

27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27) .

Thus, there is no doubt that from the beginning of the Bible, the plurality of God was shown. And this is accepted by both binitarians and trinitarians.

However, one unitarian assertion is (bolding mine),

There is no doubt that the elohim are a plural structure and that they are the messengers in the Bible texts referred to as angels and that Christ himself was the Angel of the Presence or the Angel of YHVH. It is thus absurd to suggest that no angel was referred to as creator when Christ was admitted to be creator and was also the Angel of YHVH. Moreover, there is no indication that the plural terms involving creators were confined to two Beings which were God and Christ. This is an unsupported assumption that is contrary to the Bible. It is, moreover, a basic assertion of Binitarianism, which is logically absurd and conveys within its structure the logical inevitability of Trinitarianism. This error entered the Church some 30-40 years ago and some people cannot divest themselves of their paradigm (Binitarianism and Trinitarianism (No. 76) (Edition 3.0 19941112-20001202). Copyright 1994, 2000 Wade Cox. Christian Churches of God).

Well the claim that Binitarianism entered the Church of God in the 20th century is in contrast to historical records which clearly show it to be doctrine, not only in the New Testament, but also in the records of second century believers (see Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning).

Colossians 1:15-17, which will be quoted later, makes clear that God created all things through Jesus, hence the idea of God and Christ as the only two beings being involved in the creation is not a recent concept as they are the two mentioned in scripture.

Similarly, Hebrews 1:1-4 states:

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they…

Jesus, while He was a messenger for the Father, is NOT what is commonly called an angel (see also Hebrews 1:7-8 and the article Did the Archangel Michael become Jesus?).

Furthermore, the implication of one or more angels being part of Elohim in Genesis 1 suggests that one or more angels, and not necessarily God, created all things and that humans are in the image of angels.

Yet Ezekiel 10:14 describes what that the portion of angels called cherubim, at least, look like, "Each one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, the second face the face of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle"--since they have four faces and humans have only one, it does not appear that Genesis 1:26 is referring to humans being made in the angel image.

While it is true that elohim can refer to beings other than the Father and the Son, it is also true that the word translated as 'god' (in both the Hebrew and the Greek) is sometimes used of pagan gods and humans. Yet the Father and the Son still are 'God.'

Genesis 2:24 teaches:

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

This verse clearly shows that there are ways that two different beings can be considered one by God. While it is true that in the 20th century, people like the late Herbert W. Armstrong used expressions like "Two persons: One God" (Armstrong HW. Sermon, October 16, 1982) that is certainly consistent with scripture like Genesis 2:24 as well as early, post-New Testament, writing.

Thus, the idea of two beings being part of one entity is not in any way a new concept, and, as will shown later, is mentioned several times in the New Testament.

Showing the duality of God, David wrote "The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand" (Psalm 110:1). When Jesus commented about this He stated, "If David then calls Him 'Lord,' how is He his Son?" (Matthew 22:45), He was showing that He was that 'Lord' and thus that there were two.

Daniel makes this point fairly clear:

13 I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. 14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14).

There were two. The Ancient of Days, who in the New Testament, seems to be called the Father (Matthew 6:9) and the one like the Son of Man which is a term that Jesus referred to Himself as (Matthew 20:18). (Note: Jesus is specifically referred to twice in the New Testament as "One like the Son of Man", Revelation 1:13;14:14). Also, the New Testament shows that the dominion (Jude 25) and kingdom are given to Christ and that all peoples should serve Him (Revelation 11:15; 19:13-16). A son becomes the same species its father. Jesus is God.

Notice also that Jesus is prophesied as deity:

6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

While it is true that the Old Testament states, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4), the term God here is also the plural term 'elohim. This verse shows that there is a one-ness about this plurality that did not exist among pagan deities.

More on Jesus can be found in our free online book: Proof Jesus is the Messiah.

Isaiah 45:22

One espousing a unitarian perspective who objected to a related paper from me (Binitarian View: Two Beings Before the Beginning) wrote:

"Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else." (Isaiah 45:22) Are you going to try to tell us that "me" is "us?" Should we, imperfect human beings, tell God, The Perfect Being, that He is mistaken?

He also alleged that I intentionally left this verse out of the first version of that paper, because he felt it disproved the binitarian or trinitarian positions.

It does not.

Nor was it intentionally omitted (that paper was not intended to counter every unitarian argument, but simply to show from the Bible and history why unitarianism is not the proper Christian position).

Specifically, he also wrote:

In fact, your draft article does not consider Isaiah 45 either. Why not? For one thing, it will not support your theory of "One God, Began with Two Beings." Nor does united's "Who Is God?" booklet expound on Isaiah 45, because God's Word does not support their theory of "...tow {sic} great personages, two uncreated, eternal Beings..." 

Is he correct?

Let's look at Isaiah 45:22, with the Strong's Greek number above each word, per the Interlinear Transliterated Bible (Copyright (c) 1994 by Biblesoft) :

6437.... 413........... 3467............ 3605.......657............ 776........ 3588... 589..9999... 410............369............5750
Look..unto me,. and be ye saved,.. all. the ends of.. the earth:. for...... I ...am... God,. and there is none.. else.

Now, what are the Hebrew words Strong's 413 and Strong's 589 and what do they actually mean?

OT:413 'el (ale); (but only used in the shortened constructive form 'el (el)); a primitive particle; properly, denoting motion towards, but occasionally used of a quiescent position, i.e. near, with or among; often in general, to: KJV - about, according to after, against, among, as for, at, because (-fore, -side), both ... and, by, concerning, for, from, X hath, in (-to), near, (out) of, over, through, to (-ward), under, unto, upon, whether, with (-in). (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.).

OT:589 'aniy (an-ee'); contracted from OT:595; I: KJV - I, (as for) me, mine, myself, we, X which, X who. (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

So we see that Strong's 413 does not at all mean 'me'. Actually, it is used 5,000 times in the Old Testament and is translated as "unto me" about one tenth of the time in the KJV and even in those times, it is not a literal "me." Hence, to insist that it just means "me" is not not accurate. Notice something from Barnes Notes on its use in Isaiah 45:22:

The phrase 'look unto me' means the same as, direct the attention to as we do to one from whom we expect aid.

That is NOT the same as saying it mean ME and no possible others.

Furthermore, Strong's 589 can mean we--it does not necessarily have to mean 'I' (it can mean 'I', but it is context related). And that 'am' is not in the original Hebrew (which means that 'are' could be inserted for English grammar)--for that is what #9999 represents.

Therefore, Isaiah 45:22 could literally be translated as: Look near, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for we are God, and there is none else.

Thus, Isaiah 45:22 does not prove the unitarian position.

In addition, Isaiah 44:6 says there is no other god, yet it shows two:

6 Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: 'I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.'

Note that the LORD (the King of Israel) And his Redeemer (the LORD of hosts) state 'I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.' Thus the Book of Isaiah clearly shows that there are two that are somehow one. It is JESUS that is the first and the last:

8 ... And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,'These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: (Revelation 2:8)

Thus, the Book of Isaiah is not proof for the unitarian position--Isaiah clearly supports the deity of Jesus as He is the First and the Last that Isaiah referred to.

The New Testament

It should be noted that unitarians are correct that the Holy Spirit is not the third member of a trinity (these subjects are covered in more detail in the articles about the Holy Spirit and the Trinity).

Yet, in the New Testament, John begins by making the duality of God clear when he wrote,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made (John 1:1-3).

Thus, the Logos Word/Reason was God and was with God.

And the Word, Jesus, is a lot like God the Father, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

It should probably be mentioned that those with a unitarian view believe this should be translated differently (or ignored as a "later edition to the text"), but that does not change the totality of the scriptures on this subject.

Furthermore, back in the fourth century it was admitted by one who did not accept that Jesus was God, that the Apostle John did clearly teach that Jesus was God (Julian. contra Christianos. Cited in Betteson. Documents of the Christian Church, 3rd edition. Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 22). Therefore, the reality is that John did teach that Jesus was God.

Furthermore, the NT shows that Jesus existed before John the Baptist:

15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'" (John 1:15)

Since Jesus was born after John the Baptist was (cf. Luke 1:23-36), He obviously had pre-existence (which He also confirmed, John 8:58).

Paul makes the duality of God clear in every book of the Bible he wrote. All, except the Book of Hebrews, have a version of this in the introduction (the third verse in most books), "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:7).

In Hebrews, (which be tradition is ascribed to the Apostle Paul), he words it quite differently, but still shows the duality of God in the introduction:

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person (Hebrews 1:1-3).

Paul, never, of course, included the Holy Spirit in these introductions.

Like Paul, Peter also made the duality of God clear in the introduction of his two books (1 Peter 1:3; 2 Peter 1:2), where he too left out the Holy Spirit.

Peter confirmed that he knew that Jesus was part of the God Family when he said to Jesus, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). Peter seems to also confirm that the Holy Spirit is not a person when in Acts 2:17-18 he quotes Joel about God pouring out His Spirit.

While some holding the unitarian position have cited portions of works such as William Bousset's Kyrios Christos (which was written in 1913), modern scholars have concluded that Bousset's logic was flawed. One reason is that much recent scholarship has been the result of the translations of documents in the Nag Hammadi library (2nd century A.D.) and other ancient manuscripts which were not available when Bousset's and other older scholarly texts were written.

A 21st century scholarly work was flatly questioning Bousset's view on the term Kyrios not representing God when it stated:

It is clear that Kyrios was used by Greek-speaking Jews for the Hebrew tetragrammaton (Yahweh) when reading aloud biblical texts (Hurtado LW. Lord Jesus Christ, Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, 2003, p. 21).

Yahweh, of course, is the name, in Hebrew, that God identified Himself to Moses by (Exodus 3:14, in Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.).


Traditionally, unitarians taught that the one called the Father is God and that is how God is one.

Jesus taught, "I and My Father are one" (John 10:30), which totally contradicts the unitarian position that Jesus is not God.

Matthew, who quoted Isaiah 7:14, also made Jesus' deity clear, "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us" " (Matthew 1:23)--Jesus thus has to be God or He would not be named "God with us"!

Notice what the Apostle Thomas declared:

28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"

29 Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:28-29)

Not only did Thomas call Jesus God, Jesus' statements confirmed the correctness of Thomas' assertion (which happened after the resurrection).

Jesus clearly believed He was somehow equal with God the Father as Paul points out, "Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God" (Philippians 2:5b-6).

Paul also taught, "But to the Son He says: "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom" (Hebrews 1:8). Hence, Paul says that the Son is God. Also, since Paul is quoting from Psalm 45, it is clear then, that this duality and Christ's deity was also taught in the Old Testament (Psalm 45:6-7).

Colossians 2:9-10 which states, "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power," will also demonstrates the deity of Christ.

Unlike binitarians and trinitarians, some traditional unitarians teach that Jesus did not exist prior to His human birth.

One such example is this by Wayne Atcheson, "The Biblical Confession Is That Christ Did Not Preexist" (Atcheson, Wayne. The Confession of 1 John 4:2 Is That Christ Did Not Preexist. Association for Christian Development's The One God Seminar. Tyler, Texas July 25–27, 2003).

Yet the Apostle Paul strongly disputed this when he was inspired to write, after the resurrection:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist (Colossians 1:15-17).

Jesus also denied this unitarian assertion when He stated, "What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?" (John 6:62), as heaven is where He came from (3:13).

Jesus also clearly disproved this when He stated in a prayer:

5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was (John 17:5).

Thus, Jesus did exist BEFORE the world was.

Furthermore, Jesus was forordained to redeem humans before the foundation of the world.

Notice what Peter, Paul, and John wrote:

... you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:18-20).

He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many (Hebrews 9:26-28).

... the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).

One unitarian response to these verses is to suggest that they may not be reliable as they were written after Jesus' resurrection:

But no Gospels, no epistles, and no Apocalypse were penned until decades after Jesus was taken up into the clouds. This fact is not debated. This point can be important when confronting the very few scriptures in the NT that seem to reference the preexistence of a glorified Christ (Westby, Kenneth. Two Thrones, Two Lords, Two Saviors, One God. Association for Christian Development's The One God Seminar. Tyler, Texas July 25–27, 2003).

Ignoring the assertion about dates (as some of the New Testament may have been written less than two decades after Jesus' resurrection), apparently the late Ken Westby forgot that Jesus taught, "Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35).

Since Paul wrote, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, That the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (II Timothy 3:16-17), those that believe the Bible will accept its teachings over those who have reasons to not wish to believe it.

Jesus, Himself, made His prior existence clear, while others were upset to learn that:

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."

Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?"

Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."

Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by (John 8:56-59).

Paul referred to Jesus' pre-existence when he wrote, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich" (II Corinthians 8:9) because the Bible does not record that Jesus was rich in His physical life on Earth (this verse is also consistent with Philippians 2:5-7, which will be quoted later)--thus it was prior to His human existence that He was rich.

Paul also referred to Jesus' pre-existence when he wrote:

Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples (1 Corinthians 10:1-6).

Hence since Christ was the Rock in the wilderness during the time of Moses, He clearly existed prior to His human birth.

Also notice:

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds (Hebrews 1:1-2).

9 ... God who created all things through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:9b).

God could not have created the world and all things through Jesus Christ if He did pre-exist the world. Thus, unitarians that deny the pre-existence of Christ are clearly in error.

(Unitarians are correct, however, about their view that the Bible teaches that Jesus was not fully God while in the flesh prior to His resurrection. This is covered in some detail in the article Binitarian View: Two Beings Before the Beginning).

We Are to Be One With the Father and the Son

Paul pointed out that God was a family:

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, (Ephesians 3:14-15)

Jesus Himself taught:

27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. (Matthew 11:27)

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one (John 17:20-23).

Jesus is one with God the Father as He expects His people to be one. As His people are made up of different individuals, so therefore is God. Jesus continually emphasized the family relationship between Himself as Son and the Father. Furthermore, Jesus' statement makes it clear that those called will be part of God's family as well--how else will true Christians attain the same glory as Jesus?

Paul essentially reiterates this in Romans 8:28-29 (which will be quoted later).

Genesis recorded:

24 "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24).

Notice what Jesus said:

And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." (Matthew 19:4-6)

The New Testament, thus, also clearly shows that two can be one!

Interestingly, Paul brings both concepts together in Ephesians when he writes:

30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.

31 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."

32 This is a profound mystery-but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:30-32)

Thus Paul shows that two are one flesh and that the marital relationship pictures Christ being one with the Church.

Which is part of what Jesus was talking about in John 17--that there is a oneness and two-ness in the relationship between He and the Father and that there will be a oneness between Him and Church--which is composed on many (not just two) members.

Paul also made this clear:

For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. (Romans 12:4-6)

Although many have attempted to portray the English word 'one' to mean there are not multiple beings in the God Family, both the Old Testament (which was written in Hebrew) and the New Testament (which was written in Greek) show that while God is also one, the Godhead (the term 'Godhead' could probably also be translated as 'divinity') is currently shared by two, including Jesus (Colossians 2:9; Romans 1:20).

It is the lack of understanding of these concepts by the traditional unitarians that can blind them to the plan of God.

Jehovah's Witnesses

While this article has mainly been dealing with those who claim that they are part of the Church of God, yet are unitarian, this does not mean that there have not been a variety of unitarian groups throughout history. Although there is a group actually called Unitarians, they are no longer strictly unitarian in the sense this article discusses.

It seems probable that the largest group professing Christianity that holds to unitarianism would be the Jehovah's Witnesses. While they raise valid arguments against the trinity, I have never seen them address binitarianism.

Here is a valid comment from them against the trinity:

The Father’s superiority over the Son, as well as the fact that the Father is a separate person, is highlighted also in the prayers of Jesus, such as the one before his execution: “Father, if you wish, remove this cup [that is, an ignominious death] from me. Nevertheless, let, not my will, but yours take place.” (Luke 22:42) If God and Jesus are “one in essence,” as the Trinity doctrine says, how could Jesus’ will, or wish, seem different from that of his Father?—Hebrews 5:7, 8; 9:24. (WHO IS “the Only True God”? Awake! April 22, 2005)

But although the above is true, it does not prove unitarianism. It only proves that the Son is under the authority of the Father--which is also the binitarian position.

Here is one assertion from the Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) that I consider to be unitarian:

John said that he had written his Gospel so that readers might come to believe that “Jesus is the Christ the Son of God”—not that he was God. (John 20:31) (ibid).

Having read the entire article and some of the related links from official JW sources, I have concluded that the JW's correctly understand that the Father and Son are separate persons, but that they do not teach that Jesus is God or part of the Godhead.

Notice the following from one of their official websites:

Rather than proclaim himself to be God’s Son, Jesus allowed others to reach that conclusion...

Yet, some argue that Jesus is not simply the Son of God but that he is actually God himself. They say that he and his Father are both Almighty God. Are they correct? Is Jesus somehow part of God? Is that what Jesus, or any of the Bible writers, said? Really, who is the only true God? Who did Jesus say He is?...

(Acts 17:24, 31) Here the apostle Paul described Jesus as “a man”—yes, lesser than God—whom God had restored to life in heaven. The apostle John too described Jesus as subordinate to God. John said that he had written his Gospel so that readers might come to believe that “Jesus is the Christ the Son of God”—not that he was God. (John 20:31) (Is Jesus Christ God? http://www.watchtower.org/e/20050422/article_01.htm 070707).

Their belief that Jesus is not God seems to be tied to a couple of verses in John 17 which they mention and explain as follows:

In prayer with his apostles—only hours before his death—Jesus petitioned: “Father, the hour has come; glorify your son, that your son may glorify you. This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—John 17:1, 3.

Notice that Jesus prays to One whom he calls “the only true God.” He points to God’s superior position when he continues: “So now you, Father, glorify me alongside yourself with the glory that I had alongside you before the world was.” (John 17:5) Since Jesus prayed to God requesting to be alongside God, how could Jesus at the same time be “the only true God”? (WHO IS “the Only True God”? Awake!  April 22, 2005).

This, however, at most may suggest that Jesus was not fully God while on earth, which He was not. The Bible teaches that Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity while on earth (see Philippians 2:7), hence He had to have been divine before coming on earth (this is discussed in more detail in the article on binitarianism), and would be again after His resurrection. The above in no way is proof of unitarianism.

A rather odd teaching that the JWs have is that the angel Michael became Jesus. The Jehovah's Witnesses teach that

Michael is a name given to Jesus in his role as a heavenly Ruler (Pay Attention. p. 289).

We in the Continuing Church of God believe that Michael is simply an archangel.

Here is more about what the JWs teach about Michael:

The foremost angel, both in power and authority, is the archangel, Jesus Christ, also called Michael. (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Jude 9) Under his authority are seraphs, cherubs, and angels. (The Truth About Angels. Jehovah's Witnesses Official Web Site. Appeared in The Watchtower November 1, 1995. http://www.watchtower.org/library/w/1995/11/1/article_02.htm 07/09/07).

More on the Jehovah's Witnesses can be found in the article Similarities and Differences between the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Church of God. More on Michael and why he is not Jesus can be found in the article Did the Archangel Michael become Jesus?

Furthermore consider the following:

In the “original” Greek manuscripts (Did the disciple John speak Greek?), the first occurrence of the word “God” is the Greek word “ θεόν ” (Hotheos) which means “The God,” or “God” with a capital “G” to denote a proper noun. The second occurrence of the word “God” is the Greek “ θεὸς ” (Tontheos) http://concordances.org/greek/2316.htm meaning “a god,” or “god” (any god, not necessarily the almighty) also see its use http://biblelexicon.org/acts/28-6.htm. So, if the translators were consistent in their translation, they would have written the above verse as follows: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god” (If you read the New World Translation of the Bible you will find exactly this wording see here http://www.watchtower.org/e/bible/joh/chapter_001.htm).

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. (John 1:1, NEW WORLD TRANSLATION OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, 2013 REVISION)

In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. (John 1:1, NEW WORLD TRANSLATION OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, 1984 EDITION)

The Jehovah's Witnesses should thus consider that Jesus is God. Instead they seem to think He was an angel and a lower type of God (see also Did the Archangel Michael become Jesus?).

Modern Scholars Properly Conclude That Jesus Was God is Not a New Concept

Some, who have chosen to misinterpret these scriptures have claimed that the idea of God consisting of two beings is a relatively recent invention.

However scholars, such as Dr. Larry Hurtado, have noted, "Earliest Christian worship specifies two figures, God and Jesus, as recipients" (Hurtado Larry. Abstract: "The Binitarian Shape of Early Christian Worship". International Conference on the Historical Origins of the Worship of Jesus. 13-17 June 1998).

And in the New Testament and among second century Christians historians recognize:

...there are a fairly consistent linkage and subordination of Jesus to God "the Father" in these circles, evident even in the Christian texts from the latter decades of the first century that are commonly regarded as a very 'high' Christology, such as the Gospel of John and Revelation. This is why I referred to this Jesus-devotion  as a "binitarian" form of monotheism: there are two distinguishable figures (God and Jesus), but they are posited in a relation to each other that seems intended to avoid the ditheism of two gods, and the devotional practices show a similar concern...In my judgment this Jesus-devotion amounts to a treatment of him as a recipient of worship at a surprisingly early point in the first century, and is certainly a programmatic inclusion of a second figure unparalleled in the monotheistic tradition of the time (Hurtado LW. Lord Jesus Christ, Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, 2003, pp. 52-53).

Interestingly, his book, (which at least one University of Notre Dame scholar calls "A fantastic work! Larry Hurtado has written what may well prove to be one of the more important works on Jesus in this generation"), demonstrates that there was a binitarian view in Christianity that can be proven from the early first century (from about the time of Christ's death) and that Professor Hurtado concludes that the trinitarian view came to be dominant later (ibid, p.651).

And while Professor Hurtado does not personally seem to clearly refer to Christ as God, he specifically acknowledges:

...the "binitarian" pattern of devotion in which both God (the "Father") and Jesus are objects of such reverence goes back to the earliest observable stages of the movement that became Christianity...The central place given to Jesus...and...their concern to avoid ditheism by reverencing Jesus rather consistently with reference to "the Father", combine to shape the proto-orthodox "binitarian" pattern of devotion. Jesus truly is reverenced as divine" (Ibid, pp. 605, 618).

Professor Hurtado also notes that "there are numerous places where Ignatius refers to Jesus as "God" (theos)...Yet Ignatius refers to Jesus as theos while still portraying him as subordinate to the ""Father"" (Ibid. pp.637, 638), which is a binitarian view.

I would suggest that the early Christians were careful about avoiding the charge of ditheism because they were reinforcing the binitarian position that God is one family, currently consisting of the Father and the Son--a family relationship, in which the Father is greater than the Son (John 14:28).

Furthermore another scholar noted:

The argument that Christianity is not binitarian but trinitarian, hence could not be perceived as a two-powers heresy, ignores the fact that it is not so much what Christianity thought of itself that counts but how it appeared to its rabbinic critics. And there we see clearly that it was often described as binitarian or dualistic rather than trinitarian (Summary of response by Alan F. Segal. International Conference on the Historical Origins of the Worship of Jesus. 13-17 June 1998).

Hence, the early Jewish rabbis recognized early Christianity as binitarian, not trinitarian or unitarian. But this observation is not limited to critics of the Christian religion.

Notice the following scholarly observation related to the Apostles Paul and John:

While Paul engages in a great deal of legitimation for his view of Torah, there is no indication that he felt the need to defendhimself against charges of ‘two powers’ heresy. Paul's view of the exalted Christ'sinvestiture with the divine name (Phil.2:9-11) must be viewed in relation to non-Christian Jewish texts such as the Apocalypse of Abraham. This work refers to an exalted angel,Yahoel, who bears the divine name ( Apoc.Abr. 10:3,8). There is simply no evidence that belief in a supreme mediator or agent of God, one that might later be called a ‘second power,’ was controversial at any point during the first century CE. ... In the case of Paul's claims about the exalted Christ and of Philo's view of the Logos as a second god , there is nothing to indicate thattheir contemporaries found them to be heretical or controversial.

The key witness usually appealed to as evidence for the existence of the ‘two powers heresy’ in the first century is the Gospel of John, and many NT scholars wouldagree that the Johannine Christians had been accused of abandoning monotheism. 24 While it cannot be denied that John bears witness to an intense conflict regardingchristology, this need not imply that it centred on monotheism per se. What is telling isthat within the Gospel of John the opponents of the Johannine Christians do not use the phrase ‘two powers’ nor do they charge Jesus or the Johannine Christians with rejecting monotheism. There are only two clear references to monotheism in the Fourth Gospel and both affirm the oneness of God in rather axiomatic language, without defense or explanation (John 5:44; 17:3). If the Johannine Christians had been charged withrejecting monotheism, we would expect the writer to make a more vigorous and explicitdefense. But it does not happen. (McGraff JF. Truex J. Two Powers' and Early Jewish and Christian Monotheism. Journal of Biblical Studies 4.1, 2004: 43-71)

Yes, binitarianism was accepte, was what Paul and John promoted, and was not necessarily foreign to the Jewish religion at that time.

Regarding the New Testament, even a trinitarian scholar has acknowledged:

The binitarian formulas are found in Rom. 8:11, 2 Cor. 4:14, Gal. 1:1, Eph. 1:20, 1 Tim 1:2, 1 Pet. 1:21, and 2 John 1:13 ... No doctrine of the Trinity in the Nicene sense is present in the New Testament ... There is no doctrine of the Trinity in the strict sense in the Apostolic Fathers ... (Rusch W.G. The Trinitarian Controversy. Fortress Press, Phil., 1980, pp. 2-3).

The above book is (or at least was) actually is actually used as a textbook in the master's degree program at Fuller Theological Seminary. Despite what it admits, Fuller Theological is trinitarian.

Early, Post New Testament, Writers

One declared unitarian has gone so far as to actually claim:

The assertion of some Churches of God that the early Church was Binitarian is an unqualified late twentieth century fabrication. (Cox, Wade. Binitarianism and Trinitarianism. Christian Churches of God No. 76, Edition 4.0 19941112-20001202-20080503, viewed 02/08/09).

It has been said that if you tell a big enough lie often enough, many will believe it. But that still does not make it true. Unitarianism was not the original belief of the faithful.

As far as the 20th century goes, in August 1924, Church of God-Seventh day (CG7) officially wrote the following about the Godhead:

The Church of God recognizes two Divine Beings called God, the Father and Jesus Christ His Son. (General Conference Report, Catalog of Minutes. Stanberry, Missouri, August 1924, pp. 1-2 as quoted by Robert Coulter to Bob Thiel via telephone on 11/14/12; also Coulter, The Journey: A History of the Church of God (Seventh Day), p. 194)

That is clearly a binitarian, not a unitarian position--and that is in the early, not late, 20th century.

It is odd, but it seems that those who make the false claim about binitarianism have taken the time to properly look at early church writings.

For if they did, they could see that early writings prove that it is the unitarian (as well as trinitarian), not binitarian, claims that are complete fabrications as early professors of Christ were not unitarians.

Looking into the historical record shows that, other than certain heretical early Ebionites, those who professed Christ in the first centuries after Jesus died held binitarian concepts.

For the first ancient example, "the oldest complete Christian sermon that has survived" (Holmes M.W. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 2nd ed. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2004, p. 102)--outside those in the Bible--sometimes erroneously referred to as Second Letter of Clement, disagrees with unitarianism.

It was given perhaps with a year or so of John's death (so its is either in the late 1st century or earliest part of the second century), begins with the following:

Brothers, we ought so to think of Jesus Christ, as of God, as "Judge of the living and the dead ...

So then, brothers, if we do the will of God our Father ... (An Ancient Christian Sermon (2 Clement), 1:1,14:1. In Holmes M.W. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 2nd ed. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2004, p.107,121).

Thus, the oldest preserved sermon (which can be found in its entirety at Ancient "Christian" Sermon) says to think of Jesus as God and that the Father is God.

Polycarp was known as the Bishop of Smyrna and probably the first major physical head (under Jesus Christ) of the church after the Apostle John died. He was not unitarian according to various historical documents. The following quote attributed to him (by 135 A.D.) shows that he (and thus by inference the rest of Smyrna) was not unitarian,

Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal High-priest Himself, the [Son of] God Jesus Christ, build you up in faith and truth, and in all gentleness and in all avoidance of wrath and in forbearance and long suffering and in patient endurance and in purity; and may He grant unto you a lot and portion among His saints, and to us with you, and to all that are under heaven, who shall believe on our Lord and God Jesus Christ and on His Father (The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians in APOSTOLIC FATHERS (as translated by J.B. LIGHTFOOT) 12:6,7).

It probably should be noted that Dr. Lightfoot left out "Son of" in his translation, which is in the Latin. It should also be pointed out that I am aware of another translation of this section by Roberts and Donaldson in Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol, 1 which omitted the term "God" before Jesus Christ, but I verified that the term "deum" is in the Latin version of this epistle {the original Greek versions did not survive pass chapter 10}.

Dr. Lightfoot's translation "our Lord and God Jesus Christ" is a literal translation of the Latin "dominum nostrum et deum Iesum Christum." The University of Notre Dame Latin Dictionary and Grammar Aid states "deus -i m. [a god , deity]". The term "deum" is the masculine accusatory form of the word "deus." Since traditional unitarians do not call Jesus God, it appears clear that Polycarp clearly was not one of them. Furthermore, he did not ever call the Holy Spirit God.

Also, Ignatius, who was known by Polycarp (and praised in this same Polycarp epistle) wrote around 100-110 A.D.:

For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God's plan: of the seed of David, it is true, but also of the Holy Spirit. He was born and baptized so that by His submission He might purify the water (Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Ephesians 18,2--note this is translated the same by at least three separate translations as done by Dr. Lightfoot, J.H. Srawley, and Roberts & Donaldson).

Permit me to be an imitator of the passion of my God. (Ignatius, Letter to the Romans, 6,3)

The second century Justin Martyr wrote:

When Scripture says,' The Lord rained fire from the Lord out of heaven,' the prophetic word indicates that there were two in number: One upon the earth, who, it says, descended to behold the cry of Sodom; Another in heaven, who also is Lord of the Lord on earth, as He is Father and God; the cause of His power and of His being Lord and God. Again, when the Scripture records that God said in the beginning, 'Behold, Adam has become like one of Us,' this phrase, 'like one of Us,' is also indicative of number; and the words do not admit of a figurative meaning, as the sophists endeavor to affix on them, who are able neither to tell nor to understand the truth (Dialogue with Trypho. Chapter CXXIX).

Justin said there were two--and that both were God.

A second century apologist named Athenagoras wrote the following:

Who, then, would not be astonished to hear men who speak of God the Father, and of God the Son ... (Athenagoras. A Plea for the Christians, Chapter X. Translated by B.P. Pratten. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

Thus Athenagoras explained that the Father and the Son are God.

Near the end of the second century, Melito of Sardis, (whom Catholics and others consider to be a saint) wrote:

No eye can see Him, nor thought apprehend Him, nor language describe Him; and those who love Him speak of Him thus: `Father, and God of Truth" (Melito. A Discourse Which Was in the Presence of Antoninus Caesar).

For the deeds done by Christ after His baptism, and especially His miracles, gave indication and assurance to the world of the Deity hidden in His flesh. For, being at once both God and perfect man likewise ... He concealed the signs of His Deity, although He was the true God existing before all ages (Melito. On the Nature of Christ. From Roberts and Donaldson).

This clearly shows that Melito considered Christ to be God, as well as the Father (but, the deity was hidden in the flesh, so Melito apparently was not saying that Jesus was fully God and fully human while in the flesh before the resurrection).

Also near the end of the second century (circa 180), Irenaeus (who is also considered to have been a saint by the Roman Catholics) wrote this in his famous paper against heresies:

... there is none other called God by the Scriptures except the Father of all, and the Son, and those who possess the adoption (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book IV, Preface, Verse 4. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885).

Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King ... may, in the exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept His commandments (Book 1, Chapter 10, Verse 1).

Now God is He who gives rise to immortality (Book v, Chapter 13, Verse 3).

I included the above quotes, because even though Irenaeus made some statements that out-of-context may have seemed to have supported unitarianism, the above quote clearly shows that he considered both the Father and Son to be God.

Christianity Today (a Protestant publication) records this piece of Church history involving the Catholic Origen:

The great third-century theologian Origen, for example, pressed a bishop named Heraclides to define the relationship of Christ to God the Father. After much careful questioning, Heraclides admitted to believing in two Gods but clarified that "the power is one."

Origen reminded Heraclides that some Christians would "take offense at the statement that there are two Gods. We must express the doctrine carefully to show in what sense they are two, and in what sense the two are one God." (Did You Know? Unusual facts about the Council of Nicea. Church History 2005. Christianity Today. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/2005/001/4.2.html).

Binitarianism was the predominant understanding of the Godhead.

Towards the end of the second century, a unitarian heresy was proposed by a heretic in Smyrna named Noetus. And as could be expected, he was put out of the church by the leaders there. Hippolytus later reported what happened as follows:

1. Some others are secretly introducing another doctrine, who have become disciples of one Noetus, who was a native of Smyrna, (and) lived not very long ago. This person was greatly puffed up and inflated with pride, being inspired by the conceit of a strange spirit. He alleged that Christ was the Father Himself, and that the Father Himself was born, and suffered, and died. You see what pride of heart and what a strange inflated spirit had insinuated themselves into him. Froth his other actions, then, the proof is already given us that he spoke not with a pure spirit; for he who blasphemes against the Holy Ghost is cast out from the holy inheritance. He alleged that he was himself Moses, and that Aaron was his brother. When the blessed presbyters heard this, they summoned him before the Church, and examined him. But he denied at first that he held such opinions. Afterwards, however, taking shelter among some, and having gathered round him some others who had embraced the same error, he wished thereafter to uphold his dogma openly as correct. And the blessed presbyters called him again before them, and examined him. But he stood out against them, saying, "What evil, then, am I doing in glorifying Christ? "And the presbyters replied to him, "We too know in truth one God; we know Christ; we know that the Son suffered even as He suffered, and died even as He died, and rose again on the third day, and is at the right hand of the Father, and comes to judge the living and the dead. And these things which we have learned we allege." Then, after examining him, they expelled him from the Church. And he was carried to such a pitch of pride, that he established a school.

2. Now they seek to exhibit the foundation for their dogma by citing the word in the law, "I am the God of your fathers: you shall have no other gods beside me; " and again in another passage, "I am the first," He says, "and the last; and beside me there is none other." Thus they say they prove that God is one (Hippolytus. Against the Heresy of One Noetus. Circa 220 AD).

Since those in Asia Minor were binitarians and not unitarians nor trinitarians, this condemnation makes sense. It is also consistent with the fact that early church history clearly shows that the leaders in Asia Minor tended to condemn heresies often decades before those in Rome did.

Interestingly, Tertullian, around 213 A.D. wrote:

Well then, you reply, if He was God who spoke, and He was also God who created, at this rate, one God spoke and another created; (and thus) two Gods are declared (Against Praxeas 13:1).

In the third century, Hippolytus (who, according to The Catholic Encyclopedia "was the most important theologian and the most prolific religious writer of the Roman Church in the pre-Constantinian era") wrote:

These things then, brethren, are declared by the Scriptures. And the blessed John, in the testimony of his Gospel, gives us an account of this economy (disposition) and acknowledges this Word as God, when he says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." If, then, the Word was with God, and was also God, what follows? Would one say that he speaks of two Gods? I shall not indeed speak of two Gods, but of one; of two Persons however, and of a third economy (disposition), viz., the grace of the Holy Ghost. For the Father indeed is One, but there are two Persons, because there is also the Son (Hippolytus. Against Noetus, Chapter 14. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Hippolytus wrote two persons, one God.

There were binitarians (sometimes called Semi-Arians), probably also called 'Paulicians,' in the area of Antioch who also kept the seventh-day Sabbath in the third century. A leader, who was opposed to the allegorists, named Lucian arose (late third century). While I am not certain if Lucian was or was not in the Church of God, he and others in his area were Semi-Arian, rejected using allegory as the primary way of interpreting the Bible, and since they were considered practicing Judaism, they would have kept the Sabbath. Notice this condemnation by a Roman Catholic Cardinal:

Lucian, who schismatized or was excommunicated on his deposition, held heretical tenets of a diametrically opposite nature, that is, such as were afterwards called Semi-Arian . . . I would rather direct the reader’s attention to the particular form which the Antiochene corruptions seem to have assumed, viz., that of Judaism . . . (Cardinal Newman, John Henry. The Arians of the Fourth Century. Longmans, Green, & Co., New York, 1908, pp. 7,9).

So, there were people in the Antioch area that held to some form of Judeao-Christianity in the late third century according to Catholic sources.

Thus, from the anonymous 2 Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin, Melito, Irenaeus, Tertullian (although he himself did not hold a binitarian view), Origen, Hippolytus, and Lucian, we have strong evidence that some sort of binitarian view was held during the time of Smyrna era of the Church of God (the second, third, and early fourth centuries).

And it should be noted that they all (with the possible exception of Tertullian) knew the koine Greek language well enough that they could understand at least some of what the New Testament manuscripts wrote about Jesus.

Plus, Polycarp (and possiblly Ignatius) had direct contacts with some of the original apostles and would also know based upon his familiarity with their teachings.

Consider that the Methodist Review reported in 1903:

University of Halle, Germany. Loofs is a professor of Church history...He has introduced into theology a new term which may lead to almost endless discussion—the term binitarianism ... In the study of the earliest developments of Christology he sees, as he imagines, a form of belief that is neither trinitarian nor unitarian, but that may be named binitarian ... He thinks he sees this doctrine, among the earliest Christian writers, most plainly in the shepherd of Hermas, but also in Barnabas, the Second Epistle of Clement, and in Tertullian. He thinks the genuine form of this binitarian doctrine was local to Asia Minor, and that it was found in Asia Minor in Marcellus of Ancyra, who died 372 A. D. From Asia Minor it spread to the West through Ignatius and Irenaeus, and in the fourth century it was still more or less current in the West in the person of Hilary, bishop of Poitiers, who died in 368. {Waldemar}Macholz does not lay claim to originality, but, taking up the investigations of his master, Loofs, he carries the researches into more remote regions of Christian thought, and thinks he finds evidence that many writers were affected by binitarianism. For example, he thinks that Tertullian was a binitarian until the Montanists taught him trinitarianism. How much truth, now, is there in all this? Simply this much, that the doctrine of the Spirit was late in developing...Binitarianism was opposed to unitarianism ... (Methodist review, Volume 85, September 1903. Original from the University of California, Digitized Jan 2, 2008, p. 820)

The apparent 'headquarters' of the true Church of God in the second and early third centuries was in Asia Minor, so we would expect that those there held a binitarian view of the Godhead.

But it was more than in Asia Minor. Early Christians absolutely did NOT believe that Jesus was a co-equal member of any trinity.  Notice the following 2003 observation by Professor Hurtado:

In the first two centuries, all texts from, and affirmed in, the developing proto-orthodox tradition, from the New Testament writings onwards, reflect subordination Christology, the Son understood as the unique agent of the Father, serving the will of the Father, and leading the redeemed to the Father ... I emphasize ... this ... belief about God was accompanied by and expressed by a "binitarian" pattern of devotional practice ... (Hurtado LW. Lord Jesus Christ, Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, 2003, pp. 647, 651)

The binitarian explanation of the Godhead with the Son subservient to the Father was not only scriptural (Luke 22:42; John 14:28), it was documented in all the early writings that the Greco-Romans currently accept according to Professor Hurtado.

Binitarianism, not unitarianism or trinitarianism, was the predominant (as well as biblical) belief in the first centuries of the Christian church.

The Fourth Century and Dr. Arius

Yet, in the fourth century, a somewhat influential unitarian arose.

Dr. Arius was a teacher (which is what the word "doctor" means, whether he formally considered to be a doctor is unclear) from Alexandria who held to the belief that God the Father was supreme in authority to Jesus.

He also believed that Jesus had a beginning, while binitarians do not accept that, many unitarians do.

Regarding Arius, here is what The Catholic Encyclopedia records:

He described the Son as a second, or inferior God, standing midway between the First Cause and creatures; as Himself made out of nothing, yet as making all things else; as existing before the worlds of the ages; and as arrayed in all divine perfections except the one which was their stay and foundation. God alone was without beginning, unoriginate; the Son was originated, and once had not existed. For all that has origin must begin to be (Barry W. Transcribed by Anthony A. Killeen. Arianism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Copyright © 1907 by Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

And while true Christians will understand that Christ is God and accepts the Son being under the authority of God the Father, we do not accept that He had a beginning (see Hebrews 7:3).

Now, there was a conference called by the Roman Emperor Constantine in Nicea in 325 A.D.

Although he did not wish to go to this meeting, Emperor Constantine summoned and forced Dr. Arius to attend the pagan Emperor's council.

According to historical accounts, the attendees at this council were split into three factions:

1) Arians - Supporters of the position of Dr. Arius, about 10% of the attendees.
2) In-Between - Those who held a position between the Arians and Trinitarians, about 75% of the attendees. Eusebius was the main spokesperson for them.
3) Trinitarians - Those who supported the views of Athanasius, about 15% of the attendees. (Feldmeth N. Early Christianity. CD Lecture. Fuller Theological Seminary, c. 2003)

Neither the unitarians or the trinitarians were the majority at Nicea.

This is, at least, indirectly confirmed by the following from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

Semi-Arians ... A name frequently given to the conservative majority in the East in the fourth century ... showing that the very name of father implies a son of like substance ... rejected the Divinity of the Holy Ghost (Chapman, John. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. Semiarians and Semiarianism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII. Published 1912. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thus, Catholic-approved writings acknowledge that the majority of those who professed Christ in Asia Minor (the East) in the 4th century were "Semi-Arians."

Semi-Arians are "binitarians."

Only God Can Be Worshipped

While traditional unitarians teach that Jesus was somehow special, they deny He was God. However, only God is supposed to be worshipped (Matthew 4:10; Revelation 19:10,22:8-9). And although He emptied Himself of His divinity on Earth (Philippians 2:7), and in that respect was a man (as indicated in Acts 2:22), Jesus still allowed Himself to be worshipped (Matthew 8:2;9:18;.14:33;15:25;28:8,17; Mark 5:6; Luke 24:52; John 9:38).

Jesus specifically taught:

23 ... all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. (John 5:23)

Since the Father is honored as God, so the Son should be also--this statement from Jesus conclusively proves that Christ is God as the Father is God.

The Bible records that the Apostle Peter (Acts 10:25) would not allow himself to be worshipped because he was a man (note the same Greek word for worship, proskuneo, is in all the previously cited verses). Paul and Barnabas had a similar incident as well (Acts 14:11-18) were they had to stop the worship through sacrifices to themselves. Angels, also, are not allowed to be worshiped (Matthew 4:9-10;Colossians 2:18; Revelation 19:10,22:8-9).

Thus, even though Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity, He still was representing God as He allowed Himself to be worshipped.

Some Who CLAIM to be in the Church of God Teach Unitarianism

Some will decide that they do not think this issue is of sufficient importance to care about. Others have taken a different view as unitarians tend to consider that the Bible does not mean what it says or certain scriptures should not be considered as scripture.

Sadly there are several small groups who CLAIM to be part of the Church of God who are now unitarian. The three that come to mind are Wade Cox's CCG, Ron Weinlands' Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God, and the late Ken Westby's Association for Christian Development.

Wade Cox, who claims to be a traditional unitarian, alleges:

If you are a Binitarian or a Trinitarian you are not in the first resurrection (Binitarianism and Trinitarianism (No. 76) (Edition 3.0 19941112-20001202). Copyright 1994, 2000 Wade Cox. Christian Churches of God).

By this statement, he clearly means that one is not a true Christian. He, like the Jehovah's Witnesses, also seems to be teaching that Jesus is some type of angel.

CGPFKG's Ron Weinland teaches a form of unitarianism and that Jesus did not pre-exist:

Although Mr. Armstrong understood that the Trinity was a lie, God did not give him full understanding of what was true concerning Himself and His Son, Jesus Christ. God did not fully lead him out from the pollution of the false Trinity doctrine. Mr. Armstrong still believed that Jesus Christ had eternally existed...

But there is only one eternally-existing member of Elohim and that is the ETERNAL ONE (Yahweh). Mr. Armstrong was never able to come to understand this about God. (2008 - God's Final Witness, pp. 204, 206).

The June-July 2007 edition of The Journal: News of the Churches of God had a lengthy article on the June 2007 "One-God Seminar" put out by Ken Westby and his Association for Christian Development (A.C.D.). The balance of this section will discuss the types of things these unitarians have claimed.

For some background, let's begin with the following introduction to this conference from Dixon Cartwright of The Journal:

Ken Westby continues to stir things up five years after his first annual conference to promote the concept of “one God.” This year a congregation in the Albany, N.Y., area whose affiliations include the Church of God Abrahamic Faith served as the local host of the sixth yearly conference.

The Living Hope Community Church, pastored by Vince Finnegan and copastored by Mr. Finnegan’s son Sean, was the site of the three days of meetings June 8-10, 2007, to argue (in a collegial way, as Mr. Westby always optimistically puts it) that God is one rather than two, three or some other number.

The obvious consequence of a belief that God is one—unitarianism, or unitary monotheism—is that Jesus is not God, at least not God in the sense that the Father is the Supreme Being: eter-nal and all-powerful. Trinitarians (most of Christianity) and binitarians (most churches derived from the Worldwide Church of God) believe that Jesus is God.

Mr. Westby and friends, on the other hand, say that Jesus is the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Savior and the elder brother of Christians but is not God.

A.C.D. was promoting heresy by teaching that Jesus is not God, yet the Saviour. Yet Jesus is God and that is what the Bible clearly teaches. The Bible clearly says that there is one Savior and that the Savior is God.

4 Yet I am the Lord your God Ever since the land of Egypt, And you shall know no God but Me; For there is no savior besides Me. (Hosea 13:4)

So how do unitarians get around the Bible?

Well in addition to misinterpretting various verses in the Hebrew scriptures, they either tend to ignore or question the validity of the Gospel According to John!

Notice this from the A.C.D. conference:

F. Paul Haney began by referring to his “lingering doubts” about the authenticity of the Gospel of John “and its substance.” He has concluded that John, unlike the synoptics—Matthew, Mark and Luke—is an “evolved book.” ...

Mr. Haney ratcheted the discussion up a few notches for the fundamentalist Christians to whom he was speaking when he mentioned that he had decided that perhaps the entire book of John is not what he once thought it was ...

If that method means Mr. Haney “must excise some parts of the Gospel of John, in particular, as being hostile to Yahweh’s teaching,” then “so be it.” Mr. Haney’s presentation, he said, was meant to “examine, interrogate and analyze John’s Gospel,” not to discard it.

“I do not worship the Bible,” he said, “but over the years I have discovered that some professing Christians do.” Mr. Haney spoke of John’s prologue, the first 18 verses, as “a hymn that was a later addition.” Therefore, anything in the prologue that seems to support Jesus as God as God the Father is God is automatically suspect...

The synoptics—Matthew, Mark and Luke—in large part “agree with one another,” Mr. Haney said. “But John’s Gospel is a special case. It came on the scene relatively late and has the distinction of sharply disagreeing in many respects with the synoptics as well as with some of Paul’s writings.”

Beginnings of books are normally NOT later additions. The Bible itself says that we are to get doctrine from it (2 Timothy 3:16), yet many unitarians teach heresy when they teach that John 1:1-18 is a "later addition."

It should be noted that F.P. Haney also questioned several other portions of that Gospel--hence apparently feels that it is not inspired scripture.  I believe he is teaching heresy.

Notice a differing view from the 21st century scholar Craig Blomberg:

John 1:1–18 introduces so many key Johannine themes that, at least in its current form, it seems inseparable from the body of the Gospel that follows. (Blombereg CL. The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel: Issues & Commentary. InterVarsity Press, 2011, p. 38)

As Craig Blomberg pointed out, other parts of John's writings confirm John 1:1-18--even if John added this 'prologue' later, it still is consistent with the Bible and is part of it.

In the second century, Theophilus of Antioch wrote the following:

You will say, then, to me: "You said that God ought not to be contained in a place, and how do you now say that He walked in Paradise?" Hear what I say. The God and Father, indeed, of all cannot be contained, and is not found in a place, for there is no place of His rest; but His Word, through whom He made all things, being His power and His wisdom, assuming the person of the Father and Lord of all, went to the garden in the person of God, and conversed with Adam. For the divine writing itself teaches us that Adam said that he had heard the voice. But what else is this voice but the Word of God, who is also His Son? Not as the poets and writers of myths talk of the sons of gods begotten from intercourse [with women], but as truth expounds, the Word, that always exists, residing within the heart of God. For before anything came into being He had Him as a counsellor, being His own mind and thought. But when God wished to make all that He determined on, He begot this Word, uttered, the first-born of all creation, not Himself being emptied of the Word [Reason], but having begotten Reason, and always conversing with His Reason. And hence the holy writings teach us, and all the spirit-bearing [inspired] men, one of whom, John, says,

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God," showing that at first God was alone, and the Word in Him. Then he says, "The Word was God; all things came into existence through Him; and apart from Him not one thing came into existence."

The Word, then, being God, and being naturally produced from God, whenever the Father of the universe wills, He sends Him to any place; and He, coming, is both heard and seen, being sent by Him, and is found in a place (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book II, Chapter XXII. Translated by Marcus Dods, A.M. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

It is part of this particular teaching about the Son that seems to have an inappropriate translation. Theophilus' writings, at least the translated portions that seem to be available, are probably not written in the manner that most who are unitarian would do would do. It cannot be a true unitarian view, for it admits that the Word is also God.

It seems to be a different way to explain a normal binitarian view--for the binitarian view also presumes the Word was also God from the beginning. My research indicates that the statement being naturally produced from God is a mistranslation. After looking at the original Greek of Theophilus and consulting with the Liddell Scott Greek-English Lexicon with the 1996 supplement (p. 325 and http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=bou%2Flhtai&la=greek&prior=te accessed 07/03/15), that statement seems to be better translated as naturally counseled/willed by God. Jesus, the Word, did what His Father wanted. And that is true.

Also notice another unitarian attempt to discredit part of the meaning of a word in scripture:

Anthony Buzzard ... stated that “elohim is not a collective noun unless you deny the evidence of all lexicons.”

Yet, as quoted earlier, CCG's Wade Cox admitted, "There is no doubt that the elohim are a plural structure." And it is true that elohim is plural. As far as lexicons go, I personally have looked at lexicons (e.g. Benner JA. The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible. 2005, p. 40; also Strong's Hebrew Lexicon) and even asked a Jewish scholar about it once, and he confirmed it. Hence it appears that whatever arguments that Anthony Buzzard wishes to make from those assertions are of no particular relevance.

Here are some other comments about the conference:

Noel Rude presented “Did Christ Create the Cosmos?”

Several New Testament passages, Mr. Rude said, “seem to say that Jesus Christ created the universe.” The most widely cited, he said, is John 1:3, which states that “all things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”

In reality, rather than Jesus the Messiah literally existing before His birth as a human, “the Messiah takes on and personifies the preexistent Word, wisdom, way, truth of God . . . Yet Jesus acknowledges that this is not His own wisdom” in John 12:49: “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.”

Mr. Rude noted that some verses in Paul’s writings are not as easy to explain and “actually do seem to say that Christ created the cosmos.” The verses include 1 Corinthians 8:6 (“by whom are all things”), Ephesians 3:9 (“who created all things by Jesus Christ”), Colossians 1:16 (“for by him were all things created”) and Hebrews 1:2 (“by whom also he made the worlds”).

The above presenter seems to be saying that you cannot rely on the statement in John 1:3, even though they agree with Paul's writings that also show that all things were made by Jesus Christ.  Teaching against relying on scripture is heresy if not apostasy. I would also again add that Jesus did exist prior to His human birth (John 1:15; 8:58).

Here is information relating to another presenter:

Citing 1 John 4:1-3 and 2 John 7, Mr. Gluckin noted that “the very root of the spirit of Antichrist is founded in not acknowledging Jesus was a man.”

(The above explanation was probably given in more detail at the conference, so I would simply refer readers interested in the Antichrist to the article Some Doctrines of Antichrist.) Although Jesus, is a lot like God the Father, but notice:

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

Notice that this shows that Jesus was God and that He became flesh--it does not state that He remained fully God on the earth. It should probably be mentioned that those with a unitarian view believe this should be translated differently, but that does not change the totality of the scriptures on this subject--Jesus BECAME FLESH. That is also consistent with Philippians 2:7 which teaches that Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity when He came on the Earth, prior to His resurrection.

At that conference mentioned earlier, another presenter took exception to John as well:

Gary Fakhoury presented “The Nature of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels.”

The synoptics—Matthew, Mark and Luke—“demonstrate an obliviousness to Jesus’ deity,” Mr. Fakhoury said ...

“Mr. Fakhoury continued: “If everything we knew about Jesus were contained in the synoptic Gospels, we would not have the slightest reason to suspect that Jesus was God in the flesh. “We would, however, have every reason to believe what our group [the One God Seminar people] has always believed and taught: that Jesus was God’s unique son: begotten by the Holy Spirit, righteous in word and deed, faithful to the end, a just and mighty Lord Messiah who reigns as God’s glorified vice regent in heaven and before whom all knees shall bow.”

Regarding the literalness of the events of the synoptics as opposed to the literalness of the events mentioned in the Gospel of John, Mr. Fakhoury said he thinks of John as a “meditation” about Jesus Christ whereas the synoptics present “just the facts, ma’am.” Therefore, John has a different purpose, Mr. Fakhoury seemed to be saying, and is not required to be as literal a report as are the synoptics. 

I bolded the above portion to comment about it. First of all, the New Testament is more than Matthew, Mark, and Luke (the "synoptic" Gospels).  So, notice two comments from Paul about Jesus:

Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God (Philippians 2:5b-6).

But to the Son He says: "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom (Hebrews 1:8).

And second of all, perhaps he forgot about a particular passage in Matthew:

"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us" " (Matthew 1:23).

Hence, the claims against Jesus' deity are false. It is wrong to state what Gary Fakhoury's bolded comments above.

The Journal also reported the following comments from Ken Westby himself at the conference:

“God is a personal being,” Mr. Westby said. “He is not a mystery, a phantom, a godhead or anything of the like. He has plans, emotions of anger, wrath, grieving, love, laughter, compassion, disappointment, pleasure and surprise ..." 

The Apostle Paul, unlike Ken Westby, did support the idea of a Godhead as he wrote:

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, (Romans 1:20)

9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9).

Thus, the New Testament teaches about a Godhead, but Ken Westby improperly dismissed it.

Because of an earlier "One God Seminar," Ken Westby and another presenter declared:

But no Gospels, no epistles, and no Apocalypse were penned until decades after Jesus was taken up into the clouds. This fact is not debated. This point can be important when confronting the very few scriptures in the NT that seem to reference the preexistence of a glorified Christ (Westby, Kenneth. Two Thrones, Two Lords, Two Saviors, One God. Association for Christian Development's The One God Seminar. Tyler, Texas July 25–27, 2003).  

"The Biblical Confession Is That Christ Did Not Preexist" (Atcheson, Wayne. The Confession of 1 John 4:2 Is That Christ Did Not Preexist. Association for Christian Development's The One God Seminar. Tyler, Texas July 25–27, 2003).

A.C.D.  denies the deity of Christ and questions the Gospel that the Holy Spirit inspired John to write and apparently other passages of scripture. A.C.D. is thus promoting dangerous heresies and should be denounced by those who believe that they are in the true Church of God. Some associated with the unitarians have suggested that Matthew 28:19 was also altered and not part of the original New Testament text (see Is Matthew 28:19 in the Bible?).

Now, A.C.D. often has at least one "opposition speaker" at its conferences. David Antion of Guardian Ministries and COGSC has opposed the unitarian positions at those conferences one or more times. The following is how he demonstrates why one of the many scriptures unitarians seem to reason around does show that Jesus is God:

In the Form of God: Philippians 2:6-9 is a most power passage. Most scholars believe that Paul was quoting a hymn already sung in the early church. The phrase “being in the form of God” has been explained away by those who believe God can only be one person. They say, “The text does not say he was God.” In other words he was in the form of God but not God.

But, to be fair, we have to consider the rest of the passage. We see that he emptied himself and took the “form of a servant (slave).” Now, was Jesus the “servant” of God or was he just in the form of a servant but not really a servant? On the night he was betrayed he said, “I am among you as he that serves.” The book of Acts refers to Jesus as “servant.” If “in the form of God” does not mean he was equal with God, then “in the form of a servant” does not mean he was a servant! The Greek words, “in the form of,” are the same!! (Antion, David. THE DEITY OF JESUS A response to the “One God” theory being widely presented to the Churches of God. http://www.davidantion.com/deity_of_jesus.htm visited 10/30/07).

Anthony Buzzard's Book

On July 3, 2013, I was sent a link to a then free Kindle 2012 edition Anthony Buzzard's book, Jesus Was Not a Trinitarian.

While Anthony Buzzard is correct that Jesus was not a trinitarian, unlike Anthony Buzzard, Jesus was also not unitarian. Anthony Buzzard holds to a unitarian view of the Godhead. He once had a COG connection as he graduated from and taught at the old Ambassador College of the Radio, then Worldwide, Church of God.

I would like to address some of the statements in his book.  Anthony Buzzard wrote:

Two Is Not One

At the simplest level, the unwarranted promotion of Jesus to the status of the One God created confusion. Two cannot be made into one.  (Buzzard, Anthony (2012-04-15). Jesus Was Not a Trinitarian (Kindle Locations 894-895). Restoration Fellowship. Kindle Edition.)

At various times in his book he makes some version of that argument.

But this conclusion is not true according to Jesus. Two can be one and the Bible shows that they can be so in God's eyes. 

At risk of repeating, again notice what Jesus taught:

30 I and My Father are one. (John 10:30)

4 Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,'  5 and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?  6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh.  (Matthew 19:4-6)

10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.  11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. (John 17:10-11)

20 "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;  21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:  23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.  (John 17:20-23)

Thus, the Bible clearly disagrees with Anthony Buzzard's assertion here.

He also wrote:

Bible writers never mean a triune God when they say “God.” Since the words “God,” “Lord God,” and LORD appear over twelve thousand times, they had about twelve thousand opportunities to make that equation “God = God in three Persons,” but they never did. They constantly say that God is a single Person and in the New Testament they equate that divine Individual with the Father of Jesus, who is everywhere said to be the Father’s Son.
(Kindle Locations 1467-1471).

The first sentence above is true, but the end of the second one, not so much. While Jesus is the Father's Son, that is not the term used "everywhere" in the Bible. Jesus is sometimes referred to something other than the Father's Son in the New Testament (e.g. 1 Timothy 1:1). The term "God" is used related to Jesus as well (cf. John 1:1, 20:28; Hebrews 1:8).  In the Book of Revelation, it appears the term "Lord God" is used of Jesus eight times (NKJV search).

Anthony Buzzard also wrote:

While “God” in the New Testament describes the Father over 1300 times, the same word “God” is used of Jesus on two occasions for certain in the New Testament.

There are a few verses where Jesus may be referred to as “God,” but because of grammatical ambiguity this cannot be maintained with certainty. (Kindle Locations 1477-1479)

We may say with certainty that Jesus is called “God” twice, in Hebrews 1: 8   and John 20: 28. The few other passages cannot be produced as firm evidence. (Kindle Locations 5335-5336)

First of all, it is more than two times that the same Greek word is translated as God and related to Jesus in the New Testament. It appears that terms such as "kingdom of God" and "Lord God Almighty" are not counted as possibly being related to Jesus by Anthony Buzzard (I will address the alleged "grammatical ambiguity" later).

Second of all, one of the biggest problems that I have had with unitarians and the New Testament is that they tend to not believe what the Bible actually teaches and discount certain passages etc.  And Anthony Buzzard has started to do that here.

Anthony Buzzard correctly wrote:

Theological writings frequently tell us that the right definition of Jesus and his relationship to God was discovered only after centuries of painful intellectual struggle. The Bible however seems much more straightforward. It says nothing about a “mystery of the Trinity.” This came much later. (Kindle Locations 4025-4027)

But I would add that although it took until the Council of Constantinople of 381 to get the Greco-Roman world to force the adoption of the trinity on who they could, the reality is that even the majority of Greco-Romans prior to around 360 A.D. held more of a binitarian, not trinitarian view of the Godhead. This is a documented fact.

He also wrote:

We have seen that the personal God of Israel and the Hebrew Bible is known by various titles. He is first of all the God (Elohim) who created the heavens and earth, an activity in which He was entirely unaccompanied.(Kindle Locations 4876-4877)

Yet, the above statement is in severe biblical error.  First of all, the term Elohim is plural in the Hebrew scriptures.  And second of all, Jesus was involved in the entire creation:

8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;  10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, (Ephesians 3:8-10)

Thus, for Anthony Buzzard to claim that God the Father created everything entirely "unaccompanied" is in error.

Anthony Buzzard also wrote:

Why if Jesus is God did he isolate his Father as the only one who is absolutely good? (Kindle Locations 7191-7192)

Let's look at the verse he was referring to:

17 So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.  (Matthew 19:17

There are a few possibilities, and I will offer up two.  The first is that the "him" who asked the question was not a true disciple and basically only using the term as it was culturally used as a sign of respect that Jesus felt was inappropriate.  He never said that he called Jesus "good" because he believed that Jesus was God or the Son of God.  And the second, is that Jesus was not "fully God" at this stage as He emptied Himself of His divinity to become human (Philippians 2:7).  There may be other reasons, but for Anthony Buzzard to conclude that Jesus was teaching that He had no Divinity based upon that is an improper conclusion.

Anthony Buzzard's book contained the following citation from the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library:

“When [first-century Christians] assigned Jesus such honorific titles as Christ, Son of Man, Son of God and Lord, these were ways of saying not that he was God but that he did God’s work.” (Kindle Locations 7437-7439)

But the Apostle John was a first century Christian and he clearly did (John 1:1) and quoted the Apostle Thomas doing the same (John 20:28). Furthermore, spiritual descendants of John, such as Polycarp of Smyra who knew John as well as Ignatius, clearly taught that Jesus was God.  Notice:

But may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ Himself, who is the Son of God, and our everlasting High Priest, build you up in faith and truth, and in all meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, forbearance, and purity; and may He bestow on you a lot and portion among His saints, and on us with you, and on all that are under heaven, who shall believe in our Lord and God Jesus Christ, and in His Father, who "raised Him from the dead (Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1as edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Chapter 12 modified by B. Thiel to correct omission in translation).

...God appeared in human form to bring newness of eternal life (Ignatius. Letter the Ephesians, 19,3. In Holmes: The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations. Baker Books, Grand Rapids (MI), 2004, p. 149).

Thus, early followers of Jesus did refer to Him as God.

Anthony Buzzard also took exception to passages such as John 1:1, 20:28, etc.

Although unitarians attempt to discredit various translations of certain passages of the New Testament (Anthony Buzzard also referred to some as having "grammatical ambiguity"), the reality is that those who would have understood what the New Testament was teaching would have been those who knew the original Apostles and/or their spiritual descendants in the late first century/early second century.

And those writers DID understand that the Bible taught that Jesus was God.


Another problem with the unitarian positions is that they normally limit who can truly be part of the God Family. Since those positions hold that there is only truly one God being--and that is all there ever can be--they essentially believe it is blasphemous to consider that God is reproducing Himself and intends to add others to His family.

Of course, just as the Son is under the authority of the Father, those added to God's family will be under the authority of the Father and Son.

Paul knew this when he wrote, " And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:28-29). We are to be Christ's brethren.

Perhaps, I should add here that the idea of Christians becoming God is NOT a new invention, but was understood even in the second century, as Theophilus of Antioch who wrote:

When thou shalt have put off the mortal, and put on incorruption, then shall thou see God worthily. For God will raise thy flesh immortal with thy soul; and then, having become immortal, thou shalt see the Immortal, if now you believe on Him; and then you shall know that you have. spoken unjustly against Him (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book 1, Chapter VI. Translated by Marcus Dods, A.M. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885 Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

For if He had made him immortal from the beginning, He would have made him God...so that if he should incline to the things of immortality, keeping the commandment of God, he should receive as reward from Him immortality, and should become God...For God has given us a law and holy commandments; and every one who keeps these can be saved, and, obtaining the resurrection, can inherit incorruption (Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book 2, Chapter XXVII. Translated by Marcus Dods, A.M. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Theophilus basically argues that humans become God when they are immortal (and they are not yet--please see the article Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality?).


The plural of the Godhead has significant biblical and historical evidence for being the correct position that those who profess Christ should hold to. Unitarianism, in its various forms, does not.

While unitarians are correct about many of the problems in teaching the inaccurate doctrine of the trinity, most simply do not understand the plural nature of the Godhead. Unlike trinitarianism, binitarianism, has significant biblical and historical evidence for being the correct position that those who profess Christ should hold to.

From Genesis (the first book of the Bible) and throughout the Old Testament, the concept that God is one consisting now of more than one person is confirmed.

The fact that the Father and the Son are God is clear from the New Testament. The New Testament is clear about Jesus' pre-existence as well.

Even the most ancient complete sermon ascribed to Christianity teaches that Jesus should be thought of as God and that the Father is God. Ignatius, Polycarp, Melito, other leaders in the second century, specifically refer to the Father as God, Jesus as God. As did non-Church of God leaders in the third century.

Biblical scholars and historians can trace the belief that the Father and Son God and are separate persons throughout the history of those who profess Christ.

And it is the correct position from the Bible. Those who do not understand it, simply do not understand the Bible correctly.

Here is a link to a related sermon: Unitarianism? How is God One? 

Appendix A - Addressing Unitarian Objections

I added this appendix so that I could address various unitarian arguments, so that those who advocate them would realize that the verses they point to do not ever prove their position against Christ's prior deity.

1) The Hebrew term ‘elohim can be translated various ways.

Though this is true, 'elohim is a plural noun, and hence shows the plurality of God when it is referring to God.  Certainly no unitarian wants to assert that God did not create the heavens and the earth.

2) Colossians 1:15-17 teaches that all things were created by Jesus Christ.  Unitarians claim the 'by' can be equivalently translatable as "because of" or "for" -- so that everything was created with Jesus in mind, even though Jesus had not yet been created.

This position is inconsistent with the fact that Jesus was with God and was God from the beginning (John 1:1-2) and that "All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made" (vs.3). The word translated as 'through' in the NKJV is the Greek word dia which the Interlinear Bible translates also translates as 'by'. Even if it could be argued that both verses 'by' should be translated as 'for', none of this changes the fact that Jesus was there at the creation.

The same Greek term dia is also in Hebrews 1:2, "His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds". Isaiah 43:11,12,15 also shows Jesus is both God and creator.

If God made the world for the Son, and the Son did not have a prior existence and the Son is not God, it seems illogical that the Son would be the reason that God made the worlds.

Furthermore, Colossians 1:17 itself teaches that Jesus existed before the creation.

3) Psalm 110:1 states, "The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand". Unitarians point out that the second lord in this quote is not the same word, and it means master with a little m.

This is true, but irrelevant (plus upper case was not a factor then). Many believe that the Son is under the authority of the Father, hence this changes nothing as it is consistent with that position.

4) John 1:1-3, John 6, 8 and 9, etc. Many unitarians insist that since "God calls those things which be not as though they are" -- the Bible is calling things that did not exist as though they did.

This is illogical in this context. The Bible states, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God" (John 1-2). It is telling us when, in those verses, which is not in the future but was in the past.

5) Other verses in Isaiah, according to the unitarians declare, the oneness of God.

This is true, but it does not explain how God is one. Furthermore, they demonstrate that the unitarian position against Jesus being God is in error. For example, Isaiah 43:10-11.15 states, "You are My witnesses," says the LORD, "And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the LORD, And besides Me there is no savior...I am the LORD, your Holy One, The Creator of Israel, your King."

Because God is one family, no other God family will ever be formed. Since Jesus is the savior, these verses show that Jesus is God and was the Creator. It should be noted that there are many New Testament passages that make it clear that Jesus is savior (Luke 1:47,2:11; John 4:42; Acts 5:31, 13:23; Ephesians 5:23; Philippians 3:20; 2 Timothy 1:10; Titus 1:4, 2:13, 3:4; 2 Peter 1:1, 1:11, 2:20, 3:2, 3:18; 1 John 4:14) and that the savior is God. Furthermore, in the entire New Testament, the Greek term translated as savior only refers to Jesus directly or members of the God family (some verses are unclear if they are referring to the Father or the Son, and may very well be referring to both together).

One specific example would be:

...adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things. For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works" (Titus 2:10-14).

Furthermore, the following verse is clearly showing that Jesus is God and Savior as it is Jesus who is to appear at His coming:

...looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).

Isaiah 45:22-23 in the usual translation (see main article for a fuller discussion of this point) teaches, "For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself; The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, And shall not return, That to Me every knee shall bow, Every tongue shall take an oath."

Now to whom shall every knee bow? Philippians 2:9-10 teaches, "Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth".

It is interesting to note that Paul teaches that the fulfillment of Isaiah 45:22-23 occurs at the judgment seat of Christ, "For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: "As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God" " (Romans 14:10-11).

Furthermore, instead of listing every possible verse in Isaiah, perhaps this quote from Jesus will put everything in context:

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty" (Revelation 1:8). N

ow Jesus' declaration about Him being the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end is made four times in Revelation (1:8, 1:11, 21:6, 22:13).

As far as Isaiah goes, notice the following:

4 Who has performed and done it, Calling the generations from the beginning? 'I, the LORD, am the first; And with the last I am He.' (Isaiah 41:4)

11 I, even I, am the LORD, And besides Me there is no savior. (Isaiah 43:11)

The 'LORD' Yawveh of the Old Testament is thus identified as Jesus in the New Testament by these and some other passages.

Jesus is clearly showing He was around from the beginning as He declares Himself to be the Beginning. God the Father was also around. God the Father was also the Beginning. Just as these statements from Jesus do not prove that God the Father was never around, the other verses in Isaiah do not prove that Jesus was not around (which would contradict these four in Revelation) either. In addition, notice that Jesus calls Himself the Almighty. Every time the Greek word pantokratur (translated Almighty) is used in the New Testament, it is always used to refer to God.

6) Another scripture I have been told that the unitarians really hinge on is 1 Timothy 6:14-16, "Lord Jesus Christ's appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power".

They argue that this 'who alone has immortality' is referring to God the Father. Not only is that not clear to me from the context, since the Bible shows that Jesus is 'King of kings and Lord of Lords' (Revelation 19:16;17:14), this more logically refers to Jesus. Furthermore, God will grant immortality to His saints at the resurrection (Romans 2:5-8; 1 Corinthians 11:53-54).

In addition since, "our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Timothy 1:10), was the one who brought immortality, it is logical to conclude that He also have possessed it.

While it is true that the Greek word translated in 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians as immortality is different from the Greek word translated as immortality in Romans and 2 Timothy, the first word more properly means against death, while the second word is better translated as immortality. However, since the both terms are used for the saints in a similar context, they do appear to be interchangeable.

7) QUESTION: Some religions teach that Jesus Christ is a created being. Some even say that He was the brother of Lucifer, or that He was the archangel Michael. Is Jesus Christ a created being, or is He eternal?

This question and the following answer are from the September-October 2004 edition of Tomorrow's World magazine:

ANSWER: The idea that Jesus was created by God the Father is often predicated on very narrow interpretations of Colossians 1:15 and Revelation 3:14, and by a failure to understand the plan of God as it applies to mankind. The Bible, however, shows that both the Father and the Son are eternally self-existent. Even though "there is only one God" (1 Corinthians 8:4; Deuteronomy 6:4), Scripture shows that God is a divine Family made up of more than one Being (Genesis 1:26; Ephesians 2:19; 3:15). According to the Bible, Jesus Christ was the God of the Old Testament, the "Word" (logos), through whom the Father created all things (John 1:1–3; 1 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 3:9; Hebrews 1:2). After He "emptied Himself" of His divine power (Philippians 2:7) in order to die and pay the penalty for our sins (Romans 6:23), Jesus then became the "only begotten Son" of the Father (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18), the Savior of mankind (1 John 4:14) and He who died for our sins and was resurrected that we might be saved from eternal death (Acts 4:10–12). Some point to the King James Version translation of Revelation 3:14 as evidence that Jesus Christ is a created being, as it describes Him as the "beginning of the creation of God." The problem is in translating the word "beginning" (in Greek, arche). How do other translations render this phrase? Christ is "the Origin of God’s creation" (Moffatt, NRSV); He is "the Ruler of God’s creation" (NIV). "Beginning" would be better rendered as the "Beginner" or the "Originator" of creation. As these translations make plain, Revelation 3:14 does not imply that Jesus was the first created being; rather, He is the One who created, and stands as the cause of, that creation. Some wrongly take Colossians 1:15 to mean that Christ, as the "firstborn over all creation," was Himself part of that creation. The Greek translated here as "firstborn"—prototokos (from proto, "first" and tikto, "to beget")—does not indicate that Jesus was created. Rather, it reminds us that, through His resurrection, He had the "preeminence" as "firstborn from the dead" (v. 18; Revelation 1:5). Additionally, as Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words rightly observes, Colossians 1:15 is a scripture "where His [Christ’s] eternal relationship with the Father is in view, and the clause means both that He was the Firstborn before all creation and that He Himself produced creation (the genitive case being objective, as ver. 16 makes clear)" (p. 104). "By Him [Christ] all things were created" (v. 16)—He did not create Himself! Another vital key to understanding Paul’s teaching is found in Hebrews 7. Melchizedek was the king of Jerusalem, and a Priest of the Most High God in the days of Abraham (Genesis 14:18). Paul writes that Melchizedek existed from eternity, "without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually" (Hebrews 7:3). Melchizedek was "like the Son of God," and remains a High Priest continually. If Jesus Christ is now our High Priest (Hebrews 5:10), then Melchizedek and Jesus Christ are one and the same eternal Being (For more on this topic, please write for our free reprint, Who Was the God of the Old Testament?). Religions that consider Jesus Christ a created being do not understand God’s plan of salvation. Jesus Christ, the "Word" who "was God" and was "with God" eternally from the beginning (John 1:1–2), before the creation, will return as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:13–16) to establish lasting peace on the earth (Isaiah 2:2–4).

For details as to why Jesus could not be the archangel Michael, check out the article Did the Archangel Michael become Jesus?

8) Unitarians declare that scriptures that any claim from Jesus being God in Greek are unclear, and that those scriptures that seem to oppose it are clearer.

Well, then this can cause another problem. And that problem is only once did Jesus ever say that the Father was God (John 6:27). And if this is the only direct verse it is possible that the Greek could be argued about that as well. Furthermore, perhaps I should add that Jesus more often referred to the Father as "Lord" (Matthew 11:25; Luke 10:21).

In addition, Jesus specifically taught, "I and My Father are one" (John 10:30).

9) Similarly, unitarians declare that the scriptures about God being one are clear, and that those scriptures that seem to oppose it are unclear.

I disagree and believe the Bible teaches the opposite. And simply will refer back to the main article.

Furthermore, the simple truth is that Jesus Himself explained how two can still be one (marriage) and how many can be one (He and the Father and the Church). The fact that Jesus was human while on Earth explains why He did not call Himself God then--which is a main unitarian argument. The fact that He allowed and agreed with Thomas that He was God after the resurrection, does deal with those objections (which are numerous) from the unitarians.

Articles on the Godhead:

Binitarian View: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning Is binitarianism the correct position? What about unitarianism or trinitarianism?
Is The Father God? What is the view of the Bible? What was the view of the early church?
Jesus is God, But Was Made Man Was Jesus fully human and fully God or what?
Virgin Birth: Does the Bible Teach It? What does the Bible teach? What is claimed in The Da Vinci Code?
Did Early Christians Think the Holy Spirit Was A Separate Person in a Trinity? Or did they have a different view?
Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity? Most act like this is so, but is it?
Binitarianism: One God, Two Beings Before the Beginning This is somelike the Binitarian View article, but has more information on binitarianism.

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Thiel B. Ph.D. Unitarianism: Is it Taught in the Bible And Was it the Position of the True Church? www.cogwriter.com (c) 2006 2007 2008/2009/2010/ 2011/2012/2013/2015/2019/2020 0605