Belief # 2. the Godhead
Bulletin for The 53rd General Conference Session
Session 5 ( April 23rd)
page 8, fourth column we can read about
GC President Neal Wilson introduces the discussion of changes in our Fundamental Beliefs
J.W. Bothe read section of the Statement.
Neal C. Wilson Here are several lines packed with alot of meaning. Who has some help for us on this or some question with regard to the Godhead or Trinity?
A. V. Wallenkampf: I will read the whole of the third sentence. "He is infinite beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation." I am somewhat apprehensive of the statement, "His self-revelation" - To me it opens the door too wide. It could open the door to almost anything, and certainly pseudocharismatics will crawl through it. Instead of saying "His self-revelation" I would like to say "the Holy Scriptures."
There is one more observation on the next line, "He acts in and through nature and history." This is the very reverse of the other one. This does not describe my God. This limits God to acting only through nature and history. My God acts through nature and history and any other way He pleases. He is not limited to nature and history and I would like to add a few words at the end of the sentence. "He acts through nature and history and beyond both" or something similar. He has other means that supersede both nature and history.
Mario Veloso: The sentence that begins, "God is all-powerful, all-knowing and ever present" is followed by phrases that concern me, "above all, through all and in all" which is almost a quotation taken from another context. In the context of the church, this is true, but in the context of everything which is referred to here, it takes on the cannotation of pantheism. I would like to suggest that this sentence "above all, through all and in all" be deleted. It would be fine to just put the period after "ever present." I would also like to support Elder Wallenkampf on the sentence, "He acts in and through nature and history."
Leif Hansen: In this discussion of the Trinity, which is always and difficult matter to discuss, I wonder if a certain misunderstanding could be eliminated by saying, "a unity in purpose" so that the matter of physical unity can be eliminated.
Neal Wilson: I see your point there. Maybe we ought to make it unity in purpose rather than a physical unity.
J. G. Bennett: The statement about the Godhead and the trinity goes on to use the pronoun He. Later as the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are discussed we use the same pronoun He. I do recognize and accept the Trinity as a collective unity, but I would have a little difficulty applying the pronoun He to the Trinity or the Godhead. For me this has deep theological implications.
Victor B. Hall: I refer to the phrase "Yet known through His self-revelation." Surely the only self-revelation God has made is in his Son.
Neal Wilson: We had a suggestion that rather than "Self-revelation" we ought to use "Holy Scriptures." Now of course, Christ is the Word and your point is that His revelation is in the Son.
Victor B. Hall: No one has seen God at any time.
Neal Wilson: You have a point there. The problem is, how do we see God today If it has to be through the Son? We have to see the Son through the Scriptures. I think the intent of those who drafted the statement was that there is not way for us toe see God or the Son except through Scripture.
H. J. Harris: It seems to me we have a conflict or a contradiction in this statement, "There is one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal persons. Would it not be more clear if we were to say, "There is one God consisting of Father, Son and Holy Spirit?" We begin with "one God" and then without explanation, we use "Father, Son and Holy Spirit." Later we go to "a unity of three."
Richard Hammill: There are several comments I would like to make. Regarding this last suggestion, I think it is rather difficult to use the verb consist with God. I think we ought to be very careful in using terms that the Bible does not use of Him. When we framed this statement we tried to use Biblical phrases as much as we could.
The next concept has to do with self-revelation. I think it would be a mistake to limit this, because God reveals himself in many ways. He reveals himself certainly through (end page 11 - continued on page 14) the Scriptures, as we have stated. He has revealed Himself in nature. Ellen White explicitly says there are two books - the book of the Written Word and the book of nature - and God sometimes reveals Himself in ways the Bible says we don't expect and we don't always understand. Se we tried to be no more or less explicit than the Bible is here. If we define this word, we rule out others that I think we have to understand when this is read.
The next matter is the concept about God in and through all. This is an exact Biblical statement. It could be in quotes except stylistically we have not been putting Biblical phrases in quotes. But Ephesians 4: 5 uses these phrases with the verb is - God "is." Just because there have been some pantheistic views in our past history, I don't think that we ought to try to rewrite the Bible, not wanting to use this verse of Scripture. The Bible does say that God is in all, and through all, and above all in way that we don not understand. Since this is a Biblical clause, I think we should try to maintain it.
My last comment has to do with the thought that God acts in and through nature and history. This does not say that these are the only ways that God acts. God acts in many many ways, but the Bible explicitly says that He does act in nature and in history. When we say that we are not denying others, but we are making an affirmation of that which the Bible clearly states.
Miguel Castillo: It has been interesting to me to find a statement of Ellen White that says God acts in each natural phenomenon. That is in perfect agreement with the Biblical statement, "My Father wortheth . . . and I work." The statement, therefore, that He acts in all, above all, and through all, in in perfect agreement with Scripture and with Spirit of Prophecy as far as I am concerned.
W.G.C.Murdoch: I would suggest that we use the expression, "The Godhead or Trinity" rather than "Trinity."
J. J. Battistone: There was a reference to the pronoun He. We are talking about the Godhead, so the antecedent of the pronoun is God, not the three persons. In the reference to His self-revelation in Scripture, I prefer that reading.
Paul Chima: I would suggest that when this goes back to the committee, Sister White's writings are studied to see what term was used to describe God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Let us use a lot of her terminology to describe this. Whatever decisions are made and expressions found let us be content with them.
W. R. Lesher: I am concerned about the words and phrases that would seem to limit God or to change the view of God that is given to us in Scripture. One of these is the suggestion that was made that we not use the word He. I presume the speaker was referring to the use of 'they' in paragraph 2. And, of course, the statement of Scripture is that "Our Lord our God is one Lord." And to speak of 'they' or some other pronoun than He would make us tritheist, instead of believing on one God. The expression, "consisting of Father, Son and Holy Spirit" might read more nicely. It seems to me it does introduce a limiting factor. It is much more in harmony with the mystery of God to simply say there is one God -- The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. My same observation would apply to the expression "a unity of purpose." We assume that there is a unity of purpose in the Godhead. Still, God is a mystery and we do not know in what ways the unity might exist other than in purpose. There are some ways in which we can seem to say that God is not a unity. But even then we are not sure what we are talking about. The idea of three beings that are One, is a mystery, and it seems to me that se should not try to remove all of the mystery from the statement.
Neal Wilson: I would now like to appoint a committee to do some editing for us with these suggestions in mind. I would like to suggest that Dr. Richard Hammill serve as chairman and the following serve as members. Thomas H. Blincoe, Dean of Andrews Theological Seminary; W. Duncan Eva of the General Conference; Larry Garaty of Andrews University; W.R. Lesher, from Biblical Research Institute; James Londis, Pastor; Robert Olson, EGW Estate; Jan Paulsen from Newbold College; Mario Veloso from South America, G. R. Thompson, Chair of Church Manual Committee and M. T. Battle, Secretary of Church Manual Committee.
Session 6 ( April 24th )
page 15 second column begins Baptismal Vow changes
page 18 continues Godhead discussion with FB3 “God the Father” bottom of column 1 column 4 starts “the Son”
page 19, 4th column begins “Holy Spirit”
page 20 middle 1st column Harold Lance comments on Desire of Ages, page 671
“Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the Third Person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power.”
go to the transcript on GC website until we can continue it here.
Confusion between the Godhead and the Trinity
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