No Attempt to "Tell Us Plainly"
by Gene Frost
April 30, 2000
The latest response in our exchange, which Ronny Milliner introduced with an article on "Neo-Apollinarianism," is an article by him entitled, "The Three Musketeers Attack the Straw Men." He adds nothing new to the discussion. In fact, his effort is a rehash of previous articles and completely ignores our replies to those efforts by him, as we shall point out as we proceed.
Efforts to have a fruitful exchange with Ronny are frustrating, in that he knowingly makes false charges and, when exposed, he remains unfazed. Without any evidence of repentance, and in the absence of any apology, he forges ahead with specious arguments and quibbles. In this article, I will establish the truth of this statement. And again I appeal to him to correct his sin against me.
The Initial False Charge
In the January issue of his electronic magazine, The Seeker, Milliner's initial charge against me appeared under the subtitle, "Neo-Apollinarians Believe That Jesus Just Appeared to Be a Man." He accuses me of being a so-called "Neo-Apollinarian" and of believing that Jesus just appeared to be a man. I believe no such thing. This false charge has been answered repeatedly over the past nine years (since 1991), since set afoot by John Welch and repeated by members of the Welch party, even after it was exposed. Ronny Milliner repeated it in January, knowing that the misrepresentation had been corrected. Thus his charge is a malicious lie.
In the electronic Gospel Anchor, on January 8, I exposed the smear tactic in an article entitled, "'Neo-Apollinarianism': A Smear Tactic." Shamelessly, Milliner continued his assault in The Seeker, dated February (but downloaded the first of March), in an article entitled, "Tell Us Plainly."
The basis for his charge is a single statement he lifted out of context - a context in discussion of Philippians 2:7-8, which says that "Jesus Christ ... was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." I called attention to the fact that the text says Jesus was "in fashion as a man." To say this, Ronny says, is to say that Jesus just appeared to be a man. If he is right, then the apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ all are guilty. (Eph. 3:3-5, 1 Cor. 14:37.) When Ronny says he doesn't believe what I wrote, remember that what I said was in quotes (quoting the Scriptures).
In numerous articles and sermons, I have emphasized that Jesus was a man, that He hungered, thirsted, tired, etc. as a man. So Milliner knows, as I have responded over the past nine years, that I believe that Jesus was a man, and, being in fashion as man, he was obedient unto death on the cross. The humanity of Jesus has never been the problem. So, he is without excuse to continue to spread the lie that I believe Jesus just "appeared" to be a man. It is malicious. (Milliner and the Welch party have the same problem that the Jews had when they complained to Jesus, that He "being a man, makest thyself God," John 10:33. The Jews had no problem with His humanity; they could not accept that the fullness of deity resided in Him bodily, Col. 2:9. Had Jesus said, "I am just a man, an ordinary man as are all of you," they would not have been moved to stone Him ... and we would not be having this exchange.)
I pointed out to Ronny in my response, "'Tell Us Plainly,' Please Do," electronic Gospel Anchor, dated March 31, that his objection to what I said, as he quoted, was itself a quotation of Scripture (and was in quotation marks so he couldn't miss it). Has Ronny Milliner apologized? No, instead he diverts attention to other charges.
In his latest attack, "The Three Musketeers," he makes no reference to our exchange on his gross misrepresentation. This is characteristic of the Welch party. They have been exposed on other points, and admittedly so ... but they never show any repentance, or remorse. They do not even apologize to those whom they assail. They go into their silent mode until some later time when they drag out their old misrepresentations and try again. However, we all know that silence does not correct grievous sins of the past.
Since I have been accused of believing that Jesus was not a man, but only appeared to be a man, I demand that Ron Milliner present the proof. When and where did I ever say that Jesus only appeared to be a man? The charge is a lie that has been corrected, but continued to be circulated. After nine years, enough is enough. John Welch, Ron Milliner, and others in the party are guilty, and not one has repented and apologized! Why will he not apologize for falsely accusing me of believing that Jesus just appeared to be a man? All who repeat this false statement testify falsely; they are false witnesses.
Prov. 6:19 - "A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."
Prov. 12:17 - "He that speaketh truth showeth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit."
Prov.14:5 - "A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies."
Prov. 19:5 - "A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape."
Prov. 19:9 - "A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish."
Matt. 15:19 - "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies..."
If there is any shame, we call upon Ron Milliner and the others to repent and to correct the lie as publicly as they have circulated it. Until they do, they stand convicted. Let everyone know that if anyone says that Gene Frost believes that Jesus was not really a man, but only appeared to be a man, he lies.
The Exchange to Date
To the reader unfamiliar with the exchange: to read the exchange from the beginning to this present article, please go to the following sites to print the articles in the following order:
The Seeker, Jan., 2000.
"'Neo-Apollinarianism': A Smear Tactic"
Gospel Anchor, Jan. 8, 2000.
"Tell Us Plainly"
The Seeker, Feb. (Mar.), 2000
"'Tell Us Plainly,' Please Do"
Gospel Anchor, Mar. 31, 2000
"The Three Musketeers..."
The Seeker, April, 2000
To reach The Seeker, click on the link at the close of this article. We hesitate not to give the web address of our antagonist. We want you to read both sides so that you can determine for yourself wherein the truth lies. We call upon The Seeker to follow suit and to publish our website address: "http://www.gospelanchor.com/."
The Latest Written Tirade: "Three Musketeers"
As I read Milliner's article, I wondered, has he even read what I have written in reply to his articles? Apparently, he supposes that his audience will just take his word for his assertions and will not investigate for themselves to determine whether or not he tells the truth and/or whether he has been answered. I say this because it takes but little effort to see that he misrepresents us and ignores our refutations of his erroneous teaching.
Rather than reprint my answers to Ronny's questions in his "The Three Musketeers" article, I will refer to the location of my answers that appear in the "'Tell Us Plainly,' Please Do" article. To begin with, for my latest (and ignored) response to the charge that Jesus only appeared to be a man, turn to this article. I deal with it extensively under the subtitle, "As A Man." It would be well for the reader to download this article, and print it, so that, as we refer to it, the reader can follow along.
Under the subtitle: "Straw Man No. 1: Poor Apollinarius," he refers to the fact that we have no "primary sources" of what Apollinarius supposedly believed and taught. He then counters, "Brother Frost, do you remember that we have no autographed copies of the writings of Peter, Paul, and John. (sic)" This is pathetic: does he not know the difference between primary sources and original autographs (or, as he says, "autographed copies"). Or, does he just feign ignorance in an effort to make us appear inconsistent? In either case, he makes himself look foolish.
We do not know for certain what Apollinarius believed because we do not have his writings. Ronny reasons, since we do not have the original autographs of the New Testament writers, then the New Testament is like the writings of Apollinarius, so that if one is to be rejected then so must the other. The conclusion is invalid and foolish. What we have of what Apollinarius supposedly taught is from his enemies. For there to be an equation we would have to conclude that the writings of Peter, Paul, and John were by their enemies. This is obviously false and an invalid conclusion. So the equation by Milliner is invalid.
Milliner argues that in absence of original autographs we do not have primary sources! Does he really not know that the writings of Peter, Paul, John, et al., in the Scriptures, are primary sources, even though we do not have the original autographs? Just in case he really doesn't understand it and is not being devious, let me explain it. A source is a person, book, document, etc. that provides information. A primary source is information from the original producer (writer). The New Testament books are primary sources, i.e. they were written by Peter, Paul, John, and other inspired writers. (It is not essential that we have "autographed copies" to have what they wrote.) The reports of what Apollinarius taught were not written by him; hence are not primary sources. A secondary source is information from others (persons, writings, etc.) than the original source. The reports of what Apollinarius supposedly taught are from his enemies. They are secondary sources. Therefore, unless Milliner is arguing that the source of our information of Apollinarius is the same as we have for the New Testament, he has no point. Surely, he does not believe that the writings of Peter, Paul, and John, as with the alleged teachings of Apollinarius, are actually representations by their enemies. So instead of a legitimate argument, Milliner's argument is nothing more than a miserable quibble.
Under "Straw Man No. 2: Wrong Methods," Ronny Milliner complains: "these brethren prefer to speak about the methods I use in writing."
Au contraire. It was Milliner who criticized me for an admitted mistake he made; it was my fault, he says, because I used a different format than one he prefers. Rather than repeating my reply, let me just cite the text where I answered his complaint.
Read again the fourth (and last) paragraph under the subtitle, "Detours," in Milliner's article, "Tell Us Plainly"; and then read my response in my article, "'Tell Us Plainly,' Please Do," under the same subtitle, "Detours."
I find it incredible that Ronny accuses me of doing what he did just because I responded to it. He must think that a quibble is better than saying nothing.
Milliner then asks, "You do remember my question in the article 'Tell Us Plainly?' I wrote, Brother Frost, do you mean to say you have no interest in the Christological controversies of the past, and whether those heresies of the past are being taught today? ... You forgot about that question, didn't you brother Frost?"
I answered the question; it is Ron Milliner who fails to respond. I have said before, and I repeat: Ronny has a problem in reading and/or comprehension. I am sure the reader can see that I did not avoid the question, but dealt with it plainly. This is more than can be said about Ronny, who totally ignored my questions.
I answered his quibble in my article, "'Tell Us Plainly,' Please Do," paragraph 8 under the subtitle, "As A Man."
Following Ronny's repeated question, he comments, "You forgot that question, didn't you brother Frost." And again: "Actually, you must have forgotten about all the questions in that article, because none of them have been answered yet!" Actually, I went through his article and underlined all the questions that pertained to what I believe the Bible to teach so as not to overlook any. (I do not answer questions about what others believe, or questions addressed to others. They can speak for themselves.) Ronny's charge is without foundation. My immediate reaction, and my thinking now, is that he accuses me of failing to answer his questions so that you can excuse himself from answering the ones I asked, and even numbered so that he could not overlook them. (I'll repeat them at the close of this article.)
Under "Straw Man No. 3: Strange Bed Fellows," Milliner does not address me, but he makes an aside that needs to be corrected. He says of my debate with John Welch, "Brother Frost quoted denominational scholar after denominational scholar in an effort to support his position." No; I quoted men not for their support of my position - in fact, I quoted men who do not agree with what I believe. I referred to them, not as co-believers, but as linguists in order to ascertain the meaning of words as found in the original text. I do not need men to uphold what I believe. My faith comes from God and His word is sufficient. Yet, as with all of us, I need to be clear on the meaning of words and the syntax used in the text, and find it useful to consult dictionaries and lexicons, and word studies. Unlike Milliner's use of quotations, I do not lift quotes from brethren to use against brethren on the assumption that if I can find apparent contradictions, this will prove that what I believe is right. I deplore Ronny's tactic. It would not be difficult to answer in kind and to array him, John Welch, Harry Lewis, Jeff Asher, and others against one another. But what would that prove as far as what the Bible teaches? If it takes demonstrating the inconsistencies within the Welch party to convince him of what the Bible teaches, he can let me know. I am persuaded that most people would have Ronny drop this approach and limit himself to a study of Scripture, using lexicons and grammars to help in the study.
Ron Milliner questions why I publish an article in a journal with which I have a difference. I feel no obligation to respond, but I will because it makes a point others need to understand. Yes, I have written in journals where I do not customarily write, not to convey approval of all that is taught in it, but because I was given the opportunity to show wherein I disagree with something that was published. The editor was gracious enough to publish my material. I have sought to do the same in Faith and Facts, but my response was refused; only the position of error was allowed to be presented. Even though I published an article by its editor in response to an article in the Gospel Anchor, I was not accorded the same courtesy.
No further questions are submitted to me in the article, "The Three Musketeers," other than asking me to comment on what other brethren have written. However, in this previous article, I answered at least 10 questions.
Read the article, "'Tell Us plainly,' Please Do," in the electronic magazine, The Gospel Anchor.
In contrast, I presented and numbered 7 questions, none of which has he even attempted to answer. I answer his questions, and he whimpers falsely that I do not. I ask him questions, and receive the silent treatment. I will repeat them at the close of this article.
Before closing, I will deal with some other matters, which were not introduced in the form of questions.
Jesus Emptied Himself
Referring to Paul's statement that Jesus "emptied Himself" (Phil. 2:7, ASV), Milliner says, "He emptied Himself of the use of those unique attributes." Question: Did Jesus possess all of the divine attributes and not use them, or did He not use them because He did not possess them? Heretofore, it has been argued that Jesus abdicated, surrendered, gave up, divested, left in heaven His divine attributes; He did not have them to use! In fact, the controversy over the deity of Christ began because it was affirmed that Jesus did not have divine attributes, that He surrendered His deity and divinity, that they were left in heaven, so that He could come to earth as a man no different from other men. My initial response was that while Jesus was fully God on earth (1 Tim. 3:16, Col. 2:9, Heb. 13:8), He limited His use of powers and prerogatives that would prevent His role as a servant. Here the battle was met. Now, however, some realize that the former position cannot be defended and have shifted from not having to not using, not just the powers that would negate His role as a servant but in total so that He is still nothing more than any other man. Earlier, I answered Milliner himself on the issue (see "Who Stripped His Gears") and stated (which he now quotes) that "emptied" does not mean "as one would empty a bottle by pouring out its contents." Ronny ridicules the idea. Therefore, he believes that Jesus emptied Himself of divine attributes as one empties a bottle by pouring out its contents! Of course, he could say that Jesus emptied Himself of the use of His attributes because He does not have them, just as one cannot use the contents of a bottle when they are poured out! He cannot have it both ways. Therefore, we ask Ronny to tell us plainly: Did Jesus possess all of the divine attributes and not use them, or did He not use them because He did not possess them?
Jesus Made Himself of No Reputation
Notice that where the King James version says that Jesus "made himself of no reputation" (Phil. 2:7), other versions say He "emptied himself." Does "emptied Himself" mean that He "made Himself of no reputation"? In truth, yes; but Milliner and company, make a difference. To "empty oneself" is to abase himself, to make himself a nobody, of no reputation. Notice that the text says that Jesus emptied Himself, not that Jesus emptied Himself of" (divine attributes). Linguists tell us that the word translated "emptied" (kenoo) means
- "he emptied himself, i.e. to an unimportant position" (Timothy and Barbara Friberg, Analytical Lexicon to the Greek N.T., electronic).
- "to empty oneself, to divest oneself of rightful dignity by descending to an inferior condition, to abase oneself" (Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary, page 857).
- "to empty, is so translated in Phil. 2:7, R.V., or A.V., 'made ... of no reputation.' The clauses which follow the verb are exegetical of its meaning, especially the phrases 'the form of a servant,' and 'the likeness of men.' Christ did not empty Himself of Godhood. He did not cease to be what He essentially and eternally was. The A.V., while not an exact translation, goes far to express the act of the Lord" (W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of N.T. Words, vol. 2, page 25).
- "to empty, to make empty, to make of no effect. The word does not mean He emptied Himself of His deity, but rather He emptied Himself of the display of His deity for personal gain. The word is a graphic expression of the completeness of His self-renunciation and His refusal to use what He had to His own advantage" (Fritz Rienecker and Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek N.T., page 550).
- Other references could be cited.
Grammatically, the object of the verb "emptied" cannot be His being in the form of God. Emptied is not transitive, which would require the mention of what is emptied following the verb. The adversative conjunction separates "form of God" and "emptied."
- "So vv. 6 and 7 'cannot mean that the preexistent Christ emptied Himself of the morphe Theou [form of God] and instead took on the morphe doulou [form of servant]. As W. Michaelis has perceptively noticed, if Paul had meant this he would have written heauton kenosas ... elabev. 'The implication is not that Christ, by becoming incarnate, exchanged the form of God for the form of a slave, but that he manifested the form of God in the form of a slave.'" (Peter T. O'Brien, Epistle to the Philippians, page 218).
Coincident with abasing Himself, and descriptive of it, Jesus took on the form of a servant.
- "The use of the aor. act. part. labon (lambano , to take), having taken (with reference to the form of a servant), indicates that humanity did not displace deity in His personality. Rather He took upon Himself voluntarily, in addition to His preincarnate condition, something which veiled His deity." (Spiros Zodhiates, Complete Word Study Dictionary, page 857-858).
The self-humiliation is further described as being "made in the likeness of men," or being made, being born, becoming in likeness of men.
To teach, as the Welch party does, that Jesus poured out (emptied as a bottle empties its contents) His deity to become an ordinary man, no different from other men, is to contradict Scripture - and we know that truth does not contradict truth. The truth is:
"For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." (Col. 2:9)
"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." (Heb. 13:8; cf. Mal. 3:6.)
My Questions - Tell Us Plainly
I know the tactic Milliner and associates use. They ask questions and demand answers, hoping to keep their opponent on the defensive. Yet, when asked questions, they are silent ... except to present more quibbles to keep the opponent busy, hoping that the reader will forget that they have not answered. I plan to keep these questions alive, and demand of Milliner what he demands of me. He may complain that he doesn't like the way I answer his questions - that's also an excuse not to answer. If so, then we ask Ron to show us how to answer questions properly. For the second time, tell us plainly ... without delay:
1. Was the Spirit of Jesus on earth no different from other men?
2. With what attribute is the spirit of man created that is unlike God? What innate quality (not degree or extent) does the spirit of man have that the Word did not and has not, so that for God to be manifest as a man He has to be make in a spirit likeness of man?
3. Is there a nature (phusis) which belongs to God, without which a spirit cannot be God?
4. Was the nature of the Word the same after He was manifest in the flesh as it was before?
5. Did Jesus die spiritually on the cross in addition to His physical death (when the Spirit left the body)?
6. Did Jesus suffer rejection by the Father on the cross in order to make atonement?
7. Do you believe that Jesus was at risk on earth, that He could have sinned and frustrated the eternal plan of God and made God a liar relative to His prophecies?
Additional questions asked in the course of this article:
8. Why will you not apologize for falsely accusing me of believing that Jesus just appeared to be man?
9. Did Jesus possess (have access to as resident in His body) all of the divine attributes and not use them, or did He not use them because He did not possess them?
Note to Ron Milliner: All of these questions relate to your understanding of Scripture. I have avoided asking you in kind, if you agree with statements made by others in the Welch party? Let's keep the discussion on what the Bible says. I await your reply.
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