"Tell Us Plainly," Please Do
by Gene Frost
In the January issue of his electronic magazine, The Seeker, Ron Milliner posted an article entitled, "Neo-Apollinarianism," in which he vainly tried to identify this writer and others with the teachings of a fourth-century theologian named Apollinarius. Of course, our faith was not derived from Apollinarius, nor does he articulate what we believe about the deity of Jesus in the flesh. We have repeatedly shown this to be true.
Milliner is obsessed with Apollinarius and is recklessly determined to find someone who is his disciple today. He selectively describes what Apollinarianism is, and perverts what others say to make it appear that they are promoting his theology. Never mind that they protest and expose the misrepresentations and slander, Milliner is not to be deterred.
On January 8, I exposed Milliner's misrepresentations and outrageous slander in his article, "Neo-Apollinarianism." My reply, entitled "'Neo-Apollinarianism': A Smear Tactic," was posted in the electronic Gospel Anchor. We called upon him and his confederates in slander "to repent and to apologize for their shameful conduct."
In the February 2000 issue of The Seeker (posted the last of February and downloaded March 5), Milliner acknowledges my article, wherein I exposed his tactics, his misrepresentations, blatant lies, and slander, but he does not repent or apologize. He does not even attempt to justify his false charges. I proved that he lied against me and that he continues to knowingly misrepresent and slander. He stands convicted, but apparently is impervious to shame. With a cavalier attitude, he continues to slander. Before proceeding, I would recommend that all, who now read this article, to again read my article cited above, and take note that it goes unchallenged. An honorable man, after such a conviction, would repent and apologize.
Milliner's most recent unreasoned and distorted article, "Tell Us Plainly," deserves no reply. He continues to demand answers to questions we have answered in our writings over and over again. Yet, for the benefit of the readers I will respond to his article and in return ask of him what he asks of me, and that is to "tell us plainly" what he believes. I will make my questions pointed. See if he responds ... or again give the "silent treatment."
Milliner, in his article, "Neo-Apollinarianism," accused this writer of believing that "Jesus just appeared to be a man." This is not a new charge. It was first made by John Welch in 1991, at which time I corrected him; knowing that it was false he repeated it in 1992, and again was corrected; others continued to repeat the false accusation, including Milliner in 1994; and now in 2000, Milliner once again repeats the accusation he must know is false. My references to Welch documented the falsity of the charge that I believe that Jesus only appeared to be a man, which is now maliciously and knowingly repeated. Instead of repenting and apologizing for his slander, Milliner pretends that the thrust of my article was simply to complain about "what Welch said in the past." So, instead of forthrightly responding, Milliner tries to detour from the subject to pretend that my article was only a complaint about Welch. Does Milliner have a problem in comprehension or is he being deceitful? It is hard to believe that he lacks the mental acumen to understand that it was not about the person of Welch that I wrote, but about the false charge that Welch set afoot is now being repeated by Milliner and others who have been taken in by his heresy.
I am sure that others did not fail to understand the references in documenting the attempted deception by the Welch party. Ron Milliner has been convicted of lying, with malice aforethought, in saying that I believe that Jesus only appeared to be a man. I have written too much on the subject, and answered the specific false charge too many times, for one not to know that the accusation is false.
Shifting The Blame
Milliner refers to a quotation he attributes to me, in his book, the man Jesus Christ. In fact, it was a quotation from H.A.W. Meyer to which I referred, in an article in the Gospel Anchor, December 1990 (see my article "'Neo-Apollinarianism': A Smear Tactic," under the sub-title, "1994 - Shameless Slander.") Does he apologize for his mistake? No, he just shifts the blame. It was my fault, he says; "if you had used the APA format, brother Frost, I would have picked up the reference in the quote from the article." Strange that I used the same format that he did in his book, the man Christ Jesus, which was perfectly satisfactory, but I am chided because I did not use the documentation style developed by the American Psychological Association (APA).
After chiding me for not using an APA format, you would think that he would, but look at his documentation in his article, "Neo-Apollinarianism." He refers to "Haile, p. 3," "Estes, 1992, p. 258," "Hogland, 1994," etc. What documentation style is this? At least I followed an accepted standard and referred to the author, the book (or article and publication), the volume and page number. Milliner demands of others what he himself will not do.
Stranger yet, Milliner refers to the use of quotations and footnotes as a "grammatical rule." (Dumb me, I thought it was a style of composition.) Then he says he will try to "satisfy (my) sensitivity to grammar" by removing "the Meyer citation from the quote" so as to leave just my words. Milliner admits here far more than I think he intended. His remarks indicate his disdain for my "sensitivity to grammar." Yes, I am sensitive - "having or showing keen sensibilities; highly perceptive or responsive intellectually" to grammar - the "study of structural relationships in language or in a language, sometimes including pronunciation, meaning, and linguistic history." I would that he were as responsive intellectually, and, I will add, honestly. Apparently, Milliner is insensitive to grammar, i.e. "incapable of being impressed, influenced, or affected" (as the word is defined). This has been a major problem we have with the Welch party. They are not constrained by strict adherence to word meanings and syntax. Words and constructions mean whatever they want them to mean. Equivocation has characterized their use of words. For example, when I tried to get the leader of the clan to clearly define his use of terms, he replied: "Adequate definitions and refinements can be achieved by quotations from our own writings." This was the problem. When a word, legitimately defined, exposed the falsity of the Welch concept of the deity of Christ, he would just change the word. But changing the word did not change his concept. In our debate, he made the admission: "I'll apologize to you for any word I've used. Fine, let's get rid of it. But, brother Frost, I believe the same thing." Milliner and his associates can scoff at our attention to grammar and composition, but it still remains essential to clear expression of thought. Error prospers in confusion; whereas truth must be clear and accurately stated. I make no apology for my use of grammar and composition.
Milliner shifts blame for his failure to observe footnote references. I didn't use the format he prefers that I use. I wonder whose fault it is that he copies seven copyrighted articles from the Gospel Anchor, without permission, and changed the format of my article. Ron, what should I have done so that you would have "picked up" on the fact they were copyrighted and were formatted so as to distinguish the text of quotations?
"As A Man"
Now to the crux of the matter. Milliner isolates my statement from the quotation from Meyer: "Note that Jesus was not in fashion a man, but 'as a man.'" He adds: "I didn't see any quotation marks or endnote numbers around them anywhere." Apparently, Milliner has a problem with his eyesight as well. I say this because "as a man" is in quotations ... and this is important! I did not cite a reference footnote because the author of the statement was already referenced in the context. Milliner does not agree with this statement, which he cites as proof that I believe that Jesus just appeared to be a man. (Note that he adds the word "just," which I never did and don't believe, but, of course, he can't make his case without misrepresenting.) Let's review the quotation and the reference.
Who made the statement that Jesus was in fashion "as a man"? The quote I used can be found in Philippians 2:8 - "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself..." The apostle Paul said this at the command of Christ (John 16:13, 1 Cor. 14:37). I guess I am in pretty good company.
Consulting a few translations, I find that the original text is translated in harmony with the King James Version that I used:
Young's Literal Translation: "in fashion having been found as a man..."
American Standard Version: "being found in fashion as a man..."
New American Standard Bible: "being found in appearance as a man..."
New International Version: "being found in appearance as a man..."
Charles B. Williams' N.T.: "was recognized as a man..."
The Darby Bible: "having been found in figure as a man..."
Bible in Basic English: "being seen in form as a man..."
The Webster Bible: "being found in fashion as a man..."
Amplified Bible: "has appeared in human form..."
Revised Standard Version: "being found in human form..."
Concordant Literal N.T.: "being found in fashion as a human..."
New English Bible: "revealed in human shape..."
The statement I made was in a context discussing Philippians 2:5-8. The immediate paragraph, from which Milliner quoted, began: "Jesus, as God, dwells in the light. Yet He hid this form, or appearance, to appear as a servant in the fashion as a man. Jesus was 'made in the likeness of men' and was 'in fashion as a man.' (Phil. 2:7-8)" I closed the paragraph, saying, "Note that Jesus was not in fashion a man, but 'as a man.'" This is what the Scripture says! Jesus was made in the likeness of men: "being found in fashion as a man..." (Phil. 2:7-8). Milliner does not believe this! This statement, to him, means that Jesus just appeared to be a man! If so, then Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the apostle Paul affirmed that Jesus just appeared to be a man. (John 16:13, 1 Cor. 14:37) Further, Milliner asserts, "You can be guilty of Neo-Apollinariansm without believing every little item that Apollinarius believed," and then asks, "Are you guilty of the major error of which he is guilty?" Since I believe what Paul wrote, and what he obviously believed, and this makes me a "Neo-Apollinarian," then it must make Paul one also! Milliner is so anxious to label me guilty by association, he has inadvertently labeled the apostle Paul. But Paul was not an Apollinarian because of what he wrote, and neither am I because I believe what he wrote.
In Philippians 2:5-8, Paul affirms that Christ always exists (huparchon, a present participle) in the form of God, but in time came into existence (genomenos) in the likeness of man and so appeared in form or fashion as a man. Jesus was a man, but He was no ordinary man. Paul is careful to state that when Jesus came to earth, He was not just a "a man,"as men supposed. That's how they at first perceived Him. In truth He was discovered or found to be in fashion "as a man," more than just a man. He was different. What they considered to be a man was in fact more: He was God in the flesh. The Jews had no problem recognizing the human nature of Jesus; their problem was in accepting Him as God. ("For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God," John 10:33). Some of my erring brethren experience the same difficulty.
As man is made in the likeness of God, yet is not identical; so Christ was made in the likeness of man, but is not identical. The difference being that in that human form of Jesus was the divine Spirit, God the Word. The man Jesus was God manifest in the flesh. In His body dwelled the fullness of Deity. (1 Tim. 3:16, Col. 2:9) As a man in a physical body, He tired, became sleepy, thirsted, hungered ... He experienced life on earth as a man. But unlike men in common, His Spirit was divine. Our complaint with Milliner and the Welch company is that they strip Jesus of His divine nature and present Him as a man no different from other men. Without the divine nature (the divine attributes), He is not God, regardless of all the lip-service to the contrary.
I have written and spoken too much on the nature of Jesus, His deity and humanity, for anyone to honestly conclude that I deny the humanity of Jesus. Accompanying this article are two articles that appeared in the Gospel Anchor in January 1993. I specifically mention the false charges now repeated by Ron Milliner. Repetition of these charges can be construed as being nothing less than malice and a deliberate effort to slander. (See "A Further Study of Jesus ... Why?" and "The Man, Jesus.")
Next, Milliner engages in another of his common stratagems. He quotes an opponent, seizes upon a word, to which he assigns his definition and then argues that his conclusion is what the opponent is saying. He puts his own spin on what is said and charges recklessly ahead with ridicule and slander. He does this by quoting me as saying I "could care less about what Apollinarius taught." He uses "care less" to mean "have no interest." I never said I have no interest in reading about early controversies. I wasn't speaking of historical interest ... I was speaking of the source of one's faith! The complete paragraph reads: "I could care less about what Apollinarius taught, or what a Catholic Council decreed at Chalcedon in condemning him. I will side with neither side of the controversy. My faith comes not from this source, but from the inspired Scriptures. (Rom. 10:17)" I could care less what Apollinarius and his opponents taught; they are not the source of my faith. Is this difficult to understand? Is Milliner's problem one of comprehension or of honesty?
What would I think if a Oneness Pentecostal said that his faith does not come from what Gene Frost or others write, but from the inspired Scriptures? I would rejoice if he would commit himself to defending his faith by the Scriptures, to let the Scriptures determine the truthfulness of one's arguments. I would rejoice if Ron Milliner would do the same, if he would resort to Scripture instead of quoting men. I know how he represents and misrepresents men. In his article, he referred to Colly Caldwell, Philip Schaff, the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Roy Lanier, Sr., Epiphanius, Haile, Estes, R.E. Webber, A.H. Strong, Moyer, Gregory Nazianzen, W.E. Vine, R.L. Ottley, Barnett, New Unger's Bible Dictionary, Robert Milligan, Frederick Norris, Warnock, Roberts, Hardin, and Weaver, in this order. I know that some of these men, in their quotes, used Scriptures, but where are the "Scriptural arguments" Milliner claims to have made? We will give him an opportunity to make his case from Scriptures, when we make our inquiry for him to tell us plainly what he believes. It would be refreshing to see Milliner state his own case, reason from Scriptures, without using statements from others to state it for him.
Milliner complains that I presented a more complete picture of Apollinarianism, from what his opponents said about him, than he did. This was unfair of me! Apparently he believes that not everything that Apollinarius taught can be called "Apollinarianism." He wants to define Apollinarianism by only the items he selects from what Apollinariius supposedly taught. Whatever else Apollinarius taught, just forget it; it doesn't count. He insists that anyone who believes what he considers to be the "major tenets" be called an Apollinarian. "Are you guilty of the major error of which he is guilty?" What this means is that if I learn that Ron Milliner believes what I consider the major tenets of any denomination, I can rightly charge him with being a particular denominationalist! Playing this game can be an unending struggle of charges, counter-charges, denials, defining and redefining. What this reminds me of is a scene I read about in the Bible.
When Jesus walked on the earth, the Jewish community was enveloped in a controversy, fueled by three parties, concerning the question of divorcement. In determining what Moses taught in Deut. 24:1, the Mishnah states: "The school of Shammai say: A man may not divorce his wife unless he has found unchastity in her, for it is written, Because he hath found in her indecency in anything. And the school of Hillel say: (He may divorce her) even if she spoiled a dish for him, for it is written, Because he hath found in her indecency in anything. R. Akibi says: Even if he found another fairer than she, for it is written, And it shall be she find no favour in his eyes" (Tractate Gittin 9.10, trans. by Herbert Danby, The Mishnah, page 321.) And the Pharisees came to Jesus, and asked him, "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife?" Rather than getting embroiled in their controversy, Jesus by-passed their argumentation and addressed the issue by referencing the Scriptures. Thus, I am following divine precedence when I said, "I will side with neither side of the controversy. My faith comes not from this source, but from the inspired Scriptures." Let the discussion be about what God says; let it not be about what Apollinarius and others say, as Milliner is accustomed to quoting.
Tell Us Plainly
Do you believe that Jesus did not have a human spirit?
The Spirit of Jesus possessed all that the spirits of men have. We were created in His likeness, in His image. One of my questions to Milliner will be, What innate quality (I am not speaking of degrees or to what 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 made in the spirit likeness of man?
Was there no change in God the Word when He was manifest in the flesh?
God Himself does not change, or so He says and I believe it. Malachi 3:6 - "For I am the LORD, I change not..." The verb "change" is intransitive, i.e. it does not leave the subject. It is God that does not change, not whether God changes things or things about His being changes. "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." (Heb. 13:8) The Word (God, John 1:1-3), in coming to earth as Jesus Christ, did not change; on earth was not changed; in heaven He is still unchanged.
The Word, as one of the Godhead or as a Person of Deity, possessed all that belongs to Deity. "Deity" (or Godhood), from the Greek word theotes, is the quality of God-being; the state of being God. Descriptive of the nature of God-being is the word theiotes, i.e. the quality of being God: the divine attributes that inhere in God. The terms are correlative, i.e. reciprocally dependent. There can be no Godhood (theotes, state of being God) without the attributes (divinity, theiotes) that constitutes it. To deny the existence of one is to deny the existence of the other. Therefore, to deny either the existence of theotes (Deity) or theiotes (Divinity) is to deny the existence of God.
I believe that before coming to earth that Jesus was God. While on earth, or descriptive of Him on earth, we affirm that "in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form" (Col. 2:9, NAS). All that God is can be summed up in Jesus Christ, for that totality of Deity was in that bodily form that walked upon the earth.
If it were possible for God to be divested of His Divinity (theiotes), in whole or part, He would no longer possess the nature of God-being. Only as one is completely in the state of God-being, thus possessing all that being God is, is He God. For the reason that the "gods" of man's imagination lack in the totality of Divinity, they "by nature are no gods." (Gal. 4:8) So it is, when men today imagine a Jesus that lacks in any way the totality of Divinity, they end up with one who by nature is not God! This is the essence of our controversy. Milliner, with others of the Welch party, argue that Jesus was changed in His spirit-Being, that He was divested of, surrendered, abdicated, gave up the divine attributes that characterize being God, to become a man no different than any other man. What became of His Divinity? Some believe Jesus gave up His powers and prerogatives before He came to this earth, not that it matters where: whether He left them in heaven, or on the moon, or somewhere in between, as they express it. The point is, Jesus was without His divine nature and was fully in nature a man, nothing more than characterizes all other men. This is the "change" that Milliner and others argue.
Milliner quibbles: "Brother Frost, in 1987 you criticized Celsus for having the idea of God undergoing a change in the incarnation. Why did you deny that Jesus could undergo a change in the incarnation in your debate with John Welch?" I understand that Celsus reasoned that God would not change His environment, that God simply would not leave His exalted position to "come down" to live in a world of vice and misery. I do believe that Jesus did indeed condescend to live not as God in heaven but to live as a man, which is not to say that He changed His Spirit, His very essence. So I did not change my position in debate with Welch. Apparently, you relate the "change" Celsus argued to be the same as you and Welch affirm, a change within the very Spirit of Jesus? Is this not so? If not, and you agree with me, then what is your point? However, if your point is that Celsus argued for a change in God's Being, which I denied in the Welch debate, then you must accept the consequences of your argument, namely that Jesus' Spirit underwent a change "from good to evil" and "from virtue to vice." I deny such a change. Do you agree with me?
Milliner wants to know why I haven't written responses to some who have taken erroneous positions in the Gospel Anchor. First, of all he must make a case against these men. I know that he misrepresents and distorts what others have written - it is demonstrated in his article to me.
He assumes that every editor is in total agreement with every statement published in his magazine. Ask John Welch if this is true of him? No editor agrees one hundred percent with everything he publishes. Some points of disagreement may be ignored in view of the over-all thrust and import of one's material, which is worthy of consideration by the readers. Does Milliner himself address in rebuttal every statement which he cannot accept as accurately reflecting divine revelation?
I will now submit the same questions to Milliner. When John Welch was teaching that Jesus divested Himself of "godhood," that He gave up his divinity for all time, so that He became just a man, an ordinary man - statements that he now acknowledges were not the truth and in doing so he sinned - why didn't you write a review of him? Instead, you supported him for years after he wrote the initial article denying the deity (godhead) of Jesus. You even sat at his table when he affirmed some of this error. You cannot wave this aside by saying, Well, now he has corrected it. Even after "correcting" his statement that Jesus was "just a man," he repeated it in Bowling Green. Why didn't you correct him when he sinned again. In our debate, he says he can change a word here and there, but he still believes the same thing. Have you corrected him? You are hardly in position to chide others.
"Could He Have Failed?"
One final question from Ronnie: "you don't believe Jesus 'could have failed' do you?" It depends upon the perspective from which the question is asked. It is like the question of "temptation." From the standpoint of being physically able to have sinned, Jesus could have sinned. Had He used His mouth to utter a lie (which physically He was able to do), it would have been a sin. But considered from the viewpoint of His will, the perfect desire to always please the Father (John 8:29), He could not sin. There was not that weakness. The devil could find nothing in Jesus to lead Him into sin (John 14:30).
Jesus came to save men from sin. It was God's design before the foundation of the world.(1 Pet. 1:18-20, 1 John 4:14) Many are the prophecies concerning His role as Redeemer, Savior, Deliverer from Iniquity, et al. To accomplish His mission, Jesus had to be without sin. It was said prophetically of Him:
"Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. ... He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law." (Isaiah 42:1, 4, emphasis added.)
"The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. ...For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed." (Isaiah 50:4-5, 7, emphasis added.)
If God is true - and I believe that it is impossible for God to lie, Heb. 6:18 - then what He said would be would come to pass. God never had a doubt. He did not risk His sovereignty in foretelling the accomplishment of Jesus' mission. I ask Milliner and his associates, Since God said the Messiah would not be rebellious, and therefore He would not be put to shame or disappointed by failure - can God lie? Could Jesus have failed and made God a liar? (Remember John Welch's chart # 79 in the O'Dowd debate: "Once God's Word has been given, his immutability will not allow it to change"?)
Now You Tell Us Plainly
I have gone through your article to respond to what you have addressed to me. What you address to others, I will not presume to answer for them.
Now tell us plainly what you believe. I will number the questions.
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 does not have, 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?
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 others in the Welch party? Let's keep the discussion on what the Bible says. I await your reply.
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