• What is Biblical Unitarianism?

    Not to be confused with the so-called "Unitarian Universalist" religion, a faith which has very little to do with the bible, “Unitarianism” is simply the belief that God is only one person. 

    Judaism, the religion of Jesus and his earliest disciples, has never taught a Trinity (three persons).  Rather, both the Old Testament Jews and earliest Christians of the New Testament taught that God was only “one” (Deut 6:4, Mk 12:29), and that this one was “the Father” (Mal 2:10, 1 Cor 8:6).  Jesus himself even explicitly taught that “the Father” was “the only true God” (Jn 17:3). 

    Jewish scholars have confirmed that “Judaism has always been rigorously unitarian,”[1] and that “a belief in a second being in God involves departure from the Jewish community.”[2]  Even well-respected Trinitarian scholars have agreed: “Judaism [is] unitarian,”[3] and “the monotheism was then, as it still is, unitarian,”[4] and that Jews to this day “still assert that God is only one in person.”[5]  This observation is important since, as other scholars have noted: “in the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles relative to the monotheism of the Old Testament and Judaism, there had been no element of change whatsoever.”[6]

    “Unitarian” Christianity is therefore identified by the belief in the unity of God as a single person (the Father), and by a belief that Jesus is God’s distinct human Son.

    The legacy of Christian unitarianism is rich and vibrant; while various unitarian groups throughout history have believed in the strict unity of God, some groups have differed on their views about Jesus.  What is known as “Arian” Christology is the idea that Jesus first pre-existed as a spirit-being or an angel before becoming a man.  What is known as “Socinian” Christology is the idea that Jesus did not literally pre-exist, but came into existence only in the womb of his mother Mary. 

    We believe there is tremendous biblical evidence that both “unitarianism,” the idea that God is only one entity, and the "Socinian" Christology, the idea that Jesus was a real man who did not literally pre-exist, are the express views of the Bible.

    The Christian groups who hold this view today are commonly known as “Biblical Unitarians."  The term "Unitarian" identifies the aforementioned historical belief, and the word "Biblical" was adopted to identify an emphasis on the Bible alone as the standard of belief, and to distinguish from other groups which may use the "Unitarian" label.

    [1] "Deism," The Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.
    [2] Casey, Maurice. From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God, p. 158.
    [3] Brunner, Emil. Dogmatics, Vol. 1. p. 205.
    [4] Hodgson, Leonard. Christian Faith and Practice, p. 74.
    [5] Beveridge, Bishop William. Private Thoughts Upon Religion and Upon Christian Life, Part II, p. 66. 
    [6] Werner, Martin. The Formation of Christian Doctrine, p. 298.

  • Are you Jehovah's Witnesses?

    No.  Jehovah's Witnesses, while they may hold a unitarian view of God (that God is only one person), they hold an Arian Christology, which stipulates that Jesus literally pre-existed his birth.  While they correctly believe in the subordination of the son to the Father (Jn 14:28), they mistakenly believe that Jesus literally pre-existed his birth as the angel Michael, something the Bible does not teach.

    Biblical Unitarians understand Jesus to have always been a human being and do not believe the Bible teaches that he pre-existed his birth.  Rather, the idea of literal pre-existence and incarnation was grafted onto the New Testament via an early intermingling with Greek philosophy.  We believe that the New Testament authors held not to a Greek view, but to the traditional Jewish idea of pre-existence as foreknowledge in God's purposes.

    As far as Jesus being the angel Michael, we believe this is a serious and unfounded error; the prophet Daniel explained that "Michael [was] one of the chief princes" (Dan 10:13).  This should exclude Christ from being Michael, since in the whole of Scripture Jesus is something unique, the only-begotten Son of God; he is not one of anything like Michael, and is certainly not an angel.

    Jesus is called the last Adam (1 Cor 15:45); a human being created directly by God and made in the image of God.  The last Adam didn't make the mistakes of the first Adam however, he completely obeyed God and was made the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (Heb 5:8-9).

    The beginning of the New Testament book of Hebrews is actually an argument against Christ being an angel.  In Heb 1:4-5, we read about the man Jesus: "So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.  For to which of the angels did God ever say, 'You are my Son; today I have become your Father'? Or again, 'I will be his Father, and he will be my Son'?"  The answer to the question: "To which of the angels did God ever say..." is obvious: none of them.  

    The point Hebrews is making is that God has taken a "lowly" human being and exalted him far above everything; the writer applies this Psalm to Jesus: "What is man, that you remember him? ... You have made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, and have appointed him over the works of your hands; you have put all things in subjection under his feet..." (Heb 2:6-8a).  This certainly demonstrates that Jesus was not an angel, but a man, previously inferior to the angels, but now made superior.  

    Notice also the future tense regarding God's fatherhood of the messiah: "I will be", and "he will be."  Jehovah's Witnesses believe Jesus was already God's son for millions of years before his actual birth, however, according to the New Testament, he was declared God's son at his birth in Mary (Luke 1:35).

    Furthermore, rather than being begotten in heaven, we are told that God's son was actually begotten in Mary's womb: "... the child being begotten in her is from the Holy Spirit" (Matt 1:20).  

    Thus the Jehovah's Witnesses' view of Jesus as the pre-existent angel Michael who literally came from heaven and entered Mary's womb is unfounded.  While their unitarian view of God, that God is the Father of Jesus, is correct, they are quite mistaken on the nature of Christ.

  • How can Jesus be a mere man?

    Some have characterized the Biblical Unitarian view as making Christ into a "mere man."  Though we do consider him a pure and genuine human being, he is not "merely" anything.  Jesus is unqiue; he is God's supernaturally-conceived and only begotten son (Jn 3:16), he is the uniquely empowered agent of heaven, the anointed King of God's kingdom and our Lord (1 Cor 8:6b).  He is the ultimate Prophet foretold by God to Israel (Deut 18:18).  He is the savior of the world, the only one to have lived a sinsless life, and one whom God made the source of eternal salvation (Heb 5:8-9).  He is furthermore the only human being to have been raised from the dead into immortal glory (Col 1:18, Rev 1:5) and is now sitting at the right hand of God with full honor and majesty (Ps 110:1).  Surely this is a person who is note "merely" anything.

    Despite these great honors, it is true that Christ is a man, and a man made "like his brothers in every way" (Heb 2:17).  We are told that "he is not ashamed to call them brothers" (Heb 2:10-11); indeed, he consistently referred to his followers as "these brothers and sisters of mine" (Matt 25:40, Matt 12:50, Matt 28:10), and indicated that they would ultimately reign with him in his Kingdom (Luke 22:30, Rev 3:21, 2 Tim 2:12).   It is because Christ has "taken the lead among" humanity that he is considered "the firstborn among many brothers and sisters" (Rom 8:29).  If one holds that Jesus just is God however, then one must ultimately consider oneself a brother or sister to God, which seems to overstep the message of the New Testament.

    The Apostle Paul adamantely taught that Jesus had to be a real human being in order to atone for our sins: "Therefore, he had to be made like his brethren in all things, so that he might become a merciful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people" (Heb 2:17).  Jesus perfectly fit the requirements of high priesthood preciesly because he was a man: "Every high priest is a man chosen to represent other people in their dealings with God" (Heb 5:1).

    Paul tells the Corinthian church, "For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man" (1 Cor 15:21) and again to the Romans, "through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous" (Rom 5:15,19).  He also referred to Christ as "the last Adam," indicating a parallel to the first Adam; both were made in the image of God, both were created as sinless human beings.  Of course, the first Adam made a mess of things, and the last Adam is fixing them even now--this is the underlying message from Paul.

    "For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus" - 1 Tim 2:5

    Paul also explained that Christ, whom he calls "the man," is the appointed mediator between the one God and the rest of mankind (1 Tim 2:5).  He furthermore informs us that God "has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed" (Acts 17:31).  These are only a fraction of the teachings we find in the New Testament declaring Christ's humanity.

    Lastly, the Apostle John gave us a stark warning that "many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world.  Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist" (1 Jn 4:2-3, 2 Jn 1:7).  In other words, Jesus is a real flesh-and-blood human being.  If he was more than a human being, say an angel, or God, we would expect the Apostles to clearly teach these things, especially if such warnings were given about the dangers of getting it wrong.  However, John does not speak of any inherent deity or dual-natures, but simply that Jesus was human.  Given that there are no clear explanations of his being anything but human, we believe we have rightly taken the most biblical stance possible, that the Lord Jesus, the son of God, is and always has been a human being.

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