Oneness vs Unitarianism, Part 5 ‘Gnosticism’

MR RADDATZ WROTE: Steven Ritchie unwittingly confessed that Onenessians were influenced by Gnosticism very early on. As I was working on this treatise, a friend of mine pointed out a Steven Ritchie video wherein he unwittingly admits the Gnostic, antiChristian and pagan nature of the Oneness doctrine. That video is found here:

At least, giving him the benefit of the doubt, I assume he made these comments not realizing the ramifications of what he was admitting about early modalists. If he made these statements fully aware that this doctrine he is supporting originated in Gnosticism, then he is purely Gnostic.

ONENESS RESPONSE FROM RITCHIE: It is absurd to allege that common Greek words that are even used in inspired scripture would prove that someone is a Gnostic. By inspiration, Luke used the Greek noun ousia twice, once in Luke 15:12 and again in Luke 15:13. Can anyone rightly say that Luke was a Gnostic merely because he used a common Greek word that was widely used in ancient Greek literature and then later by Gnostics?

Under Gnosticism – Neo-Platonic Influences, Wikipedia says, “Gnostics borrowed significant ideas and terms from Platonism, using Greek philosophical concepts throughout their text, including such concepts as hypostasis (reality, existence), ousia (essence, substance, being), and demiurge (creator God).”

Merriam Webster defines the Gnostic view of the “demiurge” as “a Gnostic subordinate deity who is the creator of the material world.” Everyone knows that Oneness believers do not confess that Jesus is a “demiurge” or “subordinate deity” as a lesser creator under the Father (which would be Arianism).

Since the Greek nouns “hypostasis” and “ousia” were words used by the inspired writers of New Testament Scripture, it is hard to accuse someone of being a Gnostic merely because they used “hypostasis” or “ousia.” For if we accuse people of being Gnostics simply because they used one or two Greek words which happen to have been used by Gnostics then we can also charge the inspired writers themselves with Gnosticism.

The booklet entitled, “The Use of the Term Hypostasis” says, “Hypostasis is in origin a Stoic term which corresponds to the Platonic term ousia. They both mean in effect essence of being.” (The Use of the Term Hypostasis, Page 2, Copyright ã 1997 Wade Cox)

While the Greek word “hypostasis” corresponds to the Greek word “ouisa” which were often used in Platonic Greek philosophy, the use of these common Greek words were certainly not forbidden to be used by the inspired writers of the Greek New Testament. In fact, hypostasis is used throughout the Greek Septuagint and throughout the Geek New Testament (Ruth 1:12; Ezekiel 19:5; Ezekiel 43:11; Psalm 68:3; 2 Cor. 9:4; 2 Cor. 11:17; Heb. 1:3; Heb. 3:14; Heb. 11:1 “faith is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for…”).

Hebrews 1:3, “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person (hypostasis).”

Here we have evidence to show that the inspired author of Hebrews used the Greek noun “hypostasis” when he described Jesus as the express image of the Father’s Divine “Person” (Substance of Being). The King James Version translates the Greek noun “hypostasis” as the express image of the Father’s Divine Person. Thayer wrote that “hypostasis” is “a word very common in Greek authors, especially from Aristotle onward, in widely different senses.” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, points to the context of Hebrews 1:3 as the “actual existence; a substance, real being” of the Father’s Being. Since the inspired author of Hebrews used the Greek word “hypostasis” referencing Jesus as the copied image of the Father’s Divine Being/Person, no one can allege that the inspired author of Hebrews was a Gnostic or a Platonic Philosopher merely because a common Greek word was used within an inspired passage of scripture.

Furthermore, notice how closely Thayer defines the meaning of “hypostasis” in Hebrews 1:3 with the Greek word ‘ousia’ which means, “Essence” or “Substance of Being.” Therefore the Greek noun “hypostasis” essentially has the same meaning of “ousia” in the context of Hebrews 1:3.

MR RADDATZ WROTE: Here are some of the things said in the video that clearly demonstrate that Modalism is steeped in, if not based on, antichristian thought about Christ:


“If historians are correct about the alliance of the Athanasian camp with the Marcellan camp, we can be certain the Modalistic doctrine contributed to the development of the 325 AD Nicene Creed... Athanasius actually borrowed terms from the Sabellians in developing the Nicene Creed. ‘It has been reported that the Greek term ‘homooousian’ or ‘con-substantial’, which Athanasius of Alexandria favored, was actually a term reported to be put forth by Sabellius, and was a term that many followers of Athanasius were uneasy about. Their objection to the term ‘homoousian’ was that it was considered to be un-Scriptural, suspicious, and ‘of a Sabellian tendency.’... “‘the Creed of Nicaea...was formulated around the word ‘homoousia’ which was the watchword of the Modalists...’ Modalistic Monarchianism not only influenced the Creed of Nicaea of 325 AD, but it dominated the Creed... “Jesus Christ was produced, or born from the substance of the Father, the essence of being of the Father, to become a human being, this is Oneness Theology, this is Modalistic Monarchian Theology.”

THEN MR RADDATZ WROTE: Apparently, Mr. Ritchie is ignorant, or just doesn’t care, or maybe he does know and is proud still of it, the ultimate source of this word he is now so delighted with. This word ‘homoousian’ comes directly from paganism as many highly reputable scholars are in total agreement on.

ONENESS RESPONSE FROM RITCHIE: Again, Mr Raddatz fails to tell us that the same root word “ouisa” that was used by Sabellius and many other early Christian writers was also utilized by the Holy Spirit of God within the original Greek manuscripts of inspired scripture. If we are going to charge everyone with paganism simply because they used Greek words that were also used by pagan writers then we would have to charge the first century apostles themselves with paganism. For example, Pagan Greek writers often used the same Greek words used in the Greek New Testament such as “resurrection.”

Under ‘Resurrection”, Ancient Greek Religion,’ Wikipedia says, “In ancient Greek religion a number of men and women were made physically immortal as they were resurrected from the dead. Asclepius was killed by Zeus, only to be resurrected and transformed into a major deity. Achilles, after being killed, was snatched from his funeral pyre by his divine mother Thetis and resurrected, brought to an immortal existence in either Leuce, Elysian plains or the Islands of the Blessed. Memnon, who was killed by Achilles, seems to have received a similar fate. Alcmene, Castor, Heracles, and Melicertes, were also among the figures sometimes considered to have been resurrected to physical immortality. According to Herodotus's Histories, the seventh century BC sage Aristeas of Proconnesus was first found dead, after which his body disappeared from a locked room. Later he found not only to have been resurrected but to have gained immortality.”

If we are going to charge anyone with Paganism or Gnosticism simply because they utilized the same Greek words as Pagans or Gnostics then we must also charge the first century apostles for using the same Greek words that Pagans and Gnostics used within the Greek New Testament.

MR RADDATZ WROTE: First is the Gnostic word homoousios, which was used in the Nicene Trinitarian Creed to mean the three persons were “of one substance.” Another word is agénnetos. This word, which means “not-generated,” is the Gnostic word that Trinitarians would use to distinguish the Father from the Son; that is, it is a term for the Father’s distinction from the Son. In their view, the Son was generated from the Father, but the Father alone was ungenerate and unbegotten, thus agénnetos. Finally, there is the Gnostic word trias, which in English is the word Trinity itself. Tertullian is credited with translating the Greek word trias with the Latin word trinitas, and that eventually led to the English word Trinity.

ONENESS RESPONSE FROM RITCHIE: I challenge Mr Raddatz to submit proof that the Gnostics writers owned their own Greek words. By claiming that ‘homoousios’ is a “Gnostic word,” he condemns Luke’s use of it in Luke 15:12-13.

Moreover, all knowledgeable students of early Christian history know that the Nicene Creed does not use the later Trinitarian idea of “three” coequal and coeternal “persons.” It was the later fifth century so called Athanasian Creed which utilized the words “three persons” from the writings of Augustine of Hippo.

I challenge Mr Raddatz to submit proof that the Greek word “trias” is a “Gnostic word.” In fact, the Greek word “trias” has nothing to do at all with Gnosticism as it simply means "Τριάς" "a set of three" or "the number three." Since the Greek word “trias” has nothing to do with Gnosticism, Mr Radaatz appears to be making up in his own arguments as he goes along. Since One God Apostolic Faith Christians do not believe in using the word “trias” or “trinity”, it is pointless to bring up “trias” in his polemic against Oneness Theology.

MR RADDATZ WROTE: Secondly, a contemporary historian, Christopher Stead, confirms Harnack’s conclusions. He agrees that the word and concept of homoousios (of the same substance) originated with the Gnostics. Notice in particular that the term refers to physical, material substance:

“The word homoousios, usually translated ‘consubstantial’ or ‘coessential,’ appears to have been introduced by Gnostic Christians of the second century…It originally meant, ‘having the same substance,’ ousia; and in the majority of cases at least, the notion of ousia that is implied is either material or conceived in physical terms. It thus means roughly, ‘made of the same…kind of stuff.’” (Christopher Stead, Divine Substance, 190.)

Stead credits the Gnostics with introducing the word and concept of homoousios, “same substance.” Ironically, both Tertullian and the Gnostics credited spiritual revelation as their sources, but they got it from the false “wisdom of the world”. The reason it is significant that the word homoousios refers to “substance” is that God is a Spirit; He doesn’t have a “substance.” In other words, homoousians have to first change the glory of God into a substance, like what created beings are made of, in order to conceive of words to make the Father, son and spirit of the same “kind of stuff.”

ONENESS RESPONSE FROM RITCHIE: The Greek word “Hypostasis” is used for God’s Being/Person in the context of Hebrews 1:3. It is obvious that Hebrews 1:3 is addressing God’s Spirit Substance of Being rather than a physical substance. Why would the inspired writer of Hebrews use the Greek noun “hypostasis” which Thayer says means “Substance” or “Real Being” relating to God if hypostasis did not point to God the Father’s Spiritual Substance or Essence of Being [Person] in Hebrews 1:3? Thayer wrote that “hypostasis” is “a word very common in Greek authors, especially from Aristotle onward, in widely different senses.” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, points to the context of Hebrews 1:3 as the “actual existence; a substance, real being” of the Father’s Being. Since the inspired author of Hebrews used the Greek word “hypostasis” referencing Jesus as the image of the Father’s Divine Being/Person, no one can allege that the inspired author of Hebrews was a Gnostic or a Platonic Philosopher merely because a common Greek word was used in an inspired passage of scripture.

MR RADDATZ WROTE: Tertullian [c. 155 – c. 240 AD] recognized that it would be impossible to have a Trinity without ascribing to God a corporeal substance. Tertullian says that in order to “make two” God must first be regarded as having substance. Thus, in order to have a Trinity, God’s nature must first be made like corruptible creatures:

“But you will not allow Him to be really a substantive being, by having a substance of his own; in such a way that he may be regarded as an objective thing and a person, and so be able (as being constituted second to God the Father,) to make two, the Father and the Son, God and the Word.” (Tertullian, Against Praxeas, Chapter 7. c. 155 – c. 240 AD)

Ritchie makes the statement that Sabellius is credited with “putting forth” the word “homoousios” and claims it for modalism. However, a generation before Sabellius, Tertullian was criticizing Praxeas for not “allowing” that God has an actual substance. Perhaps Ritchie should call Praxeas a “semi-modalist” since his doctrine wasn’t as developed as Sabellius’ and Marcellas’ “homousian modalism” was.

ONENESS RESPONSE FROM RITCHIE: Notice that the subject of Against Praxeas chapter 7 is Jesus Christ the Son of God. Rather than rejecting the concept that God the Father could have His own Spiritual Hypostasis (“Substance of Being” - as recorded in Heb. 1:3), the early Oneness believers were rejecting Tertullian’s Semi-Arian theology that Jesus could have “a substance of his own” as a separate god person. Hence, the early Oneness believers were not saying that God does not have a “hypostasis” (Substance of Being – Heb. 1:3), they were simply rejecting Tertullian’s Semi-Arian idea that the Son could have “a substance of (being) of his own” (See Origen’s Commentary of the Gospel of John, book 1:23) separate from the Father’s Hypostasis (Substance of Being – Heb. 1:3).

Just as Tertullian had argued against the Modalilsts that the Son had “a substance (essence) of his own”, so Origen argued against the Modalists in his Commentary on the Gospel of John, Book 1, Chapter 23,

“I wonder at the stupidity of THE GENERAL RUN OF CHRISTIANS (the Modalistic Christian majority) IN THIS MATTER. I do not mince matters; it is nothing but stupidity … THEY PROCEED DIFFERENTLY AND ASK, WHAT IS THE SON OF GOD WHEN CALLED THE WORD? The passage they employ is that in the Psalms, ‘My heart has produced a good world;' AND THEY IMAGINE THE SON TO BE THE UTTERANCE OF THE FATHER DEPOSITED, as it were, in WORDS … THEY DO NOT ALLOW HIM … ANY INDEPENDENT HYPOSTASIS (substance of Being), nor are they clear about His essence. I do not mean that they confuse its qualities, but the fact of His having AN ESSENCE OF HIS OWN (Origen's view). For NO ONE CAN UNDERSTAND (among “the general run of Christians”) HOW THAT WHICH IS SAID TO BE THE WORD CAN BE A SON. AND SUCH AN ANIMATED WORD, NOT BEING A SEPARATE ENTITY FROM THE FATHER (Origen’s view)God the Word IS A SEPARATE BEING AND HAS AN ESSENCE OF HIS OWN.” ” Origen’s Commentary on the Gospel of John, Book 1, Chapter 23

I challenge Mr Raddatz to prove that Tertullian was alleging that the Modalists were rejec