Talk:Binitarianism

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CoG (Armstrong)[edit]

Since this view represented as "binitarian" is associated exclusively with the Church of God (Armstrong), it really should be edited so that the source of the point of view is identified. — Mark (Mkmcconn) ** 17:20, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

What do you propose? KHM03 20:22, 4 October 2005 (UTC)
Is this heresy another form of adoptionism? If so, maybe we should redirect this article to that one, and simply expand that "main" article. Thoughts? KHM03 20:29, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

The article is excellent overall, but I think it is important to note that many binitarians can be traced much further back in time than Armstrong. Binitarianism, or ditheism, was advocated by certain 19th century adventist groups. The Gilbert Cramner movement in Michigan and the Snook/Brinkerhoff churches in Iowa and Missouri are examples that survive today. These adventist churches were contemporaneous with the movement led by James and Ellen White. These non-ellen-white sabbath keepers rejected the visions of Mrs. White and teachings related to the heavenly sanctuary, the shut door, the United States as the second beast, and other so-called adventist distinctives. Armstrong's movement was a break-off from the Oregon conference of the Seventh Day Church of God. Since these sabbatarian believers had their church origins in groups that ran parallel to Ellen white groups, they were certainly prior to Armstrong in time. According to some sabbath historians, HWA was originally a trinitarian and he modulated that view as he became heavily involved with the Oregon CoG congregations. Similarly, the Whites and most early adventists were Arians, and the denomination did not become officially trinitarian until 1888. Such has even been acknowledged by the White estate. Today, I believe that most "sacred name" groups are ditheist, but since obtaining primary source info. from such groups is difficult I would hesitate to include a discussion of such groups. Dithesits Flurry and Meredith, both former Armstrong ministers, are on nationwide TV. Jeff Vincent —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.120.176.167 (talk) 03:04, 28 May 2008 (UTC)

I think that the point of view needs to be clarified, rather than giving the impression that it is a generic "Christian" view. Furthermore, the name is misleading. It denies that the Father and Son are one in the sense that Trinitarianism thinks of the singleness of God. And, it denies the personality of the Spirit of God (even denying that the Spirit is a "being" - which is probably saying more than they intend, as this sounds like a denial that the Spirit has being).
On top of this, it adds a strange version of kenosis, which denies that the Son was God while a man but then returned to godhood. It is adoptionism then, in the sense of conceiving deity as an attribute external to his person.
I don't know what to do with the article, though, to more clearly explain what the view is and who holds it. COGwriter is going to need to help. — Mark (Mkmcconn) ** 23:48, 4 October 2005 (UTC)
I'm still wondering if it isn't adoptionism all dressed up for a night on the town. With all due respect. KHM03 23:51, 4 October 2005 (UTC)
As far as I can tell, it's a patchwork of views, cited for support of Armstrong's unique invention. — Mark (Mkmcconn) ** 23:56, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

In all due respect, I believe that my article has a neutral point of view. It explains that it is a view held by relatively few. The fact that trinitarians may object to aspects of it because of how the binitarian view could impact trinitariansim, simply shows a lack of neutrality there.

Also, so what that it denies the personhood of the Holy Spirit? That is simply the truth about binitarianism. Should the article on the trinity be trashed because it holds that the Holy Spirit is the third person while we binitarians disagree? Of course not! Neither should a proper rendering of binitarian views be called non-neutral.

And no, binitarianism is not a subset of adoptionism.

The fact that someone claims it adds a strange version of kenosis, is also not a neutral point of view. Binitarianism is simply a different view than those held by most who profess any version of Christianity.

The point of Wikipedia, I believe, is to have articles on different subjects. And those subjects do not have to conform to the preconceived ideas of people who do not hold them. I hope that those who wish to comment on it will keep this in mind.

The simple truth is that many modern scholars are concluding that binitarianism was held by the early church. As far as "Armstrong" is concerned, there are no quotes (directly or indirectly) from any of his writings in the article. The article clearly states that binitarian views are held by the Church of God (Seventh Day), United Church of God, and Living Church of God--hence those who believe this type of view are identified.

I truly believe that I have addressed the NPOV objections here and that the NPOV warning should be removed from the article. COGwriter

I don't object to having the article; and thank you for trying to answer the questions and objections. For what it's worth, I never claimed to be neutral in my opinions. My objections to the doctrine are not the same thing as my objectioins to the article. — Mark (Mkmcconn) ** \

Term: "binitarian"[edit]

The name "binitarian" is a place to start - it implies a comparison to trinitarianism that does not actually exist. It seems to compare "two" to "three"; but it becomes very evident that it is actually a difference in what is meant by the unity of God. Second, it is not at all clear to me that the scholars who use the term "binitarianism" are referring to the specific view described as "binitarianism". — Mark (Mkmcconn) ** 21:33, 5 October 2005 (UTC)

I agree; who coined that term? What are its origins? Who uses it today? KHM03 11:02, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
Scholars generally agree that binitarianism is the belief that the Father and the Son, but not the Holy Spirit are God. I did not make this term up (nor was it ever used in any HW Armstrong paper that I am aware of). Thus, my use of that term is appropriate in this context.
Secondarily, if you wish to add another scholarly definition of binitarianism, it possibly could be added to this article (perhaps titled variants of binitarianism). Please feel free to email me.
Third, I object to the objection that the term binitarianism requires a comparison to trinitarianism, but even if it does, so what? Unitarianism is in a similar position.
Fourth, as you admit, the article does make it clear how binitarianism is different from trinitarianism. And that is precisely why this article is needed. It explains what binitarians believe and clarifies how they differ so that no confusion should occur. COGwriter
There is question-begging here.
  • What is "God" is the most important distinction in this view, not "two" as opposed to "three".
  • If this view asserts that God is a family (multiple distinct beings), this is not "binitarianism" as the scholars define the view; it is ditheism. A "unity of purpose", "class", or "state of being" is not singleness of being, and it is not monotheism - except, perhaps, from your point of view. This form of "binitarianism" is clearly ditheistic, whereas the form discussed by scholars is monotheistic.
  • The issue is not whether Armstrong uses the word, but whether it is his view.
  • Early views are labelled "binitarian" supposing the same sense as that described in the article. Do you have evidence that the early writers who are labelled "binitarian" also shared this notion of "God" as a class of being, together with the view that Jesus was God before the incarnation and afterward, but not while on earth?
  • The Theosis article clearly defines the concept in such a way that a view like Armstrong's is seen as antithetical. This article's POV cites Orthodox theosis as a predecessor or comparable view

    Binitarians have pointed to this view held by the Eastern Orthodox Church as proof that the concept of becoming God is not simply a view held by Mormonism or only some of the 7th Day Church of God groups, but in fact, has been held by those considered to be within the mainstream of Christianity.

    Such an interpretation is antithetical to the Eastern Orthodox view, and yet that view is cited for support.
The list could go on, to make this point, but the bottom line is this: the article defines the belief by comparison to orthodox views for support, but does not clarify in the same context that an unorthodox interpretation of those views has been adopted. It uses common terminology ("God" for example) in a distinctive way. The article is a POV. — Mark (Mkmcconn) ** 00:57, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
I think that the article now addresses all of the issues that I originally raised. I would be in favor of removing the NPOV notice. If COGwriter and KHM03, or others interested, object to the removal, please replace it at your whim (give reasons, so that we know how to work).
There are still some issues of clarification that I would like to see addressed, but I've reached the limit of my familiarity with this topic. I'll ask User:Peter Kirby to look at it. If he weighs in, I'll be pretty quiet from then on. — Mark (Mkmcconn) ** 19:45, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

New Introduction[edit]

I've written a new introduction, which might help you to see some of the issues that I'm trying to point out. I don't intend it as a competing version, but as a starting point for helping to collaborate between our very different perspectives - a rough draft. — Mark (Mkmcconn) ** 03:38, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

While I appreciate your attempting to write a new introduction, it would have been better if you would have posted it here first. As it is, it contains a few inaccuracies that I will correct--but your basic points will remain. I am striving for accuracy--and am pleased to have legitimate assistance. COGwriter
I don't mind at all if you re-write, add or delete, re-arrange or whatever you wish to do in the effort to clarify. Especially while the NPOV notice is up, the goal should be (in my opinion) to better moderate between the two views, to come up with a version with which all of us can agree although it will not be the view of any of us. I hope that it's not too frustrating, given the controversial nature of the topic; but I think that in the end it will help us to make a better article. — Mark (Mkmcconn) ** 16:47, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

WP:NOR[edit]

What baffles me are the repeated statements by COGwriter, with all due respect, that "scholars believe..."; what scholars? Who? There are lots of "greats" in the field of Biblical scholarship and Church history...which ones support the view that the early Church was binitarian? It smells to me like a violation of the "No original research" rule. I believe that was uninetntional on the part of COGwriter and that he {or she?) meant well, but we need, I think, a few supporting names...and they better be big ones, because we could cite loads of scholars with different positions. KHM03 11:08, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

Many modern scholars are concluding that the Bousett view of unitarianism for the early church is in error and that the binitarian view is more supported by scripture and early church writings. My article cites several scholars--I could add more and more, but that only makes the article longer--it adds little or nothing to the content. FWIW, I also do not believe that one always needs to have 'bigger names' as that smacks of suppression of minority views by those supporting majority views--but I do believe, for example, that Larry Hurtado is recognized as a big name now. COGwriter.

I would take issue with your "many modern scholars" statement, but, nevertheless, I certainly accept Hurtado as a legitimate scholar. I don't want to suppress minority views, but we need to make sure they are presented accurately...as minority views which the bulk of academia (or the Church, in this case) repudiates. KHM03 17:00, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

Adoptionism[edit]

I was wondering if someone (COGwriter ?) could explain to me how binitarianism differs from adoptionism; it seems to me to be a 20th century version of that ancient idea. Thanks for any help. KHM03 14:04, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

Adoptionism is similar to what I understand a form of unitarians teach--that Jesus became adopted by God. Binitarians clearly teach that Jesus was the Word, and as such was also God, prior to His human birth. Binitarians also believe that Jesus was God, but not fully God (He no longer had certain divine powers He possessed prior to the incarnation) in the flesh. Binitarians believe that equality with the God is not something that Jesus needed to grasp, as He was fully God before and after His incarnation. Hope this helps. COGwriter.

I'm confused. When you say that "He was fully God before and after His incarnation" but earlier say Jesus was "not fully God", does that mean binitarians believe that Jesus was first fully God, then became incarnate and thus lacked certain divine powers, then became again un-incarnate thus regaining all divine powers? Would this regaining have happened at his death, resurrection, ascension, or at some other time? This is quite a new idea to me, and I want to understand it properly. This is also something that could possibly be better spelled out in the article. Thanks. Wesley 16:23, 7 October 2005 (UTC)

The answer to your questions is yes. Binitarians believe that Christ received all power at the resurrection or shortly thereafter. I would be happy to clarify it in the article. COGwriter

Revised body[edit]

I went through the body making changes throughout. Doubtless, I've made mistakes especially where I touched the CoG view. But I hope that the Trinitarian view, at least, is more accurately and plainly represented. — Mark (Mkmcconn) ** 15:27, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

This is basically correct, and I did correct it in parts that were in error. And of course, there is a Trinitarian article that has trinitarian views in detail. When I updated the article, I got an error message which dropped off the conclusion and anything that was after it. I thus reloaded my original conclusion, but lost the one external link--this was accidental. COGwriter

Melito[edit]

I removed the Melito section. The argument was weak. Suggesting that since Melito never wrote explicitly or at length about the Spirit is proof a binitarian view is weak logic. The section also claimed that since he referred to the Spirit as "Lord", he believed Jesus=Spirit. This is untrue; we call the Holy Spirit "Lord" in the Nicene Creed, the creed of Christendom, which is firmly and deliberately Trinitarian. KHM03 17:59, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

I am adding back a revised Melito section. Melito is a recognized early church writer, and if people wish to come to a different conclusion they may. This is a valid historically-verifiable reference that should be in the article. The article simply says what Melito taught and that binitarians point to that. It already said that other scholars have a different view. You are entitled to your view about the Creed, but understand that their are those who do not accept the Council of Nicea who believe they are Christians and that that Creed is heretical. COGwriter.

KHM03's point was (I think) that since the Holy Spirit is called "Lord" in the Creed, earlier writers might very well have meant the Holy Spirit when they said "Lord" as well. Of course "Lord" is used at times to refer to Jesus Christ, or even to God the Father; the term is ambiguous and subject to interpretation, which I think is what you're getting at. Wesley 16:27, 7 October 2005 (UTC)

Category:Gnosticism[edit]

Should we put this into the Gnosticism category? The article mentions three Gnostic sects (the Paulicians, Albigensians, and Bogomils) which apparently were all binitarian. Does this seem to be a gnostic doctrine? KHM03 18:31, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

Binitarians believe that they are Christians and not Gnostics, thus I believe that putting binitarians into that category (without ALSO having them in the Christianity category) is not a NPOV. Binitarians rely on no Gnostic writings that I am aware of, and specifically teach against early pre-Gnostics such as Simon Magus, Meander, Marcion, Valentinus, etc. But I do not object to your comment pointing out that some Gnostics held a dualistic view. COGwriter

Fair enough. KHM03 20:30, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

Hermas distorted[edit]

I think that the Shepherd of Hermas is being horrendously misinterpreted by some uncited "classical theory" in the following text from the article:

Before Hurtado's influential work, one classic scholarly theory of binitarianism was that the Holy Spirit is seen as in some sense identical to the Son, or uniquely embodied in him. That theory cites the Shepherd of Hermas, where the Spirit which proceeds from the Father is seen as the creator, incarnate in Jesus:
The preexistent Holy Spirit, which created the whole creation, God caused to live in the flesh that he wished. This flesh, therefore, in which the Holy Spirit lived served the Spirit well, living in holiness and purity, without defiling the Spirit in any way. ... it had lived honorably and chastely, and had worked with the Spirit and cooperated with it in everything.
Thus, this classical theory of Christian binitarian theology asserts that early Christians conceived of the Spirit as going out from God the creator, and is the creator: an aspect of God's being, which also lived in Jesus, and was that person, who was also a man. This view further asserts that the same Spirit is given to men, making them a new creation, and sharers in the same hope of resurrection and exaltation. This interpretation of early Christian belief is often cited in contrast to trinitarianism, but trinitarians cite it as an example of pre-Nicene Christian monotheism, not orthodoxy, but "proto-orthodox" - that is, one of several versions that existed among Christians, which explain monotheism as a plurality (Father and Spirit/Son) in a single being, prior to orthodoxy's settlement in the catholic Church.

The quote is from Parable Five, and the context makes it very clear that that Holy Spirit is distinct from "the flesh", and that "the flesh" spoken of is some particular person. The angel speaking in the above above quote says just a couple of lines later, "Listen now," saith he, "Keep this thy flesh pure and undefiled, that the Spirit which dwelleth in it may bear witness to it, and thy flesh may be justified." This is admittedly based on my own reading of the text, but I think it's as plain a reading as can be allowed considering that the whole work is allegorical. The parable itself, incidentally, speaks of three figures: a master of the vineyard, a servant sent to take care of the vineyard who is later identified as the "Holy Spirit" and "Son of God", and the master's son, who is mentioned very little in the parable. While anyone should hesitate to press the allegory or parable too far, it at least is not at all antithetical to trinitarianism and could be interpreted as supporting a "threeness" just as well as it it could be interepreted to support a "twoness." Wesley 16:57, 7 October 2005 (UTC)

I think that some of the problems you perceived were caused by poor writing. I've tried to repair that. It was not saying that "the flesh" is the spirit. The theory says that the spirit is the divine nature, and the flesh is human nature, incorporated in or indwelling one human person. — Mark (Mkmcconn) ** 19:09, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
I think the same distortion is evident regarding the Melito references. That's like saying that since Augsustine never mentioned Big Macs, he must like them, because if he didn't, he certainly would have mentioned that. I say both references (Hermas and Melito) need radical revision. KHM03 17:51, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
And what "classical scholar" mentions Hermas? There's no citation. KHM03 18:28, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
When you look up "binitarianism" in just about any encyclopedia of religion, or theological or apologetical study of the issue, the definition assumed will be this idea. That's what is meant by "classic" (not "classical"). The paragraph should not claim that this is what the Shepherd of Hermas (or other sources) says, but that this is how it is used to support the theory. Trinitarian scholars do not typically accept the contention that, orthodoxy passed through a "binitarian stage" (Reformed scholar, Harold Brown, for example). Rather, they say that before Nicea, the central theological and apologetical issue was aimed at settling differences of belief concerning the Son; and after Nicea continuing differences were better settled concerning the Spirit. They recognize of course, that there were differences prior to settlement, but deny that early Christian orthodoxy was "binitarianism" before the doctrine of the Church was changed into "trinitarianism". — Mark (Mkmcconn) ** 19:08, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
Thank you; that section seems much clearer now. And I can at least see how that passage could be interpreted that way.
If silence regarding the Holy Spirit makes one "binitarian", than even the Chalcedonian Creed could be construed as binitarian, as it makes no mention of it. Yet it was affirmed by the Council of Chalcedon which also fully endorsed the Nicene Creed, so clearly they at least did not disbelieve in the Holy Spirit's personhood and divinity, despite making no mention of Him in that particular creed. I guess I'm essentially agreeing with KHM03's point above. Wesley 23:30, 7 October 2005 (UTC)

FWIW, I wish to state that I (the originator of this article), did not add, edit, or otherwise have anything to do with the Shepherd of Hermas reference (though I might have moved its location once). Thus, as far as I am concerned, it can be removed as no current binitarian group I am aware of believes it that way. Regarding Melito, it absolutely is appropriate to state that he called the Father and the Son God, that he wrote that the Holy Spirit was essnetially the power of God, and that binitarians point to Melito as a supporter (even if disputed by others) of an apparant binitarian perspective. COGwriter

I want to see the Shepherd of Hermas passage kept, because explains what some Christians think of, if asked to explain the heresy of binitarianism, or the theory of binitarian orthodoxy. I alleged in the beginning that, there are at least three different views being described in this article, all going by the name "binitarianism".
See for example, http://www.ccel.org/php/disp.php3?a=schaff&b=encyc07&p=171 , where Hermas is cited as an example of "binitarianism", along with the Epistle of Barnabas and Second Clement. Schaff also refers to Marcellus as teaching that the Spirit is an extension, a separation without division, of the monad which is the Logos. I borrowed the "theology of two" language from http://www.marquette.edu/maqom/barnes . Here, at http://www.bibarch.com/Q&A/8.1.htm , the writer defines "binitarian" as

Binitarianism is the hypothesis that the deity exists essentially and indivisibly as two personae, hypostases, in the Godhead, the Father and the Son, collapsing the Holy Spirit into the persona of the Son, i.e., the Holy Spirit was not a distinct hypostasis from Jesus of Nazareth but rather another name for him. Scholars and theologians often use the word Binitarian in contrast to Unitarian or Trinitarian theologies. Binitarianism is found in The Shepherd of Hermas (Lake 1970) as well as the Macedonian heresy of the fourth century.

:— Mark (Mkmcconn) ** 02:56, 9 October 2005 (UTC)

It is not found in Hermas. KHM03 23:54, 8 October 2005 (UTC)
It seems to be an issue of debate. Schaff also lists Hermas as an example. — Mark (Mkmcconn) ** 02:56, 9 October 2005 (UTC)
As I look around the internet, the term is clearly more often associated with the CoG, more than anyone else. — Mark (Mkmcconn) ** 02:59, 8 October 2005 (UTC)

IP 12.76.136.139's edits[edit]

Moved them down to be a section of their own at the end of the page, since they weren't doing any good as a big indigestible lump at the top of the page, and I don't really feel like dealing with them in detail. AnonMoos 20:43, 18 December 2005 (UTC)

I eliminated the section altogether; it was nothing more than a poorly written rehash of stuff already found in the article. KHM03 20:51, 18 December 2005 (UTC)

Conclusion section[edit]

This paragraph does not seem a suitable conclusion for the entire article, but rather smacks of one last "hit and run" attack on the CG7 and COGs. It seems condescending and severely distorts the theological view of these groups concerning their belief that God is offering humans eternal life within the "God Family" and His purpose for doing so. Again, a more well-rounded summation of the article would have a more NPOV, and would conform better to Wikipedia policies. 12.37.35.209 01:25, 8 July 2007 (UTC)

Original research essay[edit]

This article needs much more referencing. As it stands, it appears to be original research synthesising information to forn new conclusions. Aleta 03:48, 7 July 2007 (UTC)