By Samuel Barrett of the American Unitarian Association, 1825
[AUR note- The hyperlinks below connect to a New Revised Standard Version Bible, to provide a more current understanding of the text than that available to the original author.]
Unitarian Christians believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God and the Saviour of men. They believe in the divinity of his mission and in the divinity of his doctrines. They believe that the Gospel which he proclaimed came from God; that the knowledge it imparts, the morality it enjoins, the spirit it breathes, the acceptance it provides, the promises it makes, the prospects it exhibits, the rewards it proposes, the punishments it threatens, all proceed from the Great Jehovah. [AUR note- We now understand from biblical scholarship that the Supreme God El and Yahweh/Jehovah were conflated by Deuteronomists.] But they do not believe that Jesus Christ is the Supreme God. They believe that, though exalted far above all other created intelligences, he is a being distinct from, inferior to, and dependent upon, the Father Almighty. For this belief they urge, among other reasons, the following arguments from the Scriptures.
1. Because Jesus Christ is represented by the sacred writers to be as distinct a being from God the Father as one man is distinct from another. “It is written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one who bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me,” John 8:17, 18.
2. Because he not only never said that himself was God, but, on the contrary, spoke of the Father, who sent him, as God, and as the only God. “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent,” John 17:3. This language our Saviour used in solemn prayer to “his Father and our Father.”
3. Because he is declared, in unnumbered instances, to be the Son of God. “And lo, a voice from heaven, saying, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” Matt 3:17. Can a son be coeval (the same age) and the same with his father?
4. Because he is styled the Christ, or the anointed of God. “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power,” Acts 10:38. Is he who anoints the same with him who is anointed?
5. Because he is represented as a Priest. “Consider the ….High-Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus,” Heb. 3:1. The office of a priest is to minister to God. Christ, then, as a priest, cannot be God.
6. Because Christ is Mediator between the “One God,” and “men.” “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” 1 Tim. 2:5.
7. Because, as the Saviour of men, he was sent by the Father. “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. 1 John 4:14.
8. Because he is an Apostle appointed by God. “Consider the Apostle,…Christ Jesus, who was faithful to him that appointed him,” Heb. 3:1, 2.
9. Because Christ is represented as our intercessor with God. “It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us,” Rom. 8:34.
10. Because the head of Christ is God. “I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of every woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God,” 1 Cor. 11:3.
11. Because, in the same sense in which we are said to belong to Christ, Christ is said to belong to God. “And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s,” 1 Cor. 3:23.
12. Because Christ says, “My father is greater than all,” John 10:29. Is not the father, then greater than the son?
13. Because he affirms, in another connection, and without the least qualification, “My Father is greater than I,” John 14:28.
14. Because he virtually denies that he is God, when he exclaims, “Why callest thou me Good? There is none good but one, that is God,” Matt 19:17.
15. Because our Saviour, after having said, “I and my Father are one,” gives his disciples distinctly to understand that he did not mean one substance, equal in power and glory, but one only in affection and design, as clearly appears from the prayer he offers to his Father in their behalf, –“that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us,” John 17:21.
16. Because the Father is called the God of Christ as he is the God of Christians. “Jesus saith unto her, ….Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father; and to my God and your God,” John 20:17.
17. Because an Apostle says of God, in distinction from the “Lord Jesus Christ,” that He is the “only Potentate,” and that He “only hath immortality,” 1 Tim. 6:15, 16.
18. Because it is the express declaration of the same Apostle, that the Father is the one God, and there is none other. “Though there be that are called Gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) yet to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things,” 1 Cor. 8:5- 6.
19. Because the power which Christ possessed was, as him affirmed, given to him. “All power is given unto me,” Matt 28:18.
20. Because he positively denies himself to be the author of his miraculous works, but refers them to the Father, or the holy spirit of God. “The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works,” John 14:10. “If I cast out devils by the spirit of God,” Matt. 12:28.
21. Because he distinctly states, that these works bear witness, not to his own power, but that the Father had sent him, John 5:36.
22. Because he expressly affirms that the works were done, not in his own, but in his Father’s name, John 10:25.
23. Because he asserts, that “him hath God the Father sealed,” i.e. to God the Father he was indebted for his credentials, John 6:27.
24. Because he declares that he is not the author of his own doctrine. “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me,” John 7:16, 17.
25. Because he represents himself as having been instructed by the Father. “As my Father hath taught me, I speak these things,” John 8:28.
26. Because he refers invariable to the Father as the origin of the authority by which he spoke and acted. “The Father hath given to the Son authority,” John 5:26, 27.
27. Because he acknowledges his dependence on his Heavenly Father for example and direction in all his doings. “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do,” John 5:19. “The Father loveth the Son, and showth him all things that himself doeth” John 5:20.
28. Because he says “I seek not mine own glory; but I honor my Father,” John 8:49, 50.
29. Because he declares, “If I honor myself, my honor is nothing: it is my Father that honoreth me,” John 8:54.
30. Because an Apostle declares, that Christ dwelt all fullness, because it so pleased the Father, Col. 1:19.
31. Because Christ is uniformly represented in the Scriptures, not as the primary, but the intermediate, cause of all things relating to our salvation. “One God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him,” 1 Cor. 8:6.
32. Because he declares, “I am not come of myself” into the world, “for I proceeded forth and came from God,” John 8:42; 7:28. Jesus knowing… that he came from God, and went to God,” John 13:3.
33. Because he affirms that he had not the disposal of the highest places in his own kingdom. “To sit on my right and on my left is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father,” Matt. 20:23.
34. Because our Saviour, referring his disciples to a future time, when they would understand more accurately concerning him, expressly declares that then they would know him to be entirely dependent upon the Father. “When ye have lifted up the Son of man (i.e. crucified him), then shall ye know that I am he (i.e. the Messiah), and that I do nothing of myself, but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things,” John 8:28.
35. Because our Saviour always professed to have no will of his own, but to be ever entirely guided and governed by the will of his Heavenly Father. “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” John 6:38.
36. Because he expressly denies that he is possessed of Divine attribute of independent existence. “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father,” John 6:57
37. Because he expressly disclaims the possession of the Divine attribute of underived existence. “As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself,” John 5:26.
38. Because he positively denies that he is possessed of the Divine attribute of omnipotence. “I can of mine own self do nothing,” John 5:30.
39. Because he expressly disclaims the possession of the Divine attribute of omniscience. “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but my Father only,” Matt.24:36, Mark 13:32.
40. Because Christ is said in the Scriptures to have been “tempted of the devil,” Matt. 4:1. But “God can not be tempted with evil.” James 1:13.
41. Because it is related of our Saviour, that “he continued all night in prayer to God,” Luke 6:12. Why should Christ thus pray, if he himself were God?
42. Because, in presence of a numerous company before the resurrection, he gave thanks to the Father for having heard him. “Father, I thank thee that thou has heard me, and I knew that thou hearest me always,” John 11:41, 42.
43. Because Jesus besought his Father to glorify him. “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thyself with the glory which I had with thee before the world was,” John 17:5. The one who prayed to God to glorify him, cannot be God.
44. Because he implored that, if it were possible, the bitter cup might pass from him, adding, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt,” Matt 26:39.
45. Because he said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matt. 27:46 Can he who uttered this be the Supreme God?
46. Because he never paid his adoration to himself, the Son, nor to the Holy Ghost, as he should have done, had the Son and the Holy Ghost been God; but always to the Father.
47. Because he never instructed his disciples to worship himself or the Holy Ghost, but the Father, and the Father only. “When ye pray, say Our Father which art in heaven,” Luke 11:2. “In that day, ye shall ask me nothing. Whatsoever ye ask of the Father in my name,” John 16:23. “The hour cometh and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him,” John 4:23.
48. Because it was not the practice of the Apostles to pay religious homage to Christ, but to God the Father through Christ. “I thank God through Jesus Christ,” Rom. 7:25. “To God only wise, be glory through Christ,” Rom 16:27. “I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Eph. 3:14.
49. Because St. Peter, immediately after being filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, thus addressed the Jews: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles, and wonders, and signs which God did by him, in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain; whom God hath raised up,” Acts 2:22-24.
50. Because St. Paul expressly states, that “all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ,” 2 Cor. 5:18.
51. Because the same Apostle gives “thanks to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,” 1 Cor.15:57.
52. Because it is said that it is “to the glory of God the Father,” that “every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord,” Phil. 2:11.
53. Because the Scriptures affirm that “Christ glorified not himself to be made a high priest, but He (glorified him) who said unto him, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee,” Heb. 5:5.
54. Because it is expressly asserted that God gave to Christ the Revelation which was made to the author of the Apocalypse, Rev. 1:1.
55. Because an Apostle speaks of Christ, only as the image of God. “Who is the image of the image of the invisible God,” Col. 1:15. 2 Cor. 4: 4. It would be absurd to call anyone his own image.
56. Because Christ is stated to be “the first-born of every creature,” Col. 1:15.
57. Because he is said to be “the beginning of the creation of God,” Rev. 3: 14.
58. Because the Scriptures affirm, in so many words, that “Jesus was made a little lower than the angels,” Heb. 2:9. Can God become lower than his creatures?
59. Because Peter declares that “Christ received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, this is my beloved son,” 2 Peter 1:17.
60. Because it is represented as necessary that the Saviour of mankind should “be made like unto his brethren,” Heb. 2:17.
61. Because, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Christ is compared with Moses in a manner that would be impious if he were the Supreme God. “For this man (Christ) was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch,” Heb. 3:3.
62. Because he is represented as being the servant, the chosen, the beloved of God, and the recipient of God’s spirit. “Behold, my servant, whom I have chosen, in whom my soul is well pleased; I will put my spirit upon him,” Matt. 12:18.
63. Because he himself expressly declares that it was in consequence of his doing what pleased the Father, that the Father was with him and did not leave him alone. “He that sent me is with me; the Father hath not left me alone, for I do always those things that please him,” John 8:29.
64. Because he is said to have “increased in wisdom, and in favor with God and man,” Luke 2:52.
65. Because he speaks of himself as one who had received commands from the Father. “The Father, who sent me, he gave me a commandment,” John 12:49.
66. Because he is represented as obeying the Father, and as having been “obedient unto death,” Phil. 2:8. “Even as the Father said unto me, so I speak,” John 12:50. “I have kept my Father’s commandments,” John 15:10.
67. Because Christ “Learned obedience by the things he suffered,” and through sufferings was made perfect by God, Heb. 5:8.
68. Because he is spoken of in the Scriptures as the first born among many brethren. Rom. 8:29. Has God brethren?
69. Because Christ calls everyone who obeys God his brother. “Whosoever shall do the will of my Father in heaven, the same is my brother,” Matt. 12:50.
70. Because he offers to the faithful the like distinction and honor that himself has with the Father. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am sit down with my Father in his throne,” Rev. 3: 21.
71. Because God, in the later ages, hath spoken by his Son, and appointed him heir of all things, Heb. 1:2.
72. Because Christ is styled the first-begotten of the dead, Rev. 1:5.
73. Because it is declared that God raised him from the dead. “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses,” Acts 2: 32, Rom. 10:9, 10
74. Because God poured out upon the Apostles the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ, Tit. 3:6.
75. Because the reason assigned for the Holy Spirit not having been received earlier, is that Jesus was not then glorified. “The Holy Ghost was not yet given because that Jesus was not yet glorified,” John 7:39.
76. Because it is affirmed that Christ was exalted by God to be a Prince and a Saviour, Acts 5:31.
77. Because God made that same Jesus, who was crucified, both Lord and Christ, Acts 2: 36.
78. Because God gave him a name which is above every name, Phil. 2:9.
79. Because Christ was ordained of God to be the judge of the quick and the dead, Acts 10:42.
80. Because God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, Rom. 2:16.
81. Because all judgment is committed to Christ by the Father, John 5:22.
82. Because our Saviour grounds the importance of his judgment solely upon the circumstances, that it is not exclusively his own judgment which he pronounces, but that of the Father who sent him. “If I judge, my judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me,” John 8:16.
83. Because it is said, that, when he was received up into heaven, he “sat on the right hand of God,” Mark 16:19.
84. Because St. Paul affirms, that Christ, even since his ascension, “liveth unto God,” and “liveth by the power of God,” Rom. 6:10. 2 Cor. 12:4.
85. Because it is affirmed of Christ, that “when all things shall be subdued under him then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all,” 1 Cor. 15:28.
86. Because the Apostle John asserts that “no man hath seen God at any time”; which is not true, if Christ were God, John 1:18.
87. Because, in the prophecies of the Old Testament that relate to Christ, he is spoken of as a being distinct from and inferior to God, Deut. 18:15, John 1:45.
88. Because the Jews never expected that any other than a being distinct from and inferior to God was to be their Messiah, and yet there is no evidence that our Saviour ever so much as hinted to them that this expectation was erroneous.
89. Because it does not appear from the Scriptures, that the Jews except in two instances, ever opposed our Saviour on the ground that he pretended to be God or equal with God; whereas, had it been his custom to assume such identity or equality, in his conversation with a people so strongly attached to the doctrine of the divine unity, he would have found himself involved in a perpetual controversy with them on this point, some traces of which must have appeared in the New Testament.
90. Because in these two instances, when charged, in the one case, with making himself God, and in the other, with making himself equal with God, he positively denies the charges. In reply to the charge of assuming to be equal with God, he says immediately, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do”; and directly after, “I can of mine own self do nothing,” John 5:19, 30. In answer to the charge of making himself God, he appeals to the Jews in substance thus: Your own Scriptures call Moses a god, and your magistrates gods; I am surely not inferior to them, yet I did not call myself God, but only the Son of God, John 10:34-36.
91. Because, had his immediate disciples believe him to be the Almighty, would they have been so familiar with him, have argued with him, betrayed him, denied him, fled from him, and left him to be dragged to the cross?
92. Because the Apostles, after they had been filled with the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, did not preach that Christ was God; but preached what was altogether inconsistent with such a doctrine, Acts 2:22; 13:23; 17:3, 31; 22:8.
93. Because there is no evidence to prove that the first converts to Christianity ever incurred the imputation of idolatry from the Jews, as they must have done had they believed and taught that the Son, as well as the Father, is Jehovah; while it is notorious that this imputation has been among the most common of the Jewish reproaches against Christians, since the Trinity became a doctrine of the Church.
94. Because there are in the New Testament seventeen passages, wherein the Father is styled one or only God, while there is not a single passage in which the Son is so styled.
95. Because there are 320 passages in which the Father is absolutely, and by way of eminence, called God; while there is not one in which the Son is thus called.
96. Because there are 105 passages in which the Father is denominated God, with peculiarly high titles and epithets, whereas the Son is not once denominated.
97. Because there are 90 passages wherein it is declared that all prayers and praises ought to be offered to Him, and that everything ought to be ultimately directed to his honor and glory; while of the Son no such declaration is ever made.
98. Because of 1,300 passages in the New Testament wherein the word God is mentioned, not one necessarily implies the existence of more than one person in the Godhead, or that this one is any other than the Father.
99. Because the passages wherein the Son is declared, positively, or by clearest implication, to be subordinate to the Father, deriving his being from Him, receiving from Him his divine power, and acting in all things wholly according to His will, are in number above 300.
100. Because, in a word, the supremacy of the Father, and the inferiority of the Son, is the simple, unembarrassed, and current doctrine of the Bible; whereas, that of their equality or identity is clothed in mystery, encumbered with difficulties, and dependent, at the best, upon few passages for support.