Appeal to Pr Doug Batchelor Regarding the Trinity

Posted Jun 21, 2013 by Adrian Ebens in Adventist Issues Hits: 5,123

[This letter was sent to Pastor Batchelor on the 14th September, 2012. This version has been slightly adjusted for general publication. I am making this available for the interest of those considering this subject within the context of the Adventist Church.]

Dear Pr Batchelor

Firstly I want to thank you for your dedication to the Third Angel’s Message and your passion to take this message to the world. I took part in a local church event during Net 1999 and 2005. I have appreciated your honest and simple teaching of the Scriptures. I have used your presentations in the past to share with those who were studying about the Third Angel’s Message. So I am writing to you with an understanding of appreciation and thankfulness for your ministry.

At the end of last year and the beginning of this year 2012 I understand that you took part in a GYC meeting in Houston Texas. In one of your presentations you spoke about “The Greatest Need.” In part 2 of this series of meetings you were asked a question. I listened to your presentation via this web link:

 https://www.audioverse.org/english/sermons/recordings/3856/the-greatest-need-part-2.html

In that presentation you were asked:

[39:10] Question:  “… I’m wondering if you are familiar with a gentleman from Australia. He has a website and everything.  His focus is God the Father and His Son and he is saying the Spirit is not really separate it’s just God’s Spirit. If you are familiar, I just want to know, biblically, what do you think is wrong with that particular focus. Because I have people I know who are really caught up in that and I haven’t been able to put my finger on it, it just doesn’t seem right.”

Now I am fairly confident that the person referred to in this question is myself. My name is Adrian Ebens from Australia and I head the website called www.maranathamedia.com which is in honour of the Father and His Son.

While your answer was not directly responding to the question concerning myself, I understood that you gave a general response concerning those whom you indicated did not believe the Holy Spirit was a separate person.

Whenever an ordained minister of the Third Angel’s Message addresses a biblical topic, I seek to set myself to listen carefully to what is said and to search the Scriptures to see if I can learn something. I respect you as just such a man and as I believe I was generally included in your response, I was very interested to learn from you your thoughts on the matter. This was your response to that question:

“I don’t know if you heard the whole presentation a little earlier.  I talked about that; that there’s a number of Adventists out there, and I don’t know specifically who the person might be in Australia, there’s plenty in North America, they’re all over the place. They really struggle with, not only the Holy Spirit being a separate person. They think the Holy Spirit is simply how God the Father and Son reveal themselves to us.  And the big struggle is because they have trouble visualising Him as a Person. They also believe that Jesus is begotten, meaning that He was created, which means Jesus is not Divine, which is, I think, a very dangerous teaching. Because if Jesus is a creature, it destroys a lot of— if there was a day when God the Father created Jesus, and that’s what they believe, they think that Jesus had a beginning but the Bible says He is everlasting to everlasting. If all things that were made were made by Christ then how did He make Himself? And if God is love and you can’t have love without having someone to love, how could God be love through the ceaseless ages with no one to love? God the Father, Son and Spirit are eternal, from everlasting to everlasting. So there are several problems with the beliefs of this group. And you know they’re all over, they don’t believe the Holy Spirit is a person, I just take the words of Jesus at face value. He refers to the Holy Spirit as “He,” and its got all of the definitions of a personality.”

It was this statement from you that really saddened me.

“They also believe that Jesus is begotten, meaning that He was created, which means Jesus is not Divine, which is, I think, a very dangerous teaching.”

Pr Batchelor, I am certain you have been in situations where people have claimed things about you that are simply not true. Your high public profile makes you a target for people to say things that are not well researched and also biased to paint you in the worst possible light. I am sure you are experiencing this for your courageous stand against Women’s ordination for which I pray our Father will strengthen and help you.

Pr Batchelor I am appealing to you to examine the evidence more closely in regard to my case. I cannot speak for every single case of those who love the Father and His Son but I have not personally met one believer who believes that Jesus was created. I have never heard this expressed in all my conversations with hundreds of believers around the world.

If I may, I would like to set before you as briefly as possible the truth of this matter.

There is no dispute whatsoever that Jesus is God.

John 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Col 2:9  For in him [Jesus Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

I have always believed that Jesus is God and that He is fully Divine. The difference between how I understand this and how I think you understand it comes down to inheritance.

John 5:26  For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

Heb 1:2-3  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;  (3)  Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

For the words Father and Son to have any relational meaning, the Son has an inheritance from the Father. If not then these words simply denote a function that is actually not who they actually are. For Jesus to be the express image of the Father, to have the very stamp of His person, must indicate that Jesus received all the fullness of Divinity from His Father.

The reason why many do not accept that Jesus came forth from His Father is because they imagine that this would give Him a beginning but the biblical concept of eternity is not simply time going on forever. I will not delay you with details on how I understand this but rather put to you a question. Should our understanding of eternity strip the meaning of the word Son? If we allow eternity to be a concept of time we don’t understand, then can we allow Jesus to be a Son of the Father in our thinking? If we decide instead to make eternity something we understand clearly as time going on forever then the mystery becomes who is this person called the Son? We no longer know. So which mystery is it? Is it eternity or the Sonship of Jesus?

There are many passages that I could point you to but I want to leave you with just one

"A complete offering has been made; for "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,"-- not a son by creation, as were the angels, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner, but a Son begotten in the express image of the Father's person, and in all the brightness of his majesty and glory, one equal with God in authority, dignity, and divine perfection. In him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.  {ST, May 30, 1895 par. 3}

I believe that Jesus was begotten of the Father and therefore is fully divine and therefore all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him by His inheritance. Regarding the Origin of the Son of God we read:

Micah 5:2  But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, One whose origins are from the distant past. (NLT)  

The Hebrew word for origin gives the meaning of family decent and this is exactly what Son of the Father means – He is a family decent from the Father.

Is this question vital? At the baptism of Jesus, the Father Himself told us that Jesus was His beloved Son. Many times in the gospels Jesus claimed that God was His Father. I am sure you are familiar with all the passages. As Adventists we are encouraged to take the plain reading of Scripture as the default method of reading. Pr Ted Wilson in his first address as GC president wonderfully underscored this vital point. We know that many protestant churches avoid the obligations of the Sabbath by claiming that in Christ they have entered into a spiritual rest. We both know that this is simply using a metaphorical method to escape the claims of the Sabbath that are clear and simple to the man who reads His Bible plainly. So why does our church use a metaphorical method on all the statements referring to Jesus as the Son of God and God as the Father of Christ? Is this safe in the light of John’s admonition?

1 John 5:12  He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

Do Protestants who claim to be in a spiritual Sabbath by having Jesus, really have the Sabbath? Does the Adventist Church in claiming to have a spiritual Son really have the Son? I pray you will consider these things Pr Batchelor because God has given you a great measure of influence in the Adventist Church. I am sure that you are aware of this responsibility and weigh these things carefully. May our Father grant you wisdom to know what to do. 

With reference to the Holy Spirit, I am not sure any person can really visualize the Holy Spirit. As the Bible states:

John 3:8  The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

The Bible does not give any evidence that the Spirit has a specific form. We are both familiar with manifestations of tongue’s of fire, wind, water and the form like a dove, but these are symbols of the work of the Spirit not the actual form of the Spirit. If we seek to visualize the Spirit in a form when the Bible clearly does not do this then are we not in danger of going beyond Scripture and run the risk of incorrect worship?

The accusation often is raised that I deny the personality of the Spirit. The Bible is clear about the Spirit having personality and having all the attributes of divinity. The simple question is whose divinity and personality is represented? Why does Paul use several labels interchangeably in this verse?

Rom 8:9-10  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.  (10)  And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Is there a reason that Matthew and Mark use these statements in parallel?

Matt 10:20  For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you

Mark 13:11 …for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.

I confess to you that my great sorrow within our church today is that we have separated Jesus from His Spirit and made His Spirit into someone else completely mysterious. Jesus is the one that comforts me because He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Therefore His Omnipresent Spirit that comes to me is indeed the comfort of Jesus in Another manner yet of the same type as the Greek suggests. Please note what Ellen White says.

“It is not essential for you to know and be able to define just what the Holy Spirit is. Christ tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, and the Comforter is the Holy Ghost, "the Spirit of truth, which the Father shall send in My name." "I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him, for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you" [John 14:16, 17].” This refers to the omnipresence of the Spirit of Christ, called the Comforter. 14MR 179 

Ellen White calls the Spirit of truth the omnipresence of the Spirit of Christ. Please notice this next very important statement.

The Holy Spirit is a free, working, independent agency. The God of heaven uses His Spirit as it pleases Him; and human minds, human judgment, and human methods can no more set boundaries to its working, or prescribe the channel through which it shall operate, than they can say to the wind, "I bid you to blow in a certain direction, and to conduct yourself in such and such a manner."  Signs of the Times, March 8, 1910

I am asking, pleading and hoping you have read that passage simply, plainly and directly as it reads. God uses His Spirit as it pleases Him and we can’t set boundaries on this or comprehend how He does this, but we accept this as the mystery of the Spirit. As a free, working independent agency, the Holy Spirit certainly is a power, yet it is under the control of God Himself. So there is no difficulty in understanding statements regarding the three great powers of Heaven. This is entirely consistent with the Bible record.

How thankful I am for the Spirit of God. I pray for His Spirit every day. I want so much to be like Jesus in every way and reflect His character. I trust that through His Spirit I can overcome my character flaws and that my estimation of self will be laid in the dust in the process. I believe our wonderful Saviour can do this for us through His Spirit. I am so thankful that Jesus intercedes for me as my advocate (parakletos) with the Father. I trust that He will write His law into my heart and seal it with His love.

Pr Batchelor, I have offered a few brief reasons for what I believe. I have examined these matters in much greater detail on my books Return of Elijah, Divine Pattern and My Beloved. I am happy to send these to you freely if you would like them.

My closing appeal to you is that when you are asked about what Adventists who do not accept the Trinity believe, please do not say that we believe Jesus is created or that He is not divine for this is not true at all. Also please do not say that we deny the personality and divinity of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God’s agency to bring Christ to me as my comforter. John 14:18.

I submit these thoughts to you trusting they will be received in the love that they were sent.

Blessings

Adrian Ebens

 


 

A kind reply was received from Pr Batchelor. I greatly appreciated the fact he took the time to reply. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with Pr Batchelor.

Amazing Facts
October 9, 2012

Dear Adrian,

Thank you for your letter. I don't believe I was specifically directing the comment you heard towards anyone in the Seventh-day Adventist church. Though I have met some anti-trinitarian people within the SDA communion, the majority of my friends that don't accept the trinity outside of the church, believe that Jesus was literally created. They believe there was a time prior to His incarnation when He wasn't divine. So I apologize if you took my comments personally. They weren't directed towards you but towards the vast majority of anti-trinitarians that I have met.

The issue of the Holy Spirit's role is an entirely different one. I'm aware that many of the Adventist pioneers held the view that the Holy Spirit was not a member of the Godhead. However, Ellen White clearly taught that He was and was instrumental in clearing up this matter for the church. And I have found the Scriptures to be quite clear on the matter.

The Holy Spirit is actually the most enigmatic of the three members of the Godhead. We often see God pictured as having a form, as naturally also does the Son. But the Spirit operates more in a spiritual realm, sometimes identified with wind, fire, air, water or even a dove. God the Spirit operates in the Father and the Son, and God the Father and Son can operate through the Spirit to reach anyone else. I would say that the Holy Spirit is more enigmatic for a reason because His role is to point all the attention towards the Father and the Son rather than to Himself. Jesus even had this to say about the Holy Spirit: "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear. that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come." (John 16:13, emphasis supplied). None of these differences detracts from the fact that the Holy Spirit is God. The Holy Spirit can:

1. Talk and direct- Acts 8:29; 10:19, 20; 13:2-4
2. Forbid -Acts 16:6,7
3. Teach- John 14:26; 16:13
4. Comfort- John 14:16, 18; Galatians 5:22,23
5. Be the Author of Prophecy - 2 Peter 1 :21; 1 Peter 1:11
6. Give gifts - 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

The Holy Spirit has:
1. Mind and thought- Romans 8:27
2. Will- 1 Corinthians 12:11
3. Knowledge- 1 Corinthians 2:11
4. Love - Romans 15:30
5. Communion- 2 Corinthians 13:14
6. Grief- Ephesians 4:30

The Holy Spirit can be:
1. Insulted -Hebrews 10:29
2. Tempted- Acts 5:9
3. Lied to -Acts 5:3, 4
4. Grieved - Ephesians 4:30
5. Blasphemed against- Matthew 12:31
The Holy Spirit is God! When Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:30), Peter said he
lied "Not unto men, but unto God." (Acts 5:4)

May the Lord continue to bless and guide you!

Warm Christian regards,
Doug Batchelor
President/Speaker