Dealing With Modalism

Hello everyone. Before we continue our blog tonight, I’d like to recommend my readers go to the “Unbelievable” radio program out of the U.K. with Justin Brierly. A special treat is in store as Saturady, May 2nd, J.P. Holding debated Ken Humphreys on the question of if Jesus existed. Holding is a good friend of mine and he did an excellent job on this debate and I invite everyone to go and listen to it. The link to the program is here: 

You can also listen to other past broadcasts there by going through the archives.

Now it’s time for us to return to the doctrine of the Trinity. One interesting aspect of today’s blog is that it’s going to deal with modalism as this is one of my favorite passages to use when I am dealing with that heresy. Open up your Bibles or go to a website with the Bible or use your Bible software and take a look at John 8:13-18.

 13The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”

 14Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. 18I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”

Before looking at the Trinitarian issues. We have to answer a supposed contradiction. In John 8:14, Jesus says his testimony about himself is valid, but in John 5:31, what does he say?

31“If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid.

Which is it?

It depends on what context you’re looking at. In John 5, Jesus is talking to the Jews and he is speaking about legal testimony in the law. Jesus certainly knew that according to the law, a man could not testify on his own behalf. That didn’t mean what he said about himself was true, but rather that it would not be accepted in a court of law.

In John 8, Jesus is speaking about a claim he has made stating that he is the light of the world. The Pharisees have immediately said that can’t be true because he is testifying about himself. Jesus states that his testimony is true because it does tell about who he is and that his Father testifies on his behalf. 

Jesus’s testimony is true because he knows where he comes from and where he’s going. He knows who sent him and where that journey leads. The Pharisees are making a human judgment. Jesus surprisingly says he passes judgment on no one. How come?

We know that he judges, but the judgment is not human judgment. He does not judge in the way that they do which is faulty. He judges by divine means. He judges based on his unique relationship with his Father and thus, his judgment is true.

So what about modalism?

Jesus tells us in this passage that the testimony of two men is valid. He counts himself as one. He counts his father as another. Were it the case that Jesus and the Father were one person, this would not meet the criteria of two witnesses. The only way that can happen is if there truly are two different persons being spoken of.

And if there are two different persons, there cannot be modalism.

Thus, in this passage, we see Jesus expressing who he is and distinguishing himself from the Father, both essential for Trinitarianism.

We shall continue more on this tomorrow.


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