Yesterday was our church’s monthly time of serving the homeless at the Henry Unger Dining Room. I was given the job of dishing out coleslaw on serving line, along with 3 others, who were dishing out the main course, vegetables and dessert. It was very busy initially, but after about an hour we’d cleared through the line and had served everyone. So, I was getting to know the others on the serving line.
The guy serving desserts next to me had what appeared to be a black eye. I asked him where it came from. He said he recently had a surgical procedure to remove bags under his eyes. He also shared that he is 88 years old and currently has stage 4 melanoma. I said, wow and sorry to hear that. I asked him what the prognosis was. He said, very bluntly, “death”. So, I decided to ask him “so, are you right with the Lord?” He replied, “I hope so…” I replied, “You don’t have to be unsure, you can know you’re right with the Lord. All you have to do is believe in Jesus!” (1 John 5:12-13) He didn’t make any comment on that but rather talked to me about having had a good life and raised 6 good children. I decided not to belabor the point. I was amazed, though, at the age of 88, with stage 4 cancer, that he was getting cosmetic surgeries, serving the homeless and even planning on going skiing this winter!
Later, I was able to talk to the people on my right. They were a brother and sister (older – probably 40’s or 50’s) who were from Nigeria. The sister, Esther, was visiting from Nigeria for a month. Her brother, Joe, is a pastor at a local non-denominational church. I was small talking with them as we were serving. Then I asked Joe what he was preaching on. He explained his current series (our thoughts about God and His thoughts about us). Some way, somehow, the discussion got into talk about the nature of God, specifically, the Trinity. He mentioned that God is one God in one Person, with 3 offices. It seemed like he was basing much of His theology on Isaiah 9:6:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Because of this, he believed that Jesus is the Father, and that when the Holy Ghost came upon Mary that was the Holy Ghost that was in her womb, but it Jesus that came out the birth canal! I told him that the historic definition of the Trinity is one God revealed in 3 persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He said it was not 3 persons. I then asked him how he could explain or understand passages like John 17 where Jesus was praying to the Father? Or verses like John 14:26, which explicitly describes the 3 persons of the Godhead:
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
He didn’t have an answer for these questions. His only answer was that we’re finite and it is hard to understand, but you just need to have faith! I told him that I’m just reading the Bible (the whole Bible) and getting my understanding of the nature of God from the text.
At that point, we had to get back to work. Our time was friendly and I wished him and his sister all the best as I left for the day and that I hoped that I would see him there again.
This morning, as I researched Joe’s views, it sounded like held to something similar to Sabellianism:
Sabellianism (3rd Century) This heresy, a form of modalistic Monarchianism named for its founder, taught God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit were different modes of one God (in relationship to man), rather than three distinct persons (in objective reality). Jesus Christ and God the Father were not thought to be distinct persons, but two aspects or offices of one person.
Leader(s) in the Heresy: Sabellius, a Roman priest and theologian (215AD?)
Corrector(s) of the Heresy: Tertullian and Demetrius (Patriarch of Alexandria) wrote against the heresy
Very interesting, day of serving the homeless and of interacting with people of different beliefs. I hope that I was able to “put a stone in their shoe” that would “annoy them” (in a good way)!