Christian Churches of God
Binitarian and Trinitarian Misrepresentation of the Early Theology of the Godhead
(Edition 1.0 20090213-20090213)
Some Binitarian and Trinitarian advocates misuse the early writings of the Church to assert that the Early Church was Binitarian or Trinitarian. Such views are known and admitted to be incorrect by responsible academics yet these advocates persist with the fabrication.
Binitarian and Trinitarian Misrepresentation of the
Early Theology of the Godhead
Some Binitarian and Trinitarian advocates misuse the early writings of the Church to assert that the Early Church was Binitarian or Trinitarian. Such views are known and admitted to be incorrect by responsible academics yet these advocates persist with the fabrication.
The reason is that the Binitarian and Trinitarian views depend on the councils of the fourth century for their validity. Roman and Orthodox Christianity can rest comfortable on that knowledge but Protestantism cannot. More importantly, Herbert Armstrong introduced a clouded and false view of Christ, which roamed from a Unitarian acknowledgement of Eloah in the Bible Study courses to a position that was in fact logically Ditheist. In avoiding the charge of Ditheist heresy, his idolaters make the error of sliding into Binitarianism and are then forced to rely on Trinitarian pseudo scholarship to defend their arguments.
In the paper Early Theology of the Godhead (No. 127) it was shown what the early position was over the first two centuries and how it became Modalist and then Binitarian from the beginning of the fourth century and from the Council of Nicaea, and finally Trinitarian from the introduction at the Council of Constantinople in 381 and the ratification from the Council of Chalcedon after 451.
The first use of the word Trias did not occur until 180 CE in the work of Theophilus of Antioch, as referred to in paper No. 127.
The position in Rome from the middle of the second century is obtained from Justin Martyr, and that of Smyrna is obtained from Irenaeus at Lyon, writing at the end of the second century ca. 195, and also from Hippolytus. The writings of Polycarp are too few to deal with the position conclusively but those of the two disciples trained at Smyrna are decisive. Quoting from Part I in No. 127 we see Justin’s position:
Our teacher of these things is Jesus Christ, who also was born for this purpose, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, in the times of Tiberius Caesar; and that we reasonably worship Him, having learned that He is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third, we will prove. For they proclaim our madness to consist in this, that we give to a crucified man a place second to the unchangeable and eternal God, the Creator of all; for they do not discern the mystery that is therein, to which, as we make it plain to you, we pray you to give heed. (Apol., I, xiii)
And the first power after God the Father and Lord of all is the Word [8@(@H or logos], who is also the Son. (Apol., I, xxxii)
It is wrong, therefore, to understand the Spirit and the power of God, as anything else than the Word [8@(@H or logos], who is also the firstborn of God. (Apol., I, xxxiii)
Thus Justin thinks of the Logos as an emanation of God which is capable of individuation to embrace the concept of the Spirit in general and Christ in particular. He says however:
But both Him [God] and the Son (who came forth from Him and taught us these things, and the host of the other good angels who follow and are made like to Him), and the prophetic Spirit, knowing them in reason and in truth, and declaring without grudging to every one who wishes to learn, as we have been taught.
Thus the angels were also held to be conformed to the image of God. Justin clearly identifies Christ as the Angel of the Presence at Sinai who gave the Law to Moses (First Apol., Ch. LXIII). From Chapters 13, 16 and 61, Justin did not advocate the worship of Angels (see also fn. 3 to ANF, Vol. 1, p. 164).
The term worship is derived from that term at Revelation 3:9 based on proskuneo, namely BD@F6L<ZFTF4< or proskunesoosin (Marshall), meaning they shall bow down before the elect of the Philadelphia Church. Thus the term does not mean to worship the angels or Christ but to pay obeisance by prostration of the body. In other words, to do homage. Thus the entities referred to are paid homage in their capacity as part of the loyal Host of God. The angel said to John to refrain from doing this but rather to worship God (Rev. 22:9). Thus the elect worship God only. Justin refers to paying homage and not to worship.”
The position advocated by Justin was the position of the Roman Church ca. 155 CE.
It held the clear belief that Christ and all the Host were products of the creation of the Father; all were made in the same way and form as was Christ. This is the clear message of the Bible which we will discuss later.
The error of the worship of Christ that appears to have entered Rome was found in the Colossian Church. Continuing on from No. 127:
“This error extended to the Colossian Church in part. The worship of the Christian Church is confined to God and does not extend even to Christ, other than in homage as a controller and master. But importantly, Justin extends the body to include the loyal Host. This is, therefore, a closer approximation to the biblical doctrine of the Spirit being capable of individuation to embrace the elect who are to become theoi, as Christ is one of the theoi subordinate to his theos, who is God the Father. However, biblically he is the second highest theos, as the High Priest.
Justin was seemingly among the first to introduce Sunday worship (see Bacchiocchi, From Sabbath to Sunday, pp. 223ff.) yet he was still a subordinationist. He held peculiar antinomian views regarding the Sabbath and its application to the Jews as a peculiar punishment. His views were not supported by Christians at the time, and Bacchiocchi holds that the Christian Church has never accepted such a false thesis (p. 225). To hold that God established the circumcision and the Sabbath solely on account of the wickedness of the Jews as a distinguishing mark, to set them off from other nations and us Christians so that the Jews only might suffer affliction (Dial. 16:1, 21:1; see also Bacchiocchi, ibid.) makes God guilty of gross respect of persons and is contrary to the entire sentiment of the confessions of the Reformation. In spite of this error, his view of the Godhead is still subordinationist. However, he introduces emanationist reasoning which seems to accompany this antinomianist approach. As we have seen, Justin, however, still denied the doctrine of the Soul and Heaven as non-Christian, stemming from the mystery cults.”
The term Justin applied to Christ as the Angel of God that gave the Law to Moses was the Bible position from 1Corinthians 10:4 (see also the text Angel of YHVH (No. 24)).
Irenęus also held this identifying Subordinationsist view of Christ and God. The elohim that were sons were termed elohim but the Father alone was the One True God, the Ha Elohim. The definite article was used of Him alone despite what Roman Catholics claim regarding 1John 5:20. We see the use of the term “One True God” in distinction to Christ in the writings of John (17:3)
“Irenęus says of God:
For He commanded, and they were created; He spake and they were made. Whom therefore did He command? The Word, no doubt, by whom, He says, the heavens were established and all their power by the breath of His mouth [Ps. 33:6]. (Adv. Haer., III, viii, 3)
Irenęus held that:
… it is clearly proved that neither the prophets nor the apostles did ever name another God, or call [him] Lord, except the true and only God....But the things established are distinct from Him who has established them, and what have been made from Him who made them. For He is Himself uncreated, both without beginning and end, and lacking nothing. He is Himself sufficient for Himself; and still further, He grants to all others this very thing, existence; but the things which have been made by Him (ibid.).
Irenęus extended the capacity to become God (theos or elohim) to the Logos here as distinct from the other things established (ibid.). He had already established the position of God and the Son and those of the adoption as theoi or elohim and all sons of God from Book III, Chapter vi.
Therefore neither would the Lord, nor the Holy Spirit, nor the apostles, have ever named as God, definitely and absolutely, him who was not God, unless he were truly God; nor would they have named any one in his own person Lord, except God the Father ruling over all, and His Son who has received dominion from His Father over all creation, as this passage has it: The Lord says unto my Lord, Sit Thou at my right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool [Ps. 110:1]. Here the [Scripture] represents the Father addressing the Son; He who gave Him the inheritance of the heathen, and subjected to Him all His enemies...
Irenęus went on to state that the Holy Spirit termed both Father and Son here as Lord. He held that it was Christ who spoke with Abraham prior to the destruction of the Sodomites and had received power [from God] to judge the Sodomites for their wickedness. And this [text following]
… does declare the same truth: “‘Thy throne, O God’ is for ever and ever; the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity: therefore God, Thy God hath anointed Thee” [Ps. 45:6] For the Spirit designates both [of them] by the name of God [theos or elohim] - both Him who is anointed as Son and Him who does anoint, that is the Father. And again: “God stood in the congregation of the gods, he judges among the gods” [Ps. 82:1]. He [here] refers to the Father and the Son and those who have received the adoption; but these are the Church for she is the synagogue of God, which God - that is the Son Himself - has gathered by Himself of whom He again speaks: “The God of gods, the Lord hath spoken, and hath called the earth.” [Ps. 50:1]. Who is meant by God? He of whom He has said, “God shall come openly, our God, and shall not keep silence;” [Ps. 50:3] that is, the Son who came manifested to men, who said, “I have openly appeared to those who seek Me not” [Isa. 65:1]. But of what gods [does he speak]? [Of those] to whom He says, “I have said, Ye are gods, and all sons of the Most High” [Ps. 82:6]. To those, no doubt, who have received the grace of the “adoption, by which we cry Abba Father” [Rom. 8:15] (Against Heresies, Bk. III, Ch. vi, ANF, Vol. I, pp. 418-419).”
The Church clearly understood the use of the terms in the Psalms and that the use of the term “God” in relation to Christ was that of a subordinate entity. These two Psalms referenced here are examined in the papers Psalm 45 (No. 177) and Psalm 110 (No. 178).
Continuing from No. 127 we see that:
“There is no doubt that Irenęus had a subordinationist view of the Godhead and extended the term God (as theoi or elohim) to include the Son and those also of the adoption. He seems to indicate here that Christ gathered the elect, whereas we know from Scripture that it is God who gives the elect to Christ in order that they be gathered (Jn. 17:11-12; Heb. 2:13; 9:15). The exclusive use of the term to the physical elect may be incorrect given Irenęus’ application here. The loyal Host are also included in the council from the understanding in Revelation 4 and 5 – thus the loyal Host are also the Ecclesia of God. There is no doubt that the term elohim or theoi was held to extend to the Church and that this was the understanding of the first-century Church both from John to Polycarp, who taught Irenęus, and on into the second and subsequent centuries.”
That has always been understood historically as the Council of the Elohim who are the sons of God. Irenęus stops short in the quote which states clearly that he was anointed with the oil of gladness above his partners, thus indicating the same origin and equality with the Host. He was, however, emphasising the status of the physical elect and was not concerned in the text with the Host. We will discuss this aspect later.
We see that the Church both in Rome and in France in the second century had a subordinationist view of Christ. The Church understood clearly from the NT texts, and especially Hebrews, that Psalm 45 and 110 referred to Christ. It also understood that God as Father of all was the God of Jesus Christ. He was extending Himself as Eloah or One True God to become Ha Elohim as the centre of an extended being of Elohim or sons of God.
The combination of the Greek concept of Gnosis was introduced in the writings of Clement of Alexandria. From 127:
“Clement of Alexandria says in like manner:
For the Son is the power of God, as being the Father's most ancient Word before the production of all things, and His Wisdom. He is then properly called the Teacher of the beings formed by Him.
Now the energy of the Lord has a reference to the Almighty; and the Son is, so to speak, an energy of the Father. ("Strom.", VII, ii, P.G., IX, 410)
Clement, however, understood that the destiny of the elect was to become gods. He said that when speaking of gnosis, which he held could be attained by man to some extent during his stay on earth:
But it reaches its climax after the death of the body, when the soul of the [gnoostikos] is allowed to fly back to its original place, where after becoming a god, it can enjoy, in a complete and perpetual rest, the contemplation of the highest divinity 'face to face', together with the other [theoi] (S.R.C. Lilla, Clement of Alexandria, A Study In Christian Platonism and Gnosticism, Oxford, 1971, p. 142).
Thus here we see the combination of the Greek gnosis combined with the early doctrine that we would become theoi or elohim. There was no suggestion that Christ or the other theoi were equal to this highest divinity.”
This view is important as the misuse of the early writings centre on this application of the term elohim or theoi.
In his writings against Noetus, Hippolytus, the associate of Irenaus who became bishop at the city of the port of Rome and rebuked the third century Roman bishops and church for their apostasy, was quite clear as to the fact that their view was simple. God in the beginning had nothing coeval with Himself.
Now what part of the meaning of “coeval” do these Binitarians, Ditheists and Trinitarians not understand?
A. Adj...1. Of contemperaneous origin 1622. 2. Equally old 1700 3. Existing at the same time 1704. 4. Of coincident duration 1742. …
B. sb. 1. Of the same age or standing 1656 2. A person or thing belonging to the same period.
When the Ante Nicene Fathers were translated the meaning of the text was clear and no scholar claims that the text says otherwise. Neither Christ nor any other being was coeval or existed with God from the beginning. Nothing! He was One, Alone in Himself. The quote has emphasis added.
“Hippolytus says and most significantly:
Now, that Noetus affirms that the Son and Father are the same, no one is ignorant. But he makes his statement thus: "When indeed, then, the Father had not been born, He yet was justly styled Father; and when it pleased Him to undergo generation, having been begotten, He Himself became His own Son, not another's." For in this manner he thinks to establish the sovereignty of God, alleging that the Father and Son, so called, are one and the same (substance), not one individual produced from a different one, but Himself from Himself; and that He is styled by name Father and Son, according to vicissitude of times. (Hippolytus repeats this opinion in his summary, Book X.) (Con. Noet, n. 14, "The Refutation of All Heresies", Bk. IX, Ch. V, ANF, Vol. V, pp. 127-128);
The first and only (One God), both Creator and Lord of all, had nothing coeval with Himself, ... But He was One, alone in Himself. By an exercise of His will He created things that are, which antecedently had no existence, except that He willed to make them. For He is fully acquainted with whatever is about to take place, for foreknowledge also is present to Him. (Hippolytus, ibid., X, XXVIII, p. 150)
Therefore this solitary and supreme Deity, by an exercise of reflection, brought forth the Logos first; not the word in the sense of being articulated by voice, but as a ratiocination of the universe, conceived and residing in the divine mind. Him alone He produced from existing things; for the Father Himself constituted existence, and the being born from Him was the cause of all things that are produced. The Logos was in the Father Himself, bearing the will of His progenitor, and not being unacquainted with the mind of the Father.
For simultaneously with His procession from His progenitor, inasmuch as He is this Progenitor's firstborn, He has as a voice in Himself, the ideas conceived in the Father. And so it was, that when the Father ordered the world to come into existence, the Logos one by one completed each object of creation thus pleasing God. (Hippolytus, ibid., X, XXIX)
Christ, he means, the wisdom and power of God the Father, hath builded His house... (Fragment on Proverb 9:1, ANF, Vol. V, p. 175)
It is with this writer that we first develop the error that Christ was the only emanation of the Father and that the other elements of the heavenly Host are creations of the Son and thus do not share in the divine nature, as does the Son. Now this is the basic error upon which the doctrine of the Trinity began to be built. The elohim, as was demonstrated from the biblical context, are a multiple Host of which the Lamb is the High Priest, but he is one of them as a fellow or comrade, even though all of the hierarchical structure was created by or in him and for him (Col. 1:15).
The saints, likewise, become companions to Christ from Hebrews 3:14 and, hence, brothers to the Host (Rev. 12:10) and co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17). The heavens, all things that were, referred to as being created by the Son, are the spiritual and physical structures. This is the intent of the references at John 1:3 regarding the creation and 1Corinthians 8:6 regarding the universe (J¸ BV<J" or ta panta) and humans. Colossians 1:15-17 specifically allocates the creation of all things visible and invisible. The creation of thrones or lordships or rulers or authorities, through him and for him, cannot refer to the Council of the Elohim. The creation by Christ of the lordships (6LD4`J0J,H or kuriotetes) is not of the entities.
If that were so then it would involve the creation of God who is the supreme kurios. Thus we are dealing with the powers and not the Beings – the thrones and the structure of the heavens and their government.
Ephesians 1:22 and 3:9 show that it was God who created all things and placed them under the feet of Christ and made him head of all things for the Church. This was done so that the rulers and authorities in the heavens would understand, through the Church, the manifold wisdom of God. These things were done to demonstrate that God has highly exalted Christ (Phil. 2:10), which logically he could not have been always. Yet God used Christ as the leader and primary instrument of the creation of the ages (Heb. 11:3). Christ created the world (Heb. 1:2) and reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature (Heb. 1:3). Hebrews 2:10 refers to the all things (J"¸ BV<J" or ta panta) which constitute the universe.”
It is with the heresy of Noetus that we see Binitarianism/Trinitarianism of the worship of Attis/Adonis/Osirus emerge in Christianity.
Hippolytus tried to distinguish between Christ and the others of the elohim Host but he was absolutely clear that God and Christ were never coeternal nor were they coequal. His explanation was to explain the concept of prototokos as used of Christ. Christ was a creation of the Father by generation of His Spirit. The Bible is clear that all the sons of God were products of the Father and they are all of one origin.
The sons of God were the council of the Elohim. Everyone understood that fact from the prophets through to the apostles and elders of the faith. The Jesuit theologian Leopold Sabourin S.J. has explained this concept in the work The Psalms Their Origin and Meaning, Soc. Of St. Paul NY, 1974. (Imprimatur J.P. O’Brien Vicar General NY. Nihil Obstat Donald A. Panella, Censor Librorum, and Imprimi Protest by R.A.F. MacKenzie SJ, Rector, Pontifical Biblical Institute).
It is a matter of fact that the Trinitarian academics themselves admit that the Triune God was superimposed on the Unitarian concepts of the Scriptures. This process has been explained in the Appendix to the Statement of Beliefs of the Christian Faith (A1). Leading Roman Catholic theologians such as C.M. LaCugna and others explain how the process occurred and she is quoted in the Appendix.
It is not as though we do not know what the process is. Anyone who has read the Bible and studied the Records of the “fathers” to the Seven Councils understands the how and the why of what happened. The Roman Catholics simply claim they had the right to do it. In the same way they claim the right to change the Sabbath and the New Moons and Feasts. The Church has never accepted that assertion.
For another examination of the recent theological errors in the Churches of God and elsewhere see also the paper Binitarianism and Trinitarianism (No. 76).
How then do the Binitarians and Trinitarians justify their claims regarding the co-eternality and coequality of God and Christ when the written record is so clear?
The answer is that they misrepresent the writings of the early fathers and their use of the term “God”.
They extract the term in reference to Christ within its subordinationist concepts of Psalm 45:6-7 and Hebrews 1:8-9 and attempt to use it to convey their unscriptural errors and mislead those who are not educated in the history of the matter.
In the word “God” we see the meanings of the Old Teutonic as: What is invoked or what is worshipped by sacrifice.
God: II In the Christian and Monotheistic sense, The One Object of Supreme Adoration: the Creator and Ruler of the Universe.
It is correct that the term elohim was used of Christ (and others) who also had an elohim who was Christ’s God.
This term is used and understood in the Hebrew and the Greek and was written in the NT in such a way as to convey these same Hebrew distinctions. It follows as the night the day that you cannot be co-equal and co-eternal with your own God unless it is an idol. David could call him Lord even though he was his own descendant, precisely because he had pre-existence (see the paper The Pre-existence of Jesus Christ (No. 243)). However, Christ was not coeternal with his own God. He was never understood to be coeternal or coequal with God in the Bible either OT or NT and it is a fabrication to assert that it says or indicates that concept. Every major theologian and Bible academic acknowledges the Bible as Unitarian, including Calvin and Harnack, and the theologian Brunner acknowledges that fact.
So what texts do these writers rely on for their claims?
A text many use is a work falsely attributed to the Clement that follows Linus and Cletus in Rome. The problem is that we are not even sure that the First Epistle attributed to Clement is the original referred to by Eusebius (Eccl. Hist. lii, 16). It did not come to light until it was found with Codex A in 1628. It contains fabulous stories accepted by the author. It deals with sedition. The so-called Second Epistle is a known pseudepigraphical writing written by a much later author under the name of Clement to support later views. Anyone who has read the ANF works of Clement would know the facts of the matter. (See ANF, Vol. 1, pp. 2-3.) First Clement is certainly not Binitarian. It is in fact Unitarian in structure.
Those such as Holmes, and the gullible who want to accept it, hold the false and ludicrous assertion that the so-called Second Clement is “the oldest complete Christian sermon that has survived” (Holmes M.W., The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 2nd ed. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2004, p. 102).
No religious academic would be taken in by that nonsense. Binitarians quote Holmes despite knowing that he refers to a pseudepigraphical work. It is certainly not from the first or early-second century although some try to make it predate Justin Martyr. Most place it after Justin and try to place it just before Athenagorus.
This bogus epistle is then quoted relying on vague texts to insinuate Binitarianism. Use of the term “God” is insinuated as proof of Ante-Nicene Binitarianism.
The terms in relation to God and Christ are the same in this text as it is applied in Psalm 45:6-7 and Hebrews 1:8-9. For example the use of the terms from the text at:
Brothers, we ought so to think of Jesus Christ, as of God, as “Judge of the living and the dead (An Ancient Christian Sermon (so-called 2Clement), 1:1. Holmes M.W. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 2nd ed. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2004, p. 107).
So then, brothers, if we do the will of God our Father…(An Ancient Christian Sermon (2 Clement), 14:1. Holmes M.W. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 2nd ed. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2004, p.121).
To quote this text as supporting the Early Church as being Binitarian is misleading scholarship to say the least.
Robert M. Grant writes (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, v. 1, p. 1061):
An early Christian epistle transmitted along with 1 Clement in the biblical Codex Alexandrinus (late 4th century) and the later Jerusalem Codex (1056) which includes the Didache, as well as in the Syriac version. It was not written by the author(s) of 1 Clement and, indeed, it is not a letter but a sermon on self-control, repentance, and judgment. The sermon begins abruptly: "Brothers, we must think about Jesus Christ as about God, as about the judge of living and dead; and we must not think little of our salvation." The preacher tells his "brothers and sisters" that he is reading them a "petition" or "plea" (Gk enteuxis) to "pay attention to what is written," i.e. to the scriptures which he frequently cites (along with quotations from "the prophetic word," otherwise unknown, and something like the apocryphal Gospel of the Egyptians). He himself refers to "the books (i.e., the OT) and the apostles" as authorities (14.2).
Thus the so called 2Clement, found a millennium afterwards, clearly makes a distinction between God and Christ and awards the judgment to Christ which is a simple biblical statement. This is not a Binitarian text and is dated ca. 130-160 CE at the earliest and is probably later (160-170). It certainly does not override the clear statements of the other writers at Rome and Lyon and at Ostia Attica.
The text can be read at http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/2clement.html
Appeals are made to Polycarp at Smyrna. His theology was taught to Irenaeus and Hippolytus and is clearly Unitarian.
The Epistle of Polycarp is also clearly Unitarian.
In his chapter XII, which was an exhortation to the various graces, he says:
But may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ himself who is the Son of God, and our everlasting High Priest, build you up in faith and truth, and in all meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, forbearance and purity; and may he bestow on you a lot and portion among his saints, and on us with you, and on all that are under heaven, who shall believe in our Lord, and in His Father, who raised him from the dead (cf. Gal. 1:1; cf. ANF, Vol.1, pp. 35-36).
How could anyone construe Polycarp’s writings as Binitarian, especially when the undisputed writings and stated theology of his disciples are clearly Unitarian? The epistle was written in Greek but preserved in the Latin.
Chapters 10-13 are preserved only in the Latin version. Chapter 13 was attached as an interpolation. The translation by Roberts and Donaldson follows the Latin in preserving the entire three end chapters. Lightfoot is a Trinitarian and he omitted the term “Son of” before the term God in chapter 12 and continued on to use the term “God” with Lord and God before the words “Jesus Christ” in the text translating “dominum nostrum et deum Iesum Christum.” We have no idea when this text in the Latin was written. Lightfoot translates the text as follows.
Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal High-priest Himself, the [Son of] God Jesus Christ, build you up in faith and truth, and in all gentleness and in all avoidance of wrath and in forbearance and long suffering and in patient endurance and in purity; and may He grant unto you a lot and portion among His saints, and to us with you, and to all that are under heaven, who shall believe on our Lord and God Jesus Christ and on His Father (Lightfoot, J. B. tr., The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, in Apostolic Fathers (12:6, 7)).
It is, however, perfectly logical that the term deum is consistent with the use of theos in John and also the terms in the writings of Justin, Irenaeus and Hippolytus that refer to Christ as theos and deum in the references to Psalm 45:6-7 and Hebrews 1:8-9. It is certainly not a proof of Binitarianism. That is perfectly correct and historical Unitarian Subordinationist theology as demonstrated by Polycarp’s disciples who were Smyrna trained and reflect its theology.
The term “son of God” is used of Jesus Christ. Polycarp followed the teachings of John and was at odds with Rome in the Quartodeciman Disputes (see the paper The Quartodeciman Disputes (No. 277)).
In Polycarp’s Epistle to the Philippians Polycarp refers to Ignatius and it is fairly certain that he was aware of his Martyrdom.
Ignatius is also claimed as Binitarian by Trinitarian apologists. The problem with Ignatius is very clear and simple.
There are fifteen extant writings attributed to Ignatius. There are:
One to the Virgin Mary, two to the apostle John, one to Mary of Cassobelae, one to the Tarsians, one to the Antiochians, one to Hero, deacon of Antioch, one to the Philippians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Magnesians, one to the Trallians, one to the Romans, one to the Philadelphians, one to the Smyrnaeans, and one to Polycarp.
Of these, the first eight epistles are universally acknowledged to be forgeries of a later age and reflect that theology. They were probably written to establish the later errors or heresies. The remaining seven are in dispute.
There are seven Epistles that are acknowledged by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. Iii, 36). Of these texts there are two Greek texts, one a shorter and the other a longer version. It is universally accepted by scholars that one is a corrupt text used to establish a later theology.
It is thought that the shorter version is most likely the original. However, no one is sure that either is genuine and both may well be corrupt. In fact, in 1666, the most learned exposition that maintained that both were corrupt was published by Daillé (or Dalaeus). Bishop Pearson wrote a treatise in 1672 defending the short version and that has been accepted until now by Trinitarians.
If we assume that the later seven in the short version are genuine, which is by no means certain, we must still compare them to the wording in Psalms 45:6-7 and Hebrews 1:8-9, and as espoused by the known genuine epistles of Justin and Ireanaeus and Hippolytus.
When examining the short version we see the same subordinationist theology emerge. Note that the text refers to The God and our God – the subordinate elohim and Ha Elohim or The God of the texts.
For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God’s plan: of the seed of David, it is true, but also of the Holy Spirit. He was born and baptized so that by His submission He might purify the water (Ignatius, Epistle to the Ephesians 18,2 (ANF, Vol. 1, p. 57).
The text in Chapter 19 has been rendered as God Himself being manifested in Human form for the renewal of eternal life (ANF ibid.).
This is a theological error of later Trinitarianism and is grounds, as cited by the earlier theologians such as Daillé, to discard both texts. Those such as Holmes modified the quote to “God appeared in human form” and Binitarians cite Holmes. The longer text says “God being manifested as a man, and a man displaying power as God.”
…God appeared in human form to bring newness of eternal life (Ignatius, Epistle to the Ephesians, 19,3. As per Holmes: The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations. Baker Books, Grand Rapids (MI), 2004, p. 149).
The short text is only inconsistent if it is viewed as being the One True God manifested Himself, which He plainly did not do. It is this type of inconsistency of the texts that led to pleas for the rejection of both.
Ignatius is appealed to for support but his work is really subordinationist if we apply the test of Psalm 45:6-7 and Hebrews 1:8-9 in its subordinationist application.
The combination is used in the introduction of the terms God the Father and Jesus Christ our God which is clearly Unitarian Subordinationist in line with David’s utterance in Psalm 45:6ff.
The address in the Epistle to the Smyrnaeans does not make the claims of the Epistle to the Ephesians but Chapter 1 begins with the text: “I glorify God, even Jesus Christ, who has given you such wisdom”, but continues on to explain the subordinationist position of Christ as the Son of God according to the will and power of God (ANF, Vol. 1, p. 86).
The position is clearly Subordinationist Biblical Unitarianism. The use of the terms theos and elohim in the biblical structure is misunderstood and the false assertion is then reinforced that Unitarians never apply the term God to the Son of God yet Satan can be termed the god of this world (2Cor. 4:4), and Psalm 45:6-7 and Hebrews 1:8-9 apply the term elohim and theos to both entities and makes one the God of the other and identifies Jesus Christ as the subordinate God.
The Alexandrian School and Modalism
Around 177 we start to the see the Alexandrian School develop. It began with the writings of Athenagoras who established the philosophical groundwork in Christianity for the establishment of Modalism. He made a serious theological error and introduced the distinction in the understanding of the relationship between Christ and the other sons of God of the Host. He was an Athenian and a philosopher and his address to the emperor Marcus Aurelius and his son Commodus begins the work: Plea for the Christians. He addresses them as the “Conquerors of Armenia and Sarmatia, and more than all, philosophers.” Hence he sets the groundwork for the rise of Greek philosophy in Christianity and paves the way for Clement of Alexandria whose errors are discussed in Part I of 127.
He began his appeal to the emperor and to Commodus by dealing with the false claims against them and by refutation of Atheism. In chapter IV he establishes the claim that there is only One God. He asserts that the Christian Doctrine is monotheist.
“But since our doctrine acknowledges one God, the Maker of this universe, who is Himself uncreated (for that which is does not come to be, but that which is not) but has made all things by the Logos, which is from Him, we are treated unreasonably in both respects in that we are both defamed and persecuted (cf. ANF, Vol. II, p. 131).
Thus he begins the complex problem of asserting the One True God that is uncreated and the Logos that was generated from Him as a product of His will.
He then begins to discuss the philosophers and their opinions as to God.
The assertion is made that there is only One True God that existed and was uncreated and the Logos was generated from him.
We saw that Noetus was condemned by the early apologists for declaring that God emerged from himself and became His own son. This plea establishes the same error which leads to Modalism and then to Binitarianism and then to Trinitarianism.
In chapter VII he mentions the concept of the psuche or soul which is a concept of Socrates and developed in Platonism (see the paper The Socratic Doctrine of the Soul (No. B6)).
These errors began to lay the basis of the Modalist heresy which emerges full blown in chapter X when he is held to declare, by the Trinitarians in the Chapter Title, which they and not he wrote, that the one God is worshipped by Christians as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
“This One God is uncreated, eternal, invisible, impassable, incomprehensible, illimitable, who is apprehended by the understanding only and the reason who is encompassed by light, and beauty and spirit and power ineffable by whom the universe has been created through his Logos, and set in order, and kept in being – I have already sufficiently demonstrated. [I say “His Logos”], for we acknowledge also a Son of God. Nor let any one think it is ridiculous that God should have a son… He is the first product of the Father, not as having been brought into existence (for from the beginning, God, who is the eternal mind (nous), had the Logos in Himself, being from eternity instinct with Logos [logoikos]; but inasmuch as he came forth to be the energizing power of all material things, which lay like a nature without attributes, and an inactive earth, the grosser particles being mixed up with the lighter. The prophetic Spirit also agrees with our statements. “The Lord” it says, made me the beginning of His ways to His works [Prov. 8:22]. The Holy Spirit Himself also, which operates in the prophets we assert to be an effluence of God, flowing from Him, and returning back again like a beam of the sun. Who then would not be astonished to hear men who speak of God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit, and who declare both their power in union and their distinction in order, called Atheists?
Nor is our teaching in what relates to the divine nature confined to these points; but we recognise also a multitude of angels and ministers, whom God the Maker and Framer of the world distributed and appointed to their several posts by His Logos, to occupy themselves about the elements, and the heavens, and the world, and the things in it, and the goodly ordering of them all.”
The errors he made were based on the premises of Greek philosophy. These were:
Christ, therefore, had to be part of God and not the same as the other sons of God yet he clearly had to admit their place in the structure of God.
This was not the structure that was contained even in the R Document which formed the first known creed in Rome in the second century (see the paper The Original Doctrines of the Christian Faith (No. 88)).
The R Document and the writings of Tertullian are Unitarian. They are contained within the paper No. 88 above. They detail the beliefs of the Church up to the end of the second century
It is with the system from Alexandria that we see the first reference arise in 180 with the introduction of the term Trias in Antioch.
Athenagoras set the philosophical division between Christ and the other sons of God and began the inexorable march to adoption of the Binitarian worship found in the devotees of the cults of Attis, Adonis and Osirus, and from the Mysteries and which were established at Nicaea in 325. It is a form of the Noetian Heresy denounced by the Smyrna trained disciples. The canons of Nicaea were destroyed as heresy and that system was removed from 327 with the restoration of the Subordinationst Unitarians, wrongly called Arians or Eusebians by the later Trinitarians. The restoration of Binitarianism and the grounds for Trinitarianism came with the appointment of Theodosius as emperor in the East by Gratian and his support of the Athansians in 381 at Constantinople, and from 451 from the Council of Chalcedon.
The errors that developed the entire later heresies on the Nature of God were based on the notion that there was only one Son of God, namely Jesus Christ, and he was somehow distinct from the rest of the Angelic Host even though the Bible says, both in Malachi and in Hebrews, we all have one Father and that the creation is of one origin. The Bible shows that notion to be completely false.
The Book of Job repeatedly refers to the multiplicity of both the Sons of God and their leading Morning Stars that were multiple, and clearly states that Satan was one of them (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:4-7).
The Book of Genesis uses the term elohim of multiple entities and also uses the term Yahovah of at least four entities at the same time (see the topic discussed in the paper The Angel of YHVH (No. 024) and in the paper Abraham and Sodom (No. 091)).
Thus we see the heresies emerge from the division of the Church. Rome wanted to absorb the heathens and so the bishops there adopted the doctrines of the worship of the god Attis in Rome and of the Mystery cults. Anicetus introduced the custom of Easter at Rome in 155 CE, which almost caused the division of the Church in dispute with Polycarp. Victor insisted on it in 192 in dispute with Polycrates and did cause the division of the Church. The matter is explained in the paper The Quartodeciman Disputes (No. 277).
Trinitarians make an appeal to the Quartodeciman companion of Irenaeus who was a bishop at Sardis and who was martyred. To assert he was bishop at Smyrna and, therefore, reflects Smyrna doctrine is false. He is also referred to in the fragments as bishop of Attica and Ittica. These fragments are thus unrelated to one another in original composition. Polycrates in his letter to Victor ca. 194 (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. V xxxiv) refers to him as a Quartodeciman. Almost all of his writings are lost; however, a list of the majority of them is preserved in Eusebius as well as an excerpt (ibid., IV xiii, xxvi). The Catholic Encyclopedia attributes the dual nature of Christ to him (C. E., Vol. X, p. 166) citing the Labrynth of Hippolytus as evidence.
The work preserved is an Apology for the Christian Faith delivered to Marcus Aurelius (ca. 170). It is entirely possible that Athenagorus wrote his apology some seven years after this to insert a structural change to Binitarianism in the mind of the Emperor and his son.
This apology is NOT to be confused with the Syriac apology attributed to Melito and allegedly given in the presence of Antoninus Caesar. It is a Syriac apology attributed to Melito. It was published in Syriac and English by Cureton, from a British Museum MS (C.E. ibid.). Lightfoot is held to doubt the authenticity of the supposed reference to the edict of Antoninus (see also ANF, Vol. VIII, p. 750, n. 6 and fn. 11). The fragment supposedly addressing Antoninus actually reads Antonius (ANF ibid., p. 756, fn. 1). The fragment (I) however is concerned with the worship of the Father:
“But as for thy children, speak to them thus: There is a God, the Father of all, who never came into being neither was ever made, and by whose will all things subsist. He also made the luminaries that His works may see one another; and He conceals Himself in His power from all His works. For it is not permitted to any being subject to change to see Him who changes not. But such as are mindful of His words, and are admitted into that covenant which is unchangeable, ‘they’ see God – so far as it is possible to see Him…. ” (ibid., p.755).
This text is clear biblical Unitarian theology. Melito has been misrepresented by later writers in an appeal to his alleged views. Origen refers to him as an Anthropomorphite, but A.A. MacEarlean holds that the Syriac fragments show the opposite. The Four Syriac fragments are often attributed to Melito but also often to Alexander of Alexandria. In other words, they don’t know which are genuine and which are not. Many spurious writings have been attributed to him, some originating in the late Middle Ages (ibid., pp. 166-167).
A close reading of the larger fragment of his writings reveals it is Subordinationist Unitarian. The other Syriac fragments refer to him as bishop of Sardis (II) plain bishop (IV), bishop of Attica (V) and then Bishop of Ittica (VI). There has never been a sufficient explanation of these aspects (cf. ANF, Vol. VIII, pp. 757-758 in the notes). It is hardly likely that he would refer to himself as bishop in three different areas in the one document; thus they must be the works of separate authors or at least later scribes.
His attributed discourse on the cross (III) is even stranger than Attis theology. “He formed for himself a body after our fashion… yet arrayed in the nature of his Father; treading upon the earth yet filling heaven; appearing as an infant yet not discarding the eternity of his nature; being invested with a body yet not circumscribing the unmixed simplicity of his Godhead; being esteemed poor yet not divested of his riches; needing sustenance inasmuch as he was a man, yet not ceasing to feed the entire world inasmuch as he is God ...
He was standing before Pilate yet at the same time was sitting with His Father.”
The comments are against the sentiments of the Gospels and the words of Christ, especially on the stake, and of the NT in both Paul and John. It contradicts the sentiments in (II) also attributed to him.
One fragment attributed to a Melito does indeed say: “He that bore up the earth was borne up on a tree. The Lord was subject to ignominy with naked body - God put to death, the King of Israel slain.” (VI. ANF, Vol. VIII, p. 758). This text is a reference to the concepts of the Scriptures in Psalms 45 and 110 and Hebrews. It is from a Melito, bishop of Ittica. We may be dealing with a different Melito.
The later fragments were preserved by Eusebius (in the Hist Eccl l c) in the address to Marcus Aurelis Antoninus. The fragment taken from the Alexandrian Chronicle says: “We are not those who pay homage to stones but of the only God, who is before all and over all, and moreover we are worshippers of His Christ, who is veritably God the Word, existing before all time.” However, this and others have been stated to be a product of Alexander of Alexandria and reflects later Alexandrian doctrines leading to Nicaea.
From this text the Binitarians argue that Christ was coeternal yet the other acknowledged fragments of Melito show this phrase to refer to the physical creation because they all acknowledge only One True God who is the Father. The fragments argue that God the Father is the one true God and creator of all. The fragment IX “The Key” lists all the ways that Christ is perceived as being described in Scripture. The understanding of the text of Daniel 7:9, 13, 22 is wrong (cf. also ANF, ibid., pp. 760-762). However it is clear that the texts all show that Christ was the being of the OT that appeared to the Patriarchs, to Moses, and to the Prophets. The term “finger of the Lord” by which the law was written on tablets was understood as a name of Christ as was the term “fingers of the Lord” (Ps. 8:3). Thus Christ was seen as the “Presence of the Lord” and the being mentioned in the Bible as the “Angel of the Lord” that appeared to the Patriarchs and exercised the power of the Holy Spirit in the NT. There is a direct reference to Psalm 45 in the text placing Christ as the subordinate God of Israel.
Thus we are back to the subordinationist structure of the Psalms and Hebrews. The worship of Christ is also argued from this text. However, it is a known fact that the Churches of God have never prayed to Christ or worshipped Christ in its ritual for 2000 years and still does not in the genuine Churches of God. The term proskuneo is also applied to the elect in Revelation 3:9. The term “God the Word” is “theou logou” using the same structure as we find in John 1:18 of the monogenes theos or the only born God (see the paper On the Words: Monogenese Theos in Scripture and Tradition (B4)).
There is no doubt the real Melito was a Quartodeciman and part of the Sardis School. He was not from Smyrna even though he undoubtedly knew them intimately. Polycrates says he was a Quartodeciman. The doctrines of the Smyrna School are properly disclosed in the writings of Irenaeus and Hippolytus. The division by Hippolytus of Christ from the Host, whilst an error, does not in any way diminish the absolute Subordinationist Unitarianism of the School as we see above. The works occurred over the Quartodeciman Disputes and the schism of the Church due to the Easter heresy.
It is thus no accident that the Binitarian Doctrines of the worship of Attis appeared shortly after the Easter Cult in 155 from Rome, and were introduced just before the schism of the Churches of God and the Church of Rome in 192-4. Easter is the name of the goddess Ishtar and it was also held under various other names. The god Attis was killed on a Friday and resurrected by the goddess on Sunday. That is the sequence of the Easter system. It has nothing to do with Christ and the Passover.
From the end of the second century we see the theology of the nature of God deteriorate.
We have dealt with these theologians and their views in Part 1. Clement, at Alexandria, continued on with the views of Athenagoras and stated that the son was an “energy of the Father”, so that Christ became an emanation of the Father and the distinction of Athenagoras was preserved. The error of Athenagoras was to continue on into full Modalism at Alexandria.
Writers such as Tertullian developed the theory of the Nature of God, which we have dealt with in Part I. He continued the theme of the Alexandrian School and developed the theory that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father through the Son. Thus we might argue that true Binitarianism started with Tertullian in combining these two beings as one God. Tertullian wrote extensively and his views show a divergence into Montanism in his later works. It is he that develops the argument that Christ existed before the beginning as he was the “reason” of the Father and hence existed before the beginning. However, as the generation of Christ as prototokos is the beginning of the creation his argument is contrary to reason. He makes Christ an attribute of God. Such an argument is open to the entire creation and defeats Binitarianism.
As we noted in Part I Tertullian held the position that before all things God was alone.
“For before all things God was alone – being in Himself and for Himself universe, and space, and all things. Moreover, He was alone, because there was nothing external to Him but Himself (Adv. Prax. V).
He also held from this text that only God existed from the beginning in His abiding perpetuity. Thus the error of Christ as “reason” as an internal part of God was introduced to overcome Neo-Platonist objections.
In Part 1, we also examined the works of Origen to establish his position. Trinitarian attempts to render him Binitarian are simply misrepresentations of his writings. Origen was clearly subordinationist and to assert otherwise is a fabrication. Origen was a successor to Clement in the Alexandrian School. He held that the Son of God was “the son of the Creator of the universe.” (Con. Cels., VIII, xiv)
He, however, envisioned the creation of the universe along Neo-Platonist lines and in Part I we discussed his theory of the hypostases from eternity. However he held that the Father was theologically prior to the son and the son was a product of the Father. This unity was not an incoherent Modalism but the ground had been set for the discussion to continue between Rome and Alexandria on through Modalism to the Binitarianism of Nicaea in 325.
In doing so they continued to absorb pagan doctrines from the Mysteries.
Origen is favoured by the Trinitarians because his work is more accommodating to them in their views than the Unitarian Subordinationist Doctrines that came to be labelled for later protagonists as Arianism, Eusebianism and, after Nicaea, others such as Semi-Arianism.
These doctrines and their misrepresentation are discussed in the papers:
The priests of Attis were complaining by the fourth century that the Christian Church had stolen all their doctrines and that included the Binitarian error established more or less throughout the empire, with the exception of Britain, with a standardisation of Easter at Nicaea. It must be realised that Nicaean Binitarianism declared in 325 had been thrown out along with its bishops by 327 and its canons were destroyed as error. They were later reconstructed from Constantinople in 381. The Roman Empire and subsequent emperors were Subordinationist Unitarians incorrectly called Arians or Eusebians by the Athanasian Binitarian faction. Alexandria was placed in charge of the Calendar regarding Easter from 325 and preserved the Easter system there. Britain continued on as Quartodeciman until 664. The Churches of God never held this Binitarian error at all until the 20th century and were often incorrectly condemned as Arians. In some centuries everyone that disagreed with Rome was declared a Manichean Dualist no matter what they believed. One had to be a Trinitarian that kept Easter and Sunday and declared the earth was flat to be orthodox.
The majority, in fact, now do not understand the history of the matter. They do not discuss it in some branches because they are hopelessly divided on the subject ranging from Radical Unitarians that deny the Pre-existence of Christ to Ditheists, Binitarians and Trinitarians.
The real problem today, among these groups, stems from the theological misconception regarding the structure and differences of Biblical Unitarianism and Radical Reformation Unitarianism which denies the pre-existence of Christ (see the paper The Pre-existence of Jesus Christ (No. 243)). Radical Unitarianism was never held in the early churches. It is Reformation Theology.
It is for all the reasons above in Part I, and this part, that the Unitarian Subordinationism of the Bible is the original view. Claims such as those of Larry Hurtado, in his conclusion on page 114 of his work One God One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism, that the early Christian devotion is Binitarian in shape are incorrect. His premises come from a misconception of Biblical Unitarianism. The gradual progression has been outlined in many works. Larry Hurtado’s work has been commented on some years ago. He is correct in that after the Quartodeciman Dispute, within Catholicism, there developed a Binitarian system but it was not the doctrine of the Early Church and it has never been the doctrine of the true Sabbatarians. The progression was from Subordinationist Unitarian theology to a subsequent division of the Host such that Christ was elevated above the other sons of God and made distinct from them when the biblical position does not support such a contention. The biblical position is that the elect will also become elohim with God as an extended being (see the paper The Elect as Elohim (No. 001)).
Binitarianism and the subsequent structure of Trinitarianism is an error which strikes at the capacity of the entire Host, both spiritual and physical, to become Elohim.
The writings of the church theologians did not evidence Binitarianism until the Easter system had taken over in Rome and the doctrines of Attis began to be accommodated there. Insipient Binitarianism was not evident in the church writings until ca. 177 CE and certainly not before 155 CE. It was never a Quartodeciman doctrine.
The biblical position, both as understood by Judaism and by the Early Church, is that of The Most High God (The Elyon) having a subordinate God of Israel through whom He acts. The Hebrew makes many distinctions between these entities and the term sons of God is extended to the entire Angelic Host. Jews are aware of this distinction and when reading the name of the One True God Yahovih (SHD 3069) they read elohim and when reading the Yahovah for the subordinate God of Israel (SHD 3068) they read adonai. They have changed the name Yahovah to Adonai in 134 places in the OT text. We have a record of the changes. These aspects have been covered in many of the papers.
It is a matter of pure logic that any act of generating the sons of God, by God, using the Holy Spirit, is an act of Spiritual creation. Christ is the prototokos of that generation as the Arche of the Creation of God (see the papers Arche of the Creation of God as Alpha and Omega (No. 229) and How God Became a Family (No. 187)).
The Sabbath-keeping Churches of God have been biblical Unitarian over the ages and persecuted for it by Trinitarians. They have been incorrectly labelled as Arians or Eusebians or many other names to disguise the continuity of their doctrines. There is no record of them being Binitarian until the 20th century (see the paper Role of the Fourth Commandment in the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God (No. 170)).
Binitarians, unlike the Trinitarian theologians, do not understand or recognise that Subordinationist Unitarianism is the theology of the Bible and the Early Church. They also seek to establish that Binitarianism was the theology espoused by the twentieth century system under H.W. Armstrong when it was not. They wish to avoid Trinitarian criticism rather than acknowledge that he was wrong and his theology was incoherent ranging from the more correct Subordinationist Unitarian to Ditheist. They have literally turned him into the idol shepherd of the prophecies.
The theology of the Churches of God in the twentieth century was Subordinationist Unitarian in the Church of God (Seventh Day) in the Caldwell Conference in the USA and they kept the correct calendar according to the conjunction, as the churches had done before them. They were attacked as Arians, which they were not, given Trinitarian definitions, but that means little. The error of Binitarianism entered through the Denver Conference in the USA and was finally declared by them in 1995 as part of the undermining of the theology of the Churches of God that had taken place in WCG and Adventism before it. Adventism was undermined from 1931 after the death of Uriah Smith. It was Unitarian in 1931 and by 1978 was Trinitarian.
The WCG system did not declare that Christ was generated by God as part of Himself as Athenagoras had suggested above and the devotees of Attis believed. That WCG system in its later years taught that Christ was a God that stood eternally with the True God. They taught, by misusing the texts of Micah and Isaiah, that he was coeternal. That argument is in fact one advanced by Trinitarian Protestants (see the papers Micah 5:2-3 (No. 121) and Isaiah 9:6 (No. 224)). They also declared that God and Christ had a discussion and one decided to come down and be the son of the other. This heretical Ditheist view was taught through the later years of H.W. Armstrong and the early administration of J. Tkach Snr. In 1991 it was published in the official journal of the WCG, The Good News, and taught in sermons even though chapter 8 of the Long Bible course referred to the One True God, Eloah, forming the elohim, which is a pure biblical Unitarian concept. The offshoots of the WCG today are distancing themselves from this false Ditheist heresy thinking that Binitarianism is an acceptable form. They then use uninformed and fraudulent Trinitarian Protestant arguments to support their views.
It is like the old phrase: “Tell me what you want to prove and I will tell you where to find the facts.” It is not scholarship.