Yesterday I wrote a response to a Oneness Pentecostal theologian who placed emphasis on the lack of “Father-Son terminology” in the OT (see here). After I posted my thoughts I begin to ponder the hermeneutical approach to the OT exemplified both by the NT authors as well as the early church fathers. Here are some of the ideas that crossed my mind that I would like to place here in order to hear responses from others:

(1) The ‘Son of God’ terminology in the OT referred primarily to a human. It was usually used of the Davidic king, but it could also be used of Israel in general. Yet Christianity, especially Johannine Christianity, placed special emphasis on ‘Son of God’ as a category of deity rather than mere humanity. Did the NT authors and the early church fathers abuse the original terminology to prove their a priori conclusions or did they recognize the sensus plenior of this statement thereby recognizing that the true ‘Son of God’ must be deity?

(2) If we allow for the NT authors and the church fathers to read back into the OT using a Christocentric hermeneutic why can we not allow for this same approach when we reinterpret the OT in regards to the Trinity? For instance, in the Gospel of John and the Epistle to the Colossians it is obvious that there is a sense in which Genesis 1:1-3 has been reread through Christology. In John 1:1-3 the “Word” which was with God as well as being God is clearly derived from Genesis 1:3 where God speaks creation into existence. Furthermore, in Colossians 1:16-17 we see the transference of the wisdom of God–which Jewish literature depicts as God’s creative agent–to Christ. If Christ is the agent of creation he is understood to be the Word/Wisdom of God that was from the beginning.

(3) Equally, the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:1-28 us depicted as the agent of new creation. The Holy Spirit is redeeming the “sons of God”. In vv. 19-25 it becomes obvious that part of the Holy Spirit’s creative activity is new creation, or recreating. The whole cosmos groan and patiently wait for the children of God to be redeemed. Inherent in this text is the idea of resurrection. Christ is the “firstborn” from the dead; those who rise again to glorification are his siblings. The whole creation awaits this latter half because at that time it will be released from its own current bondage (hence, newly created itself).

It appears pretty obvious to me that the Apostle Paul understands the Holy Spirit as having a role in recreation. It is likely that the Holy Spirit as creator derives from Genesis 1:2 (at least). There the Spirit hovers over the face of the waters.

(4) If we maintain the hermeneutical approach of Oneness Pentecostalism regarding the doctrine of the Trinity, thereby closing off the OT to any discussion regarding the Triune nature of God, we cut off a hermeneutical approach shared by the NT authors as well as the early church fathers. If these people could see God as Creator, Word, and Spirit in Genesis 1:1-3 and then apply these attributes to the personified expressions Father, Son/Word, and Holy Spirit, why can’t we do the same?

(5) Although it is true that the NT writers never used the word “Trinity” it is not true that the concept was not there. It is admitted by Oneness Pentecostals that there is some “personal” distinction between the Father and Son. The Father is understood to be God-transcendent; the Son as God-incarnate. But the Spirit is equally personified by Paul in Romans 8:26-28. The Spirit intercedes for us. Oneness theologians often used the incarnation to explain the prayers of Jesus (which is partially true since prayer was needed because of his incarnate state), thereby making the body/flesh pray to the transcendent Deity (often falling into Nestorianism). But what do we do of the Spirit’s intercession on behalf of Christians to the Father because the Spirit knows the will of the Father?

Usually Oneness theologians do a bit of exegetical gymnastics here. I have heard “The Spirit knows the will of the Father because the Spirit is the Father”. Ok, why didn’t Paul just say that? It would have cleared up a lot of confusion!

(5) Finally, I want to throw this out there although it is somewhat unrelated. Why do Oneness Pentecostals argue that the Trinity is an “extra-biblical development” (as if all theology isn’t?) yet affirm the Protestant canon? Let us be clear about this: the canon is equally a later development as the Trinity. Oneness Pentecostals rightly affirm that the Scriptures that became canon where already canonical but had to be recognized. Yes, and I say the Trinity was proto-orthodox, it just had to be clarified.

Anyways, those are my five thesis. I am not Martin Luther. But I hope for some feedback if anyone has any thoughts on these matters.