Report on the Belue-Childress Debate (2)

By Melvin Curry

In the last article the issue of Holy Ghost baptism and the continuation of miracles was discussed. The last two nights of the debate involved the question of the number of persons in the Godhead.


Persons in the Godhead


The Third Night — Mr. Childress had the first affirmative speech dealing with the Godhead question. He affirmed the following proposition:

The Scriptures teach that there is only one person in the Godhead and baptism is to be administered only in the name of Jesus Christ.

His speech was completely disorganized and he made no attempt to define the terms of the proposition. He quoted numerous passages that teach the oneness of deity, especially from the Old Testament, and made an emotional effort to exalt the name of Jesus in the baptismal formula.

Brother Belue’s first negative speech was interrupted several times because of a faulty public address system. Even though he lost much of his effectiveness as a result of this fact, he did a masterful job in tying Mr. Childress in knots.

The United Pentecostal Church is represented by its debaters as teaching that the word person means “a human bodily form.” It holds true, therefore, that God is not a person, He only has a person. God’s person is Jesus Christ.

Through a set of calculated questions, brother Belue was able to commit Mr. Childress to this same position. Then he committed himself to the task of debating the proposition on the basis of Mr. Childress’ own definition of the term “person.” In fact, by doing this in his second negative speech, he so bewildered Mr. Childress that he was completely at a loss to defend the proposition that he signed to affirm.

His proposition affirmed that “there is only one person in the Godhead.” But his own definition of terms denied that God is a person at all. He at one time had a person, but not now. Jesus Christ was the “human bodily form” of God manifested in the flesh. So if the God of heaven is a human bodily form, He cannot be a “Spirit,” because “a spirit hath not flesh and bones” (Lk 24:39). He saw his dilemma! Either he must affirm that there is more than one person in the Godhead, in order to keep God from being a flesh-and-bone-Spirit, or he must deny that there is a person in the Godhead. But to do this would be to forfeit his own proposition. Even Mr. Welch, who moderated for him the last two nights, was not able to get him out of this tight spot throughout the rest of the debate.

The Fourth Night — Since brother Belue had accepted the definition of “person” proposed by Mr. Childress the night before, his opponent was obligated to accept his definition the last night, or else contend with the flesh-and-bone-Spirit he had created by his own specious reasoning. Whereupon, brother Belue defined the word as “an intelligent, rational being.” Then he proceeded to prove that there are three “intelligent, rational beings” in the Godhead.

He clearly defined all the terms of the following proposition carefully:

The Scriptures teach that there are three separate and distinct persons in the Godhead, and baptism according to the wording of Matt. 28:19 is scriptural.

Having committed Mr. Childress on the meaning of the term “person,” the first half of the proposition was much easier to establish. And it stands to reason that all he had to do in order to prove the last half of the proposition was simply to quote Matthew 28:19. If baptism according to the wording of Matthew 28: 19 isn’t scriptural, then nothing is!


A Scriptural Defense


Brother Belue’s affirmative speech was well outlined and easily understood. The arguments were three in number and followed one upon another logically. First, he proved by the use of a chart that there are three in the Godhead. The chart had twenty scriptural references on it, including Matthew 3:13-17; 28:19; Luke 1:35; John 3:34; 14:26; 20:21, 22, etc. All of them mentioning the three persons of the Godhead in the same context.

Second, he demonstrated that these three are persons. The Father is a person: He has a will (Mt. 7:21), a voice (Ex. 19:19; Mt. 3:17), and a business (Lk. 2:49); He reveals (Mt. 16: 17), sees (Mt. 6:6), hears (Jn. 11:41; 9:31), appoints (Lk. 22:29), and works (Jn. 5:17); He teaches (Jn. 8: 28), forgives (Mk. 11: 25), knows (Mk. 13:32), gave authority to His Son (Jn. 5: 27); and His person is well attested by Scripture (Job 13:8; Heb. 1:3).

Jesus Christ is a person: He has a mind (1 Cor. 2: 16), knowledge (Jn. 10:4), and all authority (Mt. 28:18); He is God’s Son (I Jn. 4:15), our mediator (I Tim. 2:5), and head of the church (Eph. 5:23); He is eternal (Heb. 13:8); He came from heaven) (Jn. 6:38); He assisted God in creation (Eph. 3:9); He reveals (I,k. 10:22), appoints (Lk.22:29), works (Jn. 5:17), and bears witness (Jn. 1: 18).

The Holy Spirit also is a person: He has a mind (Rom. 8:27), a will (I Cor. 12:11), and knowledge (I Cor. 2:10, 11); He speaks (I Tim. 4:1), bears witness (Rom. 8:16), teaches (Jn. 14:26), testifies (Jn. 15:26), guides (Jn 16:13), commands and restrains (Acts 16:6, 7); He appoints (Acts 20:28), reproves (Jn. 16:7, 8), intercedes (Rom. 8:26), and invites (Rev. 22:17); He can be lied to (Acts 5:3), resisted (Acts 7: 51), quenched (I Thess. 5:19), done despite to (Heb. 10:29), vexed (Isa. 63:10), and grieved (Eph. 4:30); and He is eternal (Heb. 9:14).

Third, since there are three in the Godhead, and since these three are persons, then it follows that they must be separate and distinct from one another. This can be illustrated by a study of the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is not God the Father: (1) No man has seen God at anytime (I Jn. 4:12; Jn. 1:18; Ex. 33:20). Men have seen Jesus Christ (Jn. 1: 14). Jesus Christ, therefore, must be distinct from the Father.

(2) God knew the day and hour of Christ’s second coming (Mk. 13:32). Jesus Christ did not know that day and hour (Mk. 13:15 32). Jesus Christ, therefore, must not be God the Father.

(3) God (Spirit) has not flesh and bones (Jn. 4:24). Jesus had flesh and bones (Lk. 24:39). Jesus Christ, therefore, is not God the Father.

Jesus Christ is not the Holy Spirit. (1) Those of the world cannot see a spirit (Jn. 14:17).

Those of the world could see Jesus (Jn. 14:19). Jesus Christ, therefore, is not the Spirit.

(2) Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven (Mt. 12:31, 32). Blasphemy against Christ can be forgiven. Jesus Christ, therefore, is not the Spirit.

(3) The Spirit hath not flesh and bones (Lk. 24:39). Jesus Christ had flesh and bones. Jesus Christ, therefore, is not the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ is distinct from God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. He is one of the three persons in the Godhead (Col. 2 :9).

The overwhelming evidence presented by this positive presentation of truth could not be gainsaid by Mr. Childress. The proposition was sustained beyond any question of a doubt.

Truth Magazine VI: 4, pp. 14-16
January 1962