James 2:19 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

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Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

Misinterpretation: Used to say 1) that Trinitiarian doctrine is wrong, because there is only one God, and 2) that belief is not sufficient for salvation, because if it were then the devils would be saved.

Facts: Trinitarianism (belief in One Being—God–Who exists in three Persons) is not the same as tritheism (belief in three supreme beings or gods). In other words, Trinitarians read James 2:19 and agree with the UPC–there is only one God.

Also, just because the devils believe there is one God does not mean that A) they have placed their faith in that one God for their salvation, or B) that they could be saved even if they did place their faith in Christ. The Bible never suggests that devils can be saved. As a matter of fact, Peter says that at least some of them are in "chains of darkness…reserved for judgment" (2 Pet. 2:4 NKJV). In other words, placing your faith in Christ for your salvation is much different than just believing in one God. Muslims believe in one god, but that does not make them saved. Salvation requires that a person place their faith in Christ (cf. Acts 2:21, Acts 16:30-31, Rom. 10:13).

18 thoughts on “James 2:19 (Misinterpreted Scriptures)

  1. Grieved

    It’s alright, i understand. No apology necessary. All I know is we both know what the name is. He is the one who gave us life, and the one who sacrificed Himself so that we might live.

    John 14:13&14 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

    Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.   

  2. Josh (Site Admin) Post author

    Grieved,

    I understand what you mean now. I apologize for reading it wrong.

    I think the main difference in our views is that I view quoting Him AS obeying Him, whereas you view quoting Him as misunderstanding Him (or disobeying Him, etc…I think you understand what I mean).

    The fundamental difference is that I view baptism as an act of obedience, and I don’t think that what is said over a person has any special magical power. If we baptize in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost then that is Jesus, and if we baptize in the Name of Jesus then that is the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I understand that you disagree with me, so I think it’s safe to say that we can agree to disagree on this point. There’s no point in continuing to beat a dead horse.

    Note: One time I said that there is no special magical significance in what is said over a person in baptism, and a person replied: “Are you saying that we can just say whatever we want in baptism? Can I go baptizing people in the name of Bob and still have it work?”

    There is a lot that could be said about that statement, but here I’m just going to say one thing: That type of statement is a deliberate misunderstanding of the point that I am making. I’m obviously not saying to go around baptizing people in the name of Bob. My comments are strictly limited to the “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” vs. “Jesus’ Name” debate.

    Thanks for taking the time to write,
    – Josh S.

  3. Grieved

    I knew that was established, that’s not what I was referring to. What I was saying is God commanded them to baptize in The name of the father, son, and holy ghost because they understood the name… God doesn’t send you to hell… We choose our own path. If we choose to quote Him rather than obey Him then there is no power. If I say “write a check in my name,” you won’t pull out a sheet of paper and write “a check in my name” because you understand what I mean. Yet if you did write it on the paper, there is no money transfer. Likewise if you do not obey His word to the fullest aspect of Its meaning then there is no sin transfer. How can He bless you or renew you if you can’t simply obey Him?

  4. Josh (Site Admin) Post author

    Grieved, no one is disputing that Jesus is fully God and fully man. That subject was settled in full at the Councils of Nicene and Chalcedon in the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. (Prior to those councils Christians still believed in the deity of Christ, but there was some dispute over whether or not He was fully human.)

    – Josh S.

  5. Grieved

    As for the Greek or Hebrew… On the day of Pentecost everyone heard the Gospel in their own tongue. The name is the name no matter what language it is in. He didn’t say baptize he said baptizo… How goofy is that? Are we to pray in Aramaic so Jesus will understand us?

  6. Grieved

    Wow! I am amazed at this one! This is why Jesus told His disciples. They were not ignorant of His word, His teachings, or His identity. They simply knew Him for what they experienced. They simply took Him at His word when He told them…

    If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. John 14:7
    We were made in His image. The lamb slain before the foundation of the World. 

    Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? John 14:9

    Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. John 14:10
    They understood that He was all God yet all man. 

    They also understood the name of the God that chose to manifest himself in several ways.

     I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. John 5:43
    The name of the father is Jesus.

    But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. John 14:26
    The name of the Holy Ghost is Jesus.

    In Matthew 28:19 Jesus told the people present when He ascended to baptize in the name of the father, son, and holy ghost. 

    The disciples who new Him and had a revelation of who He was were there and heard what He said yet every one baptized in the name of Jesus. If there was anyone who would understand Him by His word it was the disciples He personally trained through His ministry. 

    Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

    JESUS NAME!!! 

  7. Josh (Site Admin) Post author

    Joel, it sounds like you are Oneness Pentecostal, so I’m going to answer your question from a Oneness perspective.

    The Oneness position on baptism goes something like this:

    A. Jesus said to be baptized in the NAME of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
    B. “Father”, “Son”, and “Holy Ghost” are not NAMES, they are TITLES
    C. Also, NAME is singular, not plural
    ———-
    Therefore, a person should be baptized in the name of Jesus, since that is what Peter commanded, and how the apostles baptized in Acts.

    If you or anyone else visiting this site expects me to argue that point then you’ll be disappointed :). You would be surprised how many non-Oneness churches incorporate the Name of Jesus into their baptismal formula. For example, one of the largest churches in my town–a southern baptist church with several thousand members–incorporates “the Name of Jesus” into their baptismal formula.

    If I ever baptize then I plan to incorporate “the Name of Jesus,” or “in the authority of our Lord Jesus,” or something similar, into the baptismal formula.

    However, I don’t think a person has to have “the Name of Jesus” said over them in order to be saved. Here’s why:

    1. The name of Jesus isn’t Jesus. It’s ’Ιησοῦς (Greek) or “Yēshū‛a” (Hebrew). So Peter never told people to be baptized in the “Name of Jesus.” He told them to be baptized in the “Name of ’Ιησοῦς.” So is everyone who has been baptized in anything other than the “Name of ’Ιησοῦς” going to hell? I think not.

    Yet that is the logical outcome of the Oneness Pentecostal argument. Think about it carefully: If the Name of Jesus HAS to be said over a person in baptism, then we aren’t even saying His Name! We’re saying an English transliteration of His Name. So the logical outcome of the Oneness Pentecostal position on baptism is that everyone, including Oneness Pentecostals, are baptizing incorrectly!

    (This is what happens when an entire theological system is based off an English translation of the Bible, by the way. Many denominations have made the same mistake–they forget that the English language did not even exist until several hundred years ago, and that if we want to get to the “root” of an issue we have to go to the Hebrew or Greek.)

    (To the history buffs reading this: I do understand that the spoken language of Palestine was Aramaic, but I’m keeping this simple for the sake of brevity.)

    2. Jesus said to be baptized in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. To say that those are “names” and not a “name” is incorrect because it denies the Oneness of God. God is the Father, God is the Son, and God is the Holy Ghost. Oneness Pentecostals and Trinitarians agree on that point. Therefore, God’s Name can be “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” To say that His Name can’t be that is to apply our common perception of Anglo-Saxon names to God. Just because we wouldn’t name ourselves “Father, Son, and Spirit” doesn’t mean that God wouldn’t.

    3. By the same token, the Oneness position that “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” are “titles” and not “names” is equally fallacious. God can name Himself whatever He wants to. For example, the first Name that we know for God is “I AM.” Would you name yourself that? No. But God did. A name in the ancient world often served as a description of a person, not just as an identifier of them. So for God to name Himself “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” is just one more way for Him to identify who He is.

    I could go on, but I hope this answers your question. To recap: I don’t have a problem with churches baptizing in the Name of Jesus. I actually encourage it. But I do have a problem with any group that says if a person does not have “the Name of Jesus” said over them in baptism, then they are going to hell. “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” is the way that Jesus commanded people to be baptized, and I do not think that Jesus will send anyone to hell for taking Him literally =)

    I hope that answers your question,
    In Christ,
    – Josh S.

  8. Joel Roberts

    I just have a quick question, cause I’m confused and am just trying to understand. It says NAME, not NAMES. Upon reading that wouldn’t it mean to just say Jesus since that is the only name we kno. It does not say names so we cannot say Father, Son, and Holy Ghost which is 3 names. Just confused, what r your thoughts?

  9. Josh Post author

    Sis. Jeanie, thank you for writing. Your questions and thoughts do not bother me at all. I always appreciate feedback.

    I have written on baptism in other sections of this Web site (see my comments on Mat. 28:18-20 in the Misinterpreted Scriptures section, for example) so I will not repeat all of that here. All I will do is make one simple statement that I believe sums up the essence of the whole debate: Jesus will not send people to hell for obeying Him.

    Period.

    I will hold that view to my dying breath.

    Jesus said for people to be baptized in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and people will not be sent to hell for taking him literally. He’s not a trickster who will tell people at judgment, “Oh, I didn’t *really* mean that.”

    I know that my statement is bold and that it could even appear harsh to those who disagree. I ask you to forgive me for any harshness, and to understand that my boldness is not directed at you. No, my boldness is directed at those who twist the words of our Lord and Savior to the point of claiming people will go to hell for doing what He commanded.

    Thank you for your concern for me and for your questions, sister. I do consider Oneness folks brothers and sisters in Christ, just like I always have. I also consider Trinitarian folks brothers and sisters in Christ :).

    All of what I just said might lead a person to think that I am now a Trinitarian, or that I am anti-Oneness. The truth is that right now, as of this writing, I am neither. I confess that I simply don’t understand the nature of God. From my studies of church history I have decided that the doctrine of the Trinity is a more accurate description of God than the doctrine of Oneness, but I do not think it is a perfect description.

    (Speaking of church history, the doctrine of “Oneness” [I.e. modalism or Sabellianism] was never widely held at any point in church history. Contrary to what Oneness theologians such as Dr. Bernard say, there was never any great “falling away” from modalist [Oneness] theology. The reason there was no great falling away from modalist theology is because there was nothing to fall away from!)

    About baptism: I believe with all of my heart that being baptized in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is equivalent to being baptized in the Name of Jesus. I also believe that being baptized in the Name of Jesus is equivalent to being baptized in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It is not a “magic formula” that saves a person (if it were, then we need to be speaking in Aramaic and/or Koine Greek when we baptize people, since that’s what Jesus and the disciples spoke). No, it is not a magic formula. It is the applied blood of Christ to a person’s life.

    Thank you again for your concerns. I hope I’ve answered your questions. Please feel free to write any time. God bless, and Merry Christmas!

    ~ Josh S.

  10. jeanie stone

    i hope that you are saying that there is only ONE GOD. we are no longer u.p.c.i. either but we still hold fast to the One God message. i am in no way responding to hurt or condem but rather to ask if you understand the fullness of the God head bodily and realize that taking on the name of Jesus as in Acts is taking on God as the Father, God as the Son and God as the Holy Ghost. when baptizing in Jesus name You take on all of God in one person. you cannt get around acts 2 :38 it simply states the truth in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and this is new test. teaching so it is for the church of today.there is prophecy for old to the new for the churches salvation and we must never lose sight of the scripture. please do not take me wrong in writing to you. i am just concerned that you are putting forth a thought that is of your own understanding and not that of the word of God . it is ok to not be u.p.c.i. but we must not drop our belief that we baptize any other way than scripture. please remember that you can be decieved in the scripture very easily. you have left the u.p.c. org. like alot of us but we have not turned our minds from the oneness baptism doc. thank you so much sis. jeanie stone/ministers wife

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