Reply to Rob Skiba on the Denial of the Personhood of the Holy Spirit

trinityMatthew 28:19: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” reveals two essential facts about the nature of God: 1) The singular form of “name” indicates that God is one, and that His nature is singular (one divine essence); and 2) Within this one God are three distinct persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, something given especially strong emphasis in the original Greek: “τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος” with the three recurring definite articles “τοῦ” before Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This orthodox biblical understanding of God’s triune nature has recently come under attack from someone within my sphere of influence.

Rob Skiba is the co-founder of King’s Gate Media and the author the non-fiction book, Babylon Rising: And The First Shall Be Last. I had a friendly relationship with him until some of his theological positions raised serious concerns. When I confronted Mr. Skiba about his theological assertions he first denied being a teacher. He asserts he is merely “asking questions.” He has no theological education or proficiency in biblical languages that I am aware of. But he not only represents himself as an authority, he has published Bible studies like Wisdom From The Torah Book 1: Genesis. and he is listed as a teacher at a Hebrew Roots Movement event here.  He has a large following and his arguments are fair game for critique. My purpose is to dissect his strongest argument and show why it leads to a false conclusion.

The previous post on this website concerning the Holy Spirit was prompted by my ongoing debate with Skiba in a Facebook thread here.  If you bother to read through it, it will be clear that he is doing a lot more than asking questions. At this stage, his cards are on the table and he is very clearly denying the Trinity and even characterizing the classical formula (one God in three persons) as a heresy. The following is Rob Skiba’s recent response to my defense of majority view of the Trinity (one God in three persons).

Your “majority view” is the very definition of absolute heresy (I don’t care how many have had it, nor for how long) because it of necessity requires a literal view of the Holy Spirit as a third PERSON in the Godhead. For that to be true, Matthew 1:18-20 requires a belief that Jesus was NOT the only begotten of the Father, but rather of the “person” Holy Spirit. You people will never own up to it (convenient to just ignore it), but the fact remains, your doctrine removes the Father from being just that – because according to the standard model, He was not the “person” who impregnated Mary, the Holy Spirit was.  source

The display of hubris is astounding. His strongest argument against the personhood of the Holy Spirit is as follows:

1)                  Jesus is described as “the only begotten of the Father” (Jn 1:14, KJV)

2)                   Matthew 1:18 gives the Holy Spirit the role of impregnating Mary. “…she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”(Mt 1:18)

3)                   If the Holy Spirit is person then Jesus cannot be begotten of the Father.

Therefore, “one God in three persons” must be false.

The alleged problem between Matthew 1:18 and the doctrine of the Trinity reveals a basic misunderstanding concerning, “only begotten.” This archaic translation found in the King James Version contributes to his confusion and is a favorite of those like the Jehovah’s Witnesses who assert Jesus is a created being.  The Greek word monogenēs, properly means “one of a kind, unique.”

Here is a scholarly Greek lexicon entry:

58.52 μονογενής, ές: pertaining to what is unique in the sense of being the only one of the same kind or class—‘unique, only.’ τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν ‘he gave his only Son’ Jn 3:16; τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ ἀπέσταλκεν ὁ θεός ‘God sent his only Son’ 1 Jn 4:9; τὸν μονογενῆ προσέφερεν ὁ τὰς ἐπαγγελίας ἀναδεξάμενος ‘he who had received the promises presented his only son’ or ‘… was ready to offer his only son’ He 11:17. Abraham, of course, did have another son, Ishmael, and later sons by Keturah, but Isaac was a unique son in that he was a son born as the result of certain promises made by God. Accordingly, he could be called a μονογενής son, since he was the only one of his kind.[1]

It is more properly rendered “the one and only from the Father.” Modern translations have clarified and corrected the English for greater accuracy.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.(Jn 1:14, ESV)

“And the Word became flesh and took up residence among us, and we saw his glory, glory as of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth.(Jn 1:14, LEB)

Jesus is the “Son of God,” not in the sense of being born (see John 1:3), but in the sense of being a Son who is exactly like his Father in all attributes, and in the sense of having a Father-Son relationship with God the Father.

But Jesus was the unique son of the Father eternally before the incarnation. Jesus refers to his preexistence in his famous High Priestly Prayer: “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” (Jn 17:5). Like with Abraham’s son Isaac the term μονογενής is not about his physical birth but rather his status.

Interestingly, this discussion brings to mind Psalm 2 which states: “I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” (Ps 2:7)  In Hebrew the term used in yalad which generally does imply birth. However, employing a hermeneutic of allowing scripture to interpret scripture, the Apostle Paul clarified the meaning of begotten in Psalm 2:

“this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “ ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’ And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, “ ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’”(Ac 13:33–34)

According to Paul, Jesus was begotten of the Father at the resurrection.  I wonder if Rob will now admit his error?

[1] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 590.