Debate: Did Constantine Steal Christianity?

vftbgraphic200ARE MODERN-DAY Christians celebrating a faith that was reinvented by the Roman emperor Constantine the Great?

Our format tonight is different.  We welcome two special guests:  Dr. Russ “Pappy” Houck, author of Epidemic: Examining the Infected Roots of Judaism and Christianity, and Cris Putnam, publisher of the website Logos Apologia and co-author of Petrus Romanus: The Final Pope is Here and Exo Vaticana.

Houck contends that Constantine, among other things, changed God’s Sabbath and established the doctrine of Trinitarianism, adding the word “Christ” to the Greek New Testament hundreds of times and “altering Matthew 28:19 to conform to the heretical Trinity doctrine” (Epidemic, p. 220).  Putnam defends the doctrine of the Trinity as predating Constantine by hundreds of years.  The discussion is in a format derived from academic debate and runs roughly an hour and twenty minutes.

Link to audio file

Russ Houck vs. Cris Putnam: View from the Bunker Sunday 11-17

vftbgraphic200Debate: “Constantine infected the Church with the Trinity doctrine”
Russ Houck vs. Cris Putnam
Houck will argue the affirmative and Putnam the negative.

Moderator: Derek Gilbert
Format: 15 minute opening statement (30 minutes) presenting our case. The we each follow up with a 10 minute rebuttal (20 minutes) and then a 5 minute followup rebuttal (10 minutes) and a 10 minute closing statement (20 minutes).

To be posted Sunday evening…


RA Torrey on the Personhood of the Holy Spirit

R.A. Torrey

R.A. Torrey

R.A. Torrey (1856–1928) was an independent Congregationalist educator and evangelist. He was ordained in 1883 as a Congregationalist minister serving as a pastor and missions supervisor (1883–1889). In 1889, D. L. Moody asked Torrey to become the first superintendent of the Moody Bible Institute where he served until 1908. Torrey pursued his interest in mass evangelism and missions with overseas tours, including meetings in Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Japan, Germany, Great Britain, Canada, and elsewhere. In 1912, Torrey took leadership of the newly formed Bible Institute of Los Angeles (Biola). His leadership was foundational for the school which today boasts one the top apologetics programs in the country as well as the well respected Talbot School of Theology. Torrey stayed at Biola until 1924. We need more men like him today.

In our increasingly pagan environment, poorly educated false teachers are infiltrating the body and spreading heresies and denying basic biblical theology. Recently the Lord has led me to address the attacks upon the Holy Spirit by Russ Houck (who claims a doctorate in theology from an unaccredited school) and his popularizer Rob Skiba, both who teach that that He is merely an impersonal force. While its common among the cults, it is a dangerous heresy. Torrey wrote an excellent book The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit stating in the very first chapter that this is not an optional doctrine but rather one that is fundamental to the worship of the true God:

It is of the highest importance from the standpoint of worship that we decide whether the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person, worthy to receive our adoration, our faith, our love, and our entire surrender to Himself, or whether it is simply an influence emanating from God or a power or an illumination that God imparts to us.If the Holy Spirit is a person, and a Divine Person, and we do not know Him as such, then we are robbing a Divine Being of the worship and the faith and the love and the surrender to Himself which are His due.
RA Torrey, The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit, (New York: Fleming HL Revell Company, 1910), 7.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has questions or perhaps was misled by the heretical teachings of Houck and Skiba. It is available as free download here.

The Forgotten Trinity

Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Mt 22:37)

I love the trinity! How can a professing Christian be passionless for what is supposed to be the central doctrine of the faith? The Trinity is an essential Christian doctrine, but these days it seems to be all but forgotten. People who claim to be Christian no longer seem to think it is important yet the very Gospel of our salvation is trinitarian. Note that Dr. White states clearly that the denial of it is to apostatize from the Christian faith: to deny the trinity is a denial of the Gospel. Dr. Norman Geisler says the same here. If you doubt this, you need to listen to this lecture carefully. If you have no doubt, then God bless, this lecture will greatly encourage you.

The doctrine of the Trinity is based on three foundational biblical truths:
1) Monotheism: The Bible teaches there is one and only one true God.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”(Dt 6:4)

“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.“(Is 43:10) Jesus applied this text from the Septuagint to himself: “I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.”(Jn 13:19)

2) Three Divine Persons: There are three distinct persons who are God: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

  1. The Son speaks to the Father (John 12:28). He is a distinct person.
  2. The Father speaks to the Son (Matthew 3:17). He is a distinct person.
  3. The Holy Spirit also speaks (Acts 13:2). He is a distinct person.
Each has all the basic elements or powers of personhood: mind, will, and emotion.

Son: The three elements of personhood all are attributed to God the Son. The Son can communicate and teach (John 7:17) as only persons do. He has intelligence and knowledge – mind- (John 2:25):“and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.(Jn 2:25); emotion (John 11:35): “Jesus wept”; and will (John 6:38): “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”(Jn 6:38). The personal pronoun “He” is used consistently of the Son.
Father: The three elements of personhood all are attributed to God the Father. He has the power of intellect to know (Matt. 6:32):“your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”; the emotional faculty to feel (Gen. 6:6): “And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.”; and the power of will to choose (Matt. 6:9–10): “Our Father in heaven … your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In addition, personal attributes, like the ability to communicate (Matt. 11:25) and teach (John 7:16–17), are also attributed to the Father.
Spirit: All the elements of personhood are attributed to the Holy Spirit in Scripture. He has a mind (John 14:26): “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you.” He has will (1 Cor. 12:11): “All these are the work of one and the same spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines”; and He has feeling (Eph. 4:30): “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

Personal pronouns (“He” and “His”) are attributed to the Holy Spirit: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”(John 16:13, emphasis added).

The rules of grammar dictate that personal pronouns have an antecedent within the context of the pronoun[1], it is not within the proper use of language to claim that “he” in John 16:13 is referring to anyone other than the Holy Spirit.
3) Co-equal and Co-eternal: The three divine persons are co-equal and co-eternal. Because very few people deny the deity of the Father, most of the attacks center on denying the deity of Christ and deity and personhood of the Holy Spirit. (video: 11:14-11:16)

  1. The Father is called God (Phil. 1:2).
  2. Jesus is called God (John 1:1,14).
  3. The Holy Spirit is called God (Acts 5:3-4).


Father: Yahweh (YHWH) is the name given by God for Himself in the Old Testament. It is the name revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14, when God said, “I am who I am.”


Jesus: The strongest claim Jesus made to be Yahweh is in John 8:58, where He says, “Before Abraham was born, I am!” This statement claims not only existence before Abraham, but equality with the “I am” of Exodus 3:14. The Jews around Him clearly understood His meaning and picked up stones to kill Him for blaspheming (cf. John 10:31–33). The same claim is also made in Mark 14:62 and John 18:5–6.


Thomas saw Jesus’ wounds and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Paul wrote, “Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised!” (Rom. 9:5). He calls Jesus the one in whom “all the fullness of Deity lives in bodily form” (Col. 2:9). In Titus, Jesus is “our great God and Savior” (2:13), and the writer to the Hebrews says of Him, “Your throne, O God,” The New Testament opens with a passage concluding that Jesus is Immanuel (“God with us”), which refers to the messianic prediction of Isaiah 7:14. The very title “Christ” carries the same meaning as the Hebrew appellation “Messiah” (“Anointed One”). In Zechariah 12:10, Yahweh says, “They will look on me, the one they have pierced.” The New Testament writers apply this passage to Jesus twice (John 19:37; Rev. 1:7) as referring to His crucifixion.


Holy Spirit: Attributes of God such as life (Rom. 8:2); truth (John 16:13); love (Rom. 15:30); holiness (Eph. 4:30); eternality (Heb. 9:14); omnipresence (Ps. 139:7); and omniscience (1 Cor. 2:11) are ascribed to the Spirit. Particular acts are associated only with God; both God the Father and the Son are said to perform these acts, and so is the Holy Spirit. These include the act of creation (Gen. 1:2; Job 33:4; Ps. 104:30); the acts of redemption (Isa. 63:10–11; Eph. 4:30; 1 Cor. 12:13); the performance of miracles by His own power (Gal. 3:2–5; Heb. 2:4); and the giving of supernatural gifts (Acts 2:4; 1 Cor. 12:4–11).

These are the three foundations that all Christians should know in order to give a meaningful defense of the Christian faith. If someone worships a non-triune God, they have constructed a false god. It is not the same God as the God of the Bible.  It is not just a simple doctrinal disagreement because we are not even worshiping the same God. It goes against the first commandment. It is blasphemous. It qualifies as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit to say that the person of the Holy Spirit does not exist, is just a force, or is not God. I hope those of you who claim to love God will love him as the triune God who exists with all of your mind as well as your heart (Matthew 22:37).


[1] “Pronoun”, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology, Michael S. Heiser, (Logos Bible Software, 2005).

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.