(Note that this article originally appeared in The Bulletin of July 15, 1990, a weekly teaching bulletin of the Taylorsville Road Church of Christ, 3741 Taylorsville Rd., Louisville, KY 40220. Requests have been made for this article, so it has been reprinted here. Although John Welch likes to credit this article as being the opening salvo in this controversy, Doy Moyer had spoken with John about his position before Moyer wrote the article cited at the end of this article. Moyer's article appeared in the Gospel Anchor before this little article ever saw the light of day. Therefore, this article could not have been the opening salvo in this battle.)
While some have made careers out of misrepresenting and maligning others, one of their chief constituents is himself teaching what can only be described as blatant heresy. John Welch, the publisher of Faith And Facts magazine, is preaching openly and boldly that Jesus, while on earth, was "just a man," "just an ordinary man like you and me." In a sermon he preached recently in Louisville, he called "silly" the idea that Jesus was "100% deity and 100% human." Such would make Jesus a 200% something and "there is no such creature," John scoffed.
Mixed into a sermon designed to teach that Jesus was "just a man," are assurances by this gospel preacher that he believes in the "divinity" of Jesus. But what he believes about Jesus' divinity is that Jesus "has been divine." His argument about Jesus was, "While on this earth, He could not deny what He had been." In other words, he claims the Bible teaches that Jesus had been deity in His pre-incarnate state, but when He came to earth He became "a man, just a man," "an ordinary man just like you and me." We are told that when He was tempted by Satan in Luke 4:3, Jesus did not really know for sure if He was the Son of God. Satan, John preaches, was simply playing on the Lord's doubts. He also said that in the garden before His arrest, trial and crucifixion, Jesus was crying because He really was not sure He would be resurrected. Who can believe it? It seems to me like John has gotten the vacillating, self-doubting Jesus of Martin Scorsese's blasphemous film, The Last Temptation of Christ, mixed up with the Jesus of Scripture.
With reference to Philippians 2:5-8, John Welch teaches that the Logos (Jesus, in His pre-incarnate state) abdicated and as a result was "divested" of His "glory," "honor," "divinity" and "godhood." While on this earth, Welch teaches, Jesus was only a man. One of the scriptures tellingly missing from his preaching and writing on this subject is Colossians 2:9, which says, "For in Him [Jesus] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." It should be obvious why he doesn't mention it: This passage clearly teaches that while here on this earth Jesus was both God and man. To deny this, as Welch does, is heresy, pure and simple!
When I was first told about this, I simply could not believe that one among us would preach such nonsense. But it's true! He does not just preach this nonsense, but he has even written and published it in his magazine without, he claims, one single rebuttal. In view of this, I find it a bit ridiculous that a staff writer for John's magazine would be writing people up as being "liberal" for questioning the use of a manmade slogan. Ronny Milliner, are you paying attention? Isn't this just the sort of conduct the Lord was talking about when He spoke of "Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel" (Matthew 23:24)?
This is the last decade of the 20th century. Spiritually, the sky seems to be falling all around us. Will we be concerned, or will we simply "ooh" and "ah" like children watching a Fourth of July fireworks demonstration?
There must be no mistake about it, there's a real spiritual battle going on and the only offensive weapon we have in this battle is the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17). If we are ignorant of this word, then we cannot effectively wield the sword, and we will lose this battle.
In order to win the battle, we must reject the subjective "think-sos" of men and return to the objective standard of God's Word. We must then be willing to apply this objective standard to every facet of our lives here on earth. This, and this alone, is the answer to the sin that is currently in the camp.
(For further information see T. Doy Moyer's "Did Jesus Give Up His Deity?" in the July 1990 issue of Gospel Anchor magazine.)
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