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Frank W. Nelte

March 1995

The Facts About "Unfinished Business"

Some time ago Dr. Hermann Hoeh gave a sermon that was taped and sent out to churches around the world. Dr. Hoeh entitled his sermon Unfinished Business. On the whole it seems that proportionately more ministers were impressed by that sermon than lay-members of the Church. In that sermon Dr. Hoeh attempted to give a certain amount of credibility to the Church’s new teachings about the nature of God and the oneness of God.

This article is an assessment of that sermon.

Reason For The Sermon

The Church’s new teaching is very clearly a form of the pagan trinity doctrine that was around for many centuries before the time of Jesus Christ. Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong very vigorously opposed this heretical teaching, accepted by the majority of "Christian" churches. Mr. Armstrong presented many biblical reasons for his rejection of this teaching. Those biblical reasons were studied and accepted as correct by all of us who were in God’s Church during Mr. Armstrong’s lifetime, except by the very few who never made known their acceptance of the trinity teaching instead. Certainly the overwhelming majority of the membership of the Church rejected the trinity.

When the new teaching was introduced, there was a certain amount of trying to confuse the real issue, with some ministers claiming that the Church now does not really teach the trinity at all. This was supposed to alleviate the fears of members who were opposed to this doctrine. However, in videotape #1 to the ministry about the nature of God (a 14 videotape series) Mr. Joseph W. Tkach Sr. said plainly and clearly:

"The trinity teaches exactly what the Bible does."

That quote can be verified by anyone who still has a copy of that first videotape. It settles the question! The Pastor General of the Worldwide Church of God said this before the end of 1993! Yes, the Church does teach the trinity, since Mr. Tkach also claims that the Church also teaches exactly what the Bible does"and therefore it must teach the trinity.

When the members of the Church have opposed new doctrines that Pasadena has introduced, then one of Pasadena’s responses on a number of occasions has been to "roll out Dr. Hoeh"! Let Dr. Hoeh explain the new doctrine; then the members are more likely to say: "Oh, now I see what Pasadena is trying to teach with this new doctrine"yes, now it is starting to make sense."

That is the precise purpose of Unfinished Business"to convince the membership of the Church that the trinity doctrine does make sense.

Understanding Dr. Hoeh

It is one thing to listen to a sermon by Dr. Hoeh; it is an altogether different thing to carefully and methodically read a word for word transcript of the same sermon. I have listened to the sermon in question and I also have before me a transcript, which I have studied very carefully.

Dr. Hoeh’s approach generally is not one of actually expounding the Scriptures. He will "refer to" various Scriptures (usually only to a few), but his focus is not one of expounding what the Bible actually says. Scriptures that contradict his ideas he will avoid with statements like "we are not discussing here..." or "you are not asked to explain..." or "I am not addressing...," etc..

The points he develops we are usually asked to accept as fact without any real proof (apart from Dr. Hoeh’s reasoning) being presented. The very few Scriptures he refers to do not in any way comment on or substantiate the majority of the things that he presents. They are largely presented on the authority of Dr. Hoeh. This means that most of what he says is based on human reasoning. That is fine"provided that the reasoning is correct and not in opposition to what God reveals to us through the Bible. But we also have to always keep in mind God’s admonition that "there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof [are] the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12).

It is precisely because human reasoning can at times be presented in such very plausible ways, and yet be wrong when measured by the Word of God, that it is incumbent on us to "prove all things" and to only hold fast to those things that prove to be right and good.

Dr. Hoeh has also at times mentioned that he feels that he himself only received God’s Holy Spirit about a year after he was baptized and had hands laid on him. In this sermon he again referred to this towards the end of the sermon. Referring to the time lapse after baptism before receiving God’s Spirit, Dr. Hoeh said:

"For me it was probably nearly a year."

I have no disagreement with his statement that for about one year after his baptism he did not have God’s Spirit. But the point is: the only place where we learn anything about receiving God’s Spirit is in the Bible! Now where in the Bible do you get the idea that God may delay giving His Holy Spirit to people who are repentant, baptized and have hands laid on them? There is no precedent for what Dr. Hoeh claims happened to him! I believe that upon repentance, baptism and the laying on of hands God gives His Holy Spirit immediately. I believe this based on the statement in Acts 2:38, as well as the recorded examples in the New Testament.

This is one example of the reasoning and the types of deductions Dr. Hoeh presents in his sermons, which go contrary to what the Bible reveals. And this sort of reasoning needs to be challenged; and if it does not stack up with what God tells us in the Bible, then it must be rejected.

Personal experiences are presented in a way to support the points he wishes to make and the conclusions he wants his audience to accept. The personal experiences are supposed to explain the reasoning he has presented. That may at times be very well. But there is something we should always keep in mind, and that is this:

Personal experiences can never be used to contradict or to make null and void the clear, plain revelations of the Word of God!

This point is so vital to understand, that I feel I should repeat this statement at least ten times; but you might feel that I am only trying to pressure you to accept this point. So I won’t repeat it ten times.

Understand that the way that seems right to a person is based on personal experiences. But accepting the revelation of Almighty God is based on faith! And the Word of God was not given so that we can use the occasional quotation to underpin our own reasoning. The Word of God, every word of it, was given for us to live by!

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4).

This means that the Bible must always come first! If there is a clash between what God through the Bible tells us and what is presented in very plausible reasoning, then a true Christian will uphold the truth of the Bible! These are things to keep in mind as we examine Unfinished Business.

A Vital Principle

There is a principle that you should also keep in mind as you think about what Pasadena is asking you to believe.

The prophets in the Old Testament, amongst other things, pointed to Jesus Christ. For example, Moses said:

The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken. (Deuteronomy 18:15)

Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Jesus Christ was clearly in a much higher position that any of the Old Testament prophets. Christ is also greater than any of the Apostles, including Paul. Paul himself, in the Book of Hebrews, explained how Christ is superior to all but the Father. Christ is the Son of God!

So here is the point you should always remember:

Clear plain statements by Jesus Christ always take precedence over difficult and questionable statements by anyone else"be it by Paul or by one of the prophets in the old testament!

Specifically: everything the Apostle Paul wrote has to be understood in the context of the clear and unambiguous statements by Jesus Christ. Don’t ever let anybody tell you that Christ didn’t mean what He said, that Christ’s words are only arguments to make a point, that Christ’s statements have to be understood in terms of what Paul wrote! By comparison to Jesus Christ, Paul is nothing! Oh certainly, Paul’s writings are inspired and I believe the things Paul wrote. But don’t ever try to use Paul’s writings to somehow do away with clear statements by Jesus Christ. Paul builds on the foundation Jesus Christ laid; he didn’t do away with Christ’s clear words.

Right, now we are ready to look at Dr. Hoeh’s sermon.

The Purpose Statement of The Sermon

Dr. Hoeh mentioned that his job includes "...trying to explain, perhaps from a little different point of view" some of the things which we "...in the traditional way" grew up with. He continued to say that the best way he could do this was

"to give us a perspective of how to look at some of the more recent changes that have occurred in understanding."

That’s at the start of his sermon.

Now think for a moment. Exactly what is "the traditional way" that Mr. Armstrong taught us to view the doctrines of the Church? Why, Mr. Armstrong tried to base everything he taught on the Bible. He believed that God revealed here a little and there a little (see Isaiah 28:10) and that God would guide His people to put it all together correctly by "rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).

Dr. Hoeh at the start tells us that is not the way he is going to approach the changes that the Church has introduced. His approach is going to be based mainly on human reasoning, developing arguments that are supposed to be logical. The arguments he is going to develop in the course of his sermon actually have nothing at all to do with what the Bible reveals.

Notice this candid admission that Dr. Hoeh made towards the end of his sermon:

"Greek logic led to this! This is not a new testament revelation! This is, in fact, a result of the Greeks thinking about problems."

A few sentences further he stated:

"Now the Greeks came from an awful society, but there were people who began to question the folly of what they had inherited."

That’s as plain an admission of where all these ideas come from as you will ever get! It is precisely because it is not any Biblical revelation, that Dr. Hoeh doesn’t refer to Scriptures except very superficially.

Early on in the sermon Dr. Hoeh also stated in regard to listening to the new doctrines being presented:

"What is important is also to carefully listen to what is being presented, either verbally or otherwise. The evidence may or may not lie in the Bible!"

So the "different point of view" which Dr. Hoeh explains at the start is different from the traditional (for God’s Church) point of view, and it is in fact nothing other than the point of view of the Greek philosophers, the point of view of people who came from "an awful society", to quote Dr. Hoeh himself.

Listen to the tape again. That is what Dr. Hoeh himself admits.

Now obviously, Dr. Hoeh didn’t turn to Colossians 2:8 to support his statements:

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" (Colossians 2:8).

Is Paul talking about "the Greek logic" that led to these totally unbiblical ideas about the nature of God or not? Paul certainly knew what the word "philosophy" meant and how his readers would understand this word. "Greek logic" is just a part of "philosophy."

And obviously, Dr. Hoeh also didn’t bother quoting Romans chapter 1, which has a lot to say about the pagan "deep thinkers" who tried to figure out God! You yourself know all these verses already:

"Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened" (Romans 1:21).

This is speaking precisely about those philosophers who in their own imaginations, cut off from God, tried to reason out with Greek logic what God is like. And they thought they were pretty smart:

"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools," (Romans 1:22).

Those very people who thought they were so wise created "an awful society," as Paul tells us:

"Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves:" (Romans 1:24).

"For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:" (Romans 1:26).

Let’s not beat around the bush! Paul lived in a time when the Greek language and Greek culture and learning were considered the pinnacle of wisdom. So exactly who is Paul referring to in this section here? And exactly who is Paul referring to in Colossians 2:8?

The conclusion is inescapable: Paul is speaking about Greek wisdom and Greek logic and philosophy!

And obviously, Dr. Hoeh also did not bother to quote 1.Corinthians 2:11:

"For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man (Greek or otherwise!), but the spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 2:11).

This Scripture, all by itself, totally knocks on the head the idea that a group of Greek philosophers, by using Greek logic, can somehow figure out the facts about the nature of God, when they themselves are all along cut off from God. The nature of God is not something that any human being can "logically" reason out. Without divine revelation any conclusions about the nature of God are at best foolishness and at worst utter perversion!

And certainly, Dr. Hoeh didn’t turn to Luke 10:21 to support his ideas:

"In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight" (Luke 10:21).

At no stage did Jesus Christ ever say, imply or insinuate that through Greek logic people would be able to figure out what God is like. The knowledge about God is hidden from the "wise" Greek logicians. Jesus Christ here contradicts the idea that deep wisdom and logic is needed to understand the truth about God.

Dr. Hoeh’s Premise Is False

Before we proceed any further, we need to acknowledge that Dr. Hoeh’s whole premise is false! His premise is that the ideas of Greek philosophers are correct:

- his evidence is not from the Word of God;

- his evidence relies on the "logic" of Greek philosophers;

- his reasoning contradicts what Jesus Christ said;

- his reasoning contradicts what the Apostle Paul said;

- the Scriptures he presents are ornamental to this "logic";

- he assumes that it is possible to reason out God’s nature apart from divine revelation from God.

The Scriptures I have thus far presented are easy to understand. They speak for themselves. They don’t require special knowledge of Greek. They mean exactly what they say. And they reflect the mind of God!

Remember, the Word of God is quick and sharp! You are familiar with Hebrews 4:12. Don’t be taken in by efforts to make it blunt, by attempting to "explain away" that these verses don’t really mean what they "seem" to mean on the surface.

A Presentation of Dr. Hoeh’s Argument

The whole argument that Dr. Hoeh presents is built on one single verse! That’s right, one single verse is what this "sermon" is all about. Yes, Dr. Hoeh actually does refer to Matthew 28 and to Genesis chapter 1, but those references are incidental.

The whole sermon is based on a new way of explaining John 1:1.

My printed copy of the sermon transcript is over 21 pages long, and it is all supposedly based on one single verse. That is an awful lot of "philosophizing" about one short verse.

That in itself should tell us that it is a presentation of the mind of Dr. Hoeh. It certainly is not a presentation of the mind of God; God’s words don’t feature anywhere, except as incidental references. There is no "rightly dividing the word of truth" anywhere. It is just a presentation of the results of "Greeks thinking about problems," dressed up with the ideas and analogies of Dr. Hoeh.

So let’s now look at how Dr. Hoeh tries to explain John 1:1.

Dr. Hoeh’s Explanation of John 1:1

Here is the verse:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1).

And here is the Greek text of this verse transliterated into our alphabet:

en archê ên ho logos kai ho logos ên pros ton theon kai theos ên ho logos (John 1:1).

Translated word for word in the same word order this reads:

"in beginning was the Word and the Word was with the God and God was the Word."

Dr. Hoeh now reasons as follows:

1) The Greek word "logos" doesn’t really mean "word"; it supposedly means "utterance."

2) Mr. Armstrong didn’t get his understanding of this verse from God; he only got it "on the basis of what Protestants were saying." It was supposedly the Protestant idea that "logos" means "Spokesman."

3) Next, Dr. Hoeh claims that when the Greek word "theos" is used with the definite article (i.e. "ho theos") then it means "God"; but if it is used without the definite article (i.e. only "theos") then it means "divine." This is not true.

4) From these assumed premises (at no stage does he present any proof!) Dr. Hoeh now presents the "Greek logic" which, as he admitted, isn’t found anywhere in the New Testament. He reasons that "an utterance" requires "an utterer" (sounds logical) and that "an utterer" has "to think" in order "to utter" (that also sounds logical) and that therefore "the utterer" must be "a thinker" (hey, now we are getting somewhere!) and that what such "a thinker" "utters" must be "a thought" (brilliant Greek logic, isn’t it?).

5) He now wants to transpose these ideas to God the Father and to Jesus Christ. Since he anticipated objections to this kind of "logic," Dr. Hoeh prefaced his reasoning with the statement:

"I don’t want to argue the question of the external issue of image and likeness; that’s not the point today."

In this way he very neatly disposes of all the Scriptures that clearly and obviously contradict what he is about to propose.

6) Having told us that it is not fair for us to use Scriptures at this point, Dr. Hoeh then said:

"The point of importance is that inwardly you are thinker and thought; and your mind cannot think only and have no thought and be complete. This is why God cannot be construed as only father and not son, as only thinker and not thought. It is impossible for God to be father and not son, thinker and not thought. That’s the issue of what logos is!"

This is "Greek logic" at its best!

This goes all the way back before Plato, before Socrates to Heraclitus (540-480 B.C.), who used the word "logos" to refer to "the principle which controls the universe", the "thinker" having a "thought."

7) So the reasoning he now wants us to accept is that "God the Father" is "the thinker" and "Jesus Christ" is "the thought." Realize that this has nothing to do with John 1:1. We are now discussing the ideas of pagan Greek philosophers (they really were "pagans"!) who lived long before the time of Christ’s ministry and who in the imaginations of their hearts tried to "logically" figure out God.

8) To complete the trinity, Dr. Hoeh now reasons that it: "takes the presence of air to convey thought or utterance." This is where he slips the Holy Spirit into his equation.

He said:

"In the same way, we cannot imagine God as only thinker and thought without the sense of movement or to move or to act upon. So the thinker expresses thought and the thought leads to action. That’s what it is! That is God! God is that spirit!"

Again, he has only paraphrased for us the thoughts of the ancient Greek philosophers. This is how they reasoned.

9) So the trinity that Dr. Hoeh presents to us based on his explanation of John 1:1 is as follows:

There is only one God, who is a thinker. Therefore he has thoughts and these thoughts lead to actions. The "thinker" Dr. Hoeh equates with "God the Father"; the "thoughts" he equates with "Jesus Christ, the Son" and the "actions" he equates with "the Holy Spirit."

10) Thus Dr. Hoeh’s conclusion:

One God= thinker + thoughts + resultant actions=God the father + Jesus Christ + holy spirit

That is a summary of the reasoning Dr. Hoeh has presented in this sermon. That’s what he wants you to believe.

An Examination of Dr. Hoeh’s Explanation

1) The word "logos":

As I already mentioned, the word appears as early as 500 B.C. in the writings of Heraclitus. Plato took up the word "logos" in a big way. The Stoics used the word "logos" to refer to "the soul of the world". Marcus Aurelius, a late Stoic (around 120-180 A.D.), used the expression "spermatikos logos" to mean "the generative principle in nature" (you might recognize the word ‘sperm’ in the word ‘spermatikos’). Philo (around 20 B.C.-50 A.D.), a hellenized Jew from Alexandria also used the word.

The point is this: for over 500 years before John ever wrote his gospel the word "logos" was used with a figurative meaning!! This figurative use of the word was well-known and well-established. And when anyone used the word "logos" to refer to origins and to God, then everybody understood that the figurative meaning was intended.

Listen!

In English you fully understand the difference between "driving a car" and "driving home a point in an argument". You fully understand the difference between "riding a horse" and "riding the crest of the wave of popularity," etc.. You don’t need someone to tell you that "driving home a point" has nothing to do with cars, or that "riding the crest" has nothing to do with horses.

The very opening words John used, "in the beginning," made absolutely clear to his readers that in this context the word "logos" was not intended with its literal meaning! It was in fact a very well-known and frequently used figure of speech. It is called "metonymy", when one noun is used in place of another noun to which it stands in a certain relationship. This is done very commonly.

For example, when we say that "The White House issued the following statement," we don’t mean that literally.

When Matthew wrote:

"Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan," (Matthew 3:5).

everybody understands very well that this is also not meant literally. Matthew used one noun (Jerusalem) in place of another noun (the inhabitants of Jerusalem). That’s easy to understand.

John used one noun (logos) to refer to another noun (Jesus Christ) because these two stand in a specific relationship to each other; Christ is the Speaker, the One who speaks the "words". That’s what Christ Himself said very plainly:

"For I have not spoken of myself; but the father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak" (John 12:49).

So Jesus Christ, out of His own mouth, tells us that He was the Spokesman for the Father! You can’t get it plainer than John 12:49!

2) The claim by Dr. Stavrinides, and here promoted by Dr. Hoeh, that "logos" doesn’t mean "word," but that it means "utterance" is nonsense! It is also an insult to Almighty God!

Listen!

God SPEAKS! God doesn’t "utter." What do you mean: "utter"? God is not "an utterer"! God speaks distinctly, precisely and clearly. This introduction of the less ‘user-friendly’ term "utter" is nothing more than a striving about words, which God warns us not to get involved in (see 2 Timothy 2:14). For over 500 years before John’s time the word "logos" had already been used to mean something other than "to utter" or "to mutter" (which means ‘to utter indistinctly’).

3) Dr. Hoeh’s claim that Mr. Armstrong only got his idea from the Protestants is untrue and rather disparaging of Mr. Armstrong. Read John 12:49 above; that is where Mr. Armstrong got the idea from that Jesus Christ is the Spokesman of the Father. But that is not a Scripture that featured in Dr. Hoeh’s presentation. He preferred to present us with "Greek logic."

4) Dr. Hoeh’s claim that the word "theos" without the definite article means "divine" is totally untrue!

Understand this:

Biblical Greek did not have the indefinite article! Can you grasp what this means? In biblical Greek you could only say:

- either "God" or "the God,"

- either "man" or "the man,"

- either "house" or "the house,"

- either "ship" or "the ship,"

- either "city" or "the city," etc..

When, in the English New Testament, you see the indefinite article used over 1000 times, this is never found in the Greek text. You need to understand this! It is always provided at the total discretion of the translator. It follows that when the indefinite article is omitted in a New Testament passage this too is totally at the discretion of the translator.

The argument that the New Testament nowhere says "A God" is utterly meaningless, since in biblical Greek it simply was not possible to say "A God," any more than it was possible to say "a man" or "a ship" or "a house" or "a sword."

Whether "theos" is translated into English as "God" or as "a God" or as "a god" is not decided by rules of grammar; it is really decided by the translators own theological perspective. When the translator’s perspective is unduly biased towards a wrong concept, then you may get incorrect translations.

Next, in biblical Greek there are four different words we should be familiar with in this regard. They are:

- "theos," meaning "God" or "god," used over 1300 times;

- "theotes," meaning "deity" or "Godhead," used one time;

- "theiotes," meaning "divinity," also used only one time;

- "theios," meaning "divine," used three times in the New Testament.

The first three words are all nouns. "Theios" is an adjective, formed from "theiotes." One passage where this adjective is used twice is:

"According as his divine (theios) power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine (theios) nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (2 Peter 1:3-4)

Dr. Hoeh’s claim that when "theos" is used without the definite article in Greek, then:

"it should be translated ‘divine’. In other words, ‘theos’ means divinity or divine"

is totally false! The Greek adjective "theios" means "divine" and the Greek noun "theiotes" means "divinity"; but neither one of these words is used in John 1:1. The two verses in 2 Peter 1 make very clear that there is a Greek word that specifically means "divine."

This proves that dr. Hoeh’s foundational premise is false! It is on this false premise that he builds his ideas about the utterer and the utterance!

5) Dr. Hoeh’s refusal to address the Scriptures that clearly contradict his ideas is very obvious. He simply has to dispose of Genesis 1:26 ("Let us make man in our image after our likeness...") in order to claim that God is only a thinker and that Christ is only a thought of the thinker.

Those ideas are absolutely weird! Preposterous!

At no stage does he offer any kind of proof to support his philosophy. It is just a different perspective from what the Church of God has "traditionally" accepted. Man, is it ever "different"!

Where in the Bible would you turn to prove this version of the trinity? And let’s not kid ourselves: what Dr. Hoeh has proposed is nothing other than the age-old trinity teaching, dressed up for Church of God consumption. Anyone who accepts what Dr. Hoeh presented and still claims that he does not believe in the trinity is only deceiving himself!

6) To complete the trinity, Dr. Hoeh claims that the movement that results from the thinker thinking thoughts is the Holy Spirit. That is also false.

Nowhere in the bible is the holy spirit called "God"! Nowhere!

I have written a 32-page article entitled "The Holy Spirit is Not God." In that article I examine every single one of the 19 different verses or passages that are referred to in chapter 5 of the "God is..." booklet, starting on page 35 of that booklet. That section in that booklet is supposed to prove that the Holy Spirit is God. If you have any questions about the Holy Spirit supposedly being God, you can probably get a copy of my article from your friends.

Dr. Hoeh thus once again makes a false assumption, since the Holy Spirit is never called "God." So his analogy about thinker, thought and movement is meaningless and inappropriate.

Now let’s look again at John 1:1.

"In The Beginning..."

Earlier we saw the Greek text for John 1:1. Let’s look at it again.

en archê ên ho logos kai ho logos ên pros ton theon kai theos ên ho logos (John 1:1)

Let’s break it down into the three phrases:

- en archê ên ho logos = in the beginning was the Word;

- kai ho logos ên pros ton theon = and the Word was WITH the God;

- kai theos ên ho logos = and God was the Word.

Notice that the word "God" is used once with the definite article and the next time without the definite article. Notice also that in the English translations the last phrase is usually reversed, i.e. it is rendered as "and the Word was God" instead of "and God was the Word." Since both the nouns in that phrase (i.e. theos and logos) are in the nominative case linked by the verb "to be," both could be considered the subject.

This verse was easy to understand until Dr. Stavrinides came along and claimed that actually it didn’t really mean what it seems to say; it really means something else. Therefore, if my discussion of this verse now seems a bit on the technical side, it is not because you need a thorough knowledge of Greek in order to grasp what God is telling you here. The meaning is plain and easy to understand; it means exactly what it says! The technicalities are only needed in order to dispel the confusion that Dr. Stavrinides created about this verse in the first place.

Notice also that the Greek text clearly says in the second phrase: "and the Word was with the God," rather than just "and the Word was with God." The Greek text here includes the definite article.

It is the theological bias of the translators that has resulted in the omission of the definite article in the English translations. Translators and experts in the Greek language will insist that in English the definite article should be omitted in this particular case (not in other situations!) because it contradicts their preconceived ideas of God! You need to understand this!

John specifically included the definite article for "theos" in phrase two but chose to omit it in phrase three.

Consider this: in the New Testament the word "theos" is used in the nominative case exactly 316 times; but in only 265 of these occurrences is it used with the definite article. In 51 places the nominative case of "theos" is used without a definite article. So what does this show? It shows the writers of the New Testament deliberately used or omitted the definite article when referring to God.

Therefore when John wrote "pros ton theon" he didn’t just mean "with God"; he meant "with the God." The use of the definite article in this case has got nothing to do with "grammatical requirements." John deliberately used the definite article in this phrase, even as he deliberately left the definite article out in the next phrase.

Don’t let the religious bias of translators and scholars obscure the facts. Look at what John actually wrote for yourself.

Next, let’s examine the preposition "pros" that is used in this second phrase.

The Meaning of The Preposition "Pros"

"Pros" governs three cases"the Genitive, Dative and Accusative. It is a strengthened form of the preposition "pro."

In the New Testament it is used 726 times. In the KJV it is translated as follows:

- "unto" = 340 times

- "to" = 203 times

- "with" = 43 times

- "for" = 25 times

- "against" = 24 times

- "among" = 20 times

- "at" = 11 times

- miscellaneous words = 60 times

These different renderings into English do illustrate that the word has a broader application than any single one equivalent English word. But this does not necessarily make it a difficult word to understand.

Let’s compare some of these prepositions to illustrate their meanings:

"Pro" (the root word of "pros") denotes the position as being in sight, or before one in: place, time or superiority.

"Pros" denotes to or towards, implying onward motion.

"Para" means beside or alongside of.

When "pros" and "para" are compared:

- "pros" denotes only direction and tendency;

- "para" denotes both motion and change of place of some object.

With all three cases the general meaning of "pros" is the motive, i.e. the stimulus to action.

With the genitive it means "in consideration of." It is used only one time with the Genitive, in Acts 27:34.

"Wherefore I pray you to take [some] meat: for this is for your health (Gk. safety): for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you" (Acts 27:34).

Some scholars feel that in the expression "for this is for your safety" (Greek "touto gar PROS tês humeteras sôtêrias huparchei") "pros" is used with the meaning of "from the side of." Thus it either means "in consideration of your safety" or "from the side of your safety." In our discussion this is inconsequential.

With the dative it means "in addition to" anything, as an act. It is usually translated as "at." It is used only five times with the Dative: Luke 19:37; John 18:16; John 20:12(2x); Revelation 1:13. Here are these five verses:

"And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;" (Luke 19:37).

"At the descent" is the translation of "pros tê katabasei."

"But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter" (John 18:16).

"And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain" (John 20:12, used twice in this verse).

"And in the midst of the seven candlesticks [one] like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle" (Revelation 1:13).

The remaining 720 occurrences are with the accusative case. With this case "pros" means:

"with a view to anything, as an end."

In the New Testament this is by far the overwhelming usage. It also includes the verse we are specifically examining, John 1:1.

Let’s look at a few of these 720 places where "pros" is used with the Accusative case and where the meaning is very clear. In each case I have presented in bold text the phrase in which "pros" is used for easier identification.

"And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire" (Matthew 3:10).

"Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him" (Matthew 3:13).

"Come unto Me, all [ye] that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

"And great multitudes were gathered together unto Him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore" (Matthew 13:2).

"And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea" (Matthew 14:25).

"And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this [man] all these things?" (Matthew 13:56).

"In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me" (Matthew 26:55) (used twice in this verse).

"And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine [is] this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him" (Mark 1:27).

"But Jesus withdrew himself with His disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea," (Mark 3:7).

These verses, in all of which "pros" is used with the accusative case, should make very clear that it really does mean "with". You know, one individual being with another individual. That is what "pros" means. The very use of the word "with" implies two different entities.

Anyway, let’s look at Dr. Hoeh’s proposal of thinker and thought and see what that makes John 1:1 look like. Are you ready?

"In the beginning was the thought, and the thought was with the thinker, and thinker was the thought." (John 1:1, à la Dr. Hoeh)

Or perhaps we should say:

"In the beginning was the utterance, and the utterance was with the utterer, and utterer was the utterance." (John 1:1 à la Dr. Hoeh)

I suppose some people would consider that to be very profound. But I don’t believe that’s what God would call it. It’s only what "Greek thinking about problems" does to the Word of God. It really doesn’t make any sense at all.

1 John 1:1-2

Now let’s look at 1 John 1:1. This is a section Dr. Stavrinides brought up in an effort to change the meaning of "pros."

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;" (1 John 1:1).

Here John employs a fourfold repetition of "that which" (Greek is "ho") to show that Jesus Christ was a physical person who could be "heard, seen and touched." This verse is an obvious reference to Jesus Christ.

Here in 1 John 1:1 John refers to Christ with the words "of life" (Greek is "tês zôês"). In his gospel in John 1:4 he called Christ "the life" (Greek is "hê zôê"), which is also how Jesus Christ referred to Himself in John 11:25 and in John 14:6.

Here is the next verse:

"(For the life was manifested, and we have seen [it], and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)" (1 John 1:2).

John here makes a parenthetical statement, as he had also done in John 1:14. It is to add reassurance to his previous statement that Jesus Christ, who had lived as a mortal man, was indeed the Son of God who has always co-existed with the Father. John opens and closes this parenthetical statement with "was manifested" (Greek is "ephanerôthê") to further emphasize that the apostles had indeed seen and heard and touched Jesus.

The subject of verse 1 is Jesus Christ and there is no change of subject in verse 2. It is still Jesus Christ. John is saying that Jesus Christ was "with" the Father.

The expressions John uses also bear this out.

John 1:1 = "ên pros ton theon" = was with the God;

1 John 1:2 = "ên pros ton patera" = was with the Father.

John is not talking about something intangible called "life," but about an individual who referred to Himself, among other things, as "the life"; i.e. Jesus Christ! In the next verse John continues to talk about "seeing and hearing." He then identifies the two individuals he is speaking about"the Father and Jesus Christ.

"That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship [is] with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3).

In this verse the word "with" is all three times the Greek word "meta," which denotes association and companionship with!

This verse shows we can have fellowship with two different individuals"with the Father and with Jesus Christ. There is no such thing as fellowship "with the holy spirit," because the Holy Spirit is not a "person" or an individual. In the previous verse "eternal life" is used to represent Jesus Christ. The whole context makes this clear.

In the same way as we in God’s Church, who are separate different individuals, can have fellowship with one another, so also can we have fellowship with God the Father and with Jesus Christ. The word "fellowship" implies several different individuals inter-acting in meaningful relationships.

Here in 1 John 1:2 John is again very clearly using the figure of speech which is called "metonymy. John uses the noun "life" (which we have "seen"!) to refer to Jesus Christ (through whom we can have access to eternal life; and Christ had plainly said that He is "the life"). It is clear that a figure of speech is being used because it is impossible to read this verse literally""life" is not something we can "see."

Some Additional Comments About The Sermon

We have looked at the foundation and the premises of Dr. Hoeh’s sermon. We see from his own words that his ideas did not come out of the Bible, but from "Greek logic." The Scriptures don’t really feature in his ideas at all. We have also seen that the one Scripture he does build his sermon on, John 1:1, is explained incorrectly. Therefore his ideas of ‘thinker-thought-movement’ are built on a false foundation and are wrong.

But let’s now look at a few more statements in Dr. Hoeh’s sermon.

1) Early in his sermon Dr. Hoeh referred to the ideas some people in the Church of God had at the beginning of this century. He mentioned that some were Arian and others were Trinitarian. He continued to say that the people Mr. Armstrong then spoke with "varied from atheists to Pentecostal." That may be so, but it has nothing to do with the teachings God used Mr. Armstrong to put into God’s Church. What anybody happened to believe is immaterial! Who cares? What counts is: "yes, but what does the Bible actually teach?"

What if Mr. Armstrong had not happened to come into contact with Sabbath-keepers; would the Church of God then not be keeping the Sabbath? The only thing that counts is this:

"Did God use Mr. Armstrong to put certain teachings into the Church of God or not?"

2) Dr. Hoeh continued to reason that "the leading theological work explaining the doctrines of the Bible" which was published in the 1940'ies in its article on the trinity didn’t make sense.

Of course it didn’t make sense! And 50 years later the revised version still doesn’t make sense!

Dr. Hoeh was trying to imply that the trinity doctrine is correct, but it was just poorly explained in the 1940'ies. Today, the same "leading theological work" explains it much more clearly.

Garbage!

The problem in the 1940'ies wasn’t with the explanation. Don’t believe that kind of argument for one minute. The problem was, and still is, that the whole teaching is wrong. Dead wrong!

Mr. Armstrong proved from the Word of God that the whole trinity teaching is false. History teaches us that it is a pagan heresy, which the Greek philosophers centuries before Christ already developed. It is found in many divergent pagan religions.

It is not the 1940'ies definition of the trinity that Mr. Armstrong proved wrong. He proved the teaching wrong, no matter how you choose to define it! The Bible exposes it for what it is, a heresy!

Further, just what do you mean: "leading theological work"? There is no such thing! Mr. Armstrong was not arguing with "leading theological works." He was explaining the truth as God opened his mind to understand it. There are no books published by the churches of this world that explain the true doctrines of the Bible.

3) Dr. Hoeh then talked about some people who believe that Christ is a created being. That also is just a distraction. It has nothing to do with what the Church of God believes and teaches.

4) Dr. Hoeh also posed the question: why did the Church take such a strong view about the trinity error? The answer, which Dr. Hoeh doesn’t give, is because it is wrong! That’s why the Church took such a strong stand. It is a heresy that is rooted in paganism and that is easy enough to prove.

God inspired Mr. Armstrong to take a strong stand against this false teaching.

5) Dr. Hoeh then claimed that it wasn’t the Father who gave the ten commandments at Sinai and it wasn’t the Son who gave the ten commandments; "it was the God who is one who did."

That may sound very nice, but it is nonsense!

Somebody spoke at Mt. Sinai. Moses saw somebody at Mt. Sinai. Jesus Christ made clear that nobody has ever seen or heard God the Father. Paul made clear that Israel saw and heard Christ!

"And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ" (1 Corinthians 10:4).

The Rock that followed them was not the Father and it was not the Holy Spirit; it was Christ! Paul explained that it was Christ, the firstborn of every creature who was used by God to create all things.

"For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:" (Colossians 1:16).

6) This whole heretical "one God" teaching rests on a false explanation of Deuteronomy 6:4. I have proved that Dr. Stavrinides’ flimsy handling of this verse is false. Therefore the whole foundation for this "oneness" teaching collapses.

Mr. Armstrong correctly explained how God the Father and Jesus Christ are "one," yet different separate individuals. It is just like a husband and wife who are "one," and just like many different Church members together become "one body." We are still separate individuals, even if Dr. Stavrinides’ only answer is to deny reality! Anyone who believes that a husband and wife become "one being" and that thousands of different members of the Church together become "one being" has major gaps in his understanding.

7) Dr. Hoeh next tried to imply that it was a problem to figure out when the name "YHWH" referred to the Father and when it referred to the Son. That is also nonsense. It isn’t difficult at all! One problem is when people approach these titles of God as if they were exclusive personal names. They are not! These titles really reveal positions and attributes of God. And since the Father and Jesus Christ have many attributes in common (e.g. both are eternal, etc.), what is the big deal if the same titles can on occasion be used by both? After all, both are also "God"!

8) Dr. Hoeh also tried to create a very artificial argument about a supposed "difficulty" about the terms "the Holy Spirit," "the Spirit of the Father" and "the Spirit of Christ." That was never a problem during Mr. Armstrong’s time. The only people who don’t understand this correctly are the ones who have been confused by the heresies that have been taught since Mr. Armstrong’s death. It is a way of artificially trying to invent problems that supposedly existed with Mr. Armstrong’s explanation.

9) Dr. Hoeh next misrepresented Mr. Armstrong’s views. He claimed that Mr. Armstrong believed that God is one spirit. Dr. Hoeh said that Mr. Armstrong "knew they were also one, not two separate non-competing spirits." That is not true!

Mr. Armstrong taught and believed that God is in the process of building a family of ultimately billions of God-beings, sons and daughters of God. He believed that currently there are only two separate individual members in that God-family: God the Father and Jesus Christ. Both of them are spirit beings! Both are composed of the same spirit essence. He believed they were of the same type, but one (God the Father) was in charge. He believed that both had unlimited access to the power of the Holy Spirit. He believed they were one in mind, in goals, in attitudes and in intentions.

That is what Mr. Armstrong believed and taught. Don’t let anyone deceive you about what Mr. Armstrong taught. Read his books again. You may be shocked at how much your ideas have changed in the 9 years Mr. Armstrong has been dead.

10) Dr. Hoeh next went into his "thinker-thought" analogy and stated: "you are what you are, because in your mind there are all sorts of thoughts that you have." He then referred to amnesia.

This is one more case of trying to prove something by using an analogy. But the analogy is false. The man "John" is still John whether he suffers from amnesia or not. A horse is a horse, whether the horse knows this or not! The same applies to every other animal. A stone is a stone without ever having any thoughts. It is not the thoughts that make "you" into "you." Don’t be taken in by this philosophical rambling.

Yes, God certainly is a thinking Being! And yes, God has always thought. But that doesn’t make his thoughts into "His Son"! That kind of reasoning is utter nonsense. You yourself don’t just have a son by thinking some thoughts.

Thoughts are not what God refers to as "sons"!

Our destiny is not to just become "God’s thoughts." John wrote:

"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not" (1 John 3:1).

To apply Dr. Hoeh’s idea that thoughts are "sons" to this and other Scriptures is absurd. Does it make sense to say:

"Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the thoughts of God; therefore the world knows us not..."

When you try to apply Dr. Hoeh’s ideas to the Scriptures, it becomes ridiculous.

11) Dr. Hoeh next used the analogy of "air." Then he said:

"My breath conveys my thought."

He then expounded on the "one body of air that we all breathe that communicates our thoughts to one another." He then reasoned that if there was " a vacuum or something that wouldn’t allow vibrations to go through, then you couldn’t hear or understand what I’m thinking." He concluded:

"So it does take the presence of air to convey thought or utterance."

Again he is not logical!

Also here we can see the difference between "thoughts" and "utterance."

Yes, it does take the presence of air to convey "utterance," but that has nothing to do with "thoughts." How about conveying thoughts through "reading"? How about using sign-language? How about through pictures and photos and silent movies? How about conveying information through the senses of taste and touch? How about through the sense of smell?

His analogy of "breath" is very shallow. Air is just a medium that has no connection with a thinking mind! It is just a convenient medium, that’s all.

But if we take Dr. Hoeh’s analogy to its logical conclusion, then it once again becomes ridiculous. The conclusion from his approach that we are all thinkers who have thoughts and who convey these thoughts through air is that"we are all trinities! All of us are individual trinities"we all have a "three-ness" in common. Isn’t that something?

12) Towards the end of his sermon he said:

"If ‘logos’ is thought, we can distinguish God’s thoughts."

Did you notice something? He didn’t stay with the original "utterance""that was just a stepping-stone!

Now ‘logos’ is supposed to be equal to "thought." Now this isn’t a new point, obviously. He had mentioned this all the way through his sermon. But here it is stated quite clearly.

The point is this: he isn’t really satisfied with what ‘logos’ supposedly means. The purpose of changing the meaning of "logos" to "utterance" is so that he can then pummel this definition into the shape he wants it to have.

Logos does not mean thought!

That is a meaning Dr. Hoeh has arrived at through human reasoning. It has nothing to do with what the Greek word actually means! You need to understand this

.

There is no authority, biblical or secular, for claiming that "logos" means "thought." It doesn’t mean "thought." Look, there are several different Greek words in the New Testament that mean "thought""but "logos" is not one of them!! John did not use a word that means "thought" in John 1:1.

Once again Dr. Hoeh’s whole theory collapses!

Well, I suppose I could make more comments about Dr. Hoeh’s Unfinished Business, but I don’t think that is needed. It should be clear to anyone who looks to the Bible for his understanding about the nature of God that Dr. Hoeh’s attempt to support the current heresies which Pasadena is teaching are biblically unsound. They don’t make sense. They are not in harmony with what God reveals about Himself in the Bible.

These are the facts about "Unfinished Business".

Frank W. Nelte

(Comment: Back in 1995 I still used different forms of formatting and so this old article exhibits clear formatting inconsistencies. I don’t believe that updating those formatting inconsistencies is needed now more than 20 years later.)