Nestorianism

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This article is one in a series of studies on William Branham and the Trinity - you are currently on the topic that is in bold:

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Nestorianism is basically the doctrine that Jesus existed as two persons, the man Jesus and the divine Son of God, rather than as a unified person. William Branham's teaching on the nature of Christ was clearly tainted by Nestorianism. It is even more clearly developed in the teachings of Lee Vayle.

History

Nestorius, appointed Bishop of Constantinople in A.D. 428, correctly opposed giving Mary the title “Mother of God,” but in his opposition to this, wrongly held that Mary gave birth to a man who was accompanied by the Logos. Nestorianism, therefore, seeking to do justice to the true humanity of Christ, failed to do justice to the unity of His person and to the union of the Logos with a human nature in Christ. In effect, it made Christ two distinct persons. Instead of blending the two natures into a single self-consciousness, Nestorianism places them alongside of each other with nothing more than a moral and sympathetic union between them.[1]

Nestorius found formidable adversaries in the patriarch of Alexandria (Cyril) and the bishop of Rome (Celestine I), both of whom convened synods that declared Nestorius to be a heretic. After heated exchanges, the emperor (who favored Nestorius) in 431 summoned the church’s third ecumenical council, held at Ephesus. Before the tardy arrival of the accused’s Syrian supporters and of the papal representatives from Rome, Cyril opened the proceedings. Nestorius was subsequently declared to be deposed and excommunicated.

The Nestorians held a rival meeting that did not discuss the point at issue but which excommunicated Cyril. It was the latter’s gathering (which Nestorius had pointedly boycotted) that was finally held by the Romans to be valid. The emperor Theodosius, whose vacillations during the dispute did him little credit, banished Nestorius first to his monastery in Antioch and later to Upper Egypt, where he died. Rejected by the Roman Empire, Nestorianism not only persisted but expanded in the East, evincing a remarkable missionary activity that extended as far as China. Modern representatives of Nestorianism are to be found in the Persian or Assyrian Church, located in Iraq, Syria, and Iran.[2]

Jesus is God

At the end of the Book of Luke, we read:

Then Jesus led them to Bethany, and lifting his hands to heaven, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to heaven.  So they worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy.[3]

By this simple act, we know that Jesus is God because of the prohibition in scripture to worship other gods:

...for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God...[4]
Honour the LORD your God, worship only him, and make your promises in his name alone.[5]
Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’"[6]
For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”[7]
You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. 7 You are the LORD, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham. 8 You found his heart faithful before you, and made with him the covenant to give to his offspring the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite. And you have kept your promise, for you are righteous.[8]


Nestorianism in William Branham's teaching

Here are a few quotes that clearly demonstrate the Nestorian leanings within William Branham's teachings:

When He was—last cry, "Eli, Eli. My God, My God," That was a man. "Why hast Thou forsaken Me?" In the garden of Gethsemane, the anointing left Him, you know, He had to die as a sinner. He died a sinner, you know that; not His sins, but mine and yours. That's where that love come in, how He took mine. Oh, hallelujah, how He took mine.[9]


The Spirit left Him, in the garden of Gethsemane. He had to die, a man. Remember, friends, He didn't have to do that. That was God. God anointed that flesh, which was human flesh. And He didn't… If He'd have went up there, as God, He'd have never died that kind of death; can't kill God. But He didn't have to do it. But, remember, He went there with you in Him. See, God had never separated the Bride from the Groom, yet. So when God looked down upon the body of Christ, He saw both male and female. It was all redeemed in that one body. See? They are one, same, same Word. The same Word, spoke of the Groom, speaks of the Bride.[10]


Now, how many knows that Christ is the Spirit of God? We all know that. He's the anointed One. Jesus was the anointed. There's where people who believe that there's three or four different Gods, get all mixed up. See? God is a Spirit. Jesus was the body that the Spirit of God dwelled in, made Him Emmanuel, God, tabernacled on earth. He was God. Jesus Christ was God, yet He was the Son of God. His flesh was the Son of God 'cause God created it, but inside He was God. "It's not Me," said Jesus, "does the works, it's My Father that dwelleth in Me. And that day you'll know that I'm in the Father, the Father in Me, I in you, and you in Me." [11]


At the day of the baptism, when He received the Holy Ghost on the day when John baptized Him, John said, "I beheld and saw the Spirit of God like a Dove descending from heaven, and a Voice saying, 'This is My beloved Son in Whom I'm pleased to dwell in.'" Jesus said that God was with Him, "I and My Father are One. My Father dwells in Me." Not Jesus, and being one with God; but Je—God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself. 143 And you Oneness brethren, many of you get off the wrong track when you try to think that God is one like your finger is one. He can't be His Own Father. He can't be. But He is God. God is Jehovah, the Spirit; Christ was the House that He dwelt in.[12]


That's the reason people couldn't understand Him. Sometime it was Christ speaking… or was the Son speaking. Other times it was the Father speaking. He was a dual Person. He was one Man, the Son. God was in him, which was tabernacling in Him. But what did He do? Did He go around saying, "I'm the Healer." Very contrary, He said, "I'm not the Healer." He said, "It isn't Me that doth the works; it's My Father that dwelleth in Me." And in Saint John the 19th chapter when He was questioned for pasting a whole bunch of crippled, lame, withered, halt, blind people, healed one man laying on a pallet, the Father showed Him to go there and heal. Walked away and left the rest of them laying there, they questioned Him. A man packing his bed on the sabbath. Listen to what He said. Saint John 5:19: "Verily, verily, I say unto you: The Son can do nothing in Himself, but what he sees the Father doing, that doth the Son likewise." Is that what He said? "I do nothing till the Father shows Me a vision first what to do."[13]


"He was more than… God was in Him. He was a man, but He was a—a dual Person. One, He was a man; the Spirit in Him was God." I said, "God was in Christ." She said, "Aw, no." I said, "Look, lady, I'll take your own Scripture. He was a man, but He was a God-man. When He went down to the grave of Lazarus, He did weep like a man. That's true. But when He stood there, straightened His little stooped shoulders up, and said, 'Lazarus, come forth,' and a dead man, that'd been dead four days come to life. That was more than a man. Man couldn't do that. That was God in His Son."[14]

Nestorianism in the teachings of Lee Vayle

Lee Vayle denied the deity of Jesus Christ and, as far as we can determine, preached a mashup of Nestorianism, Adoptionism and Arianism. It's difficult to tell exactly what Lee Vayle taught on this issue because his teaching was convoluted and complicated (as was William Branham's teaching on the subject of the Godhead). However, the teachings of Nestorius are clearly seen in what the taught - the denial of the deity of Jesus Christ and the rejection of the incarnation.

Here are a few quotes by Lee Vayle that clearly demonstrate the heretical nature of his teaching:

...the church has made the great mistake in making Jesus equal to God — which he is in a certain way — but he’s not God. He’s not Deity. I’m sorry, but he’s not, because God is not in him. No way. What God was in him is not Deity, same as what God is in you is not Deity, concerning Deity Himself, which is Sovereign God and Creator and Maintainer.[15]
Now with the subject of sovereignty, what I wanted to do was to bring to you the understanding that Jesus is not Deity. When Bro. Branham said, “He’s God, but he’s not God,” in our minds we placed that with the incarnation, and that is true. But, when you realize that in the incarnation, which is to come, when that Spirit that’s in our midst, and that’s the Spirit of God, He will become incarnate to us again.
...
We’re going to talk about, as I said, in the fact of sovereignty, Jesus cannot be Deity. Now Jesus can’t be Deity when we consider true Deity.
...
Jesus definitely is not God. He is the Son of God. And his form, as I’ve mentioned already, Bro. Branham said, “The only difference between God and His Son is that sons have beginnings.”
What do you mean, “sons have beginnings?” Well, sons are procreated. The thought of having a son does not give anybody the ability to create one. The substance must be there in order to be passed on to that person, to bring that person in the likeness of the progenitor.
So, Jesus was the Son of God, which he was. That life had to be already there, and that life simply had to be passed on in a mold, and that mold would have to be what was ever within the intrinsicality and essentiality of Almighty God. That’s why Jesus was the image of God. And that’s why, when God said, “Let us make man in our image,” it was made in the image of Jesus, and it came out a man. That’s why Bro. Branham said, “God was the first man; Jesus, the second; and Adam, the third,” because God comes in threes. What for? Not as persons: one, two, three gods, but in God doing what He did to bring forth Himself through children. As it is said by people, “Men and women achieve a certain immortality by having children.” But, if the line suddenly dies, the immortality is gone.
So, Jesus can’t be Deity, when we consider true Deity. He is the Son of Deity, Son of God, and since elevated by God, he is worthy of worship, but not as God is worshipped. He can’t be. It is wise to regard Jesus, Son of God, in the light of Hebrews, as written by Paul, and glorifying God for His wisdom and power, for so setting us all in divine order.
...
And, how was he equal with God? Because he was the First-begotten Son of God. So therefore, positively, he was equal in the inheritance, because it split the kingdom right down the middle. But God didn’t split Himself down the middle. God didn’t split His sovereignty down the middle. He had an equality, the same as Bro. Branham says, “Satan was one time equal with God and led in the worship.”
Was he equal with God as per Godhead? Oh, don’t be ridiculous. Was he equal, then, in the majesty and the glory and the power? Don’t be ridiculous. He had to be a controller of some description, as the great CEOs are of all the money you’ve got invested in stock, and they act as though it were their own, with their golden parachutes, and their divvying up, and their perks, and God knows what.
...
Now again, in Jn 14:6 - I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (So, he’s not the Father, and he’s not God. “There’s one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” [1 Tim 2:5])
And It places it right there that Jesus is not God. See? I’ll tell you: I believe calling Jesus ‘Deity’, which we’ve had people here do that, is an entire misunderstanding or no understanding of Seed: that God is the Father, the Progenitor, the Author, the All in all of a race of His Own children, genetically, legitimately, spiritually, physically, every single way. God is not our Creator; He is our Father; He is our Source; He is our Progenitor. Call it what you want. Out of the Great Fountain, God, came every one of His sons, and nothing else came from that Lifeline, because the Bible says, “In him was life.”[16]


Jesus is not deity, but He was the fullness of the Godhead as deity, which is godhead was within Him, which is a person, two persons in one body of flesh.[17]

Nestorianism in Vayle's followers

Brian Kocourek, a follower of Lee Vayle, stated the following:

Now, Brother Branham is letting us know that God and Jesus were one in that God was indwelling the Body of His Son. But I also want to show you that this Oneness between God and His Son was more than just God indwelling His Son, the fact is that Jesus and God were one because God is the Word and Jesus manifested that Word in the same sense that God was One with His Own Word.
...And that is how God and Jesus are one. The Father is the Word, and when he is doing in His Word, He shows the son what he is doing, and the son sees God in vision doing (whatever it may be), and he then steps into the vision so to speak (the hat has to be on the chair for him to do it, if you recall how brother Branham told us that all the pieces have to be set up in order for him to step into the vision. You just can’t go do until all the pieces are ready) then he would step into the scene and act out in this dimension what he had seen in that other dimension.
...it really comes right down to not believing in incarnation. And I think it is strange that both the Jew and Moslem can believe that a man can be inhabited by evil spirits, or the devil himself, but they deny that God inhabited a man called Jesus His son. And to me they give more power to the devil than they give to God when they believe like that.[18]


Footnotes

  1. Alan Cairns, Dictionary of Theological Terms (Belfast; Greenville, SC: Ambassador Emerald International, 2002), 301.
  2. J.D. Douglas, “Nestorius,” ed. J.D. Douglas and Philip W. Comfort, Who’s Who in Christian History (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1992), 503.
  3. Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), Lk 24:50–52.
  4. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ex 34:14
  5. American Bible Society, The Holy Bible: The Good News Translation, 2nd ed. (New York: American Bible Society, 1992), Dt 6:13.
  6. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mt 4:10.
  7. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Re 15:4.
  8. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ne 9:6–8.
  9. William Marrion Branham, 60-0518, Adoption #2
  10. William Marrion Branham, 65-0418M, It Is The Rising Of The Sun
  11. William Marrion Branham, 59-1004E, Why Cry? Speak!
  12. William Marrion Branham, 59-0823, Palmerworm, Locust, Cankerworm, Caterpillar
  13. William Marrion Branham, 56-0429 - Jehovah-Jireh
  14. William Marrion Branham, 59-1129 - Let Us See God
  15. Lee Vayle, Godhead Q&A #4: Tangibility of God, 11-05-2000
  16. Lee Vayle, Godhead #14: The Man, Jesus Christ, Is Not Deity, August 6, 2000
  17. Lee Vayle, Godhead (#12), July 2nd, 2000
  18. Brian Kocourek, #4 How Jesus And God Are One, August 7th, 2011


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