April 2, 2008

Christ Gospel Church on God

(Christ Gospel Church is an international sect with affiliate churches in half a dozen African countries and shortwave broadcasts to many others. You can read the previous posts in this series here: What Does Christ Gospel Church Teach?, Christ Gospel Church on Scripture, Christ Gospel Church on Mankind)

III. God

There is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4), and out of this one Fountainhead flows a threefold stream of revelation called the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost (I John 5:7; John 1:1,2; Isaiah 48:16,17; John 10:30).[1]
Another central area of doctrine for CGC is their theology proper. Hicks' teaching on the nature of God and the relationship between the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost contribute to their concept of God.

A. The Nature of God

Confirming Our Faith in GodThe key to understanding Hicks' conception of God is found in her application of Genesis 1:26. Here, she states, ". . .God, in His desire to reveal Himself to man, shaped and formed man until man bore the visible Likeness or similitude of the invisible God. Consequently, as we view man and see what he is like, we understand what God is like."[2] As a result, the nature of God is seen in light of the nature of mankind. "Since man is made in the Image and after the likeness of God and since God made man like a wheel, it is apparent that God's Being is also like a Wheel."[3] Moreover, God's being is also threefold, having a body, soul, and spirit (called "His Body realm, His Soul realm, and His Spirit realm"). He has five senses which are channeled through his three realms. The hub of God's wheel is his heart and the axle that turns the wheel of God's being is his will.[4]

Furthermore, there is a masculine and a feminine side of God. "[O]ne of our first concepts of God is that, very basically, the Wheel of His Being has two sides: a Male side and a Female side."[5] This truth can also be seen in God's creation. Hicks says, "Genesis, chapter one, verse one, reveals God's plural Form of being both Male and Female; it says that 'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.' God (the Father-Mother) brought forth all Creation, which consisted of male and female, and, finally, He created man (male and female) in His own Image (Male and Female)."[6] Therefore, there are two sides of the wheel of God's being-He is both Father and Mother.

B. The Relationship of the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost

In describing what the Bible says about God, Hicks continues, "The Bible clearly declares that God is One. Nevertheless, within the One Godhead, there is a Father-realm, a Word-realm, and a Holy-Ghost-realm that work together in perfect Unity, Harmony, and Oneness of Purpose and Mind."[7] The Father-realm of God (also called the Glory-realm) is the power that brings his invisible designs, plans, and knowledge into visibility. The Word-realm of God is the eternal Christ who was humbled and made flesh. The Holy-Ghost-realm is God's Spirit. Together, these three realms make up one God.[8] Hicks summarizes their relationship:

The One Godhead is a compound unity that is comprised of Father, Word, and Holy Ghost. The same Bible that teaches God's Oneness also teaches that the One God makes Himself known to mankind through three streams of revelation. The outflow of the invisible Godhead is manifested as Father, Word (Son), and Holy Ghost. The One God operates through three separate and distinct Personalities.[9]
To synthesize Hick's development of this relationship proves difficult. On the one hand, she seems to advocate some kind of Monarchianism. She writes, "God's infinite Mind is ONE WHEEL, as it were. Yet because God knows that finite creatures cannot readily comprehend Infinity, He mercifully separates His Wheel into three distinct identities, known as Father, Word, and Holy Ghost, which is how He reveals Himself and how He works with mankind."[10] Additionally, her connection between God and humanity leans toward seeing God in this way. As Hicks maintains, "As we continue the comparison of man's being with God's Being (man having been made in God's Image and Likeness), we see that God, as well as man, is a triune Being."[11] It is unclear, however, how she associates God's Father-realm, Word-realm, and Holy-Ghost-realm with God's Body realm, Soul realm, and Spirit realm. No plain connections are made between the two sets of three.

On the other hand, Hicks also has statements that sound comparably closer to orthodox Trinitarianism. First, she uses the word "Trinity." "The word trinity is not found in the Bible, but the Truth of this doctrine is evident. Many Scriptures support the Truth of God's Trinitarian outflow to man."[12] Second, Hicks will also occasionally refer to members of the Godhead as persons.[13] Furthermore, she differentiates the three. "When Jesus promised to pray for the Father to send the Comforter, He confirmed the fact that He, Jesus Christ, was neither the Father nor the Holy Ghost Comforter Who was to come."[14] Ultimately, a firm conclusion is hard to reach. Sometimes her writing seems similar to a form of Monarchianism, while other times it sounds somewhat closer to orthodox Trinitarianism.

[1]Articles of Faith, 3.
[2]B. R. Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in God, 2003 ed. (Jeffersonville, IN: Christ Gospel Press, 2003), 20.
[3]Ibid, 21.
[4]Ibid, 21-42.
[5]B. R. Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, 7. Interestingly, this basic point was never made in her earlier work, Confirming Our Faith in God.
[6]Ibid, 6-7.
[7]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in God, 47. Emphasis in original.
[8]Ibid, 47-52.
[9]Ibid, 52. Emphasis in original.
[10]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in what the Bible Teaches about Mankind, 45.
[11]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in God, 43.
[12]Ibid, 55. Emphasis in original. Of course, one could question connecting the Trinity with an "outflow to man."
[13]One example is when she refers to the Holy Ghost as "The third Person in the Godhead." Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, 5.
[14]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in God, 56.