Modalists are often times difficult to discuss the Trinity with. I have had experiences with them which have led to a totally blocked conversation. Reiterating certain texts over and over and refusing to look at other texts. I was a Modalist for about a month and then realised that the Scriptures are forced into a Modalistic context in order to maintain such a position. I then proceeded to resist the obviousness of the Trinity though any way and accepted Arianism or Unitarian subordinationism. Modalism, of course, suffers from a huge problem. The evidences for it are ambiguous at best. There are only two examples where Jesus states something that could be twisted in a perverse manner to come across this teaching.
John 10:30 – “I and my Father are one”
John 14:9-10 “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?”
Well, the first example not only does not have Jesus declaring that he is the Father but rather declaring that he and his Father are one. I intend to show no patristic exegesis here lest someone accuse me of being “un-Biblical” so I will not. But rather, I will show a primary example where oneness does not mean sameness.
Mark 10:8 – “they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.”
Jesus is talking about marriage in Mark 10:8. The two shall become one flesh. They are no longer two. They are one flesh in marriage. Jesus’s oneness with the Father is even closer than that but as the wife does not become the husband nor the husband the wife but rather they are joined in flesh, so too is Jesus not the Father. The same is true in John 14:9-10.
1 Corinthians 4:16 – “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me”
1 Corinthians 11:1 – “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ”
What do these texts have to do with John 14:9-10? Well, a lot to do with it. Jesus’s declaration that seeing him is seeing the Father has a lot to do with St. Paul asking his followers to follow him because he follows Christ. Jesus, being God the Son, reflects the image of God the Father even more perfectly than St. Paul reflects the image of Christ. But God has created man to shine forth his image and likeness into the world. Jesus would not have described his Father as being in him if he meant to declare himself the Father but would have said to Phillip, “I am the Father”. He did not say that because he is not the Father. Despite the fact that these are ambiguous at best, Modalists think that those two verses some how contradict numerous other crystal clear verses describing Jesus and the Father as two distinct beings.
Matthew 3:17 – “lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son,” (Jesus is not a ventriloquist)
Matthew 17:5 – “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Again, not a ventriloquist)
John 8:17-18 – “It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.” (Jesus and his Father are two witnesses, not one witness–if Jesus is the Father, then his testimony is a lie)
Hebrews 1:8-9 – “unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee” (The Father is giving something to Jesus)
Revelation 3:12 – “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God:” (The resurrected Jesus describes himself as having a God–the Father)
Trinitarian theology acknowledges the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as fully God, not each other. The Father is 100% God, the Son is 100% God, the Holy Spirit is 100% God. The Son can call the Father his God without denying his Godhood because God is infinite and the Father is God. They are not each other, undivided. They are one God. The doctrine was arrived at from studying the revelation of God from God. Not a man’s revelation of God. If a doctrine sounds as if it contradicts itself, it is man made. Hence, why Oneness and Modalist doctrine is unreasonably man-made!