Review of Ronny Milliner's Article on

by Tim Haile

(Click Here to see Ronny Milliner's article on "Neo-Apollinarianism.")

     After years of assembling, examining and studying Bible passages relating to the subject of the deity of Christ, and after reaching logical conclusions extracted from the harmony of these passages, I read an article by Ronny Milliner accusing me of being a "Neo-Apollinarian." This is quite interesting considering the fact that my convictions regarding Christ's incarnate deity were already firmly established before I had even heard of "Apollinarius!" Milliner's tactic is dishonest and downright devilish. His goal is not to engage his opponents in open and honest Bible discussion, but to discredit them by associating them with an alleged "heretic."

A Note Concerning Apollinarius

     Thankfully, my eternal security hinges upon my accepting and obeying the conditions of our Lord's grace. What "Apollinarius" either believed or did not believe is entirely irrelevant to my salvation. I have determined to "hold forth the word of life" as my all-sufficient standard of faith and practice (Phil. 2:16; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). If Ronny Milliner wants to spend his time reading and defending the godless practices of 4th century apostates who misrepresented, then burned their opponent's writings, then he may do such. I have more interest in what the Bible says than I do in what Apollinarius' enemies accused him of teaching.

     Ronny places a great deal of confidence in quotations by Roy Lanier, Sr. and Philip Schaff regarding Apollinarius' beliefs, yet their conclusions are skewed by misinformation. All we know about Apollinarius is what his enemies wanted us to know! Reasonable people will not see this as a sound basis for accusation. As I said before, I do not know, with certainty, what Apollinarius believed regarding the person of Christ, and more importantly, neither does Ronny Milliner!

     Ronny Milliner appears to have an obsession with Apollinarius. The first chapter of his 1994 book on "the man Christ Jesus" was on "Apollinarianism." In that article he tried to paint all of his opponents as Apollinarians and 6 years later, he is still trying!

     Of course, I could be wrong. It may actually be that Milliner is not so much obsessed with Apollinarius as he is impressed with Apollinarius' apostate enemies. They were highly skilled in the art of misrepresentation. Honor was an unknown concept to them. They would do anything to maintain political and religious control over their enemies. If this included lying, deception and misrepresentation, that is what they would do. Yes, the picture is now coming into focus. Milliner's writings are an endless mass of misrepresentations. The very article I am reviewing contains several. One of the most notables is his shameful mistreatment of Gene Frost's former writings. (See Gene's response published in the January, 2000 issue of Gospel Anchor).

The Real Question: What Does Ronny Milliner Believe About Jesus?

     It is easy to see why Milliner spends so much time talking about "Apollinarianism." It is simply a diversionary tactic that draws people away from the real issue of what Ronny Milliner believes about Jesus. This diversion has two fronts. First, rather than engage his opponents in open and honest dialogue, Milliner prefers to construct a straw heretic, then liken his opponents to that heretic, putting his opponents on the defensive. Second, rather than forthrightly stating his convictions about applicable Bible passages Milliner hides behind the statements of others, maintaining a kind of plausible deniability. First-time readers are left wondering, "Does he agree, partially agree, or disagree with the quote?" However, Milliner's regular readers are well acquainted with his method of argumentation.

"Ronny Redactor"

     Ronny Milliner seldom turns to a passage of scripture to make an explicit argument. Instead, he argues implicitly by stringing together the quotations of other men. He reasons that by framing quotations, rather than actual arguments, he is personally exempt from cross-examination. When an opponent answers his arguments, he lightly dismisses them by saying he was merely quoting what others have said on the subject.

     Perhaps Ronny Milliner needs to find someone to quote on the subject of "receiving" false teachers. Of course, I would prefer that he just opened his Bible and read 2 John 9-11, Ephesians 5:11 and Jude 3. It is generally understood that the supporting use of another person's writings may be rightly construed as endorsement of those particular writings. By supporting a teacher of truth one partakes in the furtherance of the gospel (Phil. 1:5,7). By supporting a false teacher, rather than "reproving" him, one consents to his error and becomes a "partaker in his evil deeds."

     These are biblical principles and Ronny Milliner and all others should willingly accept them. Based upon these principles we are forced to conclude that Milliner agrees with every statement that he approvingly quoted. We may equally conclude that Milliner disagrees with the statements that he disapprovingly quoted. These explanations may seem elementary to some readers, but in the case of Ronny and a few others that I have dealt with, I have discovered that the ground rules must be clearly defined in order to pin their position down. Earnest contenders for the faith once delivered will forthrightly "approve things that excellent," and "reprove the unfruitful works of darkness" (Phil. 1:10; Eph. 5:11).

Concerning Quoting Others

     Ronny Milliner quotes heavily from Roy Lanier, Sr. When did Lanier become such an eminent scholar? Was it after his treatise on church autonomy? Or perhaps it followed his clearly defined stance regarding institutionalism! Furthermore, the "quotes" that Ronny cited in his article on "Neo-Apollinarianism" were actually quotes of quotes. The writers who made the actual arguments being quoted were writers for the (apostate) "Church," those of "the orthodox," and the "Catholic orthodoxy." ("Neo-Apollinarianism," The Seeker, January, 00). Think about it. These are the sources that Ronny Milliner built his article from. His arguments are based upon the statements of known false teachers and apostate "church" leaders. I take a different approach than Ronny does when it comes to teaching method. I like to follow Paul's example of "opening" the scriptures and "alleging" the truths contained therein (Acts 17:2-3). Ronny Milliner makes his arguments by quoting men who are quoting men! We are supposed to "speak as the oracles of God" (1 Pet. 4:11).

"Neo" Something All Right!

     In his article, Ronny accused me of being a "leading proponent of Neo-Apollinarianism" in the church. I grant that there are some "neo's" running around the brotherhood. Though I haven't seen any "neo-Apollinarians," I have seen a few neo-infidels and neo-Calvinists, however. These are men who have redefined the natures of both God and man, and have set out to portray our Lord's holy incarnation as a transmutation and fact-finding mission. Through the many pages of his redaction, Ronny Milliner has held up the hands of these false teachers and has become one of the leading proponents of neo-Calvinism and neo-infidelism in the church. The remainder of this article will explain why.

Milliner's Misconceptions and Misrepresentations

Concerning Jesus' Humanity

     After building his straw man "Apollinarius" heretic from statements made by apostate church writers, then labeling some of us as "Neo-Apollinarians," Milliner proceeds to ascribe positions to us based upon those writings. His first charge was that "Neo-Apollinarians Believe That Jesus Was Not Fully Human as You and I Are." I have repeatedly and emphatically denied this false charge, yet Milliner continues to make it. He wrote:

     "Do you remember 'playliking' {sic} when you were growing up? You playliked {sic} you were cowboys or Indians, or you playliked {sic} you were cops or robbers. The modern Neo-Apollinarians have Jesus 'playliking {sic} He was human. Who can believe it? When Jesus was tired (John 4:6), He was really tired, not 'playliking.' {sic} When Jesus was hungry (Matthew 4:2), He was really hungry, not just 'as' a hungry man. When He was asleep (Mark 4:38), He was really asleep, not just an 'outward disguise'." (The Seeker, January 2000)

     Ronny maliciously accuses me of portraying Jesus as nothing less than a liar and a fraud, who only played like he was a man. I deeply resent these accusations. Ronny, have you forgotten? It is your position that portrays Jesus as a potential liar. Don't you remember! It is my position that Jesus fully retained His God nature while upon the earth. It is my firm belief that it was entirely "impossible for God to lie" (Heb. 6:18; Tit. 1:2). I have lost hope for Ronny Milliner, but for the benefit of the honest readers who may be reading this response, I will repeat what I have before written and preached on this subject. I firmly believe that Jesus actually experienced the wide range of physical feelings and sensations that are common to human flesh. These would include hunger (Matt. 4:2), thirst (Jn. 19:28), fatigue (Matt. 8:24), and the unpleasant sensation of pain (Isa. 53:3-5).

     Though Milliner continues to lie and misrepresent me, I have taught for years that, in the incarnation, Jesus willingly accepted the physical limitations of the human body. Thus He truly experienced the natural sensations produced in that body. Though His spirit remained fully and immutably divine, the incarnation allowed that divine spirit to function with a fully human body, which according to the scriptures, was composed of flesh, blood and bones, just like ours (Heb. 2:14; Lk. 24:39). As with other humans, Jesus' divine spirit interfaced with His human body by means of the brain, the center of sensation and of intellectual and nervous activity. To deny this arrangement is to deny either the deity, or the humanity of Christ.

Concerning Jesus' Temptations

     Milliner also made the charge that "Neo-Apollinarians Believe That Jesus Was Not Tempted To Sin As We Are." He makes the charge because of his own Calvinistic definition of humanity. Milliner and his cohorts will charge you with denying the humanity of Christ if you deny that Jesus lusted to commit sin. Their beliefs and arguments are Calvinistic because they argue that sinful lust is inherent in humanity! They want to believe that Jesus was tempted in the sense that He desired to sin. I have challenged these men to find even one passage stating that Jesus "desired to sin." All but a couple of them have ignored my challenge. Those who attempted to answer offered Matthew 4:2 as their proof text that Jesus lusted to sin. Matthew 4:2 says Jesus "was hungry." My response was that if "hunger" alone constitutes sinful desire, then all men are born with a natural desire to sin! (Shades of Calvinism)

     These brethren have missed the entire point of the devil's attempt with Jesus. It was not the act of eating bread that was sinful. The sin would have been in the act of Jesus yielding to the devil's demand to turn stones into bread. If the mere act of eating bread were sinful, then we must conclude that Jesus sinned every time He ate bread! What some have failed to see is that Jesus never bridged the gap between His hunger and the devil's solicitation. The gap was not bridged because Jesus did not allow the normal, natural desire for food to become inordinate. He felt the sensation of hunger, yet He did not allow a connection to be made between that hunger and the devil's offer. Jesus had no desire to do the thing He was tempted to do.

     Others have offered a slightly more intelligent argument, but it is, nonetheless, Calvinistic to the core. They say there can be no temptation apart from the desire to commit the proposed sin. Thus they maintain that since lust is inherent in temptation, and since the Bible says Jesus "was tempted in all points like as we are"(Heb. 4:15), then Jesus must have desired to do the things He was tempted to do. Two simple points will suffice to show the fallacy of this argument:

1. If human desire is inherent in temptation, then the "tempter" (devil - Matt. 4:3,1) has the ability to incite lust in the human heart merely by placing a temptation in front of that human! Such a doctrine grants the tempter greater power over my will than I have the ability to resist. Milliner and others who have this view of temptation are certainly at odds with the inspired James, for he said we have the ability to "resist the devil" so that he will "flee" from us (Jas. 4:7). I reject the notion that lust is incited by a devil's temptation. One does not deny the humanity of Christ by denying that Jesus had sinful desire, but one does pervert the true nature of humanity itself, by making the argument that the desire to sin is inherent in the temptation to sin.

2. If sinful desire is inherent in temptation, then sinful desire is inherent in humanity itself, for Paul said temptation is "common to man" (1 Cor. 10:13). Since the Bible says temptation is "common to man," Milliner and others must believe that the desire to sin is both natural and common to man (More shades of Calvinism). Whether these men accept this conclusion or not is irrelevant. It is forced from their premises and definitions.

     I would advise Milliner and those of his persuasion to accept the definition of "tempt" that best matches biblical teaching. Strong's definition of peirazo is the simplest I have found. He says the word means - "to try, to prove, to see whether a thing can be done." For example, the Pharisees were said to have "tempted" Jesus when they tried to get Him to contradict the Law of Moses (Matt. 19:3; Jn. 8:6). There was no desire on the part of Jesus to do this. In fact, He had already stated His purpose in this regard. He told the audience on the mountain that He came to the earth to fulfill the Law of Moses. This He would do by perfect compliance (Matt. 5:17-18). The Pharisees put forth an effort to trap Jesus. The Bible calls this a temptation. These temptations were every bit as real as yours and mine but real temptations are not necessarily lustful temptations. I do not always desire to do the evil thing that someone tries to get me to do. Jesus never desired to do such (Heb. 7:26; Jn. 14:30).

Concerning Jesus' Spirit and the Kenotic Theory

     In the section of Milliner's article that I am now about to review, Milliner plainly affirms the kenotic theory. "Kenosis" is the corresponding noun to the Greek verb "ekenosen" that is found in Philippians 2:7. This verse says Jesus "made Himself of no reputation"(KJV, NKJV) - or "emptied Himself" (NASB). Kenotic theorists go a step beyond this. As did Milliner, they insist on the interpretation that Jesus "emptied Himself of His privileges" (margin, NKJV). These men are not content with the notion that Jesus emptied Himself. Kenoticists wish to believe Jesus emptied Himself "OF" His divine attributes, characteristics, qualities and properties. As we shall see from Milliner's own statements, these include omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, immortality and holiness. While pointing out the differences between a divine spirit and a human spirit, Ronny Milliner wrote:

     "Our spirit was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). While our spirit may be like God's, there are some obvious differences between us and God. The divine spirit has certain attributes or characteristics that we do not possess. We are not immortal. Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:16 that God 'alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light.' A divine spirit also is all powerful. In Revelation 19:6 it is announced, 'For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns.' A human spirit does not have that attribute."

     Previously in his article, Milliner had argued that Jesus acquired "traits, affections" and "emotions" from mankind. He included things like "compassion, love, grief and anger." Then, after telling us that Jesus obtained these qualities from humanity, he now suggests that mankind obtained these qualities from God. I know what I believe. I believe Genesis 1:26-27, which tells us that we acquired these capacities from God, but I am not sure what Ronny believes. Ronny, which is it, did we acquire these traits from God, or did He acquire them from us? Were we made in His image or He in ours? Was God incapable of experiencing compassion, love, grief and anger before His incarnation? The Bible tells us that God (this includes Jesus) both possessed and experienced each of these qualities long before Jesus came to the earth (compassion - Deut. 13:17; love -- Deut. 7:8; grief - Gen. 6:6; and anger - Ex. 32:19).

     Notice that while speaking of omniscience, Ronny said, "A human spirit does not have that attribute." He went on to say:

     "Thus we have that divine Word, in whose likeness we have been made, taking on human traits. A spirit with human traits is a human spirit."

     Earlier in the article, he had already approvingly quoted R.L. Ottley in saying, "Jesus Christ possessed a human spirit." The picture should be clearly in focus. Ronny Milliner makes two simple statements that define him as a kenoticist. First, he tells us that Jesus possessed a "human spirit," then he tells us that a human spirit does not have divine attributes like omniscience. Based upon Milliner's own teaching, while Jesus was in the flesh, He did not possess divine attributes. Notice his entire statement:

     "In like fashion, the human spirit has certain traits or characteristics which are not true of a divine spirit. Human beings can be tempted, while a Divine Being exercising all of His divine privileges cannot be tempted (James 1:13). A human spirit is not all-knowing, but gains knowledge through experience, growth, education, etc.

     When Jesus came to this earth, He 'emptied Himself of His privileges' (Philippians 2:5-8, marginal reading in the New King James Version). He who had been immortal (1 Timothy 6:16), became mortal (Matthew 27:50). He who had been above temptation (James 1:13), became subject to temptation (Hebrews 4:15). The divine spirit, did not exercise those divine privileges which distinguish God from man. He also took on those human attributes which distinguish man from God. Thus we have that divine Word, in whose likeness we have been made, taking on human traits. A spirit with human traits is a human spirit."

     Though his language shifts from Jesus having no divine privileges, to Jesus just not exercising those privileges, yet the argument is the same. Milliner teaches that Jesus gave up all privileges and attributes that distinguish God from ordinary men. This constitutes and explicit denial of the deity of Christ.

     Of course Ronny is careful to avoid being charged with the logical consequence of his arguments, which is the flat denial of Christ's earthly deity. To do this, he must issue a disclaimer. It is found in the remainder of the quote. He said:

     "This statement does not mean He ceased being divine. He had the same essence He had through all of eternity."

     Here we see the old "essence without attributes" argument used by John Welch in debate. This silly argument was constructed for the sole purpose of allowing these men to teach their heretical theories about Jesus, while at the same time, enabling them to avow faith in the "deity of Jesus." Of course, their argument lacks both scriptural and technical soundness. "Essence" and "attributes" are mutually inclusive. You cannot have one without the other. The essence of a thing is defined by its attributes. Paul told the Galatians that before their conversion, "they were slaves to those which by nature are not gods" (Gal. 4:8). Idols worshippers may have professed belief in whatever "deity" they were worshipping, however, their "god" did not possess the attributes of God. Consequently, these "gods" were no gods at all!

     The same is true with some among us who claim belief in the deity of Christ. They only claim such because they have redefined "deity" to exclude all of the attributes and qualities that define what God is.


     There is a continued need for study on this subject. I hope honest brethren will continue to examine the passages relating to the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ. I hope they will reject the Calvinistic theories that pervert the nature of man and deny the deity of Jesus Christ. I hope they will reject the Jehovah's Witness doctrine that Jesus' "becoming flesh" caused Him to cease being all that He eternally was. I hope they will reject the modernistic theories that are being advanced to reduce Jesus to the station of an ordinary man, bereft of all of His divine powers and properties. I hope they will come to accept the truth that while in the flesh, Jesus was fully and functionally God, in a fully human body (Jn. 1:1,14; 14:9; 1 Tim. 3:16; Col. 2:9; Rom. 9:5).

Tim Haile
7693 Russellville Rd.
Bowling Green, KY 42101
{270} 842-5354

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