the Spirit Watch
The Trinity Studies:
An Analysis Of Gwen Shamblin's "Essence Of God" Statement
Part 7: "How Did The Jews And Jesus View God?"
by Rafael D. Martinez, Co-Director, Spiritwatch Ministries
In the midst of this next torrent of almost purely inflammatory rhetoric, there are some issues Shamblin raises which should be discussed. It’s hard, though, to find much clear and rational train of thought articulated in this next round of her “argumentation.” We’re going to have to tread carefully through this vomitous mass of verbosity to pick these out, so bear with me here as I try to do so:
Not one passage says that God and Jesus are a “god-head”, nor a “trinity”, nor that God incarnated Himself in the form of a human and came to earth and talked to Himself. One voice from heaven stated, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased" (Luke 3:22) at the same time that Jesus was most definitely on earth being baptized. To think that this is a two-headed “person” who talks to Himself and is pleased with Himself is too horrifying to conceive, for it completely goes against the entire Word of God. Only a demon could have birthed this concept and could have tortured people to keep them out of the Word of God and in the Dark Ages. Demons burn dissenters at the stake – not God. This creed mutated the true church into a new and twisted religion. Can you imagine the horror of knowing that you and your loved ones would be burned at the stake if you did not accept this new three-headed monstrous view of God? Imagine being tempted to quote this creed in a weekly ritual because dissenters would be caught and weeded out, leaving behind a confused and weakened crowd of only those too afraid to die for truth. This tradition is still in place today.
In classic form, Shamblin’s argument abruptly turns and twists from point to point: hurling one ill-defined accusation and several contemptuous expressions of almost feral loathing meant to evoke a purely emotional reaction of her audience. She turns momentarily from her misrepresentation of the doctrine of the Trinity with a single contemptuous assertion that there is no Scriptural evidence of the Incarnation of Christ. This is a repetition of her earlier rejection.
Then, as if in an apoplectic fury, we find Shamblin’s vicious hate of this Biblical truth rise up so heatedly that she stoops to pure demonization that is shaded with blasphemy. She conjures up grotesque imagery to elicit the kind of response she’s hoping to get from her audience: her belief that the doctrine of the Trinity asserts that God is a “two headed person” that “talks to Himself”, an unbiblical concept drawn from the wicked imaginations of ungodly men so warped she calls them “demons.” It’s truly a tragedy to see a supposedly pious, religious person so lost in their dogmatic conviction that they sink to such a level when they cannot find any way to intelligently articulate any substantial and meaningful objections to Biblical truth they hate.
Let’s examine these issues one by one.
Shamblin ventures proudly out on thin ice when she begins to play word games and deny God’s self-revelation simply because the language used by believers to describe it in the second century didn’t exist as a part of first century Christian vocabulary. While she is correct that the word “trinity” was not used by the early church (and was actually only formally used once coined by the Christian apologist Tertullian in the third century AD), the concepts that the word that it defined were most definitely found in the Old Testament Scriptures they possessed as well as in the collected copies of the apostles that would become the New Testament. She proves nothing by her pointed remark. We’ve already seen Triune references to both the deity of Jesus and that of the Holy Spirit, and we will discuss this further later on in this article.
Typically, cults will create their own unique vocabulary of terminology and words meant to convey very specific information to the members within their communities which is usually and entirely lost upon those not a part of their groups. Remnant Fellowship is no different than other cults in this regard and their social circles are filled with jargon that serves as their own spiritual shorthand meant to control thought and therefore, behavior. It would be well to ask Gwen Shamblin just where in the Bible we find justification for her own peculiar and aberrantly defined terminology that fills her teaching: I’ve yet to see once bring up chapter and verse that teaches:
“One Bite Past Full”
“It’s Not About You”
I could fill several pages with this line of inquiry that demands a response. This cultic, loaded language communicates very specific messages that resonate with clear meaning in Remnant circles, lost on all but true believers who know very clearly what is defined for them. But where does the Bible teach what these secret doctrines spell out? If we go by Shamblin’s own demands, which she should be willing enough to go by, let us take our inquiry to the next logical step: where are these phrases or terms used anywhere in the Bible? They are not, so why should anyone accept her claims either?
And when Shamblin vehemently denies that the old King James Version-era word “godhead” has anything to do with definition of the nature of God and Christ, she once again stumbles over her own abysmal ignorance. While the English word “godhead” itself comes from the Anglo-Saxon vernacular, the original Greek word it was based upon is indeed drawn from Scripture. It is found in three New Testament verses only, but always in the clear context of describing the actual essence of God. “Godhead” is translated in these passages with 3 different, though closely related, Greek words. Here are the verses with the Greek words in parenthesis - note very carefully what is being written in each of these verses:
Acts 17:29: "Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being (to theion) is like gold or silver or stone-- an image made by man's design and skill.(NIV)
Romans 1:20: For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature (theiotes)-- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.(NIV)
Colossians 2:9: For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity (theotes) lives in bodily form (NIV)
Without trying to get too technical, we must look into the Greek here to see what the writers of Scripture, inspired by the Spirit of God, intended to convey to us. In Acts 17 and Romans 1, the Greek words to theion and theiotes describe both the quality and personality of deity: in short, they tell us what makes “God” actually “God.” Paul’s preaching to the Athenians on Mars Hill and the teaching found in his epistle to the Romans are meant to jar both pagan and Christian contemplation on who God is by contrasting our mere natural created existence with the contrast of His infinitely greater supernatural divinity. We are to understand that God’s essential being sets him completely apart from the natural order. He is not a part of creation. He is the Creator. His glory rises far above any human ability to grasp, but what that glory has wrought in creation is a voiceless choir of infallible testimony to His deity. He is Lord. Creation has settled that: only the fool, as the Psalmist said, would say “there is no god”.
But when we move to Colossians 2:9, Paul’s teaching unveils to an even greater degree just how the glory of God’s very being is revealed among us now. Rather than being viewed afar off and lifted up beyond the heavens in remote, distant majesty, we are heirs to a glorious inheritance of God’s intimate presence. The great apostle echoes what his Master revealed in John 10:30 and plainly spells it out: it is in the personage of Jesus Christ that all of which God (theotes) actually is has been incarnate in physical form! Jesus is both son of David and son of God, ethnicity of Israel, humanity of Adam, but deity as none other than God Himself. All of Jesus’ fundamental nature, qualities and power are the same as that of His Father. He is the living embodiment of that divinity because He is God Almighty. Theotes is the strongest form of the root word theos, encompassing a complete unity of both the characteristics and the essence of God’s divinity and firmly denying any distinction between the two whatsoever. The clarity and force of the original Greek word in the context of this verse is undeniable: Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh.
In making this Biblical assertion, Trinitarians are not creating some theological Frankenstein: they are not postulating that God is some kind of fleshly monster with two heads, despite Shamblin’s demonizing denunciations. They are only stressing what Scripture itself reveals about the essential unity of God’s spiritual nature and Christ’s. However, the Bible does reveal in their eternal fellowship as two entirely separate and divine personages alluded to throughout the Bible (we will review these Scriptures shortly). Both eternally exist as Lord over all, although one was ordained to become the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” One is Yahweh and one is Yeshua – Father and Son. Both will fellowship with any longing, hungry heart yearning for God in their life. All they require is faith, submission and a pursuit of His revealed truth found in their fellowship made possible by the Spirit. With bated breath, Shamblin may ferally reject this reality, but as I have said, she does so to her soul’s peril. She will someday face the Creator and find out He has a Jewish face and has nail prints in His hands and give an account for her heresy. That day, I fear, will not go well with her.
In creating her Bible boogeyman of a literally two headed god filled with confusion, Shamblin only proves one thing and that is how beyond reason she becomes about this subject. This form of argumentation is plainly meant to evoke a subjective revulsion and horror in her follower’s minds whenever they hear of the teaching of the Trinity. It is a significant outburst that helps us learn more about her motives and her methodology that are devoted to falsehood. And in trying to bolster her follower’s resolve, Shamblin’s almost irrational emotionalism is pathetic to behold. In her fevered mind, she may actually believe that this godlike monstrosity may be the “trinity” she thinks Christians stand for, but I’ve yet to find a true Trinitarian believer who views God in quite this warped manner. Do you?
This cartoon character she creates to serve her propagandizing is not the God I serve, nor is it the God countless thousands of Christians stood for with their very lives in the first three centuries of the Church’s existence. And it is no wonder that the thousands of potential converts she tried to ensnare at the outset of her Remnant Fellowship recruitment drive in 2000, upon reading this bizarre statement, recognized how imbalanced Shamblin is on this most fundamental issue, that being recognition of just who “the God” is. She will one day bow before the nail scarred feet of the Jewish rabbi who died for her onerous sin, but a serious question as to being covered by His merciful grace remains.
Monotheism was fundamental to the Jews as well as to Christians. In fact, all of Jerusalem and the Church would be founded on the fact that we have to forsake the world and other passions and idols and serve only one God. Chapters 28 and 29 of Deuteronomy (the Book of the Law, the Torah, or the commands of God) lay out clearly that if the children of God remain monotheistic then they will prosper, and if they become polytheistic they will suffer. “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. “ (Exodus 20:4) God would go on to describe Himself as a Jealous God and that indeed His name was “Jealous” (Exodus 34:14).
It’s a strange thing to see, but at this point in her document Shamblin almost seems as if she has finally composed herself and begins actually to write in a lucid manner again. But clarity never guarantees verity and this is doubly so in Shamblin’s case. While her writing at this point is largely true, there’s an underlying direction she is going with this that has implications we’ll see soon enough. For now, we can agree with her observation that the holiness of God was most compellingly voiced by Yahweh’s self-revelation as a “Jealous God.” God’s command is that fear of Him be a living reality set apart in every God-fearing heart. She’s also correct in the statement that both Judaism and Christianity shared a monotheistic belief in one God but how she hastens to qualify that belief is noteworthy as well as predictable.
To her, the foundation for both Jew and Christian is to serve God by the practice of separation from the world and self-purification. These spiritual disciplines certainly are at the core of a sanctified and holy life. No one can dispute that. But in the larger context of what we already know about Remnant Fellowship’s views on “doing the will of God,” the underlying claim Shamblin makes is that God’s focus for both Jew and Gentile is in their scrupulous attention to conduct and behavior and not faith in Christ. As always, the subtle tilt we see here is towards her legalistic mandate for “doing the will of God” which we’ve seen involves a works-based and self-imputed righteousness alien to the true holiness which faith in Christ alone gives.
It is not the well doing of self-denial that is faulted – it is the trust in one’s own well doing that Shamblin leads others to obsess over as the acid test of true fellowship with God. And Gwen has imparted by example to her flock a literal passion for the kind of personal anxiety to both appear and act righteously, enlisting the help of “Remnant saints” to provide social influences that compel compliance to her standards. Inexorably, her judgments on the correlation between being overweight and the presence of sin became her gospel:
My lifelong focus has been spent trying to make sure that I have submitted to the hot refiner’s fire and the heavy disciplining hand of God. I have wrestled over just the right way to express these words so that I can help people break free of this powerful delusion. There’s a real reason why church-goers are still struggling with their weight and it’s connected to the state of the church today. And as I have always felt the strong need to confront myself with self-examination, I now feel that God wants me to confront the present day institutional church - both members and leaders - with this same standard of self-examination. (9)
The question is, however, whose standard is she confronting with? I think the evidence is abundant: her personal biases, convictions and observations on how much you should weigh, how you should speak to others, how children should cry, your ability to rebuke and praise others, your posture in prayer, and above all, your complete and unquestioned obedience to her code of conduct, framed within a Christian morality of perfectionism, has become the primary foundation for determining personal holiness. It is what Shamblin feels is “the will of God” that gets published and acted upon in the outposts of Remnant influence wherever they go.
This undue and intrusive influence of Shamblin that her followers are to unquestioningly submit to is what was an unintentional reinforcement of abusive corporal punishment that cost the life of six year old Josef Smith, who died on October 9, 2003 at the hands of his parents, who were Remnant members.
After being found guilty by a jury of beating their child to death, Sonya and Joseph Smith were convicted to life plus 30 years for the heinous act. And while news reports indicate that the prosecutors cut some sort of deal with the Smith's defense team to limit any references to Remnant during the trial, the truth is still documented irrefutably in audiotapes we were given by ex members of the cult. A February 2003 conference call in which Sonya Smith thanked Shamblin and her lieutenant Tedd Anger for their counsel regarding Josef's "discipline" is explicit at this point (click here to hear this excerpt by Real Audio). You can hear Sonya fretting about the possibility of having to "go to the world and its' message" to get help to control her son who was engaging in destructive behaviors, that being the police and social service workers. You can hear Gwen's unctuous exaltation of her "message" as the ultimate truth to follow. These tapes are the clearest evidence yet that shows how directly and completely Shamblin will not hesitate to assume a directive role in her flock’s life which they readily embrace as doing the right thing, regardless how potentially abusive or damaging it may be to them in the long run.
While Shamblin may believe this kind of controlling micromanagement of human life is what the kingdom of God is founded upon, we would rather do well to heed the voice of Jesus who reminds us what happens to those who reject faith in Him and His foundational being as being what we are to build our lives upon:
Jesus looked directly at them and asked, "Then what is the meaning of that which is written: "'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone'?
Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed."(NIV)
More to follow --
(9) Weigh Down Advanced Video Week 10
Go To The Next Article Back To The Spiritwatch Home Page