“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3; NASB)
The above-quoted passage is a favorite pet verse of Felix Y. Manalo, the self-proclaimed “God’s Messenger in these last days” and founder of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) cult. He and his so-called “ministers” use this verse as a proof text to prove that Jesus is not God in nature. Manalo claims that the doctrines of the deity of Christ and the Trinity were only invented by the church leadership, as convened by Emperor Constantine, during the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325.
Indeed, Manalo’s teaching that Jesus was a created being is nothing new. The same teaching was espoused by Arius, an ascetic presbyter of Alexandria, Egypt of Libyan descent. The formal declaration of the doctrines of the deity of Christ and the Trinity in A.D. 325 does not mean that the same were just invented by the church council at that time. Prior to the convening of the Council of Nicea, the doctrine of the Trinity of the Godhead was already accepted and taught by the early Christians, it is only when the huge controversy arose and divided the church that a need for a formal declaration by the bishops was necessary.
The doctrine of the Trinity can be summarized in three statements, to wit: (1) God is three Persons; (2) Each Person is fully God; and (3) There is one God. Therefore, for Jesus to say that the Father is the only true God is still correct even though both the Son and the Holy Spirit are likewise each the only true God. Moreover, to base one’s doctrine on a single verse to the exclusion of all other passages that say otherwise, is incorrect exegesis. Our theology should be based on what the entire Scripture says. Just because we cannot fully comprehend its truth, it doesn’t mean that it is not true. The apostle Paul admonishes the young pastor Timothy to “pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching, persevere in these things, for as you do this, you will ensure salvation both for yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16) and to “be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). In order to truly know God, we would do well to do the same.