The Revelation of Robert Dodd Weeks

In 1952, C. Haskell Yadon, an early Oneness apologist, edited and reprinted a book under the title Jehovah-Jesus, Supreme-God: Son of God, Son of Man. The original book, published in 1876, was written by Robert Dodd Weeks and was similarly entitled, Jehovah-Jesus: the Oneness of God: the True Trinity. Though Weeks’ theology does not perfectly mirror the Oneness Pentecostal view of the Godhead, it does intersect with Oneness Christology on several points and builds a clear and biblical argument about the incontrovertible unity of the Godhead and the full humanity and deity of Jesus Christ.

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Robert Dodd Weeks (b. 1819) was not a ecclesiastic, though his father was pastor at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Newark, New Jersey. Weeks was originally trained as a printer and farmed. He spent some time as a teacher in public schools in both New York and New Jersey and was a professor of farm economy and English literature at Michigan Agricultural College before appointment to a clerkship at Newark’s Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company in 1860. According to his son, Rufus, Robert Weeks was “somewhat liberal in regard to the philosophy of religious doctrine, positive of the essential truths of Christianity; an early Abolitionist; a Republican from the foundation of the party; from boyhood an advocate of total abstinence from all intoxicating drinks, as well as from tobacco.” In short, Robert Dodd Weeks was an armchair theologian, who reached some remarkable and perceptive conclusions about the Godhead.

In his books, Weeks details his struggle to accept the Trinity despite the fact that he was “brought up an ‘orthodox’ Calvinistic Trinitarian.” He disclaims the tampering of radical theologies; rather, he asserts that his conclusions are “the result, gradually reached, of a careful study of the word of God (he believes with a sincere desire to know the truth therein taught,) and of a comparison of the arguments of Trinitarian writers with its teachings.”

The kernel of Mr. Weeks’ argument is simply this:

[There is] One Indivisible and Undivided God, of absolute, unqualified, Unity; existing or subsisting not as three persons, but as one only: revealed and described by various names, referring to different attributes, relations, different operations, not in any sense to different personalities: –as Jehovah, Lord, King, Father, Creator, Redeemer, Comforter.

From this premise, Weeks presents intertestamental evidence of “the absolute Oneness of God” and concluding “Such proof of the doctrine of the Trinity, we fail to find.”

Concerning the person of Jesus Christ, Weeks fully affirms the inextricably mingled natures of the God-man, devoting chapters to Christ’s humanity and divinity. Like many Oneness apologists, Weeks cites Scriptural proofs of the messiah’s fatigue, hunger, and obedience, while demonstrating Christ’s omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. He summates that “the doctrine of the Bible is, that the Lord Jesus Christ is God.”

Like Oneness Pentecostals, Weeks accepts “Son of man” and “Son of God” as biblical descriptors but takes strong exception to the terms “God the Son” and “Eternal Son.” According to Weeks, “The Lord Jesus Christ, in His divine nature, is not ‘God the Son’ but the one only indivisible and undivided God, in all his fullness” and elsewhere “ . . . in his divine nature he is no secondary divinity, –that he is not God the Son, but God the Father.” Where he diverges from orthodox Oneness teaching is in his belief that the Son had form before His birth. He does not separate the Son from the Father, but posits that the begetting occurred before the birth of Mary’s baby. Weeks reserves the designation “Son” for the human manifestation of God but interprets the Old Testament theophanies as Christ visible.

Also in agreement with Oneness doctrine, Weeks assigns no separate personal distinction to the Holy Ghost: “The term ‘Holy Spirit’”, says he, “is often used as a name of the one indivisible and undivided God; a name applied to him when especial reference is had to his spiritual operations—as the illuminator, the inspirer, the imparter of the miraculous power, the sanctifier, the comforter . . . “ Interpreting Christ’s Paracletic promise in John 14:18, Weeks exposits: “I will be your comforter: the Comforter is not a different person, but I myself, I in my divine nature . . . “

Robert Dodd Weeks’ book may not a point-by-point precursor of Oneness Pentecostalism, but it clearly displays a sincere and incipient revelation of the Godhead. Weeks must be appreciated for his ability to lay aside conventional creeds in pursuit of the deeper truths of God’s Word. The Christ that was opened to Weeks was the Christ of the Apostles, the one, true and living God—Creator, Redeemer, Comforter. His independent conclusions vindicate our own, demonstrating that the revelation of the mighty God in Christ is perceptible to all that search the Scriptures and rightly divide the Word of Truth!

Matthew Shaw is a librarian at Ball State University. He lives in Muncie, Indiana with his wife, Brandi, and his four sons. He attends River of Life Church.

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