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The Restitution: Biblical Proof Jesus Is NOT God

The Restitution: Biblical Proof Jesus Is Not God may be the most comprehensive, well-documented, biblically in-depth, and yet accessible book ever published that affirms all the church has proclaimed about Jesus except that he is not God. It cites over 400 scholars.

Author Kermit Zarley, a former Trinitarian for 22 years, alleges church fathers of the 4th and 5th centuries were influenced by Greek philosophy in wrongly deciding Jesus was both man and God, the Second Person of the Trinity. Yet he affirms everything else the church has proclaimed about Jesus, including that he was the Christ, born of a virgin, sinless, did miracles, died for our sins, and was raised from the dead to provide forgiveness and salvation. Zarley insists that the early Christians called Jesus “Lord,” identified only the Father as “God,” and in calling Jesus “the Son of God” they meant no more than one highly favored by God.

With non-technical language and a conservative view of the inspiration of the Bible, Zarley shows (1) Jesus never claimed to be God, (2) his early disciples didn’t say he was God in their evangelistic messages in Acts, and (3) most of the major texts cited to prove Jesus is God have grammatical problems that result in alternate readings in Bible versions. So, this book affirms the Apostles Creed but finds fault with the Nicene and Chalcedonian creeds. In sum, The Restitution seeks to restore to Jesus his identity as a man who was essentially subordinate to the one and only God, the Father Almighty.

This printed book originally was published in 2008 with the title The Restitution of Jesus Christ and with the anonymous pseudonym Servetus the Evangelical. The book had been in progress for 25 years. In 2023, I changed its title to The Restitution: Biblical Proof Jesus Is Not God and abandoned its pseudonym. Since I didn’t change the book’s text, except to correct typos, I didn’t have to declare it a second edition. The original book was somewhat unwieldy as size 9”x11” Wire-O-bound. Now, it is in standard trade format size 6.18”x9.25”. The original book was almost 600 pages, whereas this reprint has a different pagination.

The book is written for the general reading public, though it will appeal especially to Bible students. It has no technical jargon. There is a glossary. Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words are transliterated and translated. The book is well documented. Its footnotes are mostly reference, so discursive notes are minimal. Most scholars cited are authorities in their fields of expertise.

Most chapters in this book focus on what biblical authors have written on Identity Christology. Thus, some chapters are titled Christology of John, Christology of Paul, and Christology of Peter. Scholars agree that the synoptic gospels nowhere say Jesus is God. Grammatical difficulties in the Greek New Testament cause some Pauline texts to be disputed as to whether they say Jesus is God, such as Romans 9.5, 2 Thessalonians 1.12, and Titus 2.13. I regard my treatment of John 1.1c, 20.28, and Philippians 2.6-11 as my best work in this book. And many scholars would agree that these three texts are foremost in the Bible for the traditionalists’ position.

Then, what scriptures are foremost for my position, that Jesus is not God. As for traditionalists, there are three: (1) John 17.3 (Jesus praying, “Father, . . . And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”), (2) 1 Corinthians 8.4, 6 (“there is no God but one. . . . yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist”), and (3) Ephesians 4.6 (“one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all”). And I could add the lengthy text of Mark 12.28-34.

The Restitution is my magnum opus (=“great work,” but I prefer “best work”). Here is my most succinct description of it: “This book affirms all that the church has proclaimed about Jesus except that he is not God.” Thus, this book is controversial in nature because, ever since the 4th century the church has asserted that a person must believe Jesus is God to be a real Christian.

Because of this book, I have suffered rejection. My response to this is, simply, that it is better to believe what God says than to believe what man says. Yet, I also believe strongly in considering the opinions of those who disagree with my position, or I wouldn’t work so hard at reading what they have written. For me, the ultimate in life is to know the truth. In doing so, I do not seek to be an adversary with my fellow Christians. Rather, I seek the approval of God.

Now, let me be clear. Although I deem it an error to believe Jesus is God, I strongly maintain that people can view Jesus as God and believe in the Doctrine of the Trinity, yet be a genuine Christian. I used to believe that way myself, and I certainly was a Christian. So, I think this has nothing to do with salvation. How are we saved? By believing Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior who died on the cross for our sins and that God proved it by raising him from the dead. That is the gospel, not that Jesus is God, and it is repeatedly set forth in the New Testament as such.

The Restitution will be available at in hardback, softcover, and digital. As originally published, it still does not have a scripture index or a subject index. To include them when the book’s title was changed and the pseudonym abandoned, in 2023, would have required it to be a second edition. I did not want that since the text remains as originally published except for corrected typos. And due to the book’s massive amount of scripture citations, adding these two aids would have increased the book’s size perhaps 100 pages. I was trying to limit its size in width and therefore its retail price. (In fact, Wipf and Stock Publishers—which publishes one of my books and distributes two others—would have published this book in 2008, but only in two volumes due to its size, and I was not willing to do it.) To slightly alleviate not having these indices, I added “Complete Contents” to help readers search the book. They can now do that easier and better with the e-book. I hope to offer print and digital together at a discount.

The Restitution of Jesus Christ was self-published in 2008 without a publisher. It has now been republished with its new title, The Restitution; Biblical Proof Jesus Is Not God, with Amazon’s KDP. Yet, that is not the publisher. So, this book remains without a publisher. When referencing such a book, “n.p.” is recommended along with its date of publication.



The crux of this book is an examination of the primary New Testament texts traditionalists claim indicate Jesus is God. Foremost are John 1.1c and 20.28. So, “Chapter Six: Christology of John” is 118 pages in length. Kermit claims, as do many scholars, that the main battlefield regarding whether the Bible says Jesus is God is the Gospel of John. He would say of the whole Bible, half of this dispute concerns this gospel. Kermit contends that traditionalist and historical-critical scholars err in thinking it says Jesus is God, and that is why the latter dismiss it, or much of it, saying it is inauthentic. But Kermit is happy to report the scholarly “Quest for the Historical Jesus” has now entered another phase with a reexamination of whether the Gospel of John is historically reliable (e.g., Craig L. Blomberg, Jesus the Purifier: John’s Gospel and the Fourth Quest for the Historical Jesus). Maybe they also will reexamine whether it says Jesus is God.

Professor Scot McKnight obtained his PhD under the tutelage of Dr. James D.G. Dunn at the University of Nottingham, England. (Since 1980, Dunn arguably has been the world’s leading authority on Christology. Dunn was our keynote speaker the first year, 2000, of the annual Kermit Zarley Lectures at North Park University, Chicago, IL.) McKnight then became Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Chicago, from 1981 to 1994. From 1994 to 2012, he was Professor in Religious Studies and director of the Bible department at North Park University, Chicago. Scot is now Professor of New Testament at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary near Chicago.

Dr. Scot McKnight has been a close friend of mine since 1991. In 2011, he had authored over thirty theological books. His Jesus Creed is an award-winning best-seller. The online Theopedia article about him says, “McKnight specializes in historical Jesus studies as well as the Gospels and the New Testament. As an authority in Jesus studies, McKnight has been frequently consulted by Fox News, WGN, US News & World Report, Newsweek, TIME, as well as newspapers throughout the United States.” For about seven years, Scot was one of the panel members of the prestigious “Historical Jesus Section” of the Society of Biblical Literature along with 6-8 other panel members who included James D.G. Dunn, N.T. Wright, Ed Sanders, Marcus Borg, and John Domminic Crossan. These scholars were, and still are, recognized as being among the leading Jesus researchers in the world.

Before my RJC book was released, McKnight, who is also a smooth and powerful swinging professor of the golf links, read and then wrote eloquently and cleverly of The Restitution of Jesus Christ, saying, “The wedge driven by Martin Kahler between the historical Jesus and the kerygmatic Christ was, according to Kermit Zarley, mishit. Instead, the wedge of misinterpretation needs to be driven between the New Testament’s depiction of God’s Son and the ecclesiastical Christ, the portrait of Jesus as redrawn by Christians under the influence of Platonic and Neo-Platonic philosophical categories. Readers of the New Teatment and historians of Jesus should recognize this important thesis. In addition, Zarley combines a high view of Scripture with a thoroughly human Jesus and lands with a square stance on a unique tee box–an unusual form of unitarian theology. No one can read this book without being challenged.”

Professor James Tabor has been the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte since 1989. Before that, he held positions at the University of Notre Dame (1979-85) and the College of William and Mary (1985-89). Dr. Tabor specializes in ancient Judaism and Christian origins. He is the author of several books, including bestsellers by Simon and Schuster. He also conducts significant archaeological work in the Holy Land, is often consulted by the media, and sometimes appears on national television networks.

Dr. Tabor reviewed The Restitution of Jesus Christ on his TaborBlog on August 29, 2009, in an article entitled “Remembering Servetus–Past and Present.” In it, he reminisces about the brilliant Michael Servetus and then says of The Restitution of Jesus Christ, “I obtained a copy and have to say I am much impressed. It runs 600 pages, is thoroughly researched and documented, and fully in touch with the massive amount of scholarly discussion currently available on the ‘Christology of the New Testament’…. he has surely done his homework.” Weeks later Tabor emailed a friend about my book, further saying of it, “this work by our modern Servetus is a mortal wound to the doctrine of the Trinity…. it is a towering work that will stand for a long time to come.”

Bassam Zawadi was born in Syria and has been a worldwide Muslim apologist and public debater who used to live in Houston, Texas, my former hometown. He is now married and resides in Saudi Arabia. Bassam, whom I have never met in person, gives my RJC book a sterling review on his website at

The following excerpts are gleaned from this review, with his first sentence referring to my 2+ years of anonymity and the contest then to identify me:

“I initially didn’t think much of this fellow and just thought he was some bored guy with nothing to do and just craved for attention. But then, I purchased his book “The Restitution of Jesus Christ” and with no exaggeration my jaw dropped in surprise after seeing the absolutely outstanding scholarship displayed in this book…. This was a book that I have been craving for so long and kept telling my self that needed to be written.STE’s book is dated at 2008 and surveys the best scholarship has to offer on the topic of Christology … [it] is the biggest and best contribution to Biblical Unitarian apologetics that I have seen so far and stands brilliantly side-by-side with the works of Anthony Buzzard against those (who unfortunately are in the majority) who believe that the Bible propagates the notion of the Trinity. My personal favorite is his detailed 30 page discussion on the Thomas calling Jesus “My Lord and My God” argument.  In short, buy this book immediately. The small amount of money you will be putting for the amount of knowledge you would be receiving in return is indeed a great bargain!”

Kevin Brown did an online review. It consists of several parts and is entitled “Review: The Restitution of Jesus Christ”

Rick Purdy, Ph.D., Th.M., has served as an adjunct professor of religion and philosophy at several universities and colleges. He says of The Restitution of Jesus Christ, “I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in comprehending and responding to historical and contemporary alternative exegesis of classic Social Trinitarian and Christological texts and the general logic associated with the subjects.”

Professor Sir Anthony Buzzard (MA [Oxon.] MA Th., Hon. Ph. D) is the preeminent leader and patriarch of the modern, small but growing, Biblical Unitarian (=One God) movement with which I now associate myself. He retired in about 2013 after 24 years as a professor at Atlanta Bible College. I fully agree with his book, Jesus Was Not a Trinitarian (though I’m unsure of his treatment of adoni in Ps 110.1, a minor issue). I can’t say that about hardly any theological book I’ve ever read. He says my RJC book is “a tour de force” with “extensive documentation.” He adds, “Kermit Zarley has provided another powerful witness against the complex, Greek philosophical definition of God and Jesus which have prevailed since the great Church councils…. Zarley’s work needs to be read by every pastor in the land. He calls the church to a complete reappraisal of one of its core doctrines. He shows that God is a single Person, the Father … The implications of this invitation to reexamination of theology and Christology are huge.”

Barbara Buzzard is the wife of Anthony Buzzard. On 3/1/10, she reviewed RJC in an online article.

The Journal is a newsletter produced by The Churches of God denomination. In issue #136, Art Mokarow provides a brief review of my RJC book. Here are a few excerpts from it: “The Restitution of Jesus Christ, after 25 years of research by Kermit Zarley,… has to carry some weight of truth…. detailed and precise … garnering every new piece of knowledge produces an excitement and pleasure because the truth becomes obvious…. Kermit Zarley’s book The Restitution of Jesus Christ is a must for basic Bible study.”

David Burke is an Australian pastor and prominent teacher of the Christadelphian Church. It is a 150-year old, anti-Trinitarian denomination of 60,000+ members (mostly in the UK and Australia) that has always advocated Biblical Unitarianism–that Jesus is Savior and Lord but not God, so only the Father is God. Burke has an online ministry–Bible Truth Discussion Forum. He had a lengthy, online debate in writing, called “the Great Trinity Debate,” with Rob Bowman, co-author of Putting Jesus in His Place. (Bowman made this challenge to all on the web, held an election for visitors to select his opponent, and Anthony Buzzard and Yours Truly finished in the top five.) In June, 2010, Burke emailed me, saying, “I have nearly finished reading your book, The Restitution of Jesus Christ. It is superb; probably the best book on the Trinity by a non-Trinitarian that I have ever read. Your approach is thorough and systematic, but your style is very readable.” On 12/1/15, Burke said on Facebook, “I bought a copy of Kermit’s book in preparation for my debate with Rob Bowman in 2010. I recommend it highly; it’s the best Unitarian apologetic on the market.”

Diglot, the pen name of a Trinitarian blogger who specializes in reviewing theological books, makes the following remark in his online review of RJC, “this book is definitely the most comprehensive book that I have read about the doctrine of the deity of Christ from someone who denies it.” See his review at

Dwayne Slater wrote, “I really like your books and can’t wait for the next one.”

Robin Todd, of Restoration Churches of God as well as Kingdom Heart Ministries, wrote, “Your book is great, very comprehensive. I’ve read it from cover to cover, and it’s a good reference manual.”

Stephen Hill, Christadelphian Church minister in South Australia, sent this review on 1/14/12:

“Kermit Zarley has provided an unequalled analysis and comprehensive resource on a study of the nature of Jesus Christ.  His book is over 580 pages long and has a bibliography of over 400 authors.  Virtually every verse in the Bible (Old and New Testaments) that has ever been used in an attempt to demonstrate that Jesus is God is examined in depth. . . . The clear and simple truth regarding Jesus Christ that he was and is a man, the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel – not a divine being or God – is amply demonstrated (eg John 17:3; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6; Eph.4:4-6).  It may surprise some that Jesus never actually directly claimed to be God.

“All Bible students, including Christadelphians like myself, will appreciate the thoroughness of Zarley’s expositions and his extensive references to recognised experts in language and history.  As a resource for difficult passages of Scripture, ‘Restitution’ is probably unequalled.  His longest chapter is on John’s gospel – 118 pages.  Well-known Trinitarian verses such as John 1:1; 1:18 and 20:28 are dealt with in detail.

“Given that mainstream Christianity holds the doctrine of the trinity as essential to salvation, Zarley’s book is controversial; but if correct, it exposes the world-wide and almost universal fundamental error held by most Christians.  His examination of the history of Christology (47 pages) [actually 100 pp.] amply demonstrates how this disastrous change occurred.  Zarley has therefore done us a great service in dispelling the mystery (and the mist!) surrounding the Bible’s teaching on the nature of Jesus Christ.”

Soo Chuang emailed about RJC on 11/11/12, saying, “Your book has become one of the most important reference tools for me each time I am called upon to defend my faith in Indonesia. It is comprehensive, yet not too difficult to read and understand. Would you give me permission to translate the tract attached at the beginning of the book into the Indonesian language?” [He means translating and distributing it, which permission I grant on this website at Tract.]

Paul (who for now wants to remain anonymous) emailed me on 11/23/17 saying, “For the past several months, I’ve been working my way through The Restitution of Jesus Christ. It’s appropriate that today is Thanksgiving, because I wanted to thank you for all the time and effort you obviously put into writing it! One of the reasons I read the book slowly is because you presented a lot of information, and I didn’t want to just skim over it. Another reason I read it slowly is because I didn’t want it to end! You treated the subject in more depth than I was expecting, but I’m grateful for that. I found it helpful that you dealt with some of the technical issues, and I appreciated hearing the views—and reasons for the views—of various scholars. And I really appreciated the time you took to evaluate the Christology of each NT author. It makes sense to me to think about the deity of Christ, not as an ontological identity, but as God working in Christ, so that Jesus really is Immanuel–God with us.”

Samuel Brown of Melbourne, Australia, is a Bible teacher and former missionary who taught nine years in a Bible college in Romania. He has had the unfortunate experience of his PhD dissertation being rejected at three seminaries he attended because it is about Jesus as the Son of God in the New Testament not meaning he is God. Samuel emailed me on 7/14/18 and attached a 35-page critique of my book, The Restitution of Jesus Christ, which he wrote. He says he was raised Plymouth Brethren and became Baptist. He writes, “I was a trinitarian for over 30 years when I began questioning what I had been taught and was teaching regarding the Person and identity of Jesus. . . . I’m 50 now and find it a bit harder to be more flexible in my views than I did before. But I bought your book not knowing exactly where you would land your plane. I did find most of your positions as biblically tenable and useful for me to use in the future. E.g., your explanation of Rev. 1:1 helped me see another text that shows that Jesus is not omniscient, and therefore not God, in His post-resurrectional state. You have many such moments of brilliance throughout your book, making it a truly revolutionary work.” He said of my book format invention, Triangle Book, “the design of your book made it easy for me to read and refer to, especially since the angle of the page is such that I can switch from my computer (online Bible, programs, notes, etc) back and forth, with relative ease. It took a little getting used to turning the pages and rotating the book, but was well worth it. Well done.” [I made a mistake in arranging text when I self-published RJC, so that it unnecessarily required rotating the book.] Samuel says regarding p. 322, “The concept of Agent Christology . . . is very powerful! Also God-in-Christ Christology.” [Emphasis his.] Samuel then says concerning a section in RJC that treats the so-called preexistence of Jesus in the Gospel of John, “UP TO ABOUT HERE IN THE DISCUSSION [emphasis his], I have followed your train of thought and found what you have written to be well reasoned and true to the biblical text. . . . But your position on Jesus not preexisting seems to me to be more of a tweaking of the biblical text in order to get it to support a pre-determined outcome.” So, Samuel believes the Bible does not say Jesus is God, but he still believes it says Jesus preexisted, though not as an actual human being. When I decided in 1982 that the Bible does not say Jesus is God, it then took me about twelve more years of much study to conclude that neither does it say Jesus actually preexisted. This question can get semantical due to the Johannine Logos and kenosis in Phil 2.6-7. Samuel concludes his critique by saying, “Once again, this book is outstanding in establishing Jesus in His position as the exalted Messiah, while God the Father alone is God. . . . Thanks again for all your hard work and the many hours that have gone into researching and producing such a well documented and thorough treatise of what should be called a ‘high Christology.'”

Bill Schlegel was for 25 years a professor and co-founder of John MacArthur’s Masters University Israel Bible Extension (IBEX) program in Israel. He was also Lecturer of Hebrew and Bible Geography and at the Jerusalem University College. In early 2018, he was studying the phrase “the Son of God” in the Bible as applied to Jesus. He changed from believing it means Jesus is God. He then had to resign his position at IBEX. On 3/13/2019, Bill emailed me the following review he wrote about my book:

“Anyone who thinks the Bible Says God is a Trinity, or Jesus Christ is God, shoud read Kermit Zarley’s The Restitution of Jesus Christ (2008). It is a comprehensive study of biblical [actually, identity] Christology. For some 1700 years, Christian churches have claimed that the Bible says Jesus is God, or a God-Man. Zarley, a former Trinitarian for 22 years, challenges this assertion. He says the biblical view is not ‘God is Christ,’ but ‘God in Christ.’ That is, the One God of the Bible, Yahweh, worked in and through His human Messiah, Jesus, to reveal Himself to mankind (JOhn 1:18; Heb 1:1) and to reconcile the world to Himself (2 Cor 5:19).

“In the first part of the book, Zarley reviews the historical development of the deity-of-Christ and trinitarian theology. The standard church narrative runs something like this: ‘Beginning in New Testament times and then for hundreds of years, Christians believed Jesus is God and God is a Trinity. Only in the 3-4th century did people begin to suggest Jesus isn’t God, and the church rightly condemned such heretical views.’ With careful research, Zarley show this narrative to be false.

“The main part of the book is a step-by-step, well-researched study of biblical [identity] Christology. First is ‘Messianism in the Old Testament’ where Zarley examines traditional Christianity’s claims of finding evidence for the Trinity or deity of Messiah in the Old Testament: the plural ‘Elohim,’ appearances of the angel of the LORD acclaimed as pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus, and passages like Genesis 1:26, Isaiah 7:14, 9:6 are among those considered.

“Then, ‘Christology in the New Testament’ begins with the synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. How do they present Jesus? What is the real answer to Jesus’ question: ‘Who do you say that I am?’ (Matt. 16:15, Mark 8:29, Luke 9:20). ‘Problem Passages’ which traditional Christianity has claimed show the deity of Christ or the Trinity, like Matthew 28:19, are investigated.

“A major part of The Restitution is about the Christology of the Gospel of John since this New Testament book is considered by traditional Christianity to most clearly show the deity of Christ. Therefore, Zarley considers his analysis of this gospel as the most significant part of his book. It includes John’s prologue in John 1:1-18, ‘making himself equal with God’ (5:18), ‘before Abraham was, I am’ (8:58), ‘I and the Father are one’ (10:30), and ‘my Lord and my God’ (20:28), Zarley says they are understood better as ‘God in Christ’ and not ‘God is Christ.’ He explains, consistent with the Synoptic Gospels, John presents Jesus as God the Father’s chief agent or representative through whom He is working.

The Restitution continues with an analysis of Paul’s Christology, then of the book of Hebrews, of Peter’s epistles, and finally of the Apocalypse (Book of Revelation).

“One the one hand, the book is a scholarly work that is well-documented with hundreds of mostly reference footnotes. On the other hand, it is very readable and accessible to the lay reader. It may be a bit of a daunting read from cover to cover (546 pages not including bibliography), but I found the reading only tedious in a couple places. The book will serve well as a reference for future study. Even if readers don’t agree with Zarley’s claims, Bible college and seminary students, teachers, pastors, and lay persons should read this book so they can better understand what they do believe.

“This reviewer agrees to a great degree with Kermit Zarley’s The Restitution of Jesus. It is playing a part in what some are calling a 21st Century Reformation in biblical Christology.”

The Restitution of Jesus Christ was self-published on September 29, 2008, my birthdate (b. 1941-) and that of Michael Servetus (b. 1511-d. 1553). The book was published anonymously with the pseudonym “Servetus the Evangelical,” referring to Michael Servetus. I had not been intending to do that. I think it’s an interesting story.

About two years before this book’s publication, my son Michael and my then friend Dr. Scot McKnight at North Park University independently suggested to me that due to the controversial nature of this book, and it being authored by me as an evangelical Christian, I should publish it anonymously with a pseudonym. Both were so advising me because of the rejection they rightly anticipated I would suffer from the Christian community for this book’s thesis. A book written by a non-Christian who claims the Bible does not say Jesus is God would likely antagonize the church. But such a book written by an author who was a Trinitarian Christian for 22 years, who had a public profile as a Christian pro athlete, who co-founded and then led the PGA Tour Bible Study, who had always held tenaciously to a conservative view of the divine inspiration of the Bible, who still claims with all of his strength to be a genuine Christian believer—that book likely would be more strongly opposed by the church community as were Michael Servetus’ two books—On the Errors of the Trinity and The Restitution of Christianity—which got him convicted in court and burnt at the stake by the state and church.

I went a long time before deciding to follow the advice of my son and Scot. I didn’t have any ideas for a pseudonym. But one night, as I was walking into a restaurant named Barcelona, which refers to the city of that name in Spain, I thought of the pseudonym “Servetus” referring to the Spaniard Michael Servetus. I had written about his scandalous martyrdom in my book because we had similarities being Trinitarian, deciding it was unbiblical, and writing a book on it. I then discovered that we not only had the same birthdate, September 29th, but I would turn 70 on the 500th anniversary of Servetus’ birthdate. Is that divine intervention or what!

Michael Servetus was a brilliant theologian and physician from Spain who was condemned and executed for authoring those two books. Two charges were brought against him by the famed Protestant leader John Calvin and the pastors of Geneva which Switzerland’s court accepted. Those charges were based on Servetus’ teaching in his books against two church doctrines sanctioned by the state: infant baptism and the church Doctrine of the Trinity. I decided to make my pseudonym “Servetus the Evangelical” because I had been an evangelical all my adult life and involved in Christian ministry. And I knew that evangelicals would not accept anyone as being a Christian, let alone an evangelical, who asserts that Jesus is not God, no matter what else that person believes about Jesus. Yet I argued that I was still an evangelical.

My anonymity as the author of this book became a marketing strategy. I was able to do this since, during the 28 years I studied this subject until my book’s publication, I kept this change in theological belief largely to myself. Maintaining this secrecy took discipline. I only told a few of my closest friends about it, and when I did, I rarely told any of them that I was writing a book about it. As this book neared completion, I developed a website dedicated only to this book with the address “” I sent out anonymous emails to various people I knew about who believed in One God as I did, telling them about the book and its availability. Many of them, such as Sir Anthony Buzzard, called themselves Biblical Unitarians. He was a New Testament professor at Atlanta Bible College and foremost leader of the Biblical Unitarian movement who had co-authored The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound.

(Some people in the Biblical Unitarian movement, such as my friend Anthony Buzzard, at first criticized me for not being public many years earlier about my theological change. I obviously did not keep this secret due to a lack of courage since I demonstrated that years later. Rather, I had several reasons for holding back. First, during the 1980s I was an associate staff member of The Fellowship centered in Washington, DC. It is known mostly for its spiritual influence among government leaders and producing the National Prayer Breakfast [then the Presidential Prayer Breakfast]. Had I not had this association, I would have had to pursue one of my golf projects to make a living, and then I would never have become an author of books. Puls, during the 1990s, I competed on the Senior/Champions Tour full time and attended it Chapel, an outgrowth of the PGA Tour Bible Study. I did not want to cause dissension among these two groups. Second, as I explain below, my theological change occurred over many years. Third, the main reason for my secrecy was that when on rare occasions I communicated with friends my change in theology, they could not understand what I was saying. It was a huge problem! And thereafter they often misinformed others of what I believed. They couldn’t conceive of any other thinking since they were so indoctrinated with Trinitarian belief. I decided I did not want to communicate any more about this until I had it written down most clearly, meaning in a book.)

I then created a “contest” on this website to guess my identity as Servetus the Evangelical, the author of this book. To do so, about every week I listed a “clue” about my identity on this website. If anyone guessed who I was, they would get the book as a great prize! I intended to reveal my identity three years after the book’s publication, on September 29, 2011. As stated above, that would have been my 70th birthday and the 500th anniversary of the birth of Michael Servetus. His birthday would have been celebrated in various parts of the world, especially in Spain where Michael Servetus was born. This contest was working as planned, getting people talking about this mysterious guy Servetus the Evangelical. Many thought what a daring project he had undertaken, having been an evangelical. Some people who read the book wrote online at websites that Servetus the Evangelical must be some Bible scholar, maybe some professor of notoriety who needed to remain anonymous to keep his job as his Christian school. But I soon encountered a problem with this strategy. It was the form in which I had published this book.

In the beginning, I had books made in a Wire-O-bound notebook format, 8.5”x11” in size, with text arranged in landscape and having two book pages per side of paper. I sold 200 from my Servetus website. One year after publication, I decided to try to become an inventor. I invented a “self-supporting book” with the trademark “Triangle Book” ( My copyright had the author as “Servetus the Evangelical.” And I was now intending to have this book made as a Triangle Book to test its marketability. When my patent attorney told me it would cost me several thousand dollars to continue my anonymity with my Triangle Book application at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, I said “forget it.” Then I divulged my identity as Servetus the Evangelical on this website in December, 2009. I estimated that within 48 hours, 200 websites announced Kermit Zarley was Servetus the Evangelical, the author of The Restitution of Jesus Christ. One guy commented online, “Oh, he’s just some golf pro who nobody has ever heard of!” Ha! What a gut punch. Then I had 500 hardcover copies of this book made in my Wire-O-bound Triangle Book format, adding under my pseudonym on the front cover, “A.K.A. Kermit Zarley.” And again, I was selling them only via my Servetus website.

Fifteen years after this book’s publication, in 2023 I changed it slightly without having to declare it a second edition. I reprinted it with corrected typos, left the rest of the text intact, changed its title to The Restitution: Biblical Proof Jesus Is Not God, and abandoned my pseudonym. Servetus the Evangelical had served its purpose in those early years. But now it was time to be clearer about the author’s identity and especially the book’s content reflected by its title.

I am known mostly for my thirty-year, fulltime, pro golf career on both the regular PGA Tour and its Senior/Champions Tour. On these two Tours I won five times and was runner-up seventeen times. I also co-founded and led the PGA Tour Bible Study which still thrives today with multiple spawned ministries. As of 2022, I had authored nine Christian books. In most of them, I am somewhat of a pioneering author with biblical studies mostly in eschatology, but also in Christology and Spirit baptism. Sometimes, this has been recognized by scholars in their endorsements on the back covers of these books.

I was a Trinitarian for 22 years before changing to unitarian belief. But I shy away from calling myself “unitarian” for three reasons: (1) since I prefer we Christians use Bible terms to identify ourselves, and the words Trinity and Trinitarian are not in the Bible, the word unitarian is not in the Bible either, (2) most Unitarians never affirmed any atoning value of Jesus’ death, and (3) all Unitarians today are universalists who don’t believe in Jesus’ resurrection. So, I want to avoid association with these disbeliefs even more than belief in Trinitarianism. So, I prefer to call myself merely a “Christian.” But I am comfortable with further identifying myself as “a one God Christian.” This label subtly suggests the Trinity doctrine looks like belief in three gods/Gods, as Jews and Muslims allege, than belief in “one God” as the Bible states repeatedly. Yet, I accept Trinitarians as Christians because they hold fast to belief in Jesus having died for our sins and God literally having raised him from the dead to become our Savior and Lord. These two beliefs are what I believe being a Christian is all about, not whether Jesus is God. Yet, real Christians must prove their faith by making Jesus Lord, that is, following his teachings to some extent.


One day in 1980, I had a moment of enlightenment while reading Jesus’ Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24—25 that changed my life forever. Although I knew this text well, I was struck with a new insight wherein Jesus says of his yet future return to earth, “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son,” referring to himself, “but only the Father” (Matthew 24.36 NRSV; cf. Mark 13.32). With great surprise I blurted out loud to myself about my belief that Jesus is God, “That makes Jesus look like a liar! He said he didn’t know when he would return, but he really did because he is God.”

Why did I believe Jesus is God? Like almost all Christians, I believed in “the doctrine of the Trinity” since that is what I was taught at my church. It is that “God is one essence subsisting as three co-equal and co-eternal Persons: “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Accordingly, Jesus as the Son of God is just as much God as the Father is God. This teaching had been made official by church fathers in their Catholic church councils in the 4th and 5th centuries as follows: Jesus is “fully God” at Nicaea in 325; God is three separate Persons as “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” at Constantinople in 381; and Jesus has both a “human nature and a divine nature,” called “the hypostatic union,” at Chalcedon in 451.

That day in my study room, I uttered further to myself, “I will stand on the integrity of Jesus.” I paused and then added, “I must look into this.” Did I ever! I estimate that in the next 28 years, I read about 1,000 books on the identity of Jesus. (And I’m a slow reader!) It wasn’t easy getting those books; I used the inter-library loan system for most. And I scoured perhaps thousands of Bible commentaries—at seminary, university, and public libraries—reading commentary on critical texts relating to this subject. I have studied in libraries all over this country while competing as a pro golfer on the PGA Tour.

Dr. S. Lewis Johnson, New Testament professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote in his Foreword to my book, The Gospels Interwoven, which was endorsed by Billy Graham, “Some of us, . . . know Kermit Zarley as a member of the PGA Tour and winner of the Canadian Open Championship and three other tournaments. I also know Kermit as a diligent student of the Bible, and remember his visiting seminary libraries and reading and studying, even during tournaments.” In doing this study, I first learned who were the most distinguished theologians and Bible scholars who wrote on “the Deity of Christ” and “the Trinity,” and I read their books.

How did I begin this study? I decided that if a Bible reader wants to know who Jesus is, the most important way to do it is to read what Jesus said about himself in the New Testament gospels. So, I purchased a red-letter New Testament that has all the sayings of Jesus in red print. I then read only the red-colored words. When I finished, I was astounded! I concluded that Jesus did not say anything about him being God.

Now, I already knew about traditionalists citing Jesus’ statement, “I and the Father are one” (John 10.30 NIV), and claiming it means Jesus was God. They explain that Jesus meant he was “one in essence” with God the Father, indicating he himself was God. But that is not an express declaration that he was God. Besides, I thought that interpretation took Jesus’ saying out of its context. In the previous verses, in John 10.25-29, he was speaking about the works that the Father does through him, specifically their unity in the mission of protecting believers to whom God had given eternal life. I concluded about this assertion, “If that is all they’ve got to support their view that Jesus said he was God, I’ve must continue this study.” So, this became my chief precept, that in the Bible Jesus never expressly says he was God or anything like that.

I then decided that the second most important evidence to examine about whether Jesus was God is the 20+ evangelistic sermons or statements about Jesus by the early believers recorded in the book of Acts. That is, what did they say was necessary for a person to believe about Jesus to become a genuine believer and thereby have his or her sins forgiven and receive salvation? Wow! I discovered that they mostly preached Jesus was the Messiah who died for our sins and rose from the dead, but they said nothing about Jesus being God. I thought this silence clashed so strongly with the church dogma that people must believe Jesus is God to have their sins forgiven and become a Christian. I thought this difference was astonishing.

So, in June, 1982, I made my decision that the Bible does not say Jesus is God. By then, I had learned about most of the primary Bible texts that traditionalists cite to support their view that Jesus is God. And I had discovered that about half of these texts were disputed as to how they should be translated, and thus understood, since the books and letters of the New Testament have come down to us in the Greek language. Some English Bible versions translate these texts in such a way that they indicate Jesus is God; but other versions translate them in such a way that they do not indicate Jesus is God. And many versions have alternate readings, thus both. Why this difference? It usually was due to a dispute about Greek grammar.

At first, I did not keep this change in theology entirely to myself. I felt I needed to discuss it with a few close Christian friends, eventually with some scholars. I first told Jim Hiskey. Babe and Jim Hiskey had been my closest Christian friends. And Jim had imparted the idea to Babe and I of starting a Bible study on the PGA Tour (and we did in August, 1965). When I told Jim, he was alarmed, as I expected any believer would be. He then asked me to talk to some people of his choosing about this, to which I agreed. So, that summer in 1982, Jim set up three meetings.

I first met with R. C. Sproul. I skipped a Tour tournament and took my family to R. C.’s Legonier Valley Study Center in Legonier, Pennsylvania, where we stayed for two days. R. C. and I spent nearly a day in his house discussing God and Jesus. He insisted we take an occasional break to his backyard where he would swing his golf club and I’d give him a lesson! The second meeting was with Ed Clowney, president of Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. Jim and I played 18 holes of golf with Ed at Washington Golf Club, and at lunch in the clubhouse Ed and I discussed Jesus. The third meeting was a conversation on the phone between me and Dr. James Houston, president of Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Each time, Jim asked these men what they thought of what I was saying, and they gave me “a clean bill of health.”

I had not been on this theological journey for long, and I may not have been that articulate in expressing myself. But the main thing I said to these three men was that in the New Testament gospels, Jesus never said he was God; yet he admitted privately that he was Israel’s promised Messiah and said so at the end of his ministry when examined by the Sanhedrin. And I said to these gentlemen that due to this omission in Jesus gospel sayings, it seemed to me he did not believe he was God. Now, at that time in history, you could not be a Trinitarian and say that.

(Forty years later to this day, how things have changed. Leading scholars who are Trinitarian, such as my friend N. T. (Tom) Wright, now write in books that Jesus did not believe he was God. And about five years ago, I attended an Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in which my friend Larry Hurtado spoke to over a hundred scholars. During Q&A, when asked if Jesus believed he was God, Larry replied most curtly and forcefully, “Hell no!” Why this change? The Jesus Seminar! These 200 liberal scholars successfully challenged conservative scholars by arguing such things as, since Jesus never claimed to be God, he obviously didn’t believe he was. Most Trinitarian scholars who accept this argument resort to the developmental hypothesis, that the later church was biblically correct in developing its Doctrine of the Trinity.)

But in late 1982, I wanted most of all to discuss this matter with Dr. S. Lewis Johnson. I regarded him as one of my mentors. I had listened to hundreds of hours of tape recordings of his biblical teaching, including systematic theology which he taught at the seminary. And I had gotten him as lecturer for two of our annual, three-day, Bible conferences for the PGA Tour Bible Study.

I asked Lewis if we could meet and discuss something “very important.” He obliged by saying he would devote an entire day to it. So, we discussed this in his home for six hours non-stop. He knew better than the others what I was saying. And he concluded, “If you keep believing this way, you are not a Christian.” I returned months later to discuss it again with him. After that, he disassociated himself from me even though he had written the Foreword in my first book. I was so disheartened to lose Dr. Johnson’s friendship. But it didn’t surprise me. I estimate that I lost about half of my closest Christian friends over this issue since they deemed me a heretic. About half of them had spent their lives in fulltime Christian ministry as professor, pastors, or the like.

Yet, as I pursued my christological journey through the 1980s, I was only about 90% certain that the Bible does not say Jesus was, or now is, God. That was because there were two Bible texts I viewed as “barriers” to my not-yet-certain belief that the Bible does not say Jesus is God. Here are those texts: “and the Word was God” in John 1.1c and “My Lord and my God” in John 20.28. The latter is what the apostle Thomas said to the risen Jesus. And I thought, as most scholars have, that these are the two most important Bible texts which seem to indicate Jesus is God.


Then, one day when I was studying at Dallas Theological Seminary’s Mosher Library, I got up the nerve to ask the research librarian, Marvin Hunn—who I knew a little—if he was aware of any known scholar who says John 1.1c should not be translated so as to indicate Jesus is God. I was surprised when he said, “yes.” He cited Philip B. Harner’s 1973 article in the prestigious Journal of Biblical Literature about qualitative anarthrous nouns in Koine Greek. I was at that time a novice about the Greek New Testament. Yet, I read the article and was persuaded that Harner was right, that the Greek text should be translated as the New English Bible does, “and what God was, the Word was.” The reason for this difference has mostly to do with Greek grammar.

So, one barrier down, and one left. One day I was reading Rudolf Bultmann’s commentary on the Gospel of John. Many liberal New Testament scholars have regarded Bultmann of Germany as the foremost New Testament scholar of the 20th century. I had not read his writings much since he was liberal. But while reading this commentary, I noticed that at Thomas’ Confession, in John 20.28, Bultmann referred to what Jesus had said to Thomas and Philip only a few days prior. Again, as with Thomas’ Confession, it is only recorded in the Gospel of John. It says Jesus told his disciples he would soon leave them, referring to his heavenly ascension. Then we read, “Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14.5-6). Philip then entered the discussion, asking Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father” (v. 8). Jesus explained, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? . . . Believe in me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (vv. 9-11). Jesus was not saying he was the Father, as some confused Bible readers have thought.

When I saw that Bultmann cited this text, I read it again. I believe I then had another profound moment of enlightenment about Jesus’ identity. Yet, I was surprised that Bultmann didn’t make any more of this text other than citing it. When Thomas said to the risen Jesus, “My Lord and my God,” I realized he must have had in mind what Jesus had taught him and Philip about the Father being in him and him in the Father. Scholars call this The Mutual Indwelling. So, Thomas was not calling Jesus “my God;” rather, he recognized by means of God having raised Jesus from the dead that God truly indwells Jesus. This realization occurred to me in about 1987.

So, I was now 100% convinced that the Bible does not say Jesus is God. However, I still believed in the preexistence of Jesus. This teaching has been an important axiom of the Doctrine of the Trinity. It is that Jesus preexisted as “the Word,” which is logos in the Greek text of John 1.1c. But there has never been complete agreement among traditionalists as to how that occurred. All of them have believed that the Word always existed in eternity past, thereby differentiating themselves from the teaching of Arius. He had taught that there was a time before creation, during eternity past, when the Word did not exist. For this, Arius was condemned at the Nicene Council (325) and exiled from the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine.

Yet, I still believed Jesus preexisted his human birth due to several Bible texts. I thought he did so as the logos, but not as a human being. Yet in time, I gradually changed to believe differently about these texts, such as Jesus’ Bread of Life sermon in John 6. By the mid-1990s, I thought the Bible does not indicate Jesus preexisted. Many traditionalists argue that Jesus having preexisted proves his deity, meaning he was God. No way! There is no logic that supports this. And church father Origen—who conceived the oxymoron “eternal generation,” which most traditionalists advocate for their belief in Jesus’ eternal Sonship—believed in the preexistence of all human souls. Moreover, many ancient Jewish writings reveal Jewish belief in the preexistence of some human “souls”—especially those of Bible heroes such as the patriarchs and Moses—yet these writings do not indicate the preexistence of those heroes indicates they were gods/Gods. Plus, I have Christian friends who believe Jesus preexisted, yet they don’t believe he is God.

So, to sum up my investigation of the identity of Jesus: (1) by 1982, I was about 90% certain the Bible does not say Jesus is God; (2) by 1987, I was 100% convinced of this; and (3) by the mid-1990s, I no longer believed Jesus had preexisted his human birth. So, this christological journey, which I call “My Quest for the Real Jesus,” lasted about fifteen years. Since then, I have strongly held to these beliefs about Jesus’ identity and thus have not changed anything about them.

I also decided that trying to understand the relationship between the Logos and the man Jesus was a realm the church of the early centuries had pursued due to some lack of humility, and in doing so it had gone beyond the divine revelation of the Bible. Two of its texts influenced me in thinking this way. Moses says in Torah, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the revealed things belong to us and to our children forever” (Deuteronomy 29.29). And King David writes, “O LORD, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me” (Psalm 131.1). So, I don’t think the Bible reveals the precise relationship between the Logos and Jesus that can answer many of the questions Christians have had about this issue. I say accept that “the Word became flesh” and move on (John 1.14). As I state in my book’s preface, “Until glory comes, the precise extent of Jesus’ uniqueness must remain for us a mystery to contemplate rather than a problem to solve.”

But I disagree with traditionalists who say we should likewise accept the Doctrine of the Trinity, since no one can understand it, and move on. Not at all! Jesus’ identity as a man chosen by God to be our Savior and Lord is clearly revealed in scripture, so that we do well to try to understand it. But that Jesus is a Godman, that God is three Persons, that Jesus is one of those Persons in a Godhead, there is nothing about this in the Bible and therefore we do well not to accept it. Now, eight New Testament texts mention together God/the Father, Jesus/the Son, and the (Holy) Spirit; but that does not necessarily indicate God is a Trinity of Persons.

Finally, what are my academic qualifications for writing this book? I admit not much! I gained a business degree at the University of Houston in 1963. In the late 1980s, I took a one-year course on New Testament Greek at a seminary and got the equivalent of it in Hebrew. By 2020, my theological library consisted of about 2,500 volumes. In the year 2000, I was awarded an honorary doctorate at North Park University. And I’ve been a member of the Society of Biblical Literature since 1999. In the 25 years that followed, I missed attending SBL’s Annual Meeting only once. This connection to scholars and book publishers was important to my education.

Sometime after this book’s publication in 2008, I wrote a two-page synopsis of it as a single-page handout entitled “The Real Jesus.” I included it in the 500 hardcover copies of this book that I had made in my Triangle Book invention format (a

In 2023, when I changed this book’s title to The Restitution: Biblical Proof Jesus Is Not God and abandoned my pseudonym for it, I had the book reprinted and included this synopsis in it. It had been available for free printing at But I have now abandoned that website, reedited its content, and moved that material to my website. So, “The Real Jesus” synopsis is now available there for free printing as well. It is size 5.5”x8.5”, and it is folded twice so it can easily fit into a pocket or purse. The purpose of this tract is for it to serve as a handout to aid readers of my book in getting out its message.

Listen to the radio debates between Kermit and Dr. Michael Brown, on his show “Line of Fire” below:


Watch Kermit’s presentation at the 19th Annual Theological Conference in Atlanta, Georgia on April 28, 2010 below
In late April, 2010, Kermit made his first in-person contact with people of like faith in the One God movement (=biblical unitarianism or Christian monotheism) by attending the 19th annual Theological Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. It was hosted by the Atlanta Bible College and conducted by ABC emeritus professor Sir Anthony Buzzard. Kermit was one of the speakers, and there, on April 28, he delivered his first public presentation about only the Father being God, so that Jesus is not God. It was entitled, “Does the Bible Identify Jesus as God?” (46 minutes) In his introduction, he told some stories about his friend Evangelist Billy Graham because they first met at the Atlanta Country Club while Kermit was competing there in the Atlanta Classic.



Watch 2 videos of presentations on Christology by Kermit in Gatesville, TX in 2023 below: 




In 2013, I started the Kermit Zarley Blog hosted by, the world’s largest “conversation on faith.” Over the years, I wrote about 150 posts averaging two pages in length that are condensations of this book and exclude its many reference footnotes. Visit my blog using the button below, or check out The List, a collection of articles written by me regarding Christology.