28 April, 2006

Trinity Discussion with Jake Birch

The blog doesn't allow for the entire conversation to be posted :) Wow!!! Instead, here's a link directly to Jake's 'Jesus is God' blog.

In the meantime, for the sake of berevity, I'll continue to list questions and comments that haven't yet been resolved. These are all based on the numerous discussions between Jake and I:

1. If Jesus went to hell when he died and Jesus is God, do you believe God went to hell?

2. Where in the OT is the Trinity explicity taught?

3. Jesus refers to "my God" in John 20:17. If Jesus is God, how is this possible?

4. Explain how Jesus can be a mediator between God and man if Jesus is God: 1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; This verse says there's "one God" and "one mediator". The two are distinct ad separate.

5. Ephesians 5:2. Christ is described as a "fragrant offering and sacrifice to God". How does this work if Jesus is Himself God?

6. The Greek word to describe the common “one substance” theory is known as “homoousios”. This word isn’t found in the Bible. The Greeks didn’t have a word to describe the Trinity at the time. So they made a word up, "homoousios", in an attempt to resolve certain Trinity controversies that were arising within Church. Explain why this Greek word didn’t exist prior to 300AD and why it should be taken seriously to describe the Trinity.

7. The "one substance, three persons" theory originated in 400AD. What's the Scriptural equivalent to this phrase assuming this term was, in fact, based on teachings from the Bible. Why did this vital Trinity definition take so long to develop?

8. Is there any indication whatsoever that the Jews of today, God’s chosen and blessed people, acknowledge that their God is a Triune God? If not, will they need to before God delivers them (Zech 13 & 14, etc.)? If not, why don't they if the Trinity is truth?

9. If Jesus is God then how can Jesus not know when he's returning to deliver the earth (Mat. 24:26)?

10. Who answers prayers: the "one substance" or one of the "three persons"? Do we pray to the "substance" or the "persons"?

11. Trinitarian prayers were unknown in the Church prior to 300AD. Why is this if the Trinity is a Scriptural doctrine?

57 Comments:

Blogger Jason said...

First of all, I'd really like to chat with you more about your comment: "Death, in the Bible does not mean the end of anyone's existence much less Christ's as one person of the Triune Godhead."

Perhaps we, or anyone for that matter, can go through it here.

March 16, 2006 1:05 AM  
Anonymous Jake said...

1. Jason's question "If Jesus and God being "one" means "literally one entity", than why aren't believers included in the Godhead as vs. 23 stipulates?" Jake's answer.... Because such an interpretation would break the cardinal rule of hermenutics... Let Scripture interpret Scripture. In this case that means let scriptures that leave us with the impression that believers share in God's essence be tempered by the VAST majority of scriptures which teach humans do not share in the divine essence but partake of the divine presence through the ministry of Holy Spirit. (John 14:15-17)

2. Jason askes ""I in them and thou in me" (vs. 23) is exactly the same language Christ uses in John 10:38 and yet Trinitarians don't claim believers and Jesus are literally one being. Why not?" Jake's answer.... For the reasons stated in answer to question 1. Plus, I am perfectly willing to admit that in order to stress the unity of Jesus with the Father (ie. the Trinity) the NT goes almost too far and could leave the uncareful exegete with the impression that we too share in the divine essence (Colossians 1:16-17). But that conclusion would only be drawn by the uncareful.

3. Jason askes "The apostles were obviously separate people, why not God and Jesus?" Jake's answer....The use of the neuter gender in John 10:30 as opposed to the masculine gender to modify the noun "one" is very important. The masculine gender would imply that you are addressing the "who" of God... the "personalness" of God. The neuter gender stresses, in this case, the nature or the "what" of God. So when Jesus claims "I and the Father are one (neuter)" he is NOT stressing what he stresses elsewhere... namely that he does what His Father wants (John 8:28). That would be "one (masculine)". Instead he uses "one (neuter)" meaning one in what my Father is. Here is note from the Textual Greek Commentary on this word's use in John 10:30....

Verse 30. One ( e[n ). The neuter, not the masculine ei+v, one person. It implies unity of essence, not merely of will or of power.

4. Jason askes "Are you implying Jesus mislead the crowd because of their reaction? And sorry but I'm not sure what "necessary but not sufficient" means in the context of your explanation." Jake's answer... No Jesus did not mislead the crowd. He claimed to be one with God in substance they wanted to stone him... as good monotheistic Jews should. But a necessary but sufficient condition I mean that claiming to doing God's will would be part of the answer as to why the crowd tried to stone him, but they wouldn't stone him for just saying he was doing God's will. To explain the crowds reaction you need the sufficient condition of Jesus going beyond simply claiming to do God's will to claiming to actually be God in order to sufficiently arose their animosity and provoke them to stoning. These are philosophical categories "necessary" and "sufficient" that perhaps I throw around too liberally without a sufficient explanation.

5. Jason askes "However, I know that I'm not Jesus or God so where does the idea that Jesus is literally God come from in this verse? Also, doesn't "us" mean "more than one"?" Jake answers... The idea that Jesus is literally God comes from the language he uses... the neuter gender of "one" for example. "us" does imply more than one. In this instance, the 1st person plural pronoun "us" is being used by Jesus to apply to himself and God the Father. That would seem to be yet another instance of Jesus lumping himself in with God. The "us" of course is further evidence for a pluarlity within the Godhead that the church fathers called The Trinity. Echo of the "us" of Genesis 1:28-29?

6. Jason writes "The concept of the "Trinity" isn't found anywhere in Scripture. The word itself is never mentioned. It was never taught in the O.T. and was never taught by, among others, Christ or Paul." Jake answers... Yes Paul and Jesus did NOT use the word trinity. But the NT does explicitly and implicitly teach two things... That God is one and that three different personalities are attributed those divine characteristics... The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The idea and use of the word Trinity is an attempt, the best to my thinking, to explain evidence about God presented to us in the New Testament.

7. Jason writes "(The Trinity's) inception occured 300 years AFTER Jesus' death!!! (as any religious history book tells us". That is simply not true. Quotes from Polycarp (Ad 70-150), Justin Martyr (Ad 100-150), Ignatius of Antioch (Died 117), Irenaeus (Ad 115-190) and Origen (Ad 185-254) are all still extant and extensively outline the doctrine of and even use, in some cases, the word Trinity. One quote I will offer here is from the great African apologist Tertullian (Ad 160-215), "We define that there are two, the Father and the Son, and three with the Holy Spirit, and this number is made by the pattern of salvation... [which] brings about unity in trinity, interrelating the three, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are three, not in dignity, but in degree, not in substance but in form, not in power but in kind. They are of one substance and power, because there is one God from whom these degrees, forms and kinds devolve in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit." (Adv. Prax. 23; PL 2.156-7).

8. Jason askes, "Given how much importance some place on this concept, why wasn't God more explicit in describing it in Scripture?" Jakes answer... God's not being explicit I suppose is a matter of weight you give the evidence of the NT. I see an ABUNDANCE of evidence for three personalities attributed divine characteristics as my various posts have and will continue to outline.

9. Jason askes "And add to that, why is the Trinity so confusing????" Jakes answer... Because we are attempting to put into human language a divine reality. To be honest, if I had a god that I could wrap neatly under my arm in a theological bow and carry off to work with me without mystery... without faith... I think I would be concerned. In other words, the God of the Bible is even too big for the Bible, in one sense.

10. Jason states "One entity cannot delgate authority within itself and then have these individual selves incapable of usurping the other's authority." Jake answers... Says who? Says you? Are you and your ideas now about to tell God what he can and cannot do or more pointedly can and cannot say about Himself? That is called "eisigesis". What careful expositors do is called "exegesis". Exegesis is drawing out of the text our various theological points and arguments. Exegesis is careful to let the TEXT be the authority on matters relating to God. Eisigesis is the understandable error of our letting our presuppositions, hangups and ideas dictate what the Bible is allowed to say. That the Trinity is a difficult doctrine is a sign that it is an exegetical one... one that arises out of the text... one that we allow to exist and believe even if it doesn't fit within all our neat philosophical categories. Come to think of it... should the God who created the universe and stands outside the universe, by definition, fit within ideas readily understood within that universe?

11. Jason askes "Who IS Jesus calling to on the cross?" Jake answers... Who he thought he was calling to... His Father. The 1st person of the Trinity.

12. Jason askes "Who was he praying to?" Jake answers.... Who he thought he was praying to... His Father. The 1st person of the Trinity. The only person ANY pious Jew would ever have directed prayer towards. Exodus 23:24

13. Jason askes "Furthermore, how can Jesus not know the "hour or day" when God is going to send him again?" Jake answers... Well, either Jesus actually does know the hour or doesn't. If he does know the hour then perhaps he is lying. This is not likely given the picture of Jesus we have from the New Testament. This is also not likely given that he did predict he would rise from the grave three days later and did. So if he knew when he was coming and had already proven he could predict something and have it come true (the resurrection), then what downside would their be to predicting his return? So if he truly doesn't know the hour then either he is not God or at least not God in the way that our philosophical presuppositions about God demand. If our philosophical presuppositions do not allow for God to limit his own knowledge then Jesus is not God. But if we allow the Bible to guide our thinking about God consider this... God DOES chose to limit his knowledge about at least 1 other matter... our forgiven sins. The Bible teaches in Jeremiah 31:34 "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Here God clearly choses to "forget" sins committed by his people... a kind of self limiting of his knowledge. So if God can chose to limit his knowledge about our sin... why can Jesus not know when his return will be but leave that matter to His Father?

14. Jason askes "1. Why doesn't the Holy Spirit talk?" Jake answers... He does talk. Acts 21:11 " Coming over to us, he took Paul's belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, "The Holy Spirit says, 'In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.' " Acts 13:2 " While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." "

15. Jason askes "2. Why isn't the Holy Spirit ever referred to as a man as Jesus and God are?" Jake answers... Because he is a Spirit. John 4:24

16. How did the Holy Spirit 'descend' on Jesus if Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the same? Jake answers... Jesus and the Holy Spirit same the same divine substance but have different divine persons. 1 what 3 whos.

17. Jason askes "How were people in the NT "given" the Holy Spirit if the Holy Spirit is God Himself?" Jake answers... They were "given" the Holy Spirit by prayer and the laying on of hands in most instances. Acts 8:17 and Acts 10:47 But I think your question is not about the mode of receiving but the underlying ontology of the Holy Spirit. I have already admitted that the NT tends, in a few instances, towards very difficult language about the near "assumption" of belivers into the Godhead. Colossians 2 "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,and you have been given fullness in Christ" A mindblowing verse really. Not only establishing Christ's divinty BUT ALSO linking it with our receiving this fullness as well. I can only say as to how this ontological state comes about that God is spoken of in the NT as actually coming to reside within each believer in some manner is that Genesis 1 teaches that it is was "the Spirit of God" who brooded over the waters of the primordial world and is pictured as being the shaping force of Creation, putting into play the decisions of the Father and the words of the Son (Genesis 1).

18. Jason askes "If God is sitting on a throne in heaven and Jesus is sitting at his right hand (which requires an explanation in itself), where is the Holy Spirit and why isn't mentioned as having a throne to sit on?" Jake answers... Because VERY CLEARLY Jesus teaches that the Holy Spirit's role is on earth in the disciples not in heaven. John 16:7 " But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." Acts 1:7-8 "He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

19. Jason askes "If Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit and Jesus (and God) are the same, the implication is either Jesus is his own father or the Holy Spirit should be his father and not God for the sole reason the Holy Spirit and NOT God came upon Mary which resulted in the birth of Jesus." Jake answers... They are the same substance but not the same person. Jesus being his own father... that is funny... Jesus is from Nazereth not Alabama! Melting their separate personalities into one, making Jesus his own Father, is the 3rd century heresy called monarchianism. It was an early attempt to explain the evidence of the NT that did violence to the MANY instances of all three persons of the Trinity being present together... Jesus baptism, on the Cross, the Acts 1:8 formula, etc,etc. If all those personalities attributed divine characteristics are together in time and space then clearly Jesus does not have to be his own father.

20. Jason askes "Why isn't the Holy Spirit mentioned in the heiarchy in 1 Cor. 11:3? If Jesus was subject to the authority of the Holy Spirit, it's strangely absent in this verse..." Jake answers... Not really. The New Testament ALWAYS present the members of the Trinity as working in a particular subordinate relationship... The Father is over the Son who together are over the Spirit. It is not usual that the Spirit is absent but the Spirit is NEVER over the Son. The filioque controversy of the 10th and 11th centuries was about just this point. The Spirit is sent by the Father through the Son in the Gospel of Luke (24:49), the Gospel of John (14:26 and 15:26) and the Book of Acts (1:7-8). The Son is never said to be subordinate to the Spirit but the Spirit is often said to be empowering and enabling the Son (Luke 4:14 and Romans 1:4)

March 16, 2006 1:13 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

1 what, 3 whos. Herein lies the problem. If I have three personalities, I am one person but three whos. Granted. However, I am still a single being with one brain, two sets of limbs, eyes, ears, etc. What the Trinity is saying however, is that the Holy Spirit is just that, a Spirit (your words). How then, can Jesus be a "man", a physical presense, but the Holy Spirit lack this physical presence? Now we have 2 whats, and 3 whos. What's going on? How can the three be same in form if...

1. God can't be seen
2. God has never been seen
3. Jesus has been seen
4. The Holy Spirit is simply a spirit?

Then we throw into the mix that we're given a physical description of God (Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Revelation) and we can all say with confidence that when Jesus was born, he didn't look like a grown man. So now we've got three different physical appearances (God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit) and three different personalities. To me, and I may be way off base with this, this means they're three separate entities.

You can't say that each of three "personalities" or "essence" looks different for the simple reason that in reality, personalities don't LOOK different, they ACT different. The way they look is determined by the 'what'. If Jesus is God and if God is Jesus, and they're ONE entity/form/unit/person/what, than I fail to see how Jesus can still remain a separate PHYSICAL and EMOTIONAL being.

Jesus is a 'what' and a 'who'.
God is a 'what' and a 'who'.

How can God look different than Jesus if they're the same 'what'? If they are one in the same, physically sitting on two different thrones in heaven is impossible.

Show me where in Scripture Jesus is said to have the same personality of God and then show me a reference that says the Holy Spirit has the same personality as Jesus and God. Then show me where it says the Holy Spirit looks like God or Jesus. Does God cry? Does he eat? Does he get hungry? Does he sleep?

Secondly, your timelines don't do the Trinity justice. 'Trinitarian' prayers where unknown in the Church in 300AD. If these people you mentioned were so influencial in developing the Trinity, why did it take so long for the concept to become a truth? Why do we need mere mortals to conjure up an idea such as this? The Bible tells me "Jesus is the Son of God." The Bible tells me "God is the Father of Jesus". Nowhere does it tell me "Jesus the Father" or "God the Son" or "God is Jesus". In light of the complete absence of Trinitarian evidence, and discounting any kind of teaching developed AFTER the bible was written, where's the proof? What other Biblical teachings were only made apparent after the Bible was completed?

The Facts

God can't die, Jesus died. That alone doesn't make sense if the Trinity is correct.

Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. That doesn't make sense either because God cannot be tempted.

Jesus 'grew in knowledge', God is all-knowing. Explain.

Jesus was created (translated "genesis" as in "beginning"). God has always existed. Explain.

Why do we pray "through" Jesus if we're praying to God? If God and Jesus are the same, why do we need to pray to, and through, a personality of God?

And your #13 is giving me lots of problems...
First off, Jesus isn't lying. We can discount that one right away. And Jesus knew from the OT that he would be raised in three days. Hosea 6:2, Psalms 16:10, 49:15. No secret there.

What is the Bible silent about? The timeline of Christ's return. There is NOTHING in Scripture that tells us the day or hour. This is why we don't know. This is why Jesus doesn't know...

Let's take your argument a step further: If God is Jesus and Jesus/God doesn't know when Jesus/God is going to send Jesus/God back to the earth, than God isn't all knowing.

Forgetting sins isn't "limiting knowledge". Sins are disgusting things for God to remember. Once they're forgiven, they're forgiven. Do you think God is going to rememeber our forgiven sins for any particular reason? Is He going to pull them out on a rainy day and say, "I forgave you of this sin but come on, how COULD you??"

And on the flip side, comparing forgetting sins to forgetting the hour when this world is going finally be saved is a weird comparison don't you think...?

It's laughable to imagine this: God doesn't know when he's going to save the earth.

The Trinity contradicts Scripture for a number of reasons. Death vs. immortality, all-knowing vs. learning. These characterstics can't exist if the opposite is true. Someone is either immortal or they're not.

March 16, 2006 1:16 AM  
Anonymous jake said...

Okay Jason asked....Show me where in Scripture Jesus is said to have the same personality of God and then show me a reference that says the Holy Spirit has the same personality as Jesus and God.

Jake's answer...Jesus cannot have the same personality as the Father. That is a 2nd-3rd century heresy called "modalism". Scripture reveals that Jesus revealed God the Father to us by the power of the Spirit in numerous verses. One such verse is John 1:18 "No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known."

Here are just 4 jobs that God does in the Bible that each member of the Trinity is said to do or share a part in....

Creates
Father - 1 Cor. 8:6
Son - Colossian 1:16-17
Holy Spirit - Psalm 104:30

Reveals
Father – Revelation 1:1
Son – John 11:26
Holy Spirit – 2 Peter 1:21

Saves
Father – John 3:16-17
Son – 2 Corinthians 5:19
Holy Spirit – Titus 3:5

Works
Father – John 5:17
Son – John 5:20
Holy Spirit – Acts 10:38

Here are verses that attribute divine characteristics to each memer of the Trinty....

To whom are divine attributes accounted to in the Bible?
The Father John 6:27; Romans 1:7; 1 Peter 1:2
The Son John 1:1, 14; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 5:20.
The Holy Spirit Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16 Romans 8:9; John 14:16-17; Acts 2:1-4

Jason asks...Then show me where it says the Holy Spirit looks like God or Jesus. Does God cry? Does he eat? Does he get hungry? Does he sleep?

Jake answers...The Spirit doesn't "look" like anyone. Jesus shared both a human and divine nature. That is why he is repeatedly recorded as eating etc.

Jason asks.... Secondly, your timelines don't do the Trinity justice. 'Trinitarian' prayers where unknown in the Church in 300AD.

Jake answers...Not true. Matthew 28:19-20 is a type of benediction and is trinitarian. Matthew was written prior to 70AD.

Jason asks...If these people you mentioned were so influencial in developing the Trinity, why did it take so long for the concept to become a truth?

Jake's answer....It took so long because people refused to trust the Bible instead of their own ideas about God.

Jason asks...Why do we need mere mortals to conjure up an idea such as this? The Bible tells me "Jesus is the Son of God." The Bible tells me "God is the Father of Jesus". Nowhere does it tell me "Jesus the Father" or "God the Son" or "God is Jesus".

Jake answers... That is not true. Jesus is referred to prior to his incarnation as the "Eternal Father" in Isaiah 9. Jesus is repeatedly called "Lord". What is the importance of that? When OT Jews came across the personal name of God... YHWH... in the OT they said Adonai meaning "Lord" in order not to breach the 2nd or 3rd commands. So when Jesus is called Lord, one of the things the NT is saying is that he is God.

Jason asks....In light of the complete absence of Trinitarian evidence, and discounting any kind of teaching developed AFTER the bible was written, where's the proof?

Jake's answer... I think that you are enamoured with your own ideas about God and imposing them on a text that is complex. To say that there is a "complete absence of Trinitarian evidence" is intellectual dishonesty. I and others much smarter than me have provided verse after verse which points towards a single God eternally revealed in three persons. That evidence may not be sufficient you to believe in the Trinity, but you cannot dismiss it so cavalierly and claim to be serious student of the Bible. You may be a serious student of your own ideas, but I have tried to calmly provide the most Scriptural and logical answers to the many queries you have asked.

March 16, 2006 1:17 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Uh oh, now we're getting personal. :)

Jake, my humble apologies if I've come across as being enamoured with my own ideas, because that's not my intent. My intent is to simply understand where, and how, the Trinity can be proven based on Scripture. If anything, anyone (myself included) reading this has yet to hear from you why Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit is Biblically wrong.

I want to know the truth as much as you do. We all do. If I can be shown a better way, if ANYone can be shown a better way, let’s put it on the table. However, please refrain from condescending me by talking about “intellectual dishonesty” because you have to understand that we both think the other person is fundamentally wrong in the face of glaring intellectual evidence.

And I'm hardly a heretic :), at least no more than you are or any more than my next door neigbour is. Heresy back in the first couple of centuries or heresy in the 21st century revolves around common religious opinion at the time. People were killed at the time of Constantine if they refused the Trinity concept. This didn't make the Trinity any more right (or wrong) so by me saying God and Jesus are distinct people isn't wrong simply because common religious opinion suggests otherwise. Remember “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Hardly a resounding cheer for the religious majority. :)

But I digress.

First, this is what I've gathered so far:

1. The Trinity = 1 'what' and 3 'whos'.
2. The 'what' is the being/person itself/himself.
3. The 3 whos are the different personalities.

Is this correct? Or are the three personalities actually different “people”? (as you mentioned in your last post) To use a current day analogy, and I mean no disrespect, is explaining the Trinity similar to describing someone with multiple personalities (e.g. one “physical person”, multiple “personalities”)?

Perhaps to cut to the chase a little quicker, please answer the following questions (some of which were missed in your last post):

March 16, 2006 1:18 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

1. First question (and this is more out of curiousity): Are Jesus and the Holy Spirit a part of God? Or is God and the Holy Spirit a part of Jesus...? Or no...? I’ve heard of the Trinity being described as an egg. The shell, the egg (or inside part) and then the yolk. Each are separate but are still a part of the whole. However, this causes a problem. If this analogy is the same with the Trinity, isn’t the egg in its entirety considered something? What’s the sum of the three parts? God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit make up the whole, but what IS the whole? Who is it? What does it do? What does it look like?

2. Jesus’ birth is still a little hazy for me in terms of how it fits into the Trinity mould. Mat 1:18 “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.” Child of the Holy Spirit...Explain again why the Holy Spirit isn’t the father of Jesus if the Holy Spirit is considered a distinct part of the Godhead? If the Holy Spirit is simply the power of God, on the other hand...wouldn’t that make more sense? God’s POWER came upon Mary and she gave birth to His son, Jesus. No?

3. If God the Son has existed forever, what made Jesus a “son”? What made God a “Father”? A child being born makes someone a father or a son but if God the Son was alive before his birth as mentioned in the Gospels, does this mean Jesus was God the Son before even being born?

4. Matthew 3:17 God praises Jesus for his baptism. Why would He praise Himself?

5. Matthew 28:10 Jesus speaks of his followers as "brethren". Are we children of God, or brethren of God?

6. Matthew 28:19 is the only time God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are ever mentioned in the same verse. How is this “Trinitarian”, as you claim? How is this a “Trinitarian prayer”? Where in this verse does it say the three are one? Matthew 16:27 mentions Jesus, God and the angels in the same verse but we don’t look at this as being proof the three are one. Should we? Three entities being present in the same verse or same geographical area (e.g. the cross) doesn’t make them the same and more than Adam and Eve and God are the same because they were all in the Garden of Eden together.

7. Mark 12:28-32 “And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:” Jesus agrees. Note “he” not “you”. Wouldn’t this be an ultimate insult if Jesus was God the Son, as God the Son would be included in the “one”?

8. Luke 1:15 “For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.” Hasn’t God the Son always been great?

9. Luke 22:43 In the Garden of Gesthemane, Jesus was in “agony” about what he was going to have to endure. God the Father sent him an angel to strengthen him. Why would God the Son need strength from an angel? Who sent the angel? God the Father? To himself?

10. John 1:17 says "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.". If God the Son has been around forever, how could grace and truth come after Moses, as grace and truth would also have been around forever?

11. John 8:16-18 In response to judging, Jesus says this about himself and God: “...the testimony of two men is true”. If Jesus and God are one, isn’t this insufficient to fulfill the requirement of “two men”?

12. Phil. 2:9 & Hebrews 1- 3 Jesus inherits a “more excellent” name. The writer of Hebrews points out that this name was obtained by Christ by virtue of his personal worthiness and elevation by his Father, not because Jesus laid claim to the powers of the Godhead. (Hebrews 1:9) How can Jesus “inherit” anything if it was his already being a part of the Godhead? How can he inherit what is already his?

13. Revelation 1:1 God gave Jesus the “revelation”. How does the Trinity allow for a transferring of knowledge? How does one part know more than the other?

14. The Bible never mentions: “God the Son” or “Jesus the Father” or “Holy Spirit the Father (or Son)”. Why not?

15. If God can’t die and Jesus is God the Son (who also can’t die), how is Jesus “defeating death” through resurrection (probably the most important event in Scripture)? How would the act of defeating death be of any consequence at all if God the Son was immortal?

16. Jesus’ death and resurrection brought into effect the new/second covenant (Heb. 8 - 10). If Jesus was already immortal and had already defeated death some point prior to the crucifixion, how then could this covenant be called “new”? Wouldn’t it have always existed?

17. God cannot die. Jesus died (Rom. 4:9, etc.). How is this possible?

18. God cannot be tempted (James 1:13). Jesus was tempted (Mat. 4:1). How is this possible?

19. God is all-knowing. Jesus learnt (Luke 2:40 & Luke 2:52). How is this possible?

20. No one has ever seen God (John 1:18, 1 Tim 6:16, 1 John 4:12). Hundreds of people saw Jesus (God the Son). How is this possible?

21. How does God the Son sit on “the right hand” of God the Father if they’re one and the same? (Heb 10:12, Heb 12:2, 1 Pet 3:22, etc.)

22. Explain again why the Holy Spirit isn’t listed in the hierarchy? If the Holy Spirit is subordinate to God and Jesus, shouldn’t it be between Jesus and the angels in the hierarchy? If it’s just as vital to the Trinity as the other two, I’m really surprised it’s not mentioned. This raises another question (2 for 1 deal): If God the Son is over the Spirit, why was it required for him to be born? Unless I misunderstand, “subordinate” and “empowering” are very, very different. Does the Holy Spirit empowering Jesus mean that it’s subordinate to Jesus?

23. Jesus knew from OT prophecy that he was going to be raised in three days. Explain again why Jesus, if he’s all-knowing, doesn’t know when he’s going to return to earth? How can God be all-knowing and Jesus not be if they’re one and the same? Aren’t these mutually exclusive traits? How can someone keep a secret from themselves?

24. If Isaiah 9 is proof of God the Son, how do you explain verse 6? “...and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called...” “Shall” means something that is about to happen, not has already happened. If anything, this implies that Jesus ISN’T God for the sole reason he obviously doesn’t currently share the same name as God. Doesn’t this verse tie in quite nicely with 1 Cor. 15:22-28 speaking of the future...?

25. You suggest that the Trinity took so long to develop because of a result of people refusing to trust the Bible instead of their own ideas about God... It’s difficult to argue with history. The word “trinity” did not formally find a place in Roman Catholicism until 4th century AD. The Roman Catholic Church, many, many times over the centuries, have admitted the concept of the Trinity isn’t found in Scripture and indeed cannot be enforced by Scripture. Go further. Search encyclopedias, dictionaries, search religious history books and early Church writings. They all say the same thing: The Trinity was never once taught in Scripture and didn’t become a practiced teaching until the reign of Emperor Constantine. If you’re saying this isn’t the case, are you not implying that the Roman Catholic Church and dozens of religious (and non religious) historians are wrong even after almost 2000 years of earnest searching? Don’t misunderstand, I’m not supporting the Church here, but there are plenty of very intelligent Church people that have come and gone over the centuries and not one of them has ever been able to find suitable proof of the Trinity in Scripture. That’s the beauty of the Bible. It has held up for thousands of years to every criticism possible, unwavering and unshakable in its teachings.

26. Finally, using specific Bible references, explain why it’s wrong to separate Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit. There are verses (and history) to argue the validity of the Trinity. Is there the same that argue the validity of the belief that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are three distinct entities?

March 16, 2006 1:20 AM  
Anonymous jake said...

1. The use of human analogies to explain the Trinity… egg, water, light all fail at various points. What is God? An eternally existent, all powerful being that manifests himself in three persons… The Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

2. The idea that God has a power that is at work in the world that is non-personal is a worldview called “pantheistic monism”. It is not part of the Judeo-Christian framework of belief. The Holy Spirit isn’t the Father of Jesus because the Bible never calls him that. The Bible universally teaches that it was the Father’s will to send the Son by the agency of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 4:4-5. The whole Trinity working together thing.

3. The Bible uses the Father and Son language to talk about the relationship of the 1st and 2nd persons of the Trinity, that is what makes Jesus “a son”. I suppose that you or I could have come up with a better analogy but that is the language that the Holy Spirit chose to try to use to communicate who He is to us. The pre-existence of Christ… his existence prior to his incarnation… is taught in these verses…John 17:5 “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” Colossians 1:15-16 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

4. Have you never looked in the mirror and repeated to yourself, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…”

But seriously, elsewhere Jesus tells his followers that God the Father’s words of affirmation heard verbally by the crowd are not for his benefit but for theirs - that they might believe in him. John 12:30

5. Again, we may be afraid of saying such radical things, but Jesus and Paul do not shy away from declaring MINDBOGGLING truths about the depth of God’s love and acceptance of us. Just three of these truths are that…. we are called “co-heirs with Christ” Romans 8:17. We are called “friends” by Jesus - no longer servants or slaves of God. We are also said to share in the “divine fullness” that Christ shared in Colossians 2:9-10

I think all of these analogies are the Biblical authors wrestling with how to communicate the truth about the closeness of relationship the believer in Christ can experience with God through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

6a. Well the three names… Father, Son and Holy Spirit… are mentioned as part of the baptismal formula. And without getting into a long dissertation on all the various practices and ideas about baptism in Jesus’ day let me simply say that being baptized under any one’s name in the NT era meant you were giving them The place of authority in your life. By analogy it is the name of Jesus and the authority of the person the name stands for that is in many cases the only effect New Testament weapon against the demons Jesus’ disciples frequently encounter. Mark 9:39 So back to baptism… being baptized under the rubric “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” means that you were giving these three persons The place of authority in your life. A good Jewish rabbi like Jesus would never have counseled his disciples to let their followers give The place of authority in their lives to anyone but God… So either Jesus was heretical or He was equating “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” with God.

6b. I don’t believe I said it was a Trinitarian prayer. I said it was a type of benediction. A type of blessing.

6c. By allowing disciples to be baptized under those names together without qualification, monotheistic Jesus is stating that these three personages are equal… they are God.

6d. I am sorry but the verse in question may place the three nouns “Son of Man”, “the Father” and “holy angels” in grammatical proximity but it does not make any implicit or explicit claim about their relationship, unlike the baptismal formula of Matthew 28:19. John 21:13 mentions Jesus, fish and bread in the same verse and while I like fish and chips, no one is saying that haddock is divine.

7. Jesus was often insulted by the religious leaders of his day. That they insulted and misunderstood him is very common in the Bible and no way disproves the Trinity.

By the way, thanks for raising Mark 12:29 because it contains one of the best examples of an Old Testament allusion to a plurality within the Godhead. There is only one word in English for the number one – one. In Hebrew however there are two words translated by our English word one. The 1st is the word for one, uno, single, 2-1=1. That word is yachid. The 2nd word for one in Hebrew is the word echad which if we could translate it into English would be something like “a bunch”, “a unity”, “a plural oneness”. Guess which of these two words the Hebrew OT Jesus would have memorized as a boy is contained in Deuteronomy 6:4, the verse of the OT Jesus is quoting in Mark 12:29? You guessed it… echad… a plural oneness… a bunch. In effect the Shema of OT Israel reads “the Lord our God, the Lord is “a bunch”.”

8. Not sure what you are getting at with this verse and this question. Luke 1:15 is about John the Baptist who would be a Nazirite from birth like Samuel and Samson in the Old Testament. This verse does not apply to Jesus.

9. Jesus received strength from angels in the Garden and in the wilderness after being tempted by the devil. (Matthew 4:11) Jesus is also said to receive food(Matthew 9:10) , water (John 4:7) and care for his needs (Matthew 27:55). Why did God the Son need those? Because he was both 100% human and 100% divine. If he didn’t have real human needs for friendship, food and encouragement then we would be in danger of believing the 2nd century heresy of Docetism. Docetism taught that Jesus “only appeared” to have a real body but was actually just a spirit-man.

10. John 1:17 doesn’t address timing but agency. The law came through Moses, Moses was the agent of the law (Galatians 3:19). Grace and truth are not said here to come after the law but rather through Jesus Christ. In fact Paul argues in Galatians, Ephesians and Romans that the promise which saved Abraham precedes and completes the law of Moses in Christ. (Romans 4:16). So in a sense the NT argues that Jesus does in fact precede Moses.

11. The Trinity is one substance (ousia) in three persons (hypostasises) not one person with three personalities.

12. I believe the “inherit” language of Hebrews is “inherit” in the sense of prove oneself worthy of that which is already yours by birthright. This is a VERY common idea in Hellenistic and Middle Eastern literature. That the son of a king had to head off into the world and complete a noble task or mission in order to finally receive that which they had been born into. Homer’s The Odyssey is in a sense about this task. But back to Hebrews… now that you brought it up, let’s actually read how that section starts…Hebrews 1:2-4…

But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

These verses clearly show two things. First, that Jesus is indeed “the exact representation of his being” and the one “through whom he made the universe”. Jesus is said to somehow be “sustaining all things by his powerful word”. That certainly sounds like Jesus is more than your average Jewish rabbi. Secondly it teaches that Jesus is spoken of as “inheriting” a name that is above all names. Not a position. The position was his, but the name or the honour of that position, stems from his completing his mission of dying for the sins of the world and be raised to life again for our justification. Jesus says as much in John 17:4-5 “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

13. Because the Bible says so. Matthew 24:36 teaches that only the Father knows the day and hour of Christ’s return and Revelation 1:1 confirms that the revelation about the last days comes from God the Father to God the Son. The Bible is internally consistent. The only real problem with Revelation 1:1 would be if Jesus was presented as having the revelation himself and passing it on without the Father’s knowledge. That would make the Bible internally inconsistent and therefore untrustworthy.

We may not like or understand how three equally eternal divine beings work together and yet separately at the same time, but that is the picture presented to us in the Bible. Alas I fear I would be worried if I did claim to know it all, given what I know about my own limitations.

14. Partly because the Bible keeps the persons of the Trinity separate. “Jesus the Father”. That is the 3rd century heresy call patripassianism… literally “father suffering”. Those guys taught that it was the Father on the cross crying out to himself… just too convoluted even for a Trinitarian like me. “Holy Spirit the Father (or Son)” That is modalism… a very common heresy throughout the life of the church that teaches God was the Father, then was the Son and now is the Spirit.

On “God the Son” the Bible does say in John 1:18 “No one has ever seen God. But his only Son, who is himself God,[a] is near to the Father's heart; he has told us about him.”

15. Ah but there is the rub… all of Jesus did die and that is its real consequence. That is the REAL problem for Trinitarian theists like me to explain how the Bible can teach that God is a self causing/self existing being and yet Christ dies on the cross and is buried for the three days that Jews believed were required for a person to be “really dead”. So when Jesus goes to visit Lazarus in John 11 he goes on day four… meaning Lazarus is really, really dead when Jesus resurrects him.

How to explain its consequence…. Look back to Genesis 22:8. In that story Abraham brings his son Issac to Mount Moriah to sacrifice him according to God’s instruction. When the boy asks his dad what they are going to sacrifice with the wood they are bringing up the mountain, Abraham responds “God himself will provide the lamb”. How true, how true. God took the punishment for our sin upon himself at the cross and instead of requiring my life as the just payment for the debt of my sin… God himself provided the lamb. This is what Paul teaches in 2 Corinthians 5:19 “that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not counting people's sins against them”

16. The New Testament presents what Jesus did more as a resumption of the Abrahamic promise based on faith than as a replacement of the Mosaic law or “2nd covenant”. Galatians 4, Romans 4-6.

17. Where does it say in the Bible that God cannot die? In the true sense of the word “cannot”? Meaning is not physically able to die? Can not God do whatever he wants? If he chose to die, could he not do so? How big is your view of God?

18. Because Jesus is presented in the Bible as being 100% human and 100% divine. His human nature had to be tempted and found worthy in order for his sacrifice to truly be efficacious for all humanity.

Hebrews 4:15 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.”

19. Because Jesus is presented in the Bible as being 100% human and 100% divine. Does the Bible teach that God’s omniscience rules out growth and learning? Genesis 8:21

20. Because Jesus is presented in the Bible as being 100% human and 100% divine. He is not simply 100% divine. 2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” That is why he came, that he might reveal the Father to us. John 1:18 “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.” The words translated “one and only” is the complicated greek word translated in our King James Bible “the begotten”. So the verse carries the idea that yes, no one has seen God, but that now God the begotten one (Jesus) has come to make him known… to reveal who God is through what Jesus was going to teach, do and accomplish. Jesus even says in John 14:9 “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?” Once again not the kind of words that your average Jewish rabbi would get away with in 1st century Palestine.

21. Because the Bible teaches that the Father and Son are of one substance but are different persons. They are not one and the same person.

22a. Asked and answered.

22b. The Holy Spirit is required for him to be born because that Spirit is the one who enacts God the Father’s wishes which the Son enables by his word. In creation (Genesis 1:2, Job 33:4), in redemption (1 Peter 1:2), in inspiration (John 16:12-14). The Holy Spirit is presented as being dependent on the leadership of the Father and the Son.

23. They are not one and the same. One substance, eternally existent in three persons.

They are not keeping a secret from themselves but rather from another member of the Godhead.

It could also be argued that Jesus now knows, sitting at the right hand of the Father in heaven when he will return again. That it was only for the period of his incarnation on earth that Jesus’ knowledge of his 2nd coming was limited. This would fit nicely with what Paul teaches in Phillipians 2 about Jesus “emptying” of himself of his divine prerogatives in Phillipians 2:1-12.

24. First, in Isaiah 9 the verses you partially quote go like this…
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

Let’s remember of course that Isaiah was written at least 800 years before Jesus. So the “will” of verse 6 is looking forward 800 years to the time when Christ would be born and do all this great stuff. And as to your 2nd point that Jesus currently doesn’t share the name of God, I would simply remind you of Phillipians 2:9-10: Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Remember of course that Lord, was the Jewish substitution for the name of YHWH in the OT. So when Jesus is given the name Lord – Adonai in Hebrew or Kurios in Greek – then he is being called YHWH. YHWH of course is the name that the OT says “Everyone who calls on the name of YHWH will be saved” Joel 2:32.

24b. Yes it does tie in quite nicely with this verse. But 1 Cor. 15 is really harkening back to Daniel 7:12-14. That is where Jesus gets his “Son of Man” language from.

25. For every encyclopedia and journal you can pull out that teaches the Trinity is “ a late development” theologically I could pull out one that says it is an early development. I just taught a course this summer from Harold OJ Brown book Heresies. He contends over and over and over again using all the people I have previously listed that the Trinity was an early development and not simply a Constantinian innovation. The Council of Nicea may have given us the word “consubstantial” with the Father, but it did not give us the NT with three separate persons attributed divine prerogatives.

Your statement “not one of them has ever been able to find suitable proof of the Trinity in Scripture” is simply incorrect. The Trinity has been taught and embraced by Christians of all stripes and denominations for nearly 1700 years. Any Bible teacher that implies otherwise is at least incorrect and perhaps heretical in the eyes of the historic Christian faith. Any Bible teacher that proposes to deny the Trinity has the burden of proof placed squarely on their shoulders at this historical point to make sense of the NT documents without using the ideas of the Trinity. The word trinity is not used in the New Testament but the ideas that lead to the formulation of the doctrine of the trinity are everywhere in the Bible.

If the Trinity is such a flimsy doctrine, and given that Christians have been so prone to dividing over small theological squabbles explain the remarkable resilience of Trinitarian dogma over the last 1700 years? Surely smart people looking at the Bible could have concluded the Trinity was bunk and split over it, given the relatively “small” matters that churches have split over in the past? But they haven’t. Either because they aren’t smart enough to figure out that the Trinity is wrong or because they have looked at the Trinity, seen its apostolic truthfulness and kept it as part of their belief system. The Trinity withstood the iconoclast controversies of the 6-7th centuries intact such that Western and Eastern rite churches are both Trinitarian. It withstood the filioque controversy of the 10th-11th centuries intact such that both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox branches of Christianity are Trinitarian. The Trinity withstood the Protestant reformation of the 15th-16th centuries such that both Roman Catholics and Protestants of all stripes remain Trinitarian. The Trinity has even withstood the charismatic innovations of the last 100 years such that all the major charismatic groups are still Trinitarian, even avowedly so.

All these theological splits and differences and yet all remain staunchly Trinitarian. If the Trinity is as flimsy a concept as you contend with your hyperbolic dismissals up above, then please account for why all these people given to great theological disagreement among each other, still together believe in the Trinity despite disagreeing about everything else?

26. It is wrong to separate Jesus from God – meaning to make him merely human – because the NT says, “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.” (1 John 2:23)

It is wrong to denigrate the Holy Spirit because Jesus reserved his harshest words for those that deny the veracity and work of the Holy Spirit… he called it the unforgivable sin… Mark 3:29.

March 16, 2006 1:24 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Before I get to responding to your answers, let me just say I'm surprised that you, with all your knowledge and education, can say that God, the only immortal God, can die. I suppose, because the Bible doesn't say otherwise, you also believe that God can suffer or that He can be hurt or that He can sin??? After all, if the Bible doesn't mention it, you admit that it's possible. Are you willing to take this stand in order to help prove the Trinity?

I wonder Jake, if God suddenly "decided" to die, what would happen to this earth? Would we all just keep on living and carrying on as if nothing had happened? I know, I know, my view of God is too small. Got it.

I want to ask one question before we go onto something more constructive: Yes or No: The Godhead can die.

No fancy Latin words, no heretic talk, no history lessons, just a simple "yes" or "no".

March 16, 2006 1:25 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

1. What is the Trinity? God manifests Himself in three people. And the three people (people or personalities? Is the Holy Spirit a person then?) are One. References in scripture to “God” (without the attached title “Son”, “Father” or “Holy Spirit”) mean the Godhead, the essence. So, if God chose NOT to manifest Himself in three people, what would he be (i.e. personality, physical appearance)? If you don’t have an answer, then we’ll just agree that a conclusion cannot to be reached on what this One God is, other than He’s made up of three people who share the same essence.

One final point about the intricacy of the Trinity, which person are we asked to worship: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit or the Godhead itself? According to John 4:23, we worship God the Father. However, why aren’t we asked to worship the Godhead itself if this is where the “unity of essence” is? Could we worship God the Son or God the Holy Spirit if we choose to? Considering they’re technically all “God”, would this be wrong?

Monotheistic? I can’t see how, but then again, I never thought I’d see Switzerland beat Canada in hockey.

2. Who is the father of Jesus? I’m not sure what “pantheistic monism” is or what the “Judeo-Christian” framework is either or what it has to do with this question…? (from what I could find out though when doing my research for all the big words in these posts, the “Judeo-Christian” framework was simply a result of American politics attempting to avoid anti-Jewish sentiment. Did you know that Islam is actually included in the framework but is often left out? I sure as heck didn’t!!). I do however agree entirely with your comment that the Holy Spirit can’t be the Father of Jesus because the Bible never calls it that (this is an example of “exegesis” isn’t it?). We should keep in mind also that the Bible never calls Jesus “God the Son”, yet a Trinitarian claims he is nonetheless. The Bible never calls God ‘God the Holy Spirit’, yet a Trinitarian claims he is nonetheless. And taking it one step further, the Bible never says, “God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one”. Interesting. Double standards?

3. The “Son” and “Father” Titles Agreed: The title “father” and “son” describes a relationship between God and Jesus. However, I’m pretty sure you and I couldn’t have come up with a better analogy or better titles (although “God the Greater” and “God the Lesser” seem to be a little more relevant than “father” and “son”). Apparently not even God could give us an adequate analogy of the Trinity. It MUST be complicated...

I’m not sure what the relevance was of your “pre-existence” verses in relation to the question but while we’re here, why not?: John 17:5. First of all, any pre-existence ‘proof’ in this verse is only implied. Jesus doesn’t say “he” was with God at the beginning, he says his “glory” was. This is an extremely important distinction. Secondly, “with” in this verse is translated “para” in the Greek. ‘Para’ is also used in John 1:6 There was a man sent from {Greek: para} God, whose name was John.” If what you’re saying is true, that the word “with” in John 17:5 requires the literal pre-existence of Jesus, than likewise it requires the literal pre-existence of John the Baptist. This point also follows the same argument in #2 above (i.e. if the Bible doesn’t say it, we can’t assume it).

Regarding Col. 1:14-15, explain Psalm 89:26 – 27 in light of the apparent pre-existence of Jesus. This chapter is a Messianic prophecy (it prophesies the coming of Jesus) and shows quite clearly that Jesus couldn’t have existed prior to Genesis 1 or prior to the writing of Psalms (“…I will make him…”).

4. Baptismal Praises (God to Jesus) Your “I think I can, I think I can…” analogy only works if they were spoken BEFORE the event occurred. However, in this case, God speaks to Jesus AFTER his baptism (we don’t say “I think I can, I think I can…” after we’ve reached the top of the hill). Secondly, there’s no indication there was anyone present at Jesus’ baptism other than John (the reference to the Pharisees is for previous baptisms, not necessarily for the baptism of Jesus) and so God’s voice wouldn’t benefit any unbelievers in the area.

I’m still not sure about the Holy Spirit coming upon Jesus after his baptism. What’s the point if the Holy Spirit is subordinate to Jesus? Jesus certainly wouldn’t have needed the Holy Spirit if this was the case. You say the Holy Spirit “empowers” Jesus, but what evidence do we have here that Jesus needs empowerment? And if it was for everyone else’s benefit, what, exactly, was the benefit?

5. “Children of God” or “brethren of God”? The question wasn’t answered. In Mathew 28:10, Jesus refers to his followers as “brethren”. Believers are also called “children of God” (Luke 20:36, Romans 9:8, Galatians 3:26, 1 John 5:2) Are we children of God or brethren of God?

Jake, you said some Biblical authors “wrestled with how to communicate the truth about the closeness of the relationship” between God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. If the Bible is the inspired word of God (2 Tim. 3:16), how can you discount certain passages because of your opinion that an author is wrestling with his communication skills? How difficult would it be for a Biblical author to write: “We are brethren of God” if it were true? If God wanted to adequately describe the Trinity He could have done it. God isn’t asking us to figure out which of His authors got it right and which ones didn’t.

6a. “In the name of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit” Agreed. Being baptized into anyone’s name means you’re giving them a place of authority in your life. Not sure what the relevance was of your reference to demons though...? Mathew 28:19 says the following: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit:" 1. Trinity “proof” in this verse is implied as it makes no mention of any alleged co-eternity, co-equality or co-substance. 2. Jesus was given this name by God (Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 1:4) and therefore it was not his inherently but something given to him by the greater (John 14:28). 3. The name was given to him after his crucifixion. This is why in Revelation 3:12 he calls it his "new name." Likewise, in the verse before, Jesus said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." The Father is the one who has given him this power (John 3:35; 17:2; 1 Corinthians 15:28) and he could have done nothing without it (John 5:30; 8:28). These ideas work whether the Trinity exists or not. But I still don’t agree that this verse is any kind of proof of the existence of the Trinity for the reason outlined in #2 above (i.e. if the Bible doesn’t say it, we can’t assume it).

6b. Trinitarian Prayers In the Gospels Jesus instructs his disciples how to pray but there’s certainly no reference to the Godhead. “A type of blessing” (your words) and a “prayer” (my question) are very different so Mathew 28:19 is irrelevant here if you’re saying that this verse is a blessing (which isn’t a prayer). The question still is: Why’d it take so long for the Trinitarian prayer to become commonplace and why aren’t they found in Scripture?

6c. Three are One? This is a pretty bold statement: “…monotheistic Jesus is stating that these three personages are equal…they are God.“ Actually, according to your description of the Trinity, they’re not equal. If they were equal, God the Son wouldn’t be subordinate to God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit wouldn’t be subordinate to both. And Jesus couldn't be monotheistic because Jesus is God and a God who is made up of three persons can't claim to be montheistic. You also can’t state that this is proof that all three are God in this verse because, as you say, this is what would be called "eisigesis" (the understandable error of our letting our presuppositions, hangups and ideas dictate what the Bible is allowed to say) Back to #2 above (i.e. if the Bible doesn’t say it, we can’t assume it). I would agree that this verse says a lot about the relationship that exists with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit but it seems to be more about the relationship they have with US, and not each other.

6d. Divine fish Very funny!!! :)

7. Jesus and the Scribe My point was that Jesus WASN”T insulted by the scribe’s statement. The scribe comments that there is only one God and in the same breath takes Jesus out of the “God” equation by saying “..there is none other but He.” (not “you”) Jesus isn’t upset or offended; instead he feels quite the opposite. Jesus agrees with the scribe and THEN says to the man, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God”!!!

Good point about Deut. 6:4. That brings up an interesting discussion about the word “one”. The reference to “one” in Mark 12:29 verse is the Greek word “heis” and is literally translated “one”. Mar 12:29 “…The Lord our God is one (HEIS) Lord:” This same word is used, for example, in Mathew 12:11 “…What man shall there be among you, that shall have one (HEIS) sheep…” There’s no implication of “bunch” or “plurality” here.

I think you’ve got some translation problems in Deut 6:4. Yes, the Hebrew word is “echad” but where is the idea of this word meaning “a bunch” as you claim? For example, here are a few places where this word is used: Genesis 1:5 “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first (ECHAD) day.” Gen 2:21 “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one (ECHAD) of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof”. Gen 11:1 “And the whole earth was of one language, and of one (ECHAD) speech.” You’re right, Jesus would have memorized the Deuteronomy verse. But he couldn’t have taken this verse to mean “God is a bunch”. A single day, a single rib, a single speech. Contrary to what you’re suggesting, this verse remains intact: “the Lord our God is one Lord.”

8. You’re right, John the Baptist, not Jesus in this verse. My mistake.

9. Jesus strengthened by an angel The question still is: why would Jesus need strength and encouragement if he was, as you say, also 100% divine? If Jesus had need for encouragement and the like, what role did the 100% divine part of him play?

During Christ’s existence on earth, the hierarchy was recorded as follows: God, angels, Jesus, man (Psa 8:5, Heb 2:9). Explain how angels could have more authority than a part of the Godhead? This would make complete sense from a Unitarian point of view, but I’m not sure it works from a Trinitarian point of view. The essence is either all-powerful or it’s not (unless I’m misunderstanding what the “essence” is). The essence cannot be divided up. One essence, but three different people who SHARE this essence. In other words, if God is three, and the three are one, how did the angels squeeze themselves between God and Jesus? From a Godhead point of view, how can Jesus and the Holy Spirit still be of the same essence as God the Father if angels are higher up on the totem pole than both?

10. Covenants Agreed. I didn’t read the verse properly. Timing isn’t referred to here, only the agent. I’ll be honest though in that I have no idea what you mean when you say “…the promise which saved Abraham precedes and completes the law of Moses in Christ.”

11. “Two men” John 8:16-18. Agreed. This verse doesn’t disprove the Trinity.

12. “Inheriting” a Name Hebrews 1:4 “…he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name...” I’m not sure what Hellenistic literature and Middle Eastern literature have to do with this verse. Or Homer’s Odyssey, for that matter. I don’t think anyone’s prepared to bring Shakespeare into this mix so let’s stick with the Bible proving the Bible.

Verses 2-4 do clearly show two things: One is that Jesus is the “appointed heir” – his position of power and might is delegated and not innate (which is impossible, for obvious reasons, if Jesus is Eternal and has always been God the Son). The second being that the “he” in verse 3 can’t be ascribed to Jesus alone. What translation are you readying from? “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” A Trinitarian would agree that based on the relationship of the three persons, “God” is the first and second “he”. The third “he” is also referring to God as this would make sense in the context. Consider how this verse now reads: “Jesus, being the brightness of God’s glory, and the express image of God’s person, and upholding all things by the word of God’s power, when Jesus had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;”

Secondly, “universe” in verse 2 (also translated “worlds”) doesn’t mean the literal universe. The "worlds" does NOT refer to the earth and the other planets but rather to the ages of dispensations (a dispensation is a government or a system of rules on the earth set up by God). The Greek world translated "worlds" is not the usual word for worlds - "kosmos", but "aion" which means, "age, indefinite time, dispensation". Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone of all ages - whether before the flood, patriarchal (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc.), Mosiac, Gentile, or Millennial. The Seed was promised to Eve (Gen. 3:15) and Abraham looked forward to Christ's day with the eye of faith. (John 8:56 cf. Gal. 3:8). Even the sacrifices of animals under the Law of Moses only had their effectiveness because they pointed to the sacrifices that would be offered once for all time. (Hebrews 10:4, 10). The law was a schoolmaster (or custodian) to bring men to Christ. (Gal. 3:24). The worlds (ages) were made, or established, through Christ since it is in him that they have their meaning and ultimate realization.

Inheriting a Name You can argue that Jesus didn’t inherit a position but a name only, but you’ll need to explain these verses first: Hbr 1:4-5 “Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” How could the position already be his??? With the name COMES the position. This is why angels are mentioned here. The writer is showing the Hebrews that God had elevated Jesus to a position above the angels by calling him “Son” (Acts 13:33, Hebrews 5:5). Before his creation, Jesus didn’t have this title. It was given to him. Before his creation, Jesus didn’t have this position. It was given to him. What, then, was Jesus’ title before God gave him "Son" if he’s eternal as you claim?

14. Exegesis vs. Eisigesis Back to #2 (i.e. if the Bible doesn’t say it, we can’t assume it). “Patripassianism”? Who said God suffered on the cross? Where’s this coming from? Why are we interested in 3rd century heresies? These words give me a headache.

According to the Trinity structure as set forth by the Church, the real answer as to why there’s no mention of “Jesus the Father” is because God the Son isn’t God the Father isn’t God the Holy Spirit, correct? It has nothing to do with patripassianism or modalism or with the Bible keeping them “separate”. They simply aren’t the other (for some pre-determined reason). Following this logic, a Trinitarian believes in an unscriptural “God the Holy Spirit” and then puts unscriptural qualifications on the relationship between the three to help explain the Godhead.

The real question here was: why doesn’t the Bible ever mention “God the Son”. You provide John 1:18 as a reference. I would love to know what translation you’re reading from because the version you supplied takes bizarre liberties. The KJV reads as follows: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” There’s nothing in the original Greek that suggests that Jesus is “himself God” here, quite the opposite in fact.

15. Defeating death First off, you’re agreeing that Jesus really did die. And that’s about as far as I got with your answer... I’m not too concerned about the consequences as it’s all quite logical from a Unitarian point of view. I’m concerned about the practicalities looking at it from your point of view. The question again is: How did Jesus defeat death if he was an eternal being? How is the act of defeating death of any consequence whatsoever if God the Son was immortal?

16. The Old and New Covenant Simply put, you’re wrong. Are you implying the old covenant wasn’t replaced by Jesus’ resurrection??? Read Hebrews 8 e.g. vs. 7 “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.” In other words, the old covenant was imperfect. The new covenant states that we are spiritual Jews, counted as part of Abraham’s seed if we are baptized into Christ. THIS is why it’s important to understand the distinction between God and Jesus. We’re baptizing ourselves into Christ because it’s through him, and because of him that God keeps his covenant with us. This vital biblical concept doesn’t work if Jesus is an eternal being or part of the Godhead.

17. Can God die? Are you answering yes or no to this question. If God can die, than we’ve got some serious problems. If God can’t die, than you’ll need to explain how Jesus (an apparently immortal being himself) died.

18. Can God be tempted? According to the Trinity, God manifests Himself in three people, including Jesus. The question still remains: God cannot be tempted, yet Jesus was. God manifesting himself in Jesus simply means God was taking the form of Jesus, regardless of any kind of human restrictions God placed on Himself when in this form. Therefore, it logically follows that God Himself was tempted in Mathew 4:1. Only by Jesus NOT being God and God NOT being Jesus is this possible. As for the 100% human, 100% divine comment, think about what you’re saying: God the Son could have chosen NOT to be tempted (which would have been his divine side speaking), however, he did (his human side speaking). You’re admitting that Jesus had two natures and he was able to pick and chose between which one was going to be more prevalent in a given situation. From what I’m reading, there are now four parts of the Godhead: God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, God the Son (human) and God the Son (divine).

Hebrews 5:8 “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;” With a 100% divine nature, how could Jesus have possibly “learnt obedience”? What would have been the point? Why wouldn’t God the Son have known obedience before his creation if he were eternal? If you say because he didn’t have a human nature before his birth, than you truly are dividing Christ into two beings: a divine being and a frail human being. VERY confusing… Hebrews 4:15 indeed. If Jesus was God, than he couldn’t have been tempted in every way “just as we are” for the simple reason being we don’t have a 100% divine nature to balance us out. Like Jesus in his entirety, we are subject to the wills of the flesh and it’s these we struggle to fight. THIS is why Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. Because he WON the fight, a fight we continually lose.

19. Can God learn? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying: Omniscience means you cannot learn because you already know everything. Secondly, Genesis 8:21 states that because of Noah’s intercession for mankind, God will never send a flood like he did back then. People interceding for others is a common theme in scripture. If anything, it teaches us about the power of prayer and that God is a merciful God. In no way whatsoever does this verse show God “learning”. Secondly, if you’re implying that God CAN learn, than you’re saying either a) God learns from his mistakes and experiences or b) God learns from the very creatures he created. Which do you prefer? Thirdly, 2 Cr 6:18 “And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” This word “Almighty” here is also translated as “omnipotent”. The Greek word literally means “he who holds sway over all things, the ruler of all”. You tell me if this sounds like the kind of being who needs to learn in order to become a better divine ruler. Finally, Jesus having a 100% divine nature would have given him access to all the knowledge he needed. The way you’re splitting things up, why couldn’t Jesus’ human nature simply learnt from Jesus’ divine nature? After all, the knowledge was already there. Again, three or four in Godhead?

If you’re willing to state that an omniscient God can grow and learn, put it down in writing here..

20. Has God ever been seen? Here’s your John 1:18 verse again only this time it’s a different translation than what you provided earlier (point #14). Again, the KJV reads “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” If you’re saying people could look upon God the Son because of his 100% human nature, I’ll note that as your answer but I feel it’s insufficient. Maybe you can clarify who or what is being referred to in John 1:18?

The Bible states that the Holy Spirit has been seen. If the Holy Spirit doesn’t have a 100% human nature, how is this possible as God is manifesting Himself in the Holy Spirit?

21. Sitting on the right hand of God You answer that because God the Father and God the Son are two different people, that’s how they manage to sit on two different thrones. Fair enough. First, where’s God the Holy Spirit? Does he not have a throne? Secondly, God manifests Himself in three people, according to the Trinity. This being the case, you’re implying that God is sitting next to himself right? Now that they’re both in heaven (and being the only two that are referred to as being in heaven), what’s the point of God continually manifesting himself in God the Son? Seems pretty redundant. After all, they’re one substance. Third, where is the 1 "what' sitting? Apprently we've got 2 "whos" sitting next to each other but we're missing the 'what'.

22. The hierarchy Asked, but still not answered I’m afraid. I hate to push this point but it’s actually quite important to this whole argument. First off, your point that the Holy Spirit is “subordinate” to God and Jesus is taken. By the way, since when does “empowering” and “enabling” mean “subordinate”? If I call my brother and encourage him before his big interview, I’m hardly being subordinate. Anyhow, the question still is: Why isn't the Holy Spirit mentioned in the hierarchy in 1 Cor. 11:3?

[A little note about your “filioque controversy” – this controversy has NEVER been resolved. Ironically, it’s still very much the wedge between the Catholic Church and Orthodox Church. In 2000, an official Church document was produced that left out the filioque clause. This apparently was a big deal. As early as June 2002, this matter was STILL being discussed by members from the opposing churches. Needless to say, I find it rather amusing that even today, churches who adamantly accept the Trinity with open arms are still having difficulties with a self-induced controversy they produced themselves almost 1000 years ago as way to separate the heathen from the believers!!!]

22b The "subordinate" Holy Spirit If the Holy Spirit is subordinate to both Jesus and God, it simply doesn’t stand to reason why God the Son would need the Holy Spirit, a subordinate member of the Trinity, to “reincarnate” himself (which, by the way, is a word never used once to describe Jesus’ birth). Why not look at it this way: It is God who gives life through His power (or Spirit). He brought about a wonderful miracle in that Mary, a virgin, would give birth to a baby boy (by the Holy Spirit – by God’s power). There’s nothing different here between how Jesus was born/created compared with anyone else in history. It’s GOD who gives life. God created Jesus, ALL of Jesus (not just his 100% human nature). “Begat” and “born” in Mathew 1 is Greek for “genneo”, or “genesis”. Nothing exists “pre-genesis”. Genesis is the ultimate beginning. Jesus had his “genesis” when he was born, not before, exactly like you and I.

23. Jesus’ return The question is, how can Jesus not know when he’s coming back to deliver the earth if Jesus is God (Mathew 24:36)? Jake’s answer, I think, is that there’s “one substance eternally existent in three persons” which isn’t really an answer rather than a definition of the Trinity. Jake, it seems to me you’re contradicting yourself. You say “they are not keeping a secret from themselves”, and then you say “but rather from another member of the Godhead”. Which is it?

Secrets within the Godhead? I’m not sure there’s been a more interesting concept in this post so far!!!

What you’re saying then is that it’s possible the three persons in the Trinity to have different levels of knowledge, correct? However, how can this be possible if God is simply “manifested” in each of the three people? The knowledge belongs to one person because, as you’ve said before, you believe God can “learn”.

To answer your second question, where’s the support to the argument that Jesus’ lack of “second coming knowledge” was confined to his existence on earth? #2 above (i.e. if the Bible doesn’t say it, we can’t assume it). What about the billions and billions and billions of years before this? Did God the Son not know then either? Why???

24. Jesus “shall” be called… I still fail to see your argument. You believe God the Son is eternal. You believe God the Son was so named long, long before his “incarnation”. But this doesn’t jive with Isaiah 9 unless you’re willing to admit that Jesus must have not been called “God” before his birth (remember, with no qualifiers, we assume “God” is “Godhead”). Are you implying that Jesus has, or is “reigning on David’s throne and over his kingdom”? The kingdom won’t be “given” to him until his second coming. After the end of Christ’s reign, he’ll hand authority back over to God. Based on this, if Isaiah 9 is a prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled, than no, Jesus can’t be called “God” right now. Further to this, how would you argue that given God the Son and God the Father are people within the Godhead, God the Son will be given the “Father” title in the Kingdom age? This would mean God the Son becomes God the Son Father. Interestingly enough, the word “God” in Isaiah 9 is translated in other places as “mighty one”, “power”, “god”, “great”, and even “idols”…

Philippians 2 doesn’t say Jesus’ name is God, it simply says, 1 “God GAVE him the name…” 2 “at the name of JESUS should every knee bow…” 3 All of this is “to the glory of God the Father” Nothing Trinity’ish about this verse. This word “Lord” is translated in all sorts of different ways, NOT just referring to God (or Jesus for that matter).

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Wow, you’re making quite the leap by saying that “Lord” in the NT is a substitute for “Yahweh” in the OT... Where are you getting this information??? How can you possibly bridge the gap between Hebrew and Greek like that? And how do you get “adonai” to be the same as “YHWH”??? There are many, many uses of “adonai” (300 to be exact) in the OT to describe people other than God. Does this mean that there are dozens of people called “YHWH” in the OT other than God???? I’m really quite confused by what you’re saying.
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24b Future tense 1 Cor. 15:22-28 isn’t hearkening back to Daniel as they’re both speaking about a future time, a time that hasn’t yet come to pass (unless you believe that all the “nations”, “people” and “languages” are worshipping Christ right now).

25. History of the Trinity No offence but I’m not sure what Harold OJ Brown or his book or the things he contends have to do with how true or untrue the Trinity is…? To cut down on the length of this part of the Q&A process, maybe you can answer just four questions:

1. In the OT, did God’s chosen people, the Israelites, understand they were worshipping a Triune God? (i.e. Did God ever tell the children of Israel that He was a Triune God?)

2. Is there any indication whatsoever that the Jews of today, still God’s chosen people, acknowledge that their God is a Triune God? If not, will they need to before God delivers them (Zech 13 & 14, etc.)?

3. The Greek word to describe your “one substance” theory is known as “homoousios”. This word isn’t found in the Bible. The Greek language didn’t have a word to describe how “bible scholars” at the time were attempting to define the Trinity. So they made a word up, homoousios, in an attempt to resolve certain Trinity controversies that were arising within Church. No wonder neither Jesus nor Paul could teach the Trinity, the “one substance” phrase everyone reverts to didn’t even exist in their day!! Given how much you use this “one substance” bit, explain why this Greek word didn’t exist prior to 300AD and why it should be taken seriously to describe the Trinity.

4. If the Bible was written for "our learning" (Romans 15:4), why must our understanding of the Trinity come from inferred references in scattered verses (which, you must admit, is all you’ve given me so far)? Where's the multi-verse 'walkthrough'? Where's the chapter that explains how the Trinity works? Where are the meat and potatoes outlining the form and function of the Godhead?

Oh, and by the way, the “one substance, three persons” rhetoric originated in the 4th century. Back to Answer #2. If the Bible doesn’t say it, it can’t be assumed to be true…

End of Q&A. Beginning of personal comments.

Jake, don’t attribute ideas to me that I haven’t made. I haven’t, and don’t deny the Son. I believe Jesus is the true Son of God (in the literal non-preexistence sense) and has given mankind the hope of eternal salvation because of his perfect, sinless life. I believe God is the father of Jesus and that He, through his incredible power, brought Jesus into existence through a miracle of birth. I believe that the man Jesus fought through loneliness, temptations, and abandonment, surrounded by people who wanted to kill him and who denied the existence of God. I believe Jesus offered up his life as a free-will sacrifice, in order to give sinners like me a chance to inherit eternal life. I believe that right now, Jesus is rightfully sitting at the right hand of God, the only person to have ever seen God, waiting for his Father to send him back to earth where Jesus will reign as king until he hands authority back to God. Jesus’ life is nothing short of remarkable and inspiring. God’s Son conquered sin, and by extension death, by refusing to give into the human nature he possessed. Everything in the OT pointed towards Christ and without him, the Bible would be meaningless. Jhn 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

I haven’t heard a single argument yet about why separating God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is dangerous and unscriptural. Other than trying to promote fear, you’ve presented nothing of any substance telling me why I should change my beliefs. I‘ve tried Scripture, I’ve proven Scripture, and Scripture has given me irrefutable evidence for the answers I’ve come to accept as truth. I have no fear of my beliefs being challenged and I fully accept that if someone can show me a better way, of if someone can show me an inherent flaw in my beliefs, that I will welcome change.

You may use the billions of people who embrace mainstream Christianity as proof of the correctness of your doctrine, but then again, I suppose there’s always been safety in numbers…Well, until Christ returns anyhow.

Mathew 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Luke 18:8 …Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Second is this. Unfortunately Jake, you’re in no position to lecture me about denying the “veracity and work of the Holy Spirit”. You’ve made it quite clear that you are comfortable with slapping the “subordinate” tag on the Holy Spirit. And depending on your answer to #23, if there are in fact secrets within the Godhead...

Based on Scripture, I believe the Holy Spirit is the literal power of God. I do not believe the Holy Spirit is a separate personality due to such a lack of credible evidence that the title “God the Holy Spirit” can’t even be considered. If you think this is denying the power of God, I’m all ears.

Ultimately, you and I can argue until the end of time as to the validity of the Trinity and all I can say is this: If you’re comfortable with believing in a doctrine that the Bible is surprisingly silent about, and if you’re comfortable teaching as such, than that’s your choice.

Tell me, what would happen if you took away all the creeds, took away all the Justin Martyr’s and Constantine’s and Tertullian’s, took away all the fancy man-made Greek words and books and heresy references. Tell me what would happen if you removed the Trinity from the hands of man and let the Bible be the sole authority. Tell me what would happen if you let people prove Scripture for themselves. I wonder if Christianity would ever have reached the same conclusions you have about the nature of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

For some reason, I doubt it

March 16, 2006 1:34 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

**anonymous comment** "I don’t believe the Bible was translated into English until hundreds of years after the Trinity was generally accepted. If translation is an issue, would not the early church leaders have been in a better position to interpret the Bible than we are today?"

Response: Greek is Greek, Hebrew is Hebrew. English however, isn't always English. It isn't so much based on different translating practices, but based on common religious opinions of the time (change the text to fit the beliefs) and also based on the availability of additional manuscripts (the Dead Sea scrolls, for example) for comparison purposes.

For example, The King James Version OT is based on the Masoretic Text (which is extremely old). The KJV bypassed the Latin and translated directly from the Greek and Hebrew (instead of Greek and Hebrew to Latin to English). The King James Version is also a fairly literal translation of the original manuscripts; words implied but not actually in the original source are specially marked in most printings (either by being inside square brackets, or as italicized text).

Regardless, this is why it's good practice to have a few different Bible versions handy. And if one version is quite different from another, this is when a concordance is invaluable. If two different versions use two different English words in the same verse, use a concordance to settle the issue. The original written language of the Bible doesn't lie.

Also keep in mind the number of centuries and creeds it took to develop the modern day concept of the Godhead, for example. It doesn't have anything to do with the Greek or Hebrew, it has everything to do translators subtly embedding their beliegs into the English text. No "trinity", no "God the Son", no "Lucifer", etc. etc. A concordance will prove this.

March 16, 2006 1:35 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

One more thing to consider: Timelines.

Approx. 1450BC - 70AD
The Bible was written.

150 - 300AD
The concept of the Trinity was developed.

350AD
The concept of the Trinity became doctrine.

1380AD
The Bible was translated into English.

Bible translations aside, the fact of the matter is the Trinity wasn't established until after the Bible was written. The importance of this can't be stressed enough. There are no other major doctrines (or even minor for that matter) that were made 'truth' in the same way the Trinity was (i.e. post-Bible). This alone should encourage people to dig a little deeper and find out why.

March 16, 2006 1:35 AM  
Anonymous jake said...

Jason wrote....There are no other major doctrines (or even minor for that matter) that were made 'truth' in the same way the Trinity was (i.e. post-Bible)

While I do not agree that the Trinity is a late doctrine but rather has evidence going back all the way to Irenaeus in the early 2nd century as already quoted a fact ignored by many in their responses to date, the fact of the matter is that doctrine of the Trinity PREDATES the very forming of the Bible and the closing of the Canon of Scripture in 387 AD at the Council of Carthage. To argue that the Trinity is somehow a post-Bible doctrine is false when in fact the Trinity as a settled theological doctrine pre-dates the authorized makeup of the Bible by about 50 years.

In what way can the Trinity then be said to be "post-Bible"? There isn't a Bible to be "post" of for Christians until 387 AD, 64 years after the Council of Nicea in 323AD.

In addition there are VERY major doctrines of the Christian faith that are not totally defined and worked out until much later.

Council of Chalcedon in 451AD defined the two natures of Christ. Martin Luther in the 16th century recovered the doctrine of justification by faith alone. These are just two examples of "post-Bible" doctrines that are materially inseparable from what it means to be a Christian.

March 16, 2006 1:36 AM  
Anonymous jake said...

**anonymous comment** "Are we not to rely on the Bible only, as the inspired work of God. What do these doctrines have to do with our search for the truth. As Jason pointed out the Bible itself was written between 1450BC and 70AD - anything written after that is not to be considered as God's inspired word."

Response: I would agree, anything written after that time isn't the inspired Word of God. However, we officially decided decide what books were and weren't the inspired Word of God until 387, so the contention that the Trinity is "post-Bible" is untrue given that we had more certainty about it earlier in time, than we did about what books should and should not be in the Bible.

March 16, 2006 1:36 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Jake, I think we're arguing two different things here...

No one's ignoring the fact that evidence of the Trinity is found in the 2nd century. But this whole discussion is about evidence of the Trinity in Scripture. When the Bible became "the Bible" (387AD) is irrelevant as the writings that now make up the Bible were written many, many centuries prior.

Anything uncovered or established after these writings shouldn't play a part here. If the doctrine wasn't established and taught in Scripture, we simply can't go elsewhere for information. Therefore, I wasn't suggesting the Trinity came after the formulation of the Bible (as in the printing of a book named as such after all of its writings were collected), my point was that the Trinity doctrine was introduced after the WRITING of the books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, etc.)

Also, you claim the "doctrine" of the Trinity was established in the Bible, which seems to contradict your statement about "evidence" of the Trinity in the 2nd century. "Evidence" comes first, "doctrine" comes second. Just to clarify, is evidence of the Trinity found in Scripture or the doctrine itself?

I guess maybe we should answer this question first (or at least start this discussion in another blog):

Is the doctrine of the Trinity explicity taught in Scripture (both OT and NT)?

If "YES", than every single quote and reference should be from the Bible only (e.g. no references to heresies, post-Bible authors and books, creeds, councils, etc.). In other words, no assumptions, no opinions, no suggestions. Explicit Bible evidence. The absence of Biblical evidence cannot be used to explain a point or doctrine or concept (e.g. "If the Bible doesn't say it, we must entertain the possibility that it's true"). Nothing can be accomplished in this manner.

If you say NO, than at least we can agree on this and move on.

March 16, 2006 1:37 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

A masive chunk of doctrine in mainstream Christianity rests on the truth of the Trinity. According to some, you can't be a "Christian" if you don't believe in the Trinity. The Trinity, therefore, is "major" doctrine.

However, contrary to what Jake says, the establishment of the "two natures of Christ" doctrine after the formulation of the Trinity means that the "two natures" doctrine can't be considered "VERY major" as obviously the Trinity survived the absence of the "two natures" doctrine for a hundred or so years. And the fact that this concept wasn't even "defined" until much later than the writings of the Bible (400 years!!!) is suspicious to say the least... If the Trinity was flawed before this new doctrine was introduced, how could it have been taken right from Scripture? How could it be a God-inspired teaching?

Secondly, Martin Luther. As found in any history book, Martin Luther recommended the persecution of Jews, God's chosen people. In 1543, he wrote a pamphlet called "On the Jews and their Lies" and in it he wrote that the Jews' synagogues should be set on fire, prayerbooks destroyed, rabbis forbidden to preach, homes "smashed and destroyed," property seized, money confiscated, and that these "poisonous envenomed worms" be drafted into forced labor or expelled "for all time."

Historians have called this the "first work of modern anti-Semitism, and a giant step forward on the road to the Holocaust." The Nazis cited the pamphlet to justify the Final Solution.

Needless to say, given his obvious anti-Jew stance, I strongly question why anyone would ever consider this man to have any kind of Bible authority whatsoever, Why believers everywhere wouldn't fiercely question the validity and wisdom of this man is beyond me.

Finally, you used an interesting word to describe the two post-Bible doctrines: "defined" and "recovered". Both suggest that the Bible was insufficient in communicating the two doctrines you referred to. It also implies that we need men, outside of the realm of Scripture, to tell us what to believe and what is right and what is wrong. This includes a man who called for the active and immediate persecution of Jews...

The question remains: Other than the Trinity, what doctrines were established AFTER the writings of the Bible and what grounds are there for taking them to be truths from God?

March 16, 2006 1:37 AM  
Anonymous jake said...

Jason's comments denigrating Martin Luther are the worst kind of logic available... attacking the person to attack their idea... it is the logical fallacy called "ad hominem". It is shabby logic and a poor way to do bad theology to say the least.

Ulrich Zwingli, a contemporary of the John Calvin whom you quoted positively elsewhere, was known to have drowned Anabaptists in Zurich. You didn't see anyone attacking him for having bad friends?

Besides, it is a generally agreed upon rule of blogging and debate that the 1st person to reference the Nazis as supposed support for their position automatically loses.

Further to this issue of Martin Luther...
I was recently at a Roman Catholic funeral where repeatedly the dead person was said to have been "born again of the Spirit" at their baptism as an infant and this funeral was somehow the consummation of that promise contained in their baptism. I was thanking God all the way through it for the ideas and interpretations of Martin Luther and John Calvin and Menno Simons and John Knox, for their courage to fight for the Biblical doctrine that salvation is based on God's grace through our faith alone... not by works so that no one can boast Ephesians 2:9-10. No baptism. No church sacraments. No works required for salvation. Praise God!

That also goes part of the way to answering Brian's earlier questions about salvation.

Salvation is by God's grace through faith alone. Not faith contingent on works, baptism, church attendance, circumcision whatever. Jesus did not die so you or I had to "earn" God's love by our works. Our works are a result of God's love for us, not a condition of it.

Talking about all his religious brownie points Paul writes to the Phillipians, "I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith." (Phil. 3:8-9)

This same Paul writes to the Galatians who were entertaining the idea that their faith required observance of the law to earn God's love through works, "Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law." Galatians 3:23-25

March 16, 2006 1:37 AM  
Anonymous jake said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

March 16, 2006 1:37 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

First Martin Luther. Let’s be clear about who the Jews are. God calls the Jews (Children of Israel) a “peculiar (special) treasure” Exodus 19:5. The bible and history prove that the Jews are a protected and blessed nation that God calls his own. The fact remains that Martin Luther publicly called for the violent persecution of the Jews, a persecution of God’s “treasure”. I’m not taking the easy way out by discrediting someone’s character in order to discount his works; but, do we feel comfortable supporting a doctrine that came from a man who hated the Jews and recommended that their synagogues to be set on fire? Remember, Jesus was a Jew. If people are comfortable standing by this man and his works, than so be it.

Let’s get back to the “Jesus is God” dialogue as our discussions have fallen completely off track. What I am interested in is the answers to the 25 questions. I am especially intrigued in learning your stance on the “Can the Godhead die?” question. I suggest that we leave the discussion surrounding Martin Luther out of this blog. The “justification by faith” discussion is off topic and probably best saved for another forum.

Now, let's get back to it: scriptural evidence for "Jesus is God". Where were we?

March 16, 2006 1:39 AM  
Anonymous jake said...

Here are answers to the first 10 questions...

1. God doesn’t manifest himself as anything other than one member of the Trinity – Father, Son or Holy Spirit. There is no non-personal manifestation of God in the Bible.

"One final point about the intricacy of the Trinity, which person are we asked to worship: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit or the Godhead itself? According to John 4:23, we worship God the Father. However, why aren’t we asked to worship the Godhead itself if this is where the “unity of essence” is? Could we worship God the Son or God the Holy Spirit if we choose to? Considering they’re technically all “God”, would this be wrong?"

Jake – Jesus received worship without forbidding it on many occasions. Something a perfect Jewish man who lived a sinless life who wasn’t God would never do.

Pre-resurrection worship – Matthew 2:11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

Pre-resurrection worship – Matthew 14:33 “ Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."

Post-resurrection worship – Matthew 28:8-9 “So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.”

In fact in one instance Jesus was specifically asked to have his disciples stop worshipping him as the Messiah and he responded, “I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." Luke 19:40

2. Who is the father of Jesus? Asked and answered.

Matthew 28:19-20 “baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” By including them together Jesus equates their authority. I am sorry but that what it means. It makes the Son and Holy Spirit co-equal with the Father in glory, divinity, authority, personal existence etc,etc.

3. The “Son” and “Father” Titles John 17:5 reads “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” He does ask his father to “glorify me” not glorify his glory. He then explains that he wants the glory back that Jesus “had with you (the Father) before the world” began. The words are abundantly clear. Jesus was glorified with the Father before creation and is asking to be glorified again in like manner, based on the completion of his incarnational mission. Jesus was with the Father before creation. He shared the glory of the Father before creation. I may not like it from a logical point of view. I may not understand. But I also am not trying to explain it away.

John 1:6 does not require the pre-existence of John the Baptist because the “para” in John 1:6 does not appear in context with other words like “before the world began”. Neither does it make reference to any other shared characteristic between the Father and John the Baptist. They are not said in John 1:6 to share a glory together or a place together or anything else.

Psalm 89:26 – 27. I am not sure why explaining Psalm 89:26-27 is a supposed condition of understanding Colossians 1:14-15. The idea of firstborn is very prevalent throughout the OT and there is no indication that Paul is using Psalm 89 here as his jumping off point. Furthermore, if the primary application of Psalm 89 was understood to be Messianic in Paul’s day, they why does he not ever reference it in any of his letters, let alone here in Colossians 1:14-15? Especially when he quotes more liberally from the Psalms than almost any other OT book.

However, as it regards Psalm 89:26-27 which reads
26 He will call out to me, 'You are my Father,
my God, the Rock my Savior.' 27 I will also appoint him my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth.

The phrase “I will also appoint him” is a direct reference not to Jesus as Messiah but to David’s anointing for his position as King (vs. 20). It only applies to Jesus in a secondary typological fashion. This kind of “appointment” language is most common in the Book of Hebrews (example Heb. 5:8-10) where, as in Psalm 89, Christ’s sonship is always spoken of as preceding any kind of appointment to any kind of title or reign. As in Hebrews 1:1-3 “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. 3The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”


4. Baptismal Praises (God to Jesus) “I think I can,” Jesus was at the bottom of the hill… that “hill” being the cross. Jesus was given his Father’s assurance at important times in his ministry. Other people were at Jesus’ baptism. Both Matthew 3 and Luke 3 never envisage private baptisms. Matthew 3:5-6 “People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.” Luke 3:21 “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying…” Even if it was only John there, it none the less allows for the voice to be for John’s benefit given the limb John had gone out onto as it concerned Jesus Matthew 3:11-12 “11"I baptize you with[a] water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."”

The point of the Spirit’s descending on Jesus while the Father is speaking is to stress the tri-unity of the Godhead. A word, by the way, that like the Trinity does not appear in the Bible but you continue to use. That all three persons attributed divine characteristics in the New Testament are involved in Jesus’ ministry that is the point of the voice at a divine level. As he says in John 16:12-15 "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.” All that God the Father has, is Jesus’ (quite a claim!) and he will send that to the disciples through the ministry of the Spirit of God.

Jesus needs empowerment? Asked and answered already.

5. “Children of God” or “brethren of God”? We are called “Children of God” in John 1:12 plus many other verses as you have stated. I think you are concerned about this “brethren of God” idea because you are concerned about people being called divine. It appears that the Bible would rather err on the side of having “too high” a view of what salvation does for people. Because the Bible uses VERY exalted language to describe our relationship to God through Christ. We are called “co-heirs with Christ” in Romans 8:17 “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Jesus says in John 15:15 “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” So we are also “friends” of God, in this sense. Once again this subordinate working together is highlighted. Jesus making known to us, all that his Father has made known to him.

"Jake, you said some Biblical authors “wrestled with how to communicate the truth about the closeness of the relationship” between God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. If the Bible is the inspired word of God (2 Tim. 3:16), how can you discount certain passages because of your opinion that an author is wrestling with his communication skills? How difficult would it be for a Biblical author to write: “We are brethren of God” if it were true? If God wanted to adequately describe the Trinity He could have done it. God isn’t asking us to figure out which of His authors got it right and which ones didn’t."

Jake – I don’t think I am discounting anything. Paul does write “We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” of His inheritance. God did adequately describe the Trinity throughout the NT. We are the ones who are struggling to keep our philosophical presuppositions at bay and take what the Bible says at face value for real. It is your idea that God can’t die, like Jesus did, that the Father can’t share the divine substance with the Son and Spirit, as they clearly do, that keeps you from believing the Trinity. There is no other satisfactory way to understand the evidence of the New Testament.

6a. “In the name of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit” The proof is quite explicit actually in that Jesus lists them together. No good Jewish rabbi, much less the person you claim lived a “perfect, sinless life” runs around equating himself with God, the Father. He was equating himself and the Holy Spirit with God the Father and that just isn’t done by people who live “perfect, sinless” lives in the Jewish religion of Jesus day… unless of course he was God.

2. Yep. That ol’trinity working together thing. The Father decides. The Son accomplishes. The Spirit enacts. That is the way the Bible presents it. I may not understand it all, but that is what it teaches.

But then again the King James Version of1 Timothy 3 does read about this mystery of the Trinity...

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

This verse by the way as well puts the lie to the idea that various people responding in these posts have promoted that creeds and statements of faith are "late" developments in the Christian faith and should not be taken into theological consideration. There are at least five different creedal statements or creedal hymns in the NT. The reality of creeds contained within the NT shows that there is a tradition of humans getting together and hammering out what they believe and using both Biblical language and human ideas to explain theological truths. This one here in 1 Timothy 3, the statement at Romans 10:9, at 1 Corinthians 12:3 and Phillipians 2:6-11 are examples of Pauline creeds. Whether future creeds contained legitimate truth is fine to question, but don't castigate the early church for formulating creeds, they were merely attempting to do as the apostles did. Also discount creeds simply because they are creeds, as if creeds by definition are out of bounds for biblical followers of Jesus. Obviously his first followers found them helpful and we should not so easily eliminate them.

3. No the name was not given to him after his crucifixion. Actually the name “YHWH saves” or “Yeshua” or “Jesus” was given to Jesus before he was born. Matthew 1:21 “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” The new name of Revelation 3:12 that Jesus will write on “him who overcomes” remains undefined specifically in the book of Revelation. But if it is “Jesus” it certainly cannot be argued that that name “YHWH saves” was given to him after his resurrection in light of Matthew 1:21. Perhaps it could be said that “Jesus” was his “new name” in the sense that it was his incarnation name… the name given to the 2nd person of the Trinity upon his residence on earth… as opposed to any name he may have carried from eternity past when he was present with the Father at creation John 1:1-3.

The contention that “these ideas work whether the Trinity exists or not” is interesting. Certainly these 5 verses can be understood in many ways. However, we are not given the option to pick 5 verses out of the New Testament and say these verses CAN be understood to teach that the relationship of the Father to the Son was one of God to a good man so therefore they MUST mean that. If it means that this supposedly perfect man is claiming to be God or assuming unto himself divine attributes we must conclude that he was a madman or demon… if in fact he wasn’t in reality God.

Any interpretation about the Father/Son relationship must account for the reality of the Bible’s most pointed claims about Jesus and the Father in John 10:30, John 1:1, John 5:26, Hebrews 1:1-3, Colossians 1:14-16, were Jesus is talked about as sharing the same substance… whatever that substance may be. These verses about the Father and the Son must also then be read in light of the divine prerogatives that Jesus assumes upon himself… the prerogative to forgive sins Mark 2:6-8, the prerogative to save 2 Corinthians 5:19, the prerogative to judge John 5:26-27 and yes even the prerogative to be self causing John 5:26.

6b. Trinitarian Prayers In the Gospels This is a straw man fallacy. A straw man is a poor representation of an argument constructed in order to defeat it. I am not sure what you mean to prove by emphasizing that there are no Trinitarian prayers in the New Testament? I have shown that there are Trinitarian theological formulae and evidence elsewhere. Why the hangup on prayers? Jesus ranks the three of them… Father, Son and Holy Spirit… in his commission to the disciples that is to guide their thinking, acting, preaching, teaching and baptizing going forward so why not also their praying?

6c. Three are One? Actually it is according to your definition that equality and subordination cannot co-exist. The Bible seems quite comfortable in allowing for equal beings to be exhibit relationships of subordination and cooperation. Paul does so in his formulation of how husbands and wives are to work together as equals and yet exhibit subordinate relationships in Ephesians 5.

7. Jesus and the Scribe Not far, but not near either.

Deut. 6:4. In reality however Jesus did not speak Greek all the time and everyday. He would have spoken Aramaic and would have known Hebrew. The passage he is quoting is from Deuteronomy 6 from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament called the Septuagint. However popular and powerful the LXX was in shaping the Judaism of Jesus day, the Hebrew version was considered and is still considered the authoritative version, so the distinctions between yachid = one and echad = plural unity stand.

The reality is that Hebrew has a word that always means one, singular and that word is yachid. If Deuteronomy meant to communicate that God is a single undeferentiated being then yachid would have been used. The word echad is used in the above mentioned verses out of deference to the fact that each of these nouns are a part of a bunch of singles… one day among seven, one rib among many, one speech among the many. Even if it is used in these cases simply denoting one… the fact remains that echad carries its plural nature throughout most of the Old Testament… Genesis 2:24, 34:16, Ezra 2:64, Jeremiah 32:38-39.

8. You’re right, John the Baptist, not Jesus in this verse. My mistake.

9. Jesus strengthened by an angel The 100% divine part of him kept him from sinning.

Hierarchy I don’t think the lower than angels language of Hebrews 2:9 has to do with authority as it does “geography” if you catch my drift. The lower in the sense that angels are in Father’s presence and that while on earth Jesus was on earth, more separate from the Father then when he shared a glory with him prior to creation. The whole argument of Hebrews is that Jesus is better than Moses, the angels, the temple, etc, etc because the Christians Apollos was writing to were in danger of reverting back to a kind of Judaism (Hebrews 6:4-6)

10. Covenants What I mean by that is what is meant by Paul in Galatians 3:23-29 which I will quote at length because of its importance to the NT doctrine of justification by faith…

23Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ[a] that we might be justified by faith. 25Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. 26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

On the persistent refrain about the “Godhead dying”. Let me first ask you to define what you mean by godhead? That word doesn’t appear in the Bible and I am not sure what you mean by it?

If you mean was Jesus God and did he die? It is not up for me to decided whether that idea is worthy of belief or not or whether it fits in with a presupposition you have about what it means to be divine. This is what Phillipians 2 teaches about Jesus…
6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself
and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

March 16, 2006 10:00 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

You’re not sure what “godhead” means? You’ve already used it a number of times in this blog. Your definition seems reasonable enough: “…a plurality within the Godhead that the church fathers called The Trinity.” This view is right in line with Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia: “The Trinity is the term employed to signify the central doctrine of the Christian religion -- the truth that in the unity of the Godhead there are Three truly distinct Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

This, apparently, is what the godhead is. 1 what, 3 whos. Whether or not this word is used in the Bible is a moot point right now considering what else isn’t mentioned in the Bible but yet is still being discussed.

My original question was: God cannot die. Jesus died (Rom. 4:9, etc.). How is this possible?

You answered with: Where does it say in the Bible that God cannot die? In the true sense of the word “cannot”? Meaning is not physically able to die? Can not God do whatever he wants? If he chose to die, could he not do so? How big is your view of God?

All I’m asking for, and what I’m continuing to ask for, is a simple “yes” or “no”: Can the Godhead, as has been defined, die? Not Jesus, but the Godhead. The God who manifests Himself in three people.

March 16, 2006 10:00 AM  
Anonymous jake said...

I continue to be asked if I believe the Godhead can die. Now I am being accused of being a master of elluding questions... wow... I guess I will take that as a compliment given who another master of elluding questions was. (Luke 20:8)

Lily is right. I know that if I say Yes... the Godhead can die, then of course, I will be out of touch with the Bible that teaches God is an eternal self caused being. I know that if I say No... the Godhead cannot die, then of course Jesus cannot be God because he did die.

The Bible, whether we like it or not, takes a more nuanced approach than Lily's conumdrum would allow. Sorry. I know we like definition and clarity but Paul does say "Now we see through a glass darkly..." 1 Cor. 13

I wonderfully get to quote the Apostle Paul on this question who wrote, as already quoted, in Phillipians 2 that Jesus was in very nature God and yet
became obedient to death on the cross.

The problem with Jason's question is that he misunderstand the nature of death as taught in the Bible. By death I take Jason to mean, can a member of the Godhead cease to exist.

Death, in the Bible does not mean the end of anyone's existence much less Christ's as one person of the Triune Godhead.

No I do not believe that any or all three members of the Trinity will ever or have ever ceased to exist. Just as I believe, that we, created in their image, can never cease to exist once we have come into existence. We are immortal only God is eternal.

We will exist after death either in conscious bliss with Christ (2 Cor. 5:7-9, 1 Thess. 4:17) or in conscious torment in the place reserved for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).

Prior to Christ I believe that after death, the OT teaches that people existed in one of two parts of Hades - the abode of the dead. The 1st part of Hades is the abode of the righteous dead... referred to in Luke 16 as Abraham's bosum. Jesus called it "Paradise" in speaking to the thief on the
cross in Luke 23. The lower part of Hades (perhaps called Tartarus) populated by the unrighteous dead remains unchanged and awaits Christ's final judgement (2 Peter 2:9).

Hence the Apostles Creed states quite controversially that Jesus "was crucified,dead and buried. He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead, he ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty." (1 Peter 3:9) The hell here is Hades, the abode of the dead, most specifically the upper part of Hades which he told the thief he would see him in on the day that Jesus died on the cross. Hell is the final destination for all those that die apart from faith in Christ... most noteably in the Bible Satan and his demonic host.

So Jesus did not cease to exist from a teleological point of view, while he did "die" from an anthropological point of view.

March 16, 2006 10:01 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

I'm not sure what your answer is. God the Son died, but he didn't die. Is that what you're saying? Sneaky ;)

If Jesus is God, then God was in hell for three days?

FYI, for those who haven't had a chance to look it up yet (like I had to do):

"Teleological": The use of ultimate purpose or design as a means of explaining phenomena.

"Anthropological": That part of Christian theology concerning the genesis, nature, and future of humans, especially as contrasted with the nature of God

Not that I have any idea how the definition of these words helps... :)

March 16, 2006 10:01 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Jake, thanks very much for the answers and the continued dialogue.

Reponses to Jake's first 10 answers:

1. My “define the Trinity” question is asked only because I’m curious how it’s described, not to poke holes in your theory based on an incorrect definition. For example, I see four entities that make up the Trinity: God, and then the three people He manifests himself in. I’m not looking to argue this particular point though. It’s simply an observation. I guess the conclusion to this question is that based on Scripture and the Trinitarian belief, God is only seen as manifesting Himself in three people without any reference to who or what this God is. Therefore, the Trinitarian God is relatively unknown in the sense that His non-manifested self is never mentioned or described.

Note: As for people worshipping Jesus: First, in Matthew 2, Jesus couldn’t tell the men not to worship him because he was a newborn and couldn’t speak. Second, the word “worship” referred to in Mathew 2:11 and Mathew 14:33 means “to kiss the hand” or, in other words, “to give respect”. The idea of worshipping in this form implies reverence, giving Christ the utmost respect and honour that comes with carrying the title and position of Son of God. The other times people are said to “worship” Jesus literally means “adoring”. Third, the disciples in Luke 19:40 weren’t worshipping Jesus as you suggest. It says they were “rejoicing and praising God” in verse 37. They were worshipping the source of Jesus’ incredible power, they were worshipping the One God.

Now compare Acts 24:14 (Paul’s defense before Felix) “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:” The word “worship” here is used exclusively of God (the Father) and is only used three times in Scripture (Strongs #3000). It’s a powerful word meaning “to serve, to worship”. This word is NEVER used in reference to Jesus. (Interesting to note also that Paul was branded a heretic by the people around him for the things he believed…)

So no, unfortunately I can’t agree with you that people were “worshipping” Jesus. Certainly they were giving him the reverence he deserved, but the true worshipping, the true serving was, and still is, reserved for God and God alone.

The question remains: According to John 4:21 and 4:23, we’re asked to worship God the Father. However, why aren’t we asked to worship the Godhead itself if this is where the “unity of essence” is, the source of all that is God? And which person are we told by God to worship? Hypothetically speaking, could you for example worship God the Son and then God the Father and then God the Spirit on consecutive days without any problem?

2. I agree with Jake’s answer: The father of Jesus is God because this is what the Bible tells us. However, no, the Son and Holy Spirit cannot be co-equal or share co-authority with the Father because you’ve already given them subordinate roles: Your words: “The Father is over the Son who together are over the Spirit” and again "The Father decides. The Son accomplishes. The Spirit enacts." Someone is either co-equal or they’re not (i.e. we never hear of the Spirit deciding, the Father accomplishing, and the Son enacting)

3. Scripture doesn’t say Jesus “shared God’s glory” before the world began. Scripture says he “had” glory (interestingly enough, the word “share” is never once mentioned in the Bible). Second, picture this: An architect sees and knows the beautiful details of his proposed construction before the site is prepared or the foundation-stone laid. God is the great Architect and in His divine plan, Christ, was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8) - the chief cornerstone "foreordained before the foundation of the world". (1 Peter 1:20). The building will duly be fitly framed together (Eph. 2:21) to constitute its part in the "kingdom prepared...from the foundation of the world." (Matt. 25:34). Christ was "foreordained", but not formed until born of the virgin Mary in the days of Herod the king. Likewise, the glory he had with his Father was in the divine plan of the great Architect. Similarly, Scripture speaks as if others pre-existed, as well as Christ. Consider the following: Of believers, Paul wrote: "Whom he did foreknow." (Rom. 8:29) and "He had afore prepared (note the past tense) unto glory." (Rom. 9:23 cf. 2 Tim. 1:9) and "He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world." (Eph. 1:4). Of Jeremiah, the LORD said: "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." (Jer. 1:5).

We don’t argue the pre-existence of Jeremiah and other believers even though the language here states that God knew them before they were born. God “foreordaining” Jesus is a really important point. God already knew and planned for Christ before he was created, exactly as he knew and planned for each one of us before we were created. The language of John 17:5 must be understood in terms of this background. Unless the principle is recognized that God "calleth those things which be not as though they were" (Rom. 4:17), confusion will result in Biblical interpretation, as it does with the supposed pre-existence interpretation given to this particular passage in John.

b) If you believe the phrase “with God” can mean different things at different points based on context (even though exactly the same Greek words are used each time), please explain in what sense was John the Baptist “with God” if he didn’t literally pre-exist?

c) Psalm 89 isn’t Messianic? You believe God appointed David as his “firstborn”? How did David suddenly usurp Abraham if the promises started with Abraham? First of all, compare 2 Sam. 7:12 – 16, Hebrews 1:5, Psalm 72:1 – 8 & Revelation 19:16. These are all references to Christ and all use the same “firstborn” reference. The idea of the firstborn might be prevalent throughout the OT but you’d have to agree that someone being called “God’s firstborn” is extremely rare. And by Paul not quoting a Messianic Psalm certainly doesn’t mean it's automatically a non-Messianic Psalm. If you want to follow that logic, than I’m going to have to say that since Paul never taught the two natures of Christ, this doctrine can’t be true. However, I’d rather avoid this kind of back-and-forth argument...

If you’re willing to agree that Psalm 89 is Messianic, than this proves Christ didn’t exist until after the writer wrote Psalms. If you disagree that Psalm 89 is Messianic, then there will need to be some pretty clear evidence as to how David is God’s firstborn with Jesus meanwhile being “the firstborn of all creation” and the “firstborn from the dead” and God’s “only begotten son”.

4. The original question was this: In Matthew 3:17, God praises Jesus for his baptism. Why would He praise Himself? Jake, the subject isn’t the cross or crucifixion, it’s Christ’s baptism.

And no, the follow-up question wasn’t answered: Why does Jesus need empowerment if he’s co-equal and a co-authority with God and the Holy Spirit and posseses a 100% divine nature? And what had Christ supposedly achieved by his baptism if he was God and it was impossible for him by nature to sin or do wrong? And if God the Father speaking to God the Son was for everyone else’s benefit, what, exactly, was the benefit? To understand the Trinity…? So God praising Jesus was simply for show? Questions, questions, and more questions…

Note: There’s not enough in Mathew 3 to suggest there were people around when Jesus was baptized. Verses 5-6 aren’t talking about Jesus. He isn’t introduced until verse 13. The word “then” in verse 13 means “an advancement of time” in the Greek so just because people are mentioned at the beginning of the chapter doesn’t mean they’re still around when Jesus was baptised. Semantics though. The point is John didn’t need the benefit of hearing God’s voice here. John was “sent from God” to preach the inevitable coming of Jesus. If there was anyone who didn’t need to hear God’s voice to believe, it was John. No, God was speaking directly TO Jesus, FOR Jesus, which again leads me back to the original question. Why would this be if Jesus is God?

b) I don’t want to beat a dead horse but God sending the Holy Spirit for the benefit of Jesus does anything BUT stress a triune relationship. I think the answer’s far simpler: here’s God, and now here’s His power, and now here’s His power resting upon His son. If anything, there’s a complete absence of “co-authority” here (see #1 above).

5. I’m not concerned about people being called divine, what I am worried about, as any us should be, are people walking around claiming they’re “brethren of God”. Mathew 12:48 states that Jesus regarded his disciples as family, as “brothers”. Nowhere in Scripture is it ever even remotely implied that God views certain people as “brothers”. Mankind is too sinful and weak and frail to even begin to assume that impossibly lofty position. Think about it: An immortal, invisible, perfect God who dwells in approachable light calls the very creatures He created, who are sinful and decaying and not worthy of His mercy, “brothers”? However, because Jesus was of the seed of Abraham, because he was a man who had like passions as we do (albeit a completely sinless man at the time of his death), he could call the disciples his “brothers” and honestly view them in that manner and treat them as such. Moses was called a “friend” of God but nowhere is he ever referred to as “brother”. The two are like comparing apples and oranges. We all have friends, but we don’t all have brothers. Therefore, the question still remains: Are we “children of God” or “brethren of God”?

b) You made a point that Bible authors “wrestled with how to communicate the truth about the closeness of the relationship” between God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Please explain how this is possible if the Bible is the inspired word of God.

6. I’m afraid there’s simply not enough in that Mathew 18 verse to prove the Trinity. You’ve stated there’s “abundant evidence” in Scripture to prove the Trinity so that being the case, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this verse and move on to the next. Treat me as a rookie Bible student. No one should be convinced to follow a doctrine based on one verse alone so no worries, we’ll go through the rest of the references and come back to this one later on if need be.

b) You mentioned the “mystery of the Trinity”. It’s either a mystery or there’s an “abundance of knowledge”. Please clarify. Remember, God “manifested” in the flesh doesn’t mean Jesus “is” God. God manifested Himself in angels and a burning bush but we don’t consider God to literally be an angel or literally a burning bush so the mystery isn’t a mystery at all: Jesus did everything for the honour and glory of God to bring people closer to Him. However, God wasn’t Jesus. Jesus was the image of God as much as man is the image of God 1Cr 11:7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. Logical don't you think?

c) Jake, I don’t think people are “lying” when they say creeds are late developments. That’s pretty harsh. Perhaps we simply don’t have the same knowledge as you do when it comes to creeds and statements of faith. The only knowledge we (or at least myself anyhow) have on creeds and the such is what can be read in the history books, specifically any kind of Church history book outlining the timelines of the Trinity. All I can do is look at the Bible, know it was inspired of God, and than compare it to works that weren't inspired by God. Perhaps we can agree to ignore the creeds completely. We KNOW the Bible is inspired and we KNOW the answers are all here for us to uncover. This same assumption cannot be said with anything written after Scripture. Agreed?

d) In your previous post regarding Jesus’ name, you said “…but the name or the honour of that position, stems from his completing his mission of dying for the sins of the world and be raised to life again for our justification.” But now you’re suggesting the name was given to him before he was born. Please clarify. My original point was that Christ’s “new name” was actually a position and not a proper name, something you said was incorrect. However, this “position” point makes logical sense along with your reference to Revelation 3:12 and because a hierarchy exists. "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." The Father is the one who has given Jesus this power (John 3:35; 17:2; 1 Corinthians 15:28) and Jesus could have done nothing without it (John 5:30; 8:28) .

e) You say regarding the “substance”: “Whatever the substance might be…” With the abundant evidence in Scripture to support the Trinity, why is this exceptionally important element not made clear? How do we even know there’s a “substance” if we can’t explain, define or find it in Scripture?

f) My original question was this: 'Trinitarian' prayers (prayers directed to the Godhead, prayers to all three persons, etc.) were unknown in the Church until 300AD. If these people [Justin Martyr, etc.] you mentioned were so influential in developing the Trinity, why did it take so long for the concept to become a truth? Your answer was: Not true. Matthew 28:19-20 is a type of benediction and is Trinitarian. Matthew was written prior to 70AD.

However, since a "benediction" isn’t a prayer (you agreed), the original question remains.

And it’s important to know who we’re praying to. If God wants us to pray to God the Father, than we certainly shouldn’t be praying to the Godhead itself or God the Son.

g) Subordination and cooperation isn’t what we’re discussing. The topic is subordination and equality. In the hierarchy, Jesus is subordinate to God. We’re not trying to figure out whether or not Jesus cooperates with God, as we both know the answer to that one. We’re trying to figure out whether or not Jesus can be subordinate and yet equal with God at the same time. According to 1 Cor. 11:3 this is impossible: The head of Jesus is God, the head of man is Jesus, the head of woman is man. Ephesians 5 lists it as God, Jesus, church. In these two instances, the Bible seems quite comfortable in stating a specific, unadulterated hierarchy.

7. Jake, if Jesus said to you, “You’re not far from the Kingdom of God”, I doubt very much you’re going to walk away grumbling about Christ's choice of words. The original question remains: Why wasn’t Jesus offended by the scribe’s “he” reference if Jesus is God?

b) Are you questioning whether or not the Gospels translated Jesus’ words correctly? Are you prepared to say that Jesus’ words are subject to error and misinterpretation because he potentially spoke a different language than what his words were recorded in? It wouldn’t have mattered if Jesus spoke Chinese or Russian or a bizarre combination of the two; the Gospel’s were all inspired. We can rest assured Jesus’ words were recorded correctly.

The Septuagint, for those unfamiliar with this term, is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (aka “Old Testament”). Following the conquests of Alexander the Great, Greek was used more and more frequently and as more Jews adopted Greek as their first language, a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek became increasingly necessary to maintain their level of learning. The translation was carried out during the 3rd, 2nd and 1st centuries (BC). The Septuagint gives its readers a window on an ancient Hebrew form of the OT that is earlier than the time of Christ. Even the early church used the Septuagint to develop their doctrine.

Jake, I’m a little confused at to which Hebrew version you’re referring to that is considered to be more of an authority than the Septuagint…? Are you talking about the Ancient Hebrew verse? If so, Ancient Hebrew is a dead language. It hasn’t existed for more than 2000 years. Even if we had the original texts written in this language, no one would be able to decipher them. And even if Jesus did speak Ancient Hebrew, his disciples certainly couldn’t, nor could the people who came to hear him speak. They all spoke Greek. What would be the benefit of Jesus speaking a language no one understood? So unless you or someone you know can speak Ancient Hebrew, the best we can do is modern day Hebrew. The translation discussion regarding the use of “one” in the OT stands.

Speaking of which, I don't know how “echad” (one) can carry a plural meaning as you suggest. “One (echad) speech” in Genesis 11:1 means the earth was filled with literally "one language". This was before the tower of Babel, not after. There isn’t a bunch of singles here. Genesis 27:38. “One” blessing. Only one, not one of a bunch. As for “yachid”…“Yachid” means “sole” or “beloved” or “solitary”. Why do you think this word would have been used if God was in fact one being? “Yachid” has a measure of emotion attached and is certainly not a factual numeric word like “echad”.

If the earth was filled with ONE (echad) speech as in Genesis 11, than why can’t the earth also be filled with ONE (echad) God?

8. The divine part of Jesus kept him from sinning? Where does the Bible tell us that? Hebrews says: “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” Jesus didn’t have two natures, he had one. Remember, the “two natures” doctrine came 400 years after Christ’s death. What did Trinitarians believe in regards to Christ’s nature before this?

9. Jesus strengthened by an angel. The question remains: If Jesus had need for encouragement and the like, what role did the 100% divine part of him play? Sin-avoidance? That leads to the next point:

b) For the temptations of Christ to have been real in any way, there had to exist the possibility that he sin. If Christ is God, it is impossible that he could have sinned, for God is perfect by nature. Jesus pointed this out in Mt 19:17, marking the distinction between himself and God (only ONE is good...). If Christ was God, and therefore couldn't sin, all his 'temptations' were faked, and his identification with mankind was a cruel sham! Anyhow, can we really see God locking Himself into a nature that could potentially sin? God hates sin. God can’t sin. James also explicitly states that God cannot be tempted by evil (1:13-15).

c) Your Hebrews 2:9 explanation is incorrect I’m afraid. You say Jesus being made lower than the angels was a matter of “geography” in that Jesus was on earth while the angels were in heaven. However, the word “lower” in verse 7 and 9 literally means “inferior”. Jesus was made inferior to the angels. So again, here’s the question: If Jesus and the God are co-equal and have co-authority, where and how did the angels squeeze themselves between the two? Explain how angels could have more authority than a part of the Godhead?

d) 1 Timothy 2:5: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus". A mediator is a go-between. For Christ to mediate between God and men he must be separate from God, just as he is separate from the individual people he mediates for; if Christ were God, this verse would be nonsense.

10. I’m still not sure what “…the promise which saved Abraham precedes and completes the law of Moses in Christ” means in terms of the Trinity. Justification by faith isn’t the topic here. If you want to start this as a different topic though, I’d be more than happy to go through it with you.

March 16, 2006 10:02 AM  
Anonymous jake said...

Contra Jason's comments about worship above,

There ARE words meaninging worship in the New Testament that are translated worship and applied to both Jesus and the Father.

An example where the same word for worship is applied both to Christ and the Father is John 4:21 and 9:38. John 4 is where Jesus tells the woman at the well "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.” John 9:38 then records a formerly demon possessed person worshipping Jesus. Same word. Used both of the Father and of Jesus.

One instance where no word for worship is used and yet Jesus receives what is obviously worship, is in John 20:28. He received Thomas’ worship when he calls him "My Lord and my God!". Note that Jesus DOES NOT balk at that, unlike Paul and Barnabas do in Acts 14.

March 16, 2006 10:03 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Good points about worship.

First, John 20:28: Thomas' confession is an acknowledgment that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, but it is not a declaration that Jesus is "God the Son". Thomas, a Jew, used a manner of expression common in the Old Testament in which representatives of God are referred to as "God".

• Angels are called "God" in the following passages: Gen. 16:7 cf. vs. 13; 22:8, 11, 15 cf. vs. 16; Exod. 23:20, 21.

• Moses is referred to as a "god" to Pharaoh. (Exod. 7:1, "god" is translated from the Heb. "elohim").

• "Elohim" translated "God" can refer to the judges of Israel as in Psa. 82:1, 6 cf. John 10:34.

• It is also translated "judges" in Exod. 21:6; 22:8, 9 and "gods" ("judges") in Exod. 22:28.

Earlier in this chapter, Jesus told Mary, "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God and your God." (vs. 17). Since Jesus was to ascend to his God, then clearly he was not himself "God".

Second, John 4:21. "...worship the Father..." here means exactly that. Since Jesus isn't God the Father how is this an example of "dual" worship?

Third, John 9:38. Let's first be clear that this man is not recorded as having a "demon". The Bible says he was "blind from birth".

Regardless, the word "worship" here is "proskuneo" in Greek. It's exactly the same word as was used when the men came to "worship" Jesus at his birth. "Proskuneo" literally means "to kiss the hand" or "to give reverence". And we'll see why this word works perfectly here:

In :33, the man says to the Pharisees, "If this man were not of God, he could do nothing." (Note: not "if this man was God...")

Having heard what had happened (the man being kicked out of the synagogue), Christ was the ONLY one to comfort and reassure him. In :35, Jesus asks him, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?"

The man asks Christ in the next verse, "Where is he that I might believe?" Jesus responds: "Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee."

THIS is why the man gave reverence to Christ. After everything this man had gone through, after being thrown to the Pharisees by his own parents, after being kicked out of the synagogue, he suddenly realized that standing before him and talking to him was God's only Son. What an incredible flood of emotions this man would have felt, indeed the same emotions ANY of us would have felt. So no, this isn't an example of a man worshipping (serving) God. This is an example of someone giving obesience to God's Son, a worker of miracles.

March 16, 2006 10:04 AM  
Anonymous jake said...

In response to some of what Anonymous has posted...

Anon wrote - This also helps us understand that anyone who is “Christ” cannot be God, since they are appointed by God and therefore necessarily set in service to Him.

Jake - Says who? If the Bible presents an equal with God yet still working subordinately Christ, what philosophical reason of yours can be sufficient to trump the Biblical revelation? Both Jason and Anonymous let their philosophical presuppositions about subordination and equality cloud their look at the evidence of Scripture.

Moreover, this Christ assumes upon himself many divine perogatives like forgiving, creating, judging. How can one that understands his position as being one who merely serves God, then usurp that position and pretend to be God and still be called anointed? Many folks in the OT were killed for failing to properly respect the gulf between man and God. 2 Samuel 6:6 is just one example. As Jesus claimed to be God and yet was set in subserviance to him, then why did God tolerate that? Adam was judged for attempting to "become like God"? Why not Christ" If he wasn't God?

Anonymous wrote - The Bible teaching is that simple: Jesus is God’s son. Now there are many in the Bible who are called the sons of God. We read: “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12 KJV)

Jake - No. It is not that simple. Jesus is not God's son - small "s" full stop. Jesus is God's ONLY BEGOTTEN Son and is differentiated on that basis in a number of locations. John 1:14, 1:18, 3:16, 3:18, 1 John 4:9.

Anonymous - As with the title “Christ” this title “Lord” is used so often of Jesus that there is danger of losing its meaning.

Jake - I could not agree more and you have sapped the title Lord of its true meaning with your answer. As you no doubt know, the Hebrew word "Adonai" was substituted for the personal name of God "YHWH" in the practice of Scripture writing and reading by the Jews of Jesus' day. This was done to avoid violating the 2nd or 3rd commandments. The Hebrew word "Adonai" means "Lord". So when Jesus is repeatedly called "Lord" by his Jewish followers they are more than merely stating that he is their "boss". Matthew 7:14, John 11:3, Acts 9:5 Rather they are stating that he is their "YHWH".

Furthermore Jesus repeatedly adopts "YHWH" which is best understood to mean "I am who I am", as his own title. 8 times does Jesus use the appellation "I am" to speak of his identity.
1- I am the bread of life (Jn.6:35)
2- I am the light of the world (Jn.8:12)
3- I am the gate (Jn.10:9)
4- I am the good shepherd Jn.10:11.
5- I am the resurrection (Jn.11:25)
6- I am the way and the truth and the life (Jn.14:6)
7- I am the true vine (Jn.15:1)
8- Before Abraham was, I am (Jn.8:58)

The last one is very instructive in the sense that Jesus is claiming to be before salvation time. Abraham was, by Jews, considered to be their Father (Luke 3:8) meaning that he was the beginning or source of their identity. Jesus' claim to precede Abraham is a claim tantamount to preceding the "clock of salvation" and the relationship that God began with his people in working with Abraham. In other words, it is a claim to the 1st century Jewish mind, to be God. That is why the Jews "picked up stones to stone him" (8:59)

Anonymous - The Bible speaks of God and Jesus as being one: one in unity of purpose, and heart, and mind:

Jake - No. The Bible speaks of God and Jesus as being one: one in unity of purpose and heart and mind BECAUSE they are one in substance... BECAUSE Jesus is divine. The language of Hebrews 1:1-3, John 1:1-4, John 10:30, Colossians 2:9, 1 Timothy 3:16, and Phillipians 2:9-10 does not say that Jesus "really understood God" or "knew the mind of God" or "shared a heart for the world like God's heart". Those verses make teleological claims for Christ not motivational claims. They state truths about his nature not about his ministry.

I suppose I could be perfectly happy to believe that the NT taught us about the "really good rabbi Jesus BarJoseph". However, it does not leave us that option. With his own use of the personal name of God, the title Lord, the perogatives of divinity like forgiveness and the many passages in the gospels and epistles that attribute a sharing in the divine nature, that NT has not left that option open to us. Either Jesus is who he claims to be - God - or he is a lunatic or worse....

“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
C.S. Lewis

March 16, 2006 10:08 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Jake, I would really appreciate it if you answered the questions originally posed before you continue your discourse on the pre-existence of Christ. There are too many unexplained and unanswered questions relating to the doctrine that Jesus pre-existed to keep treating it as fact (picture me being a slow learner).

Oh, and one final note, "I am" is used 337 times in Scripture. Jesus saying "I am..." in a sentence is hardly enough to make the conclusion that Jesus is using "YHWH" as his personal title. Surely there must be other ways to prove your point.

A few OTHER examples of how these words are used in the Bible:

• I am holier than thou
• I am not polluted
• I am innocent
• I am married unto you
• I am black
• I am like a drunken man
• I am full of power
• I am jealous for Jerusalem
• I am meek and lowly

And so on, and so on...

Do you know what I find most interesting in this little exercise? Never once do we read of Jesus saying "I am God". Out of the hundreds of "I am..."'s in the Bible, this is the one that's most glaringly absent.

This is how it needs to be unfortunately. Doctrines based on the complete absence of explicit references in Scripture (such as "one substance", "two natures", "God the Holy Spirit", etc.) have transparent legs to stand on.

Questions must then be asked.

March 16, 2006 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

**Anonymous comment** There are more than just two people trying to grasp the subject of Jesus is God and the doctrine of the Trinity here. I also see Jason’s 25 questions becoming 2,500 more. And if I may, I’m guessing J22 is overwhelmed what with actually trying to live a real life but probably appreciates the concern. So without throwing any questions onto anyone, I’d like to share my thoughts on the table for personal reflection and then try to leave the owner of the blog with the last word.

It is my belief too, that the post-apostolic doctrine of the Trinity is a flawed doctrine, but not for the reasons Jason and the Christadelphians state. The belief of the Christadelphians that Jesus Christ did not exist until he was born human and was therefore not divine, was first put forth by Arius in the fourth century and is precisely why we have the doctrine of the Trinity today.

I also agree with the biblical statement highlighted by Jason that false teachers roamed the earth preaching a false Christ even as early as the apostles, a teaching I believe that flourishes today, not just on the radical fringe, but in the mainstream too. But I also believe that it is happening all according to God’s plan. Not that God is the author of confusion, but that he knows our ever proven tendency to drift away and get lost.

It is my understanding that who we have come to know as Jesus is the God or the Word (Logos) of the Old Testament and that he existed without beginning with the Father. I believe that we did not know the Father until Jesus revealed him to us. My belief is that Jesus sacrificed entirely his position as God and his eternal relationship with the Father to become born entirely man in every way, risking everything in every sense both past and future in order to reconcile us to God the Father. A sacrifice that is truly unfathomable.

It is with this understanding that I read John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 - He was in the beginning with God.

Jesus, having truly overcome this world, rose up to heaven to take up his mantle again as God to sit at the right hand of God the Father until He makes His enemies His footstool. But, Jesus who is again God, now has a beginning, having completely given up all he was and knew continuing the development he began on earth but cannot again come to the fullness of the Father who himself is without beginning. Here the head of Jesus will forever more be the Father.

And while my belief agrees with J22’s description of the role of the Holy Spirit as the method by which God “enacts” his plan, comforts and communicates with his faithful, I believe it took the Catholic Church to elevate the Holy Spirit to the position of one to be worshipped on an equal measure with God the Father.

It is my belief that the lineage the Roman Catholic Church lays claim to, a line that has established and holds dear doctrines like the Trinity, has put tremendous distance between God and man in this age. But distance that God himself will close, not in whispers but in shouts when Jesus returns. It is this belief and faith that parks me squarely in the premillennial camp anticipating a very real and physical Kingdom on earth with a very present King in Jesus Christ

March 16, 2006 10:19 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

I'm not entirely clear on what you're saying. Are you implying that Arius was the one who introduced monotheism...? Monotheism has existed since the beginning of time. The children of Israel worshipped one God some 3000 years ago.

Look, this is all actually quite simple:

• God created the universe and everything in it.
• God created man and woman.
• Man and woman made a mistake and sin was introduced.
• Thousands of years passed with everything pointing forward to Christ.
• God's Son, Jesus Christ, was born sometime around 1 A.D.
• Christ died and went to heaven and is now sitting next to his Father.
• Some day soon, God is going to send His Son, Jesus back to this earth (even Jesus doesn't know when this is going to happen).
• Because of Jesus' perfect sacrifice, we all have the hope of immortal life.

Everyone who had some kind of knowledge of Christ, whether before his birth (OT) or during his short stay on earth (NT), would have believed one of two things:

1. Jesus was God.
2. Jesus wasn't God.

Today, nothing's changed:

1. A trinitarian believes Jesus is God.
2. A non-trinitarian believes Jesus isn't God.

Now, one of these doctrines is wrong and one of these doctrines is right.

The million dollar question is: Which one is the truth?

The ten million dollar question is: How do figure out which one is the truth?

Answer: We ask questions. We ask many, many questions. And when do we stop asking questions? When we're satisfied that the answer presented is based on infalliable evidence as put forward by God which can be supported time and time again.

Talk about "presuppositions", if we fully ignored everything and everyone outside of Scripture that has ever voiced an opinion about who or what God is and instead let the Bible tell us, we'd be so much better off.

When someone says, "There is an abundance of evidence in Scripture proving the Trinity but the Trinity is a mystery and even I don't understand it...", well, what is any decent person who is genuinely looking for the truh supposed to do with THAT? Are we supposed to take it on good faith that what we're being told by men is the truth? I think not. We're asked to "prove" and "try" Scripture. God never once punished someone for asking questions.

And by preaching that Jesus is God and than saying that his "sacrifice was unfathomable", well, what is anyone supposed to do with that either? What's so "unfathomable"? That God died? But God can't die, He's immortal. That God was tempted? But God can't be tempted. That God took on human nature? But God had a divine nature that prevented Him from doing anything wrong. That God took some kind of risk? But God is all-knowing and all-seeing. Where's the risk if He knows the end from the beginning? That is things hadn't worked out, God would have somehow lost His 'Godship'? Well?

Of course I have questions!!! Every fibre in the Bible screams what Paul mentioned in his letter to Timothy: "For there is ONE God, and ONE mediator between God and men, the MAN Christ Jesus;" So, unless someone has a different translation, this is what Paul is telling me:

1. There is one God.
2. There is one mediator.
3. The mediator isn't God.
3. The mediator is a man.
4. The mediator is the man Christ Jesus.

Here's monotheism in it's purest sense. And best of all? It was written long, long before the fourth century and this Arius character.

If Paul is preaching a Trinitarian doctrine here, I'd love to hear how. If he's not, than the opposite is true: He's preaching a very unTrinitarian doctrine, and it's this doctrine that I believe in. One God. One Jesus.

If you believe the Trinity is a "flawed doctrine", than I need to ask: Why are your beliefs revolving around a a flaw? Why aren't you searching for a doctrine that is pure and true?

March 16, 2006 10:22 AM  
Anonymous jake said...

**Anonymous comments** "Jake – If you can claim that Jesus is not God by using the terms “my God and your God” then I can claim he was God by calling God “my Father”. The only difference in the veracity of our claims being that mine is actually backed up by the cultural religious background of the New Testament. The Jews of Jesus day understood that when Jesus claimed God as his actual Father he was claiming equality with God.

I don't understand how or why the Jews would understand that Jesus was claiming equality with God. God was Jesus' father - literally. How would that suggest equality?

Anonymous said...
Just a question sort of related to the post above. Do you think that the Hebrews/Jewish people of the Old Testament believed in a Triune God? If no, then why as God's chosen people was this missing from their understanding of Him? If yes, where can we prove this? Did Abraham believe in a Triune God? David? Daniel? Moses? Did they believe their long-awaited Messiah was actually going to be God?
--
Jake says...Two questions...

1. Why did the Jews believe Jesus was claiming to be God when he claimed God as his Father?
2. Did the Jews understand God as Triune? If not, why not? If yes, where does it prove that?

An Answer to #1 - They believed he was claiming to be equal with God by saying in this verse that God "was his own Father and no one elses" is the best way to translate the emphatic Greek of John 5:18. He was claiming a unique and exclusive relationship of YHWH as his source. There was a saying in the 2nd century Ecce intelligunt Judæi, quod non intelligunt Ariani - Behold the Jews understand what the Arians do not.

Jesus was condemned here as well not only for claiming God as his Father but for claiming the same authority over the Sabbath as God had. John 5:16-17 Jesus is claiming God's right to work on the Sabbath. Now remember that there was no more religiously guarded and strictly enforced rules in the Jewish religion than those regarding the Sabbath. Why? Because Deuteronomy 5 teaches that the Sabbath was linked, unlike any other commandment, with God's mighty hand in bringing his people into Canaan and settling them there. So by breaking the Sabbath the Jews felt they were especially abrogating the covenant and were most in danger of losing their homeland. So when Jesus comes along and claims as he does in Matthew 12:8 that he is "Lord of the Sabbath" he is claiming both to have the right to interpret the 10 commandments authoritatively as well as claiming to be the God that gave the Jews their 10 commandments and settled them in their land. In fact Matthew 12:6 records Jesus speaking about himself and saying "I tell you that one greater than the temple is here" So in the span of these three little verses John 5:18, Matthew 12:6 and Matthew 12:8 Jesus claims equality with the Father, claims to be in charge of the Sabbath and claims to be greater than the temple... sounds like claims to divinity to me. That was certainly what the Jews understood him to be saying John 19:7.

#2 No. The Jews did not understand God to be Triune. But then again they did not understand a lot of things correctly to Jesus' and the NT's mind. Matthew 5-7 is a reinterpretation and "lifting up" of many of the most basic ethical principles of the OT. Phillipians 3 and the Book of Galatians both talk about how Christians under the undue influence of Jewish teaching misunderstood basic ideas about salvation - most notably that you had to become a Jew as well as becoming a Christian to be saved. Jesus himself criticizes the Jews and their over reliance on their own interpretations of the OT in John 5:39-40, "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life." So it certainly seems to Jesus and the NT perspective that many things taught and believed by the Jews of Jesus' day were at best, incomplete and at worst downright wrong.

What does the OT say about God? The OT teaches us in most cases using types and allergories and figures that will be most clearly revealed in the NT. So all the OT has to do is ALLOW for a plurality within the Godhead. Which it does by the repeated use of the word Elohim and the use of the word "echad" to describe the "plural oneness" of God. The door the OT leaves open but shrouded in mystery, the NT walks through to make clear. Paul says as much when he writes in 2 Timothy 1:9-11 "This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher." So here Paul is saying that God had in mind to do this whole thing with Christ before even the time of the OT, but has waited and reveled it now through he and the other NT writers.

March 16, 2006 10:24 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Jake, somewhere along the line, your most recent 10 responses have disappeared into cyberspace. Apologies!!! Is there any way you could repost them...?

March 16, 2006 10:27 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Further to your answers posed by the two Anonymous' about the Jews in the NT and the Trinity in the OT:

The Jews and Jesus’ NT Claims - John 5:18
1. An only child, whether in this day and age or back in biblical times, would have referred to their father as their “own” father and “no one else’s”. This is only logical given the circumstance. An only child’s relationship with their father doesn’t suggest equality any more than a pair of brothers’ relationship with their father. For example, if I was an only child, I would refer to my father exactly the same way Jesus did to his: My own. No one else’s. Even though I have a brother, the language doesn’t change other than the “no one else’s”. My father is still “my own”.

The point is, Jesus’ language cannot be taken to mean anything other than what it says. Jesus had a father. Jesus’ father wasn’t shared with any brothers or sisters. Remember, authority has been given to him by his Father which will then in turn will be given back to God at some point after the Kingdom age.

It gets even more straightforward.

During his youth, Jesus was “subordinate” to his parents (Luke 2:51). During his adult life, Jesus was also subordinate to God. He constantly reminded the people that it wasn’t his will, but God’s. He prayed to God for strength. He cried to his Father in times of distress. Undue praise heaped on Jesus was immediately corrected and appropriately redirected to his Father.

This behaviour describes any normal relationship between child and father.

John 5:18 shows that the Jews misunderstood what Jesus was claiming. The Jews THOUGHT he was claiming to be God but in the very next verse, Jesus sets them straight so there was no doubt in their mind that it was a very unequal relationship. There shouldn’t be any doubt in our minds either. Let’s not repeat the same mistakes and assumptions some of the Jews did.

John 5:19 “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”

John 5:30
I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

John 5:37
And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.

Read the rest of the verses in between for peace of mind. This chapter is Christ’s explanation of why he isn’t claiming co-authority with God. It’s an extremely important chapter. It should also be a suitable explanation to all of us as well. The problem with the Jews, as you read towards the end of the chapter and throughout the entire book of Hebrews, is they were hung up on the old law. They reveled in the letter of the law but couldn’t come to grips with the spirit of the law (to use a modern day phrase). Reading through the OT, we find this happening time and time again. For example, Isaiah 58 deals with this exact problem. The Israelite people were fasting because they expected something to come out of their actions. However, God quite clearly tells them that His response isn’t based on the act of fasting itself because that can’t accomplish anything on its own. It’s about the spirit of fasting. It’s about the spiritual mentality behind fasting.

From the New Literal Translation: Isa 58:2 – 7 Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to hear my laws. You would almost think this was a righteous nation that would never abandon its God. They love to make a show of coming to me and asking me to take action on their behalf. 3 `We have fasted before you!' they say. `Why aren't you impressed? We have done much penance, and you don't even notice it!' "I will tell you why! It's because you are living for yourselves even while you are fasting. You keep right on oppressing your workers. 4 What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. 5 You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like a blade of grass in the wind. You dress in sackcloth and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord? 6 "No, the kind of fasting I want calls you to free those who are wrongly imprisoned and to stop oppressing those who work for you. Treat them fairly and give them what they earn. 7 I want you to share your food with the hungry and to welcome poor wanderers into your homes. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

This explains the mentality of the Jews during the NT times. Nothing had changed in over a thousand years.

Onto the other two verses you provided:

Matthew 12:8
The verses prior to this are key. Jesus says that David “broke” the Sabbath as did the priests. Jesus is supreme (lord, ruler, etc.) to the Sabbath as much as David and the priests were. The OT law is great but it needs to be taken in context of the situation. David wasn’t punished for eating on the Sabbath. Neither were the priests. That’s why Jesus’ response is so devastating. The letter of the law is the perfect foundation but the spirit of the law also has relevance depending on the circumstance. Matthew 5 touches on this. E.g. Mat 5:27 – 28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Jesus isn’t saying the commandment not to commit adultery is null and void, what he’s saying is that there’s MORE to the law than the technical words. The law isn’t just referring to the actual act of adultery, it’s referring to ALL kinds of adultery, which includes lust. The ACT of adultery is wrong but so is the SPIRIT of adultery.

Semantics aside, when you break it down, it goes like this: Jesus’ disciples were hungry. They took some corn and ate it. They happened to do it on the Sabbath. It’s a bit of a ridiculous point the Pharisees were trying to argue when you think about it… Nonetheless, this doesn’t have anything to do with Jesus claiming to be God. Unless David and the priests are also claiming to be God also…?

Matthew 12:6
Jesus saying he’s “greater” than the physical temple in the OT doesn’t mean Jesus “is God” by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, this word “greater” is used by Jesus in John 14:28: “Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.”

However, we’re getting off topic. The original question posed was this:
Do you think that the Hebrews/Jewish people of the Old Testament believed in a Triune God? If no, then why as God's chosen people was this missing from their understanding of Him? If yes, where can we prove this? Did Abraham believe in a Triune God? David? Daniel? Moses? Did they believe their long-awaited Messiah was actually going to be God?

The discussion is about the Old Testament, not the New. What did the people in the OT believe in terms of their God? Out of every tribe and nation that has ever existed, you'd think that God's chosen people, His blessed nation, His "precious treasure", would be the ones who fully and correctly understood who their God was.

I think that by you claiming the OT simply “allows” for Triune God, you’re taking far too much away from the people that lived during that time. Was Abraham, for example, aware his God was manifested in three persons? If not, why? These OT people patriarchs are going to be in God’s Kingdom according to Hebrews 11 (:6 “…for He has prepared for them a city…”)!! Let’s not take anything away from their lives or their words or what they were taught by pretending we’re any more important than they are. If they understood their God to be literally one, than why shouldn’t we?

As exhaustively discussed in your Jesus is God blog, ‘echad’ isn’t a defense or an answer to whether or not the Trinity was taught in the Old Testament.

So again, where in the OT is the idea of a Triune God explicitly taught?

March 23, 2006 4:31 PM  
Blogger Jacob2-2 said...

The OT doesn't have to explicitly teach the Triune understanding of God. It only has to allow for it. Much like the OT doesn't explicitly teach about the church... never uses the word... but no one would argue that the church isn't biblical and doesn't exist.

It is not important if Abraham, David, Moses believed in a Triune God. Jesus did and he is the final and full revelation of who and what God is. John 1 and Hebrews 1

April 01, 2006 10:17 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

It's not important!!???? So the patriarchs of old, every single one of them listed in Hebrews 11 including dozens more, didn't understand a thing about their God??? David was LOVED by God. Moses was God's FRIEND. And yet you're happily preaching the fact that both were intentionally left in the dark about who their Supreme God was? Astounding. Your God must have changed His mind about staying a secret from mankind.

Your comparison between church and God isn't even worth discussing. The church was established in the 1st century. This is why it's only mentioned in the NT. God was around before the NT. Once again, where's your Triune God in the OT?

Why weren't God's chosen people taught the Trinity in the OT?

And explain again how the OT "allows" for a Triune God? Surely you can't still be going back to 'echad' and 'yachid'... There's no allowance here except the kind that's conjured up by man.

Same question again:
Do you think that the Hebrews/Jewish people of the Old Testament believed in a Triune God? If no, then why as God's chosen people was this missing from their understanding of Him? If yes, where can we prove this? Did Abraham believe in a Triune God? David? Daniel? Moses? Did they believe their long-awaited Messiah was actually going to be God?

April 01, 2006 1:47 PM  
Blogger Jacob2-2 said...

Just because you say I didn't answer the question, doesn't mean I didn't answer the question.

The OT allows for a plurality within God. The many different references you have variously cited about the use of the term Elohim is enough. You refuse to believe the Hebrew grammar and history of the words for "one" that I cite to you. The Angel of the Lord is more often than not an OT Christophany and called YHWH in a number of locations. The OT personal name of God "I Am" is picked up and used by Jesus throughout John's gospel in passages where he is clearly making identity statements about who he is and not simply saying "I am going to the store" as you conjecture elsewhere.

You are interested in harranging me, not debating or discussing.

If you refuse to study the history of Hebrew translation and refuse to consider the OT in light of the NT, then there is not much else to say.

Yes, the patriarchs were uninformed about many things. Many things that Paul and Peter and Jesus and John had to most fully reveal. Why did God keep them in the dark? I don't know. There are however, many things that they were in the dark about. Paul talks about one such example in Romans 11:25 when he talks about wanting the church in Rome to understand how the Gentiles and the Jews were related in God's plan. The OT was a covenant of obedience, but the NT preaches a renewal of the covenant of faith given to Abraham (Galatians 2 and 3). So yes, the patriarchs were out of the loop on some things.

But then again that is what the Bible teaches in the very Hebrews 11 chapter where all these patriarchs are found. Hebrews 11:39-40 writes "These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect."

Clearly stated, apart from the gospel of grace through faith given to us by Christ, the Hebrew patriarchs were imperfect in their standing with and understanding of God. I am not sure what more evidence you need to prove that the patriarchs understood some but not all that there was to know about God.

April 02, 2006 11:03 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

The Trinity Taught in the OT
Perhaps the OT can’t preach the Trinity given your statement about Abraham, Moses and David not believing in a Triune God. If they didn’t believe in a Triune God, and the Trinity was taught in the OT, then we have a group of God-fearing individuals who believed in the wrong God and were never punished for it. If they believed in a Triune God then there surely must be more evidence in the OT about this doctrine given these people were largely responsible (along with the priests, etc.) for teaching the Children of Israel about their God.

Explicit OT Teaching
Since you keep answering “it doesn’t have to” in response to my question about where in the OT is the Trinity explicitly taught, can I assume that you believe it ISN’T explicitly taught in OT?

An Old Argument: Deut 6:4
Jake, we’ve already been through ‘echad’ and ‘yachid’ over and over again. There’s nothing in either one of those words that means “a plural oneness” because the plurality is defined by the compound noun, not by the word “one” itself. The only reason why I’m refusing your teachings on Hebrew grammar is because they’re wrong. You’ve failed to offer any logical, sound evidence about how “one” in the OT can magically mean “a bunch” in one verse and then a “single one” in another and chosen to ignore every single shred of proof I’ve offered in return including the fact that Jews today happily use this verse in their daily prayers using the same Hebrew words you claim proves the Trinity.

Your argument revolves around taking a small misconception and blowing it up to make it a fact. However, because there’s no compound noun in Deut 6:4, it is nothing short of impossible and illogical to use this verse as a teaching of the Trinity (which is what you’re doing since your original argument was that Jesus quoted this verse so Jesus must be God)

You’re refusing to agree with or even acknowledge the evidence I've provided:

Monotheistic Jews
Deut. 64:4 and The Shema (daily prayers)
Existence of a compound noun
Use of ‘echad’ today
Use of ‘echad’ in the OT

If you want to start the discussion over again, I’d be happy to. If not, I beg you to go back and read just the ‘echad and yachid’ posts because everything that can be said is already there.

The OT Trinity Hinge
Finally, if you’re hinging your OT Trinity argument on the use of two words, “one” and “elohim”, than the explicit evidence doesn’t exist which means the explicit teaching of your doctrine is surprisingly absent from one half of Scripture. My explicit evidence? Every single verse that says “one God” or “one Lord”. The responsibility to turn “one” into “three” is yours I’m afraid.

Upcoming
We haven’t discussed the Angel of the Lord or Elohim or “I am” so before I can comment, perhaps you can first offer an explanation about why these explicitly prove the Trinity. We’ll go from there.

The NT
See, you keep going back to the NT and Jesus. I submit that Jesus and the NT are vital for any number of reasons when it comes to the teachings of God but it’s still getting off topic from the original question. I’m trying to find out where in the OT the Trinity is taught. This doesn't have anything to do with the NT. We have the Ten Commandments, the promises, directions on building the tabernacle, what to do in cases of leprosy, commandments on how to cleanse the Promises Land, precise directions on keeping which feasts when, guideline after guideline on sacrifices, etc., all in the OT. Given the fact that God worship was introduced long before the writings of the NT and given the fact that the Children of Israel were unique because they worshipped one God (and not the many gods worshipped by the nations surrounding them), I need to keep coming back here to find a foundation for your Trinity doctrine. It is vital that we worship the ‘right’ God, and indeed it was just as, if not more vital that the Children of Israel worship the ‘right’ God.

The Same Questions
1. So, again, did the Children of Israel understand they were worshipping a Triune God?
2. Where are we told this?
3. Where did Moses teach them about it?
4. Where were the Children of Israel made aware of the “one substance, three persons” theory?
5. Where were the Children of Israel told that their God manifests Himself in three persons?
6. How would they have known that a “bunch” specifically meant “three”?

Uninformed OT Believers
Where’s your evidence that the patriarchs of old were “uninformed”? It’s a bold and dangerous statement...

Show me where Scripture says they were uninformed about God. I’m hoping there’s more than Romans 11:25 and Galatians 2 & 3 because “renewal of covenants” doesn’t equal “the people in the OT were kept in the dark about their God”. “Renewal of covenants” equals “renewal of covenants”. Galatians is talking about the rift between Jews and Gentiles, it has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not Abraham knew His God was one in three.

Tell me, if you were in my shoes, would you accept this argument:

Q. Were the OT patriarchs uninformed about their God? Are we told as much in Scripture?
A. Yes. Why? I don’t know. But one example is found in a NT writing to the church in Rome discussing how the Jews and Gentiles relate to God’s plan. Also, the NT preaches a renewal of the covenant which only furthers the evidence the patriarchs were kept in the dark about their God.

I doubt it. If only because of the "I don't know" line...This means you have no evidence or reason why God would keep Himself a secret and that I'm supposed to take it on faith that you're right.

1Th 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

Romans 11
Romans 11:25 says this: For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

Maybe it’s my translation but where does this say that God kept Moses in the dark about who He was? Where does it say this is talking about the uninformed patriarchs?

Hebrews 11
Hebrews 11:39-40 Be very, very careful about what you say about the people mentioned in this chapter. These were men and women who were expressly mentioned because of their incredible faith. These people went through trials and tribulations we will never experience and yet they never once released their hold on their beliefs. These people should be honoured for their faith and courage, and not, as you’re inexplicably doing, focusing on their imperfections. Are you any different? Am I? Are any of us? We’re ALL imperfect because we ALL sin!!

Nonetheless, this “evidence” provided in this chapter is empty. “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect." How the heck does this tell us that these people didn’t fully understand their God? This is talking about Christ’s death and resurrection and the hope we have, not about God keeping people in the dark about his true identity!!!!

The Same Questions: Part II
One again, back to this:
1. Why weren't God's chosen people taught the Trinity in the OT?
2. Do you think that the Hebrews/Jewish people of the Old Testament believed in a Triune God? If no, then why as God's chosen people was this missing from their understanding of Him? If yes, where can we prove this?
3. Did Abraham, Moses, etc. believe their long-awaited Messiah was actually going to be God Himself?

In comparison, this is what you told me so far:

1. The Trinity isn’t explicitly taught in the OT.
2. Abraham, Moses, David, etc. were kept in the dark about who their God was.
3. As Hebrews 11 outlines, these patriarchs were imperfect which means they didn’t understand their God.
4. ‘Echad’ and ‘Elohim’ and a few other words is adequate evidence for the Trinity existing in the OT.
5. The Trinity may or may not have been taught to the Children of Israel.
6. The NT Jews didn’t believe in a Triune God, to their error.
7. Present day Jews still don’t believe in a Triune God (which I guess means the arguments for the Trinity weren’t very well presented)
8. You don't know why God kept everyone in the OT in the dark about His Triune nature.

That about sum things up?

Evidence of "Understanding" in the OT
Finally, let me leave you with these in response to your “God kept them in the dark” comment:

One person who Scripture says “didn’t know God”: Exodus 5:2 “And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.” This explicitly tells us that Pharaoh didn’t know God. There is no doubt in our minds that this was the case.

Now contrast this with what the Children of Israel and Moses sang about their God: Exodus 15:11 “Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?”

Contrast lack of knowledge with complete understand.

There’s more:

• Psa 44:21 “Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.” A petty bold statement coming from someone who didn’t understand God.

• Deut 4:23 – 24 “Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee. For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.” Any implication of lack of understanding here?

• Read Deut. 4, 5 & 6. These are wonderful chapters that really explore the instructions God gave to His chosen people in regards to worship.

• Deut 6:2-6 mentions “fear thy God” and “love they God”. How does God expect these emotions to be pure and true if His people weren’t even sure who their God is?

• Deu 4:29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.

2Ch 31:21 And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.

2Ch 34:3 For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images.

Psa 9:10 And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.

Psa 10:4 The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.

• All of Psa 77

• Jer 29:13 “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” God CAN be “found” if the search is true. Yes, even for the people in the OT.

• Lam 3:40 Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.

There are more if you’d like to hear them.

God, whether in the OT, NT or now expects His followers to seek after Him, NOT the other way around. Our God remains unchanged. He is no different now then He was 4000 years ago. The commandment has always been there: Seek after the Lord your God.

And before you go arguing that these verses aren’t talking about “understanding God”:

Pro 2:5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

Pro 28:5 Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.

Isa. 43:10-15 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.

April 03, 2006 12:31 PM  
Blogger Jacob2-2 said...

On Hebrews 11 you say "These people should be honoured for their faith and courage, and not, as you’re inexplicably doing, focusing on their imperfections."

Sorry, but it isn't me focusing on their imperfections. It is the Bible. It is the Bible that says after honouring them for their faith not their works, that "none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect." The picture is here of one of the OT believers not being complete in their salvation, and I would argue by defintion, their full comprehension of who God is apart from Christ's work in the NT.

As for your criticism "See, you keep going back to the NT and Jesus." I suppose I am glad to be relying too heavily on the NT and Jesus. Given that Jesus is "the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being".

Furthermore you keep demanding evidence of me that shows the OT saints were uninformed about God. I am offering Romans 11:25, Hebrews 11, Galatians 2 and 3 and lots of other verses below to show that not only were the OT saints not fully informed about God... there were also not fully informed about many other topics as well... salvation, the nature of God's work among the Gentiles, etc,etc.

Romans 16:25
Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him— to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Notice that this mystery hidden for long ages past is "now" revealed. What is the mystery here? That all nations "might" believe now, not just Jews.

Ephesians 1:9-10 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

Here the mystery is to bring everything under Christ's lordship.

Colossians 1:25-27 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Here God has purposely "kept hidden" the mystery that Christ now lives in us by the power of the Spirit. This mystery is "now disclosed to the saints", a distinctly NT word for Christian.

1 Timothy 3:16-17 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Here the mystery is exactly the issue at hand... Who or what is God? In this case Paul says, not me, that the mystery about God is great, without question. But that mystery has been revealed through the ministry and person of Christ.

These verses are just those that chose to use the word "mystery" to talk about the incomplete knowledge the OT belivers had about God and his workings.

Countless times Jesus uses parables, analogies, stories and situations to show his OT Jewish critics that they fundamentally misunderstand and even reject who God is and how he acts.

Mark 12:1-12 is an interesting parable in this vein. In that parable the tenants... whom the Jews clearly understood to stand for themselves vs 12... kill each and every messenger including the son, sent by the owner. That owner then comes and destroys the tenants, giving the vineyards to others. If the OT Jews Jesus pictures as the tenants understood who God really was and what he was trying to do, then why did he paint them as tenants who kill even the son? To be clear, it is not Jake Birch claiming that the OT Jews were in the dark about God. Jesus does. Paul does. The Book of Hebrew does. Clearly Jesus understood that the OT Jews he was sent to minister to had a long way to go before their knowledge of who God was and how he acted was complete.

But then again that should not surprise us, because that is exactly what he said...

John 5:39-40 You diligently study the Scriptures (meaning the OT) because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

April 13, 2006 10:03 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Part of my confusion in all this stems from this whole “mystery” vs. “abundance of information” idea. The fact that you’ve referred to God as being a mystery Himself certainly hasn’t helped matters.

Your statements that the OT patriarchs are “imperfect”, “out of the loop” and “not being complete in their salvation” as explanations why we can’t go to the OT for evidence of the Trinity are inappropriate. As a respected pastor in your community, I find it shocking you so easily discount half of the book you preach from when instructing people to seek out God. In your attempt to hide the fact that the Trinity is completely absent from more than 50% of the Bible, you're passing over the invaluable teachings of the dozens of inspired OT God-fearing prophets and God-fearing kings.

The OT Trinity Defense
Just to reiterate, this is the summary of your OT Trinity defense up to this point:

a) The entire Old Testament is inadequate in terms of its ability to describe the Trinity/true nature of God.
b) The Trinity is a “mystery” but you also say there’s an “abundance of evidence in Scripture” (although this does't include the OT)
c) Everyone in the OT was “kept in the dark” about the true nature of God (although the God of the 21st century is also considered a “mystery”)
d) Everyone in the OT is condemned to having an “incomplete salvation” due to their lack of knowledge about God (what do you define as an "incomplete salvation"?)

Signs of the Times - OT Prophecies
Tell me, do you ever use the Old Testament when preaching to your congregation? Did you know that Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Zechariah (to name a few) give us invaluable information regarding the signs of Christ’s second coming? I suppose not. They’re Old Testament writers. They were kept out of the loop about who Christ was. Their writings are uninformed and irrelevant.

How do you get around 2 Tim. 3:16? Obviously not “all” of Scripture is “profitable for instruction”?

Deut. 6:4I think it’s incredibly ironic we’re having a discussion about the validity of the Old Testament given your absoluteness about Deut. 6:4 proving the existence of the Trinity and the lengths you went to prove your point. If you had told me Deut. 6:4 didn’t actually teach anything about the Trinity because the person who wrote the book was ‘kept in the dark’ about the true nature of God, we both could have saved ourselves a lot of time.

OT References in the NT I also find it a bit illogical why you give any weight to the many OT references Jesus uses, specifically in attempts to explain his beliefs. Why would, Jesus, who you claim is God, use the OT and the writings of people who apparently didn’t understand their God, to prove that he was, in fact, God? If he’s quoting a verse verbatim from Deuteronomy, using exactly the same words God spoke to His people to communicate He was a Triune God, how can you say God kept OT writers “out of the loop”? If Jesus is quoting a verse that God used to keep people out of the loop in the OT, then Jesus isn’t really saying anything about himself other than the fact that he’s also a mystery which means everyone today is still out of the loop and also condemned to an incomplete salvation.

Solomon. Solomon was the wisest man ever to have lived. God says to Solomon in 1 Kings 3:12 “Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.” Save Jesus, even in the 21st century, there has never been anyone as wise as Solomon who has graced this earth. After he was given wisdom, Solomon went on the write this passage in Proverbs 2:2-5 “So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, [and] apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.” Solomon found the “knowledge of God”. Solomon KNEW his God. He even tells us how we can go about finding this same knowledge: by seeking and searching.
Is Solomon ever recorded as worshipping a Triune God. No.
Are we wiser than Solomon? No.
Should we take the hint and assume Solomon knew what he was talking about? Yes.
Neither you or I have the inside scoop on who God is. If anything, save Christ, it’s Solomon who had the inside scoop. This is at least one man we can confidently say wasn’t “kept in the dark”.

"The God of Abraham..." As an exercise, go through the NT and look at how many times the phrase “the God of Abraham...” is used. Do you know what this tells me? The God of Abraham is exactly the same as our God of today. We’re worshipping exactly the same God that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob worshipped thousands of years ago. The relevance? If we’re worshipping the same God, then it’s apparent Abraham understood God in the same way we do today. If he was kept in the dark about God’s nature, then we must admit we’re as much in the dark. Otherwise Abraham's God can't be our God (a Trinitarian God isn’t the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob because Abraham, Isaac and Jacob's God was “one”). However, if God showed Himself plainly to Abraham without ever teaching Abraham the concept of the Trinity, and Abraham’s God is the same as our God today, then the Trinity isn't a God approved doctrine since this would make Him quite different than He was back in the OT. Follow my drift?

What Does Jesus Says About the OT? Finally, Jesus believed that the Old Testament was divinely inspired, the veritable Word of God. He said, "The Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35). He referred to Scripture as "the commandment of God" (Matthew 15:3) and as the "Word of God" (Matthew 15:6). If everything in the OT is perfect and correct, then God’s description of Himself to His people is also perfect and correct. If God’s description of Himself is perfect and correct, then it’s obvious why Jesus uses Deut. 6:4 to describe His Father: Jesus is reiterating that God is One.

If everything else in the OT is considered true and factual and relevant (laws, prophecies, stories, etc.), why is it so difficult for you to make the next logical assumption that God describing himself as “one” is true also in the most absolute sense of the word?

Jesus' OT References
When dealing with the people of His day, Jesus constantly referred to the Old Testament: "Have you not read that which was spoken to you by God?" (Matthew 22:31) and "Have you not read what David did?" (Matthew 12:3). There are literally dozens of examples to demonstrate that Jesus was conversant with the Old Testament and its content. He quoted from it often and trusted it completely. In fact, Jesus quotes from the OT on numerous occasions to help explain or offer a foundation for the very beliefs he preached!! Jesus’ beliefs had their foundation in the many OT teachings you claim were written by uninformed men:
Matthew
Defeat the enemy (Deut. 8:3, Psalm 91:11)
Rightly interpret the Law (Exodus 3:6)
Explain the purpose of his coming (Hosea 6:6, Micah 7:6)
Explain the ministry of John the Baptist (Malachi 3:1).
Explain God's requirements (Hosea 6:6).
Explain the response of some people who heard him (Isa. 6:9)
Explain particular points he was making (Deut. 19:15, Gen. 2:21-23, Psa. 118:22-23)
In answer to questions asked (Ex. 20:12-16; Deut. 6:5)
Show an OT Scripture that needs to be fulfilled (Zech. 9:9, 13:7)
Remind evil-doers what the prophets say (Psa. 8:2).
Ask others a question (Psa. 110:1).
Remind people of unfulfilled prophecies (Dan. 7:13, Isah. 14:12).

(I can give you lists for Mark, Luke and John if you’d like)

It almost seems as though Jesus was anticipating 21st century biblical criticism when He authenticated these accounts. The conclusion is simple: If a person believes in Jesus Christ, he should be consistent and believe that the Old Testament and its accounts are correct. No mysteries, no ‘kept in the dark’, no sudden switches from a Unitarian God to a Triune God. You even said yourself: “The Bible is internally consistent.” Your logic follows that if God calls Himself “one” in the OT, He can’t suddenly switch and call Himself “three” in the NT. This isn’t me speaking, this is me repeating the rules you’ve laid out.

Jesus' References to OT Patriarchs
Jesus also mentioned many, many OT patriarchs, the very same people you claim didn’t know their God. Jesus must not have been too upset these people didn’t worship a Triune God…Moses, David, Abiathar, Elijah, Abel, Zechariah, Daniel, Noah, the widow in Zarephath, Elisha, Naaman, Jonah, Lot, Queen of Sheba, Solomon, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.

That’s quite the list of people who’s salvation was incomplete due to their lack of knowledge. Strangely, it’s something Christ never thought important enough to mention.

By the way, what exactly does “incomplete salvation” mean?

Hebrews 11 and Criticism of the Faithful
Finally, your criticism of these people mentioned in Hebrews 11 is inappropriate. If Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, for example, are “incomplete in their salvation”, ignoring for a moment you’re playing the role of judge and executioner on behalf of God, let’s consider what Christ said about them: Mat 8:11 “And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.”

These three people are going to be in God’s kingdom. Plain and simple. Were they punished for misunderstanding God’? No. Were they punished for not believing in a Triune God? No. Should we take the hint and worship the same God they’re worshipping? Yes.

A Perfect God Teaching Imperfect Laws
You’re hung up on this idea of laws and covenants. You say the old law wasn’t perfect which is why the new law was brought into effect which is why the Trinity wasn’t taught in the OT (or something to that effect). You say the imperfections of the old law were a result of imperfect patriarchs. Tell me, who gave the people their laws? Who inspired the Old Testament writers? That’s right, it was God. Would a just and perfect God, a good God, teach His chosen people an imperfect truth?

If He taught them He was One God, then we must, we MUST treat it as doctrine.

The Greatest Commandment It comes down to this: Mark 12:28-34 “Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of all?" Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." So the scribe said to Him, "Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

So once again, here we are back at Mark 12. My point is an obvious one: After telling the man what the greatest commandment is, the man turns to Jesus and says “You have spoken the truth. There is ONE God, and there is no other but HE. And to love HIM…” This man just restated the greatest commandment in front of Christ. If there was ever a time during Christ’s ministry to correct someone for an incorrect belief, for not worshipping a Triune God/God the Son, it was here, it was now. However, the man isn’t punished for his use of "he" instead of "you". The obvious logical conclusion is that Jesus can't be God.

Conclusion I’ll continue to pose the same questions as before:

1. Did the Children of Israel understand they were worshipping a Triune God?
2. Where are we told this?
3. Did Moses or Joshua or any of the leaders teach the people their God was a Triune God
4. Where were the Children of Israel made aware of the “one substance, three persons” theory?
5. Where were the Children of Israel told that their God manifests Himself in three persons?
6. How would they have known that a “bunch” specifically meant “three”?

Further to Number 1-3 above, immediately after God tells the people He is “one Lord”, God says this: Deut. 6:6-7 "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." Deu 6:12-13 "Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name."

Please explain how the knowledge of God could have been in “their hearts” if God was keeping them in the dark. You’ll also need to explain how they were expected to serve a God they didn’t understand and how they were to swear by His name if they were out of the loop about who He was.

See, this all reads quite simple for me: God tells the children of Israel that He is “one Lord”. The knowledge of God is now explicit and without excuse. This understanding was to be passed down from generation to generation, taught constantly to their children, and their children’s children so that they may never forget God and continue to fear and serve him. There is absolutely nothing here in this chapter to suggest God is holding anything back about who He is.

I encourage you to read this entire chapter (Deut 6) to find out where God talks about being “one substance, three persons”. As vital knowledge that was passed down from generation to generation, certainly there should be stronger hints of people throughout the OT emulating their forefathers by worshipping a Triune God…No? Then certainly there should be times when God punished the wicked Israelites for improperly worshipping a Unitarian God…? No? What about “God the Son”? Where can he be found in the OT? If it's God Himself keeping His people in the dark about this stuff, why are they being punished because of it?

April 17, 2006 1:19 PM  
Blogger Jacob2-2 said...

Jason, I am ignoring your rhetorical questions and demeaning accusations and responding only to your issues with Scripture.

2 Tim. 3:16... This verse comments on the source and usefulness of the OT, not its completeness.

You said that I have used "Deut. 6:4 to prove the existence of the Trinity". That is not true. I have used Deuteronomy 6:4 to prove that God's being "one" is more complex than the unitarian position allows and that the use of "echad" in Deut. 6:4 leaves the door open for the complexity that NT later reveals in the doctrine of the Trinity.

Solomon... I do not doubt that Solomon knew God as he had revealed himself in the OT to date. Proverbs 2:2-5 is a statement of intent not a statement of fact. "My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God." Notice the use of the subjunctive case - the use of the word "if" - meaning that this passage is a statement that COULD happen if he did this, not that it HAS happened because he did this.

No where does Jesus claim "the OT is perfect and correct". You have totally ignored all the verses I posted that clearly show Jesus building on or clarifying the OT's teaching about God and himself. If you aren't going to deal with the evidence I present, then why I am bothering to post? Here are yet more verses that clearly show the NT believes it is superior and clarifying the OT...

About the very kings you say knew God so well and that we are not wiser than, Jesus says in Luke 10:24 "For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it." So how can you say that Solomon, Abraham, etc,etc, knew God better than Jesus' disciples? I am sorry but the NT says they didn't.

As for all the times Jesus quotes the OT I would simply say... of course. Of course Jesus quoted the OT to OT Jews to prove who he was and what he was here to do. Of course the OT is true and is useful for teaching, correcting and rebuking, as Jesus did. The issue is not the veracity of the OT but its completeness. I hope you will not continue to use the straw man fallacy of misconstruing my position as doubting the veracity of the OT. The OT is true, so far as it goes in showing us who the God Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is. However, the NT very clearly teaches that the OT is incomplete in that revelation. Incomplete is different that incorrect.

Romans 7:6 "But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code."

Matthew 8:11 "I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;"... Absolutely. I have nevered claimed that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will not be in heaven. I have simply stated what Hebrews 11 states, that their salvation through the Old covenant of works was really a salvation of faith, looking forward to the grace that God would give men through Christ.

This is what Hebrews 11:9-10 teaches "By faith Abraham made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." The lookingforwardness of OT belivers salvation to Christ, also lies behind Jesus' comment in Matthew 11:11 "I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." Note that to Jesus, John the Baptist IS greater than Solomon, David, Abraham etc, and yet because he was a OT believer he will be "least in the kingdom of heaven". In the sense that his salvation under the old written code is really looking foward to the grace that Christ would bring through faith.

As to "the law on their hearts" and you insistence on my reading and fully understanding Deuteronomy 6 and the all OT rest assured I read through the Bible at least 1/year and have a very good grasp on the law. That is why I know it is incomplete in its revelation of who God is and what God wants.

Consider what Paul says about the law and its relationship to our understanding of God and salvation.

The law cannot save and in fact never was intended to save anyone. Romans 3:20 "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin."

The law cannot make us righteous. Romans 3:21-22 "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe."
Note that the Law and Prophets testify about or point to or look forward the fuller and complete righteous that is available to us in Christ by faith, not through Moses and the Law. See also Romans 8:3

Christ, not the law, is the fullest expression of who God is. Romans 10:4
"Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes." The word translated here "end" is the Greek word "telos" meaning ultimate end or ultimate reality. So the idea is that Christ is the fulfillment and completion of all that the law intended to do and say about God. Sounds the like the NT better reveals who God is and what God wants and how God wants to save people than the OT to me.

April 24, 2006 9:10 AM  
Blogger Jacob2-2 said...

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April 24, 2006 9:14 AM  
Blogger Jacob2-2 said...

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April 26, 2006 4:30 PM  
Blogger Jacob2-2 said...

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April 26, 2006 4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In regards to the following comment in Jakes most recent post:

About the very kings you say knew God so well and that we are not wiser than, Jesus says in Luke 10:24 "For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it." So how can you say that Solomon, Abraham, etc,etc, knew God better than Jesus' disciples? I am sorry but the NT says they didn't.

Does this not refer to the fact that the prophets and kings wanted to see and hear Jesus himself, in accordance with the promises made to them by God through the prophets. Jesus is simply refering to himself here. What does any of this have to do with how well Solomon, Abraham, etc. knew God?

April 27, 2006 3:34 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Good point. People in the OT couldn’t see or hear the things the disciples were seeing because they were dead (see Hebrews 11:13).

April 27, 2006 5:01 PM  
Blogger Jacob2-2 said...

On Luke 10:24, consider its context...

21At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.

22"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

23Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."

Clearly the passage's context is the identity of God and where one finds the clearest revelation of the Father.... in this case it supports the idea that the NT most clearly reveals who God is through Christ. Jesus claims here claims that "no one knows the Father except the Son". "no one" in this particularly reference, refers to the kings and prophets. It has nothing to do with them being dead. It has to do with them not knowing God in the fullest sense through Christ.... as revealed in the NT not the OT.

April 28, 2006 11:35 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

I can’t believe we’re arguing whether or not the NT is superior to the Old for the purpose of proving the Trinity....

First, how can “no one” refer to the kings and prophets? “No one knows” is present tense.
Second, Luke has the clearest revelation of the Father? Where?
Third, how much of the OT do you use when preaching?
Fourth, I’d like to hear a sermon discussing the pitiful situation the children of Israel were in when God pretended to reveal Himself and then who had to wait 2000 years to find out God wasn’t “one” after all.

Speaking of clear revelations, how’s this: Isa. 44:6 “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” Seems pretty clear to me. It was probably pretty clear to the people in the OT as well. Well, it would have been clear if God didn’t intentionally keep them in the dark. I wonder what the point was of Him telling them all this if He wasn’t who they thought He was? Hm.

The OT and NT do a perfect job of describing God because the two accounts compliment each other without any conflict. God was described perfectly to the people in the OT and He was described perfectly to the people in the NT. One isn’t better then the other. God appeared to Moses in the burning bush but He wasn’t literally the burning bush. God appeared to the disciples through Jesus but He wasn’t literally Jesus. God manifestation. It’s how God appears to people because, as we both know, no man “has seen God and lived”.

It seems that the only reason you’re making a deal about this superiority issue is because you’re having trouble admitting the Trinity isn’t found anywhere in the OT. But you have yet to explain WHY God hid Himself for almost 4000 years.
What’s God hiding from?
What’s He hiding for?
What was God's intention in all those OT verses where He was describing Himself to the people of Israel?
What happened when God revealed Himself to Samuel (1 Sam. 3:21)?
How did God expect people in the OT to love Him if He was a mystery? How does someone love something they have no knowledge of?
If God is still a mystery, as you say He is, then how can He be fully revealed to us today?
Why would Jesus quote Deut. 6:4 as part of the first great commandment (“the Lord our God is one Lord”) if God never revealed Himself in the OT?
How can one fear a God who hides His true nature?

One more thing: If the disciples were blessed because they “saw” and “heard” incredible things, then where does that leave us? We’re no better then the sorry kings and prophets because we also haven’t seen and heard the things the disciples did. Neither did Paul. Neither did Timothy. Neither has any believer since Christ’s day. It seems the only ones who actually benefited from Christ were the people who were with him day in and day out. Everyone else got a bum rap.

April 28, 2006 2:35 PM  
Anonymous Kit said...

Let me know if I have got this straight: J2-2, are you saying that the OT patriarchs and all the other faithful men and women had only half of the picture of whom God is, and that God was not fully known or understood by anyone until Jesus was born? That not one single individual in the entire Old Testament understood God, and his plan of salvation that would be accomplished through His son in the time appointed?

Abraham was called "The Friend of God" (James 2:23). And didn't "the Lord speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend"? I cannot imagine that we have a more complete knowledge of whom God is than these two "friends" of His choosing. It was to Moses that God particularly revealed himself as to no other. I really have trouble with this one, if I've got what you are saying right, J-22. Is this a concept that is readily accepted and preached "out there", because it's new to me. Of course, I don't know everything!

Also, I kind of got lost in your explanation of who the "least in the Kingdom of Heaven" is referring to. (April 24-9:10am post - sorry, I'm just catching up on this blogsite). Are you saying that this is referring to the OT faithful and that they are being relegated a "lower" position in the Kingdom because they had a incomplete understanding of God, or because they were under the Law? Maybe I've misunderstood what you are trying to say here. I can't fathom that my position in God's Kingdom (by His grace) will be "greater" than that of Abraham simply because of when I was born!

I hope that these two comments don't throw this off track because there's some interesting discussion going on here. There's a lot of really neat stuff on this site. Keep it up!

April 29, 2006 11:07 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Those are excellent comments and are certainly well recieved.

April 30, 2006 9:27 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

My full response:

Jake, I’ll second your motion and will ignore your demeaning accusation that I’m being demeaning and accusatory :)

“Is the Trinity explicitly taught in the OT?” still hasn’t been answered. If I’m asking about the colour of your car, I’m not interested in the size of the engine, no matter how hard you try and persuade me it’s a V8 and not a V6. :)

Once again, is the Trinity explicitly taught in the OT?

Okay, skip ahead a few thousand years. Jesus or God are never recorded as requiring anyone in the NT to worship a “different” or “updated” God. If God or Jesus HAD required the Jews of the time to worship an updated God, it certainly would have taken more than a verse here and there to change an ingrained and inherent mindset, formed after 2000 years of constant reminders and reinforcement about who the Jewish God was. Two thousand years of worshipping “one” God, under the express instruction of God Himself and then suddenly being forced to switch over and worship a plural God and this teaching is supposedly contained in a few verses in Matthew and a verse or two in John? It doesn’t make sense, especially if one keeps in mind the Trinity is a 'mystery'. How would a mystery have helped anyone, specifically the Jews, in coming to a knowledge of the Trinity? The Jews struggled with the introduction of the new law, not with the introduction of a plural God suddenly revealed. The distinction between the two is huge. There’s never any record of anyone being taught that their God was now a plural God and that worshipping the same “one” God their forefathers worshipped was suddenly considered incorrect worship. Hebrews and Galatians, for example, are talking about the law and what Jesus accomplished with his death and sacrifice, not, as you’re trying to suggest, discussing the difficulties the Jews were having in accepting the Trinity. The sum of Galatians and Hebrews along with much of Christ’s teachings have to do with this: new law fulfilling old law. Not new law fulfilling God.

Same questions as before:
1. Explain how the knowledge of God could have been in “their hearts” (Deut. 6:6) if God was actually keeping “out of the loop”.
2. Did God ever punish anyone in the OT for improperly worshipping a Unitarian God?
3. Did the Children of Israel understand they were worshipping a Triune God?
4. Where were the Children of Israel ever made aware of the “one substance, three persons” theory?
5. How would they have known that a “bunch” specifically meant “three” in Deut. 6:4?
6. If the Jews are required to call out to God before His return (Zech. 13:9), are they all going to have to become Trinitarians before He delivers them?
7. God calls the Jews “my people” (Eze. 11:20). Why would God have kept His own people in the dark about His true nature?
8. If God is a Triune God, does this mean that Trinitarians are more blessed then Jews in terms of who God revealed Himself to?

Finally, and this is important: Isn't it true that a Triune God can’t be revealed to appear as a non-Triune God because that would be a false revealing? This leads us back to 2 Tim. 3:16: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” You read this verse and state it reads that the OT is incomplete. Are you comfortable in saying that incomplete Scripture is suitable for reproof, for correction and instruction? Timothy makes no distinction between New or Old. Why do you? Scripture itself is inherently correct so if we find a Triune God in the NT then certainly we should also be able to find elements of a plural God in the OT.

Deut. 6:4
We’re still going through this???? Let me restate your Deut. 6:4 argument yet again: “By the way, thanks for raising Mark 12:29 because it contains one of the best examples of an Old Testament allusion to a plurality within the Godhead…In effect the Shema of OT Israel reads “the Lord our God, the Lord is “a bunch”.”

An “allusion” is an indirect reference to something. So is this verse an indirect reference to the nature of God or does the verse prove the Trinity by saying “the Lord our God, the Lord is a bunch”? It’s either an indirect reference or it’s a blatant fact. Either a plural God is revealing Himself to His chosen people here or He’s only pretending to reveal Himself and lying to the people about being “one”. And thus we head right back into my argument that you continue to ignore time and time again (please pay careful attention to the phrase “compound noun”): There’s nothing in either one of those words [yachid or echad] that means “a plural oneness” because the plurality is defined by the compound noun, not by the word “one” itself. You’ve failed to offer any logical, sound evidence about how “one” in the OT can magically mean “a bunch” in one verse and then a “single one” in another. With the complete absence of a compound noun in Deut 6:4, it’s simply not possible to continue to use this verse in the same breath as the Trinity. One doesn’t hint at/equal/suggest/mean “a bunch”.

Proverbs 2
Proverbs 2:2-5 has suddenly become the Theory of Wisdom, not the Practice of Wisdom. No one in the OT came to a knowledge of God because Proverbs 2 uses “if”. Is that what you’re saying? Jer 24:7 “And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.” If no one came to a knowledge of God because Proverbs 2 uses “if”, then how can God make the claim that there were people who knew Him? (See Jeremiah 31:34 as well) It’s obvious that it WAS possible for people to know God in the OT and people DID come to a knowledge of God. So if these people knew God but never knew the Trinity, how can the Trinity be a God-taught doctrine?

This one’s another favourite: Isaiah 45:19 I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.” So now all of a sudden your whole theory about God keeping Himself secret from His people by keeping them out of the loop is in serious jeopardy. And just in case that wasn’t obvious enough, here are a few more verses proving people had full and complete knowledge of God in the OT: Deut. 30:10-11, Psalms 25:14, Proverbs 3:32, Isaiah 43:10, Jeremiah 29:13

Every righteous person who ever feared God in the OT knew and understood Him because that was His reward to these people; He gave them an understanding of who He was. Why? Because these people sought Him out. And when God revealed Himself to them, did He reveal the startling fact that He was a Triune God? Never.

I don’t know about you but these are pretty powerful arguments the Bible puts forward. Plain, obvious Biblical proof that people in the OT found God (without ever finding the Trinity) and that they weren’t seeking Him in vain. The fact that no one in the OT ever acknowledged God as being a plural God and the fact that God never once told anyone He was a Triune God leads to an obvious conclusion:

God doesn’t describe Himself as being plural because He isn’t. God is one. The Godhead doesn’t exist.

Before I wrap this up, first Jesus never claims “the OT is imperfect and incorrect” and second I’ve never disagreed about Jesus building on and clarifying Scripture. However this still doesn’t get us any closer to why a Triune God wasn’t revealed in the OT. You know what I find interesting about what Jesus didn’t clarify or build on? Why there’s no evidence of a Triune God in the OT.

Ignoring the evidence
You think I’m not dealing with the evidence you present? How ironic. I’ve been asking for months now about Jesus/God being in hell yet no one answers. I’ve explained and explained Deut. 6:4 countless times but you’re not even acknowledging what I’ve written. Silence regarding Mark 12:28. No description on what an “incomplete salvation” is. Nothing about Ephesians 5:2. No further comments about Jesus not knowing the day or hour when he’s going to return. Nothing about the relevance of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness if he couldn’t sin. See? The situation is no different here my friend. :)

Alright, what else have we got here…

1. How is Jesus proving to the Jews he was God by quoting from the OT? Using a text that never refers to a Triune God isn’t exactly an efficient use of material to convince people he was that same Triune God that’s never mentioned.

2. “The NT very clearly teaches that the OT is incomplete in the revelation of God…” I don’t really understand this statement. If God described Himself to people in the OT and they thought they were receiving a pure and perfect description (because what else would a good God do?), then how do you get around the fact that this means God lied to the people by telling everyone He was a God of one and not three?

3. Romans 7:6. This verse is talking about the law, specifically the need for sacrifices, not the nature of God.

4. Matthew 8:11. Actually, what you said about the people mentioned in Hebrews 11 is that their salvation is “incomplete” and that they were “imperfect” because of their lack of knowledge. You also stated that Hebrews 11 highlights the imperfections of these people, not their faith. You’ve changed your tune somewhat since then.

5. A “salvation of faith”…I don’t know what this means either. Salvation has always been about God’s grace, not man’s faith. God doesn’t owe us anything. Another topic for another time.

6. Matthew 11:9-10. Where in these verses, the ones you’re referring to, does it specifically say that John was an OT believer and that his salvation fell under the old law? You're adding words that are completely absent from this reference. Anyhow, what does it matter if John believed in the OT? Jesus believed in the OT. Paul believed in the OT. Who in the NT didn’t believe in the OT? Don’t you believe in the OT…?
Regardless, your John point has a few flaws
1. John baptized Jesus and many others. Baptism was a NT phenomenon. Therefore, John couldn’t have been under the “old written code” otherwise he wouldn’t have understood the point of baptism.
2. John was a man “sent by God” for a specific purpose. God wouldn’t have sent a man obsessed with the OT if his role was to prepare the way for Christ.

(This is a bit of a tangent but did John baptize Jesus in “the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”?)

Anyhow, your idea of “greatness” relating to wisdom and knowledge is a bit askew. 1 Kings 3:12 “Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.” So unless God was playing a trick on Solomon and us, no one, including John the Baptist has ever matched his wisdom. Your opinion of what “great” means obviously can’t refer to wisdom. Which goes back to my point: Solomon knew God. Solomon was smarter then us. Solomon wasn’t a Trinitarian.

So, in summary, once again, we have a rather lengthy explanation about why the Trinity isn’t found in the OT: because it was never taught. There’s also the problem of people knowing and understanding God and God revealing Himself to people in the OT. If they knew God but the Trinity is never once taught or mentioned, then they obviously weren’t Trinitarians and we’d do well to follow suit Finally, if God did keep OT people in the dark then God is a liar because no one in the OT can be said to have ever “known” or “understood” God. This would mean that for all those who sought God out, He blessed them by hiding Himself from them. Hardly the actions of a just and fair God.

One final question:
At what point did the Old Testament become the New Testament? If it’s as you said and John the Baptist was under the old law, even during the first 30 years of Christ’s life (i.e. up until the point he was baptized), then Christ’s birth couldn’t have been the catalyst that revealed God because if it was, then God would have already been fully revealed and John therefore would have a complete knowledge of God and had his salvation under the new law.

May 01, 2006 10:26 AM  
Blogger Jacob2-2 said...

In response to Jason's 2:35pm post...

Jason wrote...First, how can “no one” refer to the kings and prophets? “No one knows” is present tense.

J22 responds... Yes, "No one knows" is in the present tense which I am sure you mean to imply that "no one" among Jesus immediate audience or around in his current day knows. However the context is what the kings and prophets of old claimed to know or not know. This is called, in exegetical language, the use of the "Historical Present". The Gospel of Mark makes extensive use of this grammatical device. As well, it is interestingly to note that Jesus uses "a present tense" argument in Matthew 22:31-32 to specifically address the issue of resurrection. There he argues that when God says "I am (present tense) the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob" that, that is a proof of the resurrection because those OT patriarchs are with God in heaven having already experienced the resurrection. So in Matthew 22, Jesus clearly uses the present tense to refer to people that are long "dead" from our vantage point, so why can he not use the same device in Luke 10?


Jason wrote... Second, Luke has the clearest revelation of the Father? Where?

J22 - Not Luke. The disciples or those "that the Son choses to reveal him". Luke 10:25

Jason asked...Third, how much of the OT do you use when preaching?

J22 - Lots.

Jason asked...Fourth, I’d like to hear a sermon discussing the pitiful situation the children of Israel were in when God pretended to reveal Himself and then who had to wait 2000 years to find out God wasn’t “one” after all.

J22 - No where does the NT say that God's OT people were in a "pitiful" situation. The NT does say they were in a situation where the truth about God was "veiled". Read 1 Corithians 3:13-17...

13We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. 14But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Here Paul makes an analogy of the veil Moses wore when he came down from Mt. Sinai Exodus 34. That veil Paul writes, not me, says "still covers their (meaning OT believing Jews still living in Paul's day) hearts" whenever the "old covenant is read". It is so clear to me, at least. That it is only the revelation of God in Christ contained in the NT that makes clear and complete the revelation of God in the law of Moses and the OT.

Jason... Speaking of clear revelations, how’s this: Isa. 44:6 “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.”

J22 responds... The context of Isaiah 44:6 is that of idolatry. In fact this verse starts one of the most famous sections on the futility of idolatry in the OT. Psalm 115 is another. See verse 9 in particular " 9 All who make idols are nothing,and the things they treasure are worthless.Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame."

So this verse has less to do with the OT being the final and full revelation of God, then it does with the fact that YHWH was claiming to be the only God. Who YHWH is, has yet to be finally and fully revealed. But THAT he is the only God is not left to chance by Isaiah 44.


Jason wrote God was described perfectly to the people in the OT

J22 - Perfectly, as far as the OT went. Something can be perfect as far as it goes and yet not be complete. That is the picture that 1 Corithians 3, Hebrews 11, Luke 10 paint.

Jason wrote... God doesn't appear literally to people because, as we both know, no man “has seen God and lived”.

J22 - Actually, that isn't true either. Lots of people have seen the LORD. In fact, the premise isn't true either. God only sanction people seeing his "face" Exodus 33:20. Lots of OT saw God...Adam, Gen 3:8-21; Jacob, at Bethel in Genesis 35:7, 9; Abraham, Gen 18:2-33; Israel in Judges 2:1-5; Gideon in Judges 6:11-24; Solomon in 1 Kings 3:5, Isaiah 6:1-5, Ezekiel 1:26-28.

Jason wrote...It seems that the only reason you’re making a deal about this superiority issue is because you’re having trouble admitting the Trinity isn’t found anywhere in the OT.

J22 responds... No. The reason I am making a deal about the superiority of the NT is because the Bible makes a deal out of it, in the many passages I have quoted to you. Consider 2 Timothy 1:9-10

This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Here Paul argues that the grace we are saved by was given us "before the beginning of time" but has only "now been revealed" through what? The appearing of our "Saviour Christ Jesus" who only now, after the OT, has brought "life and immortality to light through the gospel" not through the law.

Jason askes... But you have yet to explain WHY God hid Himself for almost 4000 years.

J22 responds... God did not hide himself. He revealed himself "in many various ways" as Hebrews 1 states. He simply chose to not completely reveal himself until he do so through the person and work He did through Jesus.

Jason askes... If God is still a mystery, as you say He is, then how can He be fully revealed to us today?

J22 responds... He can only be fully known through Jesus Christ. John 14:6. Jesus three time claims to be the final and full revelation of God in that verse. Three being the sort of "signed, sealed and delivered" way for God to say this truth is absolutely true (see Isaiah 6:1-6).

Jason askes...Why would Jesus quote Deut. 6:4 as part of the first great commandment (“the Lord our God is one Lord”) if God never revealed Himself in the OT?

J22 - I never claimed that "God never revealed himself in the OT" I have only ever maintained that God paritally revealed himself in the OT. Never and partial are two different things.

Jason askes....How can one fear a God who hides His true nature?

J22 - I suppose a paritally hidden God is even more worthy of our fearing, because it means that he is so higher and bigger and beyond our comprehension that even our language fails to contain the majesty and greatness of our God.

Jason askes...One more thing: If the disciples were blessed because they “saw” and “heard” incredible things, then where does that leave us?

J22 responds... Jesus answered this question in John 22:29 "Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

That further emphasizes the fact that our salvation is not based on the works of serving a God that is looking for us to prove ourselves to him, but rather on our faith in a God that has loved us and redeemed "by grace through faith...not by works so that no one can boast." Ephesian 2:8-9



April 28, 2006 2:35 PM

May 01, 2006 10:47 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Luke 10 - “No One”
I still don’t get it.
1. This chapter is about preaching instructions, not of God being fully revealed.
2. Jesus is speaking openly from verse 1 - 22 and then PRIVATELY in verse 23. So everyone listening to Jesus would have heard the words spoken prior to verse 23 but not the words spoken in verse 24 (which reverted the present and future tense of the previous verses if the context, as you say, is actually past tense). If Luke 10 is talking about knowledge of God (which it isn’t), then only the disciples ever had this knowledge because Christ’s explanation of the chapter was said in private. The circle of people who had knowledge of a Triune God seems to be shrinking exponentially!!!
3. If the kings and prophets desired to “hear” the same things the disciples were hearing, then your argument suggests that these OT people KNEW God was withholding something from them. And yet we’re never told that anyone in the OT ever got frustrated with a God who refused to fully reveal Himself.
4. Kings and prophets desiring to “see” and “hear” has no bearing on what they or may not have known about God. We also wish we had seen and heard the things the disciples saw with Christ but we’re not able to for the same reason these kings and prophets weren’t able to: None of us were around during the time of Christ.
5. Jesus COULD be using the same device in Luke 10 as he did in Matthew 22 but Jesus could just as easily NOT be using the same device. It’s a cyclical argument based on a suggestion.
6. Nowhere does it say Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have already experienced the resurrection. Not only is this an unscriptural idea (1 Cor. 15:52, 1 Thes. 4:16), we can also rest assured they certainly aren’t in heaven (see John 3:13, Acts 2:34). This is another topic for another time.
7. God IS the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The use of present tense here is obvious. If it was past tense, it would have read: “I was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (which doesn’t make sense). Alive or dead, we, just like Abraham and his sons, are God’s: Rom 14:8 “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.”

Who does the revealing?
If it was the disciples and Jesus who did the revealing, how could God have revealed Himself to Samuel, for example, without the help of the twelve or Christ? (as for whether or not it was a full or partial revealing, which I must admit sounds silly, I’ve addressed this a little further down)

OT Preaching
Why would you refer to the OT when preaching if it’s incomplete? How do you know that the things you’re preaching aren’t also incomplete? For example, Daniel isn’t mentioned too often in the NT. How do you know his writings aren’t incomplete? There are no references to the Book of Esther or Ecclesiastes in the NT. How do we know they’re complete? You can see the problems an incomplete OT creates.

God’s nature and the law
Once again, you’re confusing the law with the knowledge of God. The old law was just that. The new law was just that. Neither one have anything to do with God’s nature. Every time the new Conservative government brings in a new law, we’re not going to be given new insight into size of Stephen Harper’s liver. Nonetheless, 1 Corinthians has to do with the old law, it most certainly doesn't say anything about the nature of God being ‘veiled’. Again, you’re making suggestions that simply aren’t found in the text. Hermenutics. Let Scripture intepret Scripture. The new law allows us to approach God through Christ. The old law required the priests to pass through the veil into the most holy place if they were to approach God. The veil has been removed for us, but not for the Jews because of their stubbornness. Christ has given us freedom in that no longer are we required to offer sacrifices and no longer is a priest required to approach God on our behalf. However, this freedom is a result of the new law, not a sudden epiphany of who God really is!!! The veil, etc. obviously has absolutely nothing to do with people being aware of the Trinity.

Isaiah 44:6
You’re misunderstanding my reference. I’m not saying this is the final and full revelation of God. I’m saying this is a wonderful description of who God is, a description that Scripture (all of it) repeats in some shape or form in numerous other places. Regardless, without argument, the most complete description God gives us is this (Exodus 3): “I AM THAT I AM”, the Hebrew word being “Jehovah”. Everything anyone needs to know about God is contained in its meaning. God simply “is”. He is what He is and when He tells us He’s “one”, that’s exactly what He means.

Incomplete Perfection
Hebrews 11 is talking about faith, Luke 10 is talking about preaching, and 1 Corinthians 3 is talking about working and wisdom. None of these references even hint at “something can be perfect as far as it goes and yet not be complete.” Look, it isn’t just incompletion we’re talking about here, there’s a whole host of other issues that tie in with this one. If God tells people He’s “one” and then you come along and tell people God is “three” with the explanation that God’s description is incomplete in the OT, you’re calling God a liar because He isn’t “one” after all. This is the fundamental problem in your argument. Considering the many sound, logical reasons we’ve gone over about yachid and echad, it's plain for everyone to see that Deut. 6:4 is talking about one God, not a bunch. On this basis, if God is unquestionably saying He is one, and in the absence of anything in Scripture where God offsets this “oneness” by telling us instead that He’s “three”, God’s description of Himself everywhere in Scripture is perfect and complete.

Seeing God Without Seeing Him
Hm. Well, if people have seen God like you suggest, then we’re all in big trouble because Scripture has a few untruths in it…
John 1:18 “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
1 John 4:12 “No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.”
1 Ti 6:16 “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”
No references to “except for the face” here. This is an all encompassing “no man has seen”. So either the Bible is lying or the references you gave tell us something else (even if we’re getting miles off topic with this). Let's take a look at them:
Exodus 33:20 The word “face” here doesn’t just mean a literal face. The Hebrew word can also mean “presence” or “in front of” or “countenance” (e.g. Gen. 4:16 “And Can went out from the presence of the Lord…”). The additional meanings to this word make sense given God dwells in unapproachable light, not just His face.
Genesis 3:8-21 Nothing in this chapter says Adam and Eve “saw” God. It’s recorded they only “heard His voice”.
Genesis 18:2-33 God appeared to Abraham through a trio of angels. God manifestation is a common theme in Scripture. The burning bush, the pillar of fire, and Jesus himself are just three other examples of this. In this manner, no one could actually be said to be looking on the form of God, they’re instead looking at something that God is using to speak or act through, in effect shielding them from His incredible glory.
Genesis 35:7,9 1. Nothing in this verse or any corresponding verse tells us exactly how God appeared to Jacob. It can’t be determined whether God physically appeared to Jacob or if He appeared to Jacob in some other manner (a vision, a manifestation, through an angel, etc.). 2. Verse 1 says God “appeared” to Jacob but this Hebrew word consists of more than an actual seeing. Other uses of the Hebrew word are: look, behold, shew, appear, consider, perceive, provide, regard, enjoy. There’s not enough information in section to determine whether or not Jacob literally saw God.
Judges 2:1-5 See above. This is another example of God communicating to the people through an angel. Vs. 1 “And an angel of the LORD came up…”
Judges 6:11-24 See above. This is another example of God communicating to the people through an angel. Vs. 12 “And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him…”
1 Kings 3:5 God also uses dreams and visions to communicate to people. Again, by God appearing to someone in this manner, He isn’t showing His actual, real self (unless we understand dreams to be reality). Vs. 5 “…the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream…”
Isaiah 6:1-5 A vision of Isaiah. John 12:41 confirms that Isaiah saw God’s “glory”, not God Himself.
Ezekiel 1:26-28 A vision of Ezekiel. Vs. 1. “…I saw visions of God”, not God Himself. 2. Vs. 28 “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.” Ezekiel saw a representation of God, not God Himself.

Contrary to what you’re saying, it’s obvious that no one, ever, has literally “seen God”.

1 Timothy 1:9-10
This section describes salvation being manifested in the form of Jesus. It makes perfect sense considering salvation in the OT was based on animal sacrifices (to their salvation). Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, a lamb without blemish. Christ is our salvation. Once again, this concept has nothing to do with the superiority of the NT over the OT. Once again, you’re referring to the law as being the tool that dictates what we know of God. Once again, salvation has nothing to do with God being more fully revealed to anyone at any time. Once again, this verse doesn’t prove or disprove anything related to the Trinity. Jesus has “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:” Not “created” or “updated”, but brought “to light”. Jesus uncovered how one can gain immortality through the new law; he didn’t uncover God. Due to the record we read of Christ’s existence, we now see the foreshadowing of Christ throughout the OT, from Moses striking the rock, to God promising the serpent’s head will be crushed, to the requirements of the offering, to the mention of wood, hyssop and scarlet in Leviticus 14. However, God’s nature remains constant all the while.

A God of Hiding
God didn’t hide Himself, He simply chose not to fully reveal Himself? You don't like the word "hide"? What would you call withholding vital information without the second party being aware of it?

John 14:6
If God can be fully known through Christ, then God obviously isn’t a mystery, contrary to what you’ve said before. You also said “the God of the Bible is even too big for the Bible”. Can God be fully known or not?

John 14:6 says: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” First, Jesus doesn’t claim anywhere here to be the final and full revelation of God. Second, Jesus says he’s the way, the truth and the life, which I absolutely agree with. Any Christian, Unitarian or Trinitarian, would also agree. We don’t have a hope of salvation without Christ because we’ve all “put on Christ” when we were baptized. No one in the OT needed to be baptized because Christ wasn’t around. Again, there is no language in this verse or the verses surrounding it that talk about a superior NT or a more full revelation of God.

Revealing God
Where are we told, in simple language, that God only partially revealed Himself to His chosen people? Wouldn’t the Jews have been furious (and rightly so) at being duped for so long into thinking their God was one instead of the plural God who suddenly appeared on their doorstep in the NT??? We find the answer in the OT. God fully revealed Himself in Exodus 3:1-10 to Moses. God also fully revealed Himself to Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:21. Actually, what’s interesting about the Hebrew meaning for the word “revealed” is this: it literally means “to be made naked”, especially used of the ear by taking away the hair. How amazing is this!! God fully, wholly, absolutely showed Samuel who He was. There is no hint whatsoever, whether by looking at the context or definition of the word, that God “only partially” revealed Himself.

The Terror of a Partially Hidden God
God never resorted to scare tactics by remaining a mystery in order for people to believe in Him. God says in Deuteronomy 30:19 “I have set before you life and death…therefore, choose life.” The decision to worship God was, and still is, a matter left up to the individual. God doesn’t want people to worship Him because they’re scared of Him, this isn’t the kind of “fear” God expects. God wants us to enjoy worshipping Him!! It’s an act of love, not terror. Speaking of a semi-hidden, partially revealed, fully mysterious God, Acts 17 comes to mind: 17:22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.”

A mysterious God is an unknown god and we’re suddenly no different than the people Paul chastised.

Seeing isn’t Believing
Your argument regarding the OT patriarchs has taken a full circle. First you were criticizing the people mentioned in Hebrews 11 as being imperfect in their standing with God. Then you criticized everyone mentioned in the OT for not having a full knowledge of God. Then you cite Luke 10:24 as being evidence that these same people didn’t know God because they didn’t “see” or ”hear” the same things as the disciples. Now, however, you’re quoting a verse that blesses people who didn’t see the same things as the disciples because they had faith, faith that everyone in Hebrews 11 had, faith made evident through their works, works that you say have nothing to do with salvation.

What’s going on?

May 01, 2006 8:33 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Jake's obviously a busy guy... :) If anyone has anything to add in his absence to keep this discussion going, feel free to post.

May 18, 2006 9:57 AM  
Blogger Jacob2-2 said...

Quickly...

Luke 10... I am sorry but all your hermenutical gymnastics cannot make Luke 10:20-25 say what you want it to say.

It is about who knows and doesn't know God. It is not, at this point in the chapter about preaching instructions. In fact it is about even more than simply who God is... Jesus starts this saying to the disciples by noting that "all things" meaning all knowledge all ideas all revelation has been committed to him.

Luke 10:22 "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

Yes, who really knew God fully was being exponentially reduced by Jesus. He makes these type of claims in many places. This only further disrupts your argument that Jesus was a good moral teacher... son of God... a man teaching God's purposes. Good moral teachers don't say the things Jesus.

Luke 10:23-25 "Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."

May 24, 2006 7:37 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Just as quickly…

I have no problem with “all things” being delivered to Jesus by God. This simply explains that authority was given to Christ by his Father. The same authority Jesus will have at the time of his second coming and the same authority eventually given back to God after the end of the thousand year reign. Transferable authority. No problems there. (Luke 10:19, Acts 8:19, Rev. 2:26, Rev. 11:3)

Speaking of good moral teacher, how is God intentionally hiding Himself in the OT considered appropriate teaching? Why wait for so long to reveal Himself? Who did it benefit and why? If you're going to continue to make the "intentionally kept in the dark" comments, then please, explain why? Why not come out and tell the world in Genesis: "I the Lord God am a Triune God - I am one substance, three persons"? If Jesus and the Holy Spirit are both two persons within the Godhead, why would God lie and tell the people of Israel He’s one? Although perhaps it was only in the NT when God the Father finally gave God the Son the knowledge that God the Son was actually part of a Triune Godhead...? This would be in line with your comment about God committing knowledge to Jesus. God the Son must not have known he was part of the Triune Godhead until the NT, otherwise what exactly was the "all knowledge" committed to him in Luke? Although if God did give Jesus “all knowledge” as you say, then how could he still not know the day or hour of his second coming (Mat. 13:32)...?

Oh, and whether someone is a Unitarian or a Trinitarian doesn’t change the fact Jesus was a good, perfect moral teacher. I’m not sure what you’re accusing me of…? You think I think Jesus, the son of God, was a poor teacher? Hm. If I was a Trinitarian, here's what I would consider poor teaching:

Deu 6:4 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:"
Zec 14:9 "And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one."
Mar 12:29 "And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:"
1Cr 8:6 "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him."
Gal 3:20 "Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one."
Eph 4:5 "One Lord, one faith, one baptism,"
1Ti 2:5 "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;"

None of it is true if God is a Triune God. The Bible lies.

I’ll post these again for the heck of it:
1. Jesus is speaking openly from verse 1 - 22 and then PRIVATELY in verse 23. So everyone listening to Jesus would have heard the words spoken prior to verse 23 but not the words spoken in verse 24. If Luke 10 is talking about knowledge of God, then only the disciples ever had this knowledge because Christ’s explanation was said in private. (Which you’ve now verified as being correct. So I wonder why Jesus would also keep people in the dark about his Triune nature? I suppose this would explain Paul’s lack of Trinity teaching. He was also kept in the dark.)
2. If the kings and prophets desired to “hear” the same things the disciples were hearing, then your argument suggests that these OT people KNEW God was withholding something from them. And yet we’re never told that anyone in the OT ever got frustrated with God because He refused to fully reveal Himself.
3. Kings and prophets desiring to “see” and “hear” has no bearing on what they or may not have known about God. We also wish we had seen and heard the things the disciples experienced with Christ but we’re not able to for the same reason these kings and prophets weren’t able to: None of us were around during the time of Christ.

May 24, 2006 7:58 PM  
Blogger Jacob2-2 said...

In response...

Jason wrote "I have no problem with “all things” being delivered to Jesus by God. This simply explains that authority was given to Christ by his Father."

Jake responds... Luke 10:22 is not about authority. It is about revelation of who God is. That is what Jesus intreprets his own words as meaning. Jesus has lots of other places when he says the Father's authority is His authority (Acts 1:8). Here however he says "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

Jason wrote... "Although if God did give Jesus “all knowledge” as you say, then how could he still not know the day or hour of his second coming (Mat. 13:32)...?

Jake responds...Jesus doesn't claim here to all knowledge about everything related to every subject. He claims to reveal all of who God is.

Jason said..." Oh, and whether someone is a Unitarian or a Trinitarian doesn’t change the fact Jesus was a good, perfect moral teacher."

Jake responds... Yes it does. If there is only One simple God and that person is not also incarnate in Jesus the Christ, then Jesus the Christ is either a madman or the Devil. It is that simple. You can't be a good moral teacher in 1st century Palestine and go around claiming to forgive sins Mark 2:7, making your own authority equal to that of God, raise the dead John 5:21, etc,etc. The choice we have with Jesus today is EXACTLY the choice he forced his 1st audience to make... was he the devil himself as many of his opponents claimed Matthew 12:24 or was he YHWH come in human flesh JOhn 14:11?

June 07, 2006 9:02 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

To Sum Up:
Putting aside for a moment the many other questions that still remain unanswered, you’re saying this particular verse in Luke 10 is undeniable proof that God intentionally kept hidden His Triune nature in the OT because Jesus was the only one able to show people God’s true nature, something he chose not to do for some reason during the few thousand years he wasn’t on earth?

Luke 10:22 – "Revealing"
If you insist on examing this verse under a microscope and applying it to the Trinity, I have to ask this: who revealed Jesus if God is the only one who knows him? “…and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father...”

Now we've got ourselves a bizarre situation: If God was unrevealed in the OT because Jesus never revealed Him, then Jesus must be unrevealed in the NT because we're never told God revealed his true nature. This is what the verse is telling us isn't it? And now if you think about it, maybe this is why the Trinity isn't taught in Scripture: EVERYONE was kept in the dark about the true nature of the Godhead. But if everyone in Scripture has been kept in the dark about the Trinue nature of God, where did the idea come from...? Hmmmm...

Hermenutics
Nonetheless, back to the verse, Jesus doesn’t claim here in Luke 10:22 to reveal “all of who God is”. That’s not what the verse says. Such an interpretation would break the cardinal rule of hermenutics. The verse says Jesus simply “reveals” God. Why is this important? Because if you’re going to say that God “revealing” Himself in the OT wasn’t a complete reveal, then why should this same word here mean something different? “Revealing” in 1st Century AD meant exactly the same as “revealing” in 2000 BC. God revealed Himself.

Case in point: Dan 2:20-22 “Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.” (cp. Psalm 25:14)

What would lead us to think God only 'kind of' revealed the “deep and secret things”?

Two more:
Num 12:6 "And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream."

Amo 3:7 "Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."

What words here indicate a partial revealing?

Knowledge of Jesus
Regarding the knowledge of Jesus, you said previously that "all things" in this verse meant “all knowledge”. First of all, where are we told in this particular verse, still under the microscope, that “all things” means “all knowledge”? Secondly, if “all things” doesn’t mean “all knowledge”, like you’re now saying, and instead simply “all knowledge about God’s nature”, where are we told this? How can “all things” be limited to one thing?

What's the relevance? Because if Jesus is God, how can God keep Himself in the dark about things if God is all knowing at the same time? How does God selectively reveal vital information to Himself and yet keep other things completely hidden? (i.e. Jesus knows the secret Triune nature of God, kept hidden since the beginning of time, but not the day or hour when he’ll return to earth?)

"All things..."
Here’s what “all things” means in Luke 10:22: power and authority. Power and authority were given to him by God which means Jesus didn't have it until provided by His Father...(As a side note, let's pretend for a moment "all things" is talking about knowledge here. If knowledge of God's Trinue nature wasn't given to Jesus until some finite point in time, does this mean Jesus had previously spent an eternity not knowing who He/God was? In other words, before God gave Jesus the knowledge about a Triune Godhead, what did Jesus believe?)

Matthew 28:18, John 3:35, John 5:22-27, John 13:3, John 17:2, Philippians 2:9-11, Hebrews 2:8. “All things” occurs four times in the above references. Show me where this phrase refers ONLY to Christ's knowledge of God’s nature?

John 15:15 “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” It’s an interesting statement Christ makes “…all things that I have heard from my Father…” Jesus doesn’t claim perfect knowledge of God, he says that what he’s “heard” (what God has told him), Jesus in turn has told his disciples. Jesus’ knowledge is obviously limited to what God tells him!!

The Moral
The moral of the story is that because God is the one imparting knowledge of Himself to His Son, we have no idea if this knowledge is absolutely complete, and at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. We take it on good faith that the description Jesus gives us is just as complete and correct and valid as the description God gave to His people in the OT. Deut 6:4 is the link proving this. God says it to His people (“God is one”), Jesus quotes it as the first and most important commandment (“God is one”). If Jesus’ knowledge of God was “all knowing”, why continue to use an outdated description of a partially revealed OT God?

Who Can Forgive Sins
Why would Jesus be considered a madman if God is one and not three? Scripture is abundantly clear why Jesus was able to forgive sins:

John 5:21-23 "For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him."

Compare with John 20:21-23 "Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained."

This word “remitted” is exactly the same word Jesus uses in Matthew 9:2 “…thy sins shall be forgiven…”

Are the disciples madmen or Devils? Are the disciples part of the Godhead?

What was the common element between Jesus and the disciples that allowed them to forgive sins? The Holy Spirit, God’s power, given to both Jesus and the disciples. God GAVE the authority to Jesus to forgive sins, Jesus in turn GAVE the authority to the disciples to forgive sins. How could Jesus do this? Because according to John 5, the authority to judge was GIVEN expressly to Jesus. It goes back to transferal of authority. Works fine for me. “The Father loves the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.” John 3:35

Points
Knowledge and authority and the Holy Spirit were all given to Jesus by God. God created Jesus. It’s not Jesus’ will but God’s will. Jesus will one day hand back authority to God. Jesus is the “Son”, God is the “Father”. Jesus had a beginning, God doesn’t. Jesus died, God can’t. How on earth can equal authority even be hinted at here???

Raising the Dead
Jesus was able to raise the dead through the God’s power. Everything he did was a result of God working through him so that the people around Christ might glorify the Father.

This is why Jesus was a perfect moral teacher and not the Devil (a bizarre suggestion but to each their own). He was God’s only begotten son.

"In"
John 14:20 “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” If John 14:11 means that Jesus is God because he’s “in” the Father, then the disciples must also be God because they’re “in” Jesus. Although since Jesus is “in” the disciples, that must make him a disciple also. Hm. It doesn’t quite work for me...

One For the Road
I'll leave you with another verse: John 5:26 "For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in himself," Before being given life, what was the Son?

June 08, 2006 4:44 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Looks like this one's winding down which is a shame because there are so many things left unanswered.

1. Deut. 6:4 and the lack of the Trinity in the OT.
2. Secrets within the Godhead was never fully explained.
3. "homoousios" (one substance, three persons) as a made-up Greek word after the time of Christ and Paul.
4. Why weren't the people in the OT taught the Trinity?
5. You say people have seen God. Where's the proof?
6. What was supposed to be accomplished by God intentionally hiding His true nature in the OT?
7. There's been nothing explaining away the multiple references to "one God" in Scripture (which is a false statement if the Trinity is correct).
8. If God was unrevealed in the OT because Jesus never revealed Him, then Jesus must be unrevealed in the NT because we're never told God revealed his (Jesus') true nature...
9. If Jesus is God, how can God keep Himself in the dark about things if God is all knowing at the same time? How does God selectively reveal vital information to Himself and yet keep other things completely hidden (from Himself)? (i.e. Jesus apparently knows the secret Triune nature of God, kept hidden since the beginning of time, but not the day or hour when he’ll return to earth?)
10. God granted Jesus to "have life". What was Jesus before this grant was given, alive or dead?

Are you up to keeping the conversation going?

June 30, 2006 2:37 PM  

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