Friday, September 12, 2014

Do Trinitarian theories conflict with the New Testament?

(originally posted 7/26/15)

[Note: Like all my other blogposts, this blogpost is subject to revision, addition and correction]

My Comments in blue.

At a Triablogue BLOGPOST Dale Tuggy offered a friendly challenge.

In the comments Dale wrote:

Steve, "Annoyed", Sam, Anthony. If anyone wants to tell me where this argument goes wrong, I'd be glad to hear it. Just lobbing truckloads of texts... that's just refusing to engage. I *agree* with those, and have spent more than a decade and a half trying to align my views with them, rightly understood. So, you need to show where this argument, which displays the conflict between the NT and catholic tradition, goes wrong. Feel free to comment there, and I'll answer. God bless, Dale
Below is his blog article with my commentary in blue. It's written as if speaking to Dale Tuggy himself. Though, I don't really expect a response. Especially since these comments aren't posted at Dale's blog. Dale invited comments, and these are mine. I posted them here because I didn't want to flood Dale's combox.

How Trinity theories conflict with the New Testament

Most Christians are (at least in theory, according to creeds and statements of faith promulgated by denominations) trinitarians, believers in a triune or tri-personal God, which they call the Trinity. But some have always been unitarians, believers in one God who is one perfect self, who does not in any way contain three selves or “persons.” Nowadays, these are a minority (again, going by official statements and membership rolls – I think the facts about Christians’ actual beliefs are more complicated than the official documents suggest).
In my view, before around the start of the fifth century, unitarians were always a majority. Of course, they didn’t call themselves “unitarians” – that term is of late 17th c. coinage – but arguably most of them were unitarians – for some arguments read this. (Update: or this series.)
There were different kinds of Unitarians. Regarding the church fathers, they weren't always consistent with each other or even with themselves. Some of their views could be labelled Unitarian from one perspective and non-Unitarian in another. Views on the Biblical triad in the ante-Nicene fathers was that diverse and ambiguous. They too were struggling to make sense of the Biblical data. Eventually, the Sabellian controversy arose and then later the Arian and Semi-Arian controversy. I myself am studying the early church and I've found many of the comments by David Waltz informative. He holds to what he has termed Nicene Monarchism and I find it appealing. Though, for the meantime I remain a Trinitarian. I do so while admitting the open secret that there are various types of Trinitarianisms (even among Evangelicals).

As David Waltz put it:

Now, when we look at “the” Evangelical doctrine of the Trinty, one is forced to conclude that it is “doctrines”, not “the doctrine”, for the following are but a few examples of the different forms of Trinitarianism held within Evangelicalism. 1.) The Son and the Spirit are generated from the Father’s essence, who is the source, fountain-head of the Trinity (Melanchthon, Jonathan Edwards). 2.) It is the person alone, not the essence which is generated from the Father (John Calvin, Francis Turrettin, and most Reformed theologians). 3.) There is no generation of persons within the Godhead; the Logos became the Son at the incarnation (Oliver Buswell, Walter Martin, early writings of John MacArthur). 4.) The Godhead is one person, and within the being of this one person there are three personal subsistences (Cornelius Van Til). 5.) The Trinity is not composed of persons in the modern sense (i.e. three distinct centers of conscious personal beings), but rather of three modes of existence (Donald Bloesch). 6.) Social Trinitarianism (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Millard Erickson, Edward Wierenga).
 I don't take a dogmatic stand on any one Trinitarian view. However, I find #2 (maybe in conjunction with #4) attractive. It's the default position I defend and tentatively/provisionally hold to for the sake of argument and because it seems better in 1. affirming the unity of God, 2. affirming the plurality of God, 3. affirming the full deity of the Son and Holy Spirit, 4. preserving the genuine and eternal generation/filiation of the Son and the procession/spiration of the Holy Spirit. It also goes without saying that if the New Testament contradicts Trinitarian theories, it may depend on which Trinitarian theory. One or more may survive Dale's criticisms.
In any case, one can’t determine what is true by taking a vote. Truth may be unpopular. But also, it can be popular. So, who is right?
Agreed. We don't want to commit the argumentum ad populum fallacy. Nevertheless, it is interesting that the most successful forms of Christianity have been Trinitarian. I'm including Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy even though as a Protestant I have serious problems with both communions (doctrinally, historically, regarding persecution and abuse of political power etc.). Trinitarians have been the most successful in missions and evangelism. Trinitarians have always been at the forefront of apologetics (ever since Constantinople I in 381 A.D.). Trinitarians have always had the best believing (as opposed to unbelieving/liberal) Biblical scholars who are also the most familiar with the Biblical languages. Trinitarians have had the best seminaries and divinity schools. Trinitarians have had the most effective charities helping the needy in Jesus' Name in fulfillment of Matt. 25:31-40. Also, my subjective sense of history is that Trinitarian Christians have had the most miracles as well (see my blogposts at Charismata Matters like Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, and Here). The greatest and best devotional literature seem to have come from Trinitarians.  And finally, the holiest Christians in church history (that I'm aware of) have mostly been (self-consciously) Trinitarian.  It's almost as if the providential Blessing of God is upon Trinitarianism. I suspect it is.
I propose that the following clear arguments provide a way forward. Which should we accept?
Other Christians besides myself would be better able to deal with the deductive logic of your argument. I don't know how to analyze a deductive argument to the degree that a philosopher can. But I'll try to restate your premises in a way that's in keeping with Trinitarianism #2 as I understand it.

T1 The Father is not the Trinity
T2 The Trinity is God.
The Trinity is God in all fulness. This premise might better be phrased as, "God is a Trinity." Though, the premise as is is nevertheless true. Other Trinitarians could better explain this. For simplicity's sake, in this blogpost whenever I refer to the Trinity it is usually with the following basic definition. Three persons eternally and equally share fully the one being of God. That is to say, God is one "What" and three "Whos." Again, by the Trinity I mean there is one being (AKA substance, AKA essence) with three centers of consciousness (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).
Or take this definition by Bruce Ware:

The doctrine of the Trinity affirms that God’s whole and undivided essence belongs equally, eternally, simultaneously, and fully to each of the three Persons of the Godhead, so that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each is fully God while each is his own personal expression, in role and activity, of the one eternal and undivided divine essence. So, there is one God—hence, there is one and only one divine essence that is possessed fully and simultaneously by each of the three Persons—but three Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each is fully God, since each possesses the identically same divine nature, yet each Person is a distinct personal expression of that one and undivided divine essence.
[The source [[or here]] of this quote is questionable and so might contain typos or grammar which Bruce Ware would take exception to. Since, hypothetically, the ultimate source of this quote might be based on an audio file of Bruce Ware where the listener may have inaccurately typed out Ware's definition and arranged the grammar in a way Ware wouldn't have done so.]
T3 Therefore, the Father is not God.
The Father is not God in all the fullness of God. There is more to God than merely the Father. Since each person of the Godhead fully possesses the entire being of God, what can be said of the being of God can also be said of the persons of God individually. For example, since, the being of God created creation (or possesses all power), each person of the Trinity can be said to be Creator (or can be said to be omnipotent).
T1 The Father is not the Trinity.
U2 The Father is God.
The Father is one of the persons of God who shares the being of God or the divine nature with two other persons (i.e. the Son and the Holy Spirit). The Father is Divine because He is one of the persons of the Trinity. Therefore the Father can be called "God" as Jesus and the Holy Spirit are called God and Lord.
U3 Therefore, The Trinity is not God.
There's much Biblical data supporting plurality in the unity of God. See the following links to my other blogposts.

- Old Testament Passages Implying Plurality in God

- Proving That There Is A Plurality In The Godhead

- Quotes from "Of A Plurality In The Godhead" by John Gill

- All Three Persons of the Trinity Mentioned In Scripture (Directly or Indirectly)

- Regarding Jewish Professor Dr. Sommer's Comments About the Trinity

- The Aaronic Blessing Is Highly Suggestive of the Doctrine of the Trinity

- The Great Mystery; or, How Can Three Be One? [The Trinity in Early Judaism]

“Is” here means numerical identity throughout. If x in this sense “is” y (in logic we write x=y) then x and y are one and the same, numerically one thing, numerically identical, and so x and y can’t ever differ in any way. The order doesn’t matter: it will be true that x=y just in case it is also true that y=x. And if it is false that x=y, then x and y are truly two – those terms name different things. To repeat: every “is” in these arguments is the “is” of identity. This is why we’re dealing with clear arguments. We’re not talking about some less close relation or association.
“God” here names Yahweh, the one true God asserted in the Hebrew scriptures.
Yet, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are repeatedly associated with Yahweh/Jehovah. See, for example, my blog: Identifying Jesus with Yahweh/Jehovah  (revised version). Also my blogs on the Holy Spirit including The Full Deity of the Holy Spirit.
Each argument is valid; in each case, if both premises were to be true, then the conclusion would also be true.
But we can’t consistently accept both arguments as sound. T2 conflicts with U3, and T3 conflicts with U2 (in both cases the pairs are contradictories – pairs such that one must be true and the other false).
So what to do?
Let us start on common ground. All sides should agree to T1. The reason is that if there is a Trinity – however you understand it – it differs from the Father. And so, it (or: he, they) can’t be one and the same thing as the Father, can’t be numerically identical to him. For example, no one thinks that the Father contains three persons (or “persons”), but on any understanding of the Trinity it (he, they) somehow contains or is composed of three persons (“persons”). So trinitarians should agree with T1.
Yes, Trinitarians should agree with T1
Whatever the relation between the Father and the Trinity it is, however close, however mysterious, we know that it can’t be identity, for it is self-evident that one and the same thing can’t differ from itself at one time (or in eternity).
  • Do you think that the Father “is God” in some other sense? (e.g. is wholly composed of the divine nature, possesses the divine essence, is a part of the triune God, is a member of the group of divine persons who collectively are “God”) Fine. Still, you should agree with T1; T1 is consistent with such theories.
  • For their part, unitarian Christians also agree with T1, because they think that the triune God is a hypothesized entity that does not actually exist. But if it did exist, it would differ from the Father, and so couldn’t just be the Father.
But having agreed on premise 1, we’re still stuck.
  • If we accept T2, we’ll conclude that the first argument is sound. (So, we’ll take it as a reason to believe T3.)
  • But if we accept U2, we’ll think the second argument is sound, and so gives us a reason to believe U3 (which, of course, conflicts with T2).
Your blog article title is "How Trinity theories conflict with the New Testament." One can do an internal or an external critique of the Trinity (or both at different times). U3 is a conclusion based on an external critique using anti-Trinitarian definitions of key words in the premises. A consistent internal critique would not lead to U3. Besides, this external critique doesn't take into full consideration what the word "Trinity" entails. That is, how and what Trinitarians  mean by the term, "Trinity."
So far, this has all been easy – just logic, combined with a self-evident truth which everyone knows.
I'm not sure which self-evident truth Dale is referring to.
But now things get a little harder. You must ask: which do I have more reason to believe – T2 or U2?
Trinitarians don't have to choose one or the other. Trinitarians can affirm both consistently without a logical contradiction.
I suggest that a good Christian should ask: WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?). And our best information about that is in the New Testament. Does it explicitly teach either T2 or U2?
Why limit it to explicit statements? This doesn't take into account Progressive Revelation spanning the course of redemptive history nor doctrinal development both during and after Biblical times. Even within the lifetimes of the Apostles there was doctrinal development and it's recorded in the New Testament canon.  For example, the church grew in it's understanding of the Gospel and it's implications with respect to 1. observance of Old Testament ceremonial laws, 2. observance of Old Testament moral laws, 3. relationship between law and grace for salvation, 4. relationship between the Gentiles and the ceremonial law. 5. whether Gentiles could be included into the church and be saved through the Gospel.

This also doesn't take into account the fact that Jesus veiled His 1. message and 2. identity for most of His earthly ministry. That's why He spoke in parables and why (for the most part) He didn't explicitly and publicly proclaim His messiahship (something which Trinitarians, Unitarians, Arians, Semi-Arians...heck even Muslims agree with). How much more would Jesus veil His full deity if He really were fully divine. Jesus only at times hinted at His messiahship and divinity and even less frequently did He explicitly announce them. 

Many of my blogposts provide evidence for the full deity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, even the Gospel of Mark bears strong implicit evidence teaching the full deity of Christ despite the fact that it's likely the earliest of the Gospels written based on even earlier oral traditions.

See my blogpost titled:

Markan Christology

Surely not T2, for the simple reason that the writers of the NT have no concept of a triune or tripersonal God.
 Just as Paul was grappling with the relationship of the law with grace and salvation. Paul didn't have the theological vocabulary and linguistic tools in place to express what he meant in an explicit way such that he wouldn't seem to contradict. Hence, the often noted seeming contradictory attitudes Paul had concerning the law. At times he made the most glowing and positive statements regarding the law (e.g. Rom. 3:31; 7:12, 10; 1 Cor. 7:19) and other times the most negative (Rom. 3:21, 28; 4:14; 7:6; 10:4; Gal. 2:16, 19; 3:10-13; 3:21; 5:4).

Paul states in Rom. 7:10 that the law was unto life. Yet in Gal. 3:21 Paul states that law could not give life. Was Paul contradicting himself? Not if his meaning was understood in each statement.

i. Similarly, irrespective of whether the doctrine of the Trinity is true, it's not formerly contradictory.
ii. There's biblical data supporting (or at least consistent with) Trinitarian theology
iii. The conclusion of U3 doesn't take into full consideration both the Biblical data and the theological concept of what Trinitarianism entails.

If they had such a concept, it’d be easy for them to assign a term, a word or phrase, to express it, like “the Trinity” or “the triune God.” But they have no such term.
Just like Paul didn't have terms like moral law, ceremonial law, civil law, Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, penal substitution, condign merit, congruous merit, prevenient grace, common grace, efficacious grace etc. by which he could approve or disapprove a concept.
At most, they speak in ways which are consistent with the existence of a triune God, and they occasionally speak in ways which kind of suggest such (at least, to some readers). (e.g. Matthew 28:19) If such a doctrine were explicitly taught, then we could just quote the verse. But we can’t. (For a long time, some considered 1 John 5:7 to be the needed verse, but no more; basically all have abandoned it, and rightly so.)
There is a mountain of Biblical evidence pointing toward something like the Trinity that 1 John 5:7 is irrelevant. The doctrine of the Trinity is based the following premises.

P1 There is one God (Jehovah/Yahweh)
P2 The Father is a person
P3 The Son is a person
P4 The Holy Spirit is a person
P5 The Father is Fully Divine
P6 The Son is Fully Divine
P7 The Holy Spirit is Fully Divine
P8 The Father is not the Son or the Holy Spirit
P9 The Son is not the Father or the Holy Spirit
P10 The Holy Spirit is not the Father or the Son
P11 To be Fully Divine is to possess the attributes of God and therefore be God

Each premise can be backed up by multiple Scripture passages. Therefore, something like the Trinity would seem to be true.

So a Trinity theory is going to be, in the best case, a doctrine of inference – one which is not stated by the sources, but which either logically follows from them, or doesn’t logically follow, but best explains them.
The other doctrines (like divine omniscience, immutability etc.) are also inferences to the best explanation. Such abductively derived Biblical doctrines have the greatest explanatory power and explanatory scope. Sometimes the Biblical data is underdeterminative regarding specifics. For example, the Bible clearly teaches God's eternality. But it doesn't provide enough information to conclusively determine whether it's timeless eternality or temporal eternality. We have to do the best with what God has revealed. That was true in the Old Testament (before the revelation of the Son of God even though He existed before creation and was involved in creation); true in the New Testament (as the church was growing in its understanding of the Gospel); and it's true now. Again, we much factor in Progressive Revelation during times of Revelation and Doctrinal Development which occurred both during and after times of Revelation.
Maybe the NT writers are committed to trinitarianism but don’t realize it.
Just like Old Testament believers were committed to a divine Son even though it was progressively revealed to them and they didn't fully understand what that entailed (e.g. Prov. 30:4). The NT writers, Apostles and apostolic church experience of God was triune. They wouldn't have been able to formulate a doctrine of God like modern Trinitarians, but they clearly had a sense of the divinity of each person of the triad. At the very least they were implicitly "Trinitarian." Some would argue they were explicitly Binitarian.
So, you can pick a Trinity theory, and see if it can either be derived from or best explain what is in the Bible. But while you’re doing that, back to our arguments.
Is U2 explicitly taught in the Bible? I think it is, at least once. But before I get to that, I don’t think any NT author thought it needed saying! Rather, it is constantly presupposed by every NT author, and according to all of them, by the Lord Jesus himself.
They all use “Father” (“our Father,” “my Father,” “our Father in Heaven”) as a term for the one God, Yahweh.  
 It's interesting that one of the titles of the Messiah is Everlasting Father (meaning "possessor of eternity", or the divine attribute of eternality). Jesus was willing to call some people His spiritual children. Or at least He sometimes called people "son" and "daughter"
Check all the gospels on this score.
 Again, the Gospels should be read in light of the rest of the New Testament and with the principle of Progressive Revelation in mind. If Jesus rarely acknowledged His messiahship openly/publically/explicitly, how much more would He have been careful in revealing His full divinity. If He hadn't, then His ministry would have been cut short. He would have been stoned to death very early on. The Gospel of John records a few times when Jesus almost was stoned to death for claiming to be God on those rare occasions when He implicitly alluded to it.
And in almost all cases, “God” (“our God,” “my God” etc.) is supposed to refer to this same one. Particularly striking are the greetings in Paul’s letters (all of them, with the possible exception of Colossians) – he sends them blessings from “God our Father” or “our God and Father”, as well as from Jesus.
"As well as from Jesus." Often, Jesus said to be the source of the divine blessing of mercy and grace along with the Father. Why do this if there is not a close association between the God and Jesus? As if they are equally the source of grace and mercy. Almost as if they are equals (whch Trinitarians would agree with).

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the SAME Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the SAME Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the SAME God who empowers them all in everyone.- 1 Cor. 12:4-6

Notice how Paul uses the word "SAME" three times. Once for each person of the triad. Notice too that "gifts" (relating to the Spirit), "service" (relating to the Son) and "activities" (relating to Father God) refer generally to the same thing from different perspectives. See HERE for more on this.

In all these cases, “God” (Greek: “the god”) refers to Yahweh, the one true God of the Old Testament. And that term is being used co-referentially along with “Father” (etc.). This shows that the authors assume that God and the Father are one and the same, numerically one.
But is this same one also also referred to by “Jesus,” “the Lord Jesus,” and such?
No – they all assume that this one who is our God and Father is also the God and Father of Jesus.
 But that's consistent with a Trinitarian understanding of the incarnation. If Christ eternally retains His human nature, then the Father will forever remain Jesus' God from His human perspective. Secondly, there are versions of Trinitarianism which allow for the Father being Jesus' God on account of Jesus' essential and/or personal generation from the unoriginate Father whom some term the fons deitatis/trinitatis. All the while affirming Christ's full deity. If Jesus is truly God's Son, then He must possess all the attributes of the nature of His Father. Therefore He must be God. 

See my blog:

Jesus the True and Proper SON of God

Hence Peter,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  (1 Peter 1:3, ESV)
And John,
… our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3, ESV)
John isn’t being redundant here. (e.g. “I know Barack Obama! And also, I know the guy who was president of the USA in 2011!”) Rather, he’s asserting that Christian have personal relationships with God, and with the Son of God.
Back to U2, sometimes it very close to the surface; I mean, it is clearly asserted, though not explicitly so (it is clearly implied). Look, for example, at John 17:3 (ESV), in which Jesus is praying to God, that is, to the Father (see verse 1):
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
WWJD? According to John he’d affirm U2. And I think we may take the author of the gospel of John to be teaching, asserting that the Father is the one true God here, though he doesn’t assert it in his own voice here.
But there are good reasons to interpret 1 John 5:20 to be teaching Jesus as being "the true God" as well. 

See my blog:

Concerning 1 John 5:20 ( from The Trinity: Evidences and Issues)

The one place I know where it’s explicitly taught that the Father is numerically identical to the one God is in Paul’s discussion of Christians eating food offered to idols. While the peoples of the world believe in various gods and lords,
…yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. (1 Cor 8:6, ESV)
He Paul explicitly asserts that there is exactly one God, namely, the Father. To say this is, in part, to say that God and the Father are numerically one. What would Paul do? Affirm U2.
But 1 Cor. 8:6 should be read in context. The previous verse states,
For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth---as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"--- - 1 Cor. 8:5
 Here Paul seems to make "gods" and "lords" equivalent. He gives no indication that for the pagans their pagan "gods" are higher than their pagan "lords." In light of that, it makes sense that some scholars see Paul applying the Shema as it is found in the Septuagint to both the Father and the Son based on the Greek of 1 Cor. 8:6. When Paul refers to Jesus Christ as "Lord," does he do so to the exclusion of the "Lordship" of the Father? If not, then why assume Paul refers to the Father as God to the exclusion of the Godhood of the Son? Remember that Paul used the words "gods" and "lords" as equivalents when referring to pagan deities. Why assume Paul is saying the Father's Godhood is greater than Jesus's Lordship? Especially when Creatorship is ascribed to both persons here and in other place (e.g. John 1:1-3; Col. 1:15ff; Heb. 1:2). Also, Remember that Col. 1:16c states concerning Christ, "all things were created through him AND FOR HIM." Remember too that Apostles continued the practice of the Septuagint of translating the tetragrammaton as kurios. Which means, whenever Jesus is referred to as "kurios" it may (depending on context) be indentifying Jesus with Jehovah/Yahweh. 

See the many examples I've collected in my blog:

Identifying Jesus with Yahweh/Jehovah

Take it from Jesus, John, and Paul (and the rest of the New Testament authors – check them yourself): U2 is true. And so given that T1 is true, we should accept the second argument as sound. To do this is to be a unitarian Christian. Some such also believe in a Trinity, in the sense that they believe Father, Son, and Spirit to be three cooperating selves, perhaps all in some sense divine – but they hold that the one true God is a member of the Trinity (the Father), not the whole Trinity. So they (e.g. Origen, Irenaeus, Justin, Clarke) believe in a Trinity but not in a triune God (so they are not trinitarians).
True, but there are versions and variations of those types of Unitarianisms. Also, some of them were willing to affirm Christ as being homoousios (see for example, David Waltz's and Drake Shelton's Nicene Monarchism).
Others, like me, would reject this sort of Trinity for various reasons, but in any case, we agree that that our second argument is sound, and that premise T2 is false (making the first argument unsound).
Unfortunately, when it comes to 1 Corinthians 8:6, some readers are confused by the fact that “the Lord” can be used to name the Father, and also Jesus.
Exactly. Just as "God", "the God" (ho theos) and possibly "only true God" is applied to Jesus Christ.
Cf. Rom. 9:5; Heb. 1:8; John 1:1; John 10:28, Matt. 1:23; 1 John 5:20.

See also my blog:

Romans 9:5 and Christ's Full Deity

Regarding John 10:28, Thomas calls Jesus "ho theos" (the God). See more on this HERE. The Greek of Matt. 1:23 has "ho theos" and refers to Christ. That phrase is usually (though not exclusively) reserved for Almighty God in the New Testament. Even the Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Interlinear (1969 and 1985) says, "With us the God."See more on this HERE.

In Paul, when he’s not quoting the OT, it is normally the latter.
But Paul and other NT writers did quote the OT and repeatedly applied passages that use the tetragrammaton, and which clearly referred to the one true God (i.e. Almighty God), to Jesus. Why do that if Jesus isn't fully God? Why would the Apostles and God (who inspired Scripture) do that if they didn't want to imply that very thing? Didn't they know that by so doing they were inviting that interpretation and conclusion? Were they that ignorant of the consequences of their use of terminology, Scripture quotation and application?!?!?
(Nothing strange here; any name, term, or title can be equivocal – that is, can, in different contexts, refer to various beings.)
That's true of titles, but ANY NAME? Really? Even the divine name which has a meaning that alludes to the divine attribute of aseity (self-existence, independence, non-derivation)? Since many scholars believe the tetragrammaton (the divine name YHWH or YHVH) derives from the Hebrew verb "to be" (hayah) and indicates God's utter transcendence as the Source and Ground of all being. Not only are OT passages that originally referred to Jehovah applied to Jesus, but the very unique attributes of Jehovah along with it. For example, Heb. 1:10-12 not only quotes Ps. 102 which has Jehovah as the subject. But Jehovah's attributes of Creatorship, Immutability and Eternality in that passage are also applied to Jesus. Just as full divine worship (by the Father's own command no less) originally reserved to Jehovah is applied to Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:6 quotes/alludes to Ps. 97:7(LXX)/Deut. 32:43).
But note that Paul here is presupposing here in this very sentence that the one God and the one Lord differ in some way. (“from… through whom”)
It's also said of Almighty God that all things are "through him" (dia).

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.- Rom. 11:36
In fact, this might be an allusion to the Triune Nature of Almighty God. It might be objected that Almighty God is said to be "through" (dia) whom all things exist CAUSALLY. Whereas Jesus is "through" whom all things exists INSTRUMENTALLY. In which case, the Greek word "dia" in reference to Jesus implies (or refers to) his inferiority to the Father. However, we have to remember again that Col. 1:16c states concerning Christ, "all things were created through him AND FOR HIM." Creation exists FOR Jesus Christ in a way that seems could only be said if Jesus were fully God as the Father is God. The most natural reading of Heb. 1:3b is that Christ "...upholds the universe by the word of his power." Not that the Father doesn't do so as well. The point being that the author of Hebrews seems to identify Jesus with the God of Genesis chapter one who created by speaking things into existence. Just as John did in John 1:1-3, calling Him the Logos/Word/Reason of God. As well as calling the Word/Logos God (John 1:1c). Though, admittedly, there is a disagreement as to whether the second "theos" in John 1:1 should be translated "God," "a god," or "divine."
So we can be sure that he’s not using the terms “God” and “Lord” co-referentially here; he’s rather assuming them to be non-identical, not numerically one.
As with all the other NT authors, for Paul Jesus and God are one (in will, purpose, and rule) but they’re not the same.
"Not the same" in what sense? Not the same person? Trinitarians would agree. Not the same in nature? Not the same identical nature? But there's evidence and reasons to believe all three persons share the same nature. Though, admittedly, it's more difficult to substantiate that the same nature is the same identical nature. Hence, Nicene Monarchism [NM].

My main criticism of NM boils down to the following. NM doesn't seem to:

1. do justice to the biblical data in favor of the full deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit

2. do justice to the biblical data that God is, in some sense, plural. 

3. do justice to the unity of God.

4. allow believers to know how to relate to Jesus and the Holy Spirit. For example, whether and in what sense one can "worship" Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

The original title of Dale's article was, "How Trinity theories conflict with the New Testament."

I think I've shown:

1. that the New Testament doesn't conflict with one or more Trinitarian formulations.

2. that the New Testament is consistent with one or more Trinitarian formulations.

I also think the links I've provided to my other blogposts show that the Bible points towards something like Trinitarianism and conflicts with various types of Unitarianism.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

James White on the Carmen Christi

James White's Review of the Ehrman/Gathercole Exchange on Unbelievable 

Second Part of James White's Review of the Ehrman/Gathercole Exchange on Unbelievable

James White sermon on the Carmen Christi (Phil. 2:5-11)

Here is the dialogue between Ehrman vs. Gathercole

Directly from the Premier Christian Radio website Part 1 & Part 2

Or on YouTube

Part 1 of 2

Part 2 of 2

Did the Earliest Followers of Jesus Believe in His Deity?
Debate between James White and Shabir Ally

Miscellaneous Speculative and/or Suggestive Arguments In Defense of the Trinity

The following will be ongoing comments. I'll add to this blog as I find little nuggets that suggest the doctrine of the Trinity both in the Old and New Testament. Notice I said "suggest", not "prove." These are meant to be supplementary suggestive and confirmatory evidence. These are NOT the best evidences, and so should not be presented before the better evidences.

Most commentators agree Isa. 14:12-14 (and surrounding verses) have Isaiah likening the arrogance of the King of Babylon to that of Satan's pride which lead to his fall.

12    "How you are fallen from heaven,
        O Day Star, son of Dawn!
    How you are cut down to the ground,
        you who laid the nations low!
13    You said in your heart,
        'I will ascend to heaven;
    above the stars of God

        I will set my throne on high;
    I will sit on the mount of assembly
        in the far reaches of the north;
14    I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
        I will make myself like the Most High.'- Isa. 14:12-14
The Devil or Satan is here described as wanting to take Almighty God's place above the heavens. Satan is not looking to take the place of the highest person below Almighty God. Rather Satan wants to be the Most High God (el elyon). This interpretation is especially highlighted by the Old Testament scholar Michael Heiser. He has pointed out that during Old Testament times gods were the ones who were considered to be those who rode the clouds. Clouds were, in effect, the chariots of the gods. Baal was especially known for being the god who rode the clouds. That's why (according to Heiser) the Jews started to refer to their God (the God of Israel) as the true cloud rider. This designation of their God by Jews is recorded in the Old Testament. In every instance in the canonical Old Testament where a being rides the clouds, it is the one true of God Israel. The only exception is that of the mysterious figure named "the Son of Man" in Dan. 7:13. Heiser has argued that Jesus' allusion to and application of this verse to Himself before the Jewish Council is what caused Him to be condemned to death for blasphemy. Because He was, in essence, claiming to be God. I've argued this in my blog, Markan Christology. So, in the same way that Satan wanted to take Almighty God's place as God by ascending above the heights of the clouds, Jesus actually did so according to Jesus' prediction before the Jewish Council. Beyond the Gospels, there are New Testament epistles that also portray Jesus as above the heavens, and therefore strongly suggest that Jesus is Almighty God (YHWH/Jehovah/Yehovah/Yahweh)
For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.- Heb. 7:26

He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)- Eph. 4:10

This gives new meaning to Jesus' statements the Gospel of John:

He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all.- John 3:31
John Gill in his commentary states regarding John 3:31 and the phrase "above all":

above John, before whom he was preferred, for he was before him; above the prophets of the Old Testament, and even above Moses, the chief of them; yea, above all the angels in heaven, being God over all, blessed for ever: wherefore all glory is to be given him; no honour is to be envied him, or detracted from him.

 See also any standard Christian defense of Christ's deity based on Phil. 2:5-11 (e.g. HERE, HERE). In summary, what Satan tried to take from "below the clouds" and which didn't inherently belong to him, Jesus (already "above the clouds" so to speak; Phil. 2:6-7) was willing to let go of and so received it back again when the Father glorified Him for His obedience (cf. John 17:5; Phil. 2:6-11). Jesus already was God, being "in the form of God" (Phil. 2:6) prior to His incarnation (and during His incarnation, according to Greek grammar).

See also my comments on Mark 14:26 which deals with the connection between Dan. 7:13 and Jesus' claim to be the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven.

Also My blogs:

Romans 9:5 and Christ's Full Deity

In connection with the previous argument it's interesting that while Satan is condemned for trying to ascend above the stars of God (i.e. the angels of God), the author of the book of Hebrews in Heb. 1:6  applies the combined themes of Ps. 97:7 and Deut. 32:43 to Christ so that all of God's angels are to worship Christ. This parallels John 5:23 where John attributes to Jesus the teaching that we are to honor the Son in the same way we ought to honor the Father. What was inappropriate and blasphemous for Satan to attempt to acquire (viz. a position higher than God's angels) is naturally the position Christ is in and we are required to render due honor and worship to Christ that corresponds to that exalted position. Therefore, Christ is truly and fully God.

Psalm 99:8 calls God the "God-Who-Forgives" (NKJV). The Hebrew word there for "forgives/forgiving" is nōsē’ and comes from the verb nāsā’, which means "to lift up, to carry, to bear, to bear away, to convey, to remove to a distance, to forgive". Literally ’ēl nōsē’ means "God forgiving" and is translated variously as "a God who forgave/forgives" or "a forgiving God" (ESV). The Hebrew word nāsā is the word "bear" in Lev. 16:22.

The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness.- Lev. 16:22
 It is the same word used in Isa. 53:11 where the Messiah (Jesus) was to "bear" the iniquities of sinners. Jesus' atonement being the fulfillment of Lev. 16:22.

Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
    by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
        make many to be accounted righteous,
        and he shall bear their iniquities.- Isa. 53:11
If we put this all together, Ps. 99:8 may be a prophetic remez (hint) indicating that God Himself will bear the sins (and its punishment) of His people upon Himself in the person of Jesus. If so, then that would imply that Jesus is Jehovah/YHWH God.

Similar to the above argument, is the argument made by some which may or may not actually work. I'm not sure since I'm not a Hebrew scholar. But many have argued that Gen. 22:8 is actually a remez (hint) that God Himself with be the Lamb that God provides for ultimate atonement.

HERE'S ONE ARTCLE that argues for this. The article is from a King James Only website. I disagree with KJV Onlyism, but that doesn't entail that all their arguments are bad.

(KJV)  And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
(ASV)  And Abraham said, God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt-offering, my son. So they went both of them together.

(JPS)  And Abraham said: 'God will provide Himself the lamb for a burnt-offering, my son.' So they went both of them together.
(MKJV)  And Abraham said, My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering. So they both went together.

(RV)  And Abraham said, God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son: so they went both of them together.

In the New Testament there are various passages that teach that Christ is in believers. That would suggest that Jesus is fully God since that would imply omnipresence. Moreover, Christians are called temples of the Holy Spirit. This argues for the fully deity of the Holy Spirit (as I argued HERE). Moreover, in John 14:23 Jesus says that if anyone loves Him and keeps His word, both He (Jesus) and the Father will come to him and make their home with (or in) him. If the the Father is God and can make His home with a believer, then it isn't a stretch to conclude that both Jesus and the Holy Spirit is God because they can make their home with or in the believer as well.

But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.- Rom. 8:10

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?---unless indeed you fail to meet the test!- 2 Cor. 13:5

 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.- Gal. 2:20

 Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.- John 14:23

cf. Gal 4:6; Rom. 8:9; Phil. 1:19

Jesus is the the antitype of the type that Melchizedek portrayed whom the author of Hebrews described as, "having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever" (Heb. 7:3) Clearly this verse is teaching Jesus is eternal, without beginning or end. But it's not the only place since the author describes Jesus by applying an Old Testament passage about Jehovah/Yahweh's eternality to Christ.

10    And,
    "You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
        and the heavens are the work of your hands;
11    they will perish, but you remain;
        they will all wear out like a garment,
12    like a robe you will roll them up,
        like a garment they will be changed.
    But you are the same,
        and your years will have no end."- Heb. 1:10-12 [Quoting Psalm 102:25-27]
Then the author finishes his book by stating that Jesus Christ is "the same yesterday, today and forever" (Heb. 13:8). The author of Hebrews also describes Christ as having an "indestructible life" in Heb. 7:16. Something which more aptly describes or fits Christ having God's very nature rather than a nature fitting an Arian or Semi-Arian Christology.

1 Tim. 2:5 has perennially been used to argue against the full deity of Christ.

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.- 1 Tim. 2:5-6

However, this doesn't necessarily pose too much of a problem for Trinitarianism for at least two reasons. 1. It's precisely because Jesus is both God and man that He can mediate between the two parties. If Jesus' humanity qualifies Him for representing humanity to God, then His divinity qualifies Him to represent God to man. 2. The name Christ Jesus literally means, "anointed one Jehovah's salvation." The name "Jesus" or "ιησους" in Greek is of Hebrew origin. In Hebrew it is "Yeshua," which itself is a contracted form of "Yehoshua," which is itself a combination of two words, "Yehovah" and "Yoshia" to mean, "Yehovah Saves." Jesus' very name implies He is Himself "Yehovah/Jehovah." Which means His name indicates He is God. Therefore, 1 Tim. 2:5 need not be interpreted to affirm Christ's humanity to the exclusion of His divinity.

In various books and websites Chuck Missler has presented an argument where he claims the names of the genealogy from Adam to Noah present the Gospel in a hidden form in the Old Testament. Here's a link to one of the websites:

A Hidden Message: The Gospel in Genesis by Chuck Missler

Here's a link to a video version of the argument. Click HERE. [summary version HERE]

Missler also points out that the ten names are also attributes of the Messiah (click HERE for the cued video).

IF, I say again, IF Missler's claim is true and it does present the Gospel in hidden form, then it would be evidence for the full deity of Christ since He is being referred to as "the Praised God" or "the Blessed God." That's a common description of the one true God in the Old Testament (Hebrew, but especially the famous Greek translation named the Septuagint). It's so well known as a description of the one true God that that's precisely why many Unitarians do their very best to argue against Jesus being referred to as "the Blessed God" in Romans 9:5. Though, I do think Rom. 9:5 does present Jesus as the "Blessed God" and therefore as the one true God (i.e. full deity).

See these links discussing Romans 9:5:

Romans 9:5 Research By Gary F. Zeolla
Part ONE,  Part TWO

Jesus Christ – He who is over all, God blessed forever! by Sam Shamoun
Part ONE, Part TWO 

Christ's Divinity in Romans 9:5 by Jeremy Pierce

An Examination of Romans 9:5

Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus by Murray J. Harris (pages 143-172)

Here are some quotes that I copied from The Trinity: Evidence and Issues
Canon Liddon in his Bampton lectures at Oxford University said that a doxology to Christ as God "is the natural sense of the passage. If the passage occurred in a profane author and its essence and structure alone had to be considered, few critics would think of overlooking the antithesis between [Greek which I, AP, am guessing should be transliterated as 'ho Christos to kata sarka'] and [Greek: 'theos eulogetos']. Still less possible would it be to destroy this antithesis outright, and to impoverish the climax of the whole passage, by cutting off the doxology from the clause which precedes it, and so erecting it into an independent ascription of praise to God the Father."
Hendriksen wrote:
"This item serves as a fitting climax. From them, that is, from the Israelites (see verse 4) Christ derived his human nature. He was and is a Jew. What a source of intense satisfaction and rejoicing this should be for Jews! The apostle hastens to add that although Jesus is indeed a Jew, he is also much more than a Jew. Though he has a human nature, he also has a divine nature. He is God! It should be clear that when Paul says, 'Christ, who is over all God blest forever,' he confesses Christ's deity."

A.T Robertson wrote in his Word Studies
"A clear statement of the deity of christ following the remark about his humanity. This is the natural and the obvious way of punctuating the sentence. To make a full stop after sarka (or colon) and start a new sentence for the doxology is very abrupt and awkward. See Acts 20:28 and Titus 2:13 for Paul's use of theos applied to Jesus Christ."

Charles Hodge wrote:
"The relative who must agree with the nearest antecedent. There is no other subject in the context sufficiently prominent to make a departure from this ordinary rule, in this case, even plausible."

Deal Alford wrote:
"The the only one admissible by the rules of grammar and arrangement."

Raymond Brown wrote:
"...This interpretation would mean that Paul calls Jesus God. From a grammatical viewpoint this is clearly the best reading, [sic] Also, the contextual sequence is excellent; for having spoken of Jesus' descent according to the flesh, Paul now emphasizes his position as God."

Lenski wrote:
"Christ is over all, i.e., the supreme Lord. This apposition is complete in itself. If no more were added, this apposition makes Christ God, for we have yet to hear of one who is 'over all' and is not God."

Robert Haldane wrote:
"The awful blindness and obstinacy of Arians and Socinians in their explanations, or rather perversions, of the Word of God, are in nothing more obvious than in their attempts to evade the meaning of this celebrated testimony to the Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ. They often shelter themselves under various readings; but here they have no tenable ground for an evasion of this kind. Yet, strange to say, some of them have, without the authority of manuscripts, alter the original, in order that it may suit their purpose. there is no difficulty in the words - no intricacy in the construction; yet, by a forced construction and an unnatural punctuation, they have endeavored to turn away this testimony from its obvious import. Contrary to the genius and idiom of the Greek - contrary to all the usual rules of interpreting language, as had often been incontrovertibly shown - they substitute 'God be blessed'...Such tortuous explanations are not only rejected by a sound interpretation of the original, but manifest themselves to be unnatural, even to the most illiterate who exercises an unprejudiced judgment."

Quotes taken from pages 332-335 of Robert Morey's The Trinity: Evidence and Issues. I'm too lazy to type out all the sources. So, if you want the sources, get a copy of Morey's book.

3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.- 2 Thess. 2:3-4
If this passages refers to the anti-Christ, and if the the term anti-Christ means in the place or stead of Christ, then the fact that the anti-Christ falsely claims to be Almighty God in the temple of God, would imply that Jesus the true Christ is Himself the true God. Since the anti-Christ is a counterfeit to the true. I place this argument in this blog because it is a speculative argument. Since, this passage may not be referring to "the" anti-Christ. Since, the term isn't used here but in 1 John where it refers to many anti-Christs. Therefore, there may not be a single person who is the epitome of the anti-Christ spirit. But it would make sense that someone described as "the man of lawlessness" and who enters the "temple of God" (either referring to the Jewish temple building or to the Church) would be "an" if not "the" anti-Christ.

What makes Christ the perfect mediator or "go-between" is that Christ shares the nature of both humanity and divinity. It's also why Christ was the perfect atonement. By being human, Christ was able to redeem human beings with a human nature. By being God, possessing the same nature as God the Father, He could pay the price of sin on account of the infinite value of His life. Something which could not be true of finite creatures (man or angel).

5    The Lord is at Your right hand;
    He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.- Ps. 110:5 NASB

5    The Lord is at Your right hand;
    He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath.- Ps. 110:5 NKJV

Both the NASB and the NKJV capitalize the "y" in "Your" to indicate that the pronoun refers to Almighty God. Yet the underlying Hebrew word for "Lord" is "adonai" (which is only used of the one true Lord, Almighty God Himself). This might suggest two divine persons are being described here.

John Gill states in his commentary regarding this verse:

These words are either directed to Christ, at whose right hand the Lord was to help and assist him, Psa_16:8 or to the church, consisting of the Lord's willing people, at whose right hand he is to save them; is ready to help them, and is a present help to them in time of need, Psa_109:31 or rather to Jehovah the Father, at whose right hand the "Adonai", or Lord, even David's Lord, and every believer's Lord, is, as in Psa_110:1, and who is spoken of in all the following clauses; and to whom the things mentioned are ascribed...

Though, this is not the only possible interpretation as the NET Bible points out in a footnote on this verse:

As pointed in the Hebrew text, this title refers to God (many medieval Hebrew mss read יְהוָה, yehveh, “Lord” here). The present translation assumes that the psalmist here addresses the Lord as he celebrates what the king is able to accomplish while positioned at God’s “right hand.” According to this view the king is the subject of the third person verb forms in vv. 5b-7. (2) Another option is to understand the king as the addressee (as in vv. 2-3). In this case “the Lord” is the subject of the third person verbs throughout vv. 5-7 and is depicted as a warrior in a very anthropomorphic manner. In this case the Lord is pictured as being at the psalmist’s right hand (just the opposite of v. 1). See Pss 16:8; 121:5. (3) A third option is to revocalize אֲדֹנָי (’adonay, “Lord”) as אֲדֹנִי (’adoniy, “my lord”; see v. 1). In this case one may translate, “My lord, at his [God’s] right hand, strikes down.” In this case the king is the subject of the third person verbs in vv. 5b-7.
It should also be pointed out that the second "Lord" in the famous first verse of this chapter (which the New Testament quotes repeatedly) could be pointed as "adoni" or "adonai". The vowel pointings we have received from the Masoretes are a standardization that goes back only to after the beginning of Christian era. Depending on the passage, we don't know for certain which pointings ante-date the beginning of the Christian era. Often we can only infer pointings based on the interpretations of other Rabbinic literature. Which themselves are often a compilation of teachings/saying with uncertain dates of origin (sometimes ante-dating and other times post-dating the coming of Christ). Therefore, "adoni" is not necessarily the only and correct way to interpret the verse.

Psychologically speaking, it's not impossible that some early post Christian Era Jewish scribe(s) intentionally changed the pointing from "adonai" to "adoni", or erased evidence for a dual tradition of both pointings so that only the "adoni" pointing was preserved for posterity. While scholars disagree on what the correct vowel pointing of the tetragrammaton was/is, all agree that the Masoretes tried to hide it out of reverence for the Name. If they were willing to do that with the Divine Name, how much more might they be willing to "correct" and/or eliminate what they (honestly) thought to be an errant vowel pointing tradition? Especially so as not to encourage or lend support to what they considered to be the heretical position of Christianity which elevated the purported Messiah to Deity.

See also Steve Hays' great blogpost:

The Lord said to my Lord

Some Unitarians hold to a position similar to Greg Stafford that rejects not only the full deity of Christ but also Christ's dual nature. If with Stafford they also reject the distinction between 1. person and 2. being (or substance or essence), then that presents a dilemma for them with respect Matt. 1:23 which applies the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 to Christ. The prophecy says the messiah would be called/considered "Immanuel" (which means "God with us"). If Jesus didn't have two natures at once upon incarnation then Jesus ceased to have the nature (or being/essence/substance) of God (or "a god") during the incarnation. In which case Jesus couldn't have been "Immanuel" since God WOULDN'T be "with us." On the other hand, one way they can affirm "(a) god with us" is to say that while Jesus ceased being a god during the incarnation, it was still nevertheless the same PERSON as the god who previously existed with a god-like nature and now has a human nature. The problem is that then they would be conceding a Trinitarian distinction between person and being. Which therefore opens up the possibility of the truth of Trinitarianism which teaches God is one in being and three in person. That is, One WHAT and Three WHOS.

Also, it must be understood that the prophecy was probably not initially understood to mean that Almighty God Himself would take on human nature. Regardless of whether one applies the principle of dual fulfillment regarding Isa. 7:14 or not, the original audience would have interpreted the prophecy to mean that at some future date a human would be born who would represent and inaugurate (in some sense) Almighty God being with "us", that is, His people,  in the sense of being on their side helping and delivering them. The original audience would not have assumed that an elohim that was an inferior supernatural being to Almighty God (but submitted to Almighty God) would be on their side. Therefore, when Matt. 1:23 applies the prophecy to Christ as el or elohim in the flesh, the natural interpretation would be that Matthew intends to teach that the el or elohim who was "with us" wasn't a mere angelic being but God Himself. Moreover, it seems to me the Greek says "ho theos." Which is usually (though not exclusively) reserved for Almighty God in the New Testament. Even the Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Interlinear (1969 and 1985) says, "With us the God."

"He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.- John 3:31
Twice in this verse Jesus said said to be "above all." Being "over all" or "above all" is normally a description reserved for God alone. Therefore, this verse suggests Jesus is fully divine.

For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.- Ps. 47:2

that they may know that you alone, whose name is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth.- Ps. 83:18

The LORD is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples.- Ps. 99:2

The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.- Ps. 103:19

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.- John 3:36

that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.- John 5:23

"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.- John 14:1
In these three verses in the Gospel of John we are taught to believe, obey, and honor Jesus in ways that would seem should and could only be appropriately given to true Deity. Therefore, these verses suggest Jesus is fully and truly God. What creature, no matter how highly exalted, could command, demand or deserve the same belief/trust, obedience and honor as God? None. Therefore, Jesus is fully God (as many other parts of the Gospel of John teach).

 So Abraham called the name of that place, "The LORD will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided."- Gen. 22:14

 While reading Genesis chapter 22 in the ESV I noticed that the translator's footnote for verse 14 states the ending could be translated "he will be seen." I thought that might suggest the manifestation of Jehovah as Christ/Messiah. Since, this episode of Abraham sacrificing Isaac is recognized by all to be a type of the antitype of God the Father's sacrifice of His only Son the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. So, I decided to read some commentaries. Here is what two say.

Jehovah - jireh - יהוה יראה  Yehovah-yireh, literally interpreted in the margin, The Lord will see; that is, God will take care that every thing shall be done that is necessary for the comfort and support of them who trust in him: hence the words are usually translated, The Lord will provide; so our translators, Gen_22:8, אלהים יראה  Elohim yireh, God will provide; because his eye ever affects his heart, and the wants he sees his hand is ever ready to supply. But all this seems to have been done under a Divine Impulse, and the words to have been spoken prophetically; hence Houbigant and some others render the words thus: Dominus videbitur, the Lord shall be seen; and this translation the following clause seems to require, As it is said to this day, בהר יהוה יראה  behar Yehovah yeraeh, On This Mount The Lord Shall Be Seen. From this it appears that the sacrifice offered by Abraham was understood to be a representative one, and a tradition was kept up that Jehovah should be seen in a sacrificial way on this mount. And this renders the opinion stated on Gen_22:1 more than probable, viz., that Abraham offered Isaac on that very mountain on which, in the fullness of time, Jesus suffered. See Bishop Warburton.- Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

"And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh,...." Which may be rendered either "the Lord hath seen", as the Septuagint, or "has provided", the future being put for the past, as Abendana observes, and so it is called, in answer to what Abraham had said, Gen_22:8; "God will provide": now he had provided, and, as a memorial of it, gives the place this name; or "he will see or provide" (m); as he has provided for me, so he will for all those that trust in him; as he has provided a ram in the room of Isaac, so he has provided, and will send his only Son in the fulness of time to be a sacrifice for the sins of his people:

"as it is said to this day, in the mount of the Lord it shall be seen"; from this time to the times of Moses, and so on in after ages, even until now, it has been used as a proverbial saying, that as God appeared to Abraham, and for his son, in the mount, just as he was going to sacrifice him, and delivered him, so the Lord will appear for his people in all ages, in a time of difficulty and distress, and when at the utmost extremity, who call upon him, and trust in him. This may also refer to the presence of God in this mount, when the temple should be built on it, as it was, 2Ch_3:1; and to the appearance of Christ in it, who was often seen here: some choose to render the words, "in the mount the Lord shall be seen" (n); "God manifest in the flesh", 1Ti_3:16, the "Immanuel", "God with us", Mat_1:23, who was frequently in the temple built on this mount, and often seen there in his state of humiliation on earth.
(m) יהוה יראה "Dominus videbit", V. L. Montanus, Drusius, Schmidt; "Dominus providebit", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (n) בהר יהוה יראה "in monte Dominus videbitur", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version. -
John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.- Matt. 1:20

And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy---the Son of God.- Luke 1:35
 These verses suggest the true personality of the Holy Spirit since in Jewish thought only persons can be the agency of conception. And the fact remains that every other kind of spirit (e.g. angelic, demonic, Divine) is personal. It's true that the same words for spirit (ruach in Hebrew and pneuma in Greek) is also used to refer to the wind or air. However, the context determines whether it refers to physical wind or a supernatural person. Clearly the Holy Spirit isn't a physical gust of wind. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is a person. Especially since the Holy Spirit possesses all the attributes of persons (as I've shown HERE).

Also, if the "sons of God" in Genesis 6 were fallen angels (which is one possible, not to mention ancient interpretation), then their ability to conceive children supports the idea that only persons can do so. Hence, the Holy Spirit is a person.

12    Since we have such a hope, we are very bold,13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end.14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts.16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.- 2 Cor 3:12-16

If the "Lord" in verse 16 is the Lord Jesus Christ, then that would suggest the full deity of Christ because it seems to echo (however faintly) Isa. 45:22 which states, ""Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other." Remember too that the very next verse, Isa. 45:23 is a passage in about Jehovah that's applied to Christ in Philippians chapter 2.

Some Trinitarians are offended by the following analogies to the Trinity, but I myself think they are helpful. One view of the Trinity sees each person as a "center of consciousness." Assuming this version for the sake of argument, then the Trinity could be analogous to a human being with multiple personality disorder or to the mythical dog of the underworld Cerberus. In both cases there is one being but three centers of consciousness.

Cerberus was often described as having multiple heads (often 3). Each head had it's own center of consciousness. Each consciousness could be said to be Cerberus. Yet, at the same time each consciousness is distinct/different from the other two consciousnesses. Similarly, each person of the Trinity is fully God, even though each person is not the other two persons, yet there is only one God not three Gods.

12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him---A THREEFOLD CORD IS NOT QUICKLY BROKEN.- Eccl. 4:12 (see verses 9-12)

Ecclesiastes 4:12 may or may not be a remez regarding the Trinity. Even assuming it isn't, the verse can illustrate the Trinity in some sense.

T1 The First-Cord is not the Three-Fold-Cord

T2 The Three-Fold-Cord is Cord

Is the First-Cord Cord or not? Yes and no. On the one hand, the First-Cord is Cord in it's own right. Yet, on the other hand (and in another sense) the First-Cord is not Cord in the sense of being the Three-Fold-Cord. The Same is true of the Second-Cord and the Third-Cord.

Similarly, the Trinity is God, and the Father is God even though the Father is not the Trinity, or the Son or the Holy Spirit.

The three incomparable parables of our Lord - The Lost Son, The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin (Luke 15), fittingly illustrate the work of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit in man's redemption. - Herbert Lockyer, All the Divine Names and Titles in the Bible, p. 310

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Spirit of Jesus

In a previous blogpost where I listed the many references to the Spirit of Jehovah/Yahweh in the Old Testament I wrote the following:

It should be noted that with all the references to the Spirit of Jehovah/Yahweh in the Old Testament, that the New Testament references to the "Spirit of Christ" or the "Spirit of Jesus" or the "Spirit of his [i.e. the Father's] Son" implies that Jesus is also fully God since we find Jesus having a Spirit and that Spirit performing the same type of functions as Jehovah's Spirit, emulates Jehovah Himself. Hence, it's no stretch to conclude that 1. Jesus is equal to the Father in divinity, and 2. the Spirit of the Father is the same Spirit of the Son (cf. Romans 8:9). Here are some of those New Testament passages using the American Standard Version of 1901.

New Testament References to the Spirit of Christ/Jesus


16:7  and when they were come over against Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia; and the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not;


8:9  But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. But if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.


4:6  And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father.


1:19  For I know that this shall turn out to my salvation, through your supplication and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

1 Peter

1:11  searching what [time] or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did point unto, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow them.

These passages (especially in light of Rom. 8:9) supports the essential and substantial unity of the three persons of the Trinity. By "essential" and "substantial" I mean to use the terms literally. That is, that all three persons share the one essence or substance or being or nature of God (i.e. consubstantiality).