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.


  1. First part of my response is here: Four more (!) parts coming in the next four days.

    I have a lot of other writing to do, so I may not be super-fast to reply over there, but I will try.

    Thanks for the good, respectful arguing, Annoyed - if that is your real name. :-)

    1. I didn't see your comment until Aug. 7th. I'm taking a look at your response now.

      I have a lot of other writing to do, so I may not be super-fast to reply over there, but I will try.

      Responding to me shouldn't be a priority. Like I said, I'm a minor character in the theological dialogue. Nevertheless, I do appreciate your responses.

      My real first name is James.

    2. In one of Dale blogs I posted the following:

      ......I'm going to eventually address all 5 parts of your response to my Rebuttal. It may take a month to do because I'm busy and I don't want to rush a response (that I'll regret) which I'll have to constantly revise and update. Again, no obligation on your part to respond.