January 14, 2010

More On the Deity of Jesus

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93 Comments
  1. Hey folks – Shabbat Shalom everybody!! This might be a bit off topic, but I hope I can still share it here: Michael Rood here in Germany – Michael Rood on the Loose!!!

    http://www.michaelroodministries.com/children_verboten.htm

    Isn’t this just beautiful – I LOVE it!!!

    This dear brother has started to do a great job here in Germany, and we are more than thankful for it!!! What has that now to do with the deity of Christ? Well, we also try to glorify Christ here in Germany.

    Again, have a blessed Shabbat everybody!!

    Erika

  2. So Erika….I’m trying to follow your thinking. So the writer of Hebrews says that God has spoken through the Son in these last days but not in times past, and this doesn’t deter you from saying that (the non-human) Yeshua spoke to Moses from the burning bush?
    What in the world would possess you to have such a crazy idea ?

    When I asked you about Moses knowing God in a pluralistic way, you said He is not plurality, but complex unity…..like in the burning bush.
    I find it interesting that God said in Exodus 23:20-21 that He is sending an angel (messenger). This angel is clearly not literally God himself. God said His Name is in the angel. I hope you don’t think that God’s “complex unity” includes this angel…
    If the burning bush episode was indeed an angel (a messenger) and not the pre-existent Yeshua, what else do you have to show for the complex unity of God ?
    From the Torah, if you asked Moses, “Is God Himself a complex unity or one person(ality) ?” What do you think he would say ?

    I wonder if God just laughs while man tries to figure Him out after He has clearly told us “Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one” If God had only used ‘yachad’ instead of ‘echad’, this complex unity idea could almost be believable (it would also help to change a few thousand singular personal pronouns)

    A rose is a rose by any other name

    Adultery…… romantic affair
    Homosexuality….. alternative lifestyle
    Socialism ……. universal health care
    Idolatry ……… complex unity

    Paul writes in Romans 11 that the Jews should be provoked to jealousy by the Gentile believers.
    I assure you, Jews that are remotely Torah observant are not, nor ever will be jealous of Gentiles that claim God = God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

  3. Rich,

    Just a quick word to encourage you to state your views with a bit more grace (like not calling someone else’s ideas “crazy”), OK? (I haven’t been following the thread, so if others are also lacking in graciousness in their interactions, then this applies to them too.)

    Also, just FYI, I personally know of ultra-Orthodox Jews who have come to faith in Yeshua to whom God’s triunity was supernaturally revealed and who felt that this opened up key spiritual concepts to them, especially those who came from Hasidic backgrounds. So, your last point is simply not true.

  4. Dr. Brown,

    I personally know of ultra-Orthodox Jews who have come to faith in Yeshua to whom God’s triunity was supernaturally revealed and who felt that this opened up key spiritual concepts to them…

    I think caution should be adopted when it comes to “supernaturally revealed” visions etc. The Apostle Paul warns the reader not to “receive a different spirit from the one you received [nor to put up with] a different gospel [cp. Acts 8.12] from the one you accepted…because even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed [anathema]…for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light [2Cor 11.4, 14; Gal 1.8].

    The Apostle John likewise exhorts his reader not to “believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God [since by testing] those who call themselves apostles and are not, [we may find] them to be false” [1John 4.1; Rev 2.2].

    Many a cult and religious dooplegangers have sprang up [as we all well know] claiming Christianity as their herald. I know even of a Muslim who was converted to trinitarianism when he claimed to have had a religious experience where he is said to have encountered a vision similar to that of the Mormon Joseph Smith. A vision which included the “one person” of God the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Yet nowhere do we see this “triune God” in scripture.

    As Christians, founded on Peter’s confession [“the Christ, the Son of God” Mat 16.13-20, and not ‘God the Son’], we should not be afraid to question what we have been taught or whatever personal experience [no matter how vivid and real] we may have had in our lives.

    What meaning, if any, do we give to the explicit commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ?

    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…

    I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? Jn 3.36; 11.25-26 [ESV]

    To “believe” here is not limited to some abstract, “receive Jesus in your heart” illusory moment in church “believe”. It involves knowing, understanding and loving the truth of the gospel of the Kingdom of God, which Jesus preached to his grave and beyond! For in that message lies eternal life in the age to come. A conditional immortality which Jesus of Nazareth has attained to, hence his examplary conduct and teaching should be what all Christians be attaining to.

  5. I just read this on this board:

    The Hebrew bible clearly says that God is not a man.
    Let’s stop creating a messiah in an image from gentile paganism
    .

    Who said God was a man? No Christian I am aware of believes God is a man. What we believe is that the eternal God, the second person of the Trinity took on human flesh. The humanity remains humanity, and the divinity remains divinity when they are united. In fact, that is exactly what the council of Chalcedon said, and that was in 451A.D. You can read it here:

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xi.xiii.html

    And here is the relevant portion:

    This one and the same Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son [of God] must be confessed to be in two natures, unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, inseparably [united], and that without the distinction of natures being taken away by such union, but rather the peculiar property of each nature being preserved and being united in one Person and subsistence, not separated or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son and only-begotten, God the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Prophets of old time have spoken concerning him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ hath taught us, and as the Creed of the Fathers hath delivered to us.

    I do not know of any Church of Chalcedonion orthodoxy that would accept the idea that God is a man. That is simply a strawman. The eternal second person of the Trinity takes on human flesh, and both the humanity and the divinity remain unchanged in their nature. Disagree with that if you want, but please don’t erect strawmen.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  6. So Rich, I’m quite frustrated that you keep insulting me without referring to what I actually wrote. I was more than clear – what else do you want to know? Is it such a mystery that”God has spoken through the human Son in these last days” while before “through him also God made the worlds” – at a time when he was not human?

    And again you say that a personality cannot be complex – very interesting. Even humans have a complex personality – but probably not you.

    Everone knows that these words are not one and the same:

    Adultery…… romantic affair
    Homosexuality….. alternative lifestyle
    Socialism ……. universal health care

    It is very insulting though that you say it would be idolatry to consider that YHWH has a complex personality. Again, even regular human beings are complex – but YHWH can according to your definition only be very plain.

    It seems that it is your only option to insult since you don’t have anymore arguments.

  7. Dr. Brown,

    It follows that the creedal statement “God the Son took on human flesh” means, nothing more or less than, “God became a human being/man”.

  8. “…while at the same time remaining YHWH in heaven” – just to accomplish your sentence Xavier – just like Adam said:

    “This one and the same Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son [of God] must be confessed to be in two natures, unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, inseparably [united], and that without the distinction of natures being taken away by such union, but rather the peculiar property of each nature being preserved and being united in one Person and subsistence, not separated or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son and only-begotten, God the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Prophets of old time have spoken concerning him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ hath taught us, and as the Creed of the Fathers hath delivered to us.”

    Do we really have the right to question this clear message of the Bible, just because it is beyond our own sphere?? This is like trying to put the whole universe into our backpack!

  9. Xavier,

    Dr. Brown,

    It follows that the creedal statement “God the Son took on human flesh” means, nothing more or less than, “God became a human being/man”.

    No it does not. It implies [actually, it asserts] that there was a hypostatic union between the second person of the Trinity [God] and human flesh. It does not imply that something happened to the divine nature [i.e., it became human] when it took on human flesh. The differences between the two natures are preserved when they are united in Chalcedonian orthodoxy. Until you can show how that is somehow logically inconsistent, there is no reason to accept what you are saying.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  10. Erika,

    Please, I beg you, where is this “clear message of the Bible” where it teaches us the “double nature” of the man [anthropos=human being], “the Son of Man” [a title designating a human being], Jesus of Nazareth? You keep quoting to me “Creeds of the Fathers” as if they were scripture, where is your true scriptural support?

    Don’t you realize that if what they say is true, then Jesus really didn’t die for those “who may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God” [Jn 20.31] and not God the Son or a “person” of the triune Godhead?!

    Any system of believe [faith] that is “beyond our own sphere” of understanding, is really no faith at all. Its called “blind faith”!

    Adam,

    The Catholic creedal statements of faith are inconsistent with the textual, biblical evidence at hand. That is why it took almost 400 years and various rewrites and reworkings for it to stick. Creating a slippery slope doctrine from which even trinis like yourseleves find it hard not to slip. You either end up with some type of Modalism when you claim “Jesus is YHWH”, or tritheism. There is no in-between when it comes to this doctrine, it is just untennable.

    As one of its supporters once said:

    Try to Understand It
    and You’ll Lose Your Mind.
    Try to Deny It and You’ll LOSE YOUR SOUL!

    Yet this is what modern biblical scholarship says regarding the doctrine:

    “Because the Trinity is such an important part of later Christian doctrine, it is striking that the term does not appear in the NT. Likewise the developed concept of three coequal partners in the Godhead found in later creedal formulations cannot be clearly detected within the confines of the canon” (Oxford Companion to the Bible, ed. Bruce Metzger, OUP, 1993, p. 782).

    “The word Trinity is not found in the Bible…. It did not find a place formally in the theology of the church until the fourth century” (Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Intervarsity Press, Tyndale House Publishers, 1980, part 3, p. 1).

    The Trinity “is not directly and immediately the Word of God” (New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, Vol. XIV, p. 304).

    “In Scripture there is yet no single term by which the Three Divine Persons are denoted together. The word ‘Trias’ (of which the Latin ‘Trinitas’ is a translation) is first found in Theophilus of Antioch about 180 AD…. Shortly afterwards it appears in its Latin form of ‘Trinitas’ in Tertullian” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912, Vol. 15, p. 47).

    “Hasty conclusions cannot be drawn from usage, for [Tertullian] does not apply the words [which were later applied to Trinitarianism] to Trinitarian theology” (Michael O’Carroll, Trinitas: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Holy Trinity, 1987, p. 208).

    “The New Testament does not contain the developed doctrine of the Trinity” (The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, ed. Colin Brown, Zondervan, 1976, Vol. 2, p. 84).

    “The formulation ‘One God in three Persons’ was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century…. Among the Apostolic Fathers, there had been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality or perspective” (New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, Vol. 14, p. 299).

  11. Xavier, I am with you there is no verse that comes remotely close to suggesting such a thought. Not just that but the scriptures in the ot couldn’t have been more clear that it does not exsist. The verses are yelling at us! Think of it,the jews were the ones that received the torah over a thousand years, why do you think they all rejected the idea of a complex unity? Everything has a reason,lets think mathematically why is it that the jews believe in it and the gentiles dont? There has to be a reason! The probability that by CHANCE the jews do and gentiles dont,is just ridiculous. For example say I tell you,that 20 million people like ice cream and 100 million don’t, in addition,the 20 million are lefties and the 100 million are right handed,woldnt youy say that there MUST be a corollation between the 2?? the odds are staggering. So getting back to our question, Given that both jew and gentile were given the same text why is it that 90 percent of jews dONT believe in it yet millions of gentiles do?? The answer MUST be that jews know how their parents all the way up to sinai,and also since the torah was given to them only, so they know EXACTLY how to interpret their own bible, and nobody else can tell them what their own bible is saying.

  12. Xavier,

    Since you have left the subject of the natures of Christ, and are now on the subject of the Trinity, will you at least agree with me that Christians have never said that God is a man? If you do bring it up again, it will be a total strawman, since you have not addressed what I wrote about it.

    The Catholic creedal statements of faith are inconsistent with the textual, biblical evidence at hand. That is why it took almost 400 years and various rewrites and reworkings for it to stick.

    No, the reason that the official formulations took that long is because of the fact that they were debating how to understand the doctrine on the basis of the text. Read anyone from that time period, especially the writings of Athenasius, and you will find that he quotes scripture all of the time to refute the Arians. The Trinity was always defended and defined on the basis of scripture, and that is why it is pan-canonical.

    You either end up with some type of Modalism when you claim “Jesus is YHWH”, or tritheism. There is no in-between when it comes to this doctrine, it is just untennable..

    Well, since you haven’t proven it, there is not much I can say other than that you are totally wrong. I would ask you to, for example, take the Nicene creed, and show how it “ends up” with either one of these.

    As one of its supporters once said:

    Try to Understand It
    and You’ll Lose Your Mind.
    Try to Deny It and You’ll LOSE YOUR SOUL!

    Understand it in the fullest sense? No, since the Trinity describes the very essence of who God is, it is impossible for our finite minds to fully comprehend the essence of God. However, to understand, and create a consistent doctrine of the Trinity? That is completely possible, and I have seen no evidence from you that this is not the case.

    Yet this is what modern biblical scholarship says regarding the doctrine:

    I find if funny that you would so radically misrepresent the following sources, when I am a student of Old Testament and Semitic Languages here at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and have access to all of the works you cite. Let me go through and demonstrate, sometimes by looking to the next column, or even the next sentence, how these sources have been misrepresented.

    Because the Trinity is such an important part of later Christian doctrine, it is striking that the term does not appear in the NT. Likewise the developed concept of three coequal partners in the Godhead found in later creedal formulations cannot be clearly detected within the confines of the canon” (Oxford Companion to the Bible, ed. Bruce Metzger, OUP, 1993, p. 782).

    Interestingly enough, this article you cite is written by a secular scholar who denies that Matthew 28:19 was said by Jesus. He also denies that John wrote John 21, and, like most liberals, seems to indicate that John came from a much later community. The only way he can get away with saying that the Trinity is much later is by arguing that the Biblical writers developed the argument over the course of several centuries. In other words, he believes that the Bible teaches the Trinity; he just explains away the Biblical evidence by saying that the Biblical evidence reflects many decades and even a century of evolution of the doctrines of Christianity. Far from supporting your view, it actually does great damage to it. For it means that, in order to get the doctrine of the Trinity out of the Bible, you have to break the Bible up into little pieces, and say that the portions that are Trinitarian are later, thus begging the question.

    In fact, notice what Schowalter says in the article itself:

    Later believers systematized the diverse references to God, Jesus, and the Spirit found in the New Testament in order to fight against heretical tendencies of how the three are related.

    As for your next quote:

    “The word Trinity is not found in the Bible…. It did not find a place formally in the theology of the church until the fourth century” (Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Intervarsity Press, Tyndale House Publishers, 1980, part 3, p. 1).

    No one cares about the word “Trinity.” The concepts that there is one God, that the father is called “God,” Jesus is called “God,” the spirit is called “God,” and yet the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct from one another are concepts that are pan canonical. The word “Trinity” is simply referring to those beliefs, namely, that within the one being who is God there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit [From James White’s book, The Forgotten Trinity, p.26].

    Furthermore, if you require the exact word, then, since the Bible does not use the specific word “monotheism,” monotheism must be unbiblical. Since the Bible does not use the specific term “Theism,” then theism must be unbiblical. The term “Trinity” is a word used to describe specific teachings of the Bible, and no one should care that the specific term is not used, any more than they should care that the term “monotheism” is not used.

    The Trinity “is not directly and immediately the Word of God” (New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, Vol. XIV, p. 304).

    That is just simply dishonest. Here is the actual quotation:

    The Pastoral Question. There are few teachers of Trinitarian theology in Roman Catholic seminaries who have not bee badgered at one time or another by the question, “But how does one preach the Trinity?” And if the question is symptomatic of the confusion on the part of the students, perhaps it is no less symptomatic of similar confusion on the part of their professors.

    If “the Trinity” here means Trinitarian theology, the best answer would be that one does not preach it at all-not, it should be added, because the audi4ence is insufficiently prepared, but because the sermon, and especially the Biblical homily, is the place for the word of God, not its theological elaboration. In this strictly pastoral context, and for the far greater part in the catechetical instruction as well, the purpose of theology is to give the preacher’s exposition a pedagogical control, but hardly to supply its content.

    If the Trinity means, however, as more often it will, Trinitarian doctrine, particularly the fundamental dogma “one God in three persons,” what should be said in reply has not always been too clear. The 4th century articulation of the triadic mystery is at least implicitly the word of God, hence part of the Christian credo. On the other hand, it is not, as already seen, directly and immediately the word of God. And today, it is becoming more and more recognized that the direct and immediate word of God, the Biblical message speaking for itself, should be the heart and substance of the communication both in preaching and in catechesis.

    The context is not about Biblical content at all. The author is dealing with preaching the Trinity in the context of a sermon. What is being pointed out is that there is no Biblical text that systematically lays out the doctrine of the Trinity. Hence, how should you preach the doctrine? He answers that you should not, but should simply follow the Biblical text itself, and simply teach the text, and leave theology for other times and places.

    In Scripture there is yet no single term by which the Three Divine Persons are denoted together. The word ‘Trias’ (of which the Latin ‘Trinitas’ is a translation) is first found in Theophilus of Antioch about 180 AD…. Shortly afterwards it appears in its Latin form of ‘Trinitas’ in Tertullian” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912, Vol. 15, p. 47).

    Again, all that is being said here is that there is no one specific word that is used to describe this teaching in scripture. However, what you neglected to quote was the very next column!:

    The evidence from the Gospels culminates in the baptismal commission of Matt., xxviii, 20. It is manifest from the narratives of the Evangelists that Christ only made the great truth known to the twelve step by step. First he taught them to recognize in Himself the Eternal Son of God. When his ministry was drawing to a close, He promised that the Father would send another Divine Person, the Holy Spirit, in His place. Finally, after His resurrection, He revealed the doctrine in explicit terms, bidding them to go and teach all nations, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt., xxviii, 20).

    That is not in a different book. That is not in a different chapter. It is in the next column.

    “Hasty conclusions cannot be drawn from usage, for [Tertullian] does not apply the words [which were later applied to Trinitarianism] to Trinitarian theology” (Michael O’Carroll, Trinitas: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Holy Trinity, 1987, p. 208).

    The very next sentence from the text you quoted reads:

    He had a Stoic background, not the decided forensic ideas Harnack thought.

    The context of this statement is an article about Turtullian. Hence, it only points out that his understanding of “one substance in three persons” must be understood differently, since he was influenced by stoic philosophy. Hence, it has nothing to do with the doctrine of the Trinity as taught in scripture, but is dealing with the fact that Greek Philosophical categories had crept into the church, and, because Turtullian eventually joined the montanists, one cannot be sure if he is, in fact, articulating the orthodox Trinitarian concept.

    “The New Testament does not contain the developed doctrine of the Trinity” (The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, ed. Colin Brown, Zondervan, 1976, Vol. 2, p. 84).

    Again, if you will keep on reading, you will find the following, again on the same page:

    But, the NT does contain the fixed, three-part formula of 2 Cor. 13:13 (EVV 14), in which God, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit are mentioned together (cf. 1 Cor. 12:4 ff.). The Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit occurs only in the baptismal formula in Matt. 28:19.

    Again, we are talking about a “strict, dogmatic assertion” as the author also says on the same page. There, obviously, is no section where Paul uses the term “Trinity,” and then goes on to discuss the doctrine we call the Trinity. However, the NT *does* say that there is one God, that the Father is God, that the Son is God, and that the Holy Spirit is God, and it also tells is that these three are distinct from one another. That is, by very definition, the doctrine of the Trinity.

    “The formulation ‘One God in three Persons’ was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century…. Among the Apostolic Fathers, there had been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality or perspective” (New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, Vol. 14, p. 299).

    Again, if you continue reading, you will find major league problems for your position:

    Not before Tertullian and Origen, early in the century following, had an attempt been made to solve the problem once raised by replying to the double question: in what sense is God one, in what sense three? And even then results had been far from decisive.

    Notice, he is not talking about the idea of God as both one and three, but rather the systematization of that teaching. The question of God as one and three had already been “once raised.” The systematization of the doctrine of the Trinity, in terms of what it specifically meant, was, indeed, something that was clarified in different councils; however, it was always done on the basis of questions that scripture had already raised, and solved on the basis of scripture itself.

    Again, I find this misuse of scholarly sources just wrong. If I were to treat sources here at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School the way you just did, my professors would give me an F, and rightfully so.

    Now, let me ask you to respond to some direct quotations from early church fathers:

    Ignatius of Antioch [d.107A.D.]:

    Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to her who has been blessed in greatness through the fulness of God the Father, ordained before time to be always resulting in permanent glory, unchangeably united and chosen in true passion, by the will of the Father and of Jesus Christ, our God, to the church which is in Ephesus of Asia, worthy of felicitation: abundant greetings in Jesus Christ and in blameless joy [Letter to the Ephesians, section 1]

    …the ancient kingdom was utterly destroyed when God appeared in the likeness of man unto newness of everlasting life [Letter to the Ephesians 19].

    For our God Jesus Christ, being in the Father, is more plainly seen. The work is not of persuasiveness, but Christianity is a thing of might, whenever it is hated by the world [Letter to the Romans 3]

    I glorify Jesus Christ the God who gave to you such wisdom, for I know that you are fully established in immovable faith, just as if you have been nailed to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, both in flesh and in spirit, firmly established in love in the blood of Christ, completely persuaded with reference to our Lord that He is truly of the race of David according to the flesh, but the Son of God according to God’s will and power, truly born from a virgin, having been baptized by John in order to by Him fulfill all righteousness (Smyrneans 1).

    Melito of Sardis [d. 180]:

    He who hung the earth in place is hanged.
    He who fixed the heavens in place is fixed in place. He who made all things fast is made fast on a tree.
    The Sovereign is insulted.
    God is murdered.
    The king of Israel is destroyed by an Israelite hand
    .

    This is the One who made the heavens and the earth, and formed mankind in the beginning,
    The one proclaimed by the Law and the Prophets,
    The One enfleshed in a virgin,
    The One hanged on a tree,
    The One buried in the earth,
    The One raised from the dead, and who went up into the heights of heaven,
    The One sitting at the right hand of the Father,
    The One having authority to Judge and savem
    Through Whom the Father made the things which exist from the beginning of time.
    This One is “the Alpha and the Omega,”
    This One is “the beginning and the end,” the beginning indescribable and the end incomprehensible.
    This one is Christ.
    This one is King.
    ]This One is Jesus.
    This One is the Leader.
    This One is the Lord.
    This One is the One who rose from the dead.
    This One is the One sitting on the right hand of the Father.
    He bears the Father and is borne by the Father.
    “To him be the glory and power forever. Amen.” [Sermon on the Passover]

    I think it would be more profitable to go to the actual sources to study the early church’s view of the Christ, and not to small soundbites taken out of context from scholars.

    Zvi,

    Think of it,the jews were the ones that received the torah over a thousand years, why do you think they all rejected the idea of a complex unity?

    Actually, the statements about God in the Hebrew Bible are notoriously ambiguious [God can be seen, and yet can’t be seen]. We have no doctrinal statement from the time it was written.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  13. Zvi,

    Why not? Your question assumes that we have a consistent theological teaching from Ancient Near Eastern Judaica, and we simply do not. We do have the Hebrew Bible, and it is notoriously ambiguous. Therefore, what evidence do you have that that the Jews who received the Tenach completely rejected the idea of one being in three persons?

    You are missing a fatal problem with your position, and that is that neither Judaism or Christianity are based in the Hebrew Bible alone. Judaism and Christianity are ways of completing the *logic* of the Hebrew Bible, with its ambiguities, destroyed expectations, and shadows. Your question assumes that we have the exact same starting place in understanding these things, and we do not. The reason why the Jews reject the Trinity has more to do with the assumption that Jewish traditions are the outworkings of the logic of the Hebrew Bible, and I totally reject that on the basis of the fact that it is a totally reductionistic way of looking at the data, and that it does not take seriously the conundrums such as the visibility and invisibility of God, or how God could not be a man, and yet have a child born to us who is ‘el gibbor [Isaiah 9:5].

    God Bless,
    Adam

  14. Adam, before getting to the crux of my argument,if you dont believe in oral law, then I challenge you, what does it mean not to work on shabbos?

  15. zvi,

    Adam, before getting to the crux of my argument,if you dont believe in oral law, then I challenge you, what does it mean not to work on shabbos?

    Simple, to stop from the normal, tiring activities of labor. As Jesus said in expounding this law, “The Sabbath was not made for man, but man for the Sabbath” [Mark 2:27]. In other words, the Sabbath was made for man to stop from his normal, daily work that causes him fatigue at the end of the day. Also, and more specifically, we are to emulate the rest that we will experience when we are in the presence of God after we die, as the Sabbath rest is a picture of that very rest we will experience when we are in heaven [Hebrews 4:9-12].

    Keep in mind, it is a whole lot more complicated that the idea that I don’t believe in “oral law.” What oral law is in your system of thought, the New Testament is to my system of thought. I can go to the New Testament where the Sabbath rest is specifically discussed, and get my information from there, whereas you, instead, go to the oral law. I, again, would say that it has problems as even in the New Testament we see that there were downright unusual laws, such as being unable to heal someone on the sabbath, which could be argued is a violation of the sixth commandment. However, rightly or wrongly, the New Testament is to me what the oral law is to you.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  16. Adam,is lighting a fire considered work? Besides how do you know that you’re correct maybe work is even when I dont get tired? who defines how much work is considered a problem? When does the day begin? When does it end? Is moving furniture considered work? Is there any time that it is permited to work? Who decides?How can the nt describe what is considered working what happened before the nt? do you realize that the punishment for not observing shabbos is death? So little detail. Further, what are tefilin? tziztis, lulav,esrog, what is the orlah? why did Daniel pray 3 times a day? why didnt Daniel drink the wine that the king gave him? Without the oral law we are lost.

  17. In Daniel 1 he refuses to eat the bread and wine from the king because it is FORBIDDEN and g-d steps in to help him-tell me where in the torah does it say that you cant eat the bread or wine of a gentile??

  18. In Daniel 6 they tried to find a law that daniel would get caught on that he would disobey them,the only thing they figured they would catch him on was something that was against his religion! what was it? Praying. They decreed that it’s forbidden to pray for 30 days. Tell me where does it say that one must pray every day if not inthe oral law?

  19. Adam,

    “…the reason that the official formulations took that long is because” it is only implied by the [so-called] Church Fathers from scripture. Something we call eisegesis [reading into the text], instead of a proper exegetical study of the text. Why come up with a new set of grammar to explain the supposed doctrine from scripture if it is stated in the scriptures themselves? Does it make any sense to you? It doesn’t to many others.

    The way trinis like you interpret and use scripture does not, and never will, explain the doctrine of the Trinity. That was the whole point of debate amongst the early councils, who by the way were controlled by whatever beliefs the current Roman Emperor had regarding the new faith.

    Adolf Harnack, prince of church historians, in his History of Dogma explains the shift from one understanding of Jesus to a radically different one. He calls this the “displacement or suppression of the historical Christ by the preexisting Christ, that is, the real Christ by the imagined or fictitious Christ.” This happened through dogmatics, that is, the dogmas of the Church. This development he says led to the “triumphant attempt to get rid of the earlier speculation about God and Christ not by going back to the original teachings but a more speculative ‘advance’ — an advance which finally split monotheism and weakened it, and also made Christ unrecognizable by splitting him [i.e. into two ‘natures’]. When the logos Christology [i.e. the idea that Jesus was preexistent as the Son of God] triumphed fully, the condemnation of the teaching of strict monotheism led to the putting in place of the Gnostic two-natures teaching about Christ. This apparent enrichment of Christ amounted to an impoverishment, because it in fact obliterated the complete human personality of Christ. 4th edition, 1909, Vol. I, pp. 703, 704.

    In his What Is Christianity? Harnack wrote:

    Under the influence of dogma…Christ’s appearance in itself, the entrance of a divine being into the world came of necessity to rank as the chief fact, as itself the real redemption.” Harnack says that “with the Greeks this inevitably set an entirely new theory in motion.” It shattered the Messianic idea. With this new view of redemption, that is, the entrance from a preexisting life of a person into the world, “the very existence of the Gospel was threatened by drawing away men’s thoughts and interests into another direction. When we look at the history of dogma, who can deny that that is what happened?(185,186).

    The quotes from the “Church Fathers” only prove my point Adam, the language they used does not reflect in anyway the language of the NT writers. “Our God Jesus Christ”? Where is this “God Christ” in the pen of the Gospel writers?

    Ask yourself, did God get Himself born? Did God die? All the questions this doctrine raises are wholly within the Gnostic, Roman/Greek influenced world of paganism and mystical reasoning. Have you ever asked yourself why the only writings from so-called “Church Fathers” are those of Gentile writers originating from Alexandria and Rome? Where are the Jewish/Christians from Jerusalem for instance? Yet even within them, there is confusion and a swaying back and forth of doctrinal points:

    Origen’s philosophical presuppositions ensure that for him the Son can be divine only in a lesser sense than the Father; the Son is theos (god), but only the Father is autotheos (absolute God, God in Himself). In his treatise on prayer he taught that prayer ought to be addressed only to the Father through the Son. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, OUP, 1990, s.v., Origen, p. 1009.

    The Christian writers of the second and third centuries considered the Logos as the eternal reason of the Father [note: not the eternal Son], but as having at first no distinct existence from eternity; he [the Son of God] received this only when the Father generated him from within his own being and sent him to create the world and rule over the world. The act of generation then was not considered as an eternal and necessary life-act but as one which had a beginning in time, which meant that the Son was not equal to the Father, but subordinate to Him. Irenaeus, Justin, Hippolytus and Methodius share this view called Subordinationism. Michael Schmaus, Dogma, Vol. 3, God and His Christ, Sheed and Ward, 1971, p. 216.

  20. Jerimiah 17verse 22 Do not carry on shabbos, as I have commanded your fathers, carry? when? your fathers? Oh,in the oral law. Checkmate!

  21. Zvi,

    Checkmate! Think about it some more, OK? There are many obvious answers other than oral law (I deal with this in vol. 5).

    Also, Adam and Zvi, haven’t you deviated from the theme of this thread?

  22. Zvi,

    You are totally misunderstanding the problem you are facing. First of all, in terms of actual application to individual situations, the point of the New Testament is that this is not the point of the law at all! Yes, there are things commanded for us to do in the case law, but the reason why the case law is given is to show us the nature and character of God so that we can emulate it in those situations it does not specifically address. The case law presents God’s nature and character, and tells us how he thinks, so that we can learn to think after him.

    In fact, a person who is looking at a specific law for every situation is a person who is just looking to do enough to get by. God demands so much more than that. Does he have commandments? Yes. However, he demands that all of our decisions be made on the basis of who he is as “holy,” since the scriptures say we are to be holy as he is holy. It calls us to repent of the attitude of looking at how we can do just enough to get by, and calls us to be totally committed to thinking his thoughts after him in every situation.

    Again, we are dealing with two different understandings of even the purpose of the law, and its relationship to our behavior.

    In Daniel 1 he refuses to eat the bread and wine from the king because it is FORBIDDEN and g-d steps in to help him-tell me where in the torah does it say that you cant eat the bread or wine of a gentile??

    Actually, it doesn’t say that it is forbidden to eat bread. I would understand it as the more generic “food.” The point is that the gentiles had no concern for the dietary laws of the Jews, and so Daniel refuses to eat or drink with the king in order to be sure that he does not disobey what God has commanded. Again, this is a text that actually supports what I have said, and that is that actions must flow from the heart, not in merely obeying commands to get by. Daniel wanted to make sure he did not defile himself, and so, rather than consult the law on every single food he consumed, he chose to have a vegetarian diet so as to be sure he would not break the law of God.

    In Daniel 6 they tried to find a law that daniel would get caught on that he would disobey them,the only thing they figured they would catch him on was something that was against his religion! what was it? Praying. They decreed that it’s forbidden to pray for 30 days. Tell me where does it say that one must pray every day if not inthe oral law?

    I don’t think the point of the text is to erect some kind of law that says you must pray every day, but rather, as the apostle Paul says, that we are to “pray [customarily] without ceasing” [1 Thessalonians 5:17], The point of the this text in Daniel is that we are to pray as part of our life of faith, and that we should be committed to spending time with God, even if it means our lives.

    Even in the nt picking grain on shabbos was forbidden.

    Actually, that was a tradition of the elders, and the whole point of that passage is to argue that the application of the law, as they had it, was false. Again, it in the tradition of the elders.

    Now, let me ask you how you can justify some of these traditions. How do you justify not taking care of your parents, and, instead, giving up all that you should be giving to your parents, and dedicating it to God according to the qorban rule? How do you justify not healing someone on the Sabbath so as to have a violation of the sixth commandment? How do you justify some of these other traditions from the time of Jesus, such as laws that say that you can only travel a certain number of miles away from your possessions on the Sabbath, but will allow you to go out the day before, and lay out your possessions at the appropriate distance so that you can travel much farther than the distance allowed? These were all traditions of the elders.

    Also, many of the traditions of the elders cannot be traced back before the time of the New Testament. If that is the case, then doesn’t your argument that people could not know the logic of the Hebrew Bible before the New Testament likewise backfire on you?

    This is what happens when you have an attitude of “How much can I do to just get by?” God expects so much more than that. He expects you to think as he thinks in all situations, and to be totally sold out to thinking about doing everything you do according to his nature and character, and for his own glory. If all you have is a bunch of rules, then you miss the whole point of the law. The individual case laws were written in order to show us God’s nature and character, and how that applies to several situations. It shows us how we are to think, and thus, shows us how we can, not only do what is right, but do what is right from the correct motivations, and not just try to get by,

    As I said, you don’t understand that the differences between us are really how the logic of the Hebrew Bible works itself out. You have said it works itself out in the tradition of the elders, and I have said it does so in accordance with the New Testament. I have pointed out that, not only is the tradition of the elders entirely reductionistic, but it is at times contradictory with the Torah itself, and even worse, creates an attitude that is simply rooted in how we can best get by, rather than coming to what right from a mind that thinks God’s thoughts after him.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  23. Dr. Brown,

    Also, Adam and Zvi, haven’t you deviated from the theme of this thread?

    I will gladly drop this line of argumentation, if you believe it is off topic.

    It is just that my professor, Dr. Willem VanGemeren told us that the difference between Jewish and Christian exegesis has to do with the logical outworkings of the Hebrew Bible. I just thought that, if we are going to discuss whether Jesus is spoken of in the Hebrew Bible, and whether he is called God, it just seems like a logically prior question to ask how the logic of the Hebrew Bible is going to be completed.

    However, I will drop it, since you have said it is off topic.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  24. Dr Brown,yes we did get into a bit of a tangent when we began discussing the differences of the traditions between the jewish and christians regarding the trinity and I do apologize for that.

  25. Again Zvi, there is the pashat level of the scritures and also a deeper level. Just because it is not convenient for some Jews to see the real matter of Isaiah 53 does not mean that it doesn’t exist.

    The sod-level is just that: it is hidden. Now don’t tell me that only the Rabbis can understand this hidden level. Yeshua Himself did not believe in the oral law (the tradition of the elders) and that was the only reason he always got into conflict with the pharisees of His time. It was the simple question what has more authority: The Word of YHWH OR the tradition of the elders.

    And just because it is not convenient for some Jews to see the real matter of Isaiah 53 does not mean that they are condemned therefore. So no reason to freak out because of that.

    And if you want to tell me that only the Jewish Rabbis can interpret scriptures correctly just in order to support your point, I must say that this is real arrogance.

    Of course all the scriptures are given to us through the Jewish people, and the Jewish people help us to understand it and also to erase some real errors like the replacement theology for example.

    But don’t expect people to follow you blindly. It is not recommendable at all to follow someone blindly – even if it is a Rabbi.

  26. Hey Adam, not that I want to continue on this off topic theme, but I think you made some really great points concerning the Law of YHWH in your latest response to Zvi !! It is the heart of the Torah that we are to follow, which is Yeshua ! 🙂

  27. Erica,you havent answered my question.
    Adam, I will resond to your claim in the debate with Rabbi shmuley Boteach blog a little later when I get a chance.

  28. But I can also give further examples of the spiritual meaning of “seed” besides Isaiah 53:10

    Psalm 126:6 –> this is not about farming, but about the return to Zion.
    Malachi 2:15
    Isaiah 1:4
    Isaiah 57:4

    Furthermore the New Testament explains the true meaning of the Hebrew term zerah (seed), for example in 2.Cor. 9:10

  29. Adam and Zvi,

    Thanks for your understanding and your desire to stay on topic. Adam, yes, you’re correct that differences in terms of exegetical approach are very telling, but the discussion quickly gets off the topic of Yeshua’s deity, etc., and with all the folks posting here on this important subject, it’s best to limit the discussion here.

    But you can both continue to chat on a Jewish-related thread, as I believe Zvi has done again under the Shmuley-debate thread.

  30. Erica,whenever the verse refers to a human having “zerah” it is always literal.The verses in Malachi and psalms are not speaking of humans,and the verses of isaiah are in fact literal,because the verse doees not =seeds of falsehood-incorrect,look at the previous verse to prove it,the word false is used in the non literal use,and even if it does=seeds of falsehood-again we are not speaking of a human!

  31. In psalms-where are not speaking of a human in regards to having seed like to see his seed,but rather a non literal term intead of planting and cutting but not a contrast to having childres,but to focus on the topic Isaiah 53 reagarding the TRINITY would not be the right place to prove it.

  32. Erica,if you’dlike to cotinue discussing the definition and use of the word zerah or the discussion of Isaiah 53 you can respond in the other thread that Dr.Brown has mentioned.

  33. Zvi, I agree with you that when it speaks of the seed of a human in the Tenach there is always the literals meaning – but in my opinion this is not necessarily the only meaning of it.

    In general I perceive the Torah and Tanach as a parable that reveals a lot of mysteries of YHWH that are helpful concerning our own lives if we listen and learn from them. This means that there is a literals sense, but also an allegorical one. And then even the sod level. I think that it goes a bit too far to exclude certain words from these levels.

    If we look then further into the “New Testament” we see clearly that it relates to the Tanach and takes the Tanach as its foundation with further defining the basics of the Tanach. So for example the “seed” of Abraham is defined in the New Testament as those people who follow in Abraham’s footsteps. This can include both the literal seed, but also people like Ruth (Tenach) or Luke and Cornelius (Brit Hadasha) who leave paganism behind and follow YHWH the God of Israel.

    As you know, there is a lot of debating among Christians themselves what it really looks like to follow YHWH the God of Israel. We do agree though that it is not necessary to convert to Judaism therefor, although it is necessary to dig into the Hebraic roots of the scriptures.

    And we do agree that it is essential to believe in Yeshua as the Messiah. Otherwise the grafting-in process is not effective. I know that Orthodox Jews differ with that, but we have to arrange ourselves with these differences somehow if we think it makes sense to work together.

    I don’t know now exactly how much time I have to respond to further comments, that’s why I responded here. But it was good to talk to you – and have still a great time 🙂

  34. To be a bit more specific about the New Testament definition of the “Seed of Abraham” – you can find it for example in Romans 4:16-17.

  35. WOAH!!!! This seems to be some debate!!!
    From my reading of scripture I think all scripture OT and NT clearly points to a Triune God who is Three persons and yet One. There is no other way to understand Moses’ meeting with God in Exodus 3, no other way to understand how through out Exodus the scripture points to God leading the children of Israel in a cloud of smoke by day and pillar of fire by night and yet at the same time says it was The Angel of YHWH who led them as the pillar of smoke and pillar of fire. There is no other way to understand Judges 13 and Samson’s parent’s meeting with The Messenger of YHWH who they clearly refer to as God! There is no other way to understand Judges 2 or Judges 6 or Genesis 18!! There is no other way to understand Hagar calling the Messenger of YHWH who appeared to her and showed her the well “God” not once by twice! There is no way to understand how the same Messenger appears to Abraham before he was about to sacrifice Isaac and speaks of himself in the first person as God regarding testing Abraham and yet he is called the “messenger of YHWH.” How else do we explain Jacob saying he say God and lived hence the name of the place “peniel.”

    What of Zechariah refering to the Messenger of YHWH as “God” in Zechariah 12? Or Isaiah speaking of a son to be born who would be called Everlasting Father, Mighty God and would have an eternal Kingdom? There is no logical way to see all these passages without stating that from Genesis to Revelation God has revealed Himself consistently in Three persons.

    As for the Messiah being God. Well Malachi clearly speaks of a messenger who would prepare the way for YHWH who would appear as the Messenger of the Covenant! This Messenger of the Covenant is the Messiah. John calls him the Word. Well so does Samuel the prophet! Samuel the prophet in Samuel 3 says the Word of YHWH stood and spoke to Him. Now clearly a being called the Word was speaking to Him as God! So John is not talking about some greek philosophical concept when he speaks of the Word he is speaking about a person who is seen through out scripture and has continually revealed himself to mankind.

    If God could talk to Abraham as a man and share a meal with him and appear to Samson’s parents as a man of awesome appearance, and do so for moments of time. There is nothing to stop him from taking on human form for eternity in order to save mankind. If human souls and spirits can exist within our flesh and yet remain separate in essence from our flesh and bones what is to stop God who is Spirit from putting on human flesh like us? I see a problem with how we see humanity in the first instance and this affects how we see The Messiah.

    However that said I do have issues with the chalcedonian creed. It does not explain for example how the Messiah in his glorified state can have eyes like Fire and a face like shines like the sun and yet have his two natures remain separate. I think yes The Spirit and the flesh are seperate and Jesus reveals this to us when speaking of the conflict that exists within humanity having a willing spirit (in regards to doing God’s work) and weak flesh. That said I also think there are some things that are inexplicable and creeds should not attempt to explain the inexplicable. Because a man with eyes like fire and a face that shines like the sun and yet having flesh and bones is clearly not the norm! And so the nature of God’s glory shining forth from Messiah even through his flesh it would seem is clearly a complex issue!

  36. Replying to Dr. Brown’s post on 1/22…

    We can’t call someone’s ideas ‘crazy’ on this forum? I just thought ‘line of fire’ meant we didn’t have to tiptoe around what we want to say. But okay…. I will keep that in mind….. how about if I say ‘that idea is misguided’ oy vey…

    Also I want to add what Xavier well put to when you said ultra-orthodox Jews had a supernatural revelation of the trinity….
    Since when should our ‘supernatural’ experience be the basis for anything? Isn’t it true that satan disguises himself as an angel of light? Yeshua said quoting the Tanach…. “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”
    Any revelation of who God is that deviates from the God of Israel that Moses knew should be rejected (Deut 13:6-8). Moses clearly knew God as one individual, one person, one being, one mind, one center of consciousness. Yeshua CLEARLY is not that same being. For instance Yeshua said His Father is greater than him; prayed ‘not my will but yours be done’. And now sits at the right hand of the one Yeshua calls his God (Acts 5:31, Rev 3:12). If Yeshua is God, and the Father is God, there absolutely are 2 God’s.

    To Erika from 1/22:

    I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to insult you…..it’s only this idea of God having a ‘complex unity’ that I want to insult. Of course God has a complex personality (Rom 11:34). We were talking about ‘complex unity’. Big difference. I don’t have 3 centers of consciousness and neither does God. He is one being, with one mind, and one Name. (Deut 6:4, Gen 3:15). That Name being used 7800+ times in the Tanach. That Name referenced with thousands of singular personal pronouns.

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