February 9, 2010

The Glorious, Preexistent Son of God (and Catching up on Some News)

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35 Comments
  1. Eric,

    Jesus was not suggesting that we must believe that he is God in order to have our sins forgiven. He told the Jews, “Unless you believe that I am (he), you will die in your sins.” In the context, this clearly means, “unless you believe that I am the Messiah/the light of the world, etc.” Notice, that, the Jews immediatey responded, “who are you?” and Jesus replied,”Just what I have been telling you from the beginning.” Who had Jesus been saying he was from the beginning? The Messiah, God’s Son (not God himself). Compare John 20:31–the very purpose of John’s Gospel.

    Best wishes,

    Patrick Navas

  2. “I am not of this world” is a key part of the verse. Jesus says in John 17:14, “…they are not of the world even as I am not of the world” — “even as” meaning “the same as”. “Not of” means “not from”. The believer is born from above by the Spirit. Also, in John 17:18, Jesus says, “As you have sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” This puts the sending on the horizontal rather than the vertical level. John Baptist was a man “sent from God”. So on balance I would say John 8:24 refers to Jesus as Messiah, ego eimi simply meaning,”If you do not believe that I am the Messiah (which was the big question). The accusation that Jesus was declaring himself to be Deity is not the subject here, as it is in John 10. Even then, we ought not to base our doctrine on any of the Pharisees’ accusations, but rather on Christ’s own claims.

  3. Chuck,

    Im not going to engage in the debate at the moment. I only asked Eric above because I wanted to know where hes coming from. Continue on with the debate on Feb 8 unless someone else would like to engage with you.

  4. Ben KC

    Why, pray tell, ask such a question?

    As to your “advice” [although it didn’t read like it], I thought this was a public [free] forum where people can express and interact differing views.

  5. I recently did a study on the Greek word translated “only begotten” or “one-of-a-kind” [monogenes]. I found that, by definition, the word carries the meaning of one who is created.

    Cambridge Dictionary Online: To be the Father of; to cause.

    Thesaurus: Create; Synonyms: bring about, cause, generate, procreate.

    Oxford Dictionaries: 1. produce (a child). 2. cause.

    Merriam-Webster: 1. to procreate as the father : sire 2. to produce especially as an effect or outgrowth

    MSN Encarta: 1. cause: to be the cause of something 2. father: to be the father of a child.

    Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913): To produce as an effect; to cause to exist. To procreate, as a father or sire; to generate; commonly said of the father.

    Wordsmyth: 1. to generate, esp. to father. Synonyms: procreate, generate. Similar Words: create , breed, produce.  2. to produce or cause. Synonyms: spawn, create, generate, cp. procreate, cause.

    In the case of Jesus, as per the virgin birth narratives [Matthew 1.1, 18-20; Luke 1.30-35, it denotes a human being who was procreated by God.

    1 John 5:18 says “he who was begotten of God”. This is the Son of God who is said to have been created.

    Mat 1:1, 18 relate the genesis or generation, beginning, origin of the Son of God. Mat 1:20 that which was created (gennao) in Mary is as a result of God’s creative Spirit [cp. Lu 1.32-35]. God is the natural Father of Jesus because of the divine way the Son was created. Cp. ginomai, “cause, bring into existence”.

    The NT unpacks the promise according to Psa 2.7, which speaks of the begetting of the Son of God in Mary. A biological miracle that brings into existence the man, Jesus of Nazareth – through his procreation by God, at a specific time in history and existence, and not [as the creeds say] in some mystical time “before all worlds [ages]”.

    Note the following observation by James Dunn that “begetting= a becoming [to come into existence]” in his Christology in the Making, pp 50-51:

    In his birth narrative Luke is more explicit than Matthew in his assertion of Jesus’ divine sonship from birth (1:32, 35 and 2:49). Here again it is sufficiently clear that a virginal conception by divine power without the participation of any man is in view (1:34). But here too it is sufficiently clear that it is a begetting, a becoming, which is in view, the coming into existence of one [the Son of God] who will be called and will in fact be the Son of God — not by the transition of a preexistence being to become the soul of a human baby or the metamorphosis of a divine Being into a human foetus [which is what the Trinitarian perspective inevitably leads to]…

    …Luke’s intention is clearly to describe the creative process of begetting [coming into existence]…Similarly in Acts there is no sign of any Christology of pre-existence. [emphasis added]

  6. Of course Yeshua was created as a human being for the first time when He came to earth – He never had been a human being before during the time when He was with the Father, created the earth and so on. This is for the 1000th time now YHWH’s complex unity, which cannot be put in a box that is grasped by human minds anyway. So why trying to stuff it into our narrow mind, that even is not able to grasp the complex unity of a simple human being??

  7. Chuck

    I dont mean to sound like I was telling you not to debate freely. I meant that I would not engage with you at the moment to debate. Also since Feb 8 looked like it was the forum of where everyone was debating about this topic, I was suggesting for you continue on over there unless someone here wanted to engage with you besides me. Hope that clears the confusion. 🙂

  8. Chuck,

    Could you point us to where in scripture people are either asked or told to believe Jesus is God?/i>

    Don’t understand your question here. If Jesus is called God, accepts worship as God, and has things said of him that could never be said of any mere creature, what difference does it make that people are never asked or told to believe in Jesus as God? Christianity, by its very nature, asks people to believe the Bible, and if the Bible calls Jesus “God,” we must believe that he is God.

    I recently did a study on the Greek word translated “only begotten” or “one-of-a-kind” [monogenes]. I found that, by definition, the word carries the meaning of one who is created.

    Cambridge Dictionary Online: To be the Father of; to cause.

    Thesaurus: Create; Synonyms: bring about, cause, generate, procreate.

    Oxford Dictionaries: 1. produce (a child). 2. cause.

    Merriam-Webster: 1. to procreate as the father : sire 2. to produce especially as an effect or outgrowth

    MSN Encarta: 1. cause: to be the cause of something 2. father: to be the father of a child.

    Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913): To produce as an effect; to cause to exist. To procreate, as a father or sire; to generate; commonly said of the father.

    Wordsmyth: 1. to generate, esp. to father. Synonyms: procreate, generate. Similar Words: create , breed, produce. 2. to produce or cause. Synonyms: spawn, create, generate, cp. procreate, cause.

    In the case of Jesus, as per the virgin birth narratives [Matthew 1.1, 18-20; Luke 1.30-35, it denotes a human being who was procreated by God.

    1 John 5:18 says “he who was begotten of God”. This is the Son of God who is said to have been created.

    Mat 1:1, 18 relate the genesis or generation, beginning, origin of the Son of God. Mat 1:20 that which was created (gennao) in Mary is as a result of God’s creative Spirit [cp. Lu 1.32-35]. God is the natural Father of Jesus because of the divine way the Son was created. Cp. ginomai, “cause, bring into existence”.

    The NT unpacks the promise according to Psa 2.7, which speaks of the begetting of the Son of God in Mary. A biological miracle that brings into existence the man, Jesus of Nazareth – through his procreation by God, at a specific time in history and existence, and not [as the creeds say] in some mystical time “before all worlds [ages]”

    This entire argument is hinging on the idea that monogenes comes from gennao meaning “to beget.” It doesn’t. Rather, it comes from genos meaning “kind, type.” Hence, I would say that it means something like “unique, one of a kind.” All of the passages you have quoted do not contain the term monogenes, but, rather, contain noun and verb forms of gennao. Hence, if it can be shown to not come from gennao, then your argumentation is totally irrelevant.

    For example, take this passage:

    Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son

    Now, how can Ishmael be the only son Abraham ever gave birth to, when the narrative itself tells us that he gave birth to Ishmael?

    Also, what relevance are English dictionaries when we are dealing with Greek words?

    God Bless,
    Adam

  9. Adam

    The point I am making regarding monogenes is that the age old translation of “only begotten” by definition means created. Yet the Catholic-Protestant creeds rework this as “begotten not made [created]”.

    Its funny you disagree with the translation since orthodoxy is the one who has kept it as such for almost 2 millenia. It is only certain scholars and Greek grammarians who are insisting on the alternate reading of “only-one-of-a-kind” or “unique one”.

    I have said nothing regarding it being the root word of gennao.

    The relevance of the English dictionaries would be the same as looking it up in the Koine Greek. The word, as you yourself pointed to in your citation of Heb 11.17 is used for created beings, i.e. sons.

  10. So again – Yeshua being created as a human being is absolutely no argument against His pre-existence as the Son of God.

  11. Chuck,

    I have said nothing regarding it being the root word of gennao.

    But all of the passages you have cited have that root. They do not have the root genos.

    The relevance of the English dictionaries would be the same as looking it up in the Koine Greek.

    Okay, what about the standard lexicon of Bauer-Danker-Arndt, and Gingrich, A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature:

    1. pert. to being the only one of its kind within a specific relationship, one and only, only

    2. pert. to being the only one of its kind or class, unique (in kind)

    or A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains Louw and Nida:

    pertaining to what is unique in the sense of being the only one of the same kind or class – ‘unique, only.’

    or Friberg’s lexicon:

    of what is the only one of its kind of class unique;

    Again, there is a big difference between the way something can come across in an English translation, and the way something comes across in Koine Greek.

    The word, as you yourself pointed to in your citation of Heb 11.17 is used for created beings, i.e. sons.

    As the lexicons point out, though, creation is not essential to its meaning. Whether or not something is created must be determined from the context. For example, God is called “loving” in scripture, but I don’t think that we would ever argue that any person who is loving is God, since being God is not essential to the definition of “loving.”

    God Bless,
    Adam

  12. Adam,

    Again, I am not denying that monogenes can mean “one and only of its kind”. But like I said, for eons the word has been translated as “only begotten” for a reason. As early as Jerome’s Vulgate, this word was understood in the sense of “only begotten” (unigenitus), and the tradition was continued by the Authorized Version.

    That is because by deifnition the word is used to denote sonship by a parent. Which is to say, birth, someone who is produced, created. This is the meaning brought out in every instance of its usage in the Johannine texts (Jn 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 Jn 4:9).

    …there are approximately 120 such words in the Greek vocabulary. Of these, 30% are not listed in Liddell and Scott, but the lexicon’s glosses of 55% contain such words as “born” and “produced.” For example, neogenes is glossed as “newly produced,” and theogenes, “born of God.” A mere 11% involve meanings related to “kind” (e.g., homogenes means “of the same genus”), while the remainder of usages have miscellaneous meanings. The sheer preponderance of the evidence would indicate that monogenes in the Johannine literature could very well mean “only begotten.” At least, it cannot be ruled out on the basis of etymology.[1]

    …Further support may be marshaled from I John 5:18, which, though it does not use the word, shows that John taught that the Son is begotten of God…the fact that the verb gennao is used in this context at least suggests the idea of generation. It also adds credibility to the traditional etymology of monogenes (mono + gennao) by providing at least one text where gennao is used in reference to Christ’s sonship. [Cp. Luke 1:35; Ps. 2:7; Matt. 1:20, 18] The Eternal Generation of the Son, Lee Irons

    Footnotes

    [1][4] Those who use etymological considerations to support their revisionist exegesis would do well to remember that arguments from usage are far more relevant than arguments from etymology. James Barr, The Semantics of Biblical Language (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1961). A comprehensive study of the usage of monogenes supports the traditional translation. John V. Dahms, “The Johannine Use of Monogenes Reconsidered,” New Testament Studies 29 (1983) 222-32.

    Jake,

    Pray tell? 🙂

  13. Dr. Brown, do you think you will ever write a book addressing the divinity of Christ, its scriptural basis, and answers to objections?

  14. Chuck,

    Again, I am not denying that monogenes can mean “one and only of its kind”. But like I said, for eons the word has been translated as “only begotten” for a reason. As early as Jerome’s Vulgate, this word was understood in the sense of “only begotten” (unigenitus), and the tradition was continued by is the Authorized Version.

    This was due to a lack of knowledge of Greek lexicography. The reason why the earlier translations understood the word in the sense of “begotten” is because they made the exact same mistake that I addressed earlier, that is, assuming that monogenes comes from gennao, and not from genos.

    However, what is interesting is that, while they believed that this term did come from gennao, they completely denied this arian concept of begotten, and instead believed that Jesus was *eternally* begotten of the father. In fact, you quoted from the creeds, but you did not quote the part where they said that Jesus was “begotten, not made.”

    This is the meaning brought out in every instance of its usage in the Johannine texts (Jn 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 Jn 4:9).

    Unfortunately, four out of your five usages are in despute. What good does it do you to go to passages where the meaning is disputed to prove the rule?

    there are approximately 120 such words in the Greek vocabulary. Of these, 30% are not listed in Liddell and Scott, but the lexicon’s glosses of 55% contain such words as “born” and “produced.” For example, neogenes is glossed as “newly produced,” and theogenes, “born of God.” A mere 11% involve meanings related to “kind” (e.g., homogenes means “of the same genus”), while the remainder of usages have miscellaneous meanings. The sheer preponderance of the evidence would indicate that monogenes in the Johannine literature could very well mean “only begotten.” At least, it cannot be ruled out on the basis of etymology.[1]

    I think we would do well to remember two things here. First of all, Liddell and Scott is a classical not a Koine Greek lexicon. It has words from Homer, Plato, Aristotle, etc., and thus, it is intensly diachronic. However, New Testament studies is an intensly synchronic field. Hence, one cannot to back to all of these authors in order to demonstrate the meaning of a word, since words change in their meaning.

    Also, one cannot look at percentages to determine meaning. Since you quoted James Barr, you should also know that James Barr taught that lexicography cannot be divorced from semantics. Hence, the percentages are not in dispute. If you allow the entire New Testament to speak, such as Titus 2:13, John 20:28, Hebrews 1, John 12, etc., one would have to say that the 11% is looking really good, expecially since it is used in relation to Isaac in the book of Hebrews. The only way you can get what the liberal scholars say is by ripping the text apart, and assuming that there is no consistency within the text.

    Also, almost every lexicon I could find defines
    unique” as the only meaning the term can have, including the standard Bauer Danker Arndt and Gingrich, which even takes that meaning and applies it to John 1:18 and John 3:16.

    Also, I have been noticing how all of the unitarians on this board like to quote scholars. I have no problems in dealing with the arguments of scholars. However, we need to be thinking critically about what scholars are saying, and not just blindly quoting scholarship as if it somehow means something. Quoting scholars is fine, but making it the substance of your argument is not.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  15. Chuck,

    I needed to correct something I said:

    Unfortunately, four out of your five usages are in despute. What good does it do you to go to passages where the meaning is disputed to prove the rule?

    I thought you were referring to the passage earlier where gennao was used in 1 John, but you were not. Thus, all five usages you point to are in dispute. Again, you cannot go to the disputed texts in order to prove the rule.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  16. Adam

    … they completely denied this arian concept of begotten, and instead believed that Jesus was *eternally* begotten of the father. In fact, you quoted from the creeds, but you did not quote the part where they said that Jesus was “begotten, not made.”

    I guess now we’re onto another creedal subject then. Let me ask you this though, how does this aspect of Catholic-Protestant Christology harmonize with Ps 2.7 and its usage across the NT to explain [it seems to me] “the origin” [cp. Mat 1.1, 18] of the Son of God and his “only-one-of-a-kind” status [cp. Acts 13.33; Heb 1.5; 5.5]?

    …you should also know that James Barr taught that lexicography cannot be divorced from semantics. Hence, the percentages are not in dispute.

    Be that as it may, how about the common sense conclusion that by definition the term monogenes signifies once sonship. Therefore, connotating the inherent understanding of one who comes into existence [birth, generation, etc.] at a specific point in time and not in some “before all time” scenario as the ancient Cahtolic creeds suggest.

    Quoting scholars is fine, but making it the substance of your argument is not.

    We have to be in touch with mainstream bibilical criticism, studies and exegesis. It is a mistake to work out of some vacuus black hole or rely solely on post-Biblical creedal statements that are not only grammatically set outside of scripture, but are centuries after the Apostolic testimony.

    It also porves to many others that amongst biblical scholars the concensus is not uniform when it comes to the doctrine of the Trinity and the many other themes it expouses.

    …you cannot go to the disputed texts in order to prove the rule.

    Trinitarians should take a leaf out of your statement here, since their Christology is wholly based on a few apparent exceptions which are either grammatically or textually uncertain [John 1.18; 20.28; Rom 9.6; 1Tim 3.16; Titus 2.13; 1Jn 5.20].

  17. Chuck,

    I guess now we’re onto another creedal subject then. Let me ask you this though, how does this aspect of Catholic-Protestant Christology harmonize with Ps 2.7 and its usage across the NT to explain [it seems to me] “the origin” [cp. Mat 1.1, 18] of the Son of God and his “only-one-of-a-kind” status [cp. Acts 13.33; Heb 1.5; 5.5]?

    Simple, Psalm 2:7 is talking about the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, and, more specifically, his role as Davidic king who would accomplish what the other kings of Israel failed to do. while the other passages like John 1:18 and John 3:16 are talking about the unique relationship between the father and the son.

    Be that as it may, how about the common sense conclusion that by definition the term monogenes signifies once sonship. Therefore, connotating the inherent understanding of one who comes into existence [birth, generation, etc.] at a specific point in time and not in some “before all time” scenario as the ancient Cahtolic creeds suggest.

    Actually, the problem is with your definition of sonship. You seem to conclude that when the NT speaks of Jesus being the son of the father, it means the exact same thing as when it speaks of us being the son of our parents. However, that is a huge linguistic mistake. Consider the following questions:

    Do you catch a baseball in the same way that you catch a cold?

    Do you hate brocolli in the same way you hate your former best friend?

    Do you call someone on a telephone in the same way that you call someone to come inside for dinner?

    Do you beat the other basketball team in the same way you beat a rug?

    With regards to all of these questions, the answer is both yes and no. There are similarities between the two, but there are also differences. One must leave open the possibility that, when the NT speaks of Jesus as the “son” of the father, that it is using the word “son” with certain similarities as well as certain differences between biological fatherhood, and the relationship between the Father and the Son. As I have pointed out above, we recognize this in our everyday usage of language. The problem is that, when we come to the Bible, we all of the sudden assume that Biblical language cannot function in this way.

    We have to be in touch with mainstream bibilical criticism, studies and exegesis. It is a mistake to work out of some vacuus black hole or rely solely on post-Biblical creedal statements that are not only grammatically set outside of scripture, but are centuries after the Apostolic testimony.

    Being *in touch* with something does not mean *agreeing* with it. You cannot just put down an argument from someone else; you have to argue for it. I could quote Daniel B. Wallace, D.A. Carson, James R. White, and others who have done good work in this area, but I am presenting their position, and then going on to defend it. I don’t just quote them blindly, and leave it at that.

    It also porves to many others that amongst biblical scholars the concensus is not uniform when it comes to the doctrine of the Trinity and the many other themes it expouses.

    No, what it proves is that not every scholar has a Biblical worldview. When I see people quoting folks like James D.G. Dunn, I just shake my head in disbelief. Does anyone think that man represents mainstream evangelical scholarship??????? In fact, if you talk to these scholars, most of them will admit that, if you take the NT as a whole, it is trinitarian in character. They just won’t take it as a whole, because they are engaging in redaction criticism.

    Trinitarians should take a leaf out of your statement here, since their Christology is wholly based on a few apparent exceptions which are either grammatically or textually uncertain [John 1.18; 20.28; Rom 9.6; 1Tim 3.16; Titus 2.13; 1Jn 5.20].

    I should mention that my context here was not to say that we cannot rely on texts that have difficulties; it was simply to say that you cannot solve a difficulty in a text with an appeal to the difficulty in the text. If we are trying to figure out what the term monogenes means when it is used of the son, you cannot go and prove what you mean by an appeal to the meaning of the phrase “monogenes huios.” Such would be simply begging the question.

    Also, what is so unclear about what Thomas says to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” [John 20:28] or what Paul calls Jesus, “our great God and savior” [Titus 2:13]. Those sound rather explicit.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  18. Adam,

    What is so unclear about John 17.3 where Jesus calls “the Father the only true God” [cp. John 5.44; 20.17]? Something that the other NT writers affirm by their benediction of “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” [Romans 15:6 : 2 Cor 1:3; Eph 1:3; 1 Pet 1:3; Eph 1:17; Rev 1:6]?

  19. Chuck,

    What is so unclear about John 17.3 where Jesus calls “the Father the only true God” [cp. John 5.44; 20.17]?

    I think, again, you are begging the question here. Why do you assume that, if the father is the one true God, that Jesus cannot also be the one true God?

    Again, you seem to come to the text of scripture, and when you see terms like “one” and “only,” you assume that they are speaking in a personal sense. I, as a trinitarian, totally reject that, and instead would say that most of these references are to simple monotheism, which is something upon which there is no disagreement.

    For any passage using words like “one” and “only,” in order for it to be relevant to the debate, you have to show that it is in reference to person.

    Secondly, I think context must be taken into account here. Not only does John 17:3 say that it is eternal life to know the father, but eternal life is also to know the son! Are we really suggesting that eternal life is to know a mere creature?

    Also, John 17:5 says:

    John 17:5 “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

    Can you imagine any mere creature standing in the presence of God and saying, “Glorify me!” That would be blasphemy! It would also be complete and total blasphemy for a mere creature to suggest that he shares the glory of the father [Isaiah 42:8; 48:11]!
    Thus, I would say that the context is strongly against the unitarian understanding of John 17:3, and it must be assumed in the term “only,” and one must also ignore the entire surrounding context with language used of Christ that no mere creature could ever utter.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  20. Hello all,

    I would like to make a case for the Deity and thus the pre-existence of Yeshua.

    Starting off with the Gospel of John, Yeshua speaks to the religious leaders and says that He is the one that will judge mankind and demands religious worship from everyone, saying that He is to be honored in the same manner as people honor the Father:

    18 For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. 20″For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. 21″For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. 22″For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all will honor the Son EVEN AS they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. (John 5)

    Now one may object that this is not talking about worship but just honor. This point is moot! When a religious Jew talks about religious honor to God, he is talking about nothing less than worship! One may also claim that this is just like honoring one’s parents, like the biblical commandment. Also a moot point! We honor our parents as our parents. The honor that is due to God is the honor as our Creator and God. And this is the very honor Yeshua demands from all, here in John 5. (As attested in Revelation 5:12-14)

    Question: Which god-fearing CREATURE would ever claim that everyone should give him honor in the same manner as they honor the Creator without blaspheming?

    The next proof of Yeshua equating himself with יהוה Elohim is from Matthew 21:

    14 And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant 16 and said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABIES YOU HAVE PREPARED PRAISE FOR YOURSELF’?” 17 And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

    Notice that the chief priests and scribes were objecting to the children hailing Yeshua as the Messiah, the Son of David. However, Yeshua enhances the proclamation of the children by referring the religious leaders to something even more profound. He tells them to go to the Scriptures and read why those children were praising Him. He quotes from Psalm 8:2

    1 O יהוה , our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. 2 From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

    Yeshua says in Matthew 21 that He has prepared the praise from the lips of the children for Himself, making YHWH’s action His very own. By pointing the priests and the scribes to this text and applying it to Himself, Yeshua is clearly claiming to be יהוה , the God of David.

    Question: Why would Yeshua apply a verse that is clearly about YHWH to Himself, if He Himself is NOT YHWH?

    In the Gospel of John we have the following statement of John in the 12th chapter:

    37 Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
    39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: 40 “He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

    So according to John, Isaiah has seen Yeshua’s glory and spoke about Yeshua too, pointing us to the text from the book of Isaiah that he is quoting. When we finally turn to the book of Isaiah we find out that the quotes that John uses are from chapter 53 and 6 of Isaiah’s book and there we see who Isaiah saw, as he himself describes:

    1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is יהוה Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
    5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, יהוה Almighty.”

    Here, as clear as day, John identifies Yeshua as יהוה in the vision of Isaiah, saying that Isaiah saw Yeshua’s glory! I know of the argument presented by groups such as JWs that they claim that John is referring to Isaiah 53 when he says that Isaiah saw Yeshua’s glory. However, anyone looking unbiased at the text will dismiss this argument outright, since after John quotes Isaiah 53 he continues by saying that “Isaiah says ELSEWHERE”. This means that John is talking about a quote elsewhere than the previous reference. And John then quotes the passage he refers to from Isaiah 6. Furthermore, it would be absurd to claim that John is talking about Isaiah seeing the glory of Yeshua in Isaiah 53 only rather than also in Isaiah 6. John quotes two passages from Isaiah and then draws a conclusion immediately after those quotes. What makes one think that John draws his conclusion based on the first quote to the exclusion of the second quote other than theological bias?
    Question: Why would John identify Yeshua as YHWH Almighty, the God of Isaiah, if he didn’t believe that Yeshua was YHWH?

    For the final example in this section, I would like to take you to the book of Revelation. Let’s look at the text:

    11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” 13 AND EVERY CREATED THING WHICH IS IN HEAVEN and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, AND TO THE LAMB, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen ” And the elders fell down and worshiped. (Revelation 5)

    In this climactic scene penned down by the Apostle John we see something profound being communicated. In this vision of John about the events in heaven there are only two groups that can be divided into the following camps:

    1. the created and the worshippers
    2. the Uncreated and the Worshipped

    When one takes a close look at the entire book of Revelation it becomes obvious that the Son of God, Yeshua, Who is described here as the Lamb (see the Gospel of John 1:29), belongs neither to the camp of the created nor to the camp of the worshippers: In verses 12-14 of the quote above we see Yeshua clearly being worshipped and in verse 13 we see Yeshua being excluded from the group that is described as “every created thing which is in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea and all things in them”, covering every dwelling place of every created being. Furthermore, the Lamb is not one that worships, but One that is worshipped. This places him in the camp of the Uncreated and Worshipped.

    Question: How is it possible that when John describes how the creator is worshipped in heaven he excludes the Son of God from the category of created beings and puts him in the category of the uncreated and worshipped if Yeshua is NOT God? Please explain to us how worshipping someone other than the creator is idolatry on earth but somehow NOT idolatry in heaven?

    I will leave it at that for now.

    Nakdimon

  21. Hey Dr. Brown,

    I was wondering, what do you think about books regarding people who have visited heaven and hell in visions? I know a lady by the name of Mary Baxter has quite a few of these.

  22. Adam

    Why do you assume that, if the father is the one true God, that Jesus cannot also be the one true God?

    Because Jesus never claimed to be and instead calls the Father the only true God? As confirmed by the exclusive, monotheistic creed of his Jewish heritage [Deu 6.4; Mar 12.29].

    Why is it wrong to assume simple, clear words like “only true one” and the personal, singular pronouns that accompany them? So when scripture is talking about an individual person using the same grammatical markers, you “choose” to ignore them and believe their really meanings more than one person? Or is it, as I suspect, a simple matter of “spiritual bias” since you somehow have to make Who God and Jesus are into the theological framework of Catholic-Protestant dogma? I suspect the latter!

    Are we really suggesting that eternal life is to know a mere creature?

    Are we reading the same text?? The first and foremost thing to recognize from John 17.3 is this: “to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand, You, the only true and real God, and likewise to know Him, Jesus as the Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah of that one and only true God) Whom You have sent” [Amplified Bible].

    Lastly, even if you interpret a literal preexistence from John 17.5, how does that in anyway take away from Jesus’ explicit statement that the Father is the only One Who is truly God, and not himself?

  23. Chuck,

    Because Jesus never claimed to be and instead calls the Father the only true God? As confirmed by the exclusive, monotheistic creed of his Jewish heritage [Deu 6.4; Mar 12.29].

    However, again notice the assumed unitarianism. The assumption is that, since the father is the one true God, that Jesus cannot be the one true God.

    Why is it wrong to assume simple, clear words like “only true one” and the personal, singular pronouns that accompany them? So when scripture is talking about an individual person using the same grammatical markers, you “choose” to ignore them and believe their really meanings more than one person?

    No, I choose to not read into the text some idea that “one true” is referring to personhood, when that is yet to be proven. If you would like to prove that the “one true” in John 17:3 is talking about the only *person* who is God, rather than an identification of the person of the Father as the one true God, we are all listening.

    Again, the text is identifying the father as the one true God, but nowhere does it rule out the possibility that Jesus is the one true God also. You are simply begging the question, and reading the text through the lens of your unitarianism!

    As far as Jesus never claiming to be God, that is simply untrue. Jesus claimes so many things for himself that no mere creature could ever claim. How many times do the Jews pick up stones to stone him, in fact, even picking up stones to stone him for claiming to simply be the son of man in Daniel 7:13, or when he claims to be one with the father, or when he claims to be able to work on the sabbath! Why do that if there really is no blasphemous claim being made by Jesus?

    As I have said, the achillies heel for all of your interpretations of passages that speak of “one” is the assumption that this “one” is speaking of a oneness of person. It was the same for Deuteronomy 6:4, and it has been the same throughout our entire dialogue. So, which is more likely: that I am reading into the text something Christians have believed for two thousand years, or that you are, again, begging the question as to whether “one” is referring to a oneness of person or being?

    I think my interpretation is far more clear. It does not assume that personhood is in view with “one,” and it fits the context far better.

    Are we reading the same text?? The first and foremost thing to recognize from John 17.3 is this: “to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand, You, the only true and real God, and likewise to know Him, Jesus as the Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah of that one and only true God) Whom You have sent” [Amplified Bible].

    So, as long as you are acquainted with the father or simply recognize him, you will be saved?????? The two usages of “to know” are parallel. In the same way that knowing the father is eternal life, knowing the son is eternal life. This is a usage of the term that is intimate in character; a term that refers to an intimate knowledge of the other person.

    Lastly, even if you interpret a literal preexistence from John 17.5, how does that in anyway take away from Jesus’ explicit statement that the Father is the only One Who is truly God, and not himself?

    Simple, because you would have only two choices. The first is that you have a contradiction in a matter of three verses, and thus, John must have been a total numbskull to contradict himself in a matter of a few sentences, or, your interpretation of John 17:3 is only “clear” to you because you are interpreting it through the lens of your unitarianism.

    BTW, I never mentioned preexistence; I mentioned the sharing of glory, something God said he would not do with anyone. Hence, you have eternal life as knowing the son in the same way you are to know the father, and you have Jesus sharing the glory of the father! If your interpretation of John 17:3 is correct, then John has contradicted himself in a matter of a sentence. That is why I say that the unitarian interpretation of this passage is anything but clear because it assumes that the term “one” is a reference to a oneness of person, and it is utterly inconsistent with the rest of verses 3-5.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  24. Chuck,

    If you really think that neither Yeshua nor his disciples thought that He was God, please address my post. As far as I can see there is no way around the evidence provided. And there is still more.

    Shalom,
    Nakdimon

  25. Mwiya,

    Not sure if your question will lead up to the topic thats being debated here but Ill respond with my thoughts.

    Ive read and heard testimonies about experiences like Mary Baxter. Some details are very similar. I dont think I have found anything contradictory to Scripture on the stories. But overall, I base my belief on what Scripture has to say.

  26. Ben, I think I have read her book once. I was always a skeptic about those visions. I remember when I read her book, the one about hell, she had Yeshua saying that Satan still believed that he had the vidtory. When I read that I immediately thought about Peter’s words saying that the Devil goes around like a roaring lion because he knows he has just a little time. That, to me, is a contradiction. Either Peter is wrong and Baxter is right that the Devil thinks he still has a shot at victory, or Baxter is wrong and Peter is right and the Devil knows he lost and goes around like a roaring lion. They cant both be right. So I’m taking my chances with Peter and reject the vision of Baxter.

    Nakdimon

  27. Adam,

    The assumption is that, since the father is the one true God, that Jesus cannot be the one true God.

    Assumtion? You mean the same way I should assume I am talking to one person called “Adam” and not 2, 3, or any other number of persons? Or am I “assuming” too much?

    …the text is identifying the father as the one true God.

    So we agree that “the Father is the only true God”, therefore, no one else can claim for themselves or for others that they are “the only true God” since that would make 2 Who are “only true gods”. Wouldn’t it?

    Why do that if there really is no blasphemous claim being made by Jesus?

    The claims Jesus made regarding his personhood all led the Pharisees to belief that he was the prophesized Messiah, heavenly “Son of man” figure of Daniel’s vision, and David’s superior human “lord” [adoni, Ps 110.1]. All non-Deity titles identifying Jesus as YHWH’s one annointed Davidic king and future ruler of God’s kingdom.

    So, which is more likely: that I am reading into the text something Christians have believed for two thousand years, or that you are, again, begging the question as to whether “one” is referring to a oneness of person or being?

    Its highly unlikely that for more than 4 000 years the Jews and for 2 000+ years Christians differed in their belief of how many God is. Its also highly unlikely that the same creed that defined the God of Israel [Shema, Deu 6.4] is somehow different than the same God who Jesus described in the same creed [Mar 12.29].

    The two usages of “to know” are parallel. In the same way that knowing the father is eternal life, knowing the son is eternal life.

    We agree yet again, Adam. Note that the statement asks of the reader to first and foremost understand that the Father is the only true God. Hence the following confessional statements:

    If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God…Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 1Jn 4.15; 2Jn 1.9

    Lastly, YHWH is said to share His glory, authority etc., through His spirit to many people through the Hebrew scriptures. Way before Jesus came along.

    Nakdimon,

    What is your post?

  28. Ben K.C.,

    Lol, yea that was sort of off topic. That said, I think it does raise a serious point. Every thing we discuss regarding to issues of the faith must have a solid grounding in scripture based on humble study of the scripture guided and led by the Spirit of God who leads us into all truth. Our own minds can not lead us to truth, as the proverb says there is a way that looks right to man buts end is destruction. So I think there is a clear warning in scripture not to lean on one’s own understanding both of scripture and also of questions regarding what the meaning of some calamity like what has happened in Haiti may be for example.

    I think too much dependence on hermeneutics as good and beneficial as they may be can actually lead people with good intentions astray-if they lean on their own understanding. Hence the proverbs again warn us to be open minded in regards to receiving wisdom from God. This comes from opening our ears to the voice of God and asking him to reveal his word to us.

    So with something like visions and there validity or falseness we can judge for ourselves using the word. But the same is true with doctrine as ultimately all these discussions are doctrinal debates whether regarding visions or creeds etc. I speak here of the current discussion on unitarianism. The clear and unavoidable truth of the New Testament scripture is that Jesus is God. Paul calls Him that, Thomas exclaims the same when He sees and touches the risen Messiah. In Revelation it is clear that Jesus receives worship and shares some of the titles of the Father which can only make Him God. They are One in Being yet three in person, yes hard to grasp. But I think that any one who calls themselves a Christian and holds to the New Testament as authoritative must by virtue of that profession of faith believe that Jesus is God and that God is triune. One Being, three persons. I know we are in agreement here so I guess I’m just ranting to myself lol.

    Any ways I think there are some issues up for debate within the body. But the doctrine of trinity isn’t one of them. What I would really love to see though, is christian leaders the world over having a sort of meeting like the Jerusalem council had regarding gentile conversion and discussing issues that have been debated for years and now come up with conclusions through the leading of the Spirit of God. That would be amazing.

    I’m not sure anything I have said in this post makes sense. I haven’t had sleep for 24 hours so I ask that you don’t hold it against me if I’m totally incoherent 🙂

  29. Nakdimon,

    This is still going off topic of the debate but I would like to throw this in. I haven’t read the book in a long time so if what you say is correct about “Yeshua saying that Satan still believed that he had the victory”, you can look at it from another perspective that the devil believes in his own lies and deception. But at the same time, the devil knows the truth but keeps it in the back burner. Thats how sinners are too. Some sinners know the truth but would rather believe the lies and deception (of course it would be wrapped in the name of “truth”).

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