Update on Tuesday Night’s Trinity Debate, and Some Thoughts on the Tea Party By lofradio Sep 16, 2010 / 86 Comments Tweet James White Interviews Apologist Sam Shamoun About the Trinity Debate (airing online at 7:00 PM, EST, Sept. 16) https://thelineoffire.org/shows/line_of_fire_09_16_10_hr1.mp3
Dear Dr. Brown,
I deeply appreciate all the work you do for the Lord, it really inspires me to get out there and do something for the Kingdom! God bless you and Dr. James White!
Thanks, Eric. Bless you!
Sometimes a Trinitarian will say that Jesus is called “our great God and saviour” in the scriptures and therefore he is God, while another Christian will say “So what’s the point you are making? Peter, Paul, and Mary are salt and together they are the salt of the earth, but do you think you will find them on the shelf of a grocery store and sold for pennies a pound?”
How might we answer Christians with that perspective?
How should we answer a Christian who says, “I was born again by hearing of the Lord’s conception by the holy spirit, and thereby being the Son of God who came from heaven by that means. I had no concept of his existing prior to that in any form other than as a promise of God, or as prophesies about him. I realized that he is the word of God because everything he said is true and of God himself. Therefore I believed and was saved. I came to find the knowledge of my sins and the atonement of the blood of Christ that was shed for me, that which I so desperately needed. I found the relief of guilt which came upon me because of my sins. I found it by faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. That Jesus existed with God was not upon my heart at the time, nor was the knowledge of it upon my mind at the time of my salvation, my being received into his heavenly family. I now know he has received me and given me the evidence of the holy spirit which I have received by his grace, and the evidence I now have is shown to me by the gift of tongues, something I can not speak by my own power, ability, or desire apart from being connected to God by the holy spirit given to me because of Jesus and all he did and gave for me.”?
Should we tell them that they had to have believed that Jesus was existent with God as a person or being in order for them to have been so saved by him?
I wonder why it is that so many Christians do not accept his being with God from everlasting, (preexistence) or that he is God as according to the discipline of the Trinitarian doctrine, yet they have received the holy spirit as evidenced by the speaking in tongues.
This raises some serious questions, one of them being “Does God indeed give his gift of the holy spirit to those who did not believe in their heart that Jesus existed as a being or person before he came to be in this world in the flesh(preexistence)? ” and if so, then on what basis does God receive people into his family?
Where in scripture can we find the texts that tell us that a person must receive the Trinity doctrine, or at the very least, the doctrine of the preexistence of Christ in order to receive sonship from God?
Does the scripture actually say that, or have we been making up our own rules or standard for being accepted into the household of God?
Have we become so enamored by our doctrine about God that we can not see the living stones, or a particular truth that is all around us? (see the Sons of Thunder dream / vision by James Ryle)
“Peter, Paul, and Mary are salt and together they are the salt of the earth, but do you think you will find them on the shelf of a grocery store and sold for pennies a pound?”
Personally, I find them in my audiotape collection and PBS specials. I especially enjoy “Puff the Magic Dragon”.
Sorry, bad joke, but I couldn’t resist.
I enjoyed your debate with James White several months ago. I was a rare treat to hear to apologists duke it out with respect for each other and with such knowledge of the material.
Now you’ve teamed up with Dr. White and although I haven’t listed to it yet…I’m sure it’s going to be even better…
Thank you for the work you do…(though I am a Calvinist…) I appreciate it. 🙂
“Where in scripture can we find the texts that tell us that a person must receive the Trinity doctrine, or at the very least, the doctrine of the preexistence of Christ in order to receive sonship from God?”
You don’t need to accept or understand these in order to be saved (after all, children or those recently introduced to the faith may not have necessarily been introduced to these doctrines yet, but can still trust Christ for their salvation from sin).
However, if that person is later presented with these doctrines that are clearly taught in Scripture, and if they reject them, it’s definitely a red flag that their trust in Christ is perhaps not genuine.
I have observed a lot of doctrinal wars over the Godhead within Pentecostal circles. (I don’t think it is an issue anywhere else.)
I come from a “Oneness” Pentecostal type background (although not like the UPC who are very devisive). I have been taught against the “Trinitarian” concept of the Godhead – i.e “One God in three persons”
Our doctrinal statement reads, “We believe in One God manifested as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” Our teaching emphasizes Col 2:9 – “all the fulness of the Godhead” in Christ, and phrases like “Jesus is not in the Trinity, but the Godhead is in Jesus.” are often used.
People in my stream seem to think that the phrase “three persons” implies “three Gods, three thrones, etc. that we will see in heaven.”
Conversely, I hear “Trinitarian” Pentecostal people accuse us of heresy because we believe in “3 manifestations” rather than “3 persons” of the one God.
The more I hear you teach on “God’s complex unity”, the more I realize that you seem to be saying the same thing yet with different terminology.
I my opinion, “Oneness” teachers are really reacting to an extreme Trinitarian teaching bordering on Tritheism, and rejecting historical Trinitarian doctrine, while Trinitarians are reacting to extreme “Oneness” or “Jesus only” type teaching.
Would you agree?
Perhaps the following illustration will clarify what I was trying to explain above.
People in my background would never sing the song “Holy, Holy…God in three persons, blessed Trinity.” But perhaps if the words were changed to be “God in Christ Jesus, blessed Deity” they would have no trouble singing it.
I think that if the words “Trinity” and “three persons” were never uttered in the teaching, they would say amen! So, it seems to me that both sides (perhaps more on our side) are misunderstanding/mis-representing what the Bible teaches about God’s complex unity.
I think you articulate things well.
I am also one of those who despises the words you mention above in post #10 which you say about them, that people in your background would never sing.
I myself do not want to sing them, but do like the words, “God in Christ Jesus, blessed diety.”
Neither do I like to hear the words “Trinity” and “three persons” in teachings that promote such things. I see no real purpose in it. I see no purpose of God in doing that. It seems to me that such things are the cause of much confusion and division.
Maybe that’s why we don’t see such words authored by God in the scritures. (I Cor 14:33)
I see by my Young’s concordance that the greek word under confussion which is connected to I Cor 14:33 carries the meaning of Instability, something the church is not called unto.
I wonder if the church has for such reasons, not received things that could be due her. (James 1:8, James 3)
I for one have seen far too much trouble going on about the Trinity doctrine. I don’t think it’s the great commission some seem to make it out to be. I do not see any good reason for me to become a Trinitarian. I think there’s far too much work to be done for the king of glory than to busy myself with some endeavor like that. I see no reason why I should try to defend such a thing.
I see no way a man can truly serve God by doing so. I don’t believe it’s my calling to be a follower of that particular discipline or persuasion. It seems to me to be the cause of too much trouble and confusion in the church. It’s too devisive and sectarian for me. I’ll not enlist. I doubt I will be drafted into their numbers. I’ve decided not to serve such a thing, as if it is God. It isn’t. It’s a monument that’s been built in honor of him and defending it is not the real work we should be doing in my opinion.
Your language about not seeing the Trinity doctrine as a “great commission” is ironic, given as how it was in the direct context of the Great Commission that the name (singular; as opposed to names, plural) Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was revealed by our Lord Himself (Matt 28:19-20).
As to your assertion that the Trinity is not worth defending on the grounds that it has caused division and sectarianism in the Church (“It seems to me to be the cause of too much trouble and confusion in the church. It’s too devisive and sectarian for me.” – your words): you MUST start thinking about this without your personal dogmatic whims.
Look, is homosexuality wrong? Particularly, is it alright for practicing homosexuals to be ordained and serve as ministers in a congregation? It is this precise question that is causing much division and sectarianism within our own time in many denominations. For example, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America voted only within the past year to ordain practicing homosexuals into the ministry, and that very denomination is now in an upheaval due to the numbers of individuals holding true to the scriptures in defense of God’s word and His standards.
By your logic, the members who oppose the ordination of homosexuals should just lie down and ‘not let it be an issue’ in the name of unity and avoiding sectarianism. This is absurd. If we follow this path of least resistance we will end up with a sterilized Church proclaiming a sterilized message (if there is even a Church left at all).
Bottom line, we are to fight for the truth as revealed in God’s Word at every level, on every subject. A compromise on the Doctrine of the Trinity is not acceptable, it is only the beginning of sowing doubt and confusion regarding God’s revelation to us men.
If the defense of God’s truth is not “the real work we should be doing” I ask you, pray tell, what is?
Tom, have you seen the Sons of Thunder dream/vision by James Ryle? It can be googled.
There’s a lot to think about concerning the monument, the officers of the Law, what enamored them, why would something so occupy them, were they charmed, if so, why, was something enchanting them, if so why, is the answer more clubs and tighter interlocking of elbows, how long should anyone be at the monument, and yes, what else could we be doing?
I have a lot of questions about it and it does seem to me to fit this topic.
Just read it. It’s great to have questions, but as a brother I plead with you, be careful that you don’t get distracted and dismayed by one man’s dreaming. Were Mr. Ryle’s visions from God? Perhaps, but in interpreting any such thing we need to hold it up against scripture and not fret over all these details.
Given that, our example of Godly men in Scripture includes the Apostle Paul. This is a man who stood opposed to the proto-gnostics who tried to deny the full-deity of Christ; he stood up to defend the truth from those who sought to put the Gentiles under the law; he even stood up against his fellow Apostles to defend the Gospel.
That said, I cannot see it being anyone’s intention here to prevent people from coming to Jesus to be saved – far from. The danger is real, though, that people will be LED ASTRAY from the Gospel by men like Anthony Buzzard and his Socinian ideas.
Do you know what happened with the original Socinus? His preaching that Jesus is not deity, yet is to be worshiped as such fooled people – but his followers were more consistent than him and rightly decided they would worship no one but God, so they turned their back on Jesus and the Gospel. This is what’s at stake here.
The Doctrine of the Trinity is in no way a form of clubs and interlinked arms. PLEASE don’t let yourself be disturbed by reading meanings into some man’s dreams that are not there – least of all when his dreams are not included in the canon of Scripture. Take your cues instead from Paul, who defended Biblical truth unto death at the hands of Rome. We must all hold true to what is right; our holding is not to forbid others from entering, but an invitation to greater things.
As an addendum, Ray – instead of meditating over Mr. Ryle’s dreams as if they were scripture and seeking to divine their meaning, I can’t encourage you enough to spend that time reading true scripture and seeking understanding from that.
Please, truly, I’m praying for your attention to be turned to Jesus and his revelation, and away from Mr. Ryle.
What else could we be doing is really the question of the day. One way or another I have a feeling it starts with immersing ourselves in God’s word, the Bible (and that goes double for me).
I suppose you are right. I should be concentrating more on Jesus. By him I should find answers to questions about the things I wonder about. And if no answer comes, I should be learn to be content.
Instead of wondering if we as Christians are evangelizing effectively by defending the doctrine of the Trinity, I should be looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, lest I try to found my faith upon a doctrine rather than upon him and what I can learn of him by the scriptures themselves and what they say by how they testify of him.
I remember how he took the bread and the wine just before his arrest and told his apostles to do the same. He gave them some understanding of what it meant, how he ate and drank and how they should do likewise.
The apostle Paul was also told of the Lord Jesus how to minister holy communion, and the significance of it.
Still, I wonder about some things I have seen in this world. I was taking holy communion once in a church and while we were holding the wine (juice) (in little cups which each of us held) he said that if anyone doesn’t believe that Jesus is God, he isn’t a Christian.
I wasn’t so sure about what he meant by that, but later sent him a letter letting him know that in my opinion such a thing as saying that should have no place in holy communion as that was not something that we were all eating and drinking to, rather we were to have been examining ourselves, discerning his body properly as we could, accepting his sacrifice for our sins, honoring him for what he did for us, being thankful to God for his great love and for sending his Son for us, doing this each one privately, remembering to forgive others also as he forgave us.
Now I wonder,… If it doesn’t belong in a holy communion service, maybe it doesn’t belong in my house at all. It such a thing is never in my house, it should never come out of my gate.
One day every Christian will know who Jesus is.
Until then, maybe the best thing we can do is be careful we don’t turn anyone out of the church service, or the church itself by anything we do.
I know that some Christians are Trinitarians and that some are not. Are we supposed to be Trinitarians or are we not? I can not at this time tell.
I remember some pictures I saw of square watermelons. They were square in shape because the grower put some kind of baskets around them while they were growing. I think the baskets were made of steel wire.
All the melons were about the same size, each one filled out to the size of the baskets which had held them.
I heard that these melons stack real nice and that they taste just like watermelons should.
Some people didn’t mind that they were square. I suppose some people liked that they were square. Some people didn’t like them and said that watermelons are supposed to be round.
I don’t know if I can make a good case that simply stated, watermelons are supposed to be round.
I wonder if some are supposed to be round while some are supposed to be square.
After checking the internet I’m quite certain that the melons I saw in the pictures were grown in polycarbonate plastic cubes, not in wire baskets as I had presumed.
do you believe if i don’t accept the doctrine of the Holy Trinity one God in three persons i will go to hell. I came out of a Oneness Pentecostal Church in anderson ca in december of 09. I believe Salvation is by Grace Thru Faith. Meaning repent and believe the Gospel. I believe the God of our faith is JESUS. I believe Jesus is fully God and Man. According to 1peter 1:20 I believe Jesus was the Eternal WORD OF GOD i believe he was the very word of Father God. I believe God is a Spirit John 4:24. I don’t believe the Holy Spirit or the Father is a person of God. The only Person of God is Jesus CHrist for their was only one GOdman am i right. Jesus is God in Flesh 1tim 3:16. I have no idea how God incarnated himself in flesh but i’m thankful. The problem with most oneness churches is they are legalistic and don’t show you the cross. Some problems with trinitarian churches is they lay too much weight on the tradition of the church fathers instead of just studying God’s word for themselves. Doctrine divides but Loves brings us together. so also i believe acts 2:38 is taken out of context by oneness groups i believe it means repent for the forgiveness of sins then be baptized in jesus name or its saying Believe in the Name of Jesus for your sins to be remissioned or from what i believe is to be baptized into Jesus Christ is to accept him as your personal LORD AND SAVIOR AMen.
I believe the Holy Spirit is made up of the Seven Spirits of God and When Jesus comes back according to revelation his eyes are the seven spirits of God. I believe the Godhead is in CHrist. When Jesus Comes back to earth the Father,Son,and Holy SPirit will be in one BODY the Glorified Body of JESUS CHRIST OUR GREAT GOD AND SAVIOR>
Unlike people like Calvin and many other so-called ‘Christians’ through the ages, such men are not forcing nor persecuting people to the point of murder.
I do not believe that one must accept the trinity doctrine in order to be saved any more than one would have to accept someone’s twinity doctrine for salvation.
If one group can read the Bible and arrive at a Trinity doctrine, why couldn’t another group read it and arrive at a Twinity doctrine? And why would one be any better than the other? I suppose that would be depending on the scriptures they believe and understand correctly.
I believe much like you do and am still learning.
Right now I am considering that Jesus was one with God in the beginning, and when God’s spirit moved upon the face of the waters, that the one who was with God (Jesus) spoke the word of God either right after the spirit of God moved, and / or in conjunction with the moving of the spirit of God and that all was created by the power of God according to the will of God which was exercised by the Lord Jesus.
These things I am presently considering. I also am considering Col I:15 which in my KJV calls Jesus the firstborn of every creature.
It seems to me to be a relationship situation, one of Jesus having the preemenance, priority, blessing, favor, and dominance as the firstborn does in a family, as Joseph was seen to have when he became next to Pharaoh in Egypt.
So, are there creatures in heaven? If so, to them Jesus is the one with the dominance, priority, favor of God, preemanance, etc. to them.
I do believe there are creatures in heaven.
There’s a lot to learn. I think the Trinity doctrine is simply a way some people have chosen to describe something for they have the liberty to do so. This does not mean everyone must do likewise. We all have the liberty to share the gospel and we all will be judged by the Lord for doing so. We will be judged by how we have used the liberty he gives us, and how we presently use it. We will be judged by him for all eternity.
I think we can expect an ever present judging by him for all eternity.
Dr White, describing his understanding of the Trinity says, “God is one What and three Whos”. He states clearly that he is not saying that there are three Beings that are One Being or three persons that are One Person. “Such would be self-contradictory.” [Forgotten Trinity, 1998, p. 27]
However on p 132 Dr White falls into the trap of self-contradiction which he has just outlined. He says “the very Being of God is YHWH, the eternal God who created everything.” Notice that he now describes the One Being of God as a Who and not a What. Then he describes each of the 3 members of his trinity: “we can agree, I assume, that the Father is identified as YHWH. But I believe the Bible identifies Jesus as YHWH, as well.” [p. 132]
So, White is now proposing 2 YHWHs Who make up 1 YHWH. This, as he said, on p 27, is “self-contradictory”. Such a self-contradiction is inherent in all attempts to make all 3 into 1. Much clearer are the words of Jesus: “The LORD our God is One LORD.” [Mar 12.29] One LORD, of course, is One Person.
Calvin himself was confused about the difference between Adonai and adoni.
He misreports the word in Ps 110.1 as Adonai and then compounds his error by stating that that word refers to human beings. Calvin is wrong on both counts. The word in fact is adoni which never refers to God. F. D. Bruner helpfully corrects Calvin’s mistake.
I’ve also heard that God is 1 What and 3 Whos. That almost sounds like it came from a children’s book to me.
If that’s the language of today, maybe I can join in on the discussion.
What if I turned it around? Suppose God is 1 Who and many Whats. What could we list as to what God is? How about truth? Then how about love? I suppose we could add righteousness, kindness, just and full of justice, good, clean, holy, and keep on going.
Let’s say God is 1. There is one God and nothing is divided in him. All that is in him is one, and is of one. (God is a God of unity.)
We all may have different views of God and I suppose that is to be expected. Since we know in part how can we describe him fully? The part that you know of him I might not have. I know there is much I can learn from all of you. Each one of you is unique and has a part. Each one knows God in some ways that are particular and unique to them.
The way God has shown himself to me might not be the same way God has shown himself to you even though we have the same God. This is not to say that anything goes, for God is true, just, good, kind, meciful, and right.
One thing people tend to do is organize truth for others. That can be helpful. God is a God of order as well as truth. But we have an enemy that might want to take the truth we have been given and he may want us to allow him to fix it up down there and bring it up back here, and he might add a little something to it. He might give us a formula and even try to get us to think it will be our righteousness for holding to it.
Some people might take the formula and add a little meal to it to take care of whatever it was that was or could be seen as a bit off. They might adjust the formuala a little bit to make it acceptable to them.
Sometimes the truth is like a salad bar and not everyone will fix their plate the same way and that is to be expected.
Not everyone will make a sandwich the same way.
We need liberty and grace for learning. Words are good for communication when they are used well. Even when used well, there is opportunity for misunderstanding. God gives us grace to learn from our mistakes, to try new things, and learn about him. We also want to learn from him.
I don’t always know which ideas I have are from God and which are not. Lots of times I don’t know what to do with them.
One of the first things God said about himself To Moses is “I Am What I Am.” Maybe we have to first learn what he is before we can learn much from him. I suppose we first must learn that he is and then learn about what he is. Then maybe we will learn to walk toward him.
Anthony, as always, I appreciate you posting here. I’m not sure Dr. White will have time to respond on this forum, but everyone will be able to watch and judge for themselves when the debate is aired on Jewish Voice. I join with you, Sir, in saying, May the truth of God’s Word triumph!
Xavier, you said: “Unlike people like Calvin and many other so-called ‘Christians’ through the ages, such men are not forcing nor persecuting people to the point of murder.”
That, my friend, is immaterial. An attack on behaviors is no attack on doctrine, and the truth is the truth regardless of who knows it and proclaims it (or what they may do with it). You might benefit from reading up on post-Nicene Council Rome, where many Trinitarians were put to death or exiled by those asserting the non-deity of Christ and the non-Trinity of the Godhead.
So yeah, your big quarrel with Trinitarians is that some heretics have been put to death, take it up with the 4th century Arians who likewise practiced “forcing” and “persecuting people to the point of murder”.
Last paragraph should read: “So yeah, IF your big quarrel…”
thanks for your kindness, and we are united in a common purpose to bring truth to light.
Your statement that 1 YHWH = 1 person (in your words, “One LORD, of course, is One Person”) only shows an a priori assumption on your part about the definition of YHWH, not an understanding drawn AFTER an honest and critical reading of the text.
Given that YHWH is beyond simple definition by nature and cannot be known by man but through special revelation, I presume we can agree that it is YHWH who should be our teacher as to what YHWH is. Given that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all identified as YHWH, I must conclude that the definition of YHWH involves 3 persons. Nothing contradictory about that, unless of course you’ve determined beforehand that 1 YHWH = 1 person, in which case your assumptive definition is to blame for creating a contradiction, not the definition of YHWH given clearly in scripture.
That said, the Psalm 110 argument is a bit of a weak nail to be hanging such a massive argument on. Certainly, even if you want to make the case that Psalm 110 shows Jesus’ complete humanity (which any Trinitarian already believes in anyway), you still have to respond to Isaiah 6/John 12, Philippians 2, and Revelations 4-5 (to start) in a way showing that Jesus is not Deity as well. Psalm 110 seems like your golden egg, if you’ll pardon my saying so.
Do you have anything with more oomph than an argument from some tacked-on vowel points, or is this really your coup-de-gras?
The point I was trying to make is that truth, has nothing to fear. And those who hate, persecute and eventually murder others in the name of a specific religious denomination, is a clear sign that whatever “truth” they might claim to represent is faulty to say the least. Be they trinis, Arians or otherwise.
History testifies that most of the persecutions/murders throughout “Christianity” has been perpetrated by such groups. I recommend you read The Radical Reformation by G. H. Williams, 1962.
You neglected to add “the angel of the LORD” who is also identified as YHWH:
Are you aware that this is the most often cited OT verse by the NT writers?
Following are excerts from Patrick Navas’Divine Truth, p 176, f. 47, 2007.
Then you must really have issues with the OT commands about stoning people who speak lies (blaspheme) against YHWH, huh? I guess that “truth” revealed at Sinai just was too faulty so people had to defend it by “murder(ing) others in the name of a specific religious denomination”.
Not really. Given Jesus’ “before Abraham was, I AM” speech, I’m gonna go with that being the preincarnate Christ (and it’s not like there’s not a precedent for that).
Let me say, I am not going to engage in a discussion about the identity of the Angel of YHWH here. Dr. Brown’s “Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus” vol. 2 covers it with detail I could not hope to replicate here.
Sure. Doesn’t change my statement though.
I fail to see the connection between God’s judgment on those who disobey Him and the issue of religious persecution.
Where are the precedents for this “pre-human God the Son” in the scriptures? And in regards to the continued misinterpretation/application of John 8.58, I’ll let some well known scholars explain it:
The assertion that Xavier made is to imply that the killing of individuals with a different viewpoint in the name of religion must therefore be “a clear sign that whatever “truth” they might claim to represent is faulty to say the least.”
If that standard is applied evenly, then it must also be placed upon the OT Hebrews who stoned individuals who spoke out against their God, YHWH. The OT Hebrews clearly killed individuals “in the name of a specific religious denomination” and thus to apply the logic: this was “a clear sign that whatever “truth” they might claim to represent is faulty to say the least.
Xavier’s words, Xavier’s logical construction, not mine.
Thus the connection; but no, I agree that the history of religious persecution in the Church leaves a bad taste in my mouth as well.
That said, using Ad Hominem and guilt by association fallacies do not establish your point that “since group A kills people for religious reasons, they must have a suspect ‘truth'”. Appealing to tactics like these is not how you win a debate or advance your point. If truth has nothing to fear, let’s stick to the relevant issues; religious persecution is not one of them.
I’ll refer you back over to our conversation on the “Preexistence of the Son” topic where that point is already under discussion.
Well, you can certainly quote sources… but so can I:
I am (ego eimi). Undoubtedly here Jesus claims eternal existence with the absolute phrase used of God. The contrast between genesthai (entrance into existence of Abraham) and eimi (timeless being) is complete. See the same contrast between en in 1:1 and egeneto in 1:14. See the contrast also in Psa. 90:2 between God (ei, art) and the mountains (genethenai). A. T. Robertson “Word Pictures, 5:158-159
Given your obvious esteem for A. T. Roberson’s scholarship as evidenced by your own quote of him, I thought you might like this one.
Further, I see your Young’s Concordance and raise you a James White:
We have seen that John uses ego eimi in more than one way – the majority of the time providing a predicate. Even these are astounding in their majesty in regards to the person of Christ. Here Jesus is said to be the way, the truth, and the life; the light of the world; the bread of life; and the good shepherd, each of which it should be noted, has parallels to statements made by Yahweh in the Old Testament. But the bulk of this paper has been devoted to those passages where the phrase is used in a specific sense – in an “absolute” sense.
Upon examining these we have seen that they find their origin and background in the book of Isaiah’s usage of the Hebrew term ani hu and its translation as ego eimi in the LXX. We have seen the close parallel between Isaiah 43:10 and John 13:19, both in form as well as thought content.
We have also seen how the context of the passages themselves – the setting and teaching of the entire book of John – makes the identification of ego eimi and its resultant presentation of the deity of Christ inevitable. We have seen how John purposefully emphasizes these phrases, helping us to grasp their significance. – Dr. James White Purpose and Meaning of “Ego Eimi” in the Gospel of John
In Reference to the Deity of Christ
Now then, are we through citing scholars? The majority affirm the use of Ego Eimi as a divine claim (or at least a claim to “absolute preexistence”) on the part of Jesus, so this is not a debate you can win with a “smart-person body count”.
And yes, by citing that verse I do mean that the Divine Son was personally around prior to the conception and was exegeting the Father to men long before He Himself became one.
Why is it that most people read John 8:58’s reading of “…Before Abraham was, I am.” as if it says “…Before Abrahm was, I was.”?
Is this an error of grammar or is there a better translation somewhere?
I’ve heard it said that a better translation would be “…Previously Abraham was. I am.”
If we read it this way, we find that Jesus was telling them that Abraham previously existed in the past, but now Jesus presently exists, context being in this present world, in the flesh.
As Jesus was known to do, he was busy about the gospel, the good news about himself. This information about the existence of Abraham and the day of Christ is important to the gospel, is it not?
Such a statement should raise questions such as
“Why did Abraham first come before Jesus?” This does fit the context of John 8:56, as would the latter reading which I gave (by changing “before” to “previously” and also changing the punctuation.)
Such a statement would not say that Jesus did not exist prior to Abraham, but would say that Abraham came first according to the flesh.
It seems to be neutral as concerning his existing prior to the divine conception by the holy spirit, neither saying that he did exist prior, nor saying that he did not.
It seems to me that many a Trinitarian use it for their purposes and it seems to me that I have never heard as to why it reads contrary to good grammar in my KJV.
I am aware that Jesus used language creatively. It also seems to me that he usually used proper grammar. At least that’s what it looks like in my English version of the Bible.
Concerning God being seen by Moses through the angel in the burning bush, it’s not unusual to use language such that we say that God was seen in many ways, sometimes by angels, for example, or a cloud, or pillar of fire, by fire on a mountain, etc.
God was seen by seeing Jesus. (John 14:9)
If we have an agenda, we will likely read how we want to be reading, and read what we want to read into what we read, and doesn’t this cause division?
Are you familiar with the New Covenant inaugurated by our [supposed] lord Messiah Jesus? What has Torah laws regarding stoning etc. to do with so-called Christians persecuting or killing other Christians?!
I use such [trinitarian] sources to show the contradiction. Thanks for helping me out. Here’s a doozy from Dunn’s new book, Did the Early Christians Worship Jesus?:
Do you follow all of Dunn’s theology? All of his exegesis on Christological issues? Just wondering. If you simply quote him where it suits you but reject his other, relevant writings, then what’s the use of citing him, since there are plenty of scholars who differ strongly with his positions.
Hi Dr Brown
How do the Jewish Rabbis interpret Gen1:26 Let Us make man in our Image and in our Likeness?
Do they believe God to be speaking to angels?
As I told Tom, the reason I quote such scholars [Hurtado, Bauckham, Robinson, etc.] is to show their own confusion regarding this matter. They say one thing and then contradict themselves. Even though I just noticed that Tom quoted an A. T. Robertson not J.A.T Robinson. Similar names different scholars.
But to answer your question. I do not exclusively follow or prefer one scholar over another. But as I said, it is interesting to see the scholarly chaos regarding Christological themes and the Theology of the Bible.
Just curious to know if you agree with people like Tom in using “logically odd language” to define the one God of Israel and Father of Jesus Christ, YHWH: “They is one. He are three.”?
Of course. Chuck, I’ve explained it as clearly as can be done that I’m not advocating religious persecution, merely illustrating the fallacies of Xavier’s logic by applying it evenly. It breaks down, and if that is not evident already…
I can quote scholars who say that all illnesses are the result of an imbalance in the 4 humours… who say that aliens seeded life on this planet billions of years ago… who believe that the human appendix is a vestigial organ and serves no purpose… and who believe the Bible was cobbled together by monks in the 4th century.
You are still not dealing with the issues, providing fair exegesis of the cited passages that support your position, or addressing the issues raised with your interpretation. Throwing out these sound bites is not debating, it is hiding behind words. Nowadays you can cite a scholar to support just about any position – you’ve proven nothing except your unwillingness to confront the topics.
Oops, good catch! My mistake there.
Chuck, if you maintain that the nature of the infinite God of the Universe Who created all things can be expressed in its fulness by human language without coming out a bit “odd”, that’s a pretty bold claim.
And there again, the question is not “can we understand it logically?” but instead “is it taught in the Bible”?
If it isn’t, no one would want to stretch their capacity and try to grasp something that is beyond logic (note, not defies logic, simply beyond). If it is, shouldn’t we believe that God’s knowledge of Himself is more complete than our knowledge of Him and give Him the benefit of the doubt to be accurate concerning Himself?
To me, our debate is not over how logical the Trinity is, it is over whether that truth is presented in the Bible… or not. If the logical construct of the Trinity is where you want our focus to be, fine; but you can hammer that point all day and you’ve done nothing to prove that it’s not in the Scripture. At the end of the day, if the Bible teaches it, I have to submit to that over and above my shallow human understanding.
To date, much more of your time has been spend trying to illustrate the fact that the Trinity is logically complex and beyond understanding.
You note that I believe in one heck of a mind-boggling concept. Point well taken.
For my next trick, I will tell you that I also believe the Baalam’s donkey actually spoke, that Jonah actually spent 3 days in the belly of a whale, that Jesus fed 5000 people at one time with one mere basket of food, that the same was born of a virgin without aid of a man, and (gasp) that a garden snake is actually a demonic force bent on world domination and was formerly a heavenly being in the presence of God and rebelled against the Most High only to be cast down and defeated and now lives only to draw the human race into perpetual darkness and fire in the very hell he is destined to inhabit for all eternity as an everlasting punishment for his deeds.
Your comparing apples with oranges. Trying to obscure the subject at hand. The logic is simple as we seem to agree: we are not advocating religious persecution! I do not see how comparing YHWH’s Torah laws pertaining to death by stoning etc. [applied only to Jews mind you] has anything to do with this subject. Your comparing apples with oranges. Trying to obscure the subject at hand.
I have gone in-depth regarding exegetical examples of certain passages [virgin birth etc.] and have proven the contradiction when it comes to quotes by supposed Trinitarian scholars who really seem to be hiding a unitarian findings. Do not know how else to paint this picture for you.
WHO [and not WHAT, according to Dr. White] God is, is sufficiently expressed in simple, black and white words Tom. What Trinitarians suggest goes against the clear, grammatical structure that expresses the only immortal, invisible God the Father [YHWH]. When Jesus, the Jew, himself quotes the Shema and a Jewish teacher of the law agrees with this statement you have a supposed trinitarian [Jesus] agreeing with a staunch unitarian [the teacher].
Could I get a witness on this one? Was my point just that poorly made or does my logic stand?
I appeal to the readers to decide my fate.
Don’t worry Tom…
God has set a day when he will judge the world and the secrets of all people, in righteousness, by the one human being, Jesus Christ. [Acts 17.31; Rom 2.16]
It seems to me that Xavier’s point in #30 is a valid observation which was not made in reference to Israel under the law, when, yes they did kill by stoning those who sinned (at times) , who went contrary to the truth they received of God and believed.
But how about today, or after the law which was replaced by the new testament in the blood of Jesus, or the new covenant?
Do we have examples of people killing others on account of what they believed or preached and if so, was it done by those who held the truth that is in Jesus?
If they did it, can we not resonably ask ourselves if something was wrong about either what or how they believed, and isn’t the fruit of what they did (the killing of another) the evidence of something wrongly held by them?
It seems to me to be a valid argument, one of the idea that could be communicated something like this: If anyone kills another because the other believes or preaches something other than the truth one holds, then there is likely something wrong in their belief system that they hold to.
There’s the rub. The crux of this matter. Not comparing whether or not OT Jews fall into this same category because of YHWH’s laws regarding breaking the Sabbath etc.
I’ve been looking at Genesis 18 where the Lord appears to Abraham along with two others.
To some this may appear that God is there with Jesus and the Holy Spirit and appear to Abraham as three men.
To another this may appear to them that God is appearing to Abraham along with two angels, and this reminds them of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
He may think that God did this as a reminder to him of Jesus and the Holy Spirit always being with God.
To another this may appear to them that God is appearing to Abraham as a man and since he is about to verify something about Sodom, he takes along with him two witnesses, which are angels.
He considers that Jesus may be in the angels along with the spirit of God.
And there may be other perspectives such as God appears to Abraham as three angles and speaks through them, Jesus likely being among them also.
There might be many perspectives to this. It’s my hope that we allow for such differences between ourselves, but also that we may freely share our perspectives with one another, that we might learn from one another and also learn about one another, and that such differences are not worth killing one another over.
I now think of Cain and Abel. I wonder what they were talking about on the day of the killing. Maybe it was something about sacrifices or offerings. I really don’t know.
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