Answering Unitarians HQ

This is a listing of all Answering Unitarians postings to date.

1 – Does the Deity of Christ Matter?

2 – Synoptic Silence

3 – I Want a Verse!

4 – The Shema

5 – Pagan Trinity

6 – What’s in a Name?

7 – Like Father Like Son

78 Responses to Answering Unitarians HQ

  1. Anthony says:

    The proposition in John 17:3 is a purely unitarian statement. There is no way that language can confine Deity to the Father, except by saying (which it says also with thousands of singular personal pronouns for God) that “the Father is the only one who is truly God.” Jesus is then set outside that definition, and he is that one the One God has sent.

    No amount of juggling will get rid of John 17:3, and Augustine realized this: He thought nothing of rephrasing to avoid the obvious difficulty. He restructured the sentence to make it include Jesus in “the only one who is true God.”

    If contributors to this discussion would work first on Matthew and Luke things would be much easier.

    Luke has provided a clear definition of Son of God. Not many verses in the Bible are as transparent as Luke 1:35.

    “Precisely because of the biological miracle in Mary” Jesus “will be called, ie will be, the Son of God.”

    That is very easy. God is his Father by miracle. He is begotten in Mary (Matt. 1:20) and in consequence Jesus is uniqely the Son of God. If you come into existence in the womb you don’t also come into existence outside the womb! And eternal begetting is out of the question, since it means nothing.

    The simple realism of Gabriel to Mary is refreshing.

    Luke and Matthew are heroic apologists for the true faith.

    It is amazing that in I Cor. 8:4-6 some readers do not hear that Paul defines Jesus as the one Lord MESSIAH!

    After the NT calls Jesus the Messiah 600 times, that should have been learned well by the time I Cor. 8:4-6 is approached. After all. who was it who was born in Bethlehem? The lord Messiah! Lk 2:11) NOT the Lord/LORD [YHWH] God.

  2. foxlemke says:

    Sir Anthony: Glad to hear from you! I suppose this is as good a place for a dialogue as any – but I do wonder how you would address the arguments presented in each of the links above.

    That said, let me comment on some of your arguments:

    Re: John 17:3
    I think you drastically over-estimate the ability of this verse to prop-up your theology. For one thing, as Nick pointed out, to say that this verse excludes Jesus from the category of deity is to commit the logical fallacy of denying the antecedent (see here for example). Only by assuming that no more than one person can exist within the category of “true God” does the verse work to prove Unitarianism. Given that John 17:5 tells us that Jesus shared in the Father’s divine glory since eternity past, I would say that such an assumption is simply ruled out by the text.

    Also worth noting (and I stand in good company as better men than I have pointed this out in many times and many places) is that your personal translation of 17:3 (“the only one who is true God”) goes beyond the Greek and crosses the line into blatant interpolation.

    Re: Matthew and Luke
    I personally do not have a problem starting with Matthew and Luke because I recognize their exceedingly high Christology. Further, the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke fit into John 1:14 like a glove, and given that we deal with the TOTAL of scripture and not our little isolated favorite sections, I have to conclude that Jesus had a prehuman existence with God and as God, a la John 1:1.

    Re: I Cor. 8:4-6 and the title of Messiah
    I’m not sure how the title Messiah, or Christ, in any way testifies against the deity of the one so called, i.e. Jesus. His inclusion in the divine identity in Paul’s recapitulation of the Shema seems clear cut to me, and completely absent to you – so I think this is passage is one area where we will have to agree to disagree and move on to more productive areas of dialogue.

  3. foxlemke says:

    Sir Anthony: After some further reflection, I do need to press you on something you said above. I want to walk something through to its logical conclusion, and I’m going to do it strictly on your terms.

    1) You make the following citation of Luke 1:35: “Precisely because of the biological miracle in Mary” Jesus “will be called, ie will be, the Son of God.”

    2) From your words, it is clear that you equate being called something with being that thing. Specifically I refer you to your statement “will be called, ie will be, the Son of God.” In other words, Christ is called the Son of God, therefore he is the Son of God. This statement of yours makes clear that you fully accept, at least in this case, that in scripture what someone is called = what someone is; or maybe more specifically, that when scripture says “he will be called” of someone, what they are called = what they are.

    3) Further, I note that you are quite happy with referencing the synoptic Gospels, particularly Luke and Matthew, to draw theological conclusions from.

    Very well, then, let’s apply this standard (that you have apparently set forth) evenly and consistently and see what turns up. I will mirror the above points in reverse order and we will reach some conclusions.

    3) We turn to the Gospel according to Matthew the first chapter, verse 23, which reads:

    “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”
    (which means, God with us).

    2) To apply the same logic you exhibited, that when scripture says “he will be called [blank]” then he must BE [blank]…

    1) Then we must conclude that Jesus will be called, ie will be, Immanuel. That is, Jesus is GOD with us.

    I think it safe to conclude, then, that if we are to adopt your method of reasoning exhibited in passing in your post above, we must be logical and consistent and give these words in Matthew the same weight as those you cited in Luke. In the end, we find what I have already maintained in every dialogue with you I’ve yet had: Jesus Christ is God incarnate, as the scriptures testify.

  4. ken lokken says:

    The overall tenure of the scriptures is unitary monotheism. One can argue from any number of scriptures to prove his or her point of view. God desires to be understood and he appeals to our understanding in order that we walk with him. This involves plain language. No where is trinity or diety of Jesus plainly stated in the scriptures much less understood to man. The hebrew mindset was not metaphysical, unlike greek and hellenstic and now western thought. The very fact we cannot even understand how three is one, or how a dual nature can be a single human personality wreaks of speculation, philosophy and imagination. For me; there is One God and father of OUR lord Jesus, the messiah. Evidently it was the same for the early church. Law, circumsicm, worship, diet, and marriage were addressed. The issue of trinity and a dualed natured Jesus were not. Why? The answer is abvious. They would not have swallowed such a a heathenistic lie. We all have a tendancy to read into a matter after our own bias. When truth is before our face why then do we not except it. It goes against the grain of our pride and threatens to demolish our value system and deface us in front of our peers. So what! Why should this be any different than in any other matters that we have been wrong in? Alas the blind remain willingly blind..how then can they see.

  5. foxlemke says:

    ken: Interesting opinion. I disagree with you of course, and I can tell there are some fundamental assumptions that we don’t share which contributes to that, but thanks for weighing in all the same.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Ken

    Very eloquently said and sadly fulfilled by foxlemke’s comment.

  7. kenneth lokken says:

    Why is it when we enter into the realm of religion we enter the realm of the absurd and aquire fame in doing so? In no other discipline can we do this consistently and not be thrown out for our foolishness.

    1. Tell me how angels can mate with the daughters of men and call that honorable. Indeed the world in the time of Noah was destroyed for it. Jude remarks of the impending doom of those angels that await their judgment. Yet we proclaim the Incarnation (another form of beastiality)as the work of God. Then claim this new creature (after all it is now dual natured) that “IT” will take away the sins of the world. This so called Incarnation is never affirmed, nor defended in scripture.

    2. That which is flesh is flesh and that which is spirit is spirit. How then can the two be one? two opposites cannot be equals. Light and darkness are not one when joined. One is destroyed at the expense of the other. So too in the realm of spirit and flesh. Half of anything is not whole.

    3. The notion of God as SUBSTANCE, a WHAT, or an IT consisting of 3 persons indeed smacks of Greek, babylon and Egyptian tri-unity. If we are insistence with regard to 3 persons then perhaps the ancient religions are true and christianity is a farce. God is always himself when delaring his name. He knows who HE is. Many of those who proclaim his name do not

    4. The idea that a transcendent being can lower itself in creation and yet still remain transcendent while being crucified in the lower creation and transcend is sheer nonsense. If he transcends then he could not remain in his transcendence. If he remains transcendent he could not have descended, much less ascended. A man appointed Messiah, who was not previously Transcendent, need not have descended, but ressurected by God would have ascended.

    5 We are to worship God in spirit and truth..or should I say by the word of truth..which is our reasonable service. Tell me if what I have presented above is reasonable. If it is not, make it reasonable to me from the scriptures. I do not defend these arguments with scriptures. I know of no scriptures which present these arguments.

  8. foxlemke says:

    kenneth: I’m going to answer your points here, but I want to make it clear that, honestly, I consider this sophistry at its worst.

    Tell me how angels can mate with the daughters of men and call that honorable. Indeed the world in the time of Noah was destroyed for it. Jude remarks of the impending doom of those angels that await their judgment. Yet we proclaim the Incarnation (another form of beastiality)as the work of God. Then claim this new creature (after all it is now dual natured) that “IT” will take away the sins of the world. This so called Incarnation is never affirmed, nor defended in scripture.

    A) Angels didn’t. The “sons of God” in Genesis 6 are best understood as the descendants of Seth, who took wives from the “daughter of man”, that is the descendants of Cain. Jesus made it clear in Matt 22:30 that the angels are neither married nor given in marriage so as to produce offspring. Not only so, but bestiality never produces offspring, and this is Scriptural (in that everything is to produce after its kind per God’s decree) as well as naturally observable.

    B) I fail to see the connection between the Incarnation and bestiality that you seem to think so obvious. I don’t believe in the Mormon Jesus, FYI.

    C) As for the Incarnation never being affirmed – John 1:1, 14 and Philippians 2:5-11. The Church fathers also taught it.

    That which is flesh is flesh and that which is spirit is spirit. How then can the two be one? two opposites cannot be equals. Light and darkness are not one when joined. One is destroyed at the expense of the other. So too in the realm of spirit and flesh. Half of anything is not whole.

    You’ve got a strange mix of docetic and gnostic assumptions at work here if you are trying to dismiss the Incarnation on this basis. I don’t share your philosophical presuppositions, simply put.

    The notion of God as SUBSTANCE, a WHAT, or an IT consisting of 3 persons indeed smacks of Greek, babylon and Egyptian tri-unity. If we are insistence with regard to 3 persons then perhaps the ancient religions are true and christianity is a farce. God is always himself when delaring his name. He knows who HE is. Many of those who proclaim his name do not

    I did cover the topic of paganism and the Trinity in AU#5, you should check it out. As far as your statement “If we are insistence with regard to 3 persons then perhaps the ancient religions are true and christianity is a farce”, I really honestly have no idea what you are getting at. And yes, there are many false teachers – that’s why I hold onto the words of the Apostles and Church fathers with a vengeance.

    The idea that a transcendent being can lower itself in creation and yet still remain transcendent while being crucified in the lower creation and transcend is sheer nonsense. If he transcends then he could not remain in his transcendence. If he remains transcendent he could not have descended, much less ascended. A man appointed Messiah, who was not previously Transcendent, need not have descended, but ressurected by God would have ascended.

    And here is where you yourself are guilty of being subject to Greek philosophical ideas. As a matter of fact, the arguments you raise here were first raised by the pagan Greeks trying to debunk Christianity in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. You sound identical to Celsus, friend.

    We are to worship God in spirit and truth..or should I say by the word of truth..which is our reasonable service. Tell me if what I have presented above is reasonable. If it is not, make it reasonable to me from the scriptures. I do not defend these arguments with scriptures. I know of no scriptures which present these arguments.

    Number one, I think you are very wrong in your interpretation of worshipping in spirit and truth. Number two, you want some proof, but let me ask you first: what kind of proof would you accept? Be specific. Number three, read AU#3, specifically my comments about “gravity in a box”.

  9. kenneth lokken says:

    1. You assume the angels of God did not propagate with the daughters of men. I assume they did. Jude obviously assumes my position. The fact that angels do not marry or propagate as commanded by God does not mean they did not sin with a high hand. But let us assume for arguments sake they were the sons of seth. It does not change the notion of beastiality when a higher form generates a creature from a lower form. On that position we agree.

    2 Whether you believe in the Mormon Jesus or not, the principal is the same. Whether by direct sexual penetration or by another means if such an off spring becomes the product of a higher and lower order the result is the same. Yes we know that every seed is to bear after it’s own kind. Yet you would have God to violate his own order by creating a GOD-man creature.

    3 You disregard the entire scriptures for the sake of 3 verses.when rightly understood flow quite nicely with the message of the kingdom. Now as for the church fathers 98% gentile of the 2nd-4th century who squeezed out jewish mentality and proposed pagan ideology; do you really want to go there? They may be your fathers. They are not mine. (sophistry indeed)

    4 I’d rather say you dismiss the apostles altogether and hold tenaciously to the Fathers. It is not greek philosophy to ask someone to approach me with plain speech readily understood that even a child can easily understand. Celsus..for that moment was being reasonable; not philosophical. If something does not make sense; it does not make sense. I will sanction him no further than that. If we do not worship God in spirit and truth how are any different from an aborigini or a shaman priest. We are to believe in scriptures rightly divided, not out of context.

    5 The point being you cannot defend your position plainly and consistently via scriptures on three issues. Trinity, pre-existence and Incarnation. This also makes it difficult to prove immortality of the soul (souls go to heaven after you die nonsense). The only alternative you have is to appeal to the church Fathers with all their sophistry to try and persuade my mind from the simplicity of truth. When you can show me a river running through a subject consistently throught biblical text then we can come to a matter together.

    6 For instance the notion of Messiah runs consistent throughout scripture. What does it say about him? Hmm..called Christ or Messiah, one to be appointed of God, our 2nd Adam, the first was not a God-Man either, Born a jew, cocieved bya virgin, a greater prohet than that of Moses, of the tribe of Judah, the suffering servant, one who we should listen too, who suffered died and was raised from the dead and ascended, and so forth. There is a consistent river of thought.

    7 Then we stick a wrench in the gears and explain that simpllicity away with much jargon and say he was pre-existent, he was really God in the flesh, and God is three persons and that includes the one that was born in time; a baby which can’t feed itself but can sustain all things by the word of his power who incidently created the heavens and the earth but did not know what God knew and did not know when he will appear again. Then your fathers threaten hell to those who do not swallow your pill that will all but kill us anyway and think they are doing God a service.

    4 As far as gravity in the box. It is so simple a child can understand it. Put a ball in a box and turn it upside down.

  10. kenneth lokken says:

    I would like to clarify the 98% gentile Fathers. At first they were not the majority..down through the centuries they are now 98% who support the 2nd-4th century position of their fathers.

  11. The expression “bnay elohim” means “angels” in all of its occurences. The 2 parties involved are categorically different in Gen 6: “sons of God” and “human females”.

    The early Church and early Judaism understood this perfectly well. As did Jude and Peter.

    “Giants” were the offspring and they were the cause of the wickedness that preceded the flood.

  12. foxlemke says:

    Kenneth:

    (1) Actually, a goodly percentage of commentators in the past 2000 years agree with my own position. And further, I have agreed to nothing regarding the status of offspring from bestiality, because I hold quite simply that there can be no offspring from bestiality whatsoever.

    (2) You are operating under the presupposition that God cannot assume that which He has created. My own position, in the words of the Athanasian Creed:

    [Christ is] One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.

    In other words, we don’t have some God/man “hybrid”, but rather we have a human nature assumed by the God who created all things and can use all things in whatever way He so chooses.

    (3) I’m not the one disregarding Scriptures here. It’s pretty easy to just sweep those I mentioned away with the assertion that I’m improperly understanding them without doing anything to demonstrate this. I’m simply taking the plain readings of my cited verses and believing them to mean what they say – yet you give no response aside from dismissing me as wrong a priori. That’s not an argument, that’s a cop-out.

    As for the Church fathers, it makes no difference whether they were Jew or Gentile, that’s a red herring. As to the idea that they squeezed out “Jewish mentality” (whatever that means) and replaced it with paganism: if you would actually read the fathers you would see how viciously they attacked paganism to hold to the Gospel they had learned from the Apostles (some of whom directly, i.e. Polycarp from John). You might start with Irenaeus’ “Against Heresies” or, even better, Origen’s writings against Celsus.

    (4) Again, the fathers are the successors of the Apostles. But regardless, my arguments for the Trinity are from the writings of the Prophets and Apostles, not the fathers, so your assertion is baseless. As far as plain speech, I still don’t know what you are asking for. The 3 pillars of the Trinity: (a) one God, (b) three Divine Persons, (c) each personally distinct from the next, is pretty basic language, with each point being supported by Scripture – that’s as simple as I can make anything.

    “Celsus..for that moment was being reasonable; not philosophical.”

    This is just nonsense. You cannot accuse Trinitarians of adopting pagan Greek philosophical ideas and then in one and the same breath argue identically to one of the top pagan Greek philosophers of the age and remain consistent. I guess the next time you accuse the Trinity of borrowing from pagan Greek philosophical ideas I can just say, “those ideas for that moment were being reasonable, not philosophical. If something makes sense; it makes sense. I will sanction them no further than that.” and consider that the end of it.

    And yes, of course we worship God in spirit and in truth as guided by the word rightly divided – you and I just have vastly different ideas as to what that means, it would seem.

    (5) I can and I have defended my position “plainly and consistently via scriptures”. Brazen assertions to the contrary don’t change that. And if you are really looking for that “river” of the Trinity, there are plenty of resources for you to check out. I really recommend Michael Brown’s “Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus vol II” on this – it and other scholarly books are far more comprehensive than anything I offer here on the blog. But my guess is that you just want to argue, not learn.

    (6) It also says He is “Mighty God” (Is. 9:6) and “from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). Hmmm, God Himself, the Eternal One. Yes, the river is consistent, but you have diverted part of the stream.

    (7) There’s no wrench whatsoever (especially if you allow the verses I just cited back into your “river”). That Christ is pre-existent – that much the Scriptures say (John 1:1, 8:58, 17:5, Hebrews chapter 1, etc). That Christ is God in the flesh – that much the Scriptures say (John 20:28, Acts 20:28, Colossians 2:9, Philippians 2:5-11, etc).
    It sounds to me like you have some repressed frustration about the idea of being condemned to hell for believing wrongly and have chosen to take it out on the doctrine of the Trinity – how standard.

    (8) I’ll hand it to you, that’s actually pretty clever. ;) But my point remains: you are imposing your own standards of proof onto the issue and choosing to disbelieve unless those arbitrary rules of yours are obeyed – this as opposed to letting the Scriptures say what they say.

    Sir Anthony: Actually, most of the early Church fathers agreed with me. As for the Jews, to be sure there were plenty who understood it as meaning angelic beings, but I’m not convinced Peter and Jude were among them. Regardless, that conversation is a tangent and not one I care to start at the moment.

  13. Nick Norelli says:

    I’d just like to point out that the idea that Greeks and Jews thought so differently is generally blown way out of proportion. As Martin Hengel so aptly noted in his Judaism and Hellenism:

    This unavoidable distinction does, of course, pass too lightly over the fact that by the time of Jesus, Palestine had already been under ‘Hellenistic’ rule and its resultant cultural influence for some 360 years. Thus, even in Jewish Palestine, in the New Testament period Hellenistic civilization had a long and eventful history behind it. (1)

    I’m also fond of this quotation from Bernhard Lohse in which he talks about the way in which the doctrine of the Trinity protects against Hellenistic philosophy:

    Does [the doctrine of the Trinity] imply, as has been so often asserted, a falling away of the church from the Christianity of the New Testament? If the development of the doctrine of the Trinity from its beginnings to the end of the fourth century is seen in its totality, it becomes difficult to make such an accusation. In fact, it is more correct to insist upon the opposite, namely, that by means of this dogma the church erected a barrier against the onslaught of the tidal wave of Hellenism, which threatened to inundate the Christian faith.(A Short History of Christian Doctrine, 65)

    So to bring it all together: (1) Jewish thinking was already heavily influenced by Greek thinking in the first century, and (2) Even in the midst of Greek thinking Christian doctrine was able to safeguard against the errors of Greek philosophy (while at the same time embracing what was right with Greek philosophy).

  14. ken lokken says:

    1. Yes, the minority who won the day have now become the majority (orthodoxy). But from the beginning it was not so. As far as Gen 6:1 you have decided not to pursue that issue which Anthony brought up so we will let it rest for now.

    2. As I believe the Athanasian creed is extra biblical I certainly do not embrace the fathers who have embraced the notion of of the all God all man; God -man. I still call it a hybrid. Then they went so far as to make him pre-existent to make him assume a trinitarian role. They just could not except the Messiah as God decreed him to be. It certainly does not agree with the birth accounts as recorded in Mathew and Luke nor the records of birth leading up to his birth. It does not at all synchronize with the first Adam, 2nd adam comparison as one was human and the other a God-man.

    3. Plain reading of the verses following OT nuances could not possibly lead you to an understanding of Trinity, Predestination, or the Incarnation since those ussues were foreign to the Jewish mind set. That my fiend is no cop-out. I’d say rather it is a deniel on your part to uphold a bias when reading the NT due to loyalty to the church Fathers. Do you really think those Fathers were successors to the apostles? I’d say rather they were usurpers!

    4 What you call a red herring is really the smoking gun. Salvation is of the jews and by a human Jewish Messiah..first humiliated..wherby God hath highly exalted him, and soon to be the coming King in the age to come. I lay no claim to Celsus, but take a staement he made out of context to endorse my opinion; similiar to Paul when he agreed with the notion that all cretans are liars. With regard to the Fathers you defend..those are the very ones that I oppose, who deified a human being.

    Why is it so hard to believe that a man can be exalted by God who was perfectly birthed and obedient even unto death. With regard to the idea of God-man saviors; (logos) that is certainly not a christian concept. Three major religions that I know of each had their trinity before Christianity was even birthed. That dogma was formulated in christian circles in 2nd century and made orthodoxy thereafter.

    5 I do not wish to argue but inform. The works you present to me I am all to familiar with and tow the trintarian line of which I once advocated but have since abandoned. What works opposing trinity have you actually read. You cite none. The mighty one of Isaiah I confess to be the Messiah, God’s appointed one who was from everlasting (in the mind/plan of God) as recorded in Micah who brings forth the new age lasting kingdom.

    With regard to the other scriptures you recite, Pre-existence is not an issue in Col or Phil or Heb. These verses deal with his exaltation and new staus due to his obedience and ressurrection.. With regard to John it deals with with the idea of Jewish idea of agency or prolepsis when dealing with the concept of pre-existence. God calls those things that are not AS Though they existed. Messiah for instance existed in the prophetic past tense, but not actually till Jesus was born. Jesus himself called those things that are not as though they were. He spoke of his glory (via Faith in whom he was as foretold in scriptures) before he was actually born and even of our glory. All this before he was crucified and completed his mission.

    6 As far as having repressed feelings and fear of going to hell; that is a rather cheap shot. I do not feel that way at all. Surely you can do better than that. I personally beieve worshipping a trinity is like worshipping a totem pole with three heads..same wood. As far as a God-man concept..I can longer hold to the descent of God, or God dying, much less deprive him of his transcendence by lowering him to creaturehood..for which Paul in Romans 1 gives a severe rebuke to mankind for doing so. I ask you then; who is really applying their own standards to the reading of the scriptures. This persuasion comes not of HIM (Our Father) who has called us unto glory through his Son…Our Messiah

  15. foxlemke says:

    Ken:

    (1) It’s one thing to assert something, another to prove it. From my studies I’ve concluded that the view of the Son as God Himself, one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, has been the majority position since Christ’s ascension, with the exception of a brief period of time when Arianism took hold in the Roman empire in the 4th century. But even the Arians would admit to Christ’s preexistence, and so clearly differ with you on that crucial element. What I can’t figure out is: where are the proponents of your position prior to Servetus and Socinus? Seems a little conspicuous to have a 1400+ year gap between the teachings of the Apostles and the rise of Socinian-style. Unitarianism if you are going to claim that the latter is the true version of the former.

    (2) I guess that’s where we agree to disagree, then. I believe that the Athanasian Creed is a true expository of the Scripture and accurately represents the teachings of the Bible. And you may call it a hybrid if you insist, but that’s not what the Bible teaches, and not what Trinitarians believe. And the fathers aren’t the ones who introduced the idea of Christ’s preexistence, that’s strictly Apostolic – and John chapter one does not contradict the synoptics in any way whatsoever. As far as the 1st Adam, 2nd Adam comparison, it works perfectly well: both Adam and Christ are human beings.

    (3) I’m not saying the Trinity is proven by the Old Testament – I believe that it was revealed in the Incarnation of the Son and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, events which happened in the New Testament. The OT does intimate the Trinity, however, including hinting that the Messiah would be God Himself, and the verses I cited as well as others evidence that.
    As for the “Jewish mind set” argument, see Nick’s comments.
    I do think the Fathers were the successors, yes. You are entitled to having your own opinion, however, and again, I don’t argue the Trinity based on the Church Fathers, but on the Sacred Scripture.

    (4) Yes, Jesus is the human Jewish Messiah… who happens to also be God. You are seeing the human part (that’s good! The earliest heretics missed that and thought He was only Divine!), but you are missing the Divine.
    Again, if you are going to take elements from Greek philosophy that support your theology you cannot criticize Trinitarians for doing the same. Understand, I’m not saying Trinitarians have in fact incorporated Greek philosophy (again, see Nick’s comment), but I am saying that you are being inconsistent. You are now telling me that it’s okay to take what is good and right with Greek philosophy and use it to buttress your own position (as per Paul) – yet you will not extend that privilege to Trinitarians.
    If you can take what you perceive to be what is good and true in Greek philosophy and appropriate it to your own position, yet adamantly cry “foul!” were a Trinitarian to do the same, you are simply acting the hypocrite.

    Why is it so hard to believe that a man can be exalted by God who was perfectly birthed and obedient even unto death.

    I do believe that, I just happen to believe that the man in question was God in the flesh as the Scriptures testify.

    As for the accusation of the Trinity being rooted in some “pagan Trinity”, you should really check out AU#5 on this.

    (5) I’ve spent bookoos of time on Unitarian sites (christianmonotheism and focusonthekingdom come immediately to mind) to understand your position, watched and listened to every debate I could get my hands on to see the positions in contrast, and interacted extensively with Unitarians of all stripes, including Arians, Modalists, Jews, and Socinians. As for books? None. But I am familiar with the arguments from the aforementioned sources.

    With regards to your approach to the texts in question, I do not think they could be more clear when speaking of the preexistence the Son:

    For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:16-17

    etc.

    (6) I am of an altogether different opinion and see the Scripture of being an exceedingly clear witness to the Incarnation and the Trinity, but fair enough.

  16. foxlemke says:

    Nick: Thanks for the input! Very, very good stuff.

  17. Chuck says:

    Nick

    (1) Jewish thinking was already heavily influenced by Greek thinking in the first century

    The quotes you used simply state the historical fact of Jewish Palestine under Roman-Greco rule. Yet your implying that the Hebrew religion was “heavily influenced by Greek thinking”. The Jewish unitarian creed of the Shema was unaffected by the pagan-polytheistic environment of the time. This is reflected in the persecution of the Jews before and during this “Hellenistic” period.

    …Christian doctrine was able to safeguard against the errors of Greek philosophy (while at the same time embracing what was right with Greek philosophy).

    I am sure your familiar with the writings of the prominent German theologian/historian scholar Adolf Harnack who stated…

    The Greeks, as a result of their of their cosmological interest, embraced this thought as a fundamental proposition. The complete Greek Christology then is expressed as follows.

    “Christ who saved us, being first spirit and the beginning of all creation, became flesh and thus called us.”

    That is the fundamental, theological and philosophical creed on which the whole Trinitarian and Christological speculations of the Church of the succeeding centuries are built, and it is thus the root of the orthodox system of dogmatics; for the notion that Christ was the beginning of all creation necessarily led in some measure to the conception of Christ as the Logos. For the Logos had long been regarded by cultured men as the beginning and principle of the creation” (Harnack, History of Dogma, Vol., 1 p. 328)

    Also, throughout his book Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, the German New Testament scholar, lexicographer, and early Church historian, Walter Bauer, effectively proves that many early Christians were influenced by gnosticism.

  18. Anonymous says:

    foxlemke

    where are the proponents of your position prior to Servetus and Socinus?

    Start with Matthew and Luke. You’ll find no preexistence taught there. And to say that the trini reading of John 1 does not contradict them is not right. It does!

    I’m not saying the Trinity is proven by the Old Testament…

    Once again, your implying that all those people did not really know how many God was. Which is ridiculous and disrespectful to say the least!

    …I don’t argue the Trinity based on the Church Fathers, but on the Sacred Scripture.

    Yes you did. Check your previous posts to me where you quote Ignatius, Tertullian etc.

    …Jesus is the human Jewish Messiah… who happens to also be God.

    I guess the contradictory and illogical nature of this statement does not bother you? You cannot be mortal yet immortal all at once.

  19. ken lokken says:

    Foxlemke and Nick

    I. Nice try. It is a historical fact the church was invaded by by Greek and hellinistic thinking after 2nd century. Gnostic thinking was rampant and we were warned about philosophy, myths and science falsely so called by the apostles even in their time. Already the gospel was being targeted not only outwardly but inwardly by sheep who became wolves.

    2.Why should it seem to incredible to you that socinian doctrine was quelched for 1400 years. So were many other teachings that were finally brought to light in spite of the fathers of the 3rd and 4th centuries. Jesus himself had to restore the notion of true worship, messianic hope, and the intent of the law that were obscured by the traditions of man.

    3 You assume too much when you say the fathers carried on the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. In fact your fathers introduced pagan concepts of trinitarism, pre-existence and immortal soulism. Three damnable heresies which Jesus would never have condoned. These same teachings would not have been endorsed by his apostles. To throw away the entire scripture tenant for several verses of scriptures is indeed bias.

    O’ yes the trinity was revealed by some great one after the scriptures were canonized. It was just too deep for Jesus and the apostles to explain! Yet Jesus and the apostles did emphasise over and over again unitary monotheism. Do you think a joseph smith only existed with the LDS? Back then and even now there are many false teachers.

    4. I categorically deny any teaching of pagan, gnostic or hellenistic itself. I do not acknowledge them. Why then would I use them as a defense to to support their views that I utterly destroyed. I rather expose their farsaical notions. I certainly do not need them to support the scriptures as you seem too.

    5 Now about God becoming a man? Really? Then you tell me this God man is the 2nd Adam? Hmm. You say John, Luke and Mathew agree? Yes they do. Yet you deny that Jesus was truly born a man. You make him instead a pre-existent God, 2nd person of so called Trinity who passed through a womb and made himself an infant hybrid who later raised himself from the dead and yet say he was still a man…

    He was conceived supernaturally and carried 9 months. He has an actual birth history and a single human personality. The fact the word made flesh only indicates that God had Jesus in mind when determining that man would reign on earth. This Jesus the Messiah would be conceived of the seed of woman and his kingdom in the age to come was the whote reason for creation that God had purposed from the very beginning.

  20. foxlemke says:

    Chuck:

    Start with Matthew and Luke. You’ll find no preexistence taught there. And to say that the trini reading of John 1 does not contradict them is not right. It does!

    3 points:

    (1) Why should we start with Matthew and Luke? They come right in the middle of New Testament documents in terms of when they were written, not at the beginning. Rather, if we’re trying to approach this from a strictly chronological order, as I assume you are doing (that or else enforcing an arbitrary order of study based on what you think proves your theology – one of the two), shouldn’t we be starting with Paul? And, oh, what do we find there? We find early Christian affirmations pre-dating even Paul’s writings that speak of Christ having been “in the form of God” and following that “taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (the Carmen Christi in Philippians 2). Dude, that’s the Incarnation, and it’s even earlier than Matthew and Luke. My AU#2 deals with my position on this.

    (2) As noted by Dr. Brown in his debate with Sir Anthony, to keep pushing Matthew and Luke at this point in the conversation is almost deceptive. As Dr. Brown clearly stated, when we want to learn about the Christian’s relationship to the Law, we go to Galatians, when we want to learn about right Christian living, we go to James, when we want to learn about Christ’s role as Prophet, Priest, and King, the mediator of a better covenant than the one made on Sinai, we go to Hebrews. Likewise, if we want to learn about preexistence, we go to John and Paul, where we have explicit statements about it. So to try and enforce Matthew and Luke against the elements of preexistence found in John and Paul when they most certainly (your assertions to the contrary) do not contradict it is akin to trying to prove from Philemon that we are still under the law. In a word: absurd!

    (3) Finally, Professor Simon Gathercole profoundly disagrees with you on the level of whether the synoptics contain Christ’s preexistence. He takes up the subject in “The Preexistent Son: Recovering the Christologies of Matthew, Mark, and Luke”, where he argues on the basis of Jesus’ “I have come” statements that the synoptics do indeed witness to the preexistence of Christ. Now, agree or disagree, he and others bring powerful arguments to the table that the concept of Christ’s preexistence, while perhaps not explained in the synoptics, are certainly assumed. And this falls into line with point #1 (and AU#2) above that Paul’s writings were circulating even prior to the writing of these Gospels, meaning that the concept of preexistence would have been known to the authors and their audiences already.

    Once again, your implying that all those people did not really know how many God was. Which is ridiculous and disrespectful to say the least!

    I’m not implying anything, I’m stating absolutely plainly that the nature of God was an issue of ongoing revelation, and we should have no surprise at the fact that some things were a “mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.” (per Colossians 1:26). The Trinity being one of those things.

    Again, what is ridiculous and disrespectful is to insist that God reveal everything on a timeline and in an order preferred by you.

    Yes you did. Check your previous posts to me where you quote Ignatius, Tertullian etc.

    Perhaps I should say then that I do not argue primarily from the Fathers. The only use I’ve yet made of them is to support my assertion that the Deity of Christ and the Trinity were part and parcel of the early Church – very much around at the beginning. However, when it comes to actually proving the Trinity I stick (and have stuck) to the Bible alone.

    I guess the contradictory and illogical nature of this statement does not bother you?

    I find nothing about it contradictory and illogical. It may be beyond logic, but it does not contradict it, just as light can be both a particle and a wave at one and the same time. Again, we call this a “mystery” for a reason.

  21. Chuck says:

    foxlemke

    Why should we start with Matthew and Luke?

    Because their the only witness to the “origin…coming into existence” [Mat 1.1, 18-20; Lu 1.30-35] of the Son of God. The problem with mainstream Orthodoxy is that they think Christianity started with Paul or some other Apostle. Start with Jesus and what the witnesses say regarding his beginning in the womb of a young Jewish girl. Not in some made up “time before time”.

    No deception in that just plain good ol’ bible exegesis.

    Professor Simon Gathercole profoundly disagrees with you on the level of whether the synoptics contain Christ’s preexistence.

    As many others would disagree with him…

    …what we find in Matthew and Luke is not the story [of] a divine being [“the Son”] descending to earth…in the guise of a man…but rather the story of a miraculous conception without aid of any man, divine or otherwise… Green, Joel B.; McKnight, Scot; Marshall, I. Howard: Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Intervarsity, 1992, S. 70.

    I’m stating absolutely plainly that the nature of God was an issue of ongoing revelation, and we should have no surprise at the fact that some things were a “mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.” (per Colossians 1:26). The Trinity being one of those things.

    The verse you quoted is in reference to who the person of the promised Messiah would be and not how many God is. I agree with you that “some things” required “ongoing revelation” but Who God is does not. If this were the case Jesus would have written his own books describing the convoluted “nature” that the Trinity implies.

    It may be beyond logic…

    And beyond the scriptures!

  22. Nick Norelli says:

    Chuck: The pervasive influence of Hellenism on Judaism is demonstrable. I’d urge you to read the Hengel book I quoted, or if you’d prefer something shorter then check out Lee Levine’s Judaism and Hellenism in Antiquity: Conflict or Confluence?. But the point is that there is no hard bifurcation between “Jewish thought” and “Greek thought.” Such a view is passé these days.

    I’m not sure what the Harnack quotation is supposed to prove (btw, did you lift that from Buzzard’s “John 1:1 Caveat Lector” or did you dig it up out of Harnack yourself?). Harnack is discussing preexistence in that appendix and if you read earlier than the quotation you provide (which suggests to me that perhaps you did simply copy and paste from Buzzard’s article) you would have seen Harnack say:

    That took place under the influence of the Greek spirit; and was perhaps also the simultaneous result of an intellectual or moral development which arose independently of that spirit. Accordingly, a highly important advance in the old ideas of pre-existence appeared in the Jewish theological literature belonging to the time of the Maccabees and the following decades. To begin with, these conceptions are now applied to persons, which, so far as I know, was not the case before this (individualism). Secondly, the old distinction of original and copy is now interpreted to mean that the copy is the inferior and more imperfect, that in the present æon of the transient it cannot be equivalent to the original, and that we must therefore look forward to the time when the original itself will make its appearance, (contrast of the material and finite and the spiritual).

    Now how do you read that? Do you understand Harnack to be saying that the “Greek spirit” influenced the development of the Jewish conception of preexistence in the writings of the intertestamental period? Because that is what he’s saying. And if that’s what he’s saying then isn’t that quite the opposite of what you’re saying?

    As far as Bauer is concerned, he has been critiqued and refuted to the point that I can’t see why anyone still cites him approvingly. Perhaps it’s because Bart Ehrman has been championing his cause among unstudied readers. Who knows? In any event, if you haven’t seen them, then check out the popular level books The Missing Gospels by Darrell Bock and The Heresy of Orthodoxy by Andreas Köstenberger and Michael Kruger (especially this one!). If you don’t have access to either book and would like a readily accessible critique then Rod Decker’s “The Rehabilitation of Heresy:‘Misquoting’ Earliest Christianity” is available online.

  23. Nick Norelli says:

    Ken: (1) Where can we learn more about this “invasion”? Who were the commanders of the Gnostic armies?

    (2) It seems incredible because Socinian doctrine didn’t exist until the 16th century.

    (3) None of those concepts you mention are heretical or particularly pagan; in fact, pagans had no conception of the Trinity. Jesus spoke of his own preexistence (see, e.g., John 3:13; 8:58; 17:5).

    (4) Huh? What’s a farasaical?

    (5) Are you sure you didn’t stumble over to the wrong blog in a drunken stupor? I can’t recall Tom saying anything remotely close to that and I know that I don’t believe any of that stuff. I honestly don’t know why you addressed any of your comment to me since you haven’t interacted with anything that I’ve actually said.

  24. Nick Norelli says:

    Oh, and just another quick point to Chuck… Outside of the New Testament, what are the most important Jewish writings from the first century that we possess? The writings of Philo and Josephus, right? Do they think like Jews, Greeks, both, or neither?

  25. foxlemke says:

    Nick: You, my friend, are a gentleman and a scholar. ;)

    Others: Sorry I’m behind on responding – I’m being visited by my brother from out of town at the moment and you’ll understand my priorities. I’ll get back on your latest comments when I can, but I won’t be approving any more posts until next Saturday.

  26. ken lokken says:

    1. Start with Mathew and Luke. By the way stop calling Gabriel the angel a liar. He sais nothing about “that pre-existent thing in you shall be called the Son of God”

    2. Commanders of Gnostic armies? My we are getting desperate. Ever hear of false doctrine? You know very know false teachings crept into the church as well noted in the scriptures. Pre-existence and immotrtal soulism can be traced all the way back to Babylon and your telling me that is not pagan? In Egyptian culture; Paroah who is god incarnate. or buriel in the pyramids in preparation of the afterlife?

    3 Now you want to label socinianism as a 16th century doctrine. Another ruse. I concede and throw out that language entirely. Let’s use New Testament instead. The scriptures say Jesus was born a man. Is that simple enough? Throw out your language of trinitarism and pre-existence. Oops. You’ve got a problem. It’s not in the scriptures.

    4. Nick; Either I am in a drunkin stupor or you are dreaming. Just who is Tom your referring to?

    .

  27. foxlemke says:

    Ken:
    I agree with Nick’s comments and would add the following:

    (2) Actually, the Reformation for the most part saw a return to the teachings of the Church Fathers, not a departure from them as you insist (this is particularly true of the conservative reformation of the Lutherans – my own tradition).

    (3) It’s ironic that you bring Joseph Smith into the discussion, because I would apply your comparison and statements about false teachers rather squarely to Servetus.

    (4) You use pagan arguments against the Incarnation, as evidenced when you admitted to sharing a philosophy on that issue with Celsus. That’s my point, you’re inconsistent.

    Now, as to your most recent post (which I’m going to approve tonight, but only because I don’t want these responses to get out of order and shuffled into some confusing mess):

    (1) Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Learn this.
    Besides, why should we start with Matthew and Luke and then enforce any lack of mention of certain doctrines upon other books that explicitly speak of them? To use your hermeneutic, we could take the book of Philemon and prove that Jesus is not Prophet, Priest, and King of a new and better covenant because “you will find no trace of Christ’s three-fold office over a new covenant in Philemon”. The fact is that John lays out Christ’s preexistence explicitly, as does Paul (who, as I’ve noted above, wrote before Matthew and Luke).

    (2) Look here: you made the statement that “It is a historical fact the church was invaded by by Greek and hellinistic thinking after 2nd century”, and when Nick called you on it, asking for evidence (if it’s a “historical fact”, shouldn’t you have evidence in abundance?) you start talking about how we all “know false teachings crept into the church as well noted in the scriptures.” Well and good, but the last book of the cannon was written c. 90 AD, bub, that’s not even the end of the 1st century – so how can you cite Scriptures to give you a historical account of the 2nd century as required for you to prove your point? You didn’t answer to the question or back up your earlier assertion about Gnosticism in the 2nd century in any way. No desperation here, we just want to hold you accountable for careless assertions.

    Pre-existence and immotrtal soulism can be traced all the way back to Babylon and your telling me that is not pagan?

    Dude, you’ve gotta be kidding me with this. Look, let’s take your sentence and change the subjects and see if this is a position you can consistently maintain.

    A global flood and creation stories can be traced all the way back to Babylon and your telling me that is not pagan?

    Seriously, read AU#5 (link at the top of this page) and try and make your case without leaving yourself open to destroying your own doctrine if your arguments are consistently applied.

    (3) No ruse, just a fact. And yes, the Scriptures say Jesus was born a man. Problem for you is, this man is the word become flesh. (John 1:14) It’s in the Scriptures, you are just ignoring it.

    (4) I am Tom, nice to make your acquaintance.

  28. foxlemke says:

    Chuck: John also speaks of the birth of Christ – John 1:14 – so no, Matthew and Luke are not alone here.

    Quick history lesson: Christianity had already been spreading by word of mouth for years prior to the first writings of the NT. The first of those writings to begin circulating were Paul’s. In one of Paul’s letters we have a Christian creedal statement/hymn which in all likelihood predates even Paul’s conversion. This is Philippians 2:5-11, the Carmen Christi. It speaks of He who was “in the form of God” being humbled and taking the “form of a servant”, “being born in the image of man”. This is the Incarnation in a nutshell, and it’s right there in the earliest documents of the Christian Church. Again, to enforce any perceived lack of a pre-existent doctrine (note, not anti-preexistence) from Matthew and Luke onto the other Biblical texts which witness to it is just a con.

    And certainly, whether preexistence is present as a doctrine being taught in the synoptics is up for debate, but to make an entire case from a – real or imagined – lack when the evidence to the positive is around everywhere else is not a good practice. It’s like trying to stop a murder conviction when the jury has a video of the crime taking place by saying, “but the murder weapon wasn’t on the suspect’s person when we arraigned him!”

    The verse you quoted is in reference to who the person of the promised Messiah would be…

    My point exactly.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Nick

    (btw, did you lift that from Buzzard’s “John 1:1 Caveat Lector” or did you dig it up out of Harnack yourself?).

    What’s it matter? I can “dig out” many more. The Harnack quite proves that many notable biblical and historical scholars have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt the paganizarion of Christianity. Whereas I agree with you that Judaism was influenced as well but only to a certain extent. And the Shema was certainly still a very unitarian creed by the time of Jesus.

    Do they think like Jews, Greeks, both, or neither?

    Philo is certainly Hellenized but Josephus who knows. In any case, the NT writings certainly are the ones to focus on.

  30. Anonymous says:

    foxlemke

    John also speaks of the birth of Christ – John 1:14 – so no, Matthew and Luke are not alone here.

    The prologue talks about how God’s “word” and not some preexistent “Son” came and “tabernacled” in a human being, Jesus.

    This is the Incarnation in a nutshell, and it’s right there in the earliest documents of the Christian Church.

    So according to your reading of Phil 2 one God annointed the other God? Perfect sense!

    …whether preexistence is present as a doctrine being taught in the synoptics is up for debate…

    Why don’t we go for the simple, clear things being taught there instead of expounding on presuppositions and implied texts?

  31. Chuck says:

    Here are more quotes we managed to “dig out”…

    The earth is frequently referred to as the dwelling place of humanity in language that is paralleled in Jewish idiom: coming into the world (John 6.14; 9.39; 11.27; 18.37), being in the world (9.5a), departing out of the world (13.1; 16.28b). While some of these [Johannine] sayings acquire theological significance because of the context in which they are used, the idiom itself is familiar Jewish terminology. To come into the world means merely to be born; to be in the world is to exist; and to depart from the world is to die [H. Sasse, TDNT 3:888; see also 1Jn. 4.1,17; 2Jn7; Heb 10.5; 1Tim 1.15].” G.E. Ladd, A Theology of the NT, 1993, p. 261.

    Speaking with reverent reserve Gabriel says that the Holy Spirit will come upon Mary and that the power of the Most High will overshadow her. This delicate expression rules out crude ideas of a ‘mating’ of the Holy Spirit with Mary. Gabriel makes it clear that Mary’s conception will be the result of a divine activity. Because of this the child to be born would be holy, the Son of God. We should not miss this explanation of what the Son of God means. Leon Morris, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, The Gospel According to St. Luke, Vol. 3, p. 73.

    …the Trinitarian sense should not be here [in Luk 1.35] applied to the term Son of God. The notion of the pre-existence of Jesus Christ, as the eternal Son of God, is quite foreign to the context. Mary could not have comprehended it; and on the supposition that she had comprehended or even caught a glimpse of it, so far from being sustained by it in her work as a mother, she would have been rendered incapable of performing it.

    The Holy Spirit denotes here the divine power, the life-giving breath which calls into developed existence the germ of a human personality slumbering in Mary’s womb…Thus in this birth the miracle of the first creation is repeated on a scale of greater power. Two elements concurred in the formation of man: a body taken from the ground, and the divine breath.

    By the word also (‘therefore also’) the angel alludes to his preceding words: He shall be called the Son of the Highest. We might paraphrase it: ‘And it is precisely for this reason that I said to thee, that…’

    We have here then, from the mouth of the angel himself, an authentic explanation of the term Son of God in the former part of his message. After this explanation Mary could only understand the title ‘Son of God’ in this sense: a human being of whose existence God is the immediate author. It does not convey the idea of preexistenceA Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke, Vol. 1, Godet, pp 91-93.

  32. ken lokken says:

    Tom; Now that I know your name we can continue this discussion

    1. Reformation did return to the Fathers on many points or should I say they rather never left the camp but merely rediscovered the writings of the Fathers. No argument there. Secondly; I am not giving any credance to Servetus, Celsus or any other writers though I may be familiar with them. I hear your position and that does not make me your follower because I am familiar with your content either. My position that you seem to negate is simply the writings of the scriptures themselves NOT the scholarly works that follow or interpret them.

    2 My position is take the entire scriptures in view. Like a thousand piece puzzle all must fit in place. The whole must flow even in its minutest details. The hebrew text will simply not allow for trinity, pre-existence, dualism, conscious existence after death and where these concepts are excepted they produce contradictions.

    Lord God must be Lord God,(one person), Messiah must be Messiah (one human person) death must be death,(no intermediate existence; the whole person dies and returns to dust); ressurection must be ressurection (the whole person is raised back to life and has no partial existence elsewhere), kingdom must be kingdom (not in heaven but on earth ) and certainly not 7 years in heaven (Pre-trib) and naked awaiting a partial ressurrection at his appearing. Scriptures enhance one another. They do not contradict or lend to confusion. That is owing to our own ignorance or bias.

    3. As far as Reformed Lutheran if you still hang to the notion of T.U.L.I.P then I am afraid that that flower as created in nature has long ago been wilted by Martin Luther himself. Judging from history Servetus was a saint compared to him. Neither one of them were noticed by God in the Holy writ; therefore I shall take them both with a grain of salt. They are niether the author or finisher of my faith. As you say you are of their brethren they are obviously your author.

  33. foxlemke says:

    Chuck:

    The prologue talks about how God’s “word” and not some preexistent “Son” came and “tabernacled” in a human being, Jesus.

    Check your Greek, the text does NOT say the word dwelt (tabernacled) “in” a human being (good grief, if Ken’s Celsus then you’re Cerinthus, coming up with this stuff). Rather, the Word ἐγένετο, became flesh, and this Word made flesh then dwelt among us. So to read the text as you do here is horribly off.
    Not only so, but the antecedents and successors in the passage make it perfectly clear that the Son in the referent.

    So according to your reading of Phil 2 one God annointed the other God? Perfect sense!

    The Father anointed the Son – perfect sense! You are the one introducing some “other God” into the text, not me. Stop assuming Unitarianism.

    Why don’t we go for the simple, clear things being taught there instead of expounding on presuppositions and implied texts?

    You want simple and clear?

    Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

  34. foxlemke says:

    Ken:

    (1) But you see, I also claim the Scriptures (and not the scholarly works following) as my final authority, yet you wish to ascribe pagan Greek philosophy to me. My point is simply that if such an assertion can be made against Trinitarians, it can be equally leveled at Unitarians. Simultaneously, the defense that you present can also be employed by Trinitarians (i.e. just because we are familiar with categories of Greek philosophy does not make us followers of it), and thus your accusation of some “pagan Trinity” falls flat.

    (2) You say,

    The hebrew text will simply not allow for trinity, pre-existence, dualism, conscious existence after death and where these concepts are excepted they produce contradictions.

    So prove it.

    You go on to say,

    Lord God must be Lord God,(one person), Messiah must be Messiah (one human person) death must be death,(no intermediate existence; the whole person dies and returns to dust); ressurection must be ressurection (the whole person is raised back to life and has no partial existence elsewhere), kingdom must be kingdom (not in heaven but on earth ) and certainly not 7 years in heaven (Pre-trib) and naked awaiting a partial ressurrection at his appearing.

    Let’s be honest, what you are really saying here is, “Lord God must be my definition of Lord God (which is: one person), Messiah must be my definition of Messiah (which is: one human person with no divine nature), death must be my definition of death (which is: no intermediate existence; the whole person dies and returns to dust), etc.
    You make these assertions, but you fail to demonstrate why they MUST be so. Why should we accept what you say “must” be true? Give us evidence and well-reasoned argumentation, not assumptions and assertions.

    Scriptures enhance one another. They do not contradict or lend to confusion. That is owing to our own ignorance or bias.

    For the record, I agree.
    And also in passing, I do not hold to a pre-trib eschatology.

    (3) What is a “Reformed Lutheran”? And why have I never heard of them?

    Do your homework a little better next time – Lutherans do not, nor have we ever, affirmed the T.U.L.I.P. system of 5-point Calvinism.

    As for taking them with the appropriate discernment, good plan. But I don’t understand why you would call Luther “[my] author”.

  35. Nick Norelli says:

    Anonymous: It matters because if you just read it in Buzzard’s article, which you seem to have admitted, then you didn’t read it in context. In context Harnack says that Greek influence came before Christianity existed. I don’t know why you’re equating Hellenization with “paganization” as if the two are synonymous. Anyway, please explain how “The Harnack quite [sic] proves that many notable biblical and historical scholars have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt the paganizarion [sic] of Christianity.” Supposing that Harnack is even saying what you assert (he isn’t, but for the sake of argument we’ll say that he is), at best you have one notable historical theologian saying it. You certainly don’t have many proving it beyond a shadow of a doubt. And the Shema was never a unitarian creed. You’re reading later ideas (Greek philosophical ideas I might point out) into the Shema. It’s clearly a call to exclusive devotion to the LORD. Nothing more, nothing less.

  36. ken lokken says:

    1. Tom I prescribe pagan phiilosophy to you; because you cannot defend your position in the Old testatment. I cannot disprove your assertions of trinity, pre-existence and diety by the Old testament because the OT never addresses those issues. What I can do is simply tell you the Old testament in itself speaks of One God, one messiah, one Kingdom, the mortality of man, ressurection and future judgment. That my friend is the Hebrew text,

    2 The new testament; the Greek text expands on these basic truth. It does not contradict it. There is one mediator between God and man and that is the MAN, christ Jesus. As Messiah (God’s plan and reason for creation) he fullfilled the law and the prophets.

    3. What then is conservative reformed lutheran? Is that you or someone you are referencing? Lutherans do grow their tulip a little different than that of calvin. The free will crowd is the real differentiation.

    3. it’s nice to know you do not hold to Pre-trib..a nice invention for those who hold to disembodiment prior to the return of Christ. After all who wants to be DEAD until the return of Christ. The whole person is dead..and the whole person is raised, but each in their own turn, after the first or second ressurection.

    4. I see you do understand my position and have summarized it pretty well even though you reject it.

    5 As for nick..The shema is not a unitary monotheistic statement? That premise is so basic a child can understand it. Old testament is hebrew not greek nor did the jews entertain gentiles unto themselves unless they strickly followed basic Mosaic teachings. God indeed takes the wise in their own conceit. The shema was not only a call to devotion but an affirmation of that devotion to ONE GOD.

  37. Chuck says:

    foxlemke

    …the antecedents and successors in the passage make it perfectly clear that the Son in the referent.

    The Son is only introduced in v. 14, before then the prologue talks about God and His word. If John wanted to have said what your creeds say he would have just come out and said it!

    The Father anointed the Son – perfect sense! You are the one introducing some “other God” into the text, not me.

    The Father is God and the Son is God right? Whose introducing some other God? Just going by what your creeds say. If this is the case Phil 2 is talking about how one “God” [the Father] annointed another “God” [the Son]. Like I said, makes perfect sense…NOT!!!

    Nick
    I just posted another quote from Godart. I can go on and on and on….

  38. foxlemke says:

    Ken:

    (1) You “prescribe”? I’m confused – do you mean “ascribe”?

    What are you talking about that I can’t defend my position from the Old Testament? I’ve done so before in this conversation with verses from Isaiah and Micah – what does it take?

    the Old testament in itself speaks of One God, one messiah, one Kingdom, the mortality of man, ressurection and future judgment.

    We agree here, but let me emphasize that you are enforcing your definitions for the nature of the one God, the Messiah, etc. onto the text rather than drawing them from it, and failing to prove why we must accept your definitions at that. Your assumption of Unitarianism drives much of this, as does your assumption that the mortality of men militates against the continuing existence of the soul with the Lord after the death of the body. These are simply not presuppositions I share, and while I again stress that I affirm “one God, one Messiah, etc.”, proving monotheism does not prove Unitarianism, nor does saying that man is mortal disprove the body-soul distinction. I could go on, but you get the point.

    We agree on what the Hebrew text says, I imagine – we disagree on what it means.

    (2) Um yes, there is one mediator, the man Christ Jesus, who fulfilled the Law and the Prophets – what you are missing is the identification of this man as God incarnate.

    (3a) I said that ours was the conservative reformation, not that we are “conservative reformed”. Just quickly, the term “reformed” is used primarily to denote the heirs of the more liberal reformation that was of Zwingli and Calvin – Lutherans are not a part of that camp, therefore we do not make use of the term “reformed”. Sorry to be so picky about semantics, but while it’s true that Lutherans are “reformed” in the sense that we broke from Rome, the term “reformed” has come to carry a very specific referent in our day, and its usage excludes Lutherans. That’s why you will never hear of a “reformed Lutheran”, even though Luther was the beginning of the reformation.

    (3b) Do you advocate soul sleep? If not, what is your position, then?

    From what I understand you to be saying, you believe that when the body dies, the soul/spirit dies as well – is this an accurate statement?

    While we’re on the subject, let’s look at a few of the Scriptural evidences for the ongoing consciousness of the soul after death.

    A) Jesus told the thief on the cross, “today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Certainly as the body of Christ laid in the tomb for 3 days we would be erring to say this meant physically, and yet we have this statement to deal with.

    B) Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:14-31) shows in a real way the continuing consciousness of the soul after death, even prior to the final resurrection, as evidenced by the rich man’s plea for Abraham to send Lazarus back to warn his brothers, who were still alive on earth.

    C) We have Paul’s internal debate in Philippians 1, vv 21-24, where he says:

    For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.

    Here we have Paul making quite clear that for him, to depart (i.e. no longer “remain in the flesh”) is to be “with Christ”. This is not some unconscious death-state of the soul being presented here, but the idea that being physically dead means being taken to be with the Lord as a conscious individual.

    D) Finally, I give what I consider to be the nail in your coffin (no pun intended) here, in Jesus’ statement to His apostles as He prepared them for His own death:

    And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

    Now, if it is as you believe, and the death of the body equals the death of the soul, how can these words of Jesus be true? How can Jesus say that there are those who can kill the body but not the soul if to kill the body one-to-one equals the death of the soul? After all, in your paradigm, to kill the body is to kill the soul, so to tell folks not to be afraid of those who can only kill the body is patently absurd! Rather, this statement does make sense if the body and soul have a distinction – a distinction which makes it possible for the soul to have an ongoing conscious existence apart from the body for a season.

    (4) I’m glad – it always helps avoid talking past each other when we can come to grips with what one another is trying to say.

    (5) Not to steal Nick’s fire, but the Shema is simply a monotheistic statement, not a “unitary” one (not unitary in the sense of single-personhood, that is).

    Yes, the premise is indeed so basic a child could get it: YHWH is Israel’s only God.

    But here’s the thing: you are importing ontological categories onto it when you try to say that this means that God IS one PERSON. That’s simply not being discussed in the text, and it is to assume Unitarianism to insist otherwise.

  39. foxlemke says:

    Chuck:

    The Son is only introduced in v. 14, before then the prologue talks about God and His word.

    Number one, my exegesis presented above is sound, and completely overturns what you had said prior about the Word “tabernacling in a human body”.

    Number two, John has no problem referring to Christ in terms not normally applied to persons (i.e. in John’s Gospel He is bread, vine, way, truth, light, door, etc.), and Word is no different.

    Number three, the fact that the antecedents and successors do not break between the Word and Jesus Himself shows the two to be one and the same referent.

    If John wanted to have said what your creeds say he would have just come out and said it!

    Why should he have written what he wrote the way you insist? John’s prologue is perfectly clear, so long as you don’t try to obfuscate it on account of your doctrinal bias.

    The Father is God and the Son is God right? Whose introducing some other God? Just going by what your creeds say. If this is the case Phil 2 is talking about how one “God” [the Father] annointed another “God” [the Son]. Like I said, makes perfect sense…NOT!!!

    If you’re going by what the creeds say, what part of “So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.” do you not understand?

    Again, I believe that the Father and the Son are the one God – they are personally distinct, yes, but why should that mean there are two Gods? It is only so if you are assuming Unitarianism (i.e. that one God cannot be other than one person).

  40. foxlemke says:

    One more quick note on the Shema – in my post above I said that it is a monotheistic statement, but I want to clarify that even THAT is a bit much to be read into this single text. The Shema, read by itself, leaves the door wide open for henotheism – its only affirmation is that YHWH alone is Israel’s God.

    Now, I’m no henotheist, and there are other passages in Deuteronomy (and many more in Isaiah) to the effect that only one God exists; but, strictly speaking, the Shema by itself does not assert this.

  41. kenneth lokken says:

    Tom

    1. yes ascribe

    2. Jesus only has immortality and we will be granted immortality after him who partake of the 1st resurrection at his appearing. It is a resurrection not of the body; but of the entire person. A soul in heaven would not need a resurrection; much less wait for his appearing.

    3 Dust plus breath equals animated flesh and so was the first man created. Animated flesh is a living creature, living soul or living being. Every breathing thing is a living soul. You are no different than a cow; rather just an order that is higher that allows you to have dominion over a cow. We have a soul in a sense that we are aware that we are living beings with attributes of mind, will and intellect. A cow could not tell you it has a living soul even though it is aware of it’s surroundings, pleasure and pain.

    4 The soul that sinneth it shall die. Physical death is the breath of God departed from flesh which then turns back to dust. Man is not a two part or 3 part being. Man is animated flesh. We ascribe to man the notion of a body, soul and spirit as to describe the animated flesh. It does not make him 3 parts. Dust plus breath is the man. At death he ceases to be. He has not migrated to heaven or torment..then recalled back into his body. That would be a form of reincarnation and certainly not a resurrection from the dead.

    A. Jesus told the thief simply: Today I tell you…you will be with me in paradise (the kingdom to come at my appearing) Jesus was dead 3 days; then was raised. Jesus nor the thief went to paradise that day. The thief was not raised from the grave and is still there..much like david in the book of Acts. Jesus spent 40 more days speaking of the Kingdom to his followers before he had even ascended to his father.

    B. Parable is not doctrine. Both Lazarus and Abraham are in the grave awaiting resurrection as affirmed in Hebrews 11.

    c. To depart and be with Christ or to be absent from the body and present with Christ. Both speak concerning the resurrection. The unconscious dead have no sense of time. Once awakened in resurrection it will have seemed like the blink of an eye that they were dead. Paul also said he did not want to be found NAKED. The idea of disembodiment horrified him. Paul saw the whole person dead, the whole person made alive in renewed and immortal (God breathed) flesh. Resurrection is corporate and neither is their individual soul migration to heaven and neither are rewards and final judgment given prior to his appearing.

    d. To kill the soul and body in hell is simply not to grant life in the age to come. Martyrs have experienced death by men who would have loved to deprive them of life in the age to come. Only Jesus will determine who is granted that life or who is not.

  42. kenneth lokken says:

    Tom

    1. I can except your description of the shema on those terms because it is not contradictory to the sayings of Moses elsewhere..nor the prophets.

  43. kenneth lokken says:

    Chuck

    Do you hold to the notion of 2 Gods (arian) or what. Can you clarify?

  44. Chuck says:

    foxlemke

    John has no problem referring to Christ in terms not normally applied to persons (i.e. in John’s Gospel He is bread, vine, way, truth, light, door, etc.), and Word is no different.

    I totally agree!! They are all “terms” and not preexistent, ‘Persons’ of the one God of Israel, YHWH. Just like the OT “terms” of “Wisdom, Glory, Prudence” etc., are personified so is the “term” of “the word [logos] of God”.

    Why should he have written what he wrote the way you insist?

    All I am insisting on is to understand the prologue within the Hebraic mindset of the writer and not with Greco-Roman [Western] eyes.

    I believe that the Father and the Son are the one God – they are personally distinct, yes, but why should that mean there are two Gods?

    So you agree then that for you Phil 2.5-11 is talking about how one “God” [the Father] annointed another “God” [the Son]?

    …its only affirmation is that YHWH alone is Israel’s God.

    I point you to the use of the word echad which is Hebrew for the numerical word for 1. Thus, it does “assert” that the one God of Israel is unipersonal and His [and not ‘Their’] name is YHWH.

  45. Chuck says:

    foxlemke

    Just to rephrase my Phil 2.5-11 point above. So you believe that “God the Father” annointed “God the Son”? Isn’t this an act of subordination?

  46. Nick

    In context Harnack says that Greek influence came before Christianity existed.

    Harnack describes Christian dogma as the word of the Greek spirit working on the NT. He says that preexistence and virgin birth obviously exclude each other. How true! For confirmation read Loofs History of Dogman.

    It is perfectly obvious that 1300 occurences of theos to mean the Father prove indeed that the Shema is a unitarian creed. “One Lord”, defining the God of Israel, is not “Two Lords” or “Three Lords”. And since “the Father” Who is true God, nobody else can be. You are speaking an English which is entirely foreign to me. Hence there is no good communication.

    Would you agree that “the immortal dies” is nonsense?

    foxlemke

    …strictly speaking, the Shema by itself does not assert this.

    Read the Greek, PLEASE, of Mar 12.29 where Jesus said that the God of ISrael is “one Lord”. And the scribe agreed that there is no other but He. 1300 occurence of God meaning “the Father” ought to convince you. Each one is a unitarian proof.

    Paul then gave his confession:

    For us [Christians] there is only one God, the Father, and no other God except Him.

    Jesus is NEVER said to be the LORD [YHWH] God. Never called the “Almighty”. Never called “the Most High”. And constantly said to be the lord Messiah following the key, “golden thread” text that is Ps 110.1.

    None of the 11 000 occurences of the words for God in the Bible signify a triune God.

    No responsible NT scholar would claim that the doctrine of the Trinity was taight by Jesus or preached by the earliest Christians or consciously held by any writer of the NT. Hanson, The Image of the Invisible God, p.87

  47. Pingback: Someone Has Never Seen Highlander or Vampire Flicks for that Matter | Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth

  48. Rich Griese says:

    I wrote this in response to a different blog post where someone was talking up this question;

    a poster that asked if the phrase “the immortal dies” was nonsense. The obvious response, is that via the primary definition of the term, “one who does not die” it is, but my guess is that whatever quote the original discussion was generated by, the term “immoral” was used in an alternate sense, as in the one listed below that one “deserving to be remembered forever”. In that sense, those immortals are actually already dead. Like the valiant warrior depicted in an epic poem. The idea of that immortal is “remembered forever”. Usually those that some writer is proclaiming should be “remembered forever” or “never forgotten” will probably be dead. Since they probably died in some hero way that saved a people or something, and hence via that phrase I would be surprised if they were NOT already dead. If I had to make a judgement on the phrase “the immortal dies” to me… it would come from a writer that is actually warning or bemoaning the audience that folks that should be immortal (never forgotten) ARE in fact being forgotten. ie, that a community is forgetting a history that they should not.

    Cheers!

    I should clarify, I am not saying that that is what the writer of what you are talking about is saying. I was addressing the question in general on another blog where someone was asking about the phrase, and what it COULD mean.

    Cheers!

  49. ken lokken says:

    Rich

    This is not a discussion about epic poetry. You stumbled on to this blog, much like the drunkard that stumbles into a church and rants out his “Cheers”

  50. Rich Griese

    I’m surprised that your not familiar with Christian literature!

    The line, extremely famous, from Charles Wesley’s hymn and refers [as everyone knows] to the Son of God, “the immortal who died”.

    I would like to hear you affirm, now, that this is non-sense! And brings discredit on INTELLIGENT Christianity.

  51. Nick (in cae this does not appear on your blog)

    RE: Highlander and vampire lore.

    Nick

    Would that you were verses in Christian hymnology and then not waste words about vampires and get to the point!

    Now, please, affirm that “the immortal dies” is, indeed, an insult to our intelligence. Within the frame of which I obviously asked the question.

  52. Rich Griese says:

    I am not interested in the supernaturalism of Christianity, but am very interested in the study of the early history of the group. I am always happy to meet others that also study the topic as well. My interest specifically is up till perhaps a generation or two after Irenaeus. But I would say I am interested in anything from the Maccabean revolt up till about 384CE when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman empire.

    I am always happy to meet new friends.

    Cheers!

  53. Rich

    Thanks! As an intelligent speaker of English will you affirm that the statement that the literally immortal died is nonsense?

    • Rich Griese says:

      Hello Anthony, I addressed that somewhat above. In the literal sense of the meaning “immortal” as an adjective, yes, if it is used as the noun, then no. See my past of the Oxford definition below.

      Cheers!

      immortal |i(m)ˈmôrtl|
      adjective
      living forever; never dying or decaying : our mortal bodies are inhabited by immortal souls.
      • deserving to be remembered forever : the immortal children’s classic, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”
      noun
      an immortal being, esp. a god of ancient Greece or Rome.
      • a person of enduring fame : he will always be one of the immortals of hockey.
      • ( Immortals) historical the royal bodyguard of ancient Persia.
      • ( Immortal) a member of the French Academy.

  54. kenneth lokken says:

    Rich

    Why does that period spark your interest? Our you aware there was a dramatic shift that occurred after the first century; that those after that period no longer hold to the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints? Christianity was about Messiah and kingdom focused. It has become an entirely different religion all together. It now has a trinity, jesus is no longer a jew human being who was raised from the dead and will be the King of the earth. He is now pre-existent diety even before birth but lays claim to being born of woman. Heaven is now the home of the saints and so forth. Shall I go on?

    One cannot even begin to define the beginning of christianity while objecting to the Messianic hope of the kingdom on earth as first promised to Abraham. To do so would be writing your own history. Such have the fathers done throughout the 2nd-4th centuries. They have hijacked Christianity and substituted their own brand and have made a name for themselves.

    Define supernaturalism. Are you merely looking at Christianity to gain a mere historical reference? If so, you will not find it; particuliarly if your heart has no intent of honoring him for who he is and the message he came to bring.

  55. Rich, thanks,

    But all this is a bit of a diversion to avoid the obvious nonsense that “the immortal dies” in the Wesley hymn sung in church.

    Christianity denies the death of Jesus, the Son of God, when it says “he is God,” who is immortal.
    Think of this: God means the Father 1300 times in the NT. Jesus is never called “the Almighty, the Most High, the pantokrator.”

    There is a “GOD the Father” but no GOD the Son exists in the BIble. Dean Matthews was right when he said:

    …It must be admitted by everyone who has the rudiments of an historical sense that the doctrine of the Trinity formed no part of the original message. St. Paul did not know it, and would have been unable to understand the meaning of the terms used in the theological formula on which the Church ultimately agreed. Dr. Matthews, God in Christian Experience, p. 180.

    Then this:

    The Trinity. The NT does not contain the developed doctrine of the Trinity. The Bible lacks the express declaration that the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are of an equal essence and therefore in an equal sense God himself. And the other express declaration is also lacking, that God is God thus and only thus, i.e., as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. These two express declarations, which go beyond the witness of the Bible, are the twofold content of the church doctrine of the Trinity (Karl Barth, CD 1, 1 437)….

    That God and Christ belong together and that they are distinct, are equally stressed, with the precedence in every case due to God, the Father, who stands above Christ…

    There is no strict dogmatic assertion… All this underlines the point that primitive Christianity did not have an explicit doctrine of the Trinity such as was subsequently elaborated in the creeds of the early church…J.. Schneider, Prof. of Theology in Berlin.

  56. Rich,

    “The immortal dies” = “the immortal God the Son dies”.

    Which is madhouse language! But people sing this and hope that God and Jesus are pleased!
    Anthony

  57. foxlemke says:

    Okay, I’ve found some time to jump back in and respond to that which I left hanging. I can’t promise the same amount of interaction I was maintaining for a while there, but that said, here goes:

    Ken

    (2) Let no one ever accuse you of Nestorian tendencies, that much is certain. ;)
    Scripture does not give much information in terms of our state between physical death and our bodily resurrection, but there are certain things it does say, and I will deal with that below.

    (3) I have a problem with your statement that a human is “no different than a cow” save for being of a “higher order” (whatever that means). For one thing, God is in no way said to have created cows by forming them out of the dust of the earth and breathing the breathe of life into them as we see with Adam, nor do we find animals being created in the image and likeness of God. The “dust plus breath equals animated flesh” is nowhere in Scripture given as a formula, and the Bible is clear that mankind is absolutely unique in all creation. I wonder, if we are just glorified cows, why not change the ingredients in my hamburger a bit – what would be wrong with that? Also, Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:39 would seem to run counter to your theory. You seem to be more in line here with the medieval “great chain of being” in your thinking here than Biblical anthropology.

    (4) Do you have a verse? For any of this? Again, see my comments which follow:

    (A) Actually, the “today I tell you” is a rather large stretch in the Greek. I further note that no major Bible translation uses your version of this verse, and don’t think a very good case can be made for your reading.

    (B) Prove it’s a parable. Jesus never used actual names for the characters in his parables – that is unless this is the one and only exception. Besides, even if parable, Jesus always uses real places, not inventing non-existent realities to draw from. BTW, No one’s arguing that Abraham etc. aren’t bodily in the grave.

    C) I don’t think you can make the jump that Paul is speaking of the final resurrection here. Consider the even more explicit II Corinthians 5:8, where Paul says “Yes, we are of good courage, and would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” This cannot possibly be speaking of the resurrection, because as you note the final resurrection is a bodily one. Yet here Paul speaks of being “apart from the body and at home with the Lord”.

    (D) The Bible is clear about the conscious torment that is hell – the lake of fire where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, where the fire does not die and the worm does not cease to gnaw.

    Now, we’ve gotten a little far afield of the Trinity. Let’s make this simple: Jesus claims to be the “I Am” (John 8:58, and elsewhere), receives the names “My Lord and My God” and blesses the speaker without batting an eye (John 20:28), shares the Name of the Father and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:20), etc. I could also mention the honors and attributes that Jesus shares with God. Bottom line, Jesus Christ is eternal Deity. As long as that is the case, along with the personhood of the Holy Spirit, we have the Trinity.

    Chuck:

    I totally agree!! They are all “terms” and not preexistent, ‘Persons’ of the one God of Israel, YHWH. Just like the OT “terms” of “Wisdom, Glory, Prudence” etc., are personified so is the “term” of “the word [logos] of God”.

    You’re either missing my point, or are guilty of equivocation here – either way you are off course. The λογος is the Son – that’s what I’m saying. The rest of John’s Gospel has plenty of normally impersonal terms being used to describe the Son, so your argument that the Word in the prologue cannot be the person of the Son is without support.

    All I am insisting on is to understand the prologue within the Hebraic mindset of the writer and not with Greco-Roman [Western] eyes.

    I, on the other hand, want to plainly understand what the text is trying to communicate, period – one “mindset” vs. another does not ultimately concern me. And what it plainly says is that the Word became flesh – clearly, a person.

    So you agree then that for you Phil 2.5-11 is talking about how one “God” [the Father] annointed another “God” [the Son]?

    I do not divide God into “one God” and “another God”. I recognize the distinctions that Scripture tells us are present within the one God and say, again, that the person of the Father anointed the person of the Son.

    I point you to the use of the word echad which is Hebrew for the numerical word for 1. Thus, it does “assert” that the one God of Israel is unipersonal and His [and not ‘Their’] name is YHWH.

    ‘Echad means “one”, not “one person”. You can only arrive at your present conclusion via the assumption of unitarianism.

    Just to rephrase my Phil 2.5-11 point above. So you believe that “God the Father” annointed “God the Son”? Isn’t this an act of subordination?

    What does the text say? Christ made Himself nothing, voluntarily taking a position lower than the angels for a time in His humiliation. Regardless, I’ve gotta say, I really fail to see where you’re going with this subordination thing.

  58. kenneth lokken says:

    ok…………..

    1. We are more than cows. My point is all living breathing creatures are called living souls. Obviously man is on a higher order but still of the physical creation. He is apponted to a dominion that a cow is not. In that sense he is created in the image amd likeness of God. Along with that reign he has the capacity for rule.

    2. And God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul. Again dust plus breath equals a living soul, person, or being .

    3. There is a glory given in resurrection (not inherent) that will render this body of flesh immortal and incorruptible. It is obvious that for now man like animal is corrupt and returns to dust upon death. In that sense the death of the man is no different then the death of a beast.

    4. Your reading I find unexceptable as well. It could not have been today. Jesus was DEAD..how then could he be in paradise, unless you believe that a part of him did not die which would then render his death the biggest hoax of all. Either Jesus died or he did not. I do NOT hold to a NON-HUMAN Jesus.

    5 Abraham and Lazarus are among the dead. The dead do not communicate to each other. The dead know nothing, have no remembrance, neither do they praise God. The dead await a resurrection. Just that fact alone tells you this is a parable. The thing about story telling you can use names and embellishments to convey any thought you like. The issue is the pharisees would not believe in him, nor moses, nor if anyone rose from the dead

    6 Apart from the body; present with the Lord is spoken in the context of resurrection; not soul migration. The first time we meet Jesus will be at his appearing and not before then.

    7. The soul which is not inherently immortal cannot experience endless conscious torment. Immortality is granted only to the saints. There is conscious torment leading to a final destruction for those who reject or disobey the gospel. The fire and the worm are not satisfied until the final destruction of all things.

    8 Bottom line Jesus is a man, albiet glorified who sits at the right hand of God. He is a High Priest..a MAN aquainted with us who now intercedes for us. He is given the honors as God’s representative and is co-regent with him on behalf of humanity. Jesus acts on behalf of God who works through him.

    For Chuck: are you arian? or Jesus only? I agree with; the Logos is simply the plan, mind, thought, expression and activity of God as creator, sustainer of all things. It is not a pre-existent being along side of God who created or sustains all things. That active word then became flesh.

  59. Rich Griese says:

    While I do not study the topic as a supernaturalist, I am very interested in the origins of christianity. I’ve been studying the topic for about 20+ years, and now that I am retired, it is one of the hobbies that brings me great joy.

    I am currently very interested in the time period that we think of involving Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria. If these specific or topic in general is something you are interested in meeting others to talk to, feel free to contact me.

    Cheers!

  60. Chuck says:

    foxlemke

    …your argument that the Word in the prologue cannot be the person of the Son is without support.

    Here are a couple of quotes to think about…

    …the Trinitarian sense should not be here [in Luk 1.35] applied to the term Son of God. The notion of the pre-existence of Jesus Christ, as the eternal Son of God, is quite foreign to the context. Mary could not have comprehended it; and on the supposition that she had comprehended or even caught a glimpse of it, so far from being sustained by it in her work as a mother, she would have been rendered incapable of performing it.

    The Holy Spirit denotes here the divine power, the life-giving breath which calls into developed existence the germ of a human personality slumbering in Mary’s womb…Thus in this birth the miracle of the first creation is repeated on a scale of greater power. Two elements concurred in the formation of man: a body taken from the ground, and the divine breath.

    By the word also (‘therefore also’) the angel alludes to his preceding words: He shall be called the Son of the Highest. We might paraphrase it: ‘And it is precisely for this reason that I said to thee, that…’ We have here then, from the mouth of the angel himself, an authentic explanation of the term Son of God in the former part of his message. After this explanation Mary could only understand the title ‘Son of God’ in this sense: a human being of whose existence God is the immediate author. It does not convey the idea of preexistence… A Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke, Vol. 1, Godet, pp 91-93.

    It is only with verse 14 [‘the word became flesh’] that we can begin to speak of the personal Logos. The poem uses rather impersonal language (became flesh), but no Christian would fail to recognize here a reference to Jesus — the word became not flesh in general but Jesus Christ. Prior to verse 14 we are in the same realm as pre-Christian talk of Wisdom and Logos…dealing with personifications rather than persons, personified actions of God rather than an individual divine being as such.

    The point is obscured by the fact that we have to translate the masculine Logos as ‘he’ throughout the poem. But if we translated Logos as ‘God’s utterance’ instead, it would become clearer that the poem did not necessarily intend the Logos of vv. 1-13 to be thought of as a personal divine being. In other words, the revolutionary significance of v. 14 may well be that it marks…the transition from impersonal personification to actual person. Christology in the Making, J.D.G. Dunn, p. 243.

    I recognize the distinctions that Scripture tells us are present within the one God…

    Can you provide scriptural evidence for where God is distinctly “the Father, Son & HS”?

    Regardless, I’ve gotta say, I really fail to see where you’re going with this subordination thing.

    What about passages like 1Cor 15.20-30?

  61. Chuck says:

    Ken L.

    For Chuck: are you arian? or Jesus only?

    What do you think? :)

  62. Tom Lemke says:

    Ken:

    1) Fair enough – not alot to disagree with here. Though I would say that being created in the image and likeness of God means a whole lot more than just “capacity for rule”.

    2) In the case of man, but I thought you were trying to make the case that man and animals are 1:1 the same in this regard.

    3) Agreed, in the sense of the body returning to dust upon death man and animals are the same.

    4) Jesus died and as a consequence He was away from the body and at home with the Father; i.e. in paradise.

    5) Well, the dead certainly do communicate with each other in this text. Here’s the thing: you are operating under a presupposition that this text cannot reflect a literal conscious existence after the death of the body; that’s not a presupposition I share, so I let the text speak, and it harmonizes with Paul, as quoted above.

    6) But then we will be in the body, not apart from it. Don’t you see? You’re totally missing the point of the text that a man can be apart from the body, yet present with the Lord.

    7) I just read what the Bible says, and it doesn’t say “the worm does not die until” or “the fire is not quenched until“.

    8) No argument about the manhood of Jesus. But can you honestly say you could kneel down at His feet and call Him “my Lord and my God”? Do you refer to Him as the “Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end”? In my paradigm, such terms are properly used of the one creator God alone, and any other application is blasphemy.

    Rich: Thanks for your kind offer!

    Chuck:

    Can you provide scriptural evidence for where God is distinctly “the Father, Son & HS”?

    Scroll up to the top and link to AU#3.

    What about passages like 1Cor 15.20-30?

    What about them?

  63. kenneth lokken says:

    Tom

    1-2. Yes a little more. Indeed much more and it would go to his head as it already does now…lol

    3 Man has no inherent immortality. The breath removed he returns to dust. He is born a person..he dies a person. No part of him lives and dies at the same time. He is not somewhere else and in the grave at the same time.

    4. Jesus was dead 3 days, then was raised ..spent 40 days with the disciples speaking on the Kingdom of God. His ascent to the Father was after the 43rd day. He himself said to Mary; Touch me not for I have not yet ascended unto my Father. This occurred after being buried in the earth 3 days. If you applied the mere 3 day rule..Jesus was not with the Father. If you believe the book of acts..he ascended in the clouds after 40 more days. So much for the idea of Today being literally Today. It was an expression of acknowledgement to the thief that he was heard and would also be a part of his kingdom at his 2nd appearing. Paradise is not a holding cell for the righteous, a heaven, or temporary lodging. Paradise is being in the Kingdom proclaimed by the Messiah himself.

    5. The dead do not communicate. Paul very much like david remains in the earth until he is called forth at the resurrection..the same with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus only has immortality and only is seated in the heavens. Only when he descends will the dead in Christ be called forth in resurrection . To believe in life after death apart from resurrection alone is what gives way to all kinds of spiritism. You cannot possibly be harmonizing with Paul on this issue because Paul only knows the power of the ressurrection. To be found naked..an immortal soul without a body was a hideous thought to him which he flatly rejected. Pauls’ position is that a man cannot be absent from the body and present with the lord APART from resurrection simply because he does Not have an immortal soul. Read his entire position on resurrection

    6 Agree it does not say Until. But if death ceases to be everywhere, then there is no need for an eternal fire nor is there conscious suffering any longer. In the new heavens and earth..there is no more death, tears, torment or anything else. The bible ends with life not death, light not darkness, and joy with no sorrow. So I use the word “until”

    7 Yes I can. As God’s vice regent who acts soley on his behalf; he is to me an author and finisher of my faith. The beginning and end result of the new creation. He is my Lord given and my God expressed through him. When I see Jesus the Man I see the one who has appointed him as Master, Lord, Messiah, Savior, King. In seeing him, we obey the Father who appointed him as such and Glorify God through our obedience to him who was so designated. We give honor to parents, bosses, appointed offices and presidencies. All these come from God. How much more should we honor him whom God has designated as King in the everlasting age to come.

    8. Get rid of your trinity, and the non human Jesus and you will see your religion built on straw. Listen I have been there but sooner or later you have got to take off the glasses of tradition and read the scriptures plainly. God is not afraid of the truth. Why then are we afraid of the truth about him. I’d rather be wrong 30 years and own up then hold on to an error out of fear of what if.

  64. kenneth lokken says:

    Chuck

    Fully agree John 1 does not refer to a preexistent, co-creator. It is elohim who created out from his Logos all things. This same Elohim out from his logos came upon Mary and by divine conception; she later gave birth to a son whose name was Jesus; to be called the son of God. That specific word which came forth by Elohim became a personal seperate being.

  65. Chuck says:

    Tom

    So you agree that “it is true that the Trinitarian cannot produce a text which states the nature of God in these words: “God is three Divine persons in one Being” (notice we are not saying “3 persons in 1 person” or “3 beings in 1 being””.

    Thanks for the clarification.

    1Cor 15.20-29 clearly says that the Son is subordinate to the Father.

  66. John Robinson of Cambridge in his Twelve More NT Essays, made the obviously true statement that “John’s Jesus is as much an adherent of unitary monotheism as any NT writer.” He cited John 17:3 and 5:44 as samples.
    I think that no one above has begun to answer that point. “You Father are the only one who is true GOD” is an easy way to say that God is one Self, one Person, one “Someone.”
    There is no way that language can express the idea more clearly than that.
    Mark 12:29 makes the same proposition “The LORD our GOD is one LORD.”
    Jesus was a Jew and not a Trinitarian, nor was Paul, who agreed with Jesus, a Trinitarian!

  67. Tom Lemke says:

    Sir Anthony: Jesus affirmed that the Father is the one true God. Trinitarians affirm that the Father is the one true God. We also affirm that Jesus is the one true God, and the Holy Spirit is the one true God. Have you seen the nifty little Trinity graphic? Have you ever heard of the logical fallacy, “Denying the antecedent”?

  68. Blasater says:

    The Trinity graphic is in error and does not represent the true stated Trinity of the church. The son, as shown in the graphic, is lacking the hypostatic union. The son, according to the church, is a god-man containing 100% each. Thus he contains human nature as well as God nature. That creation began with no human nature in the godhead and existing today with human nature in the godhead, violates Gods immutability.

  69. If anyone says that the Son is the true God and the Spirit is the true God, then that is three who are the True GOD. That contradicts the proposition “YOU Father are the only one who is the true God.”
    There is no antecedent to be denied here! Jesus simply copies the thousands of statements calling God the Father the only God. Jesus cannot also be “the only one who is true God.” No wonder most church goers retreat into “mystery.” They cannot fathom the obvious contradiction!
    I speak as a Christian professor and I am trying to follow Jesus in Mark 12:29 and John 17:3.

  70. Tom Lemke says:

    Blasater: The Trinity graphic does what it is supposed to in showing the ontological Trinity. Obviously when it comes to the economic Trinity, let alone with the Incarnation, such a simple graphic would be insufficient. As far as the immutability of God, I’ve never understood why you think the incarnation would violate it, but the interacting with His people in space and time would not. For instance, from the Jewish unitarian perspective, God was not a Father (as David designates Him) before the creation, but He is after. He adds the nature of Father to Himself if you will. Yet this does not compromise His immutability.

    Sir Anthony: Three persons, yes. Three Gods, no. You are assuming Unitarianism yet again. And Christ’s statement is that the Father is the only true God, not that the Father is the only person who is God in nature. It’s a statement denying the deity of the false gods of the world, not that Christ and the Father are one. Come on, the text even goes on to make knowledge of Christ the foundation of eternal life – not something to be ascribed to a being short of God.

    On denying the anticedent, I’ve found this helpful. I’m not denying the Divine mystery, but the difference between being and person is not a mystery.

    I respect that, but I’d like to see you also follow Jesus in John 8:58, and Thomas in John 20:28. Tota Sciptura.

  71. Blasater says:

    Tom wrote: “The Trinity graphic does what it is supposed to in showing the ontological Trinity.”

    Preincarnation, that Trinity diagram would be valid. G-d’s nature and attributes, however, can not be time dependent. It certainly would not have been correct during the time when Jesus walked the Earth. Jesus was either subject to Kenosis, which I know you reject or god the son was voluntarily cooperating with the limits of his human nature. So if in his divinity-humanity, he was not able to be fully divine, he was not ontologically the same as the father.at that time. Supposedly, he has regained the ability post resurrection. (ie And now knows the time of his return, which somehow he forgot when he became human). That is change…and forbidden.

    “As far as the immutability of God, I’ve never understood why you think the incarnation would violate it, but the interacting with His people in space and time would not. ”

    Let’s look at it this way. When G-d appeared in the burning bush, pillar of fire, cloud, Shekinah in the temple, or even as an angel (which I of course reject) , he did not “fuse” or become hypostasis with them at any point. When the events were over, they were over. We were never directed to give our devotion or worship any of those manifestations. The Bush was never revered as god, or a god-bush.

    But Jesus, we are told, is a “permanent” hypostatic union. Part of G-ds creation (a human born of a mortal woman) that we are to direct our devotion to. This is new. A fusion or hyposatic union that did not exist from eternity past. And currently, this god-man, 100%god,100%man, is in full communion with the father & spirit in a manner different from the beginning.

    That violates G-ds immutability.

    The revelation of G-ds nature and attributes was frozen at Sinai. There was no clear declaration by G-d of His stated complex unity at Sinai. The church can only cobble together this narrative from mystical events in Torah (Tanakh in general) This is a violation of hermeneutical principles of making doctrine from passages in the dark, rather than using the clear and shedding light on the dark.

    Father, is just an attribute, as is King. They are not natures or person-hood.

  72. Tom Lemke says:

    blasater: You make an excellent case for why someone should not be a monophysite, but your criticisms don’t work for someone who recognizes the distinction between human and divine natures, such that the human does not change the substance of the divine.

    I decided to look back, and it seems we’ve been over this ground before. Not sure I care to revisit it at the moment. Maybe when I haven’t just begun my week off from work.

  73. Blasater says:

    Monophysite? You are misrepresenting my position. I am not saying there is one nature. I fully realize the position of the church. Two natures, not mixed. 100%god and 100%man. Or as stated here (Wiki):

    The Incarnation is a fundamental theological teaching of orthodox (Nicene) Christianity, based on its understanding of the New Testament. The Incarnation represents the belief that the Son of God, who is the non-created second hypostasis of the triune, God, took on a human body and nature and became both man and God. In the Bible its clearest teaching is in John 1:14: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.”Per instructions from the angel, his name (as we now read it in English) was Jesus.

    In the Incarnation, as traditionally defined by those Churches that adhere to the Council of Chalcedon, the divine nature of the Son was united but not mixed with human nature in one divine Person, Jesus Christ, who was both “truly God and truly man”.

    or CARM:

    To incarnate means to become flesh. The incarnation of Jesus is when the human nature (Jesus the man) was added to the nature of God the second person of the Trinity. It is where God became a man (John 1:1,14; Phil. 2:5-8). It was the voluntary act of Jesus to humble himself so that he might die for our sins (1 Pet. 3:18). Thus, Jesus has two natures: Divine and human. This is known as the Hypostatic Union.

    This is the union of the two natures (Divine and human) in the person of Jesus. Jesus is God in flesh (John 1:1,14; 10:30-33; 20:28; Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 1:8). He is fully God and fully man (Col. 2:9); thus, he has two natures: God and man. He is not half God and half man. He is 100% God and 100% man. He never lost his divinity. He continued to exist as God when he became a man and added human nature to Himself (Phil. 2:5-11). Therefore, there is a “union in one person of a full human nature and a full divine nature.” Right now in heaven there is a man, Jesus, who is our Mediator between us and God the Father.

    You asked “As far as the immutability of God, I’ve never understood why you think the incarnation would violate it, but the interacting with His people in space and time would not.”?

    I made it clear that you are conflating the manifestations of G-d in Tanakh, with the Hypostatic union. Apples and Oranges, as it were. We are told in Deut 13, paraphrasing, if you are taught by a person anything which was not known to your fathers (by definition at Sinai) reject it and reject that person. Was G-d ever such a hypostatic union in Tanakh? no. Was it ever a part of teaching by our fathers? No it was not. Therefore, hypostatic union circa 33CE or 325CE must be rejected.

    Ps 102, says paraphrasing, “G-d you made the heavens and they wear out and like a garment, you change them. But you are the same.”

    In Tanakh, we see that in fact. There are no joining of natures, no fusion of the divine and part of creation. The church however, upends that fundamental truth. It proclaims a hypostatic union that is to be worshiped as G-d.

    There is simply no way to say that does not violate the immutability of G-d. I is evident A priori. How so? Was G-d nature joined to anything “in the beginning”? no. Was there a point in time when this joining occurred? Yes. Then by definition, this is change.

    Does this change alter the divinity? The church says no. And frankly, whether is does or doesnt is not part of the argument regarding the joining of natures. Just the fact alone a joining is claimed is change!

    I would of course disagree and say a divinity that can not exercise full divinity is change. And humanity that is incapable of exercising full humanity is change. The fact that Jesus could never have sinned if he wanted to, is a fatal flaw in stating he was 100% man. Jesus had no free will either. That is yet another fatal flaw in the claim of pure humanity.

    So, while a person can stand back and theoretically claim a pure hypostatic union, in reality it was anything but a hypostatic union.

    Lastly an observation, I do find it curious that you devote all sorts of time to polemics against christian unitarianism, but bounce away pretty quickly when confronted with Jewish unitarianism. But yes, it is your blog.

  74. Jesus was an exponent of Jewish unitarianism (Mk 12:29), but since Jesus is the founder-teacher of the NT Christian faith. it follows that his Jewish unitarian view of God should be that of Christians.
    It is I think mistaken to say that John 1:14 says that the SON became flesh. It was the word (not,Word) which became a human, Jesus. Jesus believed in Jewish unitarianism.

  75. Tom Lemke says:

    Blasatar: Just to address your final paragraph before I get back to my vacation, not that I owe anyone an accounting of my time…

    Mind the dates. The time I have spent on answering so-called “Christian” unitarianism was time I had back when I was a fresh college grad with no life but a job in a new town without friends or a significant other. You’ll notice “Answering Unitarians” has been without much activity for a good while now, and doesn’t stand to see much soon as in the intervening time I have acquired a fiancé, new friends, and become a homeowner. That’s in addition to gads of additional demands on my time, like my podcast, efforts at starting an independent business venture of my own, and trying to plan a wedding for May.

    In sum, at this point in my life I have vastly more useful and pressing things to attend to than perpetuating an endless online debate. Is this issue important? Yes. Do I feel I’ve been called to argue the issue with each and every contender demanding a piece of my time on their timetable? Not at this point in my life, no.

    Sir Anthony: You are still making arguments that I and many others have dealt with many times over. I don’t know how I could make my position and my points any more clearly, nor do I know how you could. We’re at an impasse. I respect your passion for this subject, but remain convinced of your error. I’m afraid we’ll just have to leave it at that for now.

  76. Blasater says:

    Well, congrats to you. I wish you all the best. Mazel tov.

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