Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sproul's Tabletalk: "The Deity of Christ & the Church"


Yesterday, I received in the mail the latest edition of R.C. Sproul's/Ligonier Ministries', Tabletalk (a "devotional magazine" - Jan. 2011/vol. 35.1). In this thread, I would like to examine the essay penned by Dr. Robert A. Peterson: "The Deity of Christ & the Church" (pp. 74, 75). This essay 'caught my eye', for in it's introduction, two verses from the OT that I have recently discussed (Pss. 45:5-7 and 110:1 - see the following threads: ONE; TWO; THREE), are listed as "seed form" proof texts for "the deity of Christ". Another item in the introduction which drew my attention was Dr. Peterson's assertion that, "There is no more important biblical truth for the life and health of the church than the deity of Christ." The following is the entire introduction:

There is no more important biblical truth for the life and health of the church than the deity of Christ. Although this truth exists in seed form in the Old Testament (Pss. 45:5-7; 110:1; Isa. 9:6; Dan. 7:13-14), it comes to full flower in the New Testament. I marshal five arguments for the deity of Christ. (P. 74)

An 'interesting' introduction for sure! Though I am quite certain that Dr. Peterson is sincere in his bold assertion that, "There is no more important biblical truth for the life and health of the church than the deity of Christ", the Bible, Jesus, Paul, Lutherans, and other EVs suggest otherwise. Now, if "the deity of Christ" is the most important Biblical truth, one would expect to find it's teaching on the lips of Jesus Christ—i.e. that our Lord would not only have CLEARLY/EXPLICITLY taught such a doctrine, but would have EMPHASIZED it—however, when one reads the words of Jesus as recorded in the NT, the doctrine is found wanting. Instead of teaching (let alone emphasizing) his "deity" (in the sense Dr. Peterson advocates), Jesus taught the monotheism of the Shema, and in a number of discourses, clearly distanced himself from "the Father" who is "the one true God". Dr. Scot McKnight pointed out in the beginning of his Christianity Today article, "Jesus vs. Paul" (Dec. 2010/vol. 54.12 - pp. 24-29) that, "Many biblical scholars and lay Christians have noted that Jesus preached almost exclusively about the kingdom of heaven" (p. 25). And let us not forget that Lutherans (and many EVs) advance the dictum that, “justification by faith alone is ‘the article upon which the church stands or falls (articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae)’”. (See THIS THREAD for some important historical information on this quite famous dictum.) As for the apostle Paul, a number of NT scholars are quite adamant that Paul never called Jesus "God" (see THIS THREAD, and THIS ONE, especially the combox, for some discussion on this issue). In a 'nutshell', I think it is safe to point out that Dr. Peterson's assertion is highly subjective, and may in fact be inaccurate.

Moving on, Dr. Peterson's first of "five arguments for the deity of Christ", is as follows:

Jesus is identified with God. Recent scholarship has taught us to argue for Christ's deity based on the way that the early Christians identified Jesus unambiguously with the one God of Israel (1 Cor. 8:5-6). (P. 74)

I sincerely wonder what Dr. Peterson is referring to when he mentions "recent scholarship"; fact is, a substantial portion of "recent scholarship" has taken the exact opposite position—i.e. Jesus did NOT identify himself as/with the one God of Israel, but rather, as the agent/representative of the one God of Israel. Further (and this importantly) the OT texts cited in Dr. Peterson's introduction, are not some "seed form" for identifying the future promised Messiah as/with the one God of Israel, but rather, they clearly identify this eschatological figure as God's agent/representative.

As for his statement that, "the early Christians identified Jesus unambiguously with the one God of Israel", the text he lists for support, 1 Cor. 8:5-6, does NOT assert what he claims; rather the text CEARLY identifies "one God of Israel" with the Father, NOT with Jesus. Now, I am quite aware that some Evangelical scholars have suggested that 1 Cor. 8:6 is an "expansion", "splitting", and/or "Christianizing" of the shema (e.g. Bauckham, de Lacey, Wright)—however, other scholars are not as convinced. For instance, Dr. James F. McGrath wrote:

In this chapter, we will look at evidence that challenges the idea that Jesus has here [1 Cor. 8:6] been included inside rather than alongside the Shema. The main difficulty with the view that Paul has "split the Shema" to produce a "Christological monotheism (whatever that might mean) is that it does not do justice to the nature of the Shema itself." (The One True God: Early Christian Monotheism in Its Jewish Context, p. 40.)

And then, a bit later:

Theoretically, he [Paul] could have written, "There is one God: the Father, from whom are all things, and the Son, through whom are all things." This would have emphasized the oneness of God while including Jesus clearly within that one God. Instead, Paul uses a statement about one God, which itself is sufficient to reiterate the point off the Shema, and then goes further to talk about "one Lord." When the oneness of God is coupled with another assertion of oneness in this way, we must look carefully to determine whether we are indeed dealing with a splitting of the Shema that is without parallel, or an addition of a second clause alongside the Shema, which is not in fact unparalleled in Jewish literature. (Ibid.)

Interestingly enough, James D.G. Dunn, who once held to the "expansion", "splitting", and/or "Christianizing" of the shema in 1 Cor. 8:6, later adopted McGrath's view, adding: "if anything the fuller confession of 8:6 could be said to be a more natural outworking of the primary conviction that 'the Lord (God) had said to the Lord (Christ), "Sit at my right hand..."' (Ps. 110:1)." (Did the First Christians Worship Jesus, p. 109.)

I could add so much more, but I do not want my opening post to get to cumbersome—I shall end here by making an assertion of my own:

Dr. Peterson is taking the highly developed theological system that he embraces, and reads it back into texts that predate his system by centuries, while ignoring how much of the important terminology of those texts was being used in their original context.



Grace and peace,

David

55 comments:

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

With the name of Allah, Peace be unto those who follow the guidance from their Lord.

Thank you David for another eye opening article.

Just to inform you why the article is fresh. "however, when one reads the of words Jesus as recorded in the NT," < Maybe look at that sentence again.

Trust me if you were to correct every spelling, or syntax error from myself I would be to embarrassed to ever make an entry again.

Nonetheless this is quite interesting.

White asserts that the Trinity is revealed "between the Old and New Testament" which is quite an assertion.

Especially when one looks at this time period as a time in which Gnosticism was an apex in the theological discourse of it's day.

"Jesus did NOT identify himself as/with the one God of Israel, but rather, as the agent/representative of the one God of Israel."

This makes sense. It also makes sense that any angel who claims to speak 'as God' is simply a representative.

Deuteronomy 18:18 "I will put my words in his mouth" So obviously the words of God would be coming from the direction of said Prophet or Angel's lips. However, there is a huge difference between speaking on behalf of God and speaking as the creator.

There is a difference between being given power, and imparting power.

Side note here: I would be curious in the future what you have on or have to say about Gamaliel.

What are the historical documents that Gamaliel was a teacher of Paul.

What interest me is that Gamaliel or Gamliel is said to be a luminary or angelic being in the Gnostic tradition.

Any way thank you for the excellent article.

Grace and Peace be with you.

David Waltz said...

Hi GV19,

Thanks much for the heads-up on my incorrect syntax, and for your continued interest in my musings.

In your response you wrote:

>>White asserts that the Trinity is revealed "between the Old and New Testament" which is quite an assertion.>>

Me: Interesting, do you have the source of this assertion?

>>"Jesus did NOT identify himself as/with the one God of Israel, but rather, as the agent/representative of the one God of Israel."

This makes sense. It also makes sense that any angel who claims to speak 'as God' is simply a representative.>>

Me: Ontological questions aside, prophets, kings, judges, angels, etc., of Yahweh/God clearly function under His direction as His agents/representatives. And further, even if one thinks of Yahweh’s word/logos/wisdom as ‘divine’, the fact remains that this word/logos/wisdom exists from Yahweh/God; in other words, Yahweh/God is THE source, it is only Yahweh/God who is self-existent. So, while I have a much higher ‘view’ of “the Word…made flesh” (i.e. Jesus Christ) than most Muslims, I still believe that it is God the Father alone who is “the one true God”. I also have no ‘problem’ affirming that this Word of Yahweh/God was His mediatorial agent in creation, while maintaining that Yahweh/God is THE creator, since, once again, He, and He alone, is the actual source of all being/creation.

>> Side note here: I would be curious in the future what you have on or have to say about Gamaliel.

What are the historical documents that Gamaliel was a teacher of Paul.

What interest me is that Gamaliel or Gamliel is said to be a luminary or angelic being in the Gnostic tradition.>>

Me: This is new to me GV; I would certainly like to explore this in the near future. If I get ‘busy’ and forget, could you remind me?


Grace and peace,

David

Rory said...

David Said:

Now, if "the deity of Christ" is the most important Biblical truth, one would expect to find it's teaching on the lips of Jesus Christ—i.e. that our Lord would not only have CLEARLY/EXPLICITLY taught such a doctrine, but would have EMPHASIZED it—however, when one reads the words of Jesus as recorded in the NT, the doctrine is found wanting. Instead of teaching (let alone emphasizing) his "deity" (in the sense Dr. Peterson advocates), Jesus taught the monotheism of the Shema, and in a number of discourses, clearly distanced himself from "the Father" who is "the one true God".

Rory says:

It is refreshing to find that I cannot disagree with my esteemed friend more entirely in regard to our expectation that if Christ were God, we should find Christ Himself proclaiming it "CLEARLY/EXPLICITLY".

I do not recollect for certain to whom I am indebted for what follows. If I were pressed to guess, I would suspect Fr. Frederick Faber, the 19th Century English convert to the Catholic faith, as the one who put me on to the scent of the notion of "Holy Modesty" with regards to the Persons of the Blessed Trinity.

Either Fr. Faber, or someone else has completely convinced me that the last thing we should expect of the Father, the Son, or the Holy Ghost is to "toot Their own horns".
Our readings of the New Testament are going to be skewed if we fail to recognize that the deity of the Persons of the Holy Trinity are ordinarily proclaimed by the other Persons.

Very quickly...

1. The Son came to give witness to the Father.

2. The Spirit comes to give witness to the Son.

3. It is actually the Father who reveals the Son, and not the Son Himself.

"No man hath seen God at any time: the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."---Jn 1:18

"But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you. He shall glorify me; because he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it to you."---Jn 16:13, 14

"Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. [17] And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven."---Mt. 16:17

I would suggest that this "Holy Modesty" that I have proposed is to some extent, a prevailing theme as we discover the way in which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost reveal themselves to us. If it was the Father in heaven rather than the Son on earth, Who revealed Christ's mission and Sonship to St. Peter, we must be careful in our assumptions as to what we expect of the Son in regard to His own status in the Godhead. Assuredly, He never denied truth, but equally assuredly, He seems almost at times to have skated around the issue, preferring apparently, to let the Holy Ghost (who likewise wound not "speak of Himself") lead His Church into all truth, including that of His own deity. In my opinion, this is a reasonable explanation for why we must not expect Jesus to have "CLEARLY/EXPLICITLY" proclaimed His own deity, preferring instead to have those conclusions drawn by means of implication and the developments of doctrine by the Apostles and their successors under the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

Rory

Ken said...

David,
Is Jesus God, or "a god"?

Is Jesus eternal? (existing eternally into the past as the logos of God, the Son of God (a Spirit) and NOT a creature?)

John 1:1-5; 14-18
These verses are clearly teaching the full Deity of Christ, yet you still seem to be holding on to or going back to some kind of Jehovah's Witness doctrine.

Did not the Magi worship Jesus as God? Matthew 2:1-2; 10-12

Does not worship only belong to God? (Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9)
the angel clearly tells John "Do not do that!" Worship God!

Thomas calls Jesus- "My Lord and My God!" in John 20:28

And Jesus calls him blessed for his faith in verse 29. Jesus received that as true faith and He received worship in many places and did not object -
Matthew 14:33
John 9:35-41

It seems your refusal to believe that Jesus is God and eternal and in the Trinity, and the way you write, putting doubt on the doctrines of the Deity of Christ and the Trinity, gives Muslims like the GV19 fuel for attacks on Christianity and the doctrine of the Deity of Christ and the Trinity.

Obviously, Luther and the Lutherans assumed the Deity of Christ already when they are writing about justification by faith alone as the doctrine by which the stands or falls. (based on Luther, but not an exact quote, as you and James Swan, Turretinfan and others pointed out in your articles you linked to.)

So, that point about trying to show a contradiction in what Peterson says and Lutherans seems kind of silly.

Ignatius calls Jesus "God" 7-9 times in his seven letters.

Are you trying to create a new religion?

Who, among Protestants, Roman Catholics, or Eastern Orthodox hold the view that you are espousing?

You should be affirming what Dr. Peterson wrote, not going against it.

A true Christian would defend the Deity of Christ and the Trinity, not go against it and create some kind of new religion, close to Jehovah's Witness doctrine.

Ken said...

If you think Jesus is "a god" as the heretical Arians and Jehovah's Witnesses, then you are a polytheist and that is shirk, according to Islam.

Ken said...

http://www.acommonword.net/2010/12/reformed-christians-liberals.html

The Grandverbalizer19 wrote:

"Calvin said unbaptized babies burn in hell"

Since GV19 won't allow me to comment at his site, I ask him and David Waltz here:

David, did Calvin ever write such a thing?

He actually opposes such an idea in the Institutes, Book IV, chapter 15, section 22. (Look it up at the link below, please, GV19.)

Grandverbalizer19,
Have you actually read any of Calvin? (except for short quotes by people who hate him?)

You can read his Institutes for free here; and browse around and see his other commentaries, etc. all on line for free.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.html

I don't think you understand the Reformed Presbyterian view of infant baptism - it does not save the child, does not justify, it is only a sign/mark of children of believing parents in the local church of entry into the covenant community, with the prayers and hopes that with good teaching as the child grows up, they will repent and believe in Christ.

What you are communicating is more of a Roman Catholic kind of historical belief - of baptismal regeneration, etc.

That is not what Protestants teach by infant baptism.

Lvka said...

I don't understand why either Jesus or His Holy Apostles should have identified Christ with God (the Father): that's not Trinitarian monotheism.

They make it very clear throughout that Christ is truly godly or divine, in a very real sense. And a few times He's also called God: though, for clarity's sake, that word tends to be usually reserved for the Father, and its synonym, Lord, for Jesus.

Lvka said...

Moreover, these verses [Hebrew 1:2-3; 10-12] apply an Old Testament text for YHWH (Jehovah) (Psalm 102:25-27) to the Son! In fact, the Apostles often applied texts regarding YHWH to the Lord Jesus Christ. (prominent examples are Paul’s quotation of Joel 2.32 in Romans 10.13 and Isaiah 45.23b in both Romans 14.11 and Philippians 2.10-11 (cf. Psalm 145.21))

(Source).

David Waltz said...

Hi Rory,

Busy day for the beachbum, finally have some 'spare' time to spend on the internet...

A part of me is quite happy to see you responding to my musings, however there is also a part of me that is more reserved, knowing that when you pick up your pen to comment, a good deal of thought lies behind your posts—as such, there is some underlying reticence, nay, trepidation that I am dealing with as I begin my reflections on your post. You wrote:

>>It is refreshing to find that I cannot disagree with my esteemed friend more entirely in regard to our expectation that if Christ were God, we should find Christ Himself proclaiming it "CLEARLY/EXPLICITLY".

I do not recollect for certain to whom I am indebted for what follows. If I were pressed to guess, I would suspect Fr. Frederick Faber, the 19th Century English convert to the Catholic faith, as the one who put me on to the scent of the notion of "Holy Modesty" with regards to the Persons of the Blessed Trinity.

Either Fr. Faber, or someone else has completely convinced me that the last thing we should expect of the Father, the Son, or the Holy Ghost is to "toot Their own horns".
Our readings of the New Testament are going to be skewed if we fail to recognize that the deity of the Persons of the Holy Trinity are ordinarily proclaimed by the other Persons.>>

Me: Certainly, there is much truth to what you have written, to which I would add Christ's own words:

"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine, lest haply they trample them under their feet, and turn and rend you." (Matthew 7:6 - ASV)

And yet, I cannot fail to note the force and power that Yahweh (the Father) demonstrated so many times in the revealing of Himself to the saints of the OT. Certainly, the role that His prophets, angels, and pious saints played in this revelation of Himself must be noted, but they revealed Yahweh, and via what Yahweh Himself gave them.

Now, if Yahweh spoke of Himself in the OT, and IF Jesus is Yahweh, why would He change course?

Anyway, I am not, as you probably know, attempting to be dogmatic, rather I am trying to handle the Scriptures with a mindset of the period in which they were given.


God bless,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Thanks for responding. As I mentioned to Rory, I have had a very busy day, and even now, must be brief (should have much more time to interact tomorrow, the Lord willing). In your first response, you posted:

>> David,
Is Jesus God, or "a god"?>>

Me: He is not the "one God", nor "the one true God", for that is the Father. Since the original Greek of the NT did not have capitals, I can only say at this time that God's logos/word was called theos.

>>Is Jesus eternal? (existing eternally into the past as the logos of God, the Son of God (a Spirit) and NOT a creature?)>>

Me: Yes, God's logos/word is eternal, and God through His eternal logos/word created time, space, and the 'universe'.

Got to go, hope to be back here tomorrow morning.


God bless,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello Lvka,

So good to see you back; sincerely hope that you know that you are always welcome.

Just in case you did not read my responses to Rory and Ken, I wanted to let you know that my internet time today has been, and is, very limited; so, further reflections on my part will have to wait until tomorrow. Hope you can/will check back in...


God bless,

David

Rory said...

Hi Dave,

You said:

"Now, if Yahweh spoke of Himself in the OT, and IF Jesus is Yahweh, why would He change course?

Anyway, I am not, as you probably know, attempting to be dogmatic, rather I am trying to handle the Scriptures with a mindset of the period in which they were given."

Rory:

I am not familiar with which Person of the Trinity is Yahweh. It is translated "Lord" in the Bibles I use. It just means God to me. But I presume Catholic theology follows the line of reasoning you give. At least you seemed to expect me to assume that Yahweh is the Son. I will proceed on that assumption.

It doesn't seem to me that Yahweh reveals Himself to be one of Three Persons in the Old Testament. He is revealing that God is One. Furthermore, there is much truth hidden in the words that will not be known by men until the time of Christ, as we shall see below. Will we object if Christ Himself explained the Scriptures concerning Himself in ways that would not comport with how they were understood at the time of their writing?

When the time comes to reveal that God is Three, in the New Testament, we do not seem to find the Father proclaiming the Father, the Son proclaiming the Son, or the Spirit proclaiming the Spirit. In my first post, I provided New Testament examples to indicate that each Person leaves it to another to proclaim their own glory.

Moving back to the Old Testament, I am suggesting that there is still a pattern of deliberate hiddenness about God, first in His ways with man. If He appears in some form of discernible majesty, He doesn't do so before the many, but to the few, to individuals. One can think immediately of Abraham, Moses, of Samson's parents, of Ezekiel, and some others. But never does He show Himself fully to all, and even to these rare individuals mentioned, He is muted in His glory, and is silent about His Threeness. So God, I think it is fair to say, is deliberately not CLEAR/EXPLICIT in His ways in the Old Testament.

The second pattern of the deliberate hiddenness of God is found in His words. While avoiding being explicit as to His own attributes, He rather directly gives us to expect Him to be found only by discovery, rather than openly before all. For this I offer a typical Scripture from the Old Testament which shows a continuous pattern on the theme of God choosing to remain as it were, hidden:

1) "It is the glory of God to conceal the word, and the glory of kings to search out the speech. The heaven above, and the earth beneath, and the heart of kings is unsearchable."---Prov. 25:2

Comment: Who is the word and Who has the heart of a king, but Christ? You suggest that we must attempt to understand the Scriptures as contemporaries would. Assuredly this is important, but it isn't everything. I do not believe that Solomon or whoever authored this Scripture was aware of all of its implications. It seems to me like we need to recollect Jesus on the road to Emmaus:

"And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures, the things that were concerning him."---Luke 24:27

---continued next post

Rory said...

Hi Dave,

You said:

"Now, if Yahweh spoke of Himself in the OT, and IF Jesus is Yahweh, why would He change course?

Anyway, I am not, as you probably know, attempting to be dogmatic, rather I am trying to handle the Scriptures with a mindset of the period in which they were given."

Rory:

I am not familiar with which Person of the Trinity is Yahweh. It is translated "Lord" in the Bibles I use. It just means God to me. But I presume Catholic theology follows the line of reasoning you give. At least you seemed to expect me to assume that Yahweh is the Son. I will proceed on that assumption.

It doesn't seem to me that Yahweh reveals Himself to be one of Three Persons in the Old Testament. He is revealing that God is One. Furthermore, there is much truth hidden in the words that will not be known by men until the time of Christ, as we shall see below. Will we object if Christ Himself explained the Scriptures concerning Himself in ways that would not comport with how they were understood at the time of their writing?

When the time comes to reveal that God is Three, in the New Testament, we do not seem to find the Father proclaiming the Father, the Son proclaiming the Son, or the Spirit proclaiming the Spirit. In my first post, I provided New Testament examples to indicate that each Person leaves it to another to proclaim their own glory.

Moving back to the Old Testament, I am suggesting that there is still a pattern of deliberate hiddenness about God, first in His ways with man. If He appears in some form of discernible majesty, He doesn't do so before the many, but to the few, to individuals. One can think immediately of Abraham, Moses, of Samson's parents, of Ezekiel, and some others. But never does He show Himself fully to all, and even to these rare individuals mentioned, He is muted in His glory, and is silent about His Threeness. So God, I think it is fair to say, is deliberately not CLEAR/EXPLICIT in His ways in the Old Testament.

The second pattern of the deliberate hiddenness of God is found in His words. While avoiding being explicit as to His own attributes, He rather directly gives us to expect Him to be found only by discovery, rather than openly before all. For this I offer a typical Scripture from the Old Testament which shows a continuous pattern on the theme of God choosing to remain as it were, hidden:

1) "It is the glory of God to conceal the word, and the glory of kings to search out the speech. The heaven above, and the earth beneath, and the heart of kings is unsearchable."---Prov. 25:2

Comment: Who is the word and Who has the heart of a king, but Christ? You suggest that we must attempt to understand the Scriptures as contemporaries would. Assuredly this is important, but it isn't everything. I do not believe that Solomon or whoever authored this Scripture was aware of all of its implications. It seems to me like we need to recollect Jesus on the road to Emmaus:

"And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures, the things that were concerning him."---Luke 24:27

---to be continued

Rory said...

---continued from previous post

I suggest that passages that the Pharisees knew by heart had meanings that pointed to Christ which they misunderstood because the Scriptures are not EXPLICIT/CLEAR. To hearken back to a theme you accept, the Scriptures are NOT perspicuous. We have no warrant for expecting the Son to be CLEAR/EXPLICIT about His own deity. Note how the disciples spoke of their experience of hearing the Scriptures explained:

"And they said one to the other: Was not our heart burning within us, whilst he spoke in this way, and opened to us the scriptures?"---Luke 24:32

On another occasion, He explains the Scriptures to another party of disciples:

"And he said to them: These are the words which I spoke to you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then he opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures."---Luke 24:45

The presence of God as the Blessed Trinity, and His other glorious attributes are truths that are not EXPLICITLY/CLEARLY apparent, either in God's ways with man or His words. There is a deliberate hiddenness to them. Only those who have the Scripture "opened" to them, will easily see the truth. It is available to be discovered, but not without effort on our part and grace on God's part. I do not believe it is justified for us to take the position that we may assume that if Jesus was the One God, equal to the Father, He would proclaim it EXPLICITLY/CLEARLY.

I could speculate on why it is this way. Father Faber also offers a whole host of Old Testament and New Testament passages attesting to God's hiddenness, which I understand as being opposed to EXPLICIT/CLEAR. I could post these illuminating passages another time. For now, I'll quote Fr. Faber:

"It is then the good will and pleasure of God that He is so in His own creation that He will only be found by those who seek Him. He will neither overwhelm their minds with the oppression of His majesty, nor constrain their wills by the visible pageant of His justice." ---Fr. Frederick Faber, The Blessed Sacrament, TAN Publishers (1978), p. 253

Rory said...

SIGH...This technology is so hard to understand. Okay...I don't know how, but I managed to post the end of my post twice first. This is the beginning of the two posts that precede. I think I'll go back and at least delete one of the others. But be aware, that the "first should be last and the last should be first." Heh.

Hi Dave,

You said:

"Now, if Yahweh spoke of Himself in the OT, and IF Jesus is Yahweh, why would He change course?

Anyway, I am not, as you probably know, attempting to be dogmatic, rather I am trying to handle the Scriptures with a mindset of the period in which they were given."

Rory:

I am not familiar with which Person of the Trinity is Yahweh. It is translated "Lord" in the Bibles I use. It just means God to me. But I presume Catholic theology follows the line of reasoning you give. At least you seemed to expect me to assume that Yahweh is the Son. I will proceed on that assumption.

It doesn't seem to me that Yahweh reveals Himself to be one of Three Persons in the Old Testament. He is revealing that God is One. Furthermore, there is much truth hidden in the words that will not be known by men until the time of Christ, as we shall see below. Will we object if Christ Himself explained the Scriptures concerning Himself in ways that would not comport with how they were understood at the time of their writing?

When the time comes to reveal that God is Three, in the New Testament, we do not seem to find the Father proclaiming the Father, the Son proclaiming the Son, or the Spirit proclaiming the Spirit. In my first post, I provided New Testament examples to indicate that each Person leaves it to another to proclaim their own glory.

Moving back to the Old Testament, I am suggesting that there is still a pattern of deliberate hiddenness about God, first in His ways with man. If He appears in some form of discernible majesty, He doesn't do so before the many, but to the few, to individuals. One can think immediately of Abraham, Moses, of Samson's parents, of Ezekiel, and some others. But never does He show Himself fully to all, and even to these rare individuals mentioned, He is muted in His glory, and is silent about His Threeness. So God, I think it is fair to say, is deliberately not CLEAR/EXPLICIT in His ways in the Old Testament.

The second pattern of the deliberate hiddenness of God is found in His words. While avoiding being explicit as to His own attributes, He rather directly gives us to expect Him to be found only by discovery, rather than openly before all. For this I offer a typical Scripture from the Old Testament which shows a continuous pattern on the theme of God choosing to remain as it were, hidden:

1) "It is the glory of God to conceal the word, and the glory of kings to search out the speech. The heaven above, and the earth beneath, and the heart of kings is unsearchable."---Prov. 25:2

Comment: Who is the word and Who has the heart of a king, but Christ? You suggest that we must attempt to understand the Scriptures as contemporaries would. Assuredly this is important, but it isn't everything. I do not believe that Solomon or whoever authored this Scripture was aware of all of its implications. It seems to me like we need to recollect Jesus on the road to Emmaus:

"And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures, the things that were concerning him."---Luke 24:27

David Waltz said...

Good morning Ken,

As you can probably discern, I avoided the internet yesterday, and instead, got in a long bike ride, and spread some gravel, before the rains started up again. We got two days in a row without rain here (rare for December), and I took full advantage. Anyway, the rains are back, and so am I (grin).

Earlier, I responded to two of the questions you had asked, and now, would like to comment on the following you posted:

>>John 1:1-5; 14-18
These verses are clearly teaching the full Deity of Christ, yet you still seem to be holding on to or going back to some kind of Jehovah's Witness doctrine.>>

Me: You and I have discussed this issue before, and IMHO, you failed to demonstrate "the full Deity of Christ". The first great commentator of the Bible, Origen, pointed out the need to make an important distinction between the one who called ό θεόϛ and the one called θεόϛ; between the ό θεόϛ who begets, and μονογενής θεόϛ who is begotten; between the one termed "τοῦ μόνου θεοῦ" (John 5:44) and "τὸν μόνον ἀληθινὸν θεὸν" (John 17:3), and the one He sends. As you well know, only one person in the Bible is declared to be "εἷς θεὸς", and it is not Jesus.

>>Did not the Magi worship Jesus as God? Matthew 2:1-2; 10-12>>

Me: No.

>>Does not worship only belong to God? (Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9)
the angel clearly tells John "Do not do that!" Worship God!>>

Me: Yes, only the one true God is to be worshipped—i.e λατρεία/λατρεύω— λατρεία/λατρεύω is NEVER rendered to anyone but God the Father.

So, I think it is now time for you to answer a few questions: first, who is "τοῦ μόνου θεοῦ"; second, who is "τὸν μόνον ἀληθινὸν θεὸν"; and third, who is the "εἷς θεὸς" ???


Grace and peace,

David

Rory said...

David Said:

"Now, if 'the deity of Christ' is the most important Biblical truth, one would expect to find it's teaching on the lips of Jesus Christ—i.e. that our Lord would not only have CLEARLY/EXPLICITLY taught such a doctrine, but would have EMPHASIZED it—however, when one reads the words of Jesus as recorded in the NT, the doctrine is found wanting."

Rory says:

Taken in full, I am becoming more reconciled with this statement. See Dave...don't answer me and I will figure out a way to agree! The condition for CLEAR/EXPLICIT statements by the Lord is that it is about "the most important biblical truth."

From my perspective it would be impossible to say that the deity of Christ is more important than His humanity. Like you, Dave I doubt that "the most important biblical truth" is the deity of Christ. It seems to me that it was an important question for Christians to eventually resolve (the extent to which the Son was ontologically the same as the Father), but in God's good Providence, the Bible leaves plenty of room for denying equality when Jesus Hiomself makes positive statements that can be taken in different ways. "The Father is greater than I." "No man knows the day or hour...only the Father knows."

I am on board with denying that the deity of Christ is the "most important biblical truth". I still maintain that Jesus didn't come to talk about His glory, but that of the Father's. He didn't write the Bible and not everything He said is recorded, but from what is recorded, I would say that concerning Himself, the most important truth He came to communicate was that He, whatever His position as Son of God implied, was also Son of Man, born of Mary.

In the Gospels, Jesus refers to Himself some 94 times as Son of Man. There are six references where Jesus uses the term Son of God. More often the reference is applied to Him by demons, disciples, Pharisees, and centurions. There is no way that I could be convinced that in God's Providence, that the deity of Christ is the doctrine of highest priority.

Of course, it is important to Christians. But Protestants are so hamstrung by this business of sola scriptura that they find themselves wishing that the truths they find most important have a corresponding priority in Sacred Scripture.

For Catholic Christians, there is no particular article of the faith as outlined in the Apostles Creed that is expendable. Jesus was Son of God and Man, He suffered, was raised, and we have forgiveness, the Catholic Church, and we will be raised. Which of those is "most important"? Don't they all have to fit together to be collectively meaningful? What difference the deity of Christ if He wasn't a man who suffered and rose? I can't pinpoint one teaching as being "most important".

Prior to the Councils, faithful Christians who asked questions about the ontological status of the Son, had some reason for wondering about it. Arianism didn't arise because of a lack of Bible study. It arose because the Bible isn't CLEAR/EXPLICIT regarding the deity of Christ and that is because it isn't "the most important biblical truth."

David Waltz said...

Hi Lvka,

I am finally back to internet mode; on Thursday you wrote:

>>I don't understand why either Jesus or His Holy Apostles should have identified Christ with God (the Father): that's not Trinitarian monotheism.>>

Me: Agreed, though I suspect that Ken, and most 'Western'/Augustinian Trinitarians, would disagree with you.

>>They make it very clear throughout that Christ is truly godly or divine, in a very real sense.>>

Me: Agreed; but with that said, certain attributes that only the Father possesses separates Him from any other person and/or persons whose divinity is derivative.

>>And a few times He's also called God: though, for clarity's sake, that word tends to be usually reserved for the Father, and its synonym, Lord, for Jesus.>>

Me: Hmmm...I need to ponder over whether or not theos and kurios are truly synonyms (I currently lean towards that sometimes they are, but in some contexts they are not).


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Rory,

Wow, I see that you have put up a new post today, and a mere 4 minutes after my response to Ken (which strongly suggests that you had not read my post before you typed up today's response).

I am now quite pleased that I took Friday off from the internet, for I see that you, after further reflection, have come to view my opening post in a different 'light'. I was prepared to type up a lengthy response to your earlier posts, but now discern that I no longer need to address a good deal of the previous material. Your earlier comments prompted me to reread the Gospel of John Thursday evening, and during my lengthy bike ride on Friday, I pondered over the direction my response should take, but it now seems that you and I are now much 'closer' in are views, so though I still sense a need to respond further, the focus will be much different now. I will be heading over to Astoria shortly, and will ponder over the new material you posted today. Hopefully upon my return this afternoon, I will have formulated the 'new' direction my musings should now proceed along.

Thanks much for taking the time to respond—thought provoking (as always).


God bless,

David

natamllc said...

When one actually takes the time to listen to the Holy Spirit, God, one of the Trinity, when reading the Old Testament and from the book of Acts to the book of the Revelation of the Christ God gave Him to give to His Servants, one easily can understand why Christ, throughout the Gospel accounts spends most of His time focused on either the Father or the Holy Spirit.

Each of them is "selfless" and are more inclined to speak for the other "Two" than to speak personally about Their Self. You can always find Christ in the Gospels.

Isn't it interesting just how much time is given to the knowledge of or teaching about, Christ, from the book of Acts to the Book of the Revelation written by John?

That speaks volumes to Their Eternal Selfless Natures that They are not self-centered Eternal Beings.

As I have discovered, there is one thing I can do for each of the Eternals They cannot do to Themself. I can love them with the Everlasting Love They love me with!

My prayer is that Jesus would put in my His Love for both the Father and the Holy Spirit. And so forth I pray to the Father to do as much and to the Holy Spirit likewise.

Why?

Well, it is irrefutable what the Apostle Paul was getting at when you read this by him:

2Ti 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2Ti 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
2Ti 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
2Ti 3:4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
2Ti 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Iohannes said...

Hi David,

I hope you are well. Regarding Lvka's comment, what's striking to me about verses like Phil 2:9ff, etc., is how they mesh with the monotheistic refrain in Isaiah, e.g. 41:4, 42:8, 43:10f, 44:6, 45:5, 45:21ff, 48:11f.

It's not just that sayings about the LORD get applied to Jesus. It's that, as Bp. Wright has observed, several of these sayings are taken from a sustained polemic against false worship: There is one God, and none beside him; no god formed before or after him; no other savior; and he does not give his glory to another.

This context makes the hymn in Philippians look doubly bold. It has the same effect in places where Jesus (not "God") is called savior, and in Revelation where Jesus more than once speaks of himself as "the first and the last."

As for "God" in the NT (usually) being God the Father, I more or less agree with Lvka, and with your point about the West. Nicaea gets it right with a formula that affirms the deity of Christ while upholding the monarchy of the Father.

Blessings in Christ,

John

Iohannes said...

PS Fr Behr puts it better than I can in this short piece.

Lvka said...

certain attributes that only the Father possesses separates Him from any other person and/or persons whose divinity is derivative


..which statement has been central to Orthodox Trinitarianism since the Cappadocian Fathers, and even before Nicaea..

Rory said...

Thank you Iohannes for the link by Fr. Behr. In regards to our present discussion, I took particular note of the last sentence:

"What Christ is as first-born, we too may enjoy, in Him, when we also enter into the communion of love: “The glory which though hast given me, I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one” (John 17:22)."

We need to recall that Jesus is at one time the "first-born among many brethren", He is also, the "only-begotten of the Father". If one believes that the "many brethren" who are adopted sons and daughters will be deified, it seems difficult to see how at the same time there are doubts as to the elevated status of the "only begotten Son" as being in any ontological sense, inferior to the Father. If mere adopted sons and daughters are to be fully deified, how much more the only begotten Son of the Father?

PS: These questions are mainly for our blog host, who has on numerous occasions provided evidence as to his belief in full, unlimited deification. All comments are of course welcome.

David Waltz said...

Hello John,

What a pleasant surprise; so good to hear from you again. I checked in on this thread briefly last night before going to bed and went to Fr. Behr's essay that you linked to (thanks much!). I plan to reread the essay later today, and may share some of my thoughts.

The EO take on the Trinity seems much more Biblically based than the Augustinian/Western view/s (which, as you know, are more philosophically based). Behr's essay brought back to mind Dr. Liccione's criticism of his view of doctrinal development (or lack thereof). The EO author, Boris Bobrinskoy, provides some very interesting thoughts on DD, in his The Mystery of the Trinity, that seem to support Liccione's concerns. Hopefully, I will share some of Bobrinskoy's reflections when/if led to comment on Behr's interesting essay.

Hope that all is well with you and yours!


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Lvka,

You posted the following:

>>certain attributes that only the Father possesses separates Him from any other person and/or persons whose divinity is derivative


..which statement has been central to Orthodox Trinitarianism since the Cappadocian Fathers, and even before Nicaea..>>

Me: I find it quite interesting that you agree with me, and this raises a question: if the Father has attributes that the Son does not possess, how do you reconcile this with the teaching that the essence 'shared' by the Father and Son (and Spirit), is 'simple, and one?


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Rory,

You wrote:

>> If mere adopted sons and daughters are to be fully deified, how much more the only begotten Son of the Father?

PS: These questions are mainly for our blog host, who has on numerous occasions provided evidence as to his belief in full, unlimited deification. All comments are of course welcome.>>

Me: Good question; I believe the 'answer' lies in the fact that the pre-Nicene Fathers (and the Bible) teach the subordinationism of the Son to the Father. The Son is the image of the Father, and so reflects his Father's divinity. God's adopted Sons, are to be "conformed to the image" of the Son, and in this teaching, the theme of subordinationism is continued.

Interestingly enough, as a number of the post-Nicene Fathers began to eliminate subordinationism when dealing with relationship between the Father and Son, they then began to 'qualify' the nature/language of deification.


Grace and peace,

David

Lvka said...

The notion of divine simplicity -just like that of the Trinity- is used by Fathers both East & West: but -as with the latter- the East does NOT understand it in exactly the same manner as the West:

The soul -for instance- is also simple, and so are the ministering spirits called Angels: yet the simple and uncompunded soul is also in possession of many energies or faculties: reason is not the same as emotion; they're both different than memory, which is distinct from instinct, etc. So simplicity is NOT the same as ABSOLUTE simplicity (ADS).


Even more to the point:

Nature ('ousia'), in the way the Cappadocian Fathers (eg, Basil the Great) understood it, was that which things have in common. Person-hood ('hypostasis') was that which each had individually:

So from the outset your question is wrong, since the divine being is NOT limited to the divine nature or 'ousia': there are also personal attributes, as well as divine energies (which ideas can be found in pre-Nicene Fathers as well).


In the East, God is NOT the 'actus purus' of Scholastic or Thomistic theology: there are potentialities in God (for instance, God can create anything anytime: yet He created only for a limited time, and only a limited [albeit very, very large] number of species and beings).


[Nature or "ousia" is what belongs strictly to the Godhead in general, and cannot be shared by creation, but it IS shared by all three divine Persons; person-hood or "hypostasis" is what belongs strictly to each divine Person in particular, and cannot be shared either with each other, or with creation (fatherhood, sonship, and procession); and the divine energies belong to all divine Persons and can be shared with creation (holiness, wisdom, life, power, love, goodness, kindness, purity, strength, etc)].

steelikat said...

One wonders whether you are serious. Surely no one can doubt that the divinity of Christ is fundamental, if anything is, unless you define Christianity to be something so general as "reverence for Jesus."

I'm sure you weren't serious in suggesting that Protestants find the divinity of Christ to be less fundamental than Justification by Faith. Justification presupposes Christ's divinity, when Protestants have said that Justification is the most fundamental doctrine they were comparing themselves with the Catholic Church and other non-Reformation traditions. The Trinity and the Christological doctrines are something that we generally presume all Christians share (though some would argue that there are many crypto-Nestorians among presumptive Christians).

David Waltz said...

Good morning Lvka,

Thanks much for your informative reply—an excellent summation of the post-Palamas EO view. Now, I would like to let Fr. Boris Bobrinskoy (Dean and Professor of Dogmatic Theology at St. Sergius Institute) 'fill in', so to speak, the development/progression of the doctrine of the Trinity in EO thought/history. (All the following quotations will be from his The Mystery of the Trinity, English trans. by Anthony P. Gythiel, SVS Press, 1999.)

Fr. Bobrinskoy begins his reflections on the development/progression of the doctrine of the Trinity with what he terms "the ecclesial explanation of the trinitarian dogma". (MT, p. 6.) He then writes:

"To study the progression of trinitarian revelation, there is the classical method, the so-called chronological and doctrinal method:

1. From the first foreshadowings, the first Old Testament intimations, to the fullness of the New Testament;

2, Inside the New Testament itself, through the pedagogy of Jesus, His words and deeds, from Galilee to the Passion; then in the testimonies that follow;

3. Finally, from the post-apostolic writings to the earliest ecumenical councils.

Actually, the evolution of trinitarian dogma does not end at the Second Ecumenical Council, but continues through what is sometimes called the "christological period" (which extends to about the eighth century, and is characterized by the proclamation of the mystery of Christ in all its aspects), through the "pneumatological period" (which continues to about the fourteenth century, and culminates in the synmade by St Gregory Palamas. It particularly emphasizes the integration of the human being into the mystery of Christ through the grace of the Holy Spirit), and is, in our day, catching a second breath in what is called "the era of the Church." The theological progression cannot be doubted, though it is not brought about according to a linear scheme, but with strong movements, underground advances, times of regression, even of crisis." (MT, pp. 6-7.)

And a bit later:

"A living theology cannot be severed from the living environment that forms the body of the Church, where the Spirit of knowledge and of truth breathes. A theological reading of Scripture cannot be made outside the great Tradition which, generation after generation, searches the Bible in order to discover within it the presence of Christ, and in Him, the face of the Father." (MT, p. 7.)

He then provides the following quote from St. Gregory Nazianzen ("On The Holy Spirit"):

"The Old Testament proclaimed the Father openly, and the Son more obscurely. The New manifested the Son, and suggested the Deity of the Spirit. Now the Spirit Himself dwells among us, and supplies us with a clearer demonstration of Himself. For it was not safe, when the Godhead of the Father was not yet acknowledged, plainly to proclaim the Son; nor when that of the Son was not yet received to burden us further (if I may use so bold an expression) with the Holy Ghost; lest perhaps people might, like men loaded with food beyond their strength, and presenting eyes as yet too weak to bear it to the sun’s light, risk the loss even of that which was within the reach of their powers; but that by gradual additions, and, as David says, Goings up, and advances and progress from glory to glory the Light of the Trinity might shine upon the more illuminated." (MT, p. 8 - St Gregory Nazianzen, Oratio XXXI [Theologica V] 26, PG 36:161. Tr. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd ser., vol. 7, p. 326.)

cont'd

David Waltz said...

cont'd

Fr. Bobrinskoy then adds:

"This is an exception text because it accept a dogmatic progression not only from the Old Testament to the New, but from the New Testament to the Church. Here St Gregory Nazianzen differs from St. Basil who applied the principle of tradition and antiquity much more stringently. Certainly, Gregory Nazianzen could, in the dialectic of his argumentation, legitimately see a dogmatic innovation in the profession of the divinity of the Spirit, for such divinity is not clearly stated in Scripture. In the New Testament, it is merely intimated through the revelation of the Son,; and, in the Old, through the revelation of the fatherhood of God." (MT, p. 8.)

Me: I think it is safe to say that Fr. Bobrinskoy believes that the continued work of the Holy Spirit in the Church is necessary for one to arrive at a correct understanding of the Godhead and the doctrine of the Trinity. After a workout and lunch, I plan to type up a new thread, reproducing the material in this post, and adding some more reflections on this issue.

Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Oops...a typo: change, "and culminates in the synmade by St Gregory Palamas", to, "and culminates in the synthesis made by St Gregory Palamas".

David Waltz said...

Hello steelikat,

You wrote:

>> One wonders whether you are serious. Surely no one can doubt that the divinity of Christ is fundamental, if anything is, unless you define Christianity to be something so general as "reverence for Jesus.">>

Me: You need to read a bit more carefully; the discussion in this thread is not over whether or not "the divinity of Christ is fundamental", but rather whether it is the most "important biblical truth for the life and health of the church".


Grace and peace,

David

Iohannes said...

Hi David,

Thanks for your reply, and for the material from Fr. Bobrinskoy. I once asked my church history professor whether the fathers showed an awareness of the development of doctrine. His answer was no, with the possible exception of those words from St. Gregory the Theologian.

A couple years ago I mentioned the passage to Dr. Liccione, who quoted it in a post at Sacramentum Vitae. The comments seem to have been lost through reformatting, but I think Perry Robinson objected at the time to styling Gregory as a proto-Newman.

Blessings in Christ,

John

David Waltz said...

Hello John,

So good to see you back again. I am not surprised at Perry's comment; but with all due respect to him (and the other EOs who reject DD), I sincerely believe that Fr. Bobrinskoy's read is much more accurate.

Thanks for the link to Dr. Liccione's post; I too have an older thread on DD in Nazianzen (HERE), and in that thread I cited another EO theologian who embraces DD:

==Revelation has been accomplished and the mystery of the Trinity is manifest. However, it has still not been fully absorbed by man. Man must penetrate the mystery until “that which has been desired for us is completely revealed.” Gregory predicts that when we go inside, the Bridegroom will know what to teach and that to say to the souls which have entered. He will communicate with us and give us the most absolute and perfect knowledge…

Although the divinity of the Spirit is not explicitly proclaimed in Scripture, there is much solemn evidence of this. Gregory explains the reticence of Scripture on the doctrine of the Spirit by showing that revelation takes place in economic stages.

The spiritual experience of the Church is also a form of revelation, and through this experience the Spirit makes clear His own dignity. (George Florovsky, The Eastern Fathers of the Fourth Century, online document -http://www.holytrinitymission.org/books/english/fathers_florovsky_1.htm#_Toc3723870.)==

I honestly don't remember reading Dr. Liccione's thread before today, but I am getting old, and could have forgotten that I did. Anyway, thanks again for the link; it brings back a lot of DD 'memories'.


Grace and peace,

David


P.S. Would you mind sending me an email? Have a question or two for you that should probably take place be via email, rather than through the blog.

Ken said...

David Waltz wrote:
So, I think it is now time for you to answer a few questions: first, who is "τοῦ μόνου θεοῦ"; second, who is "τὸν μόνον ἀληθινὸν θεὸν"; and third, who is the "εἷς θεὸς" ???

The only God is the Trinity, the One God in nature/substance/essence, who has always existed in eternity past, three persons in a perfect love relationship.

Just because the phrase “tou movou Theou” (I am not doing the Greek fonts, in order to save time, although I could. ) is only used of the Father in I Cor. 8:6 (in your atomizing view of isolating it out from the context and the rest of the verse) does not mean that the Son is not included, because the verse goes on to say that there is only one Lord; and we know the Father is also Lord. The other Greek phrases you use are from John 17:3 and Ephesians 4:5 and maybe you are including I Tim. 2:5. The only way to understand all of those is with the doctrine of the trinity which takes all the other verses that are relevant and puts it all together in a way that protects Monothesism and the Deity of Christ and the Deity of the Holy Spirit.

שְׁמַ֖ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ יְהוָ֥ה ׀ אֶחָֽד
“Hear O Israel, the LORD your God, the Lord, is One.”

Yahweh is the true God, and the God of Israel, the Jews, and the Lord is One.
Since Jesus is also called, “the one Lord”, there in I Cor. 8:6, does this mean that the Father is not Lord? If you are going t o atomize and isolate those 3 Greek phrases, as you have done, from John 17:3, Ephesians 4:5, and I Cor. 8:6, then it works against the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4, because Yahweh, “the Lord” is the main subject, and kurios is the Greek translation or rendering or equivalent to “Yahweh”. It is very clear that the scholars who say there is a splitting of the Shema are much closer to the truth and the right interpretation than your other scholars you have quoted. ( You have the advantage of owning lots of books (and apparently have enough money to spend on these things) and being able to quote these guys; so it will always take me longer to respond to these kinds of issues.) It is true that Theos is generally mostly used for the Father, and Kurios for Jesus; but the fact that kurios is also used for the Father, and Theos for Jesus, shows that your argument fails. So, the wisdom and insight of the doctrine of the Trinity is true. One God in nature, three in persons – is the only way to understand all the relevant passages together and at the same time protect the truth of monotheism.

Continued

Ken said...

I did not know anything about this professor James McGrath, so I reframed from commenting, until now, that I had time to think more about your post. Also, too many other things going on also preventing me from posting.

Dr. White, and Nabeel Qureshi answered the issue you raise in I Cor. 8:6 very well - and refuted James McGrath and you and the other liberal/emergent scholars you are endorsing.

After I listened to this (three times), this makes more sense than McGrath or the other scholars you have quoted.
http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=DrOakley1689#p/search/8/-E22l9bn1HQ

They soundly refuted the Muslim here, (Shadid Lewis, and the GV19) and McGrath and you!

Looking at Dr. McGrath’s blog, and reading some of his articles, I am not very impressed with him at all.
http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com

As Steve Hays has recently written, “McGrath is a Jesus Seminar retread.” That seems to be true. I don’t have time right now to read any more of his garbage. (Maybe later, I can read more.) Personally, I don’t have much respect for Jesus Seminar types. Their scholarship, which is sometimes good factual material, is so mixed with their own anti-supernatural bias and their own human eisegesis and their own human conclusions and skepticism; (and pro-homosexual agenda) has caused many people to blaspheme God. They supply lots of material to atheists, skeptics, agnostics, Muslims, pagans, homosexuals, feminists, etc. to attack the Christian faith. His view of homosexuality and same sex marriage also makes him a very un-respectable “scholar”. Lots of garbage and poison mixed in with some good scholarship.

Ken said...

my part 2 is caught in the spam filter. Please retrieve it.

Part 3 -
Also, since proskunew is used in the 2 Revelation passages that I cited above, (19:10; 22:8-9) in those contexts it does mean the only worship that is due to the one creator God, and in Rev. 5:12 it is used for God and the Lamb, therefore the proskunew of Matthew 2:1-2, 11-12 means the Magi came and worshiped Jesus as God -
also Matthew 14:33 and John 9:38.

I realize proskunew is used sometimes in other places as not referring to worship of God - Rev. 3:9 and I Chronicles 29:20 (the king is not God; but God is honored as God, but the king is not), but it is clear that in those contexts, it does not mean "worship". And it is clear that is does mean worship in Matthew 2, John 9, and Matthew 14:33 and Rev. 5:12.

Also, theos with the article is used for Jesus as God in John 20:28, so you are soundly refuted again! (and you skipped that before)

Ken said...

Part 4
When you say Jesus is an agent or representative of the one true God, what do you mean by that?

was he created?

did He come into being later, at the incarnation?

Is He impersonal in eternity past?

My article at Beggar's All on "Greek Grammar Points to Sola Scriptura and the Doctrine of the Trinity" shows your understanding of John 1:1 to be faulty.

I don't put the url now, you can find it there at Beggar's all, since it seems putting a url in the blog comments causes it to go into the spam folder.

Ken said...

part 2 without the url links:

I did not know anything about this professor James McGrath, so I reframed from commenting, until now, that I had time to think more about your post. Also, too many other things going on also preventing me from posting.

Dr. White, and Nabeel Qureshi answered the issue that you raise of I Cor. 8:6, shown on one of Dr. White’s video blogs. After I listened to this, and reading your comments, this makes more sense than McGrath or the other scholars you have quoted.

(Go to Dr. White's You Tube page, Dr. Oakley1689 and search under Shadid Lewis and I Cor. 8:6)

They soundly refuted the Muslim here, and McGrath and you! (and other liberal and emergent scholars you quote.)

Looking at Dr. McGrath’s blog, and reading some of his articles, I am not very impressed with him at all.

McGrath has a blog called "Exploring Our Matrix" which you can search for.

As Steve Hays has recently written, “McGrath is a Jesus Seminar retread.” That seems to be true. I don’t have time right now to read any more of his garbage. (Maybe later, I can read more.) Personally, I don’t have much respect for Jesus Seminar types. Their scholarship, which is sometimes good factual material, is so mixed with their own anti-supernatural bias and their own human eisegesis and their own human conclusions and skepticism; has caused many people to blaspheme God. They supply lots of material to atheists, skeptics, agnostics, Muslims, pagans, feminists, homosexuals, etc. to attack the Christian faith. His view of homosexuality and same sex marriage also makes him a very un-respectable “scholar”. Lots of garbage there mixed in with some good scholarship.

David Waltz said...

Hello Ken,

The general tone and content of your latest round of posts (4) is a bit too emotional and polemical for my taste; but, given the respect that I have for YOU, I shall attempt to address what I normally would not deem worthy of a response. You posted:

>> David Waltz wrote:
So, I think it is now time for you to answer a few questions: first, who is "τοῦ μόνου θεοῦ"; second, who is "τὸν μόνον ἀληθινὸν θεὸν"; and third, who is the "εἷς θεὸς" ???

The only God is the Trinity, the One God in nature/substance/essence, who has always existed in eternity past, three persons in a perfect love relationship.

Just because the phrase “tou movou Theou” (I am not doing the Greek fonts, in order to save time, although I could. ) is only used of the Father in I Cor. 8:6>>

Me: Putting aside for the moment the issue of a quaternity vs. a trinity (which, of course, comes into view when one speculates on whether the unitary nature/substance/essence is a person), the phrase “tou movou Theou” DOES NOT OCCUR IN 1Cor. 8:6, but rather in John 5:44.


>>(in your atomizing view of isolating it out from the context and the rest of the verse) does not mean that the Son is not included, because the verse goes on to say that there is only one Lord; and we know the Father is also Lord.>>

Me: Inaccurate depiction of MY VIEW—the necessary historical and linguistical aspects that need to be taken into consideration are much more complex than your simple syllogism—I actually believe that 1 Cor. 8:6 (and like passages) give us important insights into how one is understand the relationship between the titles theos and kurios with respect to the Father and the Son.


>>The other Greek phrases you use are from John 17:3 and Ephesians 4:5 and maybe you are including I Tim. 2:5.>>

Me: Yes, the phrase "τὸν μόνον ἀληθινὸν θεὸν" is from John 17:3; however, "εἷς θεὸς" is from 1 Cor. 8:6 and Eph. 4:6.

>>The only way to understand all of those is with the doctrine of the trinity which takes all the other verses that are relevant and puts it all together in a way that protects Monothesism and the Deity of Christ and the Deity of the Holy Spirit.>>

Me: I strongly disagree; though one of the varying forms of Trinitarianism (you still have not stated which form you embrace) is a viable OPTION for understanding those verses, it is NOT the ONLY viable OPTION.

>> Since Jesus is also called, “the one Lord”, there in I Cor. 8:6, does this mean that the Father is not Lord?>>

Me: The contextual lordship of Jesus in 1 Cor. 8:6 needs to be understood with Psalm 2 and 110:1 in mind—the lordship clearly is a mediatorial lordship; Jesus is the promised Messiah (i.e. anointed one), king, lord, etc., and there are not multiple promised Messiahs, kings, lords, but rather, only one. Further, "the head of Christ is God" (1 Cor. 11:3), not the Trinity, but God the Father; and all things are "from God", not the Trinity, but God the Father; one cannot ignore/neglect the important contrast/distinction between ek and dia.

to be continued...

David Waltz said...

...continued

Ken:>> I did not know anything about this professor James McGrath, so I reframed from commenting, until now, that I had time to think more about your post. Also, too many other things going on also preventing me from posting.

Dr. White, and Nabeel Qureshi answered the issue you raise in I Cor. 8:6 very well - and refuted James McGrath and you and the other liberal/emergent scholars you are endorsing.

After I listened to this (three times), this makes more sense than McGrath or the other scholars you have quoted.
http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=DrOakley1689#p/search/8/-E22l9bn1HQ

They soundly refuted the Muslim here, (Shadid Lewis, and the GV19) and McGrath and you!>>

Me: Once again, because I respect YOU, I am going to head over to the link that you provided above and listen with an objective mind to the 'refutation'. It will be interesting to see if James addresses MY position on 1 Cor. 8:6; I sincerely doubt that a Muslim would endorse MY position, but I promise to listen with an 'open' mind. Shall return later (the Lord willing).


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hello again Ken,

OK, I have listened to James' YouTube presentation, "Shadid Lewis and 1 Corinthians 8:6" (twice). Just as I suspected Lewis' argument is not even remotely close to my view; as such, James does not "refute" my position at all.


Grace and peace,

David

Ken said...

Thanks for watching it and listening to it.

But White and Qureshi's answers were also utilizing Richard Bauchman (and the other's you referred to - I take your word on that, I don't have all these books as you do; N.T. Wright and some other guy I have never of.)

Qureshi refers to Bauchman's book and the "spliting of the Shema" and White makes the point that "Lord" is kurios and same for rendering Yahweh, and the Father is also called "Lord", both Adonai and Yahweh. So, while not directly speaking to your argument (but Qureshi's does), it applies to it; because whatever your view is - it is not understandable - representative/agent of Yahweh, but not Yahweh ??

Whatever your view is, it seems to be a denial of the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity and yet not quite Arianism. It seems you don't believe in the eternal personal relationship of the Son with the Father in all eternity; only that the logos (mind unexpressed) is eternal, but not yet personal as relating to one another in personal relationship.

This is sort of a modalism until the Son became the Son, being expressed out of the logos of the Father - this is what it seems like you are communicating.

That the Son is not an angel, but some sort of being in between the Father and the angels, yet you seem to be denying the Deity nature of the Son. (which is what Shadid Lewis and GV19 would love to utilize from your writings. While your position is not theirs exactly, your position will be or can be exploited to their advantage against the Deity of Christ and Trinity; since the implication of what you are saying is that the doctrine of the Trinity is a humanly thought of doctrine after the Bible was completed. That is where it seems your Jehovah's Witnesses background has influenced you.

Ken said...

David,
You are right about John 5:44 as the phrase "tou monou Theou" (the only God) is in that verse.

I appreciate your respect; I respect you also as a human and person, and you are very smart and careful and have read thousands of more books than I have, I will grant you that.

I was more polemical and more emotional in those 4 posts, yes; I confess I don't like liberal/emergent scholars who use their scholarship to attack sound Biblical theology and morality; (McGrath's efforts of defending same sex marriage and homosexuality are disgusting to me - an abomination - a Hebrew word also used to describe excrement. As is also the efforts of other liberals like John Shelby Spong, an apostate and blasphemer and the ACLU lawyer Barry Lynn.

I don't want to have sinful anger, but it is also true that God has anger (Psalm 2) and the Son has anger against that kind of blasphemy and defense of sinful behavior.

Ken said...

Me: The contextual lordship of Jesus in 1 Cor. 8:6 needs to be understood with Psalm 2 and 110:1 in mind . . .

I answered that in the comment boxes of the new thread you made about "The Trinity; A Clear Biblical teaching or post-Biblical Development" ?

Psalm 2, the worship that is to be given to both Yahweh and the Son, and the anger that they both have against sin and rebellion and unbelief, and the way Jesus and the NT interpret the OT that the Messiah would be the Son of God in the NT texts where they quote Psalm 2 and 110 and the Pharisees and high priest even admitting this also at the trial of Jesus in Matthiew 26 and Mark 14; all of this shows that Son means the "same nature" and points to the doctrine of the Trinity.

Ken said...

Me: I strongly disagree; though one of the varying forms of Trinitarianism (you still have not stated which form you embrace) is a viable OPTION for understanding those verses, it is NOT the ONLY viable OPTION.

I don't understand what all the options are that are not in some ways either a kind of modified Arianism or a modified Modalism. All Trinitarians believe in some sort of subordinationism, ie, that the Father, in His role and person, but not in nature and power and glory; in role and person, the Father is higher than the Son, but way you express it, along with attacks on Sola Scriptura and an unwillingness to discuss John 1:1 and the one and same nature that the logos/Son has with the Father, leaves things more un-clarified on your side; and gives room for the Muslims (like GV19) and others to attack the doctrine of the Trinity as un-Biblical. I mean, it is you who are making up other terms and other categories like "Deity" vs. "full Deity", and "representative/agent", which doesn't really help the discussion, but brings doubt on the Deity of Christ.

I don't understand your need for a new kind of something in between Arianism and modalism on the one hand the doctrine of the Trinity on the other. You seem to be calling for a new category in between them.

David Waltz said...

Back to Ken's "4" posts...

>>As Steve Hays has recently written, “McGrath is a Jesus Seminar retread.” That seems to be true. I don’t have time right now to read any more of his garbage.>>

Me: My-oh-my...Steve Hays, are you serious? Given the fact that Steve has proven himself to be a liar, it is difficult for me take anything he says as being accurate. I don't know enough about Dr. McGrath's overall worldview, so I cannot say yeah or nay as to whether or not he should be grouped with the "Jesus Seminar" bunch. However, there are certain statements in his writings that suggest otherwise. He claims to be "born again", he separates himself from mere "cultural Christians", and says that Jesus is his "Lord".

And further, some highly respected Evangelical scholars (e.g. Larry Hurtado), take Dr. McGrath's Bible related work quite seriously (though their are important disagreements).

What I find so interesting is the fact that Steve Hays, John Bugay, James White, et al. have no problem quoting so-called 'liberal scholarship' if it supports their position(s), but then cry 'foul' if someone like me sees fit to follow suit.

>>Part 3 -
Also, since proskunew is used in the 2 Revelation passages that I cited above, (19:10; 22:8-9) in those contexts it does mean the only worship that is due to the one creator God, and in Rev. 5:12 it is used for God and the Lamb, therefore the proskunew of Matthew 2:1-2, 11-12 means the Magi came and worshiped Jesus as God -
also Matthew 14:33 and John 9:38.

I realize proskunew is used sometimes in other places as not referring to worship of God - Rev. 3:9 and I Chronicles 29:20 (the king is not God; but God is honored as God, but the king is not), but it is clear that in those contexts, it does not mean "worship". And it is clear that is does mean worship in Matthew 2, John 9, and Matthew 14:33 and Rev. 5:12.>>

Me: Since προσκυνέω is clearly used in more than one sense, would it not be wise to take more seriously the Greek terms for worship (in the NT) that have only one sense? For instance, take a good look at λατρεύω/λατρεία, you will find that the term is used only with reference to the Father.

>>Also, theos with the article is used for Jesus as God in John 20:28, so you are soundly refuted again! (and you skipped that before)>>

Me: When have I said that ό θεόϛ is NOT applied to the Son? I have not, for clearly in John 20:28 it is; and, for the record, I also lean towards it being applied to the Son in Heb. 1:8. However, when θεόϛ is used in verse that describes both the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit makes a clear distinction.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Arrrgh...I am typing too fast...more typos: change "(though their are important disagreements)" to (though there are important disagreements); and, "when θεόϛ is used in verse" to "when θεόϛ is used in a verse".


P.S. Ken, I see you have posted some more responses; I am going to take a break (workout and lunch), but hope to return later today, the Lord willing.

Ken said...

Steve and the Triablogue gang is very good material, too much for me to digest.

Steve can be very polemical and rough and "in your face", (not my style, but I understand the rationale when they use the prophets and apostles examples of calling apostates, "snakes" and "full of bitterness and gall and wickedness", "son of the Devil" etc. ) but his material is very good, (and I especially like Jason Engwer's material) of what I can avail myself of; and very creative and intelligent and fast; and I appreciate his defense of Reformed Christianity. I have not seen any documentation of him being a liar. I think that is unfair of you.

Ken said...

Since προσκυνέω is clearly used in more than one sense, would it not be wise to take more seriously the Greek terms for worship (in the NT) that have only one sense? For instance, take a good look at λατρεύω/λατρεία, you will find that the term is used only with reference to the Father.

However, since proskunew is used of worship in parallel with latrea in matthew 4 about the worship only due to God; and Rev. 19:10 and 22:8-9 use it about God only; and Rev. 5:12 for both the father and the Lamb; then it seems clear that Matthew 2 is about worship due to only God. Therefore Jesus is God.

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Before moving on to your more interesting posts, I would like to address the following:

>>Steve can be very polemical and rough and "in your face", (not my style, but I understand the rationale when they use the prophets and apostles examples of calling apostates, "snakes" and "full of bitterness and gall and wickedness", "son of the Devil" etc. )>>

Me: Steve is neither a prophet nor an apostle, and completely ignores the numerous admonitions in the NT that we are to be humble, meek, kind, etc., even to our enemies (e.g. "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect...")

>>but his material is very good, (and I especially like Jason Engwer's material) of what I can avail myself of; and very creative and intelligent and fast; and I appreciate his defense of Reformed Christianity.>>

Me: Jason is not Reformed.

>>I have not seen any documentation of him being a liar. I think that is unfair of you.>>

Me: Sigh...have you forgotten the following post?

LINK

How about my subsequent post, which included:

HAYS:>>I remained silent as long as you remained silent. When, however, you came to the defense of the GV’s defamatory comparison, I spoke up. It’s ou, not me, who ought to remain silent if that’s the best you can do.>>

Me: No you did not; you lied twice in the above statement. In the very first post of this combox you wrote:

HAYS:==I'd note that this Mohammedan was all nicey-nice over at Articuli Fidei when Waltz made himself a doormat for this enemy of the faith. But see how he now unfurls his true colors.==

That is not remaining silent—that is the first lie; and the second lie is that I was defending GV19, when the truth is that I was responding to Ken (who asked me to do so).

LINK

And then there is following from 12-21-10:

Jason Engwer recently posted a response to James McGrath on Christmas. McGrath is a Jesus Seminar retread. McGrath's radical chic attack on Christmas was, in turn, picked up by militant apostate John Loftus.

LINK

Read the two following posts, and then get back to me on whether or not Hays was being honest with McGrath's position on Christmas:

Articles of Christmas

Christmas: The Christian "War on Solstice"


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Ken,

Back to your more substantive posts (IMHO); you wrote:

>>I don't understand what all the options are that are not in some ways either a kind of modified Arianism or a modified Modalism. All Trinitarians believe in some sort of subordinationism, ie, that the Father, in His role and person, but not in nature and power and glory; in role and person, the Father is higher than the Son,>>

Me: Have you read the following thread?:

John Calvin: a tri-theistic heretic???

>>but way you express it, along with attacks on Sola Scriptura and an unwillingness to discuss John 1:1 and the one and same nature that the logos/Son has with the Father, leaves things more un-clarified on your side; and gives room for the Muslims (like GV19) and others to attack the doctrine of the Trinity as un-Biblical. I mean, it is you who are making up other terms and other categories like "Deity" vs. "full Deity", and "representative/agent", which doesn't really help the discussion, but brings doubt on the Deity of Christ.>>

Me: By "full Deity" I mean that it is God the Father who is the person referred to as: "τοῦ μόνου θεοῦ" (John 5:44); "τὸν μόνον ἀληθινὸν θεὸν" (John 17:3); "εἷς θεὸς" (1 Cor. 8:6; Eph. 4:6). And by "full Deity" I mean that it is God the Father who is autotheos, that His divinity is NOT derived, but rather, He is the SOURCE of divinity.

>>I don't understand your need for a new kind of something in between Arianism and modalism on the one hand the doctrine of the Trinity on the other. You seem to be calling for a new category in between them.>>

Me: The view I have been discussing is not "new", it was the view of many of the pre-Nicene Church Fathers, and it is very close to the view of some of the post-Nicene Eastern Fathers.


Grace and peace,

David

Ken said...

I don't see where exactly there is a lie - in his opinion, you were too accommodating to the Muslims, and that is his opinion. And GV19 is very cordial and nice here, but at his own blog, he is very "nasty" against Christians.

"made your self a doormat for the enemies of the faith" is not a lie about you; it is rather his opinion of what you did.

but, yes I remember that exchange.

I will admit, I had not known about the method of calling false teachers names, as some Reformed folks do; so that is new to me; but I can understand, at least intellectually, how they can see it as an example to follow in Scripture.

Yes, I realize Jason is not a five point Calvinist, but his material is some of the very best on NT and historical research and against RC apologetics.

steelikat said...

I'm still not understanding this discussion. If there were no Christians, if there were no believers in Christ's divinity, there would be no church.

There would be still be other religions and some of them might give some degree of reverence to Jesus, but Christianity would not exist. I think there must be other biblical truths that are important "for the life and health of the church," or more to the point "upon which the life of the church depends"; but what is the point of ranking the various biblical truths upon which the life of the church depends as to their relative importance since all of those are vitally critical (the life of the church depends on them, the church would have no life, would not exist, without them).

Or to put it differently, whatever biblical truth, say the substitutionary atonement, you thought might be more important than the divinity of Jesus, wouldn't be believed by anyone who didn't believe Jesus is God. Once a Christian ceased believing Jesus is God he would also no longer believed in any of the other candidates for biblical truths "most important to the life of the church." He'd become a philosophical theist or mormon or moslem or something--or he'd just no longer have a religious faith. Right?