Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Trinity: a 'clear' Biblical teaching, or a post-Biblical development?

In the combox of our previous thread, Lvka (an Eastern Orthodox brother in Christ), articulated some of the distinctions between the Eastern Orthodox understanding of the Trinity and those generally held by Augustinian/Western Trinitarians (link to Lvka's post). Lvka's reflections brought back to mind Fr. Boris Bobrinskoy's detailed book on the Trinity: The Mystery of the Trinity. Fr. Bobrinskoy is an ordained Orthodox priest, and the Dean and Professor of Dogmatic Thelogy at St. Sergius Institute, Paris (see Orthodox Wiki bio). The following is my response to Lvka; I am utilizing it as an introduction to the theme of this thread:

==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. Form 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 synthesis made 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, 2ns ser., vol. 7, p. 326.)"

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.== [See THIS AF THREAD for an earlier treatment on the development of doctrine in Gregory Nazianzen.]

Fr. Bobrinskoy is yet one more Trinitarian scholar who acknowledges that the doctrine of the Trinity is far from being an explicit teaching of the Bible. Bobrinskoy, like so many Catholic scholars (and a few Anglican), points to the need of the Holy Spirit working through the Church to make clear/explicit, what is only implicit in the Scriptures (their understanding, of course). Even a few Protestant scholars have admitted that the doctrine of the Trinity is found wanting in the Bible—note the following selections:

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 Spirit are of 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, I, 1, 437). It also lacks such terms as trinity (Lat. trinitas which was coined by Tertullian, Against Praxeas, 3; 11; 12 etc.) and homoousios which featured in the Creed of Nicea (325) to denote ttha Chirst was of the same substance of the Father (cf. J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 1968, 113, 233-7). (J. Schneider, "God", in New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 2, p. 84.)

Part of the problem for the ordinary Christian may be that in its debates and struggles, the ancient church was forced to use extrabiblical terms to defend biblical concepts...Biblical language could not resolve the issue, for the conflict was over the meaning of biblical language in the first place. (Robert Letham, The Holy Trinity, pp. 1, 2.)

Because the Trinity is such an important part of later Christian doctrine, it is striking that the term does not appear in the New Testament. Likewise, the developed concept of three coequal partners in the Godhead found in later creedal formulations cannot be clearly detected within the confines of the *canon...While the New Testament writers say a great deal about God, Jesus and the Spirit of each, no New Testament writer expounds on the relationship among the three in the detail that later Christian writers do. (Daniel N. Schowalter, "Trinity", in The Oxford Companion To The Bible, p. 782.)

In all of these elements of revelation, of course, Scripture has not yet provided us with a fully developed trinitarian dogma…Scripture contains all the data from which theology has constructed the dogma of the Trinity. Philosophy did not need to add anything essential to that dogma: even the Logos doctrine is part of the New Testament. It all only had to wait for a time when the power of Christian reason would be sufficiently developed to enter into the holy mystery that presents itself here. (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 2, trans. John Vriend, pp. 279, 280.)

Though all of above scholars certainly believe that 'basic elements' for the development of the doctrine of the Trinity can be found in the Bible, a question which should be asked by everyone that embraces sola scriptura (and in so doing, rejects rejects any authorative, infallible 'rule of faith' outside of the Bible), is: were those 'basic elements' correctly developed by the Church? This, IMHO, is a crucial question, for if one is truly 'honest' with the Biblical data, and the subsequent developments of theology and christlogical, one will acknowledge with Dr. Raymond Brown that:

...in no NT passage, not even in Matt. 28:19 (“Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”) is there precision about three divine Persons, co-equal but distinct, and one divine Nature—the core dogma of the Trinity. Greek philosophy, sharpened by continuing theological disputes in the church from the 2nd to the 5th centuries, contributed to the classical formulation of the dogma…If ‘tradition’ implies that first-century Christianity already understood three coequal but distinct divine Persons and one divine Nature but had not developed the precise terminology, I would dissent. Neither the terminology nor the basic ideas had reached clarity in the first century; problems and disputes were required before the clarity came…Precisely because the “Trinitarian” line of development was not the only line of thought detectable in the NT, one must posit the guidance of the Spirit and intuition of faith as the church came to its decision. (Raymond E. Brown, Biblical Exegesis & Church Doctrine, 1985, pp. 31-33.)

The older, but respected, Cyclopedia of Biblical and Ecclesiastical Literature, concurs with Dr. Raymond:

The first class of texts, [i.e. triadic] taken by itself, proves only that there are three separate subjects named, and that there is a difference between them; that the Father in certain respects differs from the son, etc.; but it does not prove, by itself, that all three belong necessarily to the divine nature, and possess equal divine honor...

Matt. xxviii, 18-20. This text, however, taken by itself, would not prove decisively either the personality of the three subjects mentioned, or their equality or divinity.
(Vol. X, p. 552.)


I shall end this opening post with a recommendation to those who have not read the threads here at AF listed under the label, Subordinationism (especially this older thread), to do so.


Grace and peace,

David

151 comments:

Ken said...

". . . baptizing them in the name (singular) of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

since you agree that the Father is at least in your view, "the one God" or "only true God", etc. (John 17:3; Ephesians 4:5-6; I Cor. 8:6; I Tim. 2:5); and the Son is called Theos other places - John 1:1-5; 18; Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:6-8; and other passages that point to Deity of Christ - (form of God - Phil. 2:5-8; "image of the invisible God - Col. 1:15-20; Heb. 1:3; Rev. 1 and 22); and the person-hood and personality of the three are spoken of in other passages - the Father loves the Son, sends the Son, the Son loves the Father, the Spirit testifies of the Son and the Spirit prays for us and knows what the mind of God is and is grieved and can be lied to, etc.; then the other verses all together show in addition to Matthew 28:18-20, that the "one essence/substance/nature in three persons was the proper biblical meaning of all the verses together. By isolating Matthew 28:18-20 by itself, you seek to make your case, but full doctrines need more verses than just one, in order to come to the meaning of the revelation.

The one name would seem to be God or Yahweh, as
The Father is God/Yahweh
The Son is God/Yahweh
The Spirit is God/Yahweh

Also, look at the last four posts on your previous thread about Tabletalk article, Sproul, and Dr. Peterson. All of that info also adds weight that you just wrong on all of this.

You should be defending the Trinity, not writing against it.

The incarnation teaches the Trinity - Luke 1:34-35 - holy offspring/son of God; the power of the Most High (The Father); and the Holy Spirit are all there - 3 persons, all one God.

You can have a joyous and blessed and Merry Christmas - only because of that truth of the incarnation and the Trinity.

Ken said...

John 20:28

ἀπεκρίθη Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ·

answered Thomas and said to Him

ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου.

The Lord of mine and the God of mine! = "My Lord and My God!"


(Literal interlinear translation by Ken)

Here o theos is used of Jesus, so all your attempts of attacking the Deity of Christ and the Trinity fail.

Jesus is both Lord and God; the Father is both Lord and God; and the Holy Spirit is Lord and God.
One God in nature/substance/essence.

But they each are distinct in person and personal relationship.

Also, you never really answered completely on all the Greek in the NT quotes of Psalm 110:1

Matthew 22:44 --

εἶπεν κύριος τῷ κυρίῳ μου·

he said Lord to the Lord of mine

κάθου ἐκ δεξιῶν μου ἕως ἂν θῶ

sit at right hand of mine until I make

τοὺς ἐχθρούς σου ὑποκάτω τῶν

the enemies of yours footstool for the

ποδῶν σου.

feet of yours

Acts 2:34-35 - same thing - both kurios for both Yahweh and Adonai

Mark 12:36 and Luke 20:42 - same - both Kurios (Lord) for both Yahweh and Adonai

And I Cor. 15:25 and Hebrews 1:13 quote the second part about putting all enemies under His feet - about Christ, so this proves Jesus is God and Yahweh also.

Ken said...

John Piper addresses the issues that the scholars you quote raise, that the doctrine of the Trinity uses words that are not in the Bible in order to describe what the Bible texts mean. Piper also quotes the same quote you did from Hanson, but Piper takes a positive view of it, showing why it was necessary to come up with other non-Biblical words to describe the meaning of the Bible verses. ( Trinity, homo-ousias, hupostasis (person, individuality), 3 persons, etc.)

Go to desiring God and search under "Contending for Our All" (I am not putting up the url because it tends to go into the spam folder when doing that.)

Lessons from Athanasius:


"4. The truth of biblical language must be vigorously protected with non-biblical language.

Athanasius’ experience was critically illuminating to something I have come to see over the years, especially in liberally minded baptistic and pietistic traditions, namely, that the slogan, “the Bible is our only creed” is often used as a cloak to conceal the fact that Bible language is used to affirm falsehood. This is what Athanasius encountered so insidiously at the Council of Nicaea. The Arians affirmed biblical sentences. Listen to this description of the proceedings:

The Alexandrians . . . confronted the Arians with the traditional Scriptural phrases which appeared to leave no doubt as to the eternal Godhead of the Son. But to their surprise they were met with perfect acquiescence. Only as each test was propounded, it was observed that the suspected party whispered and gesticulated to one another, evidently hinting that each could be safely accepted, since it admitted of evasion. If their assent was asked to the formula “like to the Father in all things,” it was given with the reservation that man as such is “the image and glory of God.” The “power of God” elicited the whispered explanation that the host of Israel was spoken of as dunamis kuriou, and that even the locust and caterpillar are called the “power of God.” The “eternity” of the Son was countered by the text, “We that live are alway (2 Corinthians 4:11)!” The fathers were baffled, and the test of homoosion, with which the minority had been ready from the first, was being forced (p. 172) upon the majority by the evasions of the Arians.38

R. P. C. Hanson explained the process like this: “Theologians of the Christian Church were slowly driven to a realization that the deepest questions which face Christianity cannot be answered in purely biblical language, because the questions are about the meaning of biblical language itself.”39 The Arians railed against the unbiblical language being forced on them. They tried to seize the biblical high ground and claim to be the truly biblical people—the pietists, the simple Bible-believers—because they wanted to stay with biblical language only—and by it smuggle in their non-biblical meanings.

But Athanasius saw through this “post-modern,”post-conservative,” “post-propositional” strategy and saved for us not just Bible words, but Bible truth. May God grant us the discernment of Athanasius for our day. Very precious things are at stake.40

Ken said...

More from John Piper on Lessons from Athanasius (sermon/message: "Contending for Our All" and chapter 1 of the book with same title) that address the main point you seem to be trying to make:

"6. Don’t aim to preach only in categories of thought that can be readily understood by this generation. Aim at creating biblical categories of thought that are not present.

Another way to put it is to use the terminology of Andrew Walls: Don’t embrace the indigenous principle of Christianity at the expense of the pilgrim principle.41 The indigenous principle says, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Cor. 9:22). The pilgrim principle says, “Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom. 12:2).

Some of the most crucial and precious truths of the Scripture are counter-intuitive to the fallen human mind. They don’t fit easily into our heads. The orthodox understanding of the Trinity is one of those. If the indigenous principle had triumphed in the fourth century, we would all be Arians. It is far easier for the human mind to say that the Son of God, like all other sons, once was not, and then came into being, than it is to say that he has always been God with the Father, but there is only one God. But the Bible will not let its message be fit into the categories we bring with our fallen, finite minds. It presses us relentlessly to create new categories of thought to contain the mysteries of the gospel."

Continued

Ken said...

More from John Piper's message "Contending for Our All"

"Archibald Roberts points out that with the conversion of Constantine and the Edict of Milan (313) which gave legal status to Christianity, “the inevitable influx of heathen into the Church, now that the empire had become Christian, brought with it multitudes to whom Arianism was a more intelligible creed than that of Nicaea.”42 And if you want to grow a church the temptation is to give the people what they already have categories to understand and enjoy. But once that church is grown, it thinks so much like the world that the difference is not decisive. The radical, biblical gospel is blunted and the glory of Christ is obscured.

Rather, alongside the indigenous principle of accommodation and contextualization, Athanasius would plead with us to have a deep commitment to the pilgrim principle of confrontation and transformation and brain-boggling, mind-altering, recategorization of the way people think about reality.

And we must not treat these two principles as sequential. They start and continue together. We must not assume that the first and basic truths of Christianity fit into the fallen mind of unbelievers. We must not assume that these first truths can be contextualized in categories of thought that are present in the minds of 21st century human beings, and that only later, after they have become Christians, we can begin to alter the way they think with more advanced truth.

That’s not the case. From the very beginning, we are speaking to them God-centered, Christ-exalting truths that shatter fallen human categories of thought. We must not shy away from this. We must do all we can to advance it and to help people, by the grace of God, to see what is happening to them (the shattering of their categories) as the best news in all the world.

From the very beginning, in the most winsome way possible, we must labor to create categories like this: God rules the world of bliss and suffering and sin, right down to the roll of the dice and the fall of a bird and the driving of the nail into the hand of his Son, yet, though he will that such sin and suffering be, he does not sin, but is perfectly holy. Or a category like this: God governs all the steps of all people, both good and bad, at all times and in all places, yet such that all are accountable before him and will bear the just consequences of his wrath if they do not believe in Christ. Or this category: All are dead in their trespasses and sin and are not morally able to come to Christ because of their rebellion, yet, they are responsible to come and will be justly punished if they don’t. Or: Jesus Christ is one person with two natures, divine and human, such that he upheld the world by the word of his power while living in his mother’s womb. Or: sin, though committed by a finite person and in the confines of finite time is nevertheless deserving of an infinitely long punishment because it is a sin against an infinitely worthy God. Or: the death of the one God-Man, Jesus Christ, so displayed and glorified the righteousness of God that God is not unrighteous to declare righteous ungodly people who simply believe in Christ.

These kinds of mind-boggling, category-shattering truths demand our best thought and our most creative labors. We must aim to speak them in a way that, by the power of God’s word and Spirit, a place for them would be created in the minds of those who hear. We must not preach only in the categories that are already present in our listeners’ fallen minds, or we will betray the gospel and conceal the glory of God."

Ken said...

If we take Psalm 2:11-12 and the Hebrew parallelism, it is clear that “serving and worshiping Yahweh” is parallel with kissing/bowing down/worshipping/paying homage to the Son. The context of Psalm 2 is clear, the Messiah is God’s Son, and both Yahweh and the Son have wrath against sin and their enemies. God’s Son is His Messiah and His King. Proverbs 30:3-4 also speak of the Holy One, the one who established all the ends of the earth, obviously God, Elohim, Yahweh, and the wise man Agur asks, “What is His name or His son’s name?”

So, when Jesus asks the Pharisees about the Messiah, “who’s Son is He?” (Matthew 22:41-46; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44), Jesus is exposing all the OT background (Psalm 110:1-3; Psalm 2, Proverbs 30:3-4) that the Jews should have understood about the Messiah, that He would be God’s Son, the same nature as God. “homo-ousias” is a term that explains the same nature relationship and meaning of “father and son”. They could not answer a word to Jesus’ apologetic because He properly interpreted the OT, as He always did and also showed in Luke 24:25-27; 32; 44-47. The high priest knew this at Jesus’ trial – Matthew 26:63-64 and Mark 14:61-62 – “tell us whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God/Son of the Blessed One?”; and then Jesus also quotes from Daniel 7:13-14 and included in that in allusion to Psalm 110.

The Hebrew word for serving / worshiping Yahweh in Psalm 2:11-12 is also used in Deut. 6:13, which is translated with the latreow word, and quoted in Matthew 4:10 and parallel with proskunew.

This also shows that the Magi were worshiping the Son as God and the worship given to the Lamb is also worship of God in the book of Revelation.


Deuteronomy 6:13 "You shall fear the LORD your God and serve (avad, also worship) Him, and shall take oaths in His name.

The fear and worship given to both the Father and the Son in Psalm 2, shows they are the same in nature, God.

The anger they both have shows they are the same in nature.

Hence, the ousia and homo-ousia to explain that.

The words, "Father" and "Son" show that they have a personal relationship.

Hence the hupostasis (Greek)/ persona (Latin) to explain that.

So, Sola Scriptura and the doctrine of the Trinity stand as both Biblical.

Rory said...

Hi Ken. Addressing our blog host, you said:

"You should be defending the Trinity, not writing against it."

I don't think you understand what Dave is questioning. He is only asking if the Trinity is clearly taught in Scripture. It sounds like your position is that only the clear teachings of Scripture are true? Do you think every contrioversy is easily settled by resort to clear Scripture? Do you think the question of pedobaptism is easily settled this way? I cannot fathom someone who is half-familiar with arguments on both sides saying that the Bible alone clearly teaches one way or the other. Anyway, whatever you believe, I am sure Dave admits the possibility that post-biblical doctrinal developments may be true. He is not writing against the Trinity. He is only writing against your apparent understanding of how clear the doctrine is taught in Scripture.

Rory

Ken said...

Hi Rory,
David's questioning of the "one nature in three persons" seems to go beyond just asking are all the words in Scripture and is it clear, etc. He has clearly written that only the Father is the one true God and that the Son is some sort of representative/agent of the father.

He also doesn't want to say what John 1:1 means.

So, this creates a cumulative effect of questioning the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity and the Deity of Christ; he says Christ is not "full Deity" whatever that means (as if there is a difference between "Deity" and "full Deity").

I do think that believer's baptism is much clearer than infant baptism and in fact infant baptism is non existant in Scripture.

I understand the arguments for it, based on circumcision in Genesis 17 and the parallel with baptism in Colossians 2:11-12; however the last phrase, "through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." seems to demolish any kind of infant baptism as biblical.

But, I do appreciate the Presbyterian and other Reformed groups that make it clear that their infant baptism does not save the child, is not baptismal regeneration, does not justify the child; and that is only a sign of entry into the covenant community of children of believing parents. That is an acceptable secondary doctrine, in my opinion.


David seems to be questioning the "one nature in three persons" aspect of the Trinity and is calling Jesus some kind of representative/agent of God, and not God / Yahweh Himself.

I think that my many posts dealing with lots of verses and John 1:1 and 14 and John 20:28 and many others, also Psalm 110 and Psalm 2 and how the NT interprets them, shows that the Trinity is taught in the Bible; and that the theology of Ignatius, who clearly called Jesus "Theos" and Athanasius' defense of the Deity of Christ and homo-ousias and the Capadocian fathers defense of the Deity of the Holy Spirit and then Augustine and then later, Calvin and modern Trinitarianism all come from the right understanding of the Biblical texts, especially one like Luke 1:34-35, which shows the virgin conception/birth and incarnation of Jesus reveals and points to the Trinity. The power of the most high = the Father; the Holy Spirit; the holy offspring will be called the Son of God, etc. - all three persons are there and the phrase, "for this reason the holy offspring will be called the Son of God" - for what reason? Because of the nature of the Father and the Spirit being Spirit/Yahweh/Deity/God that provided the Divine nature of Jesus in the womb of Mary, and Mary's human nature providing the humanity of Jesus.

Certainly it is clearer for us now that we have all that development behind us and we can call upon Ignatius, Athanasius, the Cappodocians, Augustine, Calvin, etc. to help us.

That - Luke 1:34-35 is the true meaning of Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you both, Rory and David Waltz and anyone else "listening" in to our discussions.

Ken said...

Rory,
Also, David's openness to Bahai'ism as a possibility of being true demonstrates that something more is going on than only, "The Trinity is not clear in Scripture".

David is smart and careful, and very well read, but if one puts all his material together, it seems to be going outside of Christianity as we know it; although he has not laid all his cards out on the table.

Lvka said...

The New Testament and the writings of the Holy Fathers of ALL ages are obscenely clear on Christ's divinity and and the Holy Spirit's deity. (I still don't understand what and why you don't understand).

The ideas expressed in my comment were not post-Palamas: they can be found in early pre-Nicene Fathers and in the Cappadocians as well: they were never disputed in the East.

Again: I can't really be of any help to you as long as I don't actually understand what exactly it is that you find difficulty with...

Iohannes said...

John 20:28 keeps coming up. I believe the context demands an orthodox interpretation, but I doubt the article's presence is important in itself. Much as omitting the article in John 1:1 is necessary to distinguish predicate from subject, so using the article seems necessary here because of the possessive pronoun. Terry Griffith has a note about this in his excellent comments on 1 John 5:20. I think he got the idea from Murray J. Harris's Jesus as God, but am not sure about that.

Lvka said...

1 John 5:20 seems to be a reference to Jesus' own words from John 14:6: I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Iohannes said...

Lvka,

Griffith agrees. He points also to the epistle's opening, 1 John 1:2, where the Son seems to be called "eternal life." That's one reason why it's natural to take "houtos" in 5:20 as Jesus.

If that identification is correct, then, interestingly, we find in John the Father called "the only true God" and the Son "the true God." Isn't that what Orthodox like Fr. Behr say? The Father is called "only" in virtue of the Monarchy, but not to the exclusion of the Son's being "true God of true God."

(PS on John 20:28, Griffth's note matches what CFD Moule says in his Idiom Book of New Testament Greek, p. 116.)

Lvka said...

Well, obviously...


(The Son is true God from true God as Seth was true man from true Man (Adam), and the Spirit is the same, as Eve was taken from Adam's side: man and woman are one flesh; Father and Son are one substance: since John 10:30 parallels Genesis 2:23-24, just like John 1:1-3 also mirrors Genesis 1:1, or as John 1:32-33 recalls Genesis 1:2, etc).

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

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

I hope all of you are doing well. Happy Holidays(Hanuka, Kwanzaa, Christmas-both Orthodox and Catholic versions, Julian New Year) , did I miss any?

In regards to John 20:28 are there any manuscripts dated earlier than Beatty's P66 that contain this particular text?

My second question. Is it possible that the material was copied from an earlier manuscript in a different language?

Colwell comments ["Method in Evaluating Scribal Habits." now published in E. C. Colwell, Studies in Methodology in Textual Criticism of the New Testament; p. 121], "Wildness in copying is the outstanding characteristic of P66." This means that many of the corrections in the manuscript were early alterations made to correct the scribe's own errors; Colwell [p. 118] reports "P66 seems to reflect a scribe working with the intention of making a good copy, falling into careless errors, particularly the dropping of a letter, a syllable, a word, or even a phrase where it is doubled, but also under the control of some other person, or second standard, so that the corrections which are made are usually corrections to a reading read by a number of other witnesses. Nine out of ten of the nonsense readings are corrected, and two out of three of all his singular readings." (It should be noted that Colwell, p. 109, finds no fewer than 482 singular readings in P66; this would imply that two-thirds of the corrections in P66 correct singular readings -- an astonishing proportion. Colwell also reports, p. 111, that "two out of five [of P66's singular readings] are nonsense readings," leaving 289 "Sensible Singular Readings".)

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

I agree with Rory when he says,

"I don't think you understand what Dave is questioning. He is only asking if the Trinity is clearly taught in Scripture."

Something from Ehrman.

Another passage that can be taken to suggest that Christ is "God" himself (i.e., ho theos, with the article) occurs near the end of the Fourth Gospel, and here again one should not be surprised to find scribes modifying the text. Upon seeing the resurrected Jesus, Thomas exclaims, "My Lord and my God" (ho theos mou). The passage has caused interpreters problems over the years; Theodore of Mopsuestia argued that the words were not addressed directly to Jesus but were uttered in praise of God the Father. Modern commentators have also found the phrasing problematic, because unlike the statement of 1:1, where the Word is theos (without the article), here Jesus is expressly entitled ho theos. How can one avoid drawing from this designation the conclusion that he is the one and only "God"? Several scribes of the early church adroitly handled the matter in what can be construed as an anti-Patripassianist corruption: the predecessor of codex Bezae and other Gospel manuscripts simply omitted the article. Jesus is divine, but he is not the one "God" himself. (Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament [Oxford University Press, USA; paperback edition, 1993], p. 266)

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

Again before anyone jumps to conclusions notice he said, "Jesus is divine, but he is not the one "God" himself"

Thus an Arian position is still tenable.

Than you have the Sahidic Coptic text where John 1:1 reads “and a god was the Word"

"A significant fact concerning the Coptic language is that, unlike the Greek, it used an indefinite article ("a" or "an" in English). The Sahidic Coptic translation uses an indefinite article with the word 'god' in the final part of John 1:1. So when rendered into modern English, the translation reads: 'And the Word was a god.'"

The Anchor Bible Dictionary says:

"Since the [Septuagint} and the [Christian Greek Scriptures] were being translated into Coptic during the 3rd century C.E., the Coptic version is based on [Greek manuscripts] which are significantly older than the vast majority of extant [still-existing] witnesses."


A quote from a modern Biblical Greek scholar, Daniel Wallace:

"Few today would take issue with Rudolf Bultmann’s oft-quoted line that “In describing Christ as ‘God’ the New Testament still exercises great restraint.” The list of passages which seem explicitly to identify Christ with God varies from scholar to scholar, but the number is almost never more than a half dozen or so. As is well known, almost all of the texts are disputed as to their affirmation—due to textual or grammatical glitches—John 1:1 and 20:28 being the only two which are usually conceded without discussion."

http://bible.org/article/sharpi-redivivus-i-reexamination-granville-sharp-rule

"Interestingly, he basically says that scholars can't agree on which verses say Jesus is God. This is because of "textual or grammatical glitches" - verses that have different readings in ancient manuscripts (Such as Acts 20:28) or verses which can be validly translated in a non-Trinitarian manner (Such as Hebrews 1:8). Except, he says, John 1:1."

"This is interesting because in one of his discussions of John 1:1, he says that "god" in 1:1c points to qualities and attributes, and not an identity. Also, he seems unaware of the Sahidic John 1:1."

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

btw David I believe I mentioned saying something in a previous post that James White felt the Trinity was revealed 'Between the Old and the New Testament' is that correct?

I want to make sure so that way I can keep tabs on my promises. Thanks.

Mike L said...

I agree with David and the scholars he quotes. The "orthodox" doctrine of the Trinity cannot just be logically deduced from the NT; it developed over time and, as such, enables us to interpret the NT correctly. The difference between David and me is that I believe said doctrine and he has doubts about it. But I see that a few people here think it's all clear in the NT. My response to that is the one I always give: if it were that clear, then one could explain the theological controversies that preceded and accompanied the development only by attributing illiteracy, malice, or both to the heterodox. Which is ludicrous.

Ken said...

The GV19 quoting Bart Ehrman:

"Another passage that can be taken to suggest that Christ is "God" himself (i.e., ho theos, with the article) occurs near the end of the Fourth Gospel, and here again one should not be surprised to find scribes modifying the text. "

The problem with that is that there are no textual variants of this on John 20:28!! I am looking at my Greek NT at John 20:28 (Greek NT - Editors - Kurt Aland, Black, Martini, Bruce Metzger, Wikgren, third edition, United Bible Societies, 1966, 1975; p. 412.) and there are no textual variants for anything in verse 28. So Ehrman just kind of throws out that phrase "one should not be surprised to find scribes modifying the text" to create doubt and give fuel to atheists and skeptics and liberals and Muslims and Jehovah's Witnesses to attack the Deity of Christ and the Trinity.

This is garbage and evil mixed in with erudite scholarship and knowledge.

Ken said...

Iohannes,
Thanks for the link to Terry Griffiths commentary on I John - it is very interesting; and he affirms that the Greek and context in I John 5:20 is about Jesus Christ.

This is a verse I forgot about in discussing this with Dave.

οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ἥκει,

and we know that the Son of God has come

καὶ δέδωκεν ἡμῖν διάνοιαν ἵνα γινώσκομεν τὸν ἀληθινόν·

and has given to us understanding in order that we may know the one who is true.

καὶ ἐσμὲν ἐν τῷ ἀληθινῷ, ἐν τῷ υἱῷ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ.

and we are in the one who is true, in His Son, Jesus Christ.

οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἀληθινὸς θεὸς καὶ ζωὴ αἰώνιος.

This one is the true God and eternal life.

Wow - that one makes it really clearer. The autos (this one) is pointing to the closest antecedent - Jesus Christ. Also Iohannes commments on I John 1:2 that Jesus is the eternal life is very interesting. Sweet!

I am sorry that the Bible is not clear enough for some of you. Obviously, we have the advantange of all the years of wrestling with the texts and books, etc. that does make it clearer - Ignatius, Athanasius, Augustine, the Cappadocians, Calvin - all together they help us.

But taking all the texts together, they are clear enough, so as not to impugn Sola Scriptura nor the doctrine of the Trinity as some kind of human concoction. They were clear enough to keep Athanasius in the battle for almost 60 years against the Arians, (325-373 AD); and while not as clear as David and Muslims and other liberals and skeptics and Jehovah's Witnesses demand, they are there, with rigorous exegesis and study and the needed grace and faith.

Ken said...

Iohannes is right about the predicate nominative issue at John 1:1.

From my article, "Greek Grammar points to Sola Scriptura and the Doctrine of the Trinity" at Beggar's All. ( not giving the url because it goes into spam, but you should be able to find it by googling.)

The predicate nominative issue is the key interpretive issue, more important than the definite article issue. The Word was God.

καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

And God was the Word.

Daniel Wallace has a good word on this issue:

“We know that “the Word” is the subject because it has the definite article, and we translate it accordingly: “and the Word was God.” Two questions, both of them of theological import, should come to mind: 1) Why was θεὸς (Theos) thrown forward? And 2) why does it lack the article? In brief, its emphatic position stresses its essence or quality: “What God was, the Word was” is how one translation brings out this force. Its lack of a definite article keeps us from identifying the person of the Word ( Jesus Christ) with the person of “God” (the Father). That is to say, the word order tells us that Jesus Christ has all the divine attributes that the Father has; lack of the article tells us that Jesus Christ is not the Father. John’s wording here is beautifully compact! It is, in fact, one of the most elegantly terse theological statements one could ever find. As Martin Luther said, the lack of an article is against Sabellianism [Modalism]; the word order is against Arianism.

To state it another way, look at how the different Greek constructions would be rendered:

καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν ὁ θεὸς “and the Word was the God” ( ie, the Father, Sabellianism, [or Modalism])


καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν θεὸς “and the Word was a god” (Arianism) [also Jehovah’s Witness theology]


καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος “and the Word was God” (orthodoxy) [sound, Biblical doctrine)

Jesus Christ is God and has all the attributes that the Father has. But He is not the first person of the Trinity. [the Son is not the Father] All this is concisely affirmed in καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. “

Basics of Biblical Greek, William D. Mounce, Zondervan, 1993, p. 28-29. (Quoting Daniel Wallace)

So, here we have the principle of Sola Scriptura as the basis for all sound doctrine and theology. The first four Ecumenical councils were right, only because they got the Bible right. We don’t need Popes or any idea of an “infallible church council”. The Scriptures themselves teach us sound doctrine, and the good and right decisions in the Ecumenical councils derive their rightness from Scripture itself. Only Scripture is infallible. Here we see the Greek grammar and syntax teaching us the distinction between nature and person. God revealed the doctrine of the Trinity based on the Scriptures alone; Sola Scriptura stands.

Ken said...

Mike L. wrote:

". . . if it were that clear, then one could explain the theological controversies that preceded and accompanied the development only by attributing illiteracy, malice, or both to the heterodox. Which is ludicrous."

Maybe not illiteracy, but malice, if understood as greed and lusts, lack of faith, ignorance, pride, etc. are certainly what the NT tells us the characteristics of false teachers are.

Καθὼς παρεκάλεσά σε προσμεῖναι ἐν Ἐφέσῳ πορευόμενος εἰς Μακεδονίαν, ἵνα

Just as I urged you to remain in Ephesus while departing to Macedonia, in order that

παραγγείλῃς τισὶν μὴ ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖν

you may instruct certain ones not to teach strange/different doctrines.

I Timothy 1:3

The word “heterodoxy” comes from the verbs in I Timothy 1:3 and (hetero in 1:10 “whatever else is contrary to sound teaching”); and I Timothy 6:3, “hetero – didaskalein” (to teach differently, otherwise, strange, different things) as opposed to “ortho – doxy” (straight, sound, right, correct doctrine)

Looking at the verses around these, along with descriptions of false teachers in 2 Peter 2 and Jude, I don’t think you are correct in saying that the heterodox (false teachers) are not malicious or illiterate. Perhaps they were not illiterate, but Paul, Peter, and Jude describe all false teaching as grounded in lack of faith, pride, greed, lusts, selfish desires, and ignorance.

I Timothy 1:4 “speculation rather than the administration of God which is by faith”
I Timothy 1:6 – some men, straying from these things (what are these things that they have strayed from? verse 5 – love, purity, good conscience, and sincere faith.”
Fruitless discussion – v. 6; “they do not understand”

Paul says before the grace of God awakened him, he was a violent aggressor, persecuter and blasphemer. But he did it sincerely and with zeal. But he says he acted ignorately in unbelief. ( I Timothy 1:12-14) So, the false teachers (heterodox) may not know they are malicious and ignorant and without faith, but they are. They can be sincerely, but blinded to their evil. They think they are doing good and noble things, as Paul did.

Looking over Jude and 2 Peter 2, I see a lot of descriptions of the false teachers that show that there is a lot of pride, greed, selfishness, lusts, and ignorance that is driving them.


I think Nestorius was sincere and not malicious, which is why when he apparently read Leo's tome on the 2 natures of Christ, he aggreed with it, as demonstrated in the Bazaar of Hericleidus.

He was sincerely in warning about the mis-understanding of "Mother of God" - that it would exalt Mary too much, and he was right - the Muslims still misunderstand and willingly hold on to their misunderstandings, even when taught what we mean by the Son of God and the Trinity.

But Nestorius was ignorant about the 2 natures and one person, but after he was taught and there was time, he agreed with it.

I don't think Irenaeus would say the Gnostics were totally pure and innocent either, and I don't think Athanasius says the Arians or Tropici were pure and without pride and greed and lusts either.

So, overall, I don't think the "ridiculous" charge is completely true. False teachers may be sincere and literate, but the lack of grace and faith; and the roots of human pride and ignorance and greed and lusts, etc. point to a form of malice, even if not the technical meaning of the word.

Ken said...

Grandverbalizer19 wrote: (in the previous thread and combox on Tabletalk and Dr. Peterson and R.C. Sproul)

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

yeah, where did you get that one? We are still waiting for reference/source on that.

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

You posted:

>>Go to desiring God and search under "Contending for Our All" (I am not putting up the url because it tends to go into the spam folder when doing that.)>>

Me: Thanks much for the recommendation; I have been downloading (and reading) books like a madman since this morning, and set up a new thread (LINK), for easy access to all of Piper's online books.


Grace and peace,

David

P.S. There are a lot of excellent posts in this thread I would like to share a few of my reflections on, but it will have to wait until Monday (I am heading out of town shortly, and return late Sunday). To all those who celebrate Jesus Christ's birthday on Dec. 25th, merry Christmas.

Mike L said...

Ken:

False teachers may be sincere and literate, but the lack of grace and faith; and the roots of human pride and ignorance and greed and lusts, etc. point to a form of malice, even if not the technical meaning of the word.

I agree. Grace and faith are needed to interpret the sources correctly. That's exactly why it cannot be said that Nicene orthodoxy follows deductively from Scripture. If it did, a computer could derive it. If a computer could derive it, then only illiteracy, or malice in what you call "the technical sense of the term" could explain heterodoxy.


Best,
Mike

Jnorm said...

David,

I just want you to know that it's an insult to say "post-Palamas EO view"

To say that is to assume that what Saint Palams said can't be found in the Church before him. Also I don't see what you see in your quotes of Fr. Bobrinskoy. And it's not like He is the only EO professor Priest to talk about the issue. You can listen to the podcast of Fr. Thomas Hopko about the dogma of the doctrine of the Trinity.

Is there growth in understanding? Sure! But I get the feeling that you want to see something that ain't there.

We know you were raised a JW, and so we already know that there maybe a link between that and your stress of denying Deity to both the Son and Holy Spirit in the pages of Holy writ.

You seem to only want to use the word "God" for the Father only and without any exceptions what so ever. Very similar to how JW's only want to use the word "Jehovah" for the Father.


Yes it's true that some in the 4th century didn't want to call the Holy Spirit God, but you and I both know that some Pre-Nicene Christians saw the Holy Spirit as being Divine.

Yes it is true that some in the 4th century didn't want to call the Son God, but you and I both know that a number of pre-nicene Christians saw the Son as Divine, and some used the word God for the Son. I showed you Tertullian's explaination of this very thing.

Also, we both know or should both know that a number of pre-nicene Christians interpreted SCRIPTURE in a way of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all being Divine! They quoted Scripture to show that Jesus was Divine, and yes, some of them even used the word "God" in reference to Jesus in the Scripture they quoted.

And so I don't think you can say that the Bible doesn't talk about the Trinity. If the New Testament quotes the Old in reference to the Son being Divine, then the OT talks about Jesus being Divine.....regardless if atheists, Deists, Agnostics, Uniterians, and nonbelieving Jewish scholars all disagree.

The same is true when it comes to the pre-nicene Fathers quoting the New Testament in reference to the Holy Spirit being Divine. If they quote Scripture and say the Holy Spirit is Divine then the Bible teaches the Holy Spirit is Divine.....regardless what any Reformed scholar or any other scholar says other wise.

And so it seems as if you are trying to say something totally different. The Bible teaches the doctrine of the Trinity because the pre-Nicene church fathers quoted scripture in defense of the doctrine.

David Waltz said...

Hi all,

As you can 'see', I am now back. Some excellent material has been brought forth over the last few days, and I would now like to shall share some of my thoughts; shall do so in the chronological order of the posts (oldest to newest).

Ken posted back on the 22nd:

>>since you agree that the Father is at least in your view, "the one God" or "only true God", etc. (John 17:3; Ephesians 4:5-6; I Cor. 8:6; I Tim. 2:5); and the Son is called Theos other places - John 1:1-5; 18; Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:6-8; and other passages that point to Deity of Christ - (form of God - Phil. 2:5-8; "image of the invisible God - Col. 1:15-20; Heb. 1:3; Rev. 1 and 22); and the person-hood and personality of the three are spoken of in other passages - the Father loves the Son, sends the Son, the Son loves the Father, the Spirit testifies of the Son and the Spirit prays for us and knows what the mind of God is and is grieved and can be lied to, etc.; then the other verses all together show in addition to Matthew 28:18-20, that the "one essence/substance/nature in three persons was the proper biblical meaning of all the verses together. By isolating Matthew 28:18-20 by itself, you seek to make your case, but full doctrines need more verses than just one, in order to come to the meaning of the revelation.

The one name would seem to be God or Yahweh, as
The Father is God/Yahweh
The Son is God/Yahweh
The Spirit is God/Yahweh>>

Me: First, the focus/theme of this thread is the contrast between what the Bible actually says as compared to the post-Biblical theological/philosophical developments. For instance, you mentioned "one essence/substance/nature in three persons", which is not found in the Bible. Further, the phrase "one essence/substance/nature" 'developed'—prior to Augustine (and among many, even after) homoousios meant "same substance" (in a generic sense); however, Augustine shifted the meaning and homoousios came to be understood as monoousios.

Second, I do not believe that I have 'isolated" Matt. 28:18-20. I began with the clear affirmations concerning the person who is: "τοῦ μόνου θεοῦ" (John 5:44), "τὸν μόνον ἀληθινὸν θεὸν" (John 17:3), "εἷς θεὸς" (1 Cor. 8:6; Eph. 4:6), and then cited scholars are reading the triadic texts in their original context. IMHO, that is not 'isolation'.

And third, that the "one name would seem to be God or Yahweh", is a massive stretch (IMHO). In the book of Acts, which describes the earliest baptisms performed by the Church, there is NO indication that such was the understanding of the apostles of Christ.


Grace and peace,

David

Ken said...

David Waltz wrote:
"First, the focus/theme of this thread is the contrast between what the Bible actually says as compared to the post-Biblical theological/philosophical developments."


As I said before, Piper's article/chapter/message about Athanasius and his using a non-Biblical combination of two words, for "same nature" actually describe the proper meaning of the Biblical texts. Piper explains why it is necessary and essential to sometimes finds words that are not used by the Bible to help us understand the proper meaning of the words. Like Triad, Trinitas, hupostasis, persona, homo-ousias, etc.

For instance, you mentioned "one essence/substance/nature in three persons", which is not found in the Bible.

That's why I recommended Piper's article explaining the meanings of bible texts. It seems you have the same "Arian" and "Jehovah's Witness" and Muslim and "oneness Pentecostal" mindset, that if one cannot find the exact word in the text, one is not allowed to use another word that accurately describes the text and texts. For example, John 1:1 and my article on that - "Greek Grammar points to Sola Scriptura and the Doctrine of the Trinity" nicely shows that Theos without the article is a predicate nominative and shows that the word is the name quality or essence or substance as God; and the lack of article avoids modalism, that the Son is the Father's person. The grammar points to the "same substance" (the word was God) and "two persons" (the word was with God) in that one verse.


Further, the phrase "one essence/substance/nature" 'developed'—prior to Augustine (and among many, even after) homoousios meant "same substance" (in a generic sense); however, Augustine shifted the meaning and homoousios came to be understood as monoousios.

If they are the same substance, then they are "one substance" because there is only One God, not three; so Augustine seems right and Biblical to me.

Can you give the exact references to that, so I can look them up at the ccel website of early church fathers? Thanks.

Ken said...

Second, I do not believe that I have 'isolated" Matt. 28:18-20.

I should have been more clear in that statement, I confess. It seemed to me that Joseph Fitzmeyer isolated it too much from so many other verses that are relevant to the doctrine of the Trinity. I thought that your method of taking out three or four Greek phrases, "the only true God", "the one God", etc. was atomizing them in order to make your case for saying that when it says the Father is the only true God, or "the one God" that that automatically means that Jesus or the Holy Spirit is not God in nature. I think that the parallel of Yahweh and Adonai and the rendering of them both as Kurios in the LXX and NT and the many statements of Jesus is Lord, and the fact that the Father is Lord also, (the second part of I Cor. 8:6) soundly defeats your argumentation.

I began with the clear affirmations concerning the person who is: "τοῦ μόνου θεοῦ" (John 5:44), "τὸν μόνον ἀληθινὸν θεὸν" (John 17:3), "εἷς θεὸς" (1 Cor. 8:6; Eph. 4:6), and then cited scholars are reading the triadic texts in their original context. IMHO, that is not 'isolation'.

Each of those phrases are isolated out from their context and put together to bolster your point, it seems to me.

In John 5:44, in the context, Jesus is saying that since the Pharisees don't give Him (Jesus) honor, then neither do they glorify or give honor to the Father. This method of yours, of isolating the phrase and combining it with the other isolated Greek phrases, since you don't discuss the general point Jesus is making from John 5:17-47; seems to me to be isolating/atomizing the phrase out from Jesus' main point from john 5:16-47. John 5:18, the Jews understood that He was "making Himself equal with God". That is one of the most clear statements in the whole NT pointing to the Deity of Christ.

Also, John 17:3 with the "kai" "and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" could be "in addition to", that is "the only true God" is "you, the Father, and Jesus Christ". When Jesus is on earth, there is some kind of subordinationism, the Father is in some sense "greater" (same issue in John 14:28, and 10:29), but I don't know how to put it into words; I confess there is some mystery at this point. Jesus is communicating the oneness of God the Father as creator and in heaven (17:1), but shows that He was equal with the Father before creation (17:5) [and before the incarnation]. So, John 17:3 in context, is not saying that Jesus is not included in "the one true God" by nature/substance, but it is affirming Monotheism (and there does not seem to be another way of doing that without sounding goofy or strange or using incorrect grammar). So, saying that God the Father is the one True God" is affirming monotheism. God the Son is also included in that by nature and substance, but He is expressing something while He is on the earth.

Ken said...

Mike L. -
The doctrine of the "clearness" or perspicuity of Scripture does not mean that unregenerate man can understand everything in the Bible without the grace and power of the Holy Spirit - 1 Cor. 2:14 - the unregenerate cannot understand many things in Scripture; they are foolishness to him.

Jesus had to open the minds of the disciples in order for them to understand the Scriptures - Luke 24:45.

Your illustration of an impersonal computer is not what Protestantism has ever said regarding the clarity of Scripture.

When God gives grace and faith to the elect (the true members of the church), He uses teachers and pastors who have studied the Greek and Hebrew and historical background and done good exegesis and theology, but also the Holy Spirit still has to work in hearts in order for the people to understand.

That's why Jesus said, "to him who has ears, let him hear" and "let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Rev. 2-3)

The Spirit speaks through the writings, the Scriptures.

Ken said...

David,
You make a good point about the book of Acts and that all the way through, "they baptized in the name of Jesus Christ"

Well, since both Matthew 28 and Acts are both "God-breathed" ( 2 Tim. 3:16) and God does not lie nor can He be charged with illogical, then it must be pointing to the name Jesus, "Yeshua", which is short for "Yehoshua" = "Yahweh is salvation" or the shorter form of "yeshua" = "Yahweh saves", with Matthew 1:21 and the reason for His name, all of this points to Yahweh, that He is the Savior, and Jesus of Nazareth being the savior, so it all follows the doctrine of the Trinity, whether "the name" means "God" (Theos) or "Yahweh" or "Yahweh is salvation" - because Matthew 28:19 says "of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and only the Son is Jesus Christ, then it seems reasonable to see Matthew's intention as showing the "one nature/substance/essence" of God by "the name".

In Acts, Jesus Christ is "yahweh is salvation" and "the Messiah", so both are true and there is no contradiction.

Ken said...

"the triple formula containing Father (or God), Son (or Christ), and Spirit occurs frequently in the NT ( cf. I Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; Ephesians 4:4-6; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; I Peter 1:2; Rev. 1:4-6) [I would add Luke 1:34-35 and Matthew 3:13-17 and parallels] . . .

"the recognition by the NT writers that the attributes of Yahweh may be comprehensively applied to Jesus and . . . to the Spirit . . .

E. Riggenbach . . . points out that as late as the Didache, baptism in the name of Jesus and baptism in the name of the Trinity co-exist side by side: the church was not bound by precise "formulas" and felt no embarrassment at a multiplicity of them, precisely because Jesus instruction, which may not have been in these precise words, was no regarded as a binding formula." (D. A. Carson, Commentary on Matthew, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Zondervan, p. 598)

David Waltz said...

Hello Ken,

I see that you are already responding to this morning's post. Before I continue to comment on your earlier reflections, I think it would be best to clarify MY current position. In my absence Rory offered his understanding of what I am attempting to convey—his thoughts have represented my view(s) with remarkable accuracy. Here again are his words:

>>I don't think you understand what Dave is questioning. He is only asking if the Trinity is clearly taught in Scripture. It sounds like your position is that only the clear teachings of Scripture are true? Do you think every contrioversy is easily settled by resort to clear Scripture? Do you think the question of pedobaptism is easily settled this way? I cannot fathom someone who is half-familiar with arguments on both sides saying that the Bible alone clearly teaches one way or the other. Anyway, whatever you believe, I am sure Dave admits the possibility that post-biblical doctrinal developments may be true. He is not writing against the Trinity. He is only writing against your apparent understanding of how clear the doctrine is taught in Scripture>>

Me: My dear friend and brother in Christ has spoken well; the primary focus of this thread is neither the denial nor affirmation of the doctrine of the Trinity, but rather, the clarity of the Scripture. What I am saying (with strong support from Dr. Brown and others) is that the Scriptures can LEGITMATELY be read along differing trajectories; trajectories that are internally consistent.

Now, with that said, I shall return to the 'chronological order'...


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Ken posted the following on the 23rd:

>>John 20:28

ἀπεκρίθη Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ·

answered Thomas and said to Him

ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου.

The Lord of mine and the God of mine! = "My Lord and My God!"


(Literal interlinear translation by Ken)

Here o theos is used of Jesus, so all your attempts of attacking the Deity of Christ and the Trinity fail.

Jesus is both Lord and God; the Father is both Lord and God; and the Holy Spirit is Lord and God.
One God in nature/substance/essence.

But they each are distinct in person and personal relationship.

Also, you never really answered completely on all the Greek in the NT quotes of Psalm 110:1

Matthew 22:44 -- ...>>

Me: John 20:28 must be understood in its original context; once that context is understood, three LEGITIMATE trajectories/understandings can be deduced. I really need to devote an entire thread to this subject to do real justice to all the complex issues that are involved, but for now, shall briefly sketch out the historical background.

First, the importance of the DSS: as I pointed out in THIS THREAD, the terms/phrases "God", "your God", etc. are used in the Bible and DSS of persons other than the one true God of Israel (i.e. by appointed representatives of the one true God of Israel).

Second, one cannot ignore the use of kurios and theos with reference to the Imperial cult of Jesus' day. Adolf Deissmann in his Light from the Ancient East, has done an excellent job in providing use the necessary background data for this important understanding. The Roman emperors came to be understood as the visible representative of invisible their Supreme God; to affirm that the emperors (like Domitian) were "Lord and God", was to endorse and accept their Supreme God, whom they represented.

Now with this brief background in mind, I shall propose three interpretive options for John 20:28:

1. When Thomas exclaimed: My Lord and my God!", he was affirming that the risen Jesus Christ was promised eschatological king; the appointed visible representative of "the one true God", who is invisible, and whom "no man has seen".

2. When Thomas exclaimed: My Lord and my God!", he was affirming that the risen Jesus Christ was actually the invisible God of Israel. This view was understood in two different trajectories: modalism and Trinitarianism.

3. When Thomas exclaimed: My Lord and my God!", he was addressing the Father in heaven who had resurrected Jesus Christ. (This was interpretation of Theodore of Mopsuestia, an early defender of the Nicene Creed, who wanted to eliminate all/any modalistic and/or docetic options.)

cont'd

David Waltz said...

cont'd

As for Psalm 110:1, I shall let the highly respected Evangelical NT scholar, Dr. Craig L. Blomberg, speak for my view:

==[Matthew] 22:43-44 The Pharisees' answer (v. 42b) sets up Jesus' real question. If the Messiah is merely the human offspring of David, why does David himself speak of him as "Lord"—a master or sovereign above the one who is king of Israel and the highest human authority in the land? Jesus here employs the rabbinic method of setting up an antinomy and then resolving it. He bases his argument on Ps. 110:1, assuming with the Judaism of his time the accuracy of the Davidic superscription, and the inspiration of the actual text itself., which would therefore imply its truthfulness. Given these assumptions, the second "Lord" (Heb. adōnāi, not Yahweh) only be the Messiah. Again Jesus' reasoning finds pre-Christian Jewish precedent. This "lord" resides at the position of highest privilege and authority, second only to God the Father. He sits next to the Father's throne and rules over all his enemies (Ps. 110:4), presumably including those in Jesus audience! (The New American Commentary - An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture - Matthew, p. 336.)==


Grace and peace,

David

P.S. Taking a bit of a break for a workout and then lunch; shall return later, the Lord willing.

Iohannes said...

David's comment about the meaning of homoousios looks true to how the Cappadocians understood it. The term meant common nature. A common nature is prerequisite for the unity of the Trinity, but it's not sufficient: humans share one nature, but we speak of many men, not one. The Greek fathers thus explained the oneness of God more by the monarchy of the Father and the unity of divine action, owing to the mutual indwelling of the persons. I assume that's what Fr Behr was getting at in the article linked previously.

For some examples, see the following:

Gregory of Nyssa defines ousia and hypostasis here, in a letter often attributed to St Basil:

tinyurl.com/2e68chs

He discusses the unity of the Godhead here:

tinyurl.com/23568r4

St Gregory the Theologian speaks the same way. Notice his phrasing: "Each person is God when considered in himself; as the Father, so the Son, and as the Son, so the Holy Spirit; the Three One God when contemplated together; Each God because consubstantial; one God because of the Monarchy." (tinyurl.com/24kkfyp)

The last clause agrees with a saying often attributed to St. Basil: "God is one, because the Father is one." (cf "εἷς θεὸς, ὃτι καὶ πατήρ," 605A @ tinyurl.com/2dbty9m)

By the way, on another topic, it seems St. Athanasius compares John 17:3 and 1 John 5:20 here, in 3.24.9 (Newman's translation). And regarding the "only," I see Bishop Bull quotes an interesting remark out of the Contra Sabellianos of Pseudo-Athanasius (which J. T. Lienhard once suggested was Basil): the Father is "the only God, because He alone is unbegotten, and alone is the fountain of Godhead." (tinyurl.com/2dwaejt)

Just some things to chew on...

Iohannes said...

Sorry, the link for "here" didn't work; it should be: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/28163.htm

Iohannes said...

Hi David,

Thanks for your thoughts on John 20:28. I had some time this evening to ponder them; here's my initial reaction.

Option 1 looks to me like a reach. Elohim and Adonai both often refer to men, but the collocation "my Lord and my God" is more intense than either title taken separately. The Roman connection is interesting. I think there is something to it in Paul's epistles, as commentators frequently suggest, but I don't think it explains the expression here. A few years ago I studied the imperial cult while finishing my classics major. From what I remember, Suetonius shows it wasn't till Domitian that a living emperor took to himself the title "Our Lord and God;" and that was something the Romans themselves found extreme. The cult was always more florid in the east, but an agency/representation reading looks doubtful. The tendency was not to worship the supreme god through the emperor, or to venerate the emperor as his representative; but rather to cultivate the emperor's "genius" in anticipation of his apotheosis after death. This divine honor given to the emperor began to shift the apotheosis forward into his lifetime, a move Roman emperors long resisted because of the backlash it could generate. In any case, once so divinized, the emperor was not the proxy of a god; he was himself a god, albeit not the highest.

In option 2, I agree modalism is a possibility if we isolate Thomas' words from the rest of John's gospel. If we read them in harmony with the rest of the book, I don't see room for a modalist gloss; for in John, Jesus speaks of the Father and the Son in ways that show them to be distinct but related to each other. Indeed, that's why we keep turning to John to understand better the Son's relationship to the Father.

Option 3 is perhaps grammatically possible, but it is forced, the kind of interpretation to which one might have recourse if the alternative would jeopardize a controlling theological principle. I assume such a principle is what led Theodore of Mopsuestia to adopt it (and thereby earn the ire of the fifth ecumenical council). One thing to observe is that Thomas isn't merely uttering an expletive like the "my goodness" or "my God" on the lips of a shocked person today. Scholars don't think the Jews used "God" in that way; and so, if addressed to the Father, the words must be extolling him for resurrecting Jesus. But the text gives no clues to indicate that that's what Thomas is doing. And one clue strongly militates against it: the αυτω signals that Thomas was speaking to Jesus. The nominative is here used for the vocative, and barring indications to the contrary, the only natural interpretation is to take the vocatival address as directed to the person being spoken to.

What are we left with? No one verse by itself proves the Trinity, but the text here supports the core of the orthodox position, viz. that Jesus receives honor reserved for God alone and therefore must somehow, while not being the Father, be nonetheless on God's side of the creator-creation relationship. And this verse may carry some extra weight because of its location at the climax of John's gospel.

Blessings in Christ

Lvka said...

I agree with John: the emperors were themselves divine, and "OMG!" wasn't (obviously) what St Thomas meant.

Iohannes said...

PS on Thomas' use of nominative for vocative, see Wallace p. 57 n. 71 and p. 58 in loc.

David Waltz said...

Hi all,

I ended up shutting down my computer yesterday afternoon when the lights started to flicker due to some fairly high winds here (mid 50's mph). When it comes to power outages (we usually get 2-3 per year), I take no chances.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Good morning Ken,

Don't know if you are still looking in on this thread, but even if you are not, you have posted some material that I feel compelled to respond to for the sake of 'the record'. On the 23rd you posted:

>>Rory,
Also, David's openness to Bahai'ism as a possibility of being true demonstrates that something more is going on than only, "The Trinity is not clear in Scripture".>>

Me: Bahai'sim has nothing at all to do with my current studies of the development of the doctrine of the Trinity. That you bring up the Bahai Faith in a discussion that clearly is focusing on the clarity of Scripture vs. Christian doctrinal development is, to borrow one of your phrases, "just goofy".

>>David is smart and careful, and very well read, but if one puts all his material together, it seems to be going outside of Christianity as we know it; although he has not laid all his cards out on the table.>>

Me: With all due sincerity, I honestly don't know how I can be any clearer: I am exploring the relationship between the Scriptures, the development of doctrine and the extent/role that tradition has played in doctrinal formulations that appear to exceed the bounds of Scripture. It really seems a bit odd to me that you fail to see any correlation between the events of the Reformation and the Trinitarian and Christological battles of the 4th and 5th centuries. You say that I seem "to be going outside of Christianity as we know it", and yet, the same charge was leveled at the Reformers of the 16th century. I am asking for some consistency...


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi John,

Still playing 'catch-up', and though I have 'peeked' at some of the newer posts, I am trying to remain somewhat chronologically consistent in my responses. Back on the 23rd you wrote:

>> John 20:28 keeps coming up. I believe the context demands an orthodox interpretation, but I doubt the article's presence is important in itself. Much as omitting the article in John 1:1 is necessary to distinguish predicate from subject, so using the article seems necessary here because of the possessive pronoun. Terry Griffith has a note about this in his excellent comments on 1 John 5:20. I think he got the idea from Murray J. Harris's Jesus as God, but am not sure about that.>>

Me: Thanks for the link; I read the page that came up, and the surrounding context, and plan to read as much of the book that is available via preview later today. From Griffith's pen we read:

"The article in ὁ θεός μου (Jn 20:28) is grammatically conditioned, in that a vocatival nominative followed by a possessive pronoun is invariably articular, and strictly speaking without theological signifance."

Me: Precisely. Dr. Karl Rahner is his essay "Theos in the New Testament" convincingly argues the same, and emphatically states:

"We maintain that in the New Testament ὁ θεός signifies the First Person of the Trinity, and does not merely stand for him often; and this apples to every case in which another meaning of ὁ θεός does not become clearly evident from the context. These few exceptions in no way support the opinion that ὁ θεός merely stands for the Father without actually signifying him." (Theological Investigations, vol. 1, pp. 126, 127.)

A bit later he adds:

"The article in Jn 20:28 is explained by the μου, which normally requires the article before it; by its use with the vocative (Blass-Debrunner, Grammatik des ntl. Griechisch, § 147, 3); and by its presence in the established formula ὁ κύριος καὶ ὁ θεός (cf. Apoc 4:11). It should further be noted that ὁ θεός μου, whether it is taken as vocative or nominative, is predicative in sense, and so cannot be used as evidence either way to show whether ὁ θεός in the New Testament usage ever appears as subject of a statement referring to Christ." (Ibid., p. 136.)

More later on John 20:28, the Lord willing.


Grace and peace,

David


P.S. Heading down to the beach for a run before the rain starts up again; hope to pick up where I left off this afternoon.

David Waltz said...

Dr. Liccione posted the following on Dec. 24th:

>> I agree with David and the scholars he quotes. The "orthodox" doctrine of the Trinity cannot just be logically deduced from the NT; it developed over time and, as such, enables us to interpret the NT correctly. The difference between David and me is that I believe said doctrine and he has doubts about it. But I see that a few people here think it's all clear in the NT. My response to that is the one I always give: if it were that clear, then one could explain the theological controversies that preceded and accompanied the development only by attributing illiteracy, malice, or both to the heterodox. Which is ludicrous.>>

Me: Well said Mike; you have articulated my position and thoughts with such accuracy that I almost think you read my mind. With that said, I sincerely wonder how it is that you, Rory, and even GV19, are able to grasp what I have been attempting to convey so accurately, while others cannot...


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Jnorm,

Thanks for responding; you posted the following on Dec. 27th:

>>I just want you to know that it's an insult to say "post-Palamas EO view">>

Me: I did not mean for it to be an insult, I was merely attempting reflect what Fr. Bobrinskoy was conveying in his book when he penned:

"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 synthesis made by St Gregory Palamas." (BTW, this is from the selections from his book that I provided in the opening post.)

>>To say that is to assume that what Saint Palams said can't be found in the Church before him. Also I don't see what you see in your quotes of Fr. Bobrinskoy. And it's not like He is the only EO professor Priest to talk about the issue. You can listen to the podcast of Fr. Thomas Hopko about the dogma of the doctrine of the Trinity.>>

Me: IMHO is revolves around the issue of doctrinal development (or what Fr. Bobrinskoy terms "evolution"). With all due respect, I really don't understand how anyone can fail to see that doctrinal development/evolution has been an integral aspect of post-apostolic Christian thought since 'day one'.

>>Is there growth in understanding? Sure! But I get the feeling that you want to see something that ain't there.>>

Me: If you get a chance, could you clarify what you think I have attempted to convey that "ain't there"?

>>We know you were raised a JW, and so we already know that there maybe a link between that and your stress of denying Deity to both the Son and Holy Spirit in the pages of Holy writ.>>

Me: I have not denied Deity (i.e. a divine nature/divinity) to the Son, but rather, I have been emphasizing that the Scriptures never address him as the "one God", the "only God", and the "only true God".

cont'd

David Waltz said...

cont'd

"You seem to only want to use the word "God" for the Father only and without any exceptions what so ever. Very similar to how JW's only want to use the word "Jehovah" for the Father."

Me: That just is not true, I have stated that God's Son (i.e. the Son of God) is called theos in at least four NT texts: John 1:1, 1:18, 20:28 and Heb. 1:8.

>>Yes it's true that some in the 4th century didn't want to call the Holy Spirit God, but you and I both know that some Pre-Nicene Christians saw the Holy Spirit as being Divine.>>

Me: Agreed.

>>Yes it is true that some in the 4th century didn't want to call the Son God, but you and I both know that a number of pre-nicene Christians saw the Son as Divine, and some used the word God for the Son. I showed you Tertullian's explaination of this very thing.>>

Me: Off of the top of my head, I cannot think of anyone in the 4th century who denied that the Son of God was also called theos; do you know of any examples?

>>Also, we both know or should both know that a number of pre-nicene Christians interpreted SCRIPTURE in a way of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all being Divine! They quoted Scripture to show that Jesus was Divine, and yes, some of them even used the word "God" in reference to Jesus in the Scripture they quoted.>>

Me: The issue for almost all the pre-Nicenes (except some early Jewish Christians and adoptionists), was not over whether or not the Son of God was divine, but whether or not his divinity was exactly the same as the Father's. It is not without good reason that a number of Patristic scholars maintain the all of the pre-Nicene CFs were subordinationists.


Grace and peace,

David

Jnorm said...

David,

Please forgive me for bringing up your JW past into the convo. I just never met anyone like you before. At least in the way you are trying to present things, and so I am just trying to figure you out.

1.) If our evolution was drastic then we should be far apart from the tradition of the OO's and their evolution. The fact that we are still very close should imply that whatever our evolution maybe, it caries with it a strong sense of continuity. I could be wrong about what I am about to say next, but when Roman Catholics and Protestants usually talk about doctrinal development, what they usually have in mind is "a strong discontinuity with the past".

For them, free will turns into determinism, The Ransom and Christus Victus Atonement models turn into Satisfaction and Penal Substitution. The Prima Scriptura doctrine turns into Sola Scriptura. The brotherhood of Bishops alone with the Primacy of the Bishop of Rome doctrine turns into the fatherhood and supremacy of the bishop of Rome. And in regards to the doctrine of the Trinity, development of doctrine means to them either semi-modalism or some form of tri-theism. Whatever our development is, it is not post-Palamas in the same sense of having no traction and continuity with those who taught before him. Unlike the others, we care about Patristic consensus, and some form of strong continuity. For some reason I get the feeling that you are looking at our growth as if it's the same kind of animal as Romes and Protestantisms.

David, Our evolution on the doctrines mentioned above are still recognizable as being "free will, Christus Victus, Prima Scriptura, the brotherhood of Bishops, and in regards to the Trinity we still hold to the Monarchy of the Father.

To be continued....

Jnorm said...

2.) Are you making a distinction between "theos" and "Theos"? I am only asking because you wanted to know if there were any Christians in the 4th century that denied Deity to the Son. Off the top of my head, what do you know of the "radical" Arians? Not all Arains were the same. You had the moderates, and then you had the radicals.


3.) Do you regard the Nicene and Constantinople creed as supporting a form of subordinationism? I am only asking because you are making it seem as if there is a huge departure between the two. What's the difference between the Nicene and Constantinople creed with that of the western and so called Athanasius creed? Can you spot the difference?

If so, then why are you making it seem as if there was a drastic break or discontinuity between the Pre-Nicene world with that of Nicea/Constantinople 1? Surely you can see the strong continuity. Also in regards to the issue of "homoousios" we already talked about that on another thread. Whatever you believe about Tertullian's corporealism, you will have to admit that he at least saw the Father and the Son as having the same Essence. Origen also used homoousios and regardless of what one may think about his errors, you can't deny that at least some in the pre-nicene world saw the Father and Son as having the same kind of Essence. And so eventhough the moderate Arians(homoiosis) of the 4th century doubted it, some in previous centuries didn't. I have a feeling that you are trying to make the Pre-Nicene World = the same as the moderate Arian view of homoiosis. You do know that Saint Athanasius was able to get the moderate Arains back in communion with the Nicene Party. So If you truly are stressing the moderate Arian view, I just want you to know that just as they came back in communion with the Old Nicene Party, you can too! Well, there was an agreement between the Old Nicene Party with the New Nicene party, but that's another topic......the point is, you can follow the example of the ancient moderate Arians. So what is it about the Old Nicene/New Nicene views you don't like? What is holding you back?

Jnorm said...

I would like to make a typo correction. "alone" should be "along"

quote:
"The brotherhood of Bishops alone with the Primacy of the Bishop of Rome doctrine turns into the fatherhood and supremacy of the bishop of Rome."


My bad!

Iohannes said...

Hi David,

Sorry if this is a repost; my comment keeps getting lost when I submit it.

Thanks for your reply. That's good research by Rahner. Many a student sailing through the New Testament runs aground on the Greek article.

I have been emphasizing that the Scriptures never address him as the "one God", the "only God", and the "only true God".

Again, Fr. Behr agrees. So too, apparently, does his predecessor at St. Vladimir's, Fr. Thomas Hopko:

...the one true God of Christian faith is not the Holy Trinity understood as a quasi-uni-personal subject who reveals himself as Father, Son and Spirit, which is unacceptable "modalism." ...the one God is Jesus' Father from whom the Holy Spirit proceeds who dwells in the Son, and in those who by faith and grace become sons of God through him. (tinyurl.com/29ddutf)

If that's what you mean by subordinationism, I'd say it's good catholic doctrine. It becomes error only when it's then denied that the Son is true God of true God. Rationalists (if you will) divide here into two camps. The unitarian-flavored ones simply deny that the Son is true God, while those a scholastic bent tend to confound the Father and the Son.

melvinvines said...

The Demise of the Trinity

Who will be credited with exposing the Trinity farce? Christians? Jews? or Muslims? or Atheists?

With the information age, it is no longer possible to hide facts from people. And what will people's reaction to Christianity be if it is not Christians admitting to this delusion but it is another religious group that demonstrates this doctrine is a lie?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zgDRGNtbTs

M.

Ken said...

David Waltz wrote:
Don't know if you are still looking in on this thread,

Yes, now I see your new comments on Dec. 29; although yesterday, did not have a chance to spend much time on www.

>>Rory,
Also, David's openness to Bahai'ism as a possibility of being true demonstrates that something more is going on than only, "The Trinity is not clear in Scripture".>>

Me: Bahai'sim has nothing at all to do with my current studies of the development of the doctrine of the Trinity. That you bring up the Bahai Faith in a discussion that clearly is focusing on the clarity of Scripture vs. Christian doctrinal development is, to borrow one of your phrases, "just goofy".

It honestly seems like that is why you are coming up with a new form of "Christianity" that rejects both Roman Catholicism/EO (in rejecting the Trinity and Nicean and post Nicean development and making the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity more explicit in language and theology)[rejecting the wording of same nature (homo-sousias) and one nature (mono -ousias); and three persons]; and Protestantism (You are rejecting Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide, thinking they are later additions, or even corruptions,) and you seem to be saying that the doctrine of the Trinity is not really truth in the Bible. Your subordination view is a new one for me, calling Jesus a "representative" or "agent" of Yahweh.

I am not trying to be cruel or ad hominem; but rejecting the Trinity and Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide means you reject all three forms of historic Christianity, Orthodoxy, RCC, and Protestantism. It seems like this gives you the freedom to explore some other kind of faith, that you think might have some "fruit" - as you said, "testing the fruit" of Bahaism.


>>David is smart and careful, and very well read, but if one puts all his material together, it seems to be going outside of Christianity as we know it; although he has not laid all his cards out on the table.>>

Me: With all due sincerity, I honestly don't know how I can be any clearer: I am exploring the relationship between the Scriptures, the development of doctrine and the extent/role that tradition has played in doctrinal formulations that appear to exceed the bounds of Scripture.

ok, but why do you have the need to open things up to more revelation and possibility that Bahaism might be true?

Ken said...

My post before this one apparently went into the spam folder.

Please get it out.


David wrote:
It really seems a bit odd to me that you fail to see any correlation between the events of the Reformation and the Trinitarian and Christological battles of the 4th and 5th centuries. You say that I seem "to be going outside of Christianity as we know it", and yet, the same charge was leveled at the Reformers of the 16th century. I am asking for some consistency...

The RCC and Trent may have made that charge, but the Reformation was a recovery of the Biblical teaching and sound exegesis and a sound theology. It is a recovery of the original, not something new.

I guess you are making that same argument with respect to the pre-Nicean supposed view of whatever that subordination view is.

However, the battles over the nature of Christ, who He is, and the Trinity - that they happened first before the Reformation and they consumed most of the time and efforts of the church in the early centuries, point to the truth of Dr. Peterson's statement, and what Steelikat and I have been saying. Luther and the Lutheran's motto about justification pre-supposed the importance of the Deity of Christ.

Since Ignatius, who is very early, calls Jesus "o Theos" 7-9 times in 7 letters, and he does not say things like - Jesus is only a representative or agent of Yahweh, and all agree that there is some kind of subordination in role and function in the distinction between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, it seems strange to over-emphasize the role of the Father being greater over the equality of the nature and substance, as the emphasis of the NT seems to be that "God Himself came down and became flesh" in order to save us. That was the genius of Athanasius' writings, and why they are biblical.

Iohannes said...

Hi David,

I don't mean to burden you with comments, but when you have time, this podcast is worth hearing:

tinyurl.com/2bf24pk

David Waltz said...

Hello Jnorm,

Once again, thanks much for responding to my recent comments. Yesterday, you wrote:

>>Please forgive me for bringing up your JW past into the convo. I just never met anyone like you before. At least in the way you are trying to present things, and so I am just trying to figure you out.>>

Me: I sincerely appreciate your concern(s), but for the record, I was not offended by your remarks. I have no problem with people discussing my JW past (born into the sect/4th generation). Fact is, I have more 'good' memories of those 28 years, than 'bad' ones. And further, I learned, and have retained, a substantial amount of positive elements during those 28 years that most non-JWs fail to recognize and/or acknowledge (e.g. my love for the Bible, the ability to share and defend my faith, and public speaking skills).

>>1.) If our evolution was drastic then we should be far apart from the tradition of the OO's and their evolution. The fact that we are still very close should imply that whatever our evolution maybe, it caries with it a strong sense of continuity. I could be wrong about what I am about to say next, but when Roman Catholics and Protestants usually talk about doctrinal development, what they usually have in mind is "a strong discontinuity with the past".>>

Me: I do not wish to over generalize, but I suspect that pretty much every Christian denomination/sect believes that their particular worldview has greater continuity with the early Church than those outside of their group.

>>For them, free will turns into determinism, The Ransom and Christus Victus Atonement models turn into Satisfaction and Penal Substitution. The Prima Scriptura doctrine turns into Sola Scriptura. The brotherhood of Bishops alone with the Primacy of the Bishop of Rome doctrine turns into the fatherhood and supremacy of the bishop of Rome. And in regards to the doctrine of the Trinity, development of doctrine means to them either semi-modalism or some form of tri-theism. Whatever our development is, it is not post-Palamas in the same sense of having no traction and continuity with those who taught before him. Unlike the others, we care about Patristic consensus, and some form of strong continuity. For some reason I get the feeling that you are looking at our growth as if it's the same kind of animal as Romes and Protestantisms.>>

Me: A comprehensive list for sure! I must admit that the bulk of my research into the development of doctrine has focused on the Western Church. I would be very interested in Mike's (Dr. Liccione) and Ken's (Temple) thoughts on this matter—hopefully, they still have some interest in this thread, and will weigh in.

>>David, Our evolution on the doctrines mentioned above are still recognizable as being "free will, Christus Victus, Prima Scriptura, the brotherhood of Bishops, and in regards to the Trinity we still hold to the Monarchy of the Father.>>

Me: Indeed—you have given this beachbum much to ponder over.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

More from the pen of Jnorm:

>>2.) Are you making a distinction between "theos" and "Theos"? I am only asking because you wanted to know if there were any Christians in the 4th century that denied Deity to the Son. Off the top of my head, what do you know of the "radical" Arians? Not all Arains were the same. You had the moderates, and then you had the radicals.>>

Me: As you probably know, the earliest NT manuscripts used only what has been termed "majuscules" (i.e. captials), with no punctuation, accent marks, or spaces between the words. As such, I make no distinction between "theos" and "Theos" (or THEOS). However, I do make a distinction between theos (θεός)and ho theos (ὁ θεός).


>>3.) Do you regard the Nicene and Constantinople creed as supporting a form of subordinationism?>>

Me: Yes, I think both can be read/understood in subordinationist sense.

>>I am only asking because you are making it seem as if there is a huge departure between the two.>>

Me: Not in terms of subordinationism.

>>What's the difference between the Nicene and Constantinople creed with that of the western and so called Athanasius creed? Can you spot the difference?>>

Me: The Athanasian Creed (i.e. Quicunque Vult) has removed the subordination leanings of the Nicene and Constantinople creeds.

>>If so, then why are you making it seem as if there was a drastic break or discontinuity between the Pre-Nicene world with that of Nicea/Constantinople 1?>>

Me: For purely pragmatic reasons (for the sake of simplicity) I tend to distinguish between the "pre-Nicenes" and the post-Nicenes" in most of my posts in the combox. However, the immediate post-Nicene period (325-451) reflects a good deal of complexity that would take pages upon pages to carefully articulate.

>>Also in regards to the issue of "homoousios" we already talked about that on another thread. Whatever you believe about Tertullian's corporealism, you will have to admit that he at least saw the Father and the Son as having the same Essence. Origen also used homoousios and regardless of what one may think about his errors, you can't deny that at least some in the pre-nicene world saw the Father and Son as having the same kind of Essence. And so eventhough the moderate Arians(homoiosis) of the 4th century doubted it, some in previous centuries didn't. I have a feeling that you are trying to make the Pre-Nicene World = the same as the moderate Arian view of homoiosis. You do know that Saint Athanasius was able to get the moderate Arains back in communion with the Nicene Party. So If you truly are stressing the moderate Arian view, I just want you to know that just as they came back in communion with the Old Nicene Party, you can too! Well, there was an agreement between the Old Nicene Party with the New Nicene party, but that's another topic......the point is, you can follow the example of the ancient moderate Arians. So what is it about the Old Nicene/New Nicene views you don't like? What is holding you back?>>

Me: In one word: monotheism. I am having difficulty moving from Biblical terminology/thought to philosophical categories/terms.

With that said, you have given me much to reflect on. I want to thank you from my inner being that you have taken the time to share you concerns and thoughts with me; they are greatly appreciated.


Grace and peace,

David

Ken said...

J. Norm wrote (David W. quoting):

>>1.) If our evolution was drastic then we should be far apart from the tradition of the OO's and their evolution.


What are OO's ?? Did you mean EO's (just a typo, I guess)

Is JNorm's "our" and "we" Roman Catholic?


The fact that we are still very close should imply that whatever our evolution maybe, it caries with it a strong sense of continuity.

The EO denial of original sin, makes it very far from both RC and Protestantism. The EOs denial of the primacy of Rome and infallibility of the Pope make it pretty far from it.

I could be wrong about what I am about to say next, but when Roman Catholics and Protestants usually talk about doctrinal development, what they usually have in mind is "a strong discontinuity with the past".>>

Me: I do not wish to over generalize, but I suspect that pretty much every Christian denomination/sect believes that their particular worldview has greater continuity with the early Church than those outside of their group.

True. Protestants believe that proper development is merely making explicit what is already there in content and substance in the canonical Scriptures. (Proper exegesis and theology.)

>>For them, free will turns into determinism,

Better - "free autonomous human will power to choose good over evil apart from grace"

"turns into" (or is understood as)

seeing the Bible's truth that human will is in bondage to sin (John 8:34; Romans 6:20; 2 Peter 2:18-22) unless God frees it by grace (John 6:44; 65; Acts 16:14; Ephesians 2:1-9) and that God is sovereign in election and predestination. (Ephesians 1, Romans 9)


The Ransom and Christus Victus Atonement models turn into Satisfaction and Penal Substitution. The Prima Scriptura doctrine turns into Sola Scriptura.

ok, except it is not "turns into" as if it was not there, but rather, "becomes more explicit as the text is interpreted rightly"

The brotherhood of Bishops alone with the Primacy of the Bishop of Rome doctrine turns into the fatherhood and supremacy of the bishop of Rome.

This one is Roman Catholic, whereas the others are more protestant. This was one that actually is true that it "turned into" something else that was never there in the first place.

And in regards to the doctrine of the Trinity, development of doctrine means to them either semi-modalism or some form of tri-theism.

Whatever our development is, it is not post-Palamas in the same sense of having no traction and continuity with those who taught before him. Unlike the others, we care about Patristic consensus, and some form of strong continuity. For some reason I get the feeling that you are looking at our growth as if it's the same kind of animal as Romes and Protestantisms.>>

Me: A comprehensive list for sure! I must admit that the bulk of my research into the development of doctrine has focused on the Western Church. I would be very interested in Mike's (Dr. Liccione) and Ken's (Temple) thoughts on this matter—hopefully, they still have some interest in this thread, and will weigh in.

>>David, Our evolution on the doctrines mentioned above are still recognizable as being "free will, Christus Victus, Prima Scriptura, the brotherhood of Bishops, and in regards to the Trinity we still hold to the Monarchy of the Father.>>

Are you describing EO or RC? Can't be RC because they are not "the brotherhood of bishops", but the "primacy of jurisdiction and infallibility of the Pope/bishop of Rome."

Ken said...

JNorm wrote:
So what is it about the Old Nicene/New Nicene views you don't like? What is holding you back?>>

David Waltz wrote:
Me: In one word: monotheism. I am having difficulty moving from Biblical terminology/thought to philosophical categories/terms.

See, you are implying that the doctrine of the Trinity is NOT monotheistic. And that is wrong.

The Son is called "the true God" in I John 5:20. What about that?

You have also added words/terms with "representative" and "agent".

ie, "the Son is the representative or agent of Yahweh"

Is the Son a kind of angel?

Does the Son's personality come into existence later (not in eternity past)? (at the incarnation or before, or after ?)

It seems you think the Son being eternal and the same nature and personal (a person) from all eternity, (not just the logos/unspoken mind of the father) is not monotheism.

Do you believe that they had a personal relationship between each other?

So, you think "nature/substance/essence (ousia, phusis)" and "hupostatis/persona" and "homo-ousias" are philosophical terms?

Are your terms, "representative" or "agent" used in Scripture of Jesus Christ/the Son?

Is that not another form of non-biblical language and some kind of philosophical category? A philosophy that rejects "nature/essence" vs. "person" categories and utilizes "agent/representative" categories.

David Waltz said...

Hi John,

Thanks much for your continued interest in this thread. I feel blessed to have contributors such as yourself (and Dr. Liccione, Jnorm, Lvka, Rory, Ken, GV19, ...) who are not only knowledgeable, but also charitable.

There is so much excellent material that is being posted and linked to in this thread that I am having some difficulty keeping up with it all. I find myself not only going back and rereading the posts and linked essays, but also pulling books down from my shelves and looking up selections that are coming back to mind due to all the activity here. Anyway, just want you (and everyone else) to know that I am taking this thread quite seriously.

You posted:

>>Thanks for your reply. That's good research by Rahner. It's common for people sailing through the New Testament to run aground on the Greek article.>>

Me: You are more than welcome; and yes, I agree with you about the Greek article.

>>I have been emphasizing that the Scriptures never address him as the "one God", the "only God", and the "only true God".

Again, Fr. Behr seems to agree. So apparently does his predecessor at St. Vladimir's, Fr. Thomas Hopko:

...the one true God of Christian faith is not the Holy Trinity understood as a quasi-uni-personal subject who reveals himself as Father, Son and Spirit, which is unacceptable "modalism." ...the one God is Jesus' Father from whom the Holy Spirit proceeds who dwells in the Son, and in those who by faith and grace become sons of God through him. (source)>>

Me: Very interesting essay!!! Here is a link to the other contributors/papers of the "Re-envisioning the Papacy" conference/forum:

http://web.archive.org/web/20051020023039/http://www.georgetown.edu/centers/woodstock/forum.htm

>>If that's what you mean by subordinationism, I'd say it's good catholic teaching. It becomes error only when, starting from the Father's being the only true God, it is then denied that the Son is true God of true God. Rationalists (if you will) split here into two camps: the unitarian-flavored ones deny that the Son is true God, while the more scholastic ones tend to confound the Father and the Son.>>

Me: I think I can agree with the above with a qualification: the Son of God, is the "μονογενὴς θεὸς". Certainly the Son of God, who is the "μονογενὴς θεὸς", is not a false God, and yet, I must acknowledge that in a very real sense it is God the Father alone who is, "τὸν μόνον ἀληθινὸν θεὸν".


Grace and peace,

David

Iohannes said...

Thanks, David. Please, by all means, take your time with the comments here.

After you've heard it, I'd enjoy hearing what you make of Fr. Hopko's lecture. This page offers a preview of what he has to say: tinyurl.com/2cck9g8

Blessings in Christ

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

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

If we are going to ask is the 'Trinity' a clear Biblical teaching it maybe fair to ask the question. What manuscripts actually comprise the Bible. I think it's a fair question.

I also think it's fair to look at passages that Trinitarians advance and ask ourselves if the manuscripts behind those passages have any controversy surrounding them.

The next question would be to ask is are those manuscripts (post) trinitarian development, (pre) trinitarian development or (concurrent with) tritarian development.

This would give reply to some of the comments made by Iohannes dated:
December 27, 2010 5:44 PM

"Option 3 is perhaps grammatically possible, but it is forced, the kind of interpretation to which one might have recourse if the alternative would jeopardize a controlling theological principle"


In regards to John 20:28 are there any manuscripts dated earlier than Beatty's P66 that contain this particular text?

My second question. Is it possible that the material was copied from an earlier manuscript in a different language?

If those espousing the Trinity do not have good answers to these questions. Than Modalist (Arians both moderate and 'radical') as well as sincere truth seekers will indeed wonder.

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

Again addressing Ken above,

"The problem with that is that there are no textual variants of this on John 20:28!! I am looking at my Greek NT at John 20:28 (Greek NT - Editors - Kurt Aland, Black, Martini, Bruce Metzger, Wikgren, third edition, United Bible Societies, 1966, 1975; p. 412.) and there are no textual variants for anything in verse 28. So Ehrman just kind of throws out that phrase "one should not be surprised to find scribes modifying the text"

Some times I wonder if Ken does indeed read the entirety of quotes given.

Lets again look at the part where Ken had the difficulty.

"The passage has caused interpreters problems over the years; Theodore of Mopsuestia argued that the words were not addressed directly to Jesus but were uttered in praise of God the Father. Modern commentators have also found the phrasing problematic, because unlike the statement of 1:1, where the Word is theos (without the article), here Jesus is expressly entitled ho theos. How can one avoid drawing from this designation the conclusion that he is the one and only "God"? Several scribes of the early church adroitly handled the matter in what can be construed as an anti-Patripassianist corruption: the predecessor of codex Bezae and other Gospel manuscripts simply omitted the article. Jesus is divine, but he is not the one "God" himself. (Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament [Oxford University Press, USA; paperback edition, 1993], p. 266)"

Once again the discussion is the Trinity biblical or a post biblical development.

There are two points above that you did not interact with Ken.

"Theodore of Mopsuestia argued that the words were not addressed directly to Jesus but were uttered in praise of God the Father."

"the predecessor of codex Bezae and other Gospel manuscripts simply omitted the article."

So Ehrman does more than just 'throw things out there' and Ken you know better than that.

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

Again since we are asking if the doctrine of the trinity is clearly taught in the Bible than discussion of the disparate manuscripts is inevitable.

As was posted above.

Than you have the Sahidic Coptic text where John 1:1 reads “and a god was the Word"

"A significant fact concerning the Coptic language is that, unlike the Greek, it used an indefinite article ("a" or "an" in English). The Sahidic Coptic translation uses an indefinite article with the word 'god' in the final part of John 1:1. So when rendered into modern English, the translation reads: 'And the Word was a god.'"

The Anchor Bible Dictionary says:

"Since the [Septuagint} and the [Christian Greek Scriptures] were being translated into Coptic during the 3rd century C.E., the Coptic version is based on [Greek manuscripts] which are significantly older than the vast majority of extant [still-existing] witnesses."

http://copticjohn.blogspot.com/2007/05/sahidic-coptic-indefinite-article-at.html < Very interesting post here.

Of course the Trinitarian is flabbergasted and they have made attempts at a response but the evidence is quite clear here.

As history shows us and I'm sure many here would agree just because a particular view gains ascension over another view does not mean that view was original or 'orthodox' by any stretch of the imagination.

Jnorm said...

thegrandverbalizer19,


1.) The onlything we gotta worry about is what the Church Fathers quoted from Scripture and how they understood it. What any scholar today says is meaningless if they are saying the opposite of the Fathers. Thus, if the Fathers quote a Scripture and says Jesus is Divine, then that settles it! If some quote Scripture to say that Jesus is God, then that settles it!

Our understanding of Scripture is different from your understanding. To us, it doesn't matter if verses or chapters were added decades to a few centuries later. For it doesn't matter when the same Oral tradition was written down. Most of the extra verses can be found in the quotes of the Early Church Fathers. The Oral Tradition was still close to their hearts and memory and so it doesn't matter if it took decades to a few centuries for the extra verses to be added.

2.) The doctrine of the Trinity is Biblical. This is a Christian discussion, and so I really don't understand why you would be interested in it. If you wish to continue in this discussion then I will stop posting! I feel uncomfortable posting with you around. Sorry, but it just doesn't seem right.

3.) The Coptics believe in the doctrine of the Trinity.

4.) Look, we already know you are not allowed to believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, and so why are you here? You are here because you are looking for anything and everything you can to fight us in what we believe! You have no interest in the possibility of seeing the doctrine as true or not. The only option open to you is it being false. And so once again I ask, why are you here? You know what. I may not stop posting........instead, if you continue to post then I will fight you! I will focus on you!

Jnorm said...

Ken,

The OO's are the Nonchalcedonians. I really feel uncomfortable talking about all this with thegrandverbalizer19 around. Sorry!

If he continues to post in this thread then I'm gonna stop and solely focus on him.

Rory said...

Jnorm said:

"... I really feel uncomfortable talking about all this with thegrandverbalizer19 around. Sorry!

If he continues to post in this thread then I'm gonna stop and solely focus on him."

Jnorm. Hi. I have appreciated your posts so far. I see this thread as being helpful to GrandVerb already in helping him see better than most of his fellow Muslims that the Trinity doctrine can be nuanced in such a way as to grant the validity of concerns that Muslims have to maintain monotheistic doctrine.

You must do as you think best, but as a Catholic I do not perceive his presence as a detriment at all. According to Catholic doctrine as I understand it, there are senses in which God is Three, and there are senses in which God is One. If he wants to point out how there is some sense in which we say He is Three that is irreconcilable with the ways in which He is One, I welcome his correction...I almost said fraternal correction.

Although he is outside the visible professed Christian fold, if it is for the reason that it has never been explained to him how the Trinity is compatible with monotheism, then I honor him and could believe that through the grace of God, He may indeed with sincere good will, be beloved in Heaven and blessed of the Holy Ghost for his innocent ignorance of the revealed faith and his militant steadiness in proclaiming the One God of both Testaments and the Creator of heaven and earth.

The question, as it began in this thread, was about whether the New Testament clearly taught the full ontological deity of the Son. I think it is helpful for him to see that except for the Protestant sects of the West, most Christians around the globe have to consider more than the mere words of the New Testament when answering the question.

I am hoping that he will be able to see why a former Jehovah's Witness can maintain his same (J.W.) views of how to interpret the New Terstament, while remaining open to the possibility that even so, the Trinity as taught in the Creeds may be a legitimate development! GV19 is ahead of his fellow Muslims who could be content to ridicule, at least in their own minds, the fact that we believe that God is One and God is Three. GV believes we are wrong, but I can't believe he thinks us ridiculous anymore...and that would be a seed worth cultivating.

Regards,

Rory

lechaca1 said...

Mr. Grand Verbalizer,

Greetings. I honestly am not aware of any extant manuscripts earlier than P66 that contain the passage, though I am not an expert critic. This is not, however, a verse where there are major variant readings. My UBS Greek Testament lists none, and Metzger mentions none in his textual commentary. Accordingly, if one applies ordinary standards for the criticism of ancient documents, there seems to be no particular reason to doubt that what we have in the verse today is what the author wrote. That doesn't mean, of course, that everyone will agree on the interpretation. And as we've seen already, the interpretation of this verse involves some grammatical niceties.

This circumstance bears on your second question. I don't believe John composed his gospel in another language (his Greek flows too well for that, probably), but I think it's quite possible that the phrasing here (i.e. putting the article in an address, using the nominative for the vocative) reflects a Semitic usage from the LXX. Rahner, in the quotations given by David, seems open to this, as is Wallace in the book I linked. So I think your question is a good one; we should be looking at the influence of other languages on the style.

Dr. Ehrman focuses on the appearance of the article. I really don't think the article's presence matters in this verse. It's there for grammatical reasons, not for semantic ones. As Mounce observes in the book linked above, the article is required in idiomatic Greek because of the possessive pronoun. In other words, it would be there whether Jesus is "ho theos" or "theos"; its presence makes no difference in this respect.

Regarding the prologue, I can't comment on the Sahidic text, not having any facility in Coptic. I might quibble a little, however, over any argument premised on Greek lacking an indefinite article. That's true strictly speaking, but it misses that the Greeks could use the enclitic "tis," meaning "a certain," to convey the sense of the English "a god." That the evangelist doesn't do this is one reason to prefer the standard translation, which, after all, doesn't necessarily imply Jesus is "ho theos."

I hope that goes some way towards addressing your concerns. If it doesn't, maybe someone else could take a stab at answering.

Kind regards,

John (Iohannes)

lechaca1 said...

Mr. Grand Verbalizer,

Greetings. I honestly am not aware of any extant manuscripts earlier than P66 that contain the passage, though I am not an expert critic. This is not, however, a verse where there are major variant readings. My UBS Greek Testament lists none, and Metzger mentions none in his textual commentary. Accordingly, if one applies ordinary standards for the criticism of ancient documents, there seems to be no particular reason to doubt that what we have in the verse today is what the author wrote. That doesn't mean, of course, that everyone will agree on the interpretation. And as we've seen already, the interpretation of this verse involves some grammatical niceties.

This circumstance bears on your second question. I don't believe John composed his gospel in another language (his Greek flows too well for that, probably), but I think it's quite possible that the phrasing here (i.e. putting the article in an address, using the nominative for the vocative) reflects a Semitic usage from the LXX. Rahner, in the quotations given by David, seems open to this, as is Wallace in the book I linked. So I think your question is a good one; we should be looking at the influence of other languages on the style.

lechaca1 said...

(cont'd.)

Dr. Ehrman focuses on the appearance of the article. I really don't think the article's presence matters in this verse. It's there for grammatical reasons, not for semantic ones. As Mounce observes in the book linked above, the article is required in idiomatic Greek because of the possessive pronoun. In other words, it would be there whether Jesus is "ho theos" or "theos"; its presence makes no difference in this respect.

Regarding the prologue, I can't comment on the Sahidic text, not having any facility in Coptic. I might quibble a little, however, over any argument premised on Greek lacking an indefinite article. That's true strictly speaking, but it misses that the Greeks could use the enclitic "tis," meaning "a certain," to convey the sense of the English "a god." That the evangelist doesn't do this is one reason to prefer the standard translation, which, after all, doesn't necessarily imply Jesus is "ho theos."

I hope that goes some way towards addressing your concerns. If it doesn't, maybe someone else could take a stab at answering.

Kind regards,

John (Iohannes)

lechaca1 said...

Mr. Grand Verbalizer,

Greetings. I honestly am not aware of any extant manuscripts earlier than P66 that contain the passage, though I am not an expert critic. This is not, however, a verse where there are major variant readings. My UBS Greek Testament lists none, and Metzger mentions none in his textual commentary. Accordingly, if one applies ordinary standards for the criticism of ancient documents, there seems to be no particular reason to doubt that what we have in the verse today is what the author wrote. That doesn't mean, of course, that everyone will agree on the interpretation. And as we've seen already, the interpretation of this verse involves some grammatical niceties.

This circumstance bears on your second question. I don't believe John composed his gospel in another language (his Greek flows too well for that, probably), but I think it's quite possible that the phrasing here (i.e. putting the article in an address, using the nominative for the vocative) reflects a Semitic usage from the LXX. Rahner, in the quotations given by David, seems open to this, as is Wallace in the book I linked. So I think your question is a good one; we should be looking at the influence of other languages on the style.

Dr. Ehrman focuses on the appearance of the article. I really don't think the article's presence matters in this verse. It's there for grammatical reasons, not for semantic ones. As Mounce observes in the book linked above, the article is required in idiomatic Greek because of the possessive pronoun. In other words, it would be there whether Jesus is "ho theos" or "theos"; its presence makes no difference in this respect.

Regarding the prologue, I can't comment on the Sahidic text, not having any facility in Coptic. I might quibble a little, however, over any argument premised on Greek lacking an indefinite article. That's true strictly speaking, but it misses that the Greeks could use the enclitic "tis," meaning "a certain," to convey the sense of the English "a god." That the evangelist doesn't do this is one reason to prefer the standard translation, which, after all, doesn't necessarily imply Jesus is "ho theos."

I hope that goes some way towards addressing your concerns. If it doesn't, maybe someone else could take a stab at answering.

Kind regards,

John (Iohannes)

Lvka said...

David,

the pre-Nicene Fathers [Origen, Clement, Tertullian, to name but a few] had no problem using various philosophical and/or Hellenic or Gentile connections.

And the post-Nicene ones made lavish use of Scripture, as the stupidities of Arians were easily exposed just by it: just read the first chapter(s) of Saint Basil's work "On the Holy Spirit", for instance...

Secondly, you must read: when I say that the Cappadocians and evene the pre-Nicene Fathers believed in the Essence-Energies distinction, I'm not just being pious: I speak the truth in knowledge and awareness of facts. (Which is not to say that Latins were obsessed with the Cappadocian or other Eastern Fathers.. I'm not arguing for universality, just for antiquity).



GV,

the Copts exist until today, albeit in a heavily diminished proportion, in Egypt: and, -guess what-, they're neither Muslim nor Arian. (I guess this should be enough to settle your obsession with ancient Coptic documents and modern re-interpretations of them).

Jnorm said...

David,

About the moderate Arians:

Quote:
"How Athanasius eventually won over the semi-Arians/moderates.

Quote:
"Amid the disturbances of Julian's rule, the doctrinal differences within the Church continued. In 361 the radical Arians met at Antioch under the leadership of Euzoius and declared their belief in a Son unlike the Father. In 362 Athanasius, before his exile, called a peace conference at Alexandria consisting of representatives from Egypt, Palestine and Italy along with delegates sent by the fanatical Nicene Lucifer of Cgliari, Apollinaris of Laodicea and the priest Paulinus, chief of the Nicene community at Antioch. Athanasius' main concern was to reconcile the moderates and the Nicenes by getting behind party catchwords to the deeper meaning of each position. He recommended asking those who held three hypostases if they meant three in the sense of three subsistent beings, alien in nature like gold, silver and brass, as did the radical Arians. If they answered no, he asked if they meant by three hypostasis a Trinity, truly existing with truly substantial Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and if they acknowledged one Godhead. If they said yes, he allowed them into communion. Then he turned to those who spoke of one hypostasis and asked if they meant this in the sense of Sabellius, as if the Son were not substantial and the Holy Spirit impersonal. If they said no, he asked them if they meant by one hypostasis one substance or ousia because the Son is of the substance of the Father. If their answer was yes, he accepted them into communion. Finally, in a statesmanlike fashion Athanasius brought out the truth each side was fighting for and showed that between the moderates and the Nicenes there was really no ground for disagreement. The results of these deliberations were sent off to Antioch divided into three factions: the Arians led by Euzoius, the imperially recognized bishop, the Homoeousians led by the exiled Meletius and the old Nicenes led by the priest Palinus, loyal to the long-dead Eustathius. The way seemed open for peace.But the way was proved long and ruff. For while Athanasius was laying the groundwork for reconciliation at Alexandria, Lucifer of Cagliari had gone to Antioch and made things worse. Instead of attempting to reconcile the moderate bishop Meletius who had already declared for the Nicene faith. Lucifer consecrated the Old Nicene Paulinus as bishop. The two parties which Athanasius had been attempting to reconcile were now separated by rival bishops, while the old Arian Euzious held the churches of the city. This schism at Antioch would impede reconciliation between moderates and Nicenes for years to come as Athanasius and the bishop of Rome came to support Paulinus, while the rising leader of the East, Basil of Caesarea, remained loyal Meletius.
page 102-103





JNORM

pages 102-103 from the book the first Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787): Their History and Theology by Leo Donald Davis

Jnorm said...

David,

You probably already know this. You have a huge library, but I just wanted you to know why I used the Roman Catholic Scholar
Leo Donald Davis. Despite his negative bias against the Monarchy of the Father view, and his positive bias for the Supremacy of the Bishop of Rome view.....well, despite those flaws I thought it was a pretty good and detailed work.

The main part of the quote that I would like to focus on is this:

Quote:
"Athanasius' main concern was to reconcile the moderates and the Nicenes by getting behind party catchwords to the deeper meaning of each position. He recommended asking those who held three hypostases if they meant three in the sense of three subsistent beings, alien in nature like gold, silver and brass, as did the radical Arians. If they answered no, he asked if they meant by three hypostasis a Trinity, truly existing with truly substantial Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and if they acknowledged one Godhead. If they said yes, he allowed them into communion. Then he turned to those who spoke of one hypostasis and asked if they meant this in the sense of Sabellius, as if the Son were not substantial and the Holy Spirit impersonal. If they said no, he asked them if they meant by one hypostasis one substance or ousia because the Son is of the substance of the Father. If their answer was yes, he accepted them into communion. Finally, in a statesmanlike fashion Athanasius brought out the truth each side was fighting for and showed that between the moderates and the Nicenes there was really no ground for disagreement."


Saint Athanasius was more concerned about the meaning of words behind the two parties. And this is what brought about unity.

It seemed to me that the classical moderate Arian main concern with the word "homoousios" was because they saw it as sabellian. What caused most Bishops and christians in the east to turn their backs on Nicea some years later was because of this very fear. The beliefs of Marcellus of Ancyra is what helped this to happen.

Quote:
"For Marcellus, Son and Spirit emerged from the Godhead as distinct persons only for the purposes of creation and redemption. At the end of the world, both would be resumed into the divine unity. These statements of Marcellus convinced many that the Creed of Nicaea was suspect of Sabellianism, and he would long be an albatross about the necks of the orthodox Nicenes. Marcellus made the mistake of sending a book embodying his views to Constantine. For his pains he was deposed in 336, surviving through many vicissitudes until his death at the age of ninety in 374.

[1] page 76


To be continued.....

Jnorm said...

This is what helped caused the split, and it took decades to heal it. For both sides were shooting insults at each other.


Quote:
"The aftermath
Quote:
"The Church historian Socrates (380-450) describes the failure of mutual understanding: "The situation was like a battle by night, for both parties seemed to be in the dark about the grounds on which they were hurling abuse at each other. those who objected to the term homoousios imagined that its adherents were bringing in the doctrine of Sabellius and Montanists. So they called them blasphemers on the ground that they were undermining the personal subsistence of the Son of God. On the other hand, the protaganists of homoousios concluded that their opponents were introducing polytheism, and steered clear of them as importers of paganism........Thus while both affirmed the personality and subsistence of the Son of God, and confessed tht there was one God in three hypostases, they were somehow incapable of reaching agreement, and for this reason could not bear to lay down arms."

[2] page 82


Saint Athanasius had the skill and wisdom to look behind words and at the actual meaning of those who were saying them. The moderate Arains came back in communion with the them because they realized they were saying the samething as the Old Nicenes and the Old Nicenes realized that they were saying the same as them.



[1]page 76, [2]page 82 from the book the first Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787): Their History and Theology by Leo Donald Davis

Jnorm said...

And so really, the fight was an in house issue! This is one of the reasons why I don't want to talk about it with outsiders present.

Islam kept the OO's and the EO's apart for 14 centuries. They make us fight each other to split us apart. It is a tactic of divide and conquer. Thus, if he returns, I will stop and attack him.

Jnorm said...

David,


We don't accept the western Athanasain creed. Just so you know.

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

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

JNorm said,

"4.) Look, we already know you are not allowed to believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, and so why are you here? You are here because you are looking for anything and everything you can to fight us in what we believe! You have no interest in the possibility of seeing the doctrine as true or not. The only option open to you is it being false. And so once again I ask, why are you here? You know what. I may not stop posting........instead, if you continue to post then I will fight you! I will focus on you!"

Your statement is rather presumptuous. Considering my critique of fellow Muslim Yusuf Ismail's argument against the Trinity in a debate with William Lane Craig. Word to the wise you may wish to the see the Christian gentleman's comment below the particular link. I have been in contact with Yusuf Ismail and he welcomed the critique.

http://www.acommonword.net/2010/08/critique-of-yusuf-ismails-argument.html

So as far as saying, "You have no interest in the possibility of seeing the doctrine as true or not." I personally find this statement a bit wanting.

"I really feel uncomfortable talking about all this with thegrandverbalizer19 around. Sorry!

If he continues to post in this thread then I'm gonna stop and solely focus on him.

December 29, 2010 6:01 PM"

"And so really, the fight was an in house issue! This is one of the reasons why I don't want to talk about it with outsiders present.

Islam kept the OO's and the EO's apart for 14 centuries. They make us fight each other to split us apart. It is a tactic of divide and conquer. Thus, if he returns, I will stop and attack him.

December 30, 2010 8:13 AM"

"They make us fight each other to split us apart."

Good grief. I don't need to be a catalyst for intra-Christian debates. You do that well enough of your own.

So you claim to read my heart yet yours is quite transparent every other sentence is filled with word 'fight'. I counted the word 'fight' no less than four times. I think time for a little stillness.

I admit I am not the brightest guy around but seems to me if you want to have a 'private' discussion about these matters....ummmm e-mail???

So the next time you use the word 'fight' I'm going to have to hand you a wet paper bag first. So let's try and keep it civil.

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

"GV,
the Copts exist until today, albeit in a heavily diminished proportion, in Egypt: and, -guess what-, they're neither Muslim nor Arian. (I guess this should be enough to settle your obsession with ancient Coptic documents and modern re-interpretations of them)."

Lvka quaint remarks as usual. I didn't know I was 'obsessed'. I just found it a bit curious if their particular text of John 1:1 was not problematic why base a translation of the KJV?

"obsession with ancient Coptic documents and modern re-interpretations of them"

Curious statement. What sources do you have that show the earliest interpretation(s) of John 1:1? In order to make sure it is indeed a 're-interpretation'.

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

To Rory and Iohannes

THANK YOU! Civility is appreciated.

Iohannes I appreciated your response to David on December 27, 2010 5:44 PM

I tend to agree with your first point. I think that even if that were 'common language' to address royalty as 'Lord God' etc I would find it challenging to see that as language coming from an observant Jew.

I find it challenging that Thomas statement 'My Lord and My God' was an idiom. I believe it is a theological statement.

I definitely don't believe people woke up one morning and said to themselves, 'Hey you know what I am just going to believe that God incarnated as a human being'.

This is why I appreciated your candor on points 2 and 3 and defending your position but seeing the view of the other side.

Humility is always a good sign (we could all use a little bit more of it) especially as we try and convey our respective traditions.

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

Jnorm said,

"Our understanding of Scripture is different from your understanding. To us, it doesn't matter if verses or chapters were added decades to a few centuries later. For it doesn't matter when the same Oral tradition was written down"

I don't have a problem with presuppositional positions concerning prima or sola scriptura. It's a self enclosed system that seems to make more sense than to argue for a presuppostional position based upon oral tradition.

Oral tradition itself is not problematic provided that you have proper links in the chains of transmission. We have people in our faith who dedicate their entire lives critiquing our oral traditions.

Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." (Mark 7:13)

David Waltz said...

Hi John,

I have noticed that good ol' Blogger has placed a number of your posts into the "Spam folder"; I have restored ALL of them. Some appear to be exact duplicates—you may delete any of the posts you feel are superfluous, and I will later check in a remove the removal.

Also, the link I provided earlier to the Woodstock "Re-visioning the Papacy" forum has now been blocked! I had no problem yesterday accessing the other papers, but for some reason unknown to me, the website manager/owner has taken measures to restrict further access.

Moving on, you wrote the following response to GV19:

>> Greetings. I honestly am not aware of any extant manuscripts earlier than P66 that contain this passage, though I am not an expert critic. As far as I know, however, this isn't a verse where there are many variants. My UBS Greek edition lists none, and I found none in Metzger's textual commentary. Accordingly, if one applied here the standards ordinarily used in the criticism of ancient texts, I don't think there would be much doubt that we have the original wording. That doesn't mean, of course, that everyone will give the text the same interpretation. And as we've seen in this thread, the verse involves some grammatical niceties.

That circumstance bears, as it happens, on your second question. I don't believe the passage was composed in another language (John's Greek flows too well for that), but it's quite possible that the phrasing (i.e. putting the article in an address, using the nominative for vocative) was influenced by a Semitic usage. David's quotation from Rahner touches on this, as does the commentary I linked above from Wallace.

Dr. Ehrman focuses in particular the use of the article. My belief is that the article's presence doesn't really matter here, because its function is grammatical, not semantic. As Moule explains, the article is included because, in idiomatic Greek, the possessive pronoun normally requires it. In other words, the verse would be written the same whether Jesus was "ho theos" or "theos".>>

Me: Excellent reply!

I too have been attempting to uncover an earlier extant manuscript than P66 which contains the passage in question; I am pretty sure none exists. And further, I have also been tying to track down what Dr. Ehrman meant by, "the predecessor of codex Bezae and other Gospel manuscripts", and I come up empty handed. Do you (or anyone else) have some sort of clue as to what he was referring to?

Still need to listen to the podcast that you linked to earlier; hopefully later today I will find the time.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Jnorm,

Appreciate the quotes from Dr. Davis' book, The First Seven Ecumenical Councils - Their History and Theology. I own this book, but it has been well over a decade since I last read it. This evening, I am planning to reread it—thanks much for bringing it to my attention.

BTW, there is a pretty good treatment on the first four councils by an Orthodox author:

The Church of the Ancient Councils, by Archbishop Peter L'Huillier

I happen to own this book too, and it appears that a good portion of it is available via the Google "preview" linked to above.


Grace and peace,

David

Iohannes said...

Hi David,

Sorry for all the duplicates. Error messages came up aplenty as I tried to submit the comment last night.

Here's a facsimile from the Codex Bezae that shows Jn 20:28:

tinyurl.com/cdbz2028

Two-thirds of the way down the page you can see

απεκριθηθωμαςκαιειπεναυτω

οκςμουκαιθςμου

Kurios gets the article but Theos is anarthrous. I think Dr. Ehrman proposes that at some stage in the transmission behind the Codex Bezae a scribe dropped the article for theological reasons.

Ken said...

Grandverbalizer19 quoting Bart Ehrman -

" . . . Several scribes of the early church adroitly handled the matter in what can be construed as an anti-Patripassianist corruption: the predecessor of codex Bezae and other Gospel manuscripts simply omitted the article."

You are right, I did not notice the whole thing about codex Bezae; (my mind focused on his first sentence, which seemed to just assume that scribes would omit the article and that that is no surprise. My zeal was bolstered when I checked my Greek NT and found no textual variant there.


I apologize.

and

I thank John for the link to the facsimile copy of it.

I wonder why that textual variant is not included in the standard Greek Text?

John,
Do you know why?

Ken said...

απεκριθηθωμαςκαιειπεναυτω

οκςμουκαιθςμου

απεκριθη
he answered

θωμας
Thomas

και
and/also

ειπεν
said

αυτω
to him

ο
the

κς
Lord

μου
of mine

και
and

θς
God

μου
of mine


For those who don't know

ks is short for "Kurios" = Lord

and

θς

is short for θeoς, = God

and the ancient Greek mss did not have spaces between words, were in all caps and did not have the breathing and other small markers.

Ken said...

Jnorm,
the OO stand for "oriental Orthodox" or non-Chalcedonians. Thanks, I should have been able to put that together.

That includes Coptic church, Armenian Orthodox, the Jacobite Syrian church and the Ethiopian Coptic Church (all Monophysites or Mia-physites)

Does it include the Assyrian church of the East (Nestorian)??

Do you realize they have recently unified with the Chalcedonian Creed on the issue of Christ's two natures? (but not on other issues)

Ken said...

What does the "Monarchy" (sole Monarch, alone Monarch, King, only ruler) of the Father mean?

Monarchianism was a group of heresies in the early church that included,

Adoptionism (including Paul of Samosata)

Modalism

Sabellianism


_________________
Also,
Jesus is called "King of kings and Lord of lords", which is also used of the Father, so here, again, the Trinity is biblical.

Again, David,

is not

"representative"

and

"Agent"

and even "Monarchy" (where is that in the Bible?)

using some kind of philosophical, non-Biblical language?

Jnorm said...

David,

Thanks for the links!


thegrandverbalizer19,

Since everyone on the board likes you, I will try and give you a chance as well.



Ken said:
"That includes Coptic church, Armenian Orthodox, the Jacobite Syrian church and the Ethiopian Coptic Church (all Monophysites or Mia-physites)"


Correct! They don't adhere to Saint Palamas and yet our Trinitarianism is the same. They hold to the first 3 councils. David by using the term Post Palamas tried to make it seem as if our development of doctrine was just like protestantism and Rome. Our growth is not the same, and that is why I said what I did up above. Our beliefs are still the same animal. They are still recognizable. If something starts out as a wild cat, then whatever the evolution may be, it still should look like some cat.

To us, protestantism and Rome both turn a wild cat into a lizard. This is what you call doctrinal development. It is a Macro-Evolution, where as ours is a micro-evolution.


Ken said:
"Does it include the Assyrian church of the East (Nestorian)??"


No, the term does not include them. To be honest, the modern Assyian church of the East embraces Chalcedon....at least the statements.....maybe not the decrees. And so they hold to the 1st, 2nd, and 4th councils.

The OO's reject the 4th council for two reasons.

1.) The Assyrian church of the East likes it (the OO's and the Assyrian's don't get along)
2.) The Tome of Saint Leo (the OO's don't like the Tome of Saint Leo)

The OO's are hyper to conservative Cyrillians, where as we are conservative to moderate Cyrillians. They don't like Nestorianism and we tried hard to convince them that the 4th council wasn't Nestorian. The 5th council gives the official interpretation of the 4th. The 5th council is the reason why the OO's are willing to talk to us about full communion. The rise of Islam cut that short.


Ken said:
"Do you realize they have recently unified with the Chalcedonian Creed on the issue of Christ's two natures? (but not on other issues)"



Who? Which group are you talking about? The Assyrian embrace of Chalcedon makes it more difficult for the OO's to embrace it. Saint Athanasius was an awesome man, for he knew how to solve problems like this.


Ken said:
"What does the "Monarchy" (sole Monarch, alone Monarch, King, only ruler) of the Father mean?"


The Father as being the Source. You can read about it here or listen to this

One of the main reasons why I Chose to Look East instead of looking at Rome was because I already believed in the Ante-Nicene view of the Trinity in this regard. Something I knew that both protestantism and Rome rejected and fought against. The Eastern view was extremely close to the pre-Nicene view and so I went East. Now that wasn't the only reason, but it was one of the main ones. I feel at home here. I really do!


Ken said:
"Monarchianism was a group of heresies in the early church that included,
Adoptionism (including Paul of Samosata)
Modalism
Sabellianism"



The Monarchy of the Father is not the same as Monarchianism. Did you know that the ones who condemned these heresies, especially the ones in the East, all believed in the Monarchy of the Father view? Did you know that Alexander of Alexandria believed in the Monarchy of the Father view? And he was one of the first if not thee first to fight Arius and Arianism. This interpretation of the doctrine of the Trinity was believed for the first 4 hundred years. The west eventually went in a different direction. But we in the East still hold to it.

Ken said...

Thanks for the answers, JNorm!
You are a very interesting person, and have an interesting story.

Ken said:
"Do you realize they have recently unified with the Chalcedonian Creed on the issue of Christ's two natures? (but not on other issues)"


Who?

The Assyrian Church of the East, otherwise known as the Nestorians.

Which group are you talking about? The Assyrian embrace of Chalcedon makes it more difficult for the OO's to embrace it.

Makes sense.

Saint Athanasius was an awesome man, for he knew how to solve problems like this.

Yes he was; so do you think "homo-ousias" was a proper and right interpretation of all the Biblical texts on the Deity of Christ?

What do you think of Ignatius writing 7-9 times that Christ is Theos ? (o Theos or just Theos - I am not taking time to look all that up at this point)

This seems to show the full Deity of Christ early on. (107-117 AD)

But John 1:1; 1:18; 20:28; Heb. 1:6-8; Col. 1:15-20; Philippians 2:5-11; Heb. 1:3, Matthew 2:1-12 with Rev. 19:10 and 22:8-9 are all much earlier - between 50-70 AD or John maybe 90 AD) All except John are before 70 AD for sure. Some think John was also pre-70 AD.

It seems to me that Cyril of Alexandria was too harsh and political against Nestorius himself. According to the finding of the Bazaar of Hericleidus, Nestorius accepted the Tome of Leo on Chalcedon.

Ken said...

So, Jnorm,
Do you think David Waltz is right?

-- Namely, that "homo-ousias" is not Biblical, even in concept?

(in concept, for example from John 10:30, 1:1-5; 1:18, 20:28, Col. 1, Heb. 1, etc.)

[I am not arguing that the exact term/word is in the Bible]

Do you agree with DW that the whole distinction with nature (ousia/phusis) and person (hypostasis/persona) are philosophical more than Biblical?

If there is only one God, then can't you (and David) see that Augustine's "mono-ousias" (one nature) [according to David W.] is a logical deduction from the Athanasian, "homo-ousias"?

David W. - can you give us some references in Augustine where he uses "mono-ousias" ?

No one used that term before him?

Lvka said...

Augustine's ousia was not the same as Athanasius'. He didn't accept either personal attributes, or divine energies. He tried to make the Son a second Father by the filioque; he said that the Father or the whole Holy Trinity can be called the Holy Spirit based on the verse in John that says that God is Spirit; etc. -- that's the problem.

Lvka said...

There's more to a term than mere translation...

Jnorm said...

Ken said:
"Yes he was; so do you think "homo-ousias" was a proper and right interpretation of all the Biblical texts on the Deity of Christ?"


Yes I do.


Ken Said:
"What do you think of Ignatius writing 7-9 times that Christ is Theos ? (o Theos or just Theos - I am not taking time to look all that up at this point)"


I agree with it! I have been trying to get David to accept that aspect of their Testimony. As it stands right now, he will acknowledge Christ as divine, but he won't use the term "God" for him.

I believe in both! Like David, I believe the Father to be the One God, but unlike David, I believe that both Christ as well as the Holy Spirit can be called God as well. Why? Because they are both Divine. The Father is their Source.

This is why the Nicene creed, as well as some Pre-Nicene Christians said....."God from God, Light from Light, or fire from fire......etc.


Ken said:
This seems to show the full Deity of Christ early on. (107-117 AD)


I agree! This is why I stress their Testimony on how they understood Scripture in this regard.....including the extra verses.

In reference to the KJV's 1st John 5:7-9

KJV
1 John 5:7-9
"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

This is what Saint Cyprian said in the 3rd century.

Quote:
""The Lord warns, saying, "He who is not with me scattereth." He who breaks the
peace and the concord of Christ, does so in opposition to Christ; he who
gathereth elsewhere than in the Church, scatters the Church of Christ. The Lord
says, "I and the Father are one;" and again it is written of the Father, and of
the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," And these three are one."
And does any one believe that this unity which thus comes from the divine strength and coheres in
celestial sacraments, can be divided in the Church, and can be separated by the
parting asunder of opposing wills? He who does not hold unity does not hold
God's law, does not hold the faith of the Father and the Son, does not hold life
and salvation."


Believe it or not, most of the extra verses that some are taking out the Bible were quoted by Pre-Nicene Christians. I view it all as Scripture! Regardless if it took a few decades to a few centuries to be written down.

Oral Tradition


Ken said:
"But John 1:1; 1:18; 20:28; Heb. 1:6-8; Col. 1:15-20; Philippians 2:5-11; Heb. 1:3, Matthew 2:1-12 with Rev. 19:10 and 22:8-9 are all much earlier - between 50-70 AD or John maybe 90 AD) All except John are before 70 AD for sure. Some think John was also pre-70 AD."

I believe John was written around 90 A.D. I forgot who said it but one of the Pre-Nicene Christians said that he wrote/dictated the Gospel of John after being freed from the Island of Patmos. A bunch of clercy gathered around him and wanted to hear his account. I forgot the story. I need to find it. But yeah, only Presbyterian and Church of Christ full preterists believe it to be before 70 A.D. Maybe even Presbyterian partial preterists. But not me! In general I agree with what your saying, even if we disagree on the dates.


to be continued.....

Jnorm said...

Ken said:
"It seems to me that Cyril of Alexandria was too harsh and political against Nestorius himself."


There will be a political side to almost everything. Was he harsh? Yes! But his Christology was correct. Jesus is the same Person as the Logos. The same as the second Person of the Trinity. There wasn't two people inside Jesus.....the Logos and the man Christ. In other words, the person called Jesus is not the summation of two natures. The Divine Person already existed as the Logos/Word, and so the Incarnation simply added a second nature to the already existing Person.


"Ken said:
According to the finding of the Bazaar of Hericleidus, Nestorius accepted the Tome of Leo on Chalcedon."


Yes, the OO's heard about that as well. They used it as another excuse to reject Chalcedon. I am against the modern movement to rehabilitate Nestorius. The truth is, some Nestorians were able to hide behind Chalcedon. It took the next council to make that impossible. Nestorians are dyophsites just like we are, and so yes, some were able to hide behind the 4th council. The OO's wouldn't let it go. All the Nestorians were eventually weeded out. Sorry, but I am a Cyrillian. The 4th council was also Cyrillian, but it wasn't Cyrillian enough for the OO's. They kept finding excuses.


Ken said:
So, Jnorm,
Do you think David Waltz is right?

-- Namely, that "homo-ousias" is not Biblical, even in concept?



No, I believe David is wrong. homoousis, had multiple meanings in the past, but the interpretation of homoousis at Nicea is orthodox and Biblical. For it's not about the words, but the meaning of words. This is what Saint Athanasius championed. And if the moderate Arians of old were able to re-embrace homoousis after believing in homoiousis, then why can't David? If they could make that step then David can as well.


Ken Said:
"Do you agree with DW that the whole distinction with nature (ousia/phusis) and person (hypostasis/persona) are philosophical more than Biblical?"



Philosophy permeates everything. There is really no way getting around it. When it comes to understanding Scripture, then you are really looking at concepts and the meaning of words and ideas. And so no, I disagree with David. The word is not found in the Bible but the concept is. Don't forget that we have to look at logical conclusions and implications of beliefs. What helped the moderate Arians understand that Arianism was wrong was when they saw the results of the ideas on the radicals. The truth is, we all use philosophy, even if we don't know it. David uses philosophy, even if he doesn't know it. It's inevitable.


Ken Said:
"If there is only one God, then can't you (and David) see that Augustine's "mono-ousias" (one nature) [according to David W.] is a logical deduction from the Athanasian, "homo-ousias"?"



Yes, we know that(by saying this, you are probably making homoousios very difficult for David). But it doesn't have to be that way. By the way, I think Augustine picked up his monism from Plotinus. Also the issue of the filioque comes to play here as well. When the Father is the source, and you don't have a filioque then you can't really derive what we see in the west. You probably thought the issue of the filioque wasn't important, but it is.


Ken said:
No one used that term before him?


Why would they if the Father is the Source?

Ken said...

Jnorm,
Thanks for your answers again!

Where is the Cyprian quote? (that is very powerful for the Trinity)

"On the Unity of the Church" ??

Please give reference so I can find it at the ccel website.

Ken said:
No one used that term before him?

You wrote:
Why would they if the Father is the Source?

I don't understand your answer here - the term I am referring to is "mono-ousia" that David claims is from Augustine.

Was it ever used before Augustine?

Why does "the Father is the Source" preclude using "one-nature"/"one substance"/"one essence" ( Mono-ousia) ??

And when we say "the Father is the source", it sounds like Jesus is not from all eternity and at a point in time (if we can say that, obviously, it is before time); the logos (unexpressed mind of God) generated outwardly and became the expressed mind of God (the spoken word; more personal) (like rays from the sun illustration).

That is what it seems like David is saying, he says Jesus is "divine" (Deity) , but not "full Deity". There is no such thing as a difference between "Deity" and "full Deity". Colossians says twice, "for all the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ" (Col. 1:19; 2:9)

Jnorm said...

Ken,

click the link in blue that says "extra verses". That is where you will find my reference. It took me some months to track the quote down. Roman Catholic Scholars said the origen of the quote was found in Gaul right around the 4th century, but it's found right in Cyprian over in North Western Africa a century earlier.

Everything in blue is actually a link.

Jnorm said...

Infact, most of the extra verses you will find in your Bible can be found in the works of the Pre-Nicene Fathers.

They quoted most of these extra verses.

Jnorm said...

Ken,

Because the Father is the Source of both the Persons as well as The Essence. The unity you speak of is found in Him, not some essence apart from Him. Both the Son and Holy Spirit share the essence of the Father. The Father is the Source, because He is the One God. He is the point of unity.

Jnorm said...

Ken said:
"And when we say "the Father is the source", it sounds like Jesus is not from all eternity and at a point in time (if we can say that, obviously, it is before time); the logos (unexpressed mind of God) generated outwardly and became the expressed mind of God (the spoken word; more personal) (like rays from the sun illustration)."



The Eternal Generation of the Son is not only outward....to create all things, but it was also inward as well......inside the Bosom of the Father.

Yes, all three Persons of the Trinity are co-Eternal. The Eternal Generation of the Son and the Eternal Procession of the Holy Spirit.

The difference is, we believe the Father to be the source of the other two. The Father is the only unbegotten.

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Wow, you guys have been busy! I do not wish to derail the excellent discussion that is taking place between you and Jnorm, but I need to correct a couple of misunderstandings/misrepresentations.

First, you posted:

>>So, Jnorm,
Do you think David Waltz is right?

-- Namely, that "homo-ousias" is not Biblical, even in concept?>> (LINK).

Me: What I have ACTUALLY said is that the TERM homoousios is not Biblical, and I have NOT YET weighed in on whether or not the "concept" is a correct understanding of what the Bible teaches. The term homoousios can be understood in diverse senses (has been and still is), as such, I believe that there is a sense of term homoousios that can be said to be Biblical; but then, there are other senses of term homoousios that are un-Biblical.

Second, in the same post you penned:

>> David W. - can you give us some references in Augustine where he uses "mono-ousias" ?

No one used that term before him?>> (Ibid.)

Me: I did not say (nor have I ever), that Augustine used/uses the term monoousios. Here is what I actually wrote:

==Me: First, the focus/theme of this thread is the contrast between what the Bible actually says as compared to the post-Biblical theological/philosophical developments. For instance, you mentioned "one essence/substance/nature in three persons", which is not found in the Bible. Further, the phrase "one essence/substance/nature" 'developed'—prior to Augustine (and among many, even after) homoousios meant "same substance" (in a generic sense); however, Augustine shifted the meaning and homoousios came to be understood as monoousios.==(LINK)

As late as 451, the generic sense can be found, for in the Chalcedonian definition we find that our Lord is homoousios with the Father and homoousios with mankind.

Note the following that I posted way back in June 6, 2008:

==The great Reformed theologian Charles Hodge admits that the term homoousios, “...may express either specific sameness, or numerical identity. In the former sense, all spirits, whether God, angels, or men, are homoousioi*.”[24] Although Hodge believes that the Nicene Creed teaches the latter sense, he cites a German theologian who disagrees with him:

Gieseler goes much further, and denies that the Nicene fathers held numerical identity of essence in the persons of the Trinity. The Father, Son and Spirit were the same in substance as having the same nature, or same kind of substance. This he infers was their doctrine not only from the general style of their teaching, and from special declarations, but from the illustrations which they habitually employed. The Father and the Son are the same in substance as among men father and son have the same nature; or as Basil says, Father and Son differ in rank, as do the angels, although they are the same in nature. Gieseler says that the numerical sameness of nature in the three divine persons, was first asserted by Augustine. It was he, according to Gieseler, who first excluded all idea of subordination in the Trinity.[25]

[24] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology volume 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1981 reprint) p. 460.

[25] Ibid., p. 463.==(LINK)

R.P.C. Hanson (and other modern patristic scholars) side with Dr. Gieseler, as do I.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Jnorm,

Great discussion! I am still reflecting on all the excellent material that is being produced in this thread, but would like to briefly enter into the 'fray' and clarify/correct one thing before I go back into reading mode. You posted:

>> I agree with it! I have been trying to get David to accept that aspect of their Testimony. As it stands right now, he will acknowledge Christ as divine, but he won't use the term "God" for him.

I believe in both! Like David, I believe the Father to be the One God, but unlike David, I believe that both Christ as well as the Holy Spirit can be called God as well. Why? Because they are both Divine. The Father is their Source.>>

Me: I use the term "God" (i.e. theos, elohim) for Christ, I just don't use the following Biblical phrases for him: "τοῦ μόνου θεοῦ" (John 5:44); "τὸν μόνον ἀληθινὸν θεὸν" (John 17:3), "εἷς θεὸς" (1 Cor. 8:6; Eph. 4:6).


Grace and peace,

David

Ken said...

David,
Thanks for some clarifications.

on Augustine and "mono-ousias",
You wrote:

"Further, the phrase "one essence/substance/nature" 'developed'—prior to Augustine (and among many, even after) homoousios meant "same substance" (in a generic sense); however, Augustine shifted the meaning and homoousios came to be understood as monoousios."

Are you saying Augustine never used the exact term "mono-ousias" ??

Where in Augustine does he write in such a way as "to be understood as 'mono-ousias' " ??

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

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

"Yes, all three Persons of the Trinity are co-Eternal. The Eternal Generation of the Son and the Eternal Procession of the Holy Spirit."

Jnorm which particular text in the Bible do you believe best illustrates the point above?

Or do you believe that this is the conclusion arrived at after all the text have been collated together?

I hope everyone here forgives me but I have always struggled with the penchant for using an oxymoron in expressing Christian theological terms.

For example 'eternal generation'. If we are using words to convey ideas it would would convey an understanding that the Holy Spirit or our Creator has guided us to use such expressions to convey meaning.

A mutually understood meaning in which an idea could be grasped. How is one both eternal and generated?

I can understand someone saying I am a spirit (soul) and this is eternal and my body is generated and temporal that's fine.

But we are now sing that Christ Jesus was 'eternally generated'.

Is this understood prior to incarnation, or at the point of incarnation?

Lvka is fond of using the spirit/body analogy with me. Yet I am wondering how this particular paradox of my own existence is extended to the nature of 'The Son'

What part of the nature of 'The Son'is temporal and which part is eternal?

Any thoughts on this would be welcomed.

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

The other point I am interested in knowing from a Trinitarian theological perspective is this.

"Yes, all three Persons of the Trinity are co-Eternal. The Eternal Generation of the Son and the Eternal Procession of the Holy Spirit.

The difference is, we believe the Father to be the source of the other two. The Father is the only unbegotten."

However, would we not all agree that the Father is the source of everything?

Since I am assuming that none of us are pantheist or holding to the view that everything in the universe IS God.

In what ways is the ousia of time and space similar to the ousia of 'The Father'. In what ways is the ousia of time and space dissimilar to 'The Father'

I can understand that we can say that the universe was created ex-nihilo; however we would not say it was ex-nihilo without a Creator God or we end up smack dab in the middle of camp Atheism.

So can agree that it was created by God ultimately? God's 'thoughts' God's 'power' God's 'word'.

In what ways is the essence(ousia) of creation similar to the essence of God. In what ways is it dissimilar to the essence of God?

I can see how how monotheism can have it's advantage over polytheism.

It's just their are certain philosophical underpinnings of Trinitarian theology that worry me.

Grace and Peace.

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Yesterday, you asked the following:

>> Are you saying Augustine never used the exact term "mono-ousias" ??>>

Me: Correct—Augustine wrote in Latin and not Greek.

>>Where in Augustine does he write in such a way as "to be understood as 'mono-ousias' " ??>>

Me: On a number of occasions, Augustine specifically denies that the oneness of the 3 persons of the Trinity is to be understood in the generic/sameness sense that Athanasius, the Cappadocians, the Chalcedonian definition, et al. clearly maintained; rather, Augustine argued for an absolute singleness. Note the following expansion of the earlier quote I provided from Hodge:


==The ambiguity of the word ὁμοοούσιος has already been remarked upon. As οὐσίσ may mean generic nature common to many individuals, not unum in numero, but ens unum in multis, so ὁμοοούσιος (consubstantial) may mean nothing more than sameness of species or kind. It is therefore said, that “the term homoousion, in its strict grammatical sense differs from monoousion or toutoousion, as well as from heteroousion, and signifies not numerical identity, but equality of essence or community of nature among several beings.”1 “The Nicene Creed,” Dr. Schaff adds, “does not expressly assert the singleness or numerical unity of the divine essence (unless it be in the first article: ‘we believe in one God’), and the main point with the Nicene fathers was to urge against Arianism the strict divinity and essential equality of the Son and Holy Ghost with the Father. If we press the difference of homoousion from monoousion, and overlook the many passages in which they assert with equal emphasis the monarchia or numerical unity of the Godhead, we must charge them with tritheism.”

Gieseler goes much further, and denies that the Nicene fathers held the numerical identity of essence in the persons of the Trinity. The Father, Son, and Spirit were the same in substance as having the same nature, or same kind of substance. This he infers was their doctrine not only from the general style of their teaching, and from special declarations, but from the illustrations which they habitually employed. The Father and the Son are the same in substance as among men father and son have the same nature; or as Basil says, Father and Son differ in rank, as do the angels, although they are the same in nature. Gieseler says that the numerical sameness of nature in the three divine persons, was first asserted by Augustine. It was he, according to Gieseler, who first excluded all idea of subordination in the Trinity.2 “Athanasius and Hilary understood the proposition, ‘There is one God’ of the Father. Basil the Great and the two Gregories understood by the word God a generic idea (Gattungsbegriff), belonging equally to the Father and the Son. Basil in the ‘Apologia ad Cæsarienses,’ says, ἡμεῖς ἕνα θεὸν, οὐ τῷ ἀριθμῷ, ἀλλὰ τῇ φύσει ὁμολογοῦμεν, and endeavours to show that there can be no question of number in reference to God, as numerical difference pertains only to material things. Augustine on the contrary expressly excludes the idea of generic unity,3 and understands the proposition ‘there is one God’ not of the Father alone, but of the whole Trinity,4 and, therefore, taught that there is one God in three persons.”

1 Schaff’s History of the Christian Church, vol. iii. p. 672.
2 Kirchengeschichte, vol. vi. § 60, p. 323. Bonn, 1855.
3 De Trinitate, VII. vi. edit. Benedictines, vol. viii. p. 1314, d.
4 Epistola, CCXXXVIII. iii. 18, vol. ii. p. 1304, a.==(Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 1, pp. 463, 464 – bold emphasis mine.)


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi GV19,

While we wait for Jnorm to weigh-in, I would like to mention an earlier thread of mine on "eternal generation":

The Eternal Generation of the Son

I noticed that you did not post in the combox, so I do not know if you have read the thread yet. One thing is for certain: a number of Protestant theologians are troubled by the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son.


Grace and peace,

David

Iohannes said...

Hi Ken,

I wonder why that textual variant is not included in the standard Greek Text?

I think the UBS apparatus was designed for translators and doesn't provide every variant, only major ones. In this case, the omitted article is an uncommon variant and not really translatable. I haven't checked the Nestle-Aland apparatus, but it is more detailed, and might have more information on the verse.

Jnorm,

Thanks for the passage from St. Cyprian. Because of the text's weak attestation, I wouldn't lean on the Johannine comma when arguing that a doctrine is apostolic. At the same time, despite the strong evidence against them, I'm not altogether sure the words were a later addition to the epistle. When they're omitted, the "τὸ ἕν" becomes a little awkward grammatically. If you're interested, Bishop Middleton had some judicious comments on the issue:

tinyurl.com/252kv8b

David,

Thanks for the materials on the meaning of homoousios. Is the term's original significance in the creed controversial today? I thought there's fairly widespread agreement that it meant common nature, the sense in which the Cappadocians understood it and Chalcedon uses it.

I've not read Dr. Letham on the Holy Trinity, but a couple years ago went to some talks by a friend of his and based on his book. Letham is Reformed, but my impression was that he is pretty critical of St. Augustine and agrees with the Greeks that the Western Church has erred toward modalism. He's skeptical of the essence-energies distinction, but otherwise seems to side with the East in his approach to the doctrine, and is also critical of the efforts by some evangelicals to strip all subordination out of the Word's relation to the Father.

GV19,

I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth, but I assume Jnorm would agree that the causation of the Son and the Spirit is logical, not temporal. Thus, the Word is derived from the Father but has been with him from all eternity. He was already with God "in the beginning"; God was never without his Word or his Wisdom, which are distinct from him but also fully divine.

Ken said...

David Waltz wrote:
Me: Correct—Augustine wrote in Latin and not Greek.

Duh; I feel dumb not remembering that when I asked the question. Ok, did he write the Latin equivalent,

"Uno or Unus Substantia" ( ?? something like that)

The other stuff is getting really deep and mysterious -

I for one, off the top of my head, would disagree with those ECFs who say that angels are the same nature (being spirits) as God. That seems wrong.

For right now, it seems Augustine is right - the oneness, one nature is because there is only one God. Otherwise, it gives opportunity for the charge of "Tri-theism" to come - as the Grandverbalizer19 says of all of us, RCs or you or Protestants like me or EOs.

Ken said...

Augustine on the contrary expressly excludes the idea of generic unity,3 and understands the proposition ‘there is one God’ not of the Father alone, but of the whole Trinity,4 and, therefore, taught that there is one God in three persons.”

Augustine is right.

Iohannes said...

Hi Ken,

I'm a fan of Hodge, but I think he sets up a mistaken antithesis here... in the sense of the creed, angels and men are emphatically not homoousios with God, although they might be homoiousios, depending on how the likeness is specified. Further, in the sense of the creed, that the hypostases share a common nature isn't by itself the guarantee of the oneness of God. As men, you and David and I are homoousioi, but we are three men, not one. Thus it happens, in the case of God, that it is primarily the Monarchy of the Father (and the Perichoresis of the Three Persons) that preserves monotheism. That the persons are consubstantial is necessary, if you like, for monotheism, but it's not sufficient. That's why St. Gregory the Theologian says "Each God because consubstantial (homoousios); one God because of the Monarchy." If this doesn't make sense, I'd recommend Fr. Behr's article or Fr. Hopko's podcast.

Jnorm said...

thegrandverbalizer19,

I will try and answer what I can. I think a good place for me to start, is to repeat a little of what I said on David's post called "Back to the Bible" In the com box I quoted Tertullian.

"Quote:
""Quote:
"That there are, however, two Gods or two Lords, is a statement that at no time proceeds out of our mouths. I will therefore not speak of Gods at all, nor of Lords, but I will follow the apostle. So that if the Father and the Son are both to be invoked, I will call the Father "God" and invoke Jesus Christ as "Lord." But when Christ alone [is spoken of], I will be able to call Him "God," as the same apostle says " Of whom is Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever. For I should give the name "Sun" even to a sunbeam, when considered by itself. But if I were to mention the sun from which the ray emanates, I certainly should at once withdraw the name of sun from the mere beam. For although I do not make two suns, still I will reckon both the sun and its ray to be as much two things and two forms of one undivided substance-just as God and His Word, the Father and the Son.""


I think this is the analogy he had in mind:
http://www.psy.ritsumei.ac.jp/~akitaoka/sun.jpg

These two audios also explain the relationship:
1.) The Fullness of Christ in the Gospel of John

2.) Jesus - The Word of God


thegrandverbalizer19 said:
Jnorm which particular text in the Bible do you believe best illustrates the point above?


I don't know if I can just pick one passage that will explain it all. But for me, it's not just the Bible alone. Yes, the Bible is Primary, but I will use everything that the Church has to offer. Including the Fathers, the Liturgy, the Prayers, the Councils, the Icons and other ancient symbols.....etc.


thegrandverbalizer19 said:
"Or do you believe that this is the conclusion arrived at after all the text have been collated together?"


Yes, all together, but I personally think it's more than that. You see, for me, it's about what the Apostles handed to the next generation of believers, and what that generation passed on to the next and so on.

For me, it's not as if noone knows and so we must all dig in Scripture for ourselves in order to rediscover the truth by putting all the pieces together on our own.

When we look at Scripture, we should also check our interpretaions by looking at what the Church Fathers had to say about those very same passages. Very similar to how the New Testament interpreted the Old Testament.

If we want to know how Christians in the first century understood the Old Testament....well, we will look at the quotes of the New Testament. Now, a number of modern scholars may not like how the New Testament quotes the Old, but if you are a Christian, then it's valid. The same is true for this situation in regards to the New Testament.

If we want to know how early Christians understood certain New Testament passages about God, then we should look at the Early Church Fathers to see how they understood such passages. Yes, some modern scholars may disagree with their interpretation of the New Testament, but at least we will know how Christians understood the New Testament.

To be continued...

Jnorm said...

thegrandverbalizer19,

I will try and answer what I can. I think a good place for me to start, is to repeat a little of what I said on David's post called "Back to the Bible" In the com box I quoted Tertullian.

"Quote:
""Quote:
"That there are, however, two Gods or two Lords, is a statement that at no time proceeds out of our mouths. I will therefore not speak of Gods at all, nor of Lords, but I will follow the apostle. So that if the Father and the Son are both to be invoked, I will call the Father "God" and invoke Jesus Christ as "Lord." But when Christ alone [is spoken of], I will be able to call Him "God," as the same apostle says " Of whom is Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever. For I should give the name "Sun" even to a sunbeam, when considered by itself. But if I were to mention the sun from which the ray emanates, I certainly should at once withdraw the name of sun from the mere beam. For although I do not make two suns, still I will reckon both the sun and its ray to be as much two things and two forms of one undivided substance-just as God and His Word, the Father and the Son.""


I think this is the analogy he had in mind:
http://www.psy.ritsumei.ac.jp/~akitaoka/sun.jpg

These two audios also explain the relationship:
1.) The Fullness of Christ in the Gospel of John

2.) Jesus - The Word of God


thegrandverbalizer19 said:
Jnorm which particular text in the Bible do you believe best illustrates the point above?


I don't know if I can just pick one passage that will explain it all. But for me, it's not just the Bible alone. Yes, the Bible is Primary, but I will use everything that the Church has to offer. Including the Fathers, the Liturgy, the Prayers, the Councils, the Icons and other ancient symbols.....etc.


thegrandverbalizer19 said:
"Or do you believe that this is the conclusion arrived at after all the text have been collated together?"


Yes, all together, but I personally think it's more than that. You see, for me, it's about what the Apostles handed to the next generation of believers, and what that generation passed on to the next and so on.

For me, it's not as if noone knows and so we must all dig in Scripture for ourselves in order to rediscover the truth by putting all the pieces together on our own.

When we look at Scripture, we should also check our interpretaions by looking at what the Church Fathers had to say about those very same passages. Very similar to how the New Testament interpreted the Old Testament.

To be continued.....

Jnorm said...

If we want to know how Christians in the first century understood the Old Testament....well, we will look at the quotes of the New Testament. Now, a number of modern scholars may not like how the New Testament quotes the Old, but if you are a Christian, then it's valid. The same is true for this situation in regards to the New Testament.

If we want to know how early Christians understood certain New Testament passages about God, then we should look at the Early Church Fathers to see how they understood such passages. Yes, some modern scholars may disagree with their interpretation of the New Testament, but at least we will know how Christians understood the New Testament.


thegrandverbalizer19:
A mutually understood meaning in which an idea could be grasped. How is one both eternal and generated?



Will you say the samething about Light simultaneously being both a particle and a wave? A light particle is able to be in two different places at once. Can you grasp that? Will you say the samething about Quantum computers being simultaneously a one as well as a zero in binary numbers? Can you grasp that? The micro-world is foreign to our understanding, but it's real! God is real! And so why should everything about Him, His Word, and His Spirit be comprehensible?


thegrandverbalizer19 said:
But we are now sing that Christ Jesus was 'eternally generated'
Is this understood prior to incarnation, or at the point of incarnation?........."What part of the nature of 'The Son'is temporal and which part is eternal"?



Listen to the two audios up above.


thegrandverbalizer19
"However, would we not all agree that the Father is the source of everything? ..... I can understand that we can say that the universe was created ex-nihilo; however we would not say it was ex-nihilo without a Creator God or we end up smack dab in the middle of camp Atheism. ...So can agree that it was created by God ultimately? God's 'thoughts' God's 'power' God's 'word'."


If you believe God's word to create all things then you are already a Biniterian.


thegrandverbalizer19
In what ways is the essence(ousia) of creation similar to the essence of God. In what ways is it dissimilar to the essence of God?

I really don't know how to answer your question here. The way you put it, is not how I would put it. I can't answer how the ousia of creation is similar or dissimilar to the ousia of God. And so, I will talk about God separately, then I will move on to talk about an example in creation.

We are speaking in generic terms here.....just so you know, and so God and His Word is one example of ousia.


As far as creation goes. The Sun and it's light beam would be an example of ousia from creation.

I can't really use creation as an example in every way for any example would fall short somewhere.

If I didn't answer your question I am sorry. It was very difficult.


I can see how how monotheism can have it's advantage over polytheism.


thegrandverbalizer19
"It's just their are certain philosophical underpinnings of Trinitarian theology that worry me."



I would like to know what you think those philosophical underpinnings are.

Jnorm said...

If we want to know how Christians in the first century understood the Old Testament....well, we will look at the quotes of the New Testament. Now, a number of modern scholars may not like how the New Testament quotes the Old, but if you are a Christian, then it's valid. The same is true for this situation in regards to the New Testament.

If we want to know how early Christians understood certain New Testament passages about God, then we should look at the Early Church Fathers to see how they understood such passages. Yes, some modern scholars may disagree with their interpretation of the New Testament, but at least we will know how Christians understood the New Testament.


thegrandverbalizer19:
A mutually understood meaning in which an idea could be grasped. How is one both eternal and generated?



Will you say the samething about Light simultaneously being both a particle and a wave? A light particle is able to be in two different places at once. Can you grasp that? Will you say the samething about Quantum computers being simultaneously a one as well as a zero in binary numbers? Can you grasp that? The micro-world is foreign to our understanding, but it's real! God is real! And so why should everything about Him, His Word, and His Spirit be comprehensible?


thegrandverbalizer19 said:
But we are now sing that Christ Jesus was 'eternally generated'
Is this understood prior to incarnation, or at the point of incarnation?........."What part of the nature of 'The Son'is temporal and which part is eternal"?



Listen to the two audios up above.


thegrandverbalizer19
"However, would we not all agree that the Father is the source of everything? ..... I can understand that we can say that the universe was created ex-nihilo; however we would not say it was ex-nihilo without a Creator God or we end up smack dab in the middle of camp Atheism. ...So can agree that it was created by God ultimately? God's 'thoughts' God's 'power' God's 'word'."


If you believe God's word to create all things then you are already a Biniterian.


thegrandverbalizer19
In what ways is the essence(ousia) of creation similar to the essence of God. In what ways is it dissimilar to the essence of God?

I really don't know how to answer your question here. The way you put it, is not how I would put it. I can't answer how the ousia of creation is similar or dissimilar to the ousia of God. And so, I will talk about God separately, then I will move on to talk about an example in creation.

We are speaking in generic terms here.....just so you know, and so God and His Word is one example of ousia.


As far as creation goes. The Sun and it's light beam would be an example of ousia from creation.

I can't really use creation as an example in every way for any example would fall short somewhere.

If I didn't answer your question I am sorry. It was very difficult.


I can see how how monotheism can have it's advantage over polytheism.


thegrandverbalizer19
"It's just their are certain philosophical underpinnings of Trinitarian theology that worry me."



I would like to know what you think those philosophical underpinnings are.

Ken said...

Jnorm,
I like the Tertullian quote.


What is the reference on that? You didn't give one.

Tertullian wrote a lot of stuff.

Point me to the reference, so I can fine it at
the ccel website or the newadvent website.

like
On baptism 18
Prescription Against the Heretics, 13
On Monogamy 5
On the Shows, 3
Against Marcion, book 2, 22
etc.

But putting the url up causes it to most of the time go into spam.

Jnorm said...

Ken,

Look for the reference in the com box of the other post. "Back to the Bible". (it's a link)

There are a hundred and ninety four comments, and I forgot the exact number. But it's towards the last 30 to 50 posts.

Wait, I'll go back and find it:
Ok, I listed two:

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf03.v.ix.xiii.html (this should be the one with the quote up above)

And another one:


Tertullian
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf03.iv.iii.xxi.html
Apology: Chapter XXI
We have already asserted that God made the world, and all which it contains, by His Word, and Reason, and Power. It is abundantly plain that your philosophers, too, regard the Logos—that is, the Word and Reason—as the Creator of the universe. For Zeno lays it down that he is the creator, having made all things according to a determinate plan; that his name is Fate, and God, and the soul of Jupiter, and the necessity of all things. Cleanthes ascribes all this to spirit, which he maintains pervades the universe. And we, in like manner, hold that the Word, and Reason, and Power, by which we have said God made all, have spirit as their proper and essential substratum, in which the Word has in being to give forth utterances, and reason abides to dispose and arrange, and power is over all to execute. We have been taught that He proceeds forth from God, and in that procession He is generated; so that He is the Son of God, and is called God from unity of substance with God. For God, too, is a Spirit. Even when the ray is shot from the sun, it is still part of the parent mass; the sun will still be in the ray, because it is a ray of the sun—there is no division of substance, but merely an extension. Thus Christ is Spirit of Spirit, and God of God, as light of light is kindled. The material matrix remains entire and unimpaired, though you derive from it any number of shoots possessed of its qualities; so, too, that which has come forth out of God is at once God and the Son of God, and the two are one. In this way also, as He is Spirit of Spirit and God of God, He is made a second in manner of existence—in position, not in nature; and He did not withdraw from the original source, but went forth. This ray of God, then, as it was always foretold in ancient times, descending into a certain virgin, and made flesh in her womb, 35is in His birth God and man united. The flesh formed by the Spirit is nourished, grows up to manhood, speaks, teaches, works, and is the Christ"

Ken said...

Jnorm,
thanks!
Excellent stuff!

Interesting that Tertullian quotes Romans 9:5 as a proof for the Deity of Christ, ". . . and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh who is over all God blessed forever."

magnificent!

και εξ ων ο χριστος το κατα σαρκα ο ων επι παντων θεος ευλογητος εις τους αιωνας αμην

Jnorm said...

Ken,


I could be wrong, but I have a hunch that Augustine's different interpretation may have something to do with his doctrine of ADS(Absolute Divine Simplicity).

Which was different from the ADS of the other Church Fathers. Augustine got his ADS from either Plato or Plotinus......I forgot which one.

If I'm right, then this conversation will have to lead to the difference between East and West in regards to ADS. LVKA already mentioned the Essence vs Energies distinction as being around before Saint Palamas. I am in 100% agreement with Lvka.


The doctrine of Saint Augustine is different from the other Fathers. Our ADS doctrine is a complex simple unity where as his wasn't.

But yeah, that issue is a whole different set of cards.

Iohannes said...

Hi David,

Have you come across this thesis before? It's from Fr. John Meyendorff's Byzantine Theology, p 183.

By accepting Nicaea, the Cappadocian Fathers eliminated the ontological subordinationism of Origen and Arius, but they preserved indeed together with their understanding of hypostatic life, a Biblical and Orthodox subordinationism, maintaining the personal identity of the Father as the ultimate origin of all divine being and action.

Blessings in Christ,

John

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

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

Excellent post and very fruitful discussion.

As we start to move away from the biblical proof text and start to delve more into language couched in Hellenistic philosophy and verbiage I think we have all come to the same conclusion on the premise of this topic albeit in a subtle manner.

1) The Trinity doctrine is not Biblical in that there is no explicit text that spells out the trinity doctrine as any party would have it be.

2) The Trinity doctrine is more a theological development couched in the language and philosophy of it's time.

3)The Bible has text which could be used as supplementary support for the doctrine of a Trinity.

4)Even those who differ that the Bible has text which could be used as supplementary support have to concede the point that atleast some of the text can be interpreted in such a manner to support the doctrine of the Trinity.

5) The doctrine of the Trinity as it stands today is still a matter of vigorous intra-Christian discussion on some of it's finer (albeit theological profound) points.

I have more latter (God-willing) and I am very happy with the nature of this discussion.

I have found it very intellectually stimulating and I am happy for the links given by all.

I will weigh in more latter...

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

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

David,

"The Eternal Generation of the Son

I noticed that you did not post in the com-box, so I do not know if you have read the thread yet. One thing is for certain: a number of Protestant theologians are troubled by the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son."

I must have been asleep at the wheel to miss out on that one! Very interesting indeed.

Iohannes

"GV19,

I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth, but I assume Jnorm would agree that the causation of the Son and the Spirit is logical, not temporal. Thus, the Word is derived from the Father but has been with him from all eternity. He was already with God "in the beginning"; God was never without his Word or his Wisdom, which are distinct from him but also fully divine."

I appreciate that. It seems that the words that would best describe such a position In English without running into verbal snags could be 'mutual eternal co-existence' rather than procession.

You do not have a Father without offspring (Son) and you do not have a Son without a Father. One is not mutually exclusive to the other.

This relationship cannot be without (love -Holy Spirit).

Thus in my limited understanding if I was to accept this doctrine it seems that the Catholic position on this matter seems to be more theologically 'tight'. Or atleast the language is not as open to problematic understandings.

Ken

"The other stuff is getting really deep and mysterious -"

I'll try not to get 'deep and mysterious' but again how many times has such a doctrine been called mysterious?

Not looking for a fight just simply saying this is the language of Trinitarians themselves.

continued...

I can see why the concept of

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

Jnorm I appreciate the thorough response and the links...

"For I should give the name "Sun" even to a sunbeam, when considered by itself. But if I were to mention the sun from which the ray emanates, I certainly should at once withdraw the name of sun from the mere beam. For although I do not make two suns, still I will reckon both the sun and its ray to be as much two things and two forms of one undivided substance-just as God and His Word, the Father and the Son."

I guess I would shy away from this analogy. I do not see sun rays giving rise to new suns. Or I do not see sun rays giving rise to the sun or propping up it's existence if you will.

God is God. Sovereignty emanates from God, but I am not about to create another being within God and call it 'sovereignty'.

I would not say that God needs sovereignty but rather that sovereignty is simply a result that flows from God. However, sovereignty does not 'prop' up God.

I apologize as I am not saying you people just create things on a whim. But understand if I find the illustration of 'sun and sun beam' problematic.

One of the things that I find Trintarians ask of us many times and it's a fair question is.

If God is love how is it expressed?

This is a just question. However, without diverting from the topic at hand I think that we say that God is God even when there is nothing to be God of.

God is creator even when there is nothing to be creator of.

God is loving even when there is nothing to be loved.

God existed in his essence without time and space independent of all, but all are dependent upon the Creator.

This is our theology, otherwise it makes it seem as if God 'needs' in order to be.

We do not understand it as such.

I can see the Trintarian response as saying 'exactly God exist in community within himself' without need.

However, we say that God exist as one essence, one being, (not in community) without need.

Just as you feel the 'community' is a natural extension or self-emanation of God we feel that God can and does exist as one essence without community. Self existent, Self-sustaining.

continued...

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

"Will you say the samething about Light simultaneously being both a particle and a wave? A light particle is able to be in two different places at once. Can you grasp that? Will you say the samething about Quantum computers being simultaneously a one as well as a zero in binary numbers? Can you grasp that? The micro-world is foreign to our understanding, but it's real! God is real! And so why should everything about Him, His Word, and His Spirit be comprehensible?"

This is also a common response given by many a Trinitarian friend.

They also use this to explain the dichotomy of how Jesus can be eternal and created at the same time. 'GodMan'.

I have no problem with two things both being true at once. 'The man is both black and tall'.

However, the illustration of the particle wave is that needs to be understood is perspective.

I would be happy to see a Physicist who has observed light being both a particle and a wave simultaneously.

What has happened has always been a matter of perspective.

So what happens in the above situation is that light is not both a particle and a wave, light is either a particle or a wave depending upon perspective.

Thus is God 'generated' or 'eternal' the answer is both does not seem to apply here.

Imagine if we lived on a space station on Mars and some one asked 'What time is it now on Earth'. Well that would depend. Chicago, Tokyo , Istanbul what time do you want? It could be both day light and night, sun rise and sunset.

That could be a better analogy for future dialoged sake. However, none of the examples above are mutually exclusive.

Yet when someone ask you to draw a four sided circle it entails mutual contradiction in itself.

I would find it challenging if a person asked can God be both all good and all evil of itself.

I could respond to the person using a light-wave-particle paradox but they may still find it wanting.

This gets interesting because even in theology there is debate among theologians on the issue of
1) Can God do everything
2) Are there things God can't do

continued...

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

"If you believe God's word to create all things then you are already a Biniterian."

I would have to disagree because again in our theological perspective we do not divide up God's attributes and make them separate in and of themselves.

I believe that God is 'all aware' 'all merciful' 'all powerful' 'ever living'
'the source of love' 'the source of peace'. the 'subtle' 'the glorious' 'the compassionate' 'the just'

Otherwise instead of calling me a biniterian the term Polyterian maybe more on the mark.

God has the attribute of speech, sight, hearing. In our theology to my knowledge 'smell' and 'taste' have not been attributed to the Creator. However, this is not to say that the Creator is not aware of what that would be.

To help illustrate further a Christian writer against evolution Michael Behe coined a term 'irreducible complexity' which is to say there are organisms that cannot be broken down any further and thus seem to put a cog in the wheel of evolution. (without getting into the issues surrounding this) I would like to do some cross pollination in the field of theology by borrowing this illustration here.

A mouse trap to use Behe's example.

http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/the-mouse-84

As soon as you take away the wooden plank you no longer have a mouse trap.

If you take away the spring is it a mouse trap?

So once you take away the attributes of the Creator the question indeed is who and what are we dealing with than?

You take away any part of the circle is it still a circle?

We do not divide the mouse trap into many persons or beings.

continued...

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

Me
"In what ways is the essence(ousia) of creation similar to the essence of God. In what ways is it dissimilar to the essence of God?"

JNorm

"I really don't know how to answer your question here. The way you put it, is not how I would put it. I can't answer how the ousia of creation is similar or dissimilar to the ousia of God. And so, I will talk about God separately, then I will move on to talk about an example in creation.

We are speaking in generic terms here.....just so you know, and so God and His Word is one example of ousia."



"If I didn't answer your question I am sorry. It was very difficult."


thegrandverbalizer19
"It's just their are certain philosophical underpinnings of Trinitarian theology that worry me."

Jnorm
"I would like to know what you think those philosophical underpinnings are."

Jnorm thanks for the humility and sincerity.

I think that the question I posed to you and all on the comment section that was difficult relates to my worry about philosophical underpinnings that I mentioned.

"Modalism is the idea of God as a single substance or being called in Greek (ousia). This ousia represented as oneness, that then emanates sequentially various infinite and or uncreated realities (hypostasis)."

If I record my voice on a tape recorder. I play that recording back. At what point does the voice in the recording stop being (me) or my essence?

If I were to shout in another room or hallway and I could hear an echo is the echo of my substance or being?

I have noted that Christian theology (to my limited understanding) never had a conflict over the idea of God being 'over the throne'. Atleast maybe they understood it as a metaphor. However, in our theology we had a huge conflict over this issue.

Because it implied that God occupied space. One position is that the throne is allegorical. The other is that God created the throne and than occupied it.

The problem with the 2nd position is God went from where to get there? Point a to point b? So has space been coexistent with the creator?

How does that relate to this discussion? At what point do you separate the creator from the creation in Christian theology?

I see that if you keep breaking down God's attributes into separate beings you leave yourself open to being assailed by polytheist.

I see that if you do not make a distinction between creator and creation you leave yourself open to being assailed by pantheist or pan-deism for that matter.

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

As we move away from the Biblical text and start to go into philosophy and language I ask David and others to forgive me for diverting.

I can only engage some of these points from my own world view. However, David if you feel it is not appropriate you can feel free to delete the post or to help get me back on track.

Your Lord is the cause of all causes (Holy Qur'an chapter 53:43)

Because of this statement above I do not say that a knife has the power to cut me. It has it only if assigned that power by God.

I do not say that a man died from leukemia, cancer, or a car crash. All of these things are known as the asbaab (means)

I do not believe that fire has the ability to burn anyone or anything unless God assigns that power to it. Otherwise it's simply inanimate. Hence 'miracles' happen. People can stand in a fire and it won't burn them.

Moses staff can become a snake and so forth.

http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/ma/works/ma-gz-ps.pdf < Just a small introduction to a much larger understanding on this matter.

It is not for Allah to take a son; exalted is He! When He decrees an affair, He only says to it, "Be," and it is.(Holy Quran chapter 19:35)


"Behold! The angels said: O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus. The son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those Nearest to Allah.[Al-Qur’an 3:45]

"a Word" -one of many....
Not 'The Word'

So this is my own theological position so let me get back on track here.

What do you people feel is the theological implications of John 1:1?

"In the beginning was the word and the word was WITH God and the word WAS God." http://bible.cc/john/1-1.htm

Is it not curious that none of the translations above say "and the word IS God."

What do you make of the use of the past tense?

Does Greek have any verb formations that would indicate a state of constant being?

For example does the Greek language lack the vocabulary to formulate "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word has always been God." Or "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word is God."

Any thoughts are appreciated.

Jnorm said...

thegrandverbalizer19,

1.) We don't make God's attributes into separate beings. Thus what I said about you and biniterianism still stands. At least from my perspective. I will have to hear what you say about God's word more to really see how you view it. Also the quantum example had to do with something acting in ways foreign to our understanding. It had nothing to do with the issue of character or morality. Your answers about love, creator.....etc. without actually having something to love or creating seems problematic to me. I am not able to understand that at this moment in time.


2.) I personally love the Sun and light beam analogy. I think you overlooked what was being stated there.

3.) I didn't know that Islam had it's own A.D.S.(absolute divine simplicity) doctrine. The way you explained it seemed like the way the christian west would explain their view of A.D.S.

4.) The negative statement you made about procession and the positive statement you made about co-eternal would be more in line with a certain western view of the trinity. You seem to be a little hostile to the eastern view.

5.) Your last post makes you seem like a Calvinist. What are the differences and similarities between sovereignty in Islam vs that of calvinism? From your perspective.


thegrandverbalizer19 said:
"As we start to move away from the biblical proof text and start to delve more into language couched in Hellenistic philosophy and verbiage I think we have all come to the same conclusion on the premise of this topic albeit in a subtle manner."



The New Testament is written in greek, and so you will always have a certain measure of Hellenism. And I would have to disagree about all coming to the same conclusion.


thegrandverbalizer19 said:
1) The Trinity doctrine is not Biblical in that there is no explicit text that spells out the trinity doctrine as any party would have it be.


I disagree with this. Why? The Bible didn't fall from the sky and into the hands of men. Jesus actually taught something, the Apostles actually taught something, and those verses we point to in the New Testament actually meant something to their followers. Thus the Trinity doctrine is Biblical because that's how Christians always interpreted it.


thegrandverbalizer19
2) The Trinity doctrine is more a theological development couched in the language and philosophy of it's time.


No, the Trinity doctrine is both Biblical ...meaning from the pages of Scripture itself, as well as using the language of philosophy and theology over the centuries. Sometimes Christians would alter philosophical words and create new words or meanings in order to express ideas. And so it's both. It's not an either or situation. It's a both and situation.



thegrandverbalizer19.
3)The Bible has text which could be used as supplementary support for the doctrine of a Trinity.


No, the New Testament actually taught something. Jesus and the Apostles actually taught something. Some Early Christians used the word Economy(Saint Hippolytus) to describe the concept. While others Triad...some translators use Trinity while others Triad(Theophilus), or Trinity(Tertullian to modern times)

And even when they didn't use words to describe the concept, they still explained the basic concept. Now you as a Muslim must believe in some kind of absolute and universal apostasy conspiracy theory. You have to believe that the New Testament didn't teach it, and that it was made up by christians later in time.

But what I am saying, is that the basic concept is in the New Testament, and that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit idea wasn't something invented centuries later by Christians. Christians always believed in a basic concept of the unity and distinction between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Yes we may argue about the details, but the basic idea was always there.

Ken said...

GV19 wrote:
Does Greek have any verb formations that would indicate a state of constant being?

Yes, the participle, ὢν - "the existing one", although the participle is technically a "verbal noun" - "the one who exists", from "eimi" ( I am) - that is why Jesus later says so many times in the gospel of John, "I am", pointing back to Exodus 3:14, "I am that I am", "I am the existing one". (see below on many verses where Jesus identifies Himself with Yahweh, "I am".)

For example does the Greek language lack the vocabulary to formulate "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word has always been God."

that is exactly what is is trying to communicate with emphasis in eternity past.

Or "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word is God."

That was not John's purpose if you look at verse 2 also, he is still concentrating on eternity past. this is why the Arians and the Jehovah's Witnesses are defeated, when you understand John 1:1-5 and 14, and 18 and the whole Gospel together. Since he will use "is" many times later in the Gospel ("I am"), it is not necessary to demand that in that one verse. We have to take God's word as it is revealed.


Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

In beginning was the word, and the word was with the God, and the word was God.

2 οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν.


This one was in the beginning with the God.

To demand a change in the verb tenses is to break up the emphasis and purpose of John specifically here in verses 1-2 to show that Jesus was both with God and was God into eternity past. The rest of Gospel uses so much of the present tense, that it shows both, that He was and is still now the word of God.


Basically the verb tense and word ἦν (he was, he was continuously, Imperfect Tense) is the same in verse 2 and emphasized 3 times in verse 1 and again in verse 2, so that you might understand that Jesus the Messiah was always God into the past in eternity. Koine NT Greek has three primary tenses of the verb “to be”. (Present “I am”, imperfect past, “I was”, and future, “I will be”) and also participles, which are not technically verb tenses, but are verbal nouns. (as in “the existing one”, “the one who exits”, as in Romans 9:5, see at end)


continued

Ken said...

Part 2 about John 1:1 and verb tense, "he was" -

John’s purpose here is to show that Jesus was both
1. with God the Father in eternity past

and

2. that His nature is God. “The word was God” is using the consistent past imperfect tense, “was continuously” (in the past). The phrase “in the beginning” links it with Genesis 1:1.

Verse 2 also continues the continuous in the past tense (was always, or “was continuously” in eternity past with God and “was always” or “was continuously” in the past by nature, God, the word. “This one” points to the subject of the whole book, the word, the one who became flesh in a point in time (verse 14). See also verse 18.

John 1:14, 18 – God is invisible, the word of God, mind of God, and the Spirit of God are invisible. When the word became flesh, God revealed Himself in a tangible way to mankind. The Word by becoming flesh (entering into time and space and becoming human, explains God the Father, shows us God the Father – John 14:9. “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” The “only one of a kind” / unique one / one and only/ “monogenes” ( or “only begotten”) God was in the heart/chest/bosom/side of the Father. God the eternal Son came to earth and explained and “fleshed out” God for us, we who needed Him to save us from our sins.

So, you cannot demand that a text of the bible have a verb tense you want it to have. John’s purpose in verses 1-5 is to show that Jesus is eternal into the past and was always with God the Father, and also at the same time, His nature (substance/ ousia / essence ) is God. The present tense is used of the word in verse 5; who is also life and light. The light is shining in the darkness, but the darkness did not comprehend /received/overpower it.

That the present tense is used of Jesus a lot all though the gospel of John shows that the word is God and was God and will always be God.

“I am” – John 8:56-58
More “I am” – John 6:35, 8:12, 8:24, 10:9-11, 11:25, 14:6, 15:1, 18:1-6

So, the Word is God, because the Scriptures say it later so many times in the Gospel of John.

John 20:28
Thomas said to Him, “My Lord and My God!”

John 20:31
“but these are written in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God; and that believing, you may have life in His name.” Luke 1:34-35 explains why Jesus is called “the Son of God” – because He had no human father (which agrees with the Qur’an in that sense; that Mary was a virgin) and that the conception in the womb of Mary was of the Holy Spirit – the very nature of God – and by the power of the Most High (The Father). All three persons of the Trinity are there in Luke 1:34-35.

I would encourage you to read the Gospel of John all the way through in one sitting because it was meant to be taken as a whole. Instead of trying to attack it from an Islamic point of view; you must read it with a willing mind and sincerity, and openly, praying, “O God, reveal Yourself to me!”

Also, Revelation 19:13 – “His name is called the Word of God”. The perfect tense of “called” is used here, which means “was and always has been”, (Past and effects into the present”, hence the translation, “is called”.

The verb “to be” in Greek also exists in a participle (ὢν - the one existing, or “existing one”) and that is used of Jesus in Romans 9:5, which I mentioned earlier that Tertullian quoted in the link that Jnorm gave us.

“and from whom is The Messiah, (according to the flesh) is the existing one over all, God blessed forever. Amen.”

καὶ ἐξ ὧν ὁ Χριστὸς τὸ κατὰ σάρκα ὁ ὢν ἐπὶ πάντων θεὸς εὐλογητὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, ἀμήν.

ὁ is the definite article, "the", so together it is even more emphatic, pointing back to the Messiah, "the, the one who exists"
or "the existing one"

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

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

Well seeing that Ken and I go back a while let me address him first Lord willing and the creek don't rise.

"So, you cannot demand that a text of the bible have a verb tense you want it to have."

"Instead of trying to attack it from an Islamic point of view; you must read it with a willing mind and sincerity, and openly, praying, “O God, reveal Yourself to me!”

I don't believe that I was demanding anything. I also don't believe that everything I do has to be seen as an 'attack'. I think some times what we see in others is truly a reflection of our own state.

There is a certain person who looks out at a beautiful field filled with sun flowers (of which I absolutely adore) and the only thing they can focus on is an empty pack of Salem Lights some one threw out their window.

I was merely curious and I think that you answered it well within the grasp of your theology. I admit my ignorance of Greek and so I won't question you on it.

Thank you Ken.

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

Jnorm

"We don't make God's attributes into separate beings. Thus what I said about you and biniterianism still stands. At least from my perspective."

If that is your perspective on my understanding than I cannot help that. I simply respect your view on my stance.

We say that God's attributes are a manifestation of the essence but they are not God's essence. Hence I could see why someone would call me a polyterian.

"Your answers about love, creator.....etc. without actually having something to love or creating seems problematic to me. I am not able to understand that at this moment in time."

I respect that answer. At the least maybe we all agree that God is more amazing than what we realize with our finite minds.

"3.) I didn't know that Islam had it's own A.D.S.(absolute divine simplicity) doctrine. The way you explained it seemed like the way the christian west would explain their view of A.D.S."

I would agree in that God is without parts. However, we do not say that God's attributes are what make up the creator. The creator is even without these attributes. Those are manifestations or emanations of the divine but they are not the essence of the divine.

continued...

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

continued...

"4.) The negative statement you made about procession and the positive statement you made about co-eternal would be more in line with a certain western view of the trinity. You seem to be a little hostile to the eastern view."

Jnorm I am a Muslim. I don't have a horse in this race. If I seemed 'a little hostile' it was not my intention. I am simply saying from my limited pea sized brain that the Western view seemed more coherent than one of the particular views I am hearing from the East.

"5.) Your last post makes you seem like a Calvinist. What are the differences and similarities between sovereignty in Islam vs that of calvinism? From your perspective."

This deserves more time and space than what I can go into at the moment. Suffice it to say that my last post was simply to give a background that we believe that God does create without an intermediary. So we do believe in the view of some of the Greeks or Gnostics philosophy that God created through the means of an agent known as the 'Logos'.

continued...

Ken said...

GV19 wrote:
I was merely curious and I think that you answered it well within the grasp of your theology. I admit my ignorance of Greek and so I won't question you on it.

GV19-
Very good, that was an excellent answer. That may be the best post between you and I in a long time. Thanks!

I apologize for saying you were "demanding" it and "attacking" - that is based on our history and your web-site is indeed is truly an all out attack on the doctrines of Christianity - polemics, etc.

But I also will take your word on it that you were curious here in your question at this time.

This is good - now; please read all of John in one sitting from beginning to end.

Also, it would be very interesting to me if you would answer the question that Jnorm put to you on what the differences between Calvinism and the Sovereignty of Allah in Islam are.

Jnorm wrote:
5.) Your last post makes you seem like a Calvinist. What are the differences and similarities between sovereignty in Islam vs that of calvinism? From your perspective.


What do you think are the main differences? similarities also, Jnorm asks.

Both believe in God's absolute sovereignty, but there are some very important differences.

What do you think they are?

Now, we touched on these before in our own debates at your site and also in my articles at Beggar's All, and I don't think it fair or profitable at this point for me to go first,

1. because he is asking you;
2. and if I did, you would say I don't understand Islamic theology and you would use some of the same criticisms you did before about Calvinism);

3. and then it would break down good communication we have going on here now.

Therefore, it would be nice for you to first try to articulate the differences and similarities for Jnorm, a non-Calvinist.

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

continued...

"And even when they didn't use words to describe the concept, they still explained the basic concept. Now you as a Muslim must believe in some kind of absolute and universal apostasy conspiracy theory. You have to believe that the New Testament didn't teach it, and that it was made up by christians later in time."

2 Thessalonians 2:3
3Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

Matthew 24:24
24"For false Christs and (A)false prophets will arise and will show great (B)signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even (C)the elect.

Jnorm
"But what I am saying, is that the basic concept is in the New Testament, and that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit idea wasn't something invented centuries later by Christians. Christians ALWAYS BELIEVED in a basic concept of the unity and distinction between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."

I think I tend to have a problem with "CHRISTIANS ALWAYS BELIEVED"

Because if the tradition is before the text and the tradition plays a part in decided what is canon and what is not, and the tradition also gives a guiding hand in how to interpret said text than I think the term 'Christians always believed' seems to be very general.

Marcion seemed to have a very indifferent view of the deity portrayed in the Old Testament for example. However, this is a huge can of worms that I don't wish to open at this point out of respect for the present discussion.

However,I did laugh at the assertion that Muslims believe in some sort of mass conspiracy. I can see that assertion leveled at us justly yet I think there is simplicity on both sides.
1) Muslims believing that Christians just woke up one day and started believing 'x'.
2) Christians believing that all Muslims believe that their predecessors woke up one day and started to believe 'x'.

I think it's a little more complicated than that.

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

clarification point.

When I said, "However,I did laugh at the assertion that Muslims believe in some sort of mass conspiracy."

I don't mean I was laughing at you JNorm. I was laughing WITH you because I think that justly describes what the average Joe Muslim thinks about the situation.

I mean we are going to have to contend seriously without how and why people started to believe certain things.

Ken may agree or disagree but most in the Evangelical community are not well educated about early Church fathers therefore we (as Muslims) get little to know opposition on these points.

However, the Catholics and Orthodox can make a stronger case against us by throwing out points that JNorm does above.

So I just wanted to clarify should 'laughing at the assertion' be understood that I am jesting at the sincere views of another human being.

May Allah keep my ego in check.

David Waltz said...

Hi John,

Forgive the tardiness of my response, but in my defense my internet service was down yesterday...

On 01/01/11 you posted:

>>Have you come across this thesis before? It's from Fr. John Meyendorff's Byzantine Theology, p 183.

By accepting Nicaea, the Cappadocian Fathers eliminated the ontological subordinationism of Origen and Arius, but they preserved indeed together with their understanding of hypostatic life, a Biblical and Orthodox subordinationism, maintaining the personal identity of the Father as the ultimate origin of all divine being and action.>>

Me: Yes I have, I happen to own the book, and chapter 14, "The Triune God", is heavily underlined and noted. Here is some more from the chapter:

==...the incarnate Logos and the Holy Spirit are met and experienced first as divine agents of salvation, and only then are they discovered to be essentially one God. It is well known that, during the theological debates of the fourth century, the Cappadocian Fathers were accused of tritheism, so that Gregory of Nyssa was even obliged to issue his famous apologetic treatise proving that "there are not three gods." It remains debatable, however, whether he succeeded in proving his point philosophically. The doctrine of the three hypostases, adopted by the Cappadocian Fathers to designate the three divine Persons had definite Plotinian and Origenistic associations, which normally implied substantial differentiation.==(John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology - Historical Trends & Doctrinal Themes, 1983 reprint, pp. 180, 181.)

And a bit later:

==The Latin West adopted a different approach to Trinitarian theology, and the contrast has been well expressed by Théodore de Régnon: "Latin philosophy considers the nature in itself first and proceeds to the agent; Greek philosophy considers the agent first and passes through it to find the nature. The Latins think of personality as a mode of nature, the Greeks think of nature as the content of the person." (Ibid. p. 181.)

Arrgh, someone just showed up at the door, got to go; hope to return later this afternoon.


Grace and peace,

David

Ken said...

Jnorm asked of the GV19:
"5.) Your last post makes you seem like a Calvinist. What are the differences and similarities between sovereignty in Islam vs that of calvinism? From your perspective."

GV19 wrote:
This deserves more time and space than what I can go into at the moment. Suffice it to say that my last post was simply to give a background that we believe that God does create without an intermediary. So we do believe in the view of some of the Greeks or Gnostics philosophy that God created through the means of an agent known as the 'Logos'.

Clarification:
Did you mean - this

we believe that God does create without an intermediary. So we do NOT believe in the view of some of the Greeks or Gnostics philosophy that God created through the means of an agent known as the 'Logos'.

Your original sentences seems contradictory - "We don't believe God created through agent or intermediary"

yet

we do believe in some kind of Greek concept of logos.

??

Ken said...

GV19 -
I would like to read/see your answer to Jnorm's question about Sovereignty in Islam vs. Biblical Calvinism.

Maybe this will help you get started -

1. Is Allah a person?

2. Does Allah have personality?

3. Does Allah trick/deceive/scheme against unbelievers and the insincere? ( Qur'an 3:54; 8:30; 10:22)


Grandverbalizer19 wrote: (in the combox at his article at his website, "R. C. Sproul drops the ball on cruel Calvinist Deity")

"I simply challenged you as I do again to show where Allah is MAKR to anyone who was SINCERE and TRUTHFUL!"


"Allah is the best of deceivers"
الله خیر المکارین

from Makr, مکر = deception, trickery, cunning scheming

4. Is not Allah, Al Jabbar ? الجبار

the forceful one, the irresistable one, the enforcer, the compeller, the tyrant, the dictator; softened in most English translations as "Almighty", but some have "compeler" "the one who compels" and "irresistible one"

Al Jabbar is one of the 99 names of Allah

from Jabr = جبر = force, destiny, predestination

5. You admitted that one who dies for his enemies has greater love.

Romans 5:10 (context, 5:6-11) shows Christ died for enemies, sinners, ungodly, helpless.

6. So did not Christ - Al Masih show the greatest love? and Did not, according to Christianity, which RCs and EOs and Protestants agree on from the Injeel (The Gospel), الانجیل

That Jesus is God by nature, from eternity, the logos(John 1:1-5; 14; 18; 20:28; 8:24; Heb. 1:3-8; Phil. 2:5-8; Col. 1:15-20, etc.) who became flesh (John 1:14) and died on the cross and rose from the dead in order to save sinners/people from all nations (Rev. 5:9, 7:9); then according to Christianity, the big difference is God's love and condescension and humility in becoming flesh and allowing Himself to be killed on the cross.

But His powerful resurrection proves that His sacrifice was effective and satisfied justice; the wrath of God.

7. Can humans in their own power, seek God and choose good over evil?

8. Can humans earn their way to heaven (paradise) by faith in Allah (and the pillars of faith in Islam) and by doing good works (the pillars of deeds)?

9. Does any Muslim have assurance of paradise?

Is not everything always, "Enshallah", "if God wills" ??

10. Is dying in Jihad/qatal/harb against the unbelievers (kuffar) the only assurance or guarantee of paradise?

11. Can Allah just choose to forgive sins by His simple choice of the will or does He uphold both His justice and love and forgiveness by providing the sacrifice/ransom-payment for sin by voluntarily coming to earth and willingly and loving giving Himself? ( John 10:18)

Does God require justice/holiness to be paid by death/sacrifice, a substitute to satisfy the justice and wrath and holiness and righteousness of God ? (The Christian view, in the OT (Abraham - Gen. 22, Exodus 12-14 (Passover), Leviticus chapters 1-7, temple sacrifices, Isaiah 53, etc. and NT - Mark 10:45

Even the Qur'an says, "We have ransomed you with a mighty sacrifice." Surah 37:107-108

Iohannes said...

Hi David,

No need to apologize for tardiness. Please reply only when you have time.

Since the discussion here is going in different directions, would you prefer to make your next comment into a new post? I'd be very interested in your take on Meyendorff. His use of agency language, by the way, is very similar to Hopko's, who quotes S. Ireneaus on the Word and Spirit as the Father's hands.

Blessings in Christ,

John

PS the full text of Meyendorff is accessible here.

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

With the name of God, Peace be unto those who follow the guidance form their Lord.

Ken, you can't seem to avoid conflict. Your heart drips with anticipation for the next chance to assail your interlocutor. Sad indeed.

Ya Allah open your heart and give you the guidance. Or at-least make you a less aggressive, and more compassionate Christian whom is genuine about understanding and sharing his perspectives.

You can't help yourself. You just can't. Typical Dominionist.

Your deceit is open. "
3. Does Allah trick/deceive/scheme against unbelievers and the insincere? ( Qur'an 3:54; 8:30; 10:22)"

And you put a ? mark at the end of it? LoL! Goodness Ken!

Than a few sentences latter you give us your response.

I thought I would try and be civil with you again...but you can't get help yourself.

Your response is a veiled insult against fellow Christians here and the Holy Spirit.

Ken...."Hmmmmm the exchange doesn't seem to be going my way....Holy Spirit doesn't seem to be doing it's work here....ah ha! I'll post my usual diatribe"

Your first post was great...and you corrected a mistake I made...

"we believe that God does create without an intermediary. So we do NOT believe in the view of some of the Greeks or Gnostics philosophy that God created through the means of an agent known as the 'Logos'."

< That is correct.

However, your next post. Your typical missionary training attack mode. (Yawn...been there done that).

I remain open to discuss with peaceful elements within the Christian community.

As for you Ken the next time you wish to revisit old flames you might want to take a peek over at

http://www.acommonword.net/2010/08/ken-temple-on-1-peter-315-and-christian.html

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

To the others here Iohannes, JNorm, David, Rory I appreciate the responses and interaction.

I sincerely do, My apologies for in any way misdirecting the flow. As I said it was and still is intellectually stimulating and it was interesting to see intra-Christian dialogue on the matter.

Peace be unto you all...

Ken...see you on the flip side.

Jnorm said...

Iohannes said:
His use of agency language, by the way, is very similar to Hopko's, who quotes S. Ireneaus on the Word and Spirit as the Father's hands.

Metropolitan Kalistos Ware also quoted St. Ireneaus as well. The lecture is pretty long and I forgot exactly where it is mentioned, but I was in the audience, and I remember the two hands quote. The Lecture was mostly about how we understand the Holy Spirit, Eucharist, and the Divine Liturgy.....I think....I could be wrong about that, it's been years.

Sacramental Theology

Ken said...

GV19-
I honestly and sincerely don't see how those questions are out of bounds or unreasonable - I looked over them again and they are all questions that the answers to will help others see the difference between the Sovereignty of Allah in Islam and the Doctrines of Grace in the Bible (Biblical Calvinism).

Why do you hesitate to try to explain the differences?

The subject of David's post is on the Trinity; and the Tri-une God of Love, who is personal, the Trinity is the great difference between Islam and Christianity.

Obviously, my perspective and bias toward Biblical truth comes out in my questions, but I don't see anything in the list of questions that is out of line or wrong or deceptive.

Since you won’t help explain it, I will have to, in order to set the record straight, because many non-Calvinist Christian groups think that Islam and Calvinism are the same on the Sovereignty of God issue; at least, to them, they seem very close on the surface on the issue of God’s eternal decrees and predestination and election.

But because in Islam, Allah is not a Trinity of Love, the God of Islam is not personal and is ultimately unknowable. You don't have a verse like I John 4:8, "God is love".

You only have, "Allah is loving towards those who love Allah first".

But, the Bible expresses something so opposite of that:
"God demonostrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

Islam goes out of its way to deny that love poured out for us on the cross of Al Massih - Surah 4:157 "they did not crucify Him, nor kill Him"

But in Christianity, God knows us, and we know God and have a personal relationship with God. (Jer. 9:23-24; Proverbs 9:10; John 17:3; Philippians 3:7-10; I John 1:1-3; Gal. 4:9; John 10:14; 10:27-30; 2 Timothy 2:19)

The God of the Bible cannot lie or sin (Titus 1:2; I John 1:5); but in Islam, Allah seems to do the sins and do the lying and tricking. (Surah 3:54; 8:30; 10:22)

In Islam, mankind is able to choose good over evil by his own power. Man is not a sinner by nature. Given the right information and guidance, man can reform himself, clean himself up, and work his way to God and earn merit and finally be accepted in paradise. Well, even that is “Ensha’allah”, “if God wills”. But they still pray for Muhammad, “May God’s blessings and peace be upon him!” That doesn’t make sense.

thegrandverbalizer19 said...

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

Ken....

Sir....stop! Just stop it! You are starting to scare me Ken.

I'm serious the way you go about things is very frightening.

Ken...frankly speaking the fact that you could make a statement such as,

"The subject of David's post is on the Trinity; and the Tri-une God of Love, who is personal, the Trinity is the great difference between Islam and Christianity."

This is frightening Ken.

I think there is something deeper at work here. I absolutely do not mind the critique of Islam or even abuse hurled in our direction; however that you could make the quote above when you SHOULD know better shows there is something more serious here.

I used to think that you did this stuff on purpose just to spite David (bringing up Bahaism at every turn) or now bringing up all the things you have (in a post that is not about what you wish it to be) but now I think you might be mentally unsound Ken.

I am seriously convinced because of the way you misrepresent others and the desperation of your tactics suggest that you maybe having some issues.

James Swan, John Bugay, Turetinfan have all shown a well reasoned cognitive thought process. Though they disagree with my position strongly.

Look don't get me wrong. Reformed Baptist, Presbyterian, Calvinism, Catholic, Mormon, Islam, Orthodox rock on!!!

But the way you go about things seriously suggest some mental aberrations.

This goes beyond our respective faith traditions and I suggest that if anyone on this forum knows you on a personal level that you should maybe take a break for a bit or go and get that checked out. Absolutely serious no sarcasm.

This is very erratic Ken.

May Allah forgive me any wrongs I may have said or done to you, I met you in peace and I leave you in peace.

Ken said...

GV19,
the subject was generally on the Trinity. The title and discussion was/is whether it is clearly Biblical or a post-Biblical theological development.

Here is the title again:
"The Trinity: a 'clear' Biblical teaching, or a post-Biblical development?"

Jnorm and others would like to know what you think the main differences are between Predestination/Sovereignty in Calvinism vs. Islam.

Don't you think the great difference between Christianity and Islam is the Doctrine of the Trinity?

I am unclear as to why you reacted so expressively to this.

My bringing up Bahaism is not "just to spite David" - there is no spite there.

Its called something like evangelism and apologetics . . . but also, I want to learn more; and David is very well read and smart and can quote lots of books on the relevant issues much more than I can.

The Bahai thing - It is such a shocking thing, to be open to adding revelation after the NT; (yet, Christianity has always taught that "the faith was once for all delivered to the saints" Jude 3, even if Protestants, RCs, and EO disagree on how they understand verse.) and I want to understand how anyone could have that kind of thinking; and his knowledge of Islam and Bahaism and theology is amazing. I ask questions in order to learn.

And I sincerely wish the best for David and you (that you be saved by Jesus Al Masih who was crucified and died and rose from the dead in power over sin and death and Satan), and for everyone else in this discussion or whoever is reading and not commenting.

David Waltz said...

Hi all,

Just wanted to let everyone know that my internet service over the last 48+ hours has been terrible—up then down, up then down, reboot, reboot, enter ISP # again and again...ARRGH!!!

Anyway, tekkies have supposedly fixed the problem; hopefully, I will now have uninterrupted service...

Off to read the posts I have missed, and any pertinent links.


Grace and peace,

David


P.S. John, hope to have the new thread you suggested up by tomorrow; that is, if the internet problem has truly been taken care of.

Ken said...

GV19 wrote:
“I simply challenged you as I do again to show where Allah is MAKR to anyone who was SINCERE and TRUTHFUL!”

Grandverbalizer19 (Jonathan Dupree) wrote that in our discussion/informal debate at his web-site which he links above and which caused him to ban me; about the Arabic word Makr, which is used on Qur’an 3:54, 8:30; and 10:22, that “Allah is the very best deceiver/trickster/subtle plotter of schemes”

Makr = deception, trickery, scheme, subtle
for الماکر
singular for الماکرین (plural)
in Surah 3:55 - the deceivers, the tricksters, the beguilers

I provided a full range of Arabic dictionary nuances of the shades of meaning of this word.

Makr - adj. sly, cunning, wily, crafty, deceitful, artful, deep, smart, subtle, designing, disingenuous, scheming, foxy, foxlike, pawky, slim, trick, politic, slick, vulpine, feline, furtive, guileful, malicious

It seems pretty conclusive that the majority meaning is negative.

Grandverbalizer19 got angry with me because I would not emphasize the positive meanings of “artful, deep, smart, subtle, and designing”. I was the one who supplied the full range of nuanced meanings, so I think I was fair. But those are nuanced meanings and never have those meanings all by themselves. Allah is artful? A good sculptor? Painter? Architectural designer? Meaning making good art like DaVinci? Common.

The context (Qur'an 3:54; 4:157) is His deception of making it look like they crucified and killed Jesus. If Allah out-smarted the Jews, pagan Romans and Christians and the whole Christian world by making it look like that Jesus was crucified and killed, then that is a negative deception. Allah is a deceiver and trickster, a schemer. And, this quality of scheming by deception and trickery is highly valued in the middle East.

continued

Ken said...

part 2

Since the Qur’an does say that Allah is the best at Makr (3 times, see below), then your statement above can only be understood that you think that Allah did Makr to insincere and evil and untruthful people, liars and unbelievers. That means, in context of the verses, the Jews who plotted and schemed and instigated and manipulated Pontus Pilate and the Romans to beat Jesus and crucify Him, and the Roman soldiers who actually drove the nails in his hands and feet and crucified Him,

and the disciples and women believers who were standing there at the cross witnessing it, (John chapters 18-19; especially 19:25-27) and the other disciples who were following from a far (John 18:15; Mark 14:51; Mark 14:54-16; Luke chapters 22-23) and who believed the testimony that Jesus was crucified and dead, and his body buried, (Luke 1:1-4) etc. Since the Qur’an says that the disciples of Jesus were believers, surrendered, sincere, helpers of Allah, and full of integrity, (Surah 61:14; 5:111), and John and Mary and others believed in the Makr of Allah in 3:54 and 4:157, then Makr is also used by Allah against sincere and truthful and believers, and that contradicts what GV19 says and it contradicts the whole "plot/scheme/deception" of Allah, since He tricked thousands of people for hundred of years and still is doing this today, for about 2 thousand years.

And since thousands of people after that point in history held the majority opinion that Jesus was crucified – all of Christianity believed this except for Gnostics, who were not really Christians anyway. Basiledes was one of the Gnostics who taught that Jesus was not really physically crucified, because they thought Jesus did not really have a body. But that contradicts Islam, since they believe Jesus really had a body.

Since Allah is said to be the best at Makr three times in the Qur’an (3:54; 8:30; 10:22), let’s focus on the first one in 3:54. The context of 3:54, according to the Muslim sources (the asbab ol nuzul – “reasons for the coming down” or “occasion for the revelation” is what happened to Jesus – Surah 4:157. (“they did not kill Him, nor crucified Him, but it was made to appear to them, . . . indeed the did not kill Him.”)

(157) That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not.” Surah 4:157

Since the whole Christian world believed in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus up until the time of Muhammad, and afterward, but Islam denies the crucifixion and admits that Allah made a plan, a plot, an artful, subtle, deep, tricky, deceptive design to make it look like Jesus was crucified, then He deceived thousands of people and is still deceiving over half the world – even skeptics and atheists and liberals admit that Jesus Christ was crucified in history. (Bart Ehrman, John Dominic Crossan, to name two) and since we have history on our side, then Allah did something really strange – letting Christianity spread by deceiving them for 600 years until Allah raised up Muhammad, in order that according to Islam, to correct Christianity, a deception that Allah deliberated designed, planned and artfully and subtly orchestrated. Really makes sense, huh?

Continued

Ken said...

Part 3

Although Muslims deny that Allah does any injustice, it does seem like that Allah in Islam can sin and lie and is at least able to do wrong if he wanted to. There is a tradition where Allah says he has commanded that oppression or injustice is unlawful for himself!

“Abu Dharr reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying that Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, said: My servants, I have made oppression unlawful for Me and unlawful for you, so do not commit oppression against one another.” Sahih Al Muslim Book 032, Number 6246

In Islam, this Hadith says that Allah has to command Himself not to sin by a law; “and unlawful for you” – the same way that He tells humans “don’t do that”. The God of the Bible doesn’t need to command Himself, He by nature does not sin and cannot sin nor lie nor do any injustice. God is not a sinner.

We see here the emphasis in Islam is on external law, not the nature of persons. The God of Islam needs an external law to keep him from doing injustice; and human beings need external laws ( The Sharia) in order to keep corruption down and have a just society. However, man is not a sinner by birth or nature in Islam and has the power to choose good over evil, given the right guidance, information, and disciplines of Islam in the five-six pillars of duties. The nature of Allah in Islam is unknowable, and people cannot know Allah as a person; there is no personal relationship. It is mainly, “do the religious duties”, “obey”; “don’t question”, “submit”, “surrender” – that is the emphasis. Islam speaks about heart motives and pride and anger and lust and jealousy and hidden things sometimes, but it is not an emphasis in the Qur’an nor in the Hadiths. That is one reason why the Sufi schools and philosophies arose. The Sufis recognized that something was missing from the emphasis of the plain external system of Sharia law of Islam.

Ken said...

So, we see that Allah can and does do the tricky subtle schemes Himself in Islam.

And we have seen that Allah has to command Himself by an external law to not do any injustice.

However, in Christianity, Titus 1:2 says that "God cannot lie" and I John 1:5 and many other passages point out that God is holy and cannot sin. God's nature is pure and holy and that is why He cannot sin. God cannot do anything that is contradictory to His nature.

Reformed theology has a very comprehensive statement on this issue:

The Westminister Confession of Faith (and the London Baptist Confession of 1689) teaches:

God's sovereign decrees

1. Do NOT make God the author of sin (because God is holy and pure and without sin always; see Titus 1:2, Romans 9:14; I John 1:5; Hab. 1:13; Genesis 18:25; Isaiah 6; I Peter 1:15-16; Heb. 6:18; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; Psalm 85:10; 89:14; 92:15)

2. Do NOT do violence to the will of the creature - that is, there is no force or rape; rather God lovingly changes the will and heart (Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 3:1-21; Ephesians 2:1-10); And God is continuing to change us in progressive sanctification and holiness, conforming us to His image (Romans 8:28-29) and He uses commands and exhortations as means of growing in this grace. Colossians 3:1-17; Romans chapters 6, 7, 8; Galatians 5:13-26) so that a person loves God and embraces Him - a true believer receives Jesus as Lord, the Deity of the Holy Spirit, The doctrine of the Trinitas Unitas, and the doctrines of the cross, the resurrection, etc. "My Sheep hear My voice" John 10:27-30

The Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 3, verse 1, “Of God’s Eternal Decree”

"God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;[1] yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin,[2] nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.[3]" (my emphasis)

See:

The Westminster Confession of Faith on God's Decree

See also, The London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689)