Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Trinity

This essay will attempt to provide a quick overview of the reasons why Christians believe in the Trinity—a word that never appears in the Bible. I make no claim to be exhaustive in the passages I cite and this is certainly not a scholarly treatise. It is just a quick overview of the topic.

The essay assumes the Judeo/Christian belief that God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29; Romans 3:30; 1 Corinthians 8:4, 6; Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5; James 2:19). Upon that foundation, the paper will show that 1) The New Testament teaches the deity of Jesus. This is by far the longest section of the paper since the deity of Jesus is the aspect of the Trinity which comes under the strongest attack, 2) The New Testament teaches the deity and personality of the Holy Spirit (i.e. that the Holy Spirit is a sentient being and not just an impersonal force like gravity, magnetism, etc.) 3) That the New Testament distinguishes between Father, Son and Spirit. 4) That the theological doctrine of Trinity best accounts for the biblical data.

DEITY OF JESUS

The question we are addressing first is, what does the New Testament teach about Jesus?

Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke)

According to most scholars, Mark was the first biblical gospel to be written. The writer of Mark begins his gospel with quotes from Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3 about how a messenger would go before and prepare the way for Yahweh (God). In the verses that follow (Mark 1:4-9), Mark introduces John the Baptist who is preparing the way for Jesus. Mark sees John the Baptist and Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophecies about the messenger (John) preparing the way for God (Jesus).

Messenger -------> Yahweh
| |
John the Baptist --> Jesus

Now in case that parallel was lost on some readers, Mark then immediately writes about how Jesus is baptized while the Spirit of God descends on him like a dove, and a voice comes from the heavens declaring that Jesus is “my beloved Son.” God the Spirit descends on God the Son while God the Father speaks from heaven. This declaration from God that Jesus is his Son is repeated later in Mark 9:7.

It is important to note that “Son of God” (as Jesus is called in most ancient texts of Mark 1:1) can mean different things depending on the context. In Job, “sons of God” is a reference to angels. Sometimes in the Old Testament Israel was said to be God’s son. Sometimes the king was said to be God’s son.

Mark, however, makes it clear that Jesus is the son of God is a much more significant sense. In Mark 2:1-12 Jesus heals a paralyzed man and tells him, “My son, your sins are forgiven (Mark 2:5). Note that Jesus is not saying that this man has personally offended Jesus therefore Jesus forgives him of this offense. Jesus was not even acting as a priest by assuring the man of God’s forgiveness. Mark wants readers to understand that Jesus was declaring that this man’s sins are forgiven. In a Jewish context—and Jesus was a Jew, living with Jews and ministering to Jews—only God could forgive sins!

According to Mark, the people understand exactly what Jesus was claiming because they complain saying, “He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone” (Mark 2:7). Jesus then confirms that they have not misunderstood him. He tells them that he said this so they would know that he has authority “on earth” to forgive sins.

Mark was clearly intending his readers to understand that Jesus was claiming to do something only God could do. But words are cheap. Anyone can claim to forgive sins, right?. According to Mark, the paralyzed man then got up an walked! (Mark 2:9-12).

To emphasize this point further--i.e the point that Jesus claimed to do what only God could do-- Mark then tells a story about how Jesus had a run-in with Pharisees about picking grain on the Sabbath day (Mark 2:23-28). Jesus claims that he is Lord over the Sabbath.

This would have been a truly shocking claim, something that would have made Jesus sound out of his mind. After all, God instituted the Sabbath day! Only God was above the Sabbath. Yet according to Mark, Jesus claimed to be Lord over the Sabbath. Mark clearly wants readers to understand that Jesus was placing himself in the position of God.

Mark later writes about how Jesus teaches people about Jewish dietary laws. Jesus says, “Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach and is expelled?” Mark then adds his own parenthetical, theological explanation, “Thus he declared all foods clean” (Mark 7:18-19).

This is another shocking statement. According to the Jewish Bible (the Christian Old Testament) God had established those dietary laws. Only God could annul those laws. Mark clearly wants the reader to understand that Jesus was placing himself in the position of God.

But there is more. In the Jewish Bible, God alone was the source of salvation in a spiritual sense, but according to the Gospels, Jesus claims that prerogative. In Mark 10:17 a man asks Jesus how to have eternal life and Jesus final answer is “follow me” (Mark 10:21).

This is remarkable. No prophet—not Moses, not Elijah, not Isaiah—no prophet would have said that the way to have eternal life was to follow them. That is because eternal life is found only in God. The prophets all pointed people to God. Only Jesus says the way to eternal life is to follow him. Mark wants readers to understand that Jesus was putting himself in the place of God!

But Mark is not done yet. Just before his death Jesus has a last supper with his disciples. He takes the cup of wine and tells his disciples, “This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many” (Mark 14:22-25).

The covenant to which Jesus is referring is from Jeremiah 31:31 which specifically declares that it will be Yahweh (God) who makes this new covenant. Mark wants the reader to understand that Jesus is, once again, putting himself in the place of God. It is no wonder some thought he was out of his mind (Mark 3:21)!

Finally, some four hundred years before Jesus’ time, Zechariah prophesied to Israel, “Behold your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). Zechariah tells us exactly who the king is: “And Yahweh will be king over all the earth” (Zechariah 14:9, cf. 14:17). Mark presents Jesus as deliberately fulfilling a prophecy about God coming to visit his people (Mark 11:1-10).

These views were not just expressed in the Gospel of Mark, however. Luke (7:47-50) and John (8:24) also claim that Jesus could personally grant forgiveness of sins.

Matthew (12:8) and Luke 6:5 also claim that Jesus was Lord over the Sabbath.

Matthew (25:21-46) and Luke (19:11-27) claim that people’s eternal destiny would be dependent on Jesus (cf. John 3:15, 10:19).

According to Matthew (13:24-30; 36-43; 25:31-46) and Luke (3:16-17; 17:23-37) Jesus claimed that he would personally judge the world claimed that he would personally judge to world; a task that belonged to God alone.

And all four Gospels (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19) tell of Jesus riding into Jerusalem in fulfillment of the prophecies about God visiting his people. It is clear what the synoptic Gospel writers want readers to understand about Jesus.

Gospel of John

There is really not much dispute among scholars that the Gospel of John intends to present Jesus as God incarnate. Even most theologically liberal biblical scholars understand that this is what John is intending to say. They just don't believe it. The only ones who think John was not presenting Jesus as God are usually those with a theological axe to grind, for example, cults like Jehovah’s witnesses.

John begins his gospel declaring, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3).

Then John declares that this “Word” which was "with God and was God," became human and lived with us (John 1:14). He is the one to whom John the Baptist bore witness (John 1:15), the one who is specifically identified as Jesus in John 1:29. He is the one whom John's Gospels calls, “the only God who is at the Father’s side” (John 1:18).

Jehovah’s witnesses try to avoid this teaching by mistranslating John 1:1. Their New World Translation of John 1:1 reads, “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.”

Jehovah’s witnesses insist that since the second occurrence of God/god in John 1:1 is not preceded by the definite article (i.e. “the”) in Greek, it must (MUST) be translated as “a god” not God with a big G (Note: the Greek article is often not translated into English so it usually does not appear in English Bibles).

The translators of the Jehovah's Witness Bible are factually in error in this verse. It is an absolute fact that the absence of the Greek article does not always mean the subject is indefinite. There is a grammatical reason why John could not add the definite article to the second occurrence of "God" in John 1:1 (suffice it to say that adding the definite article before God would make it impossible in Greek to determine the subject of that clause).

Anyway, it is pretty hard to see how the translators of the New World Translation could be ignorant of the fact that the lack of a definite article does not always make the subject indefinite. This is because there are at least thirteen places in John's Gospel alone (John 1:6, 12, 13, 18; 3:21; 8:54; 9:16; 9:33; 13:3; 16:30; 19:7; 20:17 (twice!) where the Greek word for God (theos) appears without the Greek definite article and yet the Jehovah’s Witnesses translators translate the word with a big G (God) anyway! In fact, in John 6:45 the word Theos (God) appears without the definite article and yet the New World Translation translates it not as "a god" but as "Jehovah!" Apparently Jehovah's Witnesses only follow their own translation rules where it fits their doctrine.

The fact that John attributes deity to Jesus is not just seen in chapter one, however. According to John’s gospel, people’s eternal destiny would be dependent on Jesus:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40).

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51).

“Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:54).

“I am the door, if anyone enters by me, he will be saved…” (John 10:9).

In a first century Jewish context only God could save in a spiritual sense. Only God could grant eternal life. The writer of John’s Gospel clearly wants readers to understand that Jesus is God.

There is more. According to John 8:58 Jesus claimed, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” No only was Jesus claiming to have existed before his own birth—a claim he also makes in John 17:5—many scholars note that the phrase “I AM” is the name of God, Yahweh. This claim may be why according to the text, Jesus enemies “picked up stones to throw at him” (John 8:58).

Some would argue that maybe Jesus’ critics misunderstood him. Even if that were true (it’s not) it is still quite clear that John wants us to understand why they were preparing to stone him.

According to John 10:30 Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30) Some have dismissed this as the same kind of oneness that Christians experience. The Jewish audience to whom Jesus was addressing, however, understood that Jesus was talking about being one with God in a much deeper sense which is why they prepared to stone him for blasphemy saying it was because "you being a man, make yourself God."

I once spoke to a Jehovah’s Witness about this passage and his response was to say that all Jews were liars so why would I believe what they said about Jesus? Aside from the fact that this was an incredibly racist and anti-Semitic statement, we must note that the writer of the Gospel of John was Jewish. I guess it didn’t occur to this "witness against Jehovah" that if all Jews are liars then we can’t trust the Gospel of John either because it was written by a Jew! But this Jehovah’s Witness was just trying to re-interpret (twist) the Gospel of John. He would never argue that we should tear it out of our Bible.

The writer of John clearly wants readers to understand that Jesus was claiming oneness with God in a way that Jesus’ Jewish audience considered blasphemous. In the words of Jesus’ enemies, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you being a man, make yourself God” (John 10:33).

John begins his gospel proclaiming the deity of Jesus and he ends it the same way. In 20:24-29 “doubting Thomas” sees the risen Jesus and exclaims “My Lord and My God (John 20:28)! It is important to note that Jesus does not rebuke Thomas for this worship but rather blesses him! There can be no serious doubt that the writer of John’s Gospel wants readers to understand that Jesus is the very incarnation of God!

Acts

In the Old Testament salvation, in a spiritual sense was found only in God, but Acts 4:12, speaking of Jesus, says, “and there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 16:31 reinforces this saying “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

In the Jewish Bible God was the final judge of the living and the dead but Acts 10:42 says that Jesus “is the One who has been appointed by God as judge of the living and dead.”

In Acts 2:21 Peter quotes from Joel 2:32 which says that “…everyone who calls upon the name to the Lord [Yahweh] will be saved.” Peter applies this directly to Jesus, i.e. everyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved.

Paul

Paul is actually our very earliest witness to Jesus. Paul takes the passage in Joel 2:32 which says that “…everyone who calls upon the name to the Lord [Yahweh] will be saved” and applies that directly to Jesus (Romans 10:13, 17), i.e that everyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved.

It is probable that Paul was also intending to directly attribute deity to Jesus in Romans 9:5 which could be translated, “from whom is Christ according to the flesh, who is God over all, blessed forever.” Or, as the New Living Translation puts it, “Christ himself was a Jew as far as his human nature is concerned. And he is God, who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise” (NLT).

According to Paul it is through Jesus that all things exist (1 Cor. 8:6). Paul repeats this teaching in Colossians 1:16-17 where he says that it was by Jesus that “all things were created, both in heavens and on earth….”

As a good Rabbi, Paul knows full well that God is the only creator. No wonder Paul writes that Jesus “existed in the form of God” (Philippians 2:6) and that “in Him the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9).

In Titus 2:13 Paul writes, “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” There is a way, in Greek in which Paul could have distinguished between Father and Son in this passage, but the way he writes this makes it pretty clear that he intended to call Jesus “our great God and Savior.”

Hebrews and General Epistles

The Book of Hebrews refers to Jesus as the very “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” and says that Jesus “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3).

According to Hebrews, quoting from Psalm 2:7, God himself called Jesus his Son (Hebrews 1:5). According to Hebrews God said to Jesus, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Hebrews 1:8). It is clear that the author of Hebrews intends to teach the deity of Jesus.

The deity of Jesus is also taught in First and Second Peter. Isaiah 8:13 says “The LORD [Yahweh] of Hosts, him you shall regard as holy…” First Peter 3:15 says Jesus is the one we should regard as holy!

Second Peter 1:1 speaks of “the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” There is a way in Greek in which Peter could have made a distinction between our God, and our Savior Jesus Christ but Peter does not do this. He intends to call Jesus, “Our God.”

Revelation

According to Revelation 22:13 Jesus says, “I am the alpha and omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end,” but Revelation 1:8 says it was the Lord God who was the alpha and omega.

What is particularly interesting about these passages is that they are also found in the Jehovah’s Witness’s New World Translation which goes to great lengths to remove any trace of Jesus’ deity. They missed one. The New World Translation translates Revelation 1:8 as “I am the alpha and omega, says Jehovah God.” But at the end of Revelation, the alpha and omega is the one who is coming quickly (Revelation 22:12-13), identified specifically as Jesus in Revelation 22:16. Even the Jehovah’s Witnesses own translation teaches the deity of Jesus!

It is no wonder, therefore, that Jesus was also the object of worship in the New Testament...and remember, in a Jewish context only God was the object of worship! Paul says that “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow (Philippians 2:10). Paul exclaims that to Jesus “be glory forever and ever” (2 Timothy 4:18). Second Peter 3:18 also says that to Jesus “be glory, both now and to the day of eternity.” Hebrews 1:6 says of Jesus, “let all the angels of God worship him.” Revelation says that to Jesus “be the glory and dominion forever and ever” (1:5-6) and “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb [Jesus], be blessing and honor and dominion forever and ever…and the elders fell down and worshiped” (5:11-14).

After the New Testament

Is it possible, however, that we have misunderstood what the New Testament teaches about Jesus’ deity?

Not a chance! Those who wrote shortly after the New Testament understood exactly what the New Testament taught about Jesus!

Clement of Rome (AD 97), for example, described Jesus as the “majestic scepter of God” and the radiance of God’s majesty (Clement to the Corinthians, 16, 36).

Ignatius (AD 110) wrote about “our God, Jesus Christ” (to the Romans, 3; to the Ephesians, 18) and “Jesus Christ, our God” (to the Ephesians, Intro), and “stirring up yourselves by the blood of God (to the Ephesians, 1), and “God Himself being manifested in human form” (to the Ephesians, 19) and “servants of Christ our God” (to the Smyrneans, 10).

The letter of Barnabas—not the Barnabas of the Bible but some other Christian named Barnabas (AD 70-135), says, “…the Son of God was the divine Lord, and the future Judge of living and dead alike” (Chapter 7). The letter of Barnabas calls Jesus “the Lord of all the earth,” a title used in Joshua 3:13 to refer to God (5:1).

Justin Martyr (d. 163) writes that “…the Father of the universe has a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God (First Apology of Justin LXIII).

The idea that Jesus was God is also found in ancient books known as the New Testament Apocrypha (not to be confused with the Catholic apocrypha which was written before the time of Jesus). Most New Testament Apocrypha were written from the second to fourth or fifth centuries AD. One of these books is the Acts of Andrew (4th cent.) which ways, “Andrew prayed thus: ‘I pray you, my God, Lord Jesus Christ….”

The Apocalypse of Peter” says, “… my Lord and God Jesus Christ” (Apocalypse of Peter, Ethiopic 16, 135 AD).

The “Acts of John” says, “Glory be to thee, my Jesus, the only God of truth” (Acts of John 43, 2nd-3rd c.).

The Ascension of Isaiah says, “and he who gave permission is thy Lord, God, the Lord Christ, who will be called Jesus on earth” (Ascension of Isaiah 5, 2nd c.).

In the Acts of Paul and Thecla we find, “My God, Jesus Christ” (Acts of Paul and Thecla, 185-195 AD).

The fact that these early Christians believed Jesus was God is also confirmed in secular sources.
The anti-Christian satirist, Lucian also wrote of Christians saying that they “worship” Jesus (Lucian early 100’s)

The Roman governor, Pliny the Younger (AD 112), for example, conducted an investigation of Christians and reported to the Roman emperor that they “were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternative verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god” (Letter to Emperor Trajan). Of course Pliny would write “to a god” instead of “to God” because Pliny didn’t believe in just one God.

By the way, contrary to the popular DaVinci Code, even writers of the so-called “lost gospels” believed Jesus was some kind of divine being. The “Teachings of Silvanus,” for example, says, “Know who Christ is…He is also God and Teacher. This one, being God, became man for your sake” (Teachings of Silvanus 110).

The “Letter of Philip” says, “according to the orders of our God Jesus” (Letter of Peter to Philip 133).

The “Trimorphic Protennoia says, “They blessed Perfect Son, the Christ, the only-begotten God” (Trimorphic Protennoia 38).

These “lost gospels” are not Christian documents. Contrary to Christianity, they generally believe that Jesus was one of many divine beings. The point the Da Vinci Code is factually in error whn it says that “these documents speak of Christ’s ministry in very human terms” (Brown, 234). The fact is that one of the very earliest controversies about Jesus was not about whether he was divine or not, but whether he was actually human or not!

All of this evidence, of course, does not prove that Jesus was God, but it does demonstrate rather conclusively that early Christians believed that Jesus was God and that they believed it hundreds of years before any church councils got together to discuss the issue.

THE HOLY SPIRIT

The Holy Spirit of God is called God in the Bible. For example, Acts 28:25-26 says that “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet…” What follows is a quote from Isaiah 6:8-9 which was spoken by God.

Similarly Hebrews 10:15-17 says, “And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us…saying…” What follows are quotes from Jeremiah 31:31-34 which was spoken by God. The point is that the writers of Acts and Hebrews attribute to the Holy Spirit, words spoken in their original contexts by God.

The Deity of the Holy Spirit is confirmed by the fact that the Holy Spirit is said to have the attributes of God (Gen 1:2; Job 26:13; 1 Cor 2;9-11; Hebrews 9:14) and the Holy Spirit performs the works of God (Job 33:4; Ps 104:30; Luke 12:11-12; Acts 1:5; 20:28; 1 Cor 6:11; 2:8-11; 2 Peter 1:21).

The Holy Spirit is often called the “Spirit of God” (Genesis 1:2; Exodus 31:3; Numbers 42:2; First Samuel 10:10; 2 Chronicles 24:20; Job 33:4; Ezekiel 11:24; Romans 8:14, 15:19; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 4:30; Philippians 3:3; 1 John 4:2).

We might conclude that the Spirit of God is just another way of saying “God” except that many passages specifically distinguish between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. This will be covered in a separate section below.

In the mean time, it is also important to note that according to the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is not just some impersonal force like gravity or magnetism. The Holy Spirit is a being who, like any sentient being has intellect, emotion and will (theologians use the word "person" for lack of a better term).

According to the New Testament, the Holy Spirit admonishes (Jn 16:8), teaches, (Jn 14:26; 16:13-15; 1 Jn 2:27), guides (Jn 16:13) speaks (Gal 4:6), intercedes (Rom 8:26), leads (Gal 5:18), appoints for service (Acts 13:2), regenerates (Jn 3:6), baptizes (1 Cor 12:13), fills (Eph 5:18) and glorifies Jesus (Jn 16:14). He is called a Helper, Comforter/counselor or advocate (Jn 14:6-17; 26; 16:7; 1 John 2:1-2). He can be grieved (Eph 4:30), quenched (resisted; 1 Thess 5:19), blasphemed (Matt 2:31) and lied to (Acts 5:3).

The point is that no one would speak about lying to a force like gravity, or grieving magnetism or blaspheming nuclear forces!

Although the word "spirit" in Greek is grammatically neuter meaning that you would expect that a neuter pronoun would be used to refer to the Spirit, the Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to with the masculine pronoun, "He." (e.g. John 14:16-17; 16:7-15).

In other words, the Bible usually refers to the Holy Spirit as a "He" rather than "it." The use of "He" does not mean the Holy Spirit is male (a spirit is neither male nor female), but the use of "He" does seem to indicate that the Holy Spirit is a personal being rather than an impersonal force.

So like any “person” the Holy Spirit has intellect (He can teach, guide, speak), emotion (He can be grieved), and will (He submits to the Father John 14:16-17; 26). The Holy Spirit is also God.

Distinction between Father, Son and Spirit

The Bible clearly make a distinction between God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit.

For example, Matthew 3:16 clearly makes this distinction as does Mark 1:9-11 and Luke 3:21-22 where Jesus is baptized while the Spirit of God descends on him and the Father speaks from heaven. A distinction between Father, Son and Spirit is also clear from John 14:26 where Jesus says his Father will send the Spirit to the disciples.

Matthew 1:18 makes a distinction between the Holy Spirit and the unborn Jesus who is still in his mother’s womb. Jesus makes a distinction between himself and the Spirit in Matthew 12:28 and in John 14:7, 12-14.

Jesus distinguishes between the Father, Spirit and himself when he speaks of blasphemy against the Spirit as worse than blasphemy of him or the Father (Matthew 12:32; Mark 3:29), possibly because it is the Spirit who draws people to the Father and Son.

Luke 4:1 distinguishes between Jesus and the Holy Spirit saying that Jesus, being filled with the Spirit was led by the Spirit in the wilderness. Luke 11:13 is about how the Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.

Paul seems to distinguish between the Spirit of God and God in 1 Corinthians 2:11.

The New Testament also make a distinction between the tasks the Father, Son and Spirit perform. For example, the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus (John 16:14). The Bible never says that Jesus "glorifies the Holy Spirit."

The Spirit is “sent” by the Father (John 14:16-17, 26) and by the Son (John 16:7). The Bible never says the Spirit sends the Father although the does say the Spirit “led” Jesus (Luke 4:1). Jesus was crucified.

The Father and Spirit were not crucified.

Finally, in the New Testament, the Father speaks to Jesus (Matthew 3:17, 17:5; Mark 1:11, 9:2; Luke 3:22; 9:35) and Jesus prays to the Father (e.g. Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:35; Luke 22:42; John 17). Jesus is not praying to himself!

Is it possible that we have misunderstood our New Testament on the distinction between Father, Son and Spirit?

Not a chance!

The earliest church “fathers” writing right after the New Testament was written understood completely what the New Testament was teaching. Although Ignatius calls Jesus God, he distinguishes between Father and Son: “by the will of the Father and Jesus Christ our God.” (Ignatius, Letter to the Ephesians).

So does Justin, “…the Father of the universe has a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God. (First Apology of Justin LXIII).

So does Irenaeus, “"and ‘the Word was with God…and the Word was God,’ of course, for that which is begotten of God is God.” (Against Heresies 1.8.5).

We also find the distinction between Father and Son in the Epistle to Diognetus, “he sent him in gentleness and meekness, as a king might send his son who is a king; he sent him as God” (to Diognetus 7).

In fact, as early as the Didache, which could have been written any time between about AD 70 and 150, we find a full-blown statement of the Trinity, at least 300 years before any church councils met to discuss the issue: “baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in running water. But if you have no running water, then baptize in some other water…But if you have neither, then pour water on the head three times in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit” (Didache 7)

Some in the early church argued that there is one God who appeared in three “modes”: Father in the Old Testament, Jesus in the early first century AD, and the Holy Spirit after the resurrection of Jesus. There is a modern version of this called “Jesus only” which denies the Trinity, and teaches that Jesus sometimes manifested himself as God, sometimes as Jesus and sometimes as the Spirit.

The ancient version of this became known as Modalism or Sabellianism. It was condemned as heresy because it just doesn’t account for the biblical data which not only presents Father, Son, and Spirit at the same time and place (e.g. the Baptism of Jesus), but does not preserve the Biblical distinctions between Father, Son and Spirit.

Conclusion:

Cultists and some critics will challenge this evidence, of course. They have to! They have an agenda to preserve. It would be relatively easy to pick apart individual pieces of the evidence above and entire books have been written which interact with all the arguments. One of the best places to start would be the book, entitled, Jesus as God; the New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus by Murray Harris (Baker, 1992). The book is an indepth, scholarly evaluation of the New Testament passages that attribute deity to Jesus. It argues from the original languages but even those who don’t know Hebrew or Greek can profit from the book.

Anyway, it is for all of the reasons above and more—this is by no means a scholarly or exhaustive study!—that orthodox Christians have concluded that the Bible teaches there is ONE and only ONE God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29; Romans 3:30; 1 Corinthians 8:4, 6; Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5; James 2:19) who exists eternally in three “persons,” Father, Son and Spirit. The Bible doesn't have a name for this phenomena so theologians chose to call it the Trinity (I think Tri-unity may have been a better term).

Whenever you hear the tired old argument that “the word Trinity” doesn’t even appear in the Bible” know and understand that the critic is grasping at straws in desperation. The argument is completely irrelevant. All orthodox Christians—Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox—understand that “trinity” is a word developed by later Christians to describe a phenomena found in the Bible. The fact that the word itself is not found in the Bible says absolutely nothing about whether the doctrine is found in the Bible or not.

It is true, of course, that the concept of Trinity is hard to understand and even harder to explain, but this is what the Bible teaches. Many analogies have been proposed, like for example, the egg which is one, and yet composed of egg whites, a shell and yoke. But a yoke is just part of an egg and Jesus is not just part of God.

All analogies break down. The best one I’ve come up with is from science fiction. Being a Star Trek Next Generation fan, I sometimes use the “Borg” as an analogy. In Star Trek Next Generation the Borg is an alien being that resides in a gigantic cube shaped object. The Borg consists of thousands of beings appearing like grotesque-looking people, but, the show is quick to explain, these are not thousands of Borgs. The Borg is one.

Each individual is distinct and yet intimately connected with every other individual. They can hear each others thoughts and function as one organism. If they conquered the Enterprise, for example, one might be on the bridge interacting with the captain, one might be in the engineering section controlling the engines and one might be in the transporter room controlling access to the Enterprise. Three individuals with different tasks but yet so intimately connected that they function, and in fact are, one organism.

But again, all analogies break down. Star Trek is science fiction. God is science fact. In Star Trek the Borg is evil whereas God is good. In Star Trek the Borg consists of thousands of individuals where as God exists in three persons. The Borg’s power is finite where as God is all powerful, etc. And yet, I think the analogy may help to understand the concept of One God who exists eternally as Father, Son, and Spirit.

The fact is that we worship a Creator who created a universe so indescribably huge and complex (from incredibly complex micro-organisms to unimaginably gigantic galaxies) that human beings do not even begin to comprehend a tiny part of this creation. This being the case, do you suppose there might be some things about our awesome Creator that our human minds just do comprehend?

Imagine, for example, trying to explain a long distance cell phone call to someone from the 1700’s. They wouldn’t even understand the concept of telephones, much less cell phones. If you tried to explain cell phones to them, they wouldn’t understand microscopic circuits, or frequencies, or satellites or electronics or liquid crystal displays (LCD) or even plastic! In other words, they wouldn’t even understand the concepts necessary to understand the principles behind cell phones!

How much less do we understand God! So when God reveals himself as ONE God eternally existing in Father, Son and Spirit, Christians believe it even if we can’t adequately explain it.

35 comments:

JohnOneOne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JohnOneOne said...

As can be witnessed above, many who take issue with Jehovah's Witnesses' "New World Translation" of 'theos' in John 1:1c (as, "a god") often miss the point that this is 'a singular anarthrous predicate noun *preceding the verb and subject noun (implied or stated)*' - that is, not just that use of the noun 'theos' in the third clause lacks the Greek definite article.

Quite interestingly, at other places where the syntax (Greek grammatical word order) is also the same as that found within John 1:1c, it is not uncommon to read where Bible translators typically add the English indefinite article (either with "a" or "an"). Please examine the following verses within your own preferred translation(s) of the Bible, that is, to see whether these had actually done so:

Mark 6:49
Mark 11:32
John 4:19
John 6:70
John 8:44a
John 8:44b
John 9:17
John 10:1
John 10:13
John 10:33
John 12:6

Apparently, because of a theologically induced Trinitarian bias, when Bible translators encounter the same Greek grammatical construction in John 1:1c, many do not follow their own translation guidelines, that is, as are practiced within the above verses.

Obviously, there need be more evidence to substantiate such a rendering, as well as to address other issues often raised by such wording. These is just a number of the many points we hope to address within our forthcoming work, "What About John 1:1?"

To discover something of its design and progress, you are invited to visit:

http://www.goodcompanionbooks.com

Agape, JohnOneOne.

Dennis said...

JohnOneOne wrote: "As can be witnessed above, many who take issue with Jehovah's Witnesses' "New World Translation" of 'theos' in John 1:1c (as, "a god") often miss the point that this is 'a singular anarthrous predicate noun"

For readers who may not understand what JohnOneOne just wrote, "anarthrous" means it doesn't have the definite article, which is exactly what I said.

Regarding the examples of other singluar anarthrous predicate nouns provided by JohnOneOne, they are irrelevant because no one disputes that singular anarthrous predicate nouns may be--and often are--translated using an indefinite article (a, an) depending on the context.

One of the disputes Christians have with Jehovah's Witnesses is that when the JW's come to our door, they often tell us that Greek grammar requires John 1:1 to be translated as "the Word was a god." That is factually in error, as their own New World Translation proves over and over again.

One of the reasons every translation I've ever seen (except for the New World Translation) translates John 1:1 as "the Word was God" is because the concept of Jesus being "a god", as if John were teaching polytheism, is foreign not only to the context of John, but is foreign to the Jewish context from which John is writing.

Those who are interested in a Greek Grammatical discussion of this issue in the Gospel of John are urged to read, "Jesus as God" by Murray Harris, 73-121.

JohnOneOne said...

Dear Dennis,

With respect to what you've said...

"Regarding the examples of other singluar anarthrous predicate nouns provided by JohnOneOne, they are irrelevant because no one disputes that singular anarthrous predicate nouns may be--and often are--translated using an indefinite article (a, an) depending on the context."

...the point you've missed with the examples I've provided is not just the fact "that singular anarthrous predicate nouns may be--and often are--translated using an indefinite article (a, an)," no, but rather, in line with the Greek grammatical syntax (word order), these verses, along with John 1:1c, are singular anarthrous predicate noun's which are also *preceding the verb and subject noun (implied or stated)*. This is the full criteria of similarity between the verses I provided and John 1:1c.

Furthermore, when you claim that Jehovah's Witnesses state that the "Greek grammar requires John 1:1 to be translated as 'the Word was a god,'" this is also not true. Although the Greek grammar allows for a different rendering, just as you have also stated, how this should be translated is also "depending on the context,"; and, in this case, because we had just been told that "the Word was with God," then the context dictates that "the Word" cannot also be the one He was just said to be "with." But, he can be "a god."

Then, to your suggestion that an "a god" rendering would be "teaching polytheism, [and] is foreign not only to the context of John, but is foreign to the Jewish context from which John is writing," that is also not true. A search within most every Bible commentary on Jesus' words at John 10:34, 35 reveals that even Jesus acknowledged the existence of others of whom had, likewise, been designated as "gods." An enlightening example of such:

"The Hebrew for ‘gods’ (‘elōhîm) could refer to various exalted beings besides Yahweh [or, Jehovah], without implying any challenge to monotheism,…"

Taken from: Blomberg, Craig L. (b.?-d.?), Distinguished Professor of the New Testament, Denver Seminary, Colorado. "The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel: Issues & Commentary." (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, c2002), “The feast of Dedication” ([John] 10:22-42), p. 163. BS2615.6.H55 B56 2002 / 2001051563.

Yes, although much the same is professed by other Trinitarian's as you, with a little research, such facts do put similar unfounded claims into proper perspective.

Agape, JohnOneOne.

Dennis said...

JohnOneOne,

First, you seem to be intent on pressing a point which no one is disputing. In other words, I don't know of anyone who would dispute that "singular anarthrous predicate noun's which are also *preceding the verb and subject noun (implied or stated)" may be translated with an indefinite article depending on the context.

You wrote, "Furthermore, when you claim that Jehovah's Witnesses state that the "Greek grammar requires John 1:1 to be translated as 'the Word was a god,'" this is also not true."

Fantastic! Now if you could just inform your fellow evangelists of that fact. I encourage my readers to copy and print JohnOneOne's response so the next time a Jehovah's Witness evangelist tells you that John 1:1 must be translated, "the word was a god" you can show the quote from a Jehovah's witness saying that they are just not telling the truth.

A point you seem to be missing is that there is a grammatical reason why John's second use of theos in John 1:1 is anarthrous. When a subject and object in Greek are connected with a "to be" verb, both the subject and object appear in the nominative case (you can see this in some of the examples you cited). Since this is true, the only way the author can indicate which is the subject and which is the object is by placing the article in front of the subject and leaving the object anarthrous.

If there was really any question at all about John's intention to attribute deity to Jesus, all we have to do is turn to the end of the book. When Thomas meets the risen Jesus he exclaims, "My Lord and My God." Jesus does not distance himself from that worship. He doesn't say, "Wait, Thomas, you've got it all wrong. I'm just a god, not The God!" Instead, Jesus blesses Thomas for his worshipful statement.

I don't know how the writer of John could have made his intention to attribute deity to Jesus any clearer.

JohnOneOne said...

Dear Dennis,

I have no problem with your recommendation, just as long as it is made within the proper context - permit me to explain.

When you had said, "...the next time a Jehovah's Witness evangelist tells you that John 1:1 must be translated, 'the word was a god' you can show the quote from a Jehovah's witness," please be sure to make plain that my objection was to your suggestion that Jehovah's Witnesses "often tell us that *Greek grammar requires* John 1:1 to be translated as 'the Word was a god.'"

As you can see, my objection was being made with regard to your claim that we would say this translation ("and the Word was a god") was based on the fact "that *Greek grammar requires* John 1:1 to be translated" that way.

Although we cannot claim that this is 'required' solely on the basis of "Greek grammar", but, just as you had also mentioned, it is because of the immediate "context" that it is otherwise necessary to translate it that way (for we had just been told that "the Word was *with* God"); and, that the Greek grammatical syntax (word order) supports that rendition as well (as testified to by the examples I provided). Therefore, I would hope that you will also be sure to help your readers (the "householders") make that distinction, for it is key to understanding my initial objection to your claim.

***********

You also said:

"A point you seem to be missing is that there is a grammatical reason why John's second use of theos in John 1:1 is anarthrous. When a subject and object in Greek are connected with a "to be" verb, both the subject and object appear in the nominative case (you can see this in some of the examples you cited). Since this is true, the only way the author can indicate which is the subject and which is the object is by placing the article in front of the subject and leaving the object anarthrous."

So, by this, are you suggesting that "theos" within the third clause is, otherwise, yet to be taken as definite? After all, that's exactly what "and the Word was God" would imply. If so, what do you use to support your position?

***********

[To be continued...]

Agape, JohnOneOne.

JohnOneOne said...

Dear Dennis,

[...to continue]

As far as your reference to Thomas' statement, perhaps you might like to do some research on this. It may surprise you to find that not all Trinitarian's (especially the honest ones) agree that this was a statement being specifically directed *to* Jesus (even the Greek grammar can be shown to testify to this). Please consider these comments by two Trinitarian's:

"The answer of Jesus himself excludes the supposition that he was addressed as the Supreme God. For he said unto his disciple, 'Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed.' Now this must mean, 'Because thou hast seen me here alive, after my crucifixion and burial, thou hast believed that I am raised from the dead; and it is well; but blessed are they who cannot have such evidence of the senses, and yet shall believe in the glorious truth, from your evidence, and that of your brethren.' He could not have meant, that they were blessed who, though they had not seen him, yet had believed that he was God; because there is no connection between the propositions; because the fact of the resurrection of Jesus cannot, to the mind of any one, be of itself a proof of his deity; and because no one thinks of requiring to see God, in order to believe that he exists."

Taken from: Greenwood, Francis William Pitt (b.1797-d.1843). "Lives of the Twelve Apostles: To Which is Prefixed a Life of John the Baptist." 2nd Edition. (Boston, Massachusetts: Hilliard, Gray & Co., 1835), p. 139. BS2440 .G7 1835 / 39008934.

"In light of the rest of the Gospel of John, Thomas’s confession cannot mean that the risen Jesus is the only God. That epithet has already been used by Jesus himself in a context that clearly distinguishes the Father and the Son ([John] 17:3). Moreover, in a resurrection appearance to Mary Magdalene, Jesus had commanded her to go tell his disciples that he was 'ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and to your God' ([John] 20:17). It is highly unlikely that John intends the reader to understand that at some point the Father and Son are simply 'collapsed' into one, or that the one identified by Jesus as 'my God' somehow has become the risen Lord himself."

Taken from: Thompson, Marianne Meye (b.?-d.?), Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. "The God of the Gospel of John." (Grand Rapids, Michigan: W.B. Eerdmans, c2001), p. 235. BT102 .T525 2001 / 2001-040379.

~~~~~

[To be continued...]

Agape, JohnOneOne.

JohnOneOne said...

Dear Dennis,

[Lastly,...to continue]

In harmony with the above observations, there is also this:

~~~~~

Does Thomas’ exclamation at John 20:28 prove that Jesus is truly God?

John 20:28 (Revised Standard Version) reads: “Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”

There is no objection to referring to Jesus as “God,” if this is what Thomas had in mind. Such would be in harmony with Jesus’ own quotation from the Psalms in which powerful men, judges, were addressed as “gods.” (John 10:34, 35, RS; Ps. 82:1-6) Of course, Christ occupies a position far higher than such men. Because of the uniqueness of his position in relation to Jehovah, at John 1:18 (New World Translation) Jesus is referred to as “the only-begotten god.” (See also Rotherham, Byington.) Isaiah 9:6 (RS) also prophetically describes Jesus as “Mighty God,” but not as the Almighty God. All of this is in harmony with Jesus’ being described as “a god,” or “divine,” at John 1:1 (NW, An American Translation, Moffatt).

The context helps us to draw the right conclusion from this. Shortly before Jesus’ death, Thomas had heard Jesus’ prayer in which he addressed his Father as “the only true God.” (John 17:3, RS) After Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus had sent a message to his apostles, including Thomas, in which he had said: “I am ascending . . . to my God and your God.” (John 20:17, RS) After recording what Thomas said when he actually saw and touched the resurrected Christ, the apostle John stated: “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31, RS) So, if anyone has concluded from Thomas’ exclamation that Jesus is himself “the only true God” or that Jesus is a Trinitarian “God the Son,” he needs to look again at what Jesus himself said (vs. 17) and at the conclusion that is clearly stated by the apostle John (vs. 31).

Slightly modified from: "Reasoning from the Scriptures," p. 213.
~~~~~

Again, with respect to John's closing remarks (John 20:31), what a missed opportunity indeed, especially if John had come to believe that Jesus was God or even God the Son. The fact that he didn't, speaks volumes.

Agape, JohnOneOne.

St.Lee said...

Great post, Dennis! As to the comments section, a couple of verses come to mind.

Matthew 23:24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

and


2 Corinthians 4:3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

JohnOneOne said...

Just as a side note, the following two links might also shed some further light on the subject of the Trinity doctrine:

Some Interesting Observations About the Trinity, Perhaps Not So Commonly Known
http://goodcompanionbooks.com/Some_Interesting_Observations.htm

Some Powerful Reasoning's About the Trinity, Not So Easily Dismissed
http://goodcompanionbooks.com/Some_Powerful_Reasonings.htm

Agape, JohnOneOne.
http://www.goodcompanionbooks.com
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus,..." - (1 Timothy 2:5)

St.Lee said...

And after perusing J11's links, you also might want to check these out:

http://www.bible.ca/jw.htm

http://www.apologeticsindex.org/j02ad.html

http://www.christianresearchservice.com/JWpage.htm

Or, you could just go back and re-read Dennis' original post, which pretty well covers the doctrine of the trinity as the Bible presents it.

Dennis said...

JohnOneOne wrote, “Although we cannot claim that this is 'required' solely on the basis of "Greek grammar." JohnOneOne then asked, “So, by this, are you suggesting that "theos" within the third clause is, otherwise, yet to be taken as definite? After all, that's exactly what "and the Word was God" would imply. If so, what do you use to support your position?”

Actually, I think we’ve come to an agreement on one point, that is that Greek Grammar alone cannot determine whether the third clause in John 1:1 should be “The Word was God” or “The Word was a god.” Context must decide.

This is a significant step forward in light of the fact that Jehovah’s Witness missionaries have claimed that John 1:1 MUST be translated “a god.” So I agree that the translation must be determined by context, though I would say it must be determined not only in light of immediate context, but also in light of the broader context of the entire Gospel and even (to a lesser extent) in light of John’s religious Jewish context.

Regarding the immediate context: the only argument you’ve made so far is that “we had just been told that ‘the Word was with God,’ then the context dictates that ‘the Word’ cannot also be the one He was just said to be ‘with.”

But this is precisely one of the points Trinitarians (and John) dispute. Your argument is a bit circular, like saying “it must be interpreted our way because that is the way we interpret it.”

When we actually look at the immediate context, however, John is really pretty clear. He says the “Word was Theos” (God or deity) and follows it up saying “outos” (this one) was in the beginning with God (in a Jewish context, only God was in the beginning).

John was attributing to ho Logos (the Word) something that, in a Jewish context, could only be attributed to the One God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The text goes on to say that “in him was life.” This is something else that, in a Jewish context, could only be attributed to the One God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These are not things which could be said even of “exalted angels” who were themselves created by God. There were no angels in the beginning with God.

To be continued....

Dennis said...

JohnOneOne wrote, “As far as your reference to Thomas' statement, perhaps you might like to do some research on this. It may surprise you to find that not all Trinitarian's (especially the honest ones) agree that this was a statement being specifically directed *to* Jesus (even the Greek grammar can be shown to testify to this). Please consider these comments by two Trinitarian's:

I see. So if we disagree with you we are not “honest” Trinitarians?

I’ve read Marianne Meye Thompson. She is a Trinitarian. When she writes that “It is highly unlikely that John intends the reader to understand that at some point the Father and Son are simply 'collapsed' into one,” she is arguing against non-trinitarians (e.g. like Jesus-Only heretics) who would deny any distinction between Father and Son. Some may argue that it is something less than honest to present her as if she is supporting a Jehovah’s Witness position.

To be continued....

Dennis said...

And Mr. Pitt (b.1797-d.1843) argument misses the whole point!

John begins his Gospel with the point that Jesus is ho Logos (the Word) who was with God in the beginning (no angel or created being was with God in the beginning) and was God (John 1:1). John develops this theme throughout his gospel.

According to John it was through Jesus that the world came into being (John 1:3; something in a Jewish context that could only be said of God) and that “in him was life” (1:4). John says that although no one has seen God in all his glory, “the only God, who is at the father’s side has made him known” (John 1:18). John makes it clear repeatedly that Jesus is the source of eternal life (John 3:15-16, 36; 6:51-54) something only true of God).

Jesus is Lord over the Sabbath (something only true of God) and equates himself with God (John 5:16-18) and yet distinguishes himself from the Father (John 5:19).

According to John, Jesus says the Father and Son raise the dead (John 5:21). The Son is the eschatological judge of the world (John 5:22; something only true of God).

Jesus says, “that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father” (John 5:23) which, is idolatry if Jesus is not God!
Jesus says that “before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58; invoking the Old Testament name for God!) and his opponents understand exactly what he is saying so they pick up stones to stone him for blasphemy!

In John 10 Jesus claims to be the “Good Shepherd.” Most people miss the significance of this. Ezekiel 34 condemns the bad shepherds (rulers) of Israel who have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick, or bound the wounds of the injured, or sought for the lost sheep! So according to Ezekiel 34 God, the Good Shepherd, will search for the sheep (Ezekiel 34:11, cf. Luke 19:10). God will feed them on the mountains of Israel” (Ezekiel 34:15 cf. John 6:1-14, 22-59). God will “bind up the injured” (Ezekiel 34:16, cf John 5:1-9). God will “judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats” (Ezekiel 34:17 cf. Matthew 25:31-46). So when Jesus spoke of himself as the “Good Shepherd” he may not have been using just a nice folksy illustration. Ezekiel 34 almost looks like a paradigm for Jesus’ whole ministry as “Good Shepherd.” His enemies responded by saying he was demon possessed and insane (John 10:19-21).

Then Jesus says “My seep hear my voice and…I give them eternal life!...I and my Father are One (John 10:27-30). Once again his enemies know exactly what he is saying (only God can give eternal life) so they take up stones to stone him for blasphemy! Jesus responds by saying, that if the Law (Ps 82:6) called the rulers of Israel (or gods of the pagans) gods, why would they attack the One who God himself consecrated and sent into the world? Jesus then challenges them to look at the works he is doing and “understand that the Father is in my and I am in the Father” (John 10:34-38). Far from backing off what Jesus had just said about being one with the Father, Jesus re-emphasizes the fact!

Later in the story, Jesus tells Martha “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:24; only God is the resurrection and the Life)!

Then, at the end of the story, John selects the story of Thomas, the skeptic, who—when he sees the risen Jesus—finally and truly gets it! Thomas exclaims, “My Lord and My God!” Thomas understands what John has been laboring to tell us throughout the entire book. Mr. Pitts misses the entire point!

To be continued...

Dennis said...

I am fully aware, however, that Jehovah’s Witnesses will respond using a kind of deconstructionist divide-and-conquer tactic by twisting and re-interpreting each verse apart from overall context and story-line.

Imagine, for a minute, that someone were to write a paper providing 10 reasons why God exists. An atheist, rather than simply arguing that the paper is wrong, chooses instead to argue that the author really didn’t mean to say that God exists. To do this, the atheist pulls argument #1 out of the broader context of the paper and argues that argument #1 could hypothetically be re-interpreted in such a way that it doesn’t actually say God exists. The atheist then does this with each of the other 9 reasons and concludes that the author doesn’t believe God exists!

Holocaust deniers do essentially the same thing with evidence for the holocaust—divide up the evidence into individual bits, question, challenge, dispute, twist, and re-interpret each piece of evidence apart from a broader context, and conclude that the evidence—regardless of how overwhelming—doesn’t support the holocaust!

This s what Jehovah’s witnesses do with the Gospel of John!

Honest readers who have read the Gospel of John over the centuries understand that John is attributing deity to Jesus. This is true of all three branches of Christianity: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant.

In fact, even non-Christian scholars who don’t believe Jesus is God know and understand that John’s Gospel was intending to teach the deity of Jesus!

Well, I have expended about as much time as I can afford to spend on this topic. Since you offered our readers some other resources to check I would like to add a few resources to St. Lee’s excellent list:

Bowman, Robert. Why you should believe in the Trinity; an answer to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Baker.

Reed, David (a former Jehovah’s witness elder). Answering Jehovah’s Witnesses subject by subject. Baker.

---. How to rescue your loved one from the Watch Tower. Baker.

---. Jehovah’s Witnesses answered verse by verse. Baker.
Rhodes, Ron. Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Harvest House.

---. The 10 most important things you can say to a Jehovah’s Witness. Harvest House.

Dennis said...

One final thought to any reader who managed to make it this far and still doesn't know what to believe. I would challenge you to go to any bookstore or library and randomly select two or three Bibles. Then read the Gospel of John in each one and decide for yourself.

JohnOneOne said...

Dear Dennis,

You said,

"When we actually look at the immediate context, however, John is really pretty clear. He says the 'Word was Theos' (God or deity) and follows it up saying 'outos' (this one) was in the beginning with God (in a Jewish context, only God was in the beginning)."

Since the opening words of Genesis 1:1 (NASB) says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," and in Job 38:4-7 (NASB), we are told, "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy?", then, even by this, we have been informed that, at the "beginning" of the formation of the "earth," even the "sons of God" were present - and so too, was Jesus, hence John 1:1a.

Even if Jews are not open to any notion of Jesus' pre-human existence, within the very root of their "Jewish context," the Bible, there was, indeed, others of whom which did exist at the "beginning" of God's creative work, even in the creation of the earth, if not also during the creation of the "heavens" themselves.

Therefore, with respect your last comment (within this portion of your address), "There were no angels in the beginning with God," as you can see by the evidence from the Bible itself, this is simply not true.

As for your statement, "...that 'in him was life,'" and that "This is something else that, in a Jewish context, could only be attributed to the One God," that's not true either. For, at John 5:26 (NASB), we are told: "For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He *gave* to the Son also to have life in Himself;..." - (star emphasis mine).

Agape, JohnOneOne.
www.goodcompanionbooks.com

JohnOneOne said...

Dear Dennis,

You quoted me as saying:

“As far as your reference to Thomas' statement, perhaps you might like to do some research on this. It may surprise you to find that not all Trinitarian's (especially the honest ones) agree that this was a statement being specifically directed *to* Jesus (even the Greek grammar can be shown to testify to this). Please consider these comments by two Trinitarian's:"

...to which, you responded:

"I see. So if we disagree with you we are not 'honest' Trinitarians?"

I'm sorry if I might have offended you but, during the course of my research (at the Library of Congress, as well as at a number of Bible Colleges and Theological Seminaries), after reading through thousands and thousands of Bible commentaries, those as produced by Trinitarian and non-Trinitarian alike (as published in the past 300+ years), I've come to take note of a number of certain tendencies displayed within Trinitarian scholarship - thus, the root of my comment.

What I have come to find especially interesting are the ways in which Trinitarian's, even today, will continue to let other Trinitarian's express many of the earlier, non-corrected/non-adjusted views, that is, without calling them to task for an invalid position. As an example, it amazes me to see quite a number of Trinitarian's who, even today, can be found in their insistence in using 1 John 5:7, 8 in support of their view that the Bible does, indeed, present the teaching that Jesus is God and/or that God is a Trinity - and, that they continue to do so at the virtual silence of their own Trinitarian community.

I see this as not being honest: 1) On the part of those Trinitarian's espousing such a falsehood and 2) On the part of other Trinitarian's who don't concern themselves with that fact.

As you will take note, I have not said that all Trinitarian's are not honest, for I do believe, even in retaining their Trinitarian views, that some are - but they are few and far between.

Agape, JohnOneOne.
www.goodcompanionbooks.com

JohnOneOne said...

Dear Dennis,

First, to address my earlier reply and use of some of Marianne Meye Thompson's comments, that is, on Thomas' reaction to seeing the resurrected Jesus, I will again quote what I had submitted:

"In light of the rest of the Gospel of John, Thomas’s confession cannot mean that the risen Jesus is the only God. That epithet has already been used by Jesus himself in a context that clearly distinguishes the Father and the Son ([John] 17:3). Moreover, in a resurrection appearance to Mary Magdalene, Jesus had commanded her to go tell his disciples that he was 'ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and to your God' ([John] 20:17). It is highly unlikely that John intends the reader to understand that at some point the Father and Son are simply 'collapsed' into one, or that the one identified by Jesus as 'my God' somehow has become the risen Lord himself."

Taken from: Thompson, Marianne Meye (b.?-d.?), Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. "The God of the Gospel of John." (Grand Rapids, Michigan: W.B. Eerdmans, c2001), p. 235. BT102 .T525 2001 / 2001-040379.

...to which, you replied:

"I’ve read Marianne Meye Thompson. She is a Trinitarian. When she writes that “It is highly unlikely that John intends the reader to understand that at some point the Father and Son are simply 'collapsed' into one,” she is arguing against non-trinitarians (e.g. like Jesus-Only heretics) who would deny any distinction between Father and Son. Some may argue that it is something less than honest to present her as if she is supporting a Jehovah’s Witness position."

Perhaps the following may put some of my purpose in quoting Thompson into proper perspective:

"…it is a remarkable fact, that no single passage or verse of the Old or New Testament is received as an assured proof-text of the trinity by the unanimous consent of all Trinitarian writers: some ground their faith on one passage, some on another."

Taken from: "A Religious Encyclopædia: or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, Based on the Real-Encyklopädie of Herzog, Plitt, and Hauck." Herzog, Johann Jakob (b.1805-d.1882); Schaff, Philip (b.1819-d.1893), D.D., LL.D., Professor in the Union Theological Seminary, New York, Editors. 3 vols. (New York, New York: Funk & Wagnalls, Publishers, 1882-1884), vol. iii, p. 2420. BR95 .S4 / 01-11171.

[To be continued...]

JohnOneOne said...

[...continued]

The point being that, while Thompson does remain a Trinitarian, there may be (in our view) a correct assessment of this one scripture (that is, with respects to its not being able to be 'honestly' utilized in defense and/or support of the view that it means that Jesus is God, or that God is a Trinity - and, as against the current prevalent usage by other, no so honest and/or informed Trinitarian's), I know for a fact that Thompson will yet attempt to utilize other scriptures which, in Thompson's view, does support just such a teaching - hence, the reason why Thompson will likely yet remain a Trinitarian.

Quite interestingly, I have become convinced that if enough research were done, it would likely be very easy to assemble a number of such similar statements by other Trinitarian's, those of which could collectively be shown to neutralize many of the scriptures being popularly utilized in support of the Trinitarian argument and/or positions, that is, as expressed from within the Trinitarian scholarship community - yes, all in harmony with what was stated above within the Schaff-Herzog "Religious Encyclopedia." (This, by the way, may indeed be my next project.)

By the way, something approaching this had, indeed, been accomplished in the works of a non-Trinitarian within the 1800's, his name was John Wilson.

For one of his works, please see:

Wilson, John (b.1802-d.1868). "Unitarian Principles Confirmed by Trinitarian Testimonies; Being Selections From the Works of Eminent Theologians Belonging to Orthodox Churches." 10th Edition. (Boston, Massachusetts: American Unitarian Association, 1880). BX9841 .W7 1880 / 15-16172.

Agape, JohnOneOne.

JohnOneOne said...

Dear Dennis,

Again, to quote you:

"Actually, I think we’ve come to an agreement on one point, that is that Greek Grammar alone cannot determine whether the third clause in John 1:1 should be “The Word was God” or “The Word was a god.” Context must decide.

This is a significant step forward in light of the fact that Jehovah’s Witness missionaries have claimed that John 1:1 MUST be translated “a god.”"

And so, again, the distinction I was making is that, initially you had said "when the JW's come to our door, they often tell us that Greek grammar requires John 1:1 to be translated as 'the Word was a god.'" Then later, when refrencing your own comment, you left out the part of their mention of the grammar, to which you've done again above by saying, "Jehovah’s Witness missionaries have claimed that John 1:1 MUST be translated “a god.”" Perhaps you might think this is assumed, but I cannot help to think that even you might not see the arguement (and the way you have presented it) you are using, especially as a form of encouragement for others in their engagement with the Christian Witnesses of Jehovah.

Going on to another point, more often than not, I have found that Trinitarian scholars typically just parrot one another, without much real analysis being done; and this is especially true when it comes to giving much consideration to what 'Jewish monotheism' had meant to them at that time, and not to what definitions are commonly attached to its meaning today.

In fact, of recent there has been much, in depth study of this concept, with some developing a revised thinking on the matter. But, what I find fascinating (to which I've already somewhat touched upon) is the lack of much real interest or concern over such studies, that is, by the vast majority of Trinitarian scholars. Again, they appear to just busy themselves in repeating what they have already taught themselves and others, with very few independant investigations on their own.

Quite interestingly, even for what is now being re-assessed, most of what is being discovered and concluded, little known to even these is the fact that such analysis had already been done by many within the 16th thru the 19th centuries, that is, by many a Christian non-Trinitarian scholar. I guess the sad thing is the fact that such is little known; whereas, the good thing is that it is finally being addressed by a few who are, apparently, not afraid to take a second look at it all.

Just a few names which come to mind are:

Larry W. Hurtado
James F. McGrath

You, and others looking on, may wish to investigate what they have recently published.

Agape, JohnOneOne

St.Lee said...

"You, and others looking on, may wish to investigate what they have recently published."

This question comes to mind. Why should Christians waste their time studying and then answering the same old heresies that make the rounds every hundred years or so, just because someone claims to have new insight. The anti-Trinitarian heresy has been around for nearly 2000 years. It has been answered countless times, and no doubt by better scholars than are even alive today. Didn't Solomon say that there is no new thing under the sun?

JohnOneOne said...

Dear Dennis,

To your comments:

"According to John it was through Jesus that the world came into being (John 1:3; something in a Jewish context that could only be said of God) and that “in him was life” (1:4). John says that although no one has seen God in all his glory, “the only God, who is at the father’s side has made him known” (John 1:18). John makes it clear repeatedly that Jesus is the source of eternal life (John 3:15-16, 36; 6:51-54) something only true of God)."

"Jesus is Lord over the Sabbath (something only true of God) and equates himself with God (John 5:16-18) and yet distinguishes himself from the Father (John 5:19)."

"According to John, Jesus says the Father and Son raise the dead (John 5:21). The Son is the eschatological judge of the world (John 5:22; something only true of God)."

~~~~~~~~~~

Against the notion that the above statements can only be understood as being "something only true of God," I believe the following scriptures do very well in simply addressing each of your points:

(Matthew 28:18) "All authority has been *given me* in heaven and on the earth." - (star emphasis mine).

If Jesus was God, he would not need to be "given" anything in the way of any "authority," for he would have already posessed it. The same is true with respect to Jesus' statement, "The Father loves the Son and has *given all things* into his hand." - (John 3:35, star emphasis mine). Furthermore, if Jesus was God and the Father was God, then what kind of Love is it that is really being expressed here between these two.

(Matthew 11:27a) "All things have been *delivered to me* by my Father,..." - (star emphasis mine).

If Jesus was God, he would be in no need to have anyything "delivered" to him, especially by the one he identifies as his "Father," God.

Furthermore, I believe the following scripture also explains alot:

(1 Corinthians 15:27-28) "...[God] 'subjected all things under his [Jesus'] feet.' But when he says that ‘all things have been subjected,’ it is evident that it is with the exception of the one who subjected all things to him. But when all things will have been subjected to him, then the Son himself will also subject himself to the One who subjected all things to him, that God may be all things to everyone."

Apparently, in Paul's mind, with mention of this act on the part of God, that is, in the "subjecting all things" under Jesus' "feet," he also saw the need to add some further clarrification, and he does this by saying, "it is [i]evident[/i] that it is with the [i]exception[/i] of the one [meaning, God] who subjected all things to him [meaning, Jesus]." - (italics mine).

I can only imagine how this scripture would have been used by later Trinitarians, especially if it were that Paul hadn't actually offered this kind of clarrification - in other words, what would they have done with just such a, seemingly, unqualified statement?

[To be continued...]

JohnOneOne said...

[...continued]

As I ponder more on this, I'm actually surprised that later Trinitarian Scripture copyiests hadn't actually attempted to corrupt this scripture, that is, by removing that particular portion of Paul's statement from it. After all, it is now generally quite well known (that is, among most non-Trinitarians) that this had actually earlier been done, that is, when it was that Trinitarian copyiests had encountered a clear statement of Jesus', one which, apparently, posed quite an interesting delima for them: "Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father" (Matt. 24:36, italics mine).

The problem this posed for Trinitarians was in their trying to explain how it was that, if Jesus were, indeed, God, why he didn't know something of which the Father did. So, in order to solve the problem, some enterprising copiest decided to remove the words, "nor the Son," that is, from their copies of the original Biblical Greek text.

Furtunantly, not only was Mark's account, at 13:32, not tampered with, but since the translating of the King James Version (of 1611, where the text there reads; "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only"), many older copies of the original Greek manuscripts (along with other early translations) had been later found, those which predated the ones in which these words had been removed.

Today, all modern translations of the Bible have restored these key words to Matthew's account. And, I say "key," simply because of the full implication of what they do tell us,...that of which some Trinitarian copyiest of the past had also obviously appreciated as saying something of which he was unwilling to accept, that there were some things of which even Jesus didn't know.

For you and your readers, you may wish to examine an facinating treatment of this particular issue, as discussed within the following work:

Lebreton, Jules (b.1873-d.1956), S.J., Society of Jesus, Jesuit Priest; Professor of the Study of Christian Origins at the Catholic Institute of Paris, France. History of the Dogma of the Trinity, From its Origins to the Council of Nicæa. vol. I – "The Origins." Thorold, Algar Abouchere (b.1866-d.1884), Translator of the 8th Edition. (New York, New York; Boston, Massachusetts; Cincinnati, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; San Francisco, California: Benzinger Brothers, Printers to the Holy Apostolic See; London, England: Burns Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., Publishers to the Holy See, 1939), “Note ii (Note C in French edition),” pp. 417-432. BT111 .L42 1939 / 39-008548.

Yes, for a very interesting trace of the history of thoughts regarding the many attempts made in efforts to explain how it was that Jesus did not know ‘the time or the hour of the time of the end,’ you are encouraged to give some serious consideration to a little known “Note,” as contained within the above work.

Quite interestingly, within that “Note,” apart from acknowledging the later removal of the wording, “nor the Son” from certain manuscripts of the Gospel of Matthew (at Matthew 24:36; parallel account at Mark 13:32), what’s most interesting about this particular “Note” is that it also traces the history of the efforts of certain Trinitarian theologians who, throughout the many centuries since the official adoption of the inital efforts at establishing a Trinity doctrine (325 C.E.), had tried to explain how it was that “the Son” did not know something of which “the Father” did – the mental gymnastics documented there is quite remarkable indeed.

Agape, JohnOneOne.

JohnOneOne said...

Dear Dennis,

You said,

"Honest readers who have read the Gospel of John over the centuries understand that John is attributing deity to Jesus. This is true of all three branches of Christianity: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant."

"In fact, even non-Christian scholars who don’t believe Jesus is God know and understand that John’s Gospel was intending to teach the deity of Jesus!"

To which you added,

"One final thought to any reader who managed to make it this far and still doesn't know what to believe. I would challenge you to go to any bookstore or library and randomly select two or three Bibles. Then read the Gospel of John in each one and decide for yourself."

The only part to this you are leaving out is the fact that, since the Protestant Reformation, this too may need to be added:

"The Trinity doctrine. The Catholic faith is this: 'We worship one in trinity, but there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. The glory equal - the majesty co-eternal.' The doctrine is not found in its fully developed form in the Scriptures. Modern theology does not seek to find it in the Old Testament. At the time of the Reformation, the Protestant Church took over the doctrine of the Trinity without serious examination."

Taken from: The New International Encyclopædia. 2nd Edition. First Edition: 1902-1904. 25 vols. Colby, Frank Moore (b.1865-d.1925); Williams, Talcott (b.1849-d.1928); Wade, Herbert Treadwell (b.1872-d.?), Editors. (New York, New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1935), vol. 22, p. 47. AE5 .N553 1935 / 38-037785.

"[The] reformers are not to be blamed for not doing more, but to be commended for doing as much as they did. But surely those who came after them are to be blamed, those who have shut their eyes, and have endeavored to shut yours too, from that time to the present day; as if [Martin] Luther [b.1483-d.1546] and his brethren had been men divinely inspired and exempt from all error, and as if all wisdom was born and died with them; whereas they only set an example, which those who came after them ought to have followed."

Taken from: Priestley, Joseph (b.1733-d.1804), LL.D., F.R.S. An History of the Corruptions of Christianity, To which are Appended Considerations in Evidence that the Apostolic and Primitive Church was Unitarian. 2 vols. (Birmingham, England: Printed by Piercy and Jones, for J. Johnston, London, 1782), chapter XIX [19], p. 240. BX9840 .P7 1782 / 36003413.

[To be continued...]

JohnOneOne said...

[...continued.]

"…the [Protestant] Reformers did not touch or alter this fundamental dogma [of the Trinity] of the ancient Church, but rather, so to speak, 'by-passed' it, than made it the subject of their own theological reflection."

Taken from: Brünner, Emil (b.1889-d.1966). Dogmatics. Translation of the German: Dogmatik. Wyon, Olive (b.1890-d.?), Translator. 3 vols. vol. 1. – "The Christian Doctrine of God." vol. 2. – "The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption." vol. 3. – "The Christian Doctrine of the Church, Faith, and the Consummation." (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Westminster Press, 1949-79), vol. 1, chapter 16, “The Triune God,” p. 205. BT75 .B842 / 50-006821.

"…Protestant forms of Christianity, following the moto of sola scriptura [meaning, by Scripture Alone], insist that all legitimate Christian belief’s (and practices) must be found in, or at least based on, the Bible. That’s a very clear and admirable principle. The problem is that Protestant Christianity was not born in a historical vacuum, and does not go back directly to the time that the Bible was written. Protestantism was and is a reformation of an already fully developed form of Christianity: Catholicism. When the Protestant Reformation occurred just five hundred years ago, it did not reinvent Christianity from scratch, but carried over many of the doctrines that had developed within Catholicism over the course of the previous thousand years and more. In this sense, one might argue that the Reformation is incomplete, that it did not fully realize the high ideals that were set for it.…For the doctrines that Protestantism inherited to be considered true, they had to be found in the Bible. And precisely because they were considered true already, there was and is tremendous pressure to read those truths back into the Bible, whether or not they are actually there.…Protestant Christians don’t like to imagine themselves building too much beyond what the Bible spells out for itself. So even if most if not all of the ideas and concepts held by modern Protestant Christians can be found, at least implied, somewhere in the Bible, there is a pressure (conscious or unconscious) to build up those ideas and concepts within the biblical text, to paraphrase or expand on what the Bible does say in the direction of what modern readers want and need it to say."

Taken from: BeDuhn, Jason David (b.?-d.?), Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff; PH.D. in Comparative Study of Religions from Indiana University, Bloomington. Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament. (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 2003), pp. 163, 164. BS2325 .B43 2003 / 2003-050712.

Agape, JohnOneOne.

JohnOneOne said...

Dear Dennis,

You said:

Jesus says that “before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58; invoking the Old Testament name for God!) and his opponents understand exactly what he is saying so they pick up stones to stone him for blasphemy!

~~~

It may interest you to know that, Bible scholar, Julius R. Mantey(1) endorsed a translation of a Bible by Charles B. Williams (b.1869-d.1952) entitled: The New Testament; A Translation in the Language of the People.(2) As taken from the “Introduction” to this work, Mantey said:

“…While teaching a post-graduate Greek class and spending the whole year studying translations of the New Testament, we became convinced that Williams’ translation, considering all the factors, is the most accurate and illuminating translation in the English language. Having this conviction, I have no hesitation in commending it to all who desire to penetrate into the depths of the riches of the glorious revelation in the New Testament.” -(italics mine).

But, when we read John 8:58, we find this "most accurate and illuminating translation" saying:

"Then Jesus said to them, 'I most solemnly say to you, I existed before Abraham was born."

Furthermore, if you were to examine this a bit further, you and your readers would discover many more translations who had alao appreciated much the same in the meaning of Jesus words, as had Williams' translation and which Mantey endorsed:

Peshitta – Lamsa Translation: “Before Abraham was born, I was.”

The New Testament Or Rather The New Covenant - S. Sharpe: “I was before Abraham.”

A Bible, A New Translation – J. Moffatt: “I existed before Abraham was born.”

The New Testament in the Language of the Day – W. G. Beck: “I was before Abraham.”

The Simple English Bible: “I was alive before Abraham was born.”

The Twentieth Century New Testament: “before Abraham existed I was.”

The Bible - An American Translation – E. Goodspeed (NT): “I existed.”

The Better Life Bible - Dan Sindlinger: “I existed before Abraham was ever born.”

The Unvarnished New Testament – A. Gaus: “I have already been.”

The Authentic New Testament – H. J. Shonfield: “I existed.”

The Complete Gospels – R. J. Miller (Editor): "I existed."

The Source New Testament – Elizabeth Ann Nyland: "I have been in existence since before Abraham was born!”

And, perhaps, most curious:

New American Standard Bible* (1963-1970 editions only): “I have been” – offered as an alternative rendering. *Quite interestingly, after the 1970 edition, within any further printings of the New American Standard Bible, this alternate rendering has since been removed from their footnotes.

And, as you might imagine, many, many others could be listed here, even from any number of those which have been produced by other Trinitarians, just as in among the above. But, again, I leave that for you and your readers to further investigate.

[To be continued...]

JohnOneOne said...

[...continued.]

Even so, it may interest some to know that the one point many miss is that fact that, when the Greek Septuagint was produced (some 200 years before Jesus), at that part in Exodus 3:14, whereby, according to the King James Bible, it reads: "Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you," the Greek there is "ho on" and not "ego emi."

Therefore, whereas, many Trinitarians would have ones to believe that the wording was the same in John 8:58 as does appear within that portion of Exodus 3:14, upon closer examination, it does not!

Furthermore, when looking thru most every Bible I've seen - that is, among those which do go to the trouble of providing footnotes - I have discovered that these will typically make clear that there are a number alternate renderings of even the Hebrew for Exodus 3:14 (as sometimes even showing up as their preferred rendering, that is, within their main text); thus, showing that any desired parallels which Trinitarian commentators wish to make between the words there and John 8:58 are in no way substantiated by even the most current of Trinitarian scholarship. (And, again, my statement that there are some honest Trinitarians and some who are not can be easily verified by such scrutiny.)

Agape, JohnOneOne.

(1) (b.?-d.1981), Department of New Testament Interpretation, Northern Baptist Theoligical Seminary, Chicago, Illinois, famed joint author with Dana, Harvey Eugene (b.1888-d.1945), TH.D., Professor of New Testament Interpretation in the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, of: A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. (New York, New York: The Macmillan Company, 1927). PA817 .D3 1927 / 27-25332.

(2) (Boston, Massachusetts: Bruce Humphries, Inc., c1937; Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1950). BS2095 .W515 / 39009931.

JohnOneOne said...

Dear St. Lee,

Whereas, you had quoted me as suggesting:

"You, and others looking on, may wish to investigate what they have recently published."

To which, you replied:

This question comes to mind. Why should Christians waste their time studying and then answering the same old heresies that make the rounds every hundred years or so, just because someone claims to have new insight. The anti-Trinitarian heresy has been around for nearly 2000 years. It has been answered countless times, and no doubt by better scholars than are even alive today. Didn't Solomon say that there is no new thing under the sun?

~~~~~~

To this, I will quote and provide but some brief comments on two scriptures:

"I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them." - Acts 20:29, 30 (New American Standard Bible, italics mine).

This especially happened when it was that, 300+ years after the time of the Christ, the man-made doctrine of the Trinity was eventually seeded wthin the mind-set of a great part of the Christian community.

"Now these [the Bereans] were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so." - Acts 17:11 (New American Standard Bible, italics mine).

Just as the apostle Paul had commended the Bereans for adopting just such an approach, so too, most every Bible teacher today.

Agape, JohnOneOne.

JohnOneOne said...

Dear Dennis,

Just one more thing about Jesus' words at John 8:58. It may interest you to know that, to date (10/27/09), I've located some 50 Bibles which render this verse as something quite similar to how the Trinitarian Williams' had: "I existed before Abraham was born." And, perhaps most importantly, many of these were produced by Trinitarian scholars.

And, again, this is what I was saying about "honest" Trinitarians; some acknowledge and so reflect their understanding of such wording correctly as we do, but I suspect the reason why some of these are willing to do so is simply because of the following, of which I had earlier quoted:

"…it is a remarkable fact, that no single passage or verse of the Old or New Testament is received as an assured proof-text of the trinity by the unanimous consent of all Trinitarian writers: some ground their faith on one passage, some on another."

Taken from: A Religious Encyclopædia: or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, Based on the Real-Encyklopädie of Herzog, Plitt, and Hauck. Herzog, Johann Jakob (b.1805-d.1882); Schaff, Philip (b.1819-d.1893), D.D., LL.D., Professor in the Union Theological Seminary, New York, Editors. 3 vols. (New York, New York: Funk & Wagnalls, Publishers, 1882-1884), vol. iii, p. 2420. BR95 .S4 / 01-11171.

And so, as it would appear, one of the reasons why some are willing to relinquish use of one scripture (that is, as one of which others would, otherwise, with to continue to use in support of their man-made Trinity doctrine) is because of the fact that, "some ground their faith on one passage, some on another."

~~~~~

Even so, the other reason why I wanted to post this again was to make yet another point with it; and that is that, when it is Trinitarin advocates make their claims that Jehovah's Christian witnesses' translation, the New World Translation as doing something dishonest, that is, when it was that they had opted to choose a rendering which had, in any way, differed from that of the more popular Trinitarin influenced translations, the fact is, if someone was to actually take the time and do some further investigating, it would not be too hard to discover that many (if not most) of these scriptures can be found to have been rendered the very same way (or, close) as did the translators of the NWT - and yes, as even done by Trinitarian scholars themselves.

Again, the dishonesty of many a Trinitarian proponant can be easily discovered, that is, if one was to take the time to do some further, unbiased investigating.

It may interst you to know that, although not in the original design or intention, it is this (among other things) which we hope to also address within the forthcoming work entitled: "What About John 1:1?"

Agape, JohnOneOne.
http://www.goodcompanionbooks.com

Trinty is Truth said...

JohnOneOne - Step One do you believe the Bible is Truth?

JohnOneOne said...

Dear "Trinity is Truth,"

Whereas, you had asked,

"...do you believe the Bible is Truth?"

I believe Jesus who, when in prayer to his heavenly Father, had said: "your word is truth." (John 17:17).

Furthermore, under inspiration himself, the apostle Paul made clear that: "All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work." - (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).

Paul also explained the purpose and value of the Hebrew Scriptures when he made clear that, "...all the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope." - (Romans 15:4).

Therefore, in answer to your question, I would have to say "Yes."

Agape, JohnOneOne.
www.goodcompanionbooks.com

Trinty is Truth said...

JohnOneOne - to fully aprreciate that Jesus is God - I would like to walk you through the Scriptures so that both of us will agree as we take this walk. Genesis 3:15 is the first promise that the Messiah will come and be bruised on the heel and that He will strike the serpant on the head. This is what Jesus did on the cross.

JohnOneOne said...

Dear "Trinity is Truth,"

Whereas, you had stated,

"Genesis 3:15 is the first promise that the Messiah will come and be bruised on the heel and that He will strike the serpant on the head. This is what Jesus did on the cross."

Well, although I would agree that, as relative to that prophecy (Genesis 3:15), Jesus’ being bruised in the heel meant that he would suffer only a temporary blow by being killed while on earth, for he would be resurrected to heavenly glory; whereas, the bruising of the serpent in the head would mean that the Devil would receive a death blow from which he would never recover, and that has yet to occur.

Agape, JohnOneOne.
http://scripturetext.com/genesis/3-15.htm
~~~~~
http://www.goodcompanionbooks.com

Trinty is Truth said...

This is true - this will happen when Christ returns as stated in Revelations. Christ made many vistits to this earth as a Pre-Incarnate Christ throughout the Old Testament - and this is where I would like to continue. Would you agree?