3 Syllogistic Arguments For Jesus' Deity


The Bible teaches in a variety of ways that Jesus Christ is God incarnate. In some places, The Bible couldn't possibly be more explicit, and it boggles the mind how anyone who takes scripture as the inspired word of God could avoid any conclusion other than that Jesus is divine. In other places, it's more subtle, and you need to be paying close attention to catch Jesus' claim to divinity or one the epistles claims to divinity. In other words, there are explicit claims (on both Jesus' and the epistle writers' part) that Jesus is God, and there are implicit claims that Jesus is God.

When it comes to the more subtle and implicit claims, sometimes the conclusion of Christ's divinity comes from piecing together biblical teachings about God and Jesus, which wouldn't seem to say anything about Christ's divinity when taken in isolation. These scriptural assertions can be used to form syllogistic arguments which result in the conclusion that Jesus is God. In my study of The Bible, I've come up with 3 such syllogisms. Let's look at them below:

SYLLOGISM ONE

1: Yahweh is the only Savior of mankind.
2: Jesus is the Savior of humankind
3: Therefore, either The Bible contradicts itself or Jesus is God.
4: The Bible cannot contradict itself.
5: Therefore, Jesus is God.

This is a logically valid syllogism. This means that if the premises are true, then the conclusions follow. So, are the premises true or are they false? Let's look at them.

The first premise states that Yahweh is the only Savior of mankind. This premise is backed up by Isaiah 43:11, which says; "I, even I, am The Lord, and apart from me there is no Savior." This is Yahweh speaking through the prophet Isaiah. He says that He is The Lord and that apart from Him, there is no Savior. If Yahweh didn't act to initiate our salvation, our souls would be doomed to Hell. No one can save us but God.

What about the second premise? It's indisputable that Jesus is called our Savior. Titus 2:13 says "while we wait for the blessed hope-the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ," This verse clearly calls Jesus "Our great God and Savior". That alone should end any debate that Jesus is God. Yet, cultists try to avoid the seemingly obvious conclusion by saying that Paul is referring to two different entities "Our Great God" on the one hand, and "our Savior, Jesus Christ" on the other.Very well. For this argument to work, it doesn't matter whether "Our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" is referring to God and a merely human or angelic Jesus, or whether both "God" and "Savior" are both being applied to Jesus. Even the cultists will admit that Titus 2:13 undoubtedly calls Jesus our Savior.

1 John 4:14 says "We have seen as testify that The Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world". 

In his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul is contemplating his impending martyrdom. In Philippians 3, the apostle Paul tells his readers that a relationship with Jesus is far superior to anything else he has obtained in this Earthly life, even to the point of calling all of the goods he's received "garbage" (verses 1-8). In verses 20-21, Paul says "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." (emphasis mine)

In Acts 13:23, Paul also calls Jesus by the title "Savior".

In fact, not much biblical defense for this premise even needs to be given. Even a casual reading of The New Testament will show even the lousiest exegete that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead, and this act atoned for our sins. This is what Jesus did to save us. No sect will deny that Jesus is the "Savior" any more than they'll deny that The Father of Jesus is God.

This brings us to premise 3: Obviously, we've got a dichotomy here. If only God is the Savior, if there is no savior besides God, and yet Jesus is our Savior, then what are our options? Either The Bible erroneously calls God the savior, or it erroneously calls Jesus the Savior. In other words, maybe The Bible is just plain wrong. On the other hand, perhaps The Bible isn't wrong. Perhaps Jesus is God. I don't see a third alternative.

Defense of Premise 4: The Bible cannot contradict itself. 

The Bible cannot contradict itself. It is the word of God (2 Timothy 3:16, Proverbs 30:5). The Holy Spirit cannot inspire false teachings. To the person who doesn't take The Bible as divinely inspired (atheists, agnostics,), this won't be a problem. But for Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons, who do take The Bible as divinely inspired, this is not an option. But in that case, there's only one possible alternative: Jesus is God.

SYLLOGISM TWO

1: Only God created the universe.
2: Jesus created the universe.
3: Therefore, either The Bible contradicts itself or Jesus is God.
4: The Bible cannot contradict itself.
5: Therefore, Jesus is God.

This syllogism takes the same logical form as the previous one, so the validity of the syllogism's logic shouldn't be in question. Rather, we need to ask whether or not the premises are true. They are.

The first premise is backed up by The Old Testament. In Isaiah 44:24, God says "This is what the LORD says- your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself," (emphasis mine). In this verse, God says that He spread out the Earth by himself. Other translations render it "I alone spread out the Earth". In Job 9:8, Job says of God "He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea." Both of these verses (Isaiah 44:24 and Job 9:8) state that God alone is responsible for the stretching out of the heavens. This is an act of creation, whether you agree with Hugh Ross in that this is referring to the expansion of the fabric of space from The Big Bang point of origin, or whether you intepret this in its ancient near eastern context which would see this as God spreading out a solid dome over the flat Earth. Whether you take the concordist approach (that this is referring to the expansion of space from the big bang) or the non-concordist approach (that this is referring to God setting the solid dome over the Earth), the "stretching out of the heavens" is a creative act, and The Bible says that God is the sole entity responsible for it.

What about the second premise? John 1:1-3 says "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.". This prologue to John's gospel echoes Genesis 1 ("In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" - 1:1). In the beginning, prior to the creation of the physical space-time realm, The Word alone existed. He was with God and was God Himself. The text goes on to say that The Word created all things and that nothing came into being except through The Word. John says essentially "If it exists, Jesus made it". John asserts in so uncertain terms that Jesus is the Creator of everything that exists, everything!

In Colossians 1, the apostle Paul says the same thing: "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him, all things hold together." 

Premise 2 is pretty well established. The Old Testament says that God created the universe alone! He had no helpers in the act of divine creation! And yet, The New Testament says clearly that Jesus created the universe.

This leads us to premise 3: "Either The Bible Contradicts Itself Or Jesus Is God". Again, I don't see a third option. If Jesus isn't the same being as Yahweh, then either The New Testament is false in saying that Jesus created the universe, or the Old Testament got it wrong when it said Yahweh had no helpers in creation. Of course, there is a second option: Jesus and Yahweh are one in the same (cf. John 10:30).

Premise 4: If you really believe God breathed both testaments, then the former option is not acceptable. God cannot err. The Bible is God's word. Therefore, The Bible cannot err.

Since the 4 premises are true, then so is the conclusion: 5: Therefore, Jesus is God. 2

SYLLOGISM THREE

1: Anyone who accepts worship other than Yahweh is a blasphemer.
2: Jesus accepted worship.
3: Therefore, Jesus was either a blasphemer or He was Yahweh.
4: Jesus was not a blasphemer.
5: Therefore, Jesus is Yahweh.

Defense of Premise 1: 

Revelation 4:11 says, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” This verse states that God is deserving of worship. In part, it is because we owe our very existence to Him. If God never decided to create us, we wouldn't exist. We should praise and thank Him for allowing us to come into being and to enjoy a fulfilling relationship in eternity with Him, and even for goods in this lifetime (cf. James 1:17).

That God, and God alone, is worthy of worship is spelled out in the first of The Ten Commandments; "You shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3). This isn't an arbitrary command of God. It isn't, as skeptics of The Bible have said, that God is insecure and needs validation and assurance of His goodness. God is deserving and worthy of worship because of two things: we owe our existence to Him and ergo our praise (see Revelation 4:11), and also because God is what St. Anselm called "The Greatest Conceivable Being". God is a being of which no greater can be conceived. God is great in every way one can be great, and He is great in those ways to the maximal extent. This is generally stated in Bible passages like 1 Chronicles 16:25 which says "For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; He also is to be feared above all gods." and Jeremiah 10:6 which says "There is none like You, O LORD; You are great, and great is Your name in might." and Isaiah 43:10 which says "'You are my witnesses,' declares the LORD, 'and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.'" and Psalm 77:13 which says "Your way, O God, is holy; What god is great like our God?"

More specifically, it is an entailment from The Bible passages asserting God's omnipotence (e.g Job 42:2, Jeremiah 32:17, Matthew 19:26), omniscience (Job 21:22, Psalm 139:1-4, Proverbs 15:3, Isaiah 40:13-1, Hebrews 4:13), omnipresence (Jeremiah 23:24, 1 Kings 8:27, Psalm 139:7-10, Acts 17:27), omnibenevolence (e.g John 3:16) which logically flows from his moral perfection (Deuteronomy 32:4).

So, the reason worship is a moral obligation is that we owe it to God. Why? Because He is literally the greatest thing in the universe! To direct our utmost adoration to anything else would be evil. God, being morally perfect, wills for us to direct our utmost devotion to the summum bonum (the highest good). It just so happens to be Him. If something else were the summum bonum, He would will we worship that, but He is the Greatest Conceivable Being. On top of that, we owe our very existence to Him. That we can enjoy anything is thanks to the creative act of God. Therefore, it is the hight of blasphemy for anyone other than the Greatest Conceivable Being who is our Creator to acclaim worship for Himself. As preachers frequently say: "Everyone worships something" and that's true. Everyone has something in their number-1-adoration-spot. The Greatest Being deserves that spot. It's immoral for anything else to occupy that pedestal. This is why Paul and Peter freaked out when people tried to pay them homage (e.g Acts 10:25-26).

Defense Of Premise 2:

Jesus definitely received worship, and unlike Paul and Peter, he never rebuked anyone for it. Even when Jesus was a baby, he received worshiped. As soon as the Magi laid eyes on the infant Christ, “they bowed down and worshiped Him” (Matthew 2:11). Of course, one may object that Jesus, being a baby, had no ability to rebuke the Magi for worshipping him. Therefore, this instance proves nothing. I agree, so let's fast forward to Jesus' adulthood. In the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, Jesus received worship: “So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!’” (Matthew 21:9; John 12:13). The gospels of Matthew and John do not record a single word of rebuke out of Jesus' mouth for this. Hosanna is a plea for salvation and an expression of adoration. This is definitely a form of worship.

But perhaps the most startling example is found in John 20, where St. Thomas falls to his knees and cries out "My Lord and my God!". Jesus never says "Don't call me God, you fool! I'm merely a man just like you!" instead he says "Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who believe but have not seen". No rebuke, no warning. Jesus acts as if being called God and being bowed to is totally normal.

Defense Of Premise 3

Once again, we reach a dichotomy. Since only God is worthy of worship and Jesus received worship happily, it follows that either Jesus was blaspheming or He was simply accepting what was rightfully His. Which one is it? This leads us to premise 4:

Defense of Four: Jesus was not a blasphemer.

How do we know whether or not Jesus was blaspheming? If God raised Jesus from the dead, then He put His stamp of approval on everything Jesus said and did. He agreed with Jesus' teachings and conduct. God would not have raised a liar or a lunatic. For the cultists who believe The Bible is God's Word, one need only point out that The Bible teaches that Jesus rose from the dead.

This blog post isn't intended to convince skeptics of The Bible, but believers of The Bible who deny the deity of Christ. When trying to convince atheists, agnostics, Muslims, or other non-Christians that Jesus is God, I take a different tactic. First, I apply the criteria of authenticity to sayings of Jesus in the gospels that entail that Jesus believed that He was divine. I do this, for example, in my blog post "A Quick Case For Jesus' Divine Self-Understanding". Then, I argue that if Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, then that means that Jesus was telling the truth. After all, the God of Israel would never resurrect a heretic and a blasphemer. So if Jesus rose from the dead, then God put His stamp of approval on Jesus' teachings, including his teachings that He is divine. Obviously, the resurrection would be a miracle (i.e an act of God). Atheists are right in claiming that science has proven resurrections don't happen naturally. The more scientific knowledge we gain, the more we can be sure that a dead corpse isn't just going to spontaneously regenerate. That only helps the Christian's cause, as it keeps anyone from saying that if Jesus truly came back to life, there was some natural explanation behind it. If a corpse returns to life (especially one in as bad a shape as Jesus'), you can be sure that a miracle has taken place. Of course, that only raises another question: how do we know Jesus rose from the dead, apart from presupposing The Bible's inspiration. Here is where I apply "The Minimal Facts Approach" which utilize the aforementioned "criteria of authenticity" mentioned above in examining both the New Testament documents as well as extra-biblical documents. I give a brief presentation of The Minimal Facts argument in my blog post "A Quick Case For Jesus' Resurrection", but I go into more depth in "The Minimal Facts Case For Jesus' Resurrection PART 1" and "The Minimal Facts Case For Jesus' Resurrection, PART 2". This Easter, I'll have an entire 10 part blog post series giving an exhaustive treatment of the subject.

However, since this is aimed, not at people who disbelieve The Bible, but people who believe The Bible (Christadelphians, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.), then merely pointing out that The Bible teaches that God resurrected Jesus will be sufficient. You can simply quote the latter parts of the gospel and leave it at that.

Five: Therefore, Jesus is Yahweh

Given the truth of the premises, the conclusion follows.

CONCLUSION

For an argument to be successful, it must meet three criteria. It must have valid logic (i.e, it must follow the rules of inference such as modus ponens, modus tollens, hypothetical syllogism, disjunctive syllogism, etc.), it must have true premises, and it must have evidence to demonstrate the truth of the premises. If an argument meets these three criteria, then one is justified in believing the conclusion.

In order to refute an argument, one must either show that the argument's conclusion doesn't follow even if all the premises were true (i.e the logic is invalid), or that at least one of the premises is false. There is no other way to refute an argument. For cultists to deny the deity of Jesus, I ask this question: which premise(s) of each of these arguments do you reject, and why do you reject it?

------------------------------------------------------------
Notes

1: For an explanation of why this maneuver doesn't work, see James White's book The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering The Heart Of Christian Belief.

2: Oneness Pentecostals and other modalists use this exact same argument, but come to a slightly different conclusion. They are correct in inferring from these two sets of scripture passages that Jesus is God, but that doesn't at all entail that Jesus and The Father are the same person. The doctrine of The Trinity does not insert that The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are different Gods who all worked together in creating the universe. Rather, the Trinity states that there is only one God but that this God consists of 3 persons (The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit). This argument supports the conclusion that Jesus is God and is of the same divine essence as His father, but it doesn't prove that there is no distinction in their personhood. To make that conclusion is to beg the question in favor of modalism. Trinitarians and modalists both agree that Jesus and His Father are God (the same God). We just disagree on whether God consists of a plurality of persons or not. So, modalists should certainly use this argument to defend Christ's deity, but they need to stop using it against Trinitarians.

Comments

  1. I find that all 3 arguments you've provided here are quite unconvincing indeed.

    For syllogism 1 I'd say: Premise 3 is false as there’s no contradiction in saying both Jesus and Jehovah are our saviours.. Jehovah is indeed our saviour in that he allowed the way for man to become reconciled with him. But Jesus is our saviour in that he acted as that sacrifice the God allowed for.

    For syllogism 2 I'd say: Premise 3 is false as there’s no contradiction in saying both Jesus and Jehovah created the universe. I agree that Jesus created the universe. But that hardly indicates that he is Almighty God. All things are ultimately from Jehovah God because he created Jesus who then created everything else (Proverbs 8). Jesus was following the orders of God when he created everything else, so I think it may reasonably be said that God created the heavens and the earth with Jesus acting merely as the one who carried out God's orders. It hardly follows that Jesus is Jehovah.

    For syllogism 3 I'd say: Premise 3 is false in that the type of reverence Jesus received was not in anyway analogous to the worship we give to Jehovah (therefore he was not blaspheming). The type of "worship"Jesus received was no different from that of a King. Also, when Thomas said "My Lord and My God!" - if we were to talk to someone who tells us something and we say "Oh my God!" - do you think we are saying they are God?

    These rebuttals aren't even from a careful reading of your post but just what I picked up from perusing. Were I to read more carefully I could perhaps find much more to question. I'm ok if trinitarians want to say the trinity is a mystery and that it's something you just believe emotionally - but I don't think it works out well to actually think such a belief can be rationally shown.

    ReplyDelete
  2. For syllogism one, what do you make of God in the Old Testament saying that He was the only Savior (Isaiah 43:11)? If Yahweh is the ONLY savior, and Jesus is our Savior, would it not be the case that there are two Saviors....unless Jesus and Yahweh are one?

    For syllogism two, there is indeed a contradiction in saying that Yahweh and Jesus both created the universe. Premise 3 is a result of taking premises 1 and 2 together "1: Only God created the universe." and "2: Jesus created the universe." If these 2 premises are true, then it follows that either God was NOT alone in creating the universe, or Jesus didn't create the world. Denying both of these would be denying the clear teachings of scripture.

    God was very explicit in the Old Testament that he had no partners in creating the universe. As I said in defense of premise 1, only God created the universe. No one else did. In Isaiah 44:24, God says "This is what the LORD says- your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth BY MYSELF,". In this verse, God says that He spread out the Earth by himself. Other translations render it "I ALONE spread out the Earth". If Jesus were a separate entity and participated in the creation of the universe, God would be saying something that's not true. It would not be the case that He spread out the Earth "by Himself". He wouldn't have done it by himself, since, as you stated, he would have at least have been doing it through Jesus as a secondary cause. In Job 9:8, Job says of God "HE ALONE stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea." Both of these verses (Isaiah 44:24 and Job 9:8) state that God alone is responsible for the stretching out of the heavens.

    If God created Jesus, and then Jesus created everything else, these verses would be false.

    The only way this tension can be solved is if Jesus is God, one with the Father (cf. John 10:30).

    For syllogism three, your interpretation leads to a different problem. Namely, if what Thomas was saying was the equivalent of the modern "Oh my God", then Thomas was taking God's name in vain. Yet Jesus didn't seem to be bothered by Thomas taking the name of God as an expletive.

    As you yourself admit, "These rebuttals aren't even from a careful reading of your post but just what I picked up from perusing." This probably explains why your rebuttals reflect a poor understanding of my arguments and the reasons gave for affirming the truth of the premises. I advise carefully reading someone's arguments in the future before giving your thoughts on them. In my experience, skimming always leads to poor understanding. In my response, I've mostly just needed to reiterate what I've said in the blog post as you completely missed the point regarding syllogisms 1 and 2.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YOU SAID: “For syllogism one, what do you make of God in the Old Testament saying that He was the only Savior (Isaiah 43:11)? If Yahweh is the ONLY savior, and Jesus is our Savior, would it not be the case that there are two Saviors....unless Jesus and Yahweh are one?”

      I hardly see this as supporting premise 3. Jehovah is ultimately our saviour, but Jesus is simply our saviour in that he acts as the agent of Jehovah. So I flat out reject your argument as creating a false dichotomy. Isaiah 43:11 says (in part): “... apart from me there is no savior” (NIV). Which is compatible with believing both Jesus and Jehovah our our saviours. Because without Jehovah there would be no Jesus and no us and thus nothing to save!

      YOU SAID: “For syllogism two, there is indeed a contradiction in saying that Yahweh and Jesus both created the universe. Premise 3 is a result of taking premises 1 and 2 together "1: Only God created the universe." and "2: Jesus created the universe." If these 2 premises are true, then it follows that either God was NOT alone in creating the universe, or Jesus didn't create the world. Denying both of these would be denying the clear teachings of scripture.”

      Well then I would also reject premises 1 & 2 as, you’ve formulated them, to:
      Premise 1: Jehovah created the heavens universe.
      Premise 2: Jesus acted as the agent of Jehovah’s will in creating the universe.
      But then of course the argument doesn’t follow to the conclusion you want. I reject your view that the scripture indicates what you think. Jesus was merely the tool or means by which Jehovah created the universe. There is no contradiction in that.

      Delete
    2. (PART 2)

      So the argument for that premise relies on:
      - Isaiah 44:24 - to which I would respond that I agree that it was solely by Jehovah’s will that the universe was created. Jesus was simply the tool God used to actualise his will. Thus I struggle to see how this verse shows what you would like it to.
      - Job 9:8 - the same argument applies as above.

      YOU SAID: “If God created Jesus, and then Jesus created everything else, these verses would be false.”

      I reject this such a conclusion.

      YOU SAID “The only way this tension can be solved is if Jesus is God, one with the Father (cf. John 10:30).”

      Jesus also said that his disciples should be one just as he is with his father. So clearly he’s not talking in a literal sense but in the sense of having a sort of unity of purpose.

      YOU SAID: “For syllogism three, your interpretation leads to a different problem. Namely, if what Thomas was saying was the equivalent of the modern "Oh my God", then Thomas was taking God's name in vain. Yet Jesus didn't seem to be bothered by Thomas taking the name of God as an expletive.”

      That certainly doesn’t seem like a case of taking The Lord’s Name in vain! It seems to me like it would quite an appropriate expression given the context of the scripture! He saw the risen Jesus after all!

      And now I’ve got some points to make regarding this supposed trinitarian default position many hold and why I reject it:
      1. As someone who was raised in an agnostic household I wasn’t disposed either to trinitarianism or non-trinitarianism. But when looked into the Bible for myself I saw no reason other than to accept anything other than the common sense reading of scripture - that Jesus was simply the son of God.
      2. This brings me to my second point. That the trinitarian position lacks simplicity (as a hypothesis) and isn’t derivable from a common sense reading of scripture.
      3. Defenders of the trinity are frequently moving the goalpost. Changing the rules as to what counts for or against the view depending on the argument presented. This counts against the view in my opinion. For example, I spoke to a trinitarian and showed evidence for the fact that Jesus clearly viewed himself as separate and subordinate to the father. Her response “well that was when he was on earth” - intimating that somehow it doesn’t count. However when I showed her the scripture that Jesus was at God’s right hand (as Stephen’s vision indicated), her response was “well we don’t understand the trinity” - while still maintaining that it was true. It’s nonsense like this that makes me, someone who wasn’t raised in a trinitarian household, think the view is irrational.

      Delete
    3. This following paragraph should be corrected to *Well then I would also reject premises 1 & 2 as, you’ve formulated them, to:
      Premise 1: Jehovah created the universe.
      Premise 2: Jesus acted as the agent of Jehovah’s will in creating the universe.
      But then of course the argument doesn’t follow to the conclusion you want. I reject your view that the scripture indicates what you think. Jesus was merely the tool or means by which Jehovah created the universe. There is no contradiction in that.

      Delete
    4. Sorry for all the words, but additionally I’d like to reference a scripture in supporting my argument against your second syllogism. Colossians 1:15, 16 (NIV) says: “15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him” (Emphasis mine). So Jesus was the firstborn of all creation by God. After which God used Jesus to create everything else.

      Delete
    5. "I hardly see this as supporting premise 3. Jehovah is ultimately our saviour, but Jesus is simply our saviour in that he acts as the agent of Jehovah. So I flat out reject your argument as creating a false dichotomy." -- The context of Isaiah 43:11 doesn't support your interpretation. When verse 11 is taken in context, it's clear that God is referring to Himself who does the saving, and not merely through some secondary cause or agent. --> https://www.biblestudytools.com/isaiah/43.html

      It's interesting that verse immediately preceeding verse 11 has Yahweh saying that apart from him, there is no God. "'You are my witnesses'” declares the LORD, 'and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior." (verses 10 and 11). If we're to understand God as saying there would be no savior unless He created them, does this mean there is no God unless God created them?

      Regarding syllogism 2, your maneuver of making Christ God's means of creating the universe just doesn't work. This would still create a partnership with Yahweh and Jesus in the establishment of the heavens and the earth. Yet scripture says God was alone in creating the universe, that he did it by himself. Even

      Finally, I should point out that this blog post isn't trying to establish The Trinity, as you seem to think, but simply the deity of Christ. A Oneness Pentacostal or other modalists who also believe Jesus is God could just as well employ these arguments. To establish that the Father and Son are distinct persons, I would employ different arguments. However, I will make some brief comments about your 3 points. First, simplicity isn't the only or the most important criterion in establishing which hypothesis is the best. I would argue that explanatory power and scope are far more important criteria. The most important point is not whether the Trinity is simpler than tri-theism or modalism, but whether it accurately reflects The Biblical data. I would argue that it does not. The Trinity is a logical outflowing of 5 biblical teachings (1) There is only one God, (2) The Father is God, (3) The Son is God, (4) The Holy Spirit is God, and (5) The Father, Son, and Spirit are distinct in personhood. Modalism makes sense of 1-4 but not 5. Tri-theism or the theology of the Jehovah's Witnesses can account for 1 and 5 but cannot account (and even denies) 2, 3, and 4. Again, as I said, this blog post was only meant to defend the deity of Christ. For a defense of all 5 planks undergirding the reality of The Trinity, see my article "Does The Bible Teach That God Is A Trinity?" -- > https://cerebralfaith.blogspot.com/2014/08/does-bible-teach-that-god-is-trinity.html

      Secondly, if the Trinitarians you spoke of do indeed "move the goalposts", that is the fault on those particular defenders of the doctrine, not an inherent flaw in the doctrine itself. Beware of The Fallacy Fallacy.

      Delete
    6. Regarding Colossians 1:15-16 ---> https://carm.org/col-115-firstborn-all-creation

      Delete
    7. YOU SAID: “The context of Isaiah 43:11 doesn't support your interpretation. When verse 11 is taken in context, it's clear that God is referring to Himself who does the saving, and not merely through some secondary cause or agent. --> https://www.biblestudytools.com/isaiah/43.html”

      I had at look at the context and I simply don’t see any contradiction in what I’ve earlier stated.

      YOU SAID: “It's interesting that verse immediately preceeding verse 11 has Yahweh saying that apart from him, there is no God. "'You are my witnesses'” declares the LORD, 'and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior." (verses 10 and 11). If we're to understand God as saying there would be no savior unless He created them, does this mean there is no God unless God created them?”

      Again, I think more or less the same point I just made applies here too. I just can’t see a contradiction. These supposed contradictions don’t seem like anything equivalent to a necessary axiom like: “X and not-X cannot both obtain at the same time”. It seems logically possible that what you perceive to be an apparent contradiction can be resolved - and I’ve given my reasons for why.

      YOU SAID: “First, simplicity isn't the only or the most important criterion in establishing which hypothesis is the best. I would argue that explanatory power and scope are far more important criteria.”

      I do agree with you. I think the simplest answer isn’t always the correct one, but I consider this to be an additional reason for why I’ve always struggled with the trinity dogma.

      Delete
    8. YOU SAID: “The most important point is not whether the Trinity is simpler than tri-theism or modalism, but whether it accurately reflects The Biblical data. I would argue that it does not. The Trinity is a logical outflowing of 5 biblical teachings (1) There is only one God, (2) The Father is God, (3) The Son is God, (4) The Holy Spirit is God, and (5) The Father, Son, and Spirit are distinct in personhood. Modalism makes sense of 1-4 but not 5. Tri-theism or the theology of the Jehovah's Witnesses can account for 1 and 5 but cannot account (and even denies) 2, 3, and 4.”

      Well I would actually accept 2 in addition to 1 & 5. But yes I would reject 3 and 4 as I don’t believe they have a biblical underpinning. Importantly, this conclusion I came to seems like nothing more than a common sense reading of scripture. I ask you, had you not come into contact at all with the trinity would you have concluded the bible teaches it?

      YOU SAID: “Again, as I said, this blog post was only meant to defend the deity of Christ. For a defense of all 5 planks undergirding the reality of The Trinity, see my article "Does The Bible Teach That God Is A Trinity?" -- > https://cerebralfaith.blogspot.com/2014/08/does-bible-teach-that-god-is-trinity.html”

      I appreciate it. Perhaps I’ll have a gander at that.

      YOU SAID: “Secondly, if the Trinitarians you spoke of do indeed "move the goalposts", that is the fault on those particular defenders of the doctrine, not an inherent flaw in the doctrine itself. Beware of The Fallacy Fallacy.”

      You are right there.

      YOU SAID: “Regarding Colossians 1:15-16 ---> https://carm.org/col-115-firstborn-all-creation”

      I’ll respond broadly to the thrust of the three points made here:
      1. Their first point doesn’t refute the “first-born” argument that I can see. It merely presupposes that Jesus wasn’t created (which is the very thing at issue). It then goes in to say “first-created” wasn’t used (but supposedly should’ve been if Jesus was created), but then 2 goes on to show that firstborn reasonably literally refers to being firstborn!
      2. Jehovah’s Witnesses square Psalms 89:27 the following way: “...it seems that Jehovah was referring prophetically to the one foreshadowed by David, God’s own “firstborn” Son in heaven upon whom He confers kingship more exalted than that of any human ruler. —Compare Eze 34:24, where Messiah is spoken of as “my servant David.”” Thus I think it is plausible to reject the second point.
      3. This is simply a case of the equivocation fallacy! Genesis 41:51, 52 refers to Joseph’s sons and Jeremiah 31:9 refers to the tribe of Ephraim!

      But all that said. I like a lot of the stuff you’ve written - and I’m glad you don’t mind a friendly discussion of these important topics. As someone who seems to share many of my interests, I think you’d enjoy the book “Necessary Existence” by Alexander Pruss and Joshua Rasmussen. It’s is absolutely on the cutting edge at the moment. It improves (or at least adds more detail), in my opinion, on both the Ontological Argument (more so in supporting the possibility premise) and the Leibnitzian Cosmological Argument.

      Delete
    9. Regarding the first syllogism, you've given me something to think about. I think your alternative is implausible, but then, given that I'm giving an argument FOR the deity of Christ, it's up to me to establish the premises.

      Let's focus instead on the second syllogism, as I found this one to be the strongest out of the 3.

      You wrote \\\\Well I would actually accept 2 in addition to 1 & 5. But yes I would reject 3 and 4 as I don’t believe they have a biblical underpinning. Importantly, this conclusion I came to seems like nothing more than a common sense reading of scripture.\\\\

      Yes, I gathered that much. Point 3 is what this blog post attempts to demonstrate to be true. But wouldn't conclude that if those 5 points are taught in scripture then the Trinity is just a natural inference?

      You asked " I ask you, had you not come into contact at all with the trinity would you have concluded the bible teaches it?" -- This seems like a pointless hypothetical question. I have no idea what conclusions I would have come to about the nature of God if left to just read The Bible on my own completely cut off from any theological commentary. I will say this; if I had read John 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1, Philippians 2 without any theological commentary to influence my thinking, I absolutely would have concluded that Jesus is God incarnate; Creator and Sustainer of the world. Would I have eventually have come to be a Trinitarian? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe I would have been a Modalist. But I certainly wouldn't deny the deity of Jesus.

      Delete
    10. *COLOSSIANS 1:15-16

      As Justin Holcomb, episcapal priest and teacher at Reformed Theological Seminary said: "The Greek word for “firstborn” that John uses is prōtotokos, a word that literally refers to birth order—the first child born. This is a concept of great significance in the Old Testament, where the firstborn son inherited his father’s place as head of the family, receiving the father’s blessing and a double portion of the inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:17). After the Passover in Egypt, God told his people that every firstborn child was set aside as his own (Exodus 13:2), and the nation of Israel as a whole was referred to as God’s “firstborn son” (Exodus 4:22). Because of the biblical significance attached to the concept, the word 'firstborn' acquired a metaphorical sense and came to also refer to the special status of the firstborn as the preeminent son and heir."

      The burden of proof is on you to establish that "firstborn" means "first created" rather than one who has pre-eminence or priority over all creation. I find the former implausible because I allow scripture to interpret scripture. Your interpretation of verses 15 and 16 conflicts with the rest of the Bible.

      “And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. For by Him ALL THINGS were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — ALL THINGS have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”

      Im guessing you're a Jehovah's Witness, am I right? If true, then u probably think this passage means to say "all OTHER things were created through him" as The New World Translation renders it, which would allow you to exclude Jesus himself. Let's go from Colossians 1 to John 1 and let's use the the NWT of John 1 then.

      "In the beginning was the Word,a and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was in the beginning with God. ALL THINGS came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence."

      Adam Ford offers a nice illustration that helps to get the point across that I am trying to get across. Think of it this way: Everything can be broadly divided into two groups; everything that's created, and everything's that not created. You could envision two buckets labeled "Created" and "Not Created". Now, in the "Created" box, you would put everything except God. This is because everything that exists other than God came to be because God created it. God and God alone would be in the "Not Created" bucket, because God is eternal (Psalm 90:2). Now, the New World Translation of John 1:3 says "ALL THINGS came into existence through him". And this verse is referring to Jesus, The Word. But if all things, ALL things, came into existence through him, then Jesus already had to exist to create them. If all things came into being through Jesus, then Jesus cannot possibly be in the "Created" bucket because "all things" would have to include Jesus himself, and it's a logical impossibility to bring yourself into being because you would have to exist before you existed in order to create yourself. If Jesus is not in the "created" bucket, then he must be in the "Not-Created" bucket. Because only God exists in the "Not-Created" bucket, and Jesus has to be in the "Not Created" bucket, this means that Jesus is God.

      Delete
    11. So, even using the NWT, we come the conclusion that Jesus is God.

      Delete
    12. YOU SAID: “You asked " I ask you, had you not come into contact at all with the trinity would you have concluded the bible teaches it?" -- This seems like a pointless hypothetical question. I have no idea what conclusions I would have come to about the nature of God if left to just read The Bible on my own completely cut off from any theological commentary. I will say this; if I had read John 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1, Philippians 2 without any theological commentary to influence my thinking, I absolutely would have concluded that Jesus is God incarnate; Creator and Sustainer of the world. Would I have eventually have come to be a Trinitarian? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe I would have been a Modalist. But I certainly wouldn't deny the deity of Jesus.” [emphasis mine]

      You make a good point. Hypotheticals are not always useful in establishing whether something is true. I guess I can only express my subjective scepticism that you would’ve actually concluded the trinity/the deity of Jesus is true had you not been exposed to the idea.

      YOU SAID: “As Justin Holcomb, episcapal priest and teacher at Reformed Theological Seminary said: "The Greek word for “firstborn” that John uses is prōtotokos, a word that literally refers to birth order—the first child born. This is a concept of great significance in the Old Testament, where the firstborn son inherited his father’s place as head of the family, receiving the father’s blessing and a double portion of the inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:17). After the Passover in Egypt, God told his people that every firstborn child was set aside as his own (Exodus 13:2), and the nation of Israel as a whole was referred to as God’s “firstborn son” (Exodus 4:22). Because of the biblical significance attached to the concept, the word 'firstborn' acquired a metaphorical sense and came to also refer to the special status of the firstborn as the preeminent son and heir."” [emphasis mine]

      It seems to me as if the burden of proof is on you to establish the section I bolded. I simply haven’t seen the evidence to conclude that “firstborn” has a non-literal use. The arguments I have seen for that view I earlier rejected (with my reasons why).

      YOU SAID: “The burden of proof is on you to establish that "firstborn" means "first created" rather than one who has pre-eminence or priority over all creation. I find the former implausible because I allow scripture to interpret scripture. Your interpretation of verses 15 and 16 conflicts with the rest of the Bible.” [emphasis mien]

      I accept the first definition of “firstborn” though - the literal one. I do indeed reject the second definition and I did provide arguments for why (in answer to the justification for the view). I’d say the burden is on you to establish the view that it has that secondary metaphorical meaning. Additionally, I find the part that I bolded interesting because that, to me, seems like the very point at issue. From my standpoint I’m defending the common sense default position that (1) The Father is God; (3) Jesus is the son of God; and (3) The holy spirit is God’s active force. But you want to add additional concepts in with the mix. So it seems to me like the burden of proof is on you (I don’t think it’s necessary to get into a back and forth over who has the burden of proof, so I’m happy to leave off this point if you disagree, but that is nonetheless my view).

      Delete
    13. **YOU SAID: “Im guessing you're a Jehovah's Witness, am I right? If true, then u probably think this passage means to say "all OTHER things were created through him" as The New World Translation renders it, which would allow you to exclude Jesus himself. Let's go from Colossians 1 to John 1 and let's use the the NWT of John 1 then.
      "In the beginning was the Word,a and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was in the beginning with God. ALL THINGS came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence."”

      Ok so as far as I’m concerned we haven’t resolved the issue with verse 15 - in that I see no reason other than to believe that Jesus was created by God. But after that I see no contradiction in verse 16 or John 1:1 and what I believe. I just can’t see a contradiction in my view and the Bible unless I see an example.

      YOU SAID: “Adam Ford offers a nice illustration that helps to get the point across that I am trying to get across. Think of it this way: Everything can be broadly divided into two groups; everything that's created, and everything's that not created. You could envision two buckets labeled "Created" and "Not Created". Now, in the "Created" box, you would put everything except God. This is because everything that exists other than God came to be because God created it. God and God alone would be in the "Not Created" bucket, because God is eternal (Psalm 90:2)”

      I see nothing to disagree with here yet.

      YOU SAID: “Now, the New World Translation of John 1:3 says "ALL THINGS came into existence through him". And this verse is referring to Jesus, The Word. But if all things, ALL things, came into existence through him, then Jesus already had to exist to create them. If all things came into being through Jesus, then Jesus cannot possibly be in the "Created" bucket because "all things" would have to include Jesus himself, and it's a logical impossibility to bring yourself into being because you would have to exist before you existed in order to create yourself. If Jesus is not in the "created" bucket, then he must be in the "Not-Created" bucket. Because only God exists in the "Not-Created" bucket, and Jesus has to be in the "Not Created" bucket, this means that Jesus is God.”

      I can see what you are getting at here. Except Colossians 1:15 and many other verses indicate that Jesus was created. He is God’s “son,” “only-begotten son” and “firstborn”. Thus the truth of this verse would apply to Jesus creating everything other than himself as he was created. This is compatible with my reading of Colossians 1:15, 16 - because it says Jesus was God’s firstborn (which I still see not reason other than to accept the common sense meaning of the word) goes on to say “All things were created by him. He created everything in heaven and on earth. He created everything that can be seen and everything that can't be seen. He created kings, powers, rulers and authorities. Everything was created by him and for him.” So the understanding would be that Jesus created everything other than himself - Jesus having been created by God. Also, God of course would be the only necessarily being because God is eternal and uncreated.

      Delete
  3. First, I met that burden of proof by saying that your interpretation of Colossians 1:15 conflicts with the rest of scripture boldly asserting Christ as God and Creator. As any hermenuetics teacher will tell you, scripture needs to interpret scripture. What that means is that we must accept an interpretion that is line with the clear teaching of the rest of The Bible.

    The only thing you've done to refute my arguments in my previous two responses was just to try to use Colossians 1:15 to interpret the rest of The Bible rather than use the rest of The Bible to interpret Colossians 1:15. Again, if John 1:3 says ((as even the Jehovah's Witness translation agrees)) that Jesus created ALL THINGS, then in my bucket illustration, Jesus has got to be in the uncreated bucket with God The Father, not in the Created bucket with you, me, angels, and bananas.

    The problem with trying to make "all things" mean all things EXCEPT Jesus is that after saying "all things came into existence through him", the text says "and apart from him, not even one thing came into existence." . This is "A truth so nice, God said it twice" as Mr. Ford put it. Apart from Jesus, not even one single thing came into existence. This leaves no doubt that the passage is referring to 100% of what exists other than God Himself; the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YOU SAID: "First, I met that burden of proof by saying that your interpretation of Colossians 1:15 conflicts with the rest of scripture boldly asserting Christ as God and Creator."

      I suppose you did offer an argument - but one which I suppose, at the end of the day, I disagree with (and explained my reasons why). However, your assertion that scripture "boldly asserts Christ as God and Creator" is simply something I utterly reject.

      YOU SAID: "As any hermenuetics teacher will tell you, scripture needs to interpret scripture. What that means is that we must accept an interpretion that is line with the clear teaching of the rest of The Bible. "

      I couldn't agree more. That is my hermeneutic and the hermeneutic of Jehovah's Witnesses... The burden is on you to establish that neither I, nor Jehovah's Witnesses, use scripture to interpret scripture.

      YOU SAID: "The only thing you've done to refute my arguments in my previous two responses was just to try to use Colossians 1:15 to interpret the rest of The Bible rather than use the rest of The Bible to interpret Colossians 1:15."

      Well I reject this assertion absolutely. I think Colossians 1:15 supports my view - but I certainly don't use the scripture in my interpretation of all of scripture (or even in understanding all related passages). I agree, in principle, that one verse alone is totally insufficient to understand a biblical teaching. Hence why I am open to considering all of scripture - because that's the only way to understand what the Bible teaches! But Colossians 1:15 clearly has bearing on related passages such as Colossians 1:16 & John 1:3! From what I can see you are asking me to ignore the scripture - where as I do not ask you to ignore any scripture.

      Delete
    2. YOU SAID: "Again, if John 1:3 says ((as even the Jehovah's Witness translation agrees)) that Jesus created ALL THINGS, then in my bucket illustration, Jesus has got to be in the uncreated bucket with God The Father, not in the Created bucket with you, me, angels, and bananas. "

      Again I go back to my earlier statement that there are many scriptures that say Jesus is God’s “son,” His “only-begotten son” and His “firstborn”. I accept the common sense use of these terms in relation to the position of Jesus to his father - that is, he was created by God. You seem to accept this on some level (although you perhaps choose to understand it differently) when you related your definition of the trinity where you asserted that the "son" is God.

      YOU SAID: "The problem with trying to make "all things" mean all things EXCEPT Jesus is that after saying "all things came into existence through him", the text says "and apart from him, not even one thing came into existence." . This is "A truth so nice, God said it twice" as Mr. Ford put it. Apart from Jesus, not even one single thing came into existence. This leaves no doubt that the passage is referring to 100% of what exists other than God Himself; the Creator and Sustainer of the universe."

      For starters, Jesus is, as the Bible says, God's "son", his "only-begotten son" and his "firstborn" - as per a great number of Bible passages (unless you think a great number of passages do not refer to Jesus in this way?). I accept the common sense understanding of these words in relation to Jesus. I see no reason whatsoever to conclude they were used figuratively (but even if they were it doesn't show that they weren't used literally in the case of Jesus). Colossians 1:15 says that Jesus was God's firstborn. Something can only be a firstborn if it had not existed before it was born (and you've given me no reason to think otherwise). Thus - from my understanding of these things it follows that when it says Jesus created "all things" - it refers to everything other than himself (because he can't create himself) and of course his creator Jehovah God (who is eternal and uncreated and thus cannot be created obviously).

      Delete
    3. Thank you anyway for interacting me anyway. I understand that this view is important one for many people - when I show up at doors I've experienced trinitarians angrily chant repetitively "you can't separate them! You can't separate them! You can't separate them!" However I have no problem interacting with people regardless of their views and do appreciate that you are open to interaction on this and other issues.

      Delete
  4. You reject a lot of the things I said, but you haven't refuted a word of it.

    The word for firstborn in Colossians 1:15 does not have the connotation of being created. It is the word, prototokos, which means preeminent. Jesus is the protokon of creation means that He is preeminent over the creation because He is the Creator, which also fits the context of Paul's Christology in Colossians 1.

    In context, it just means 'king of creation'. If anyone tries to take 'firstborn' literally and is consistent about reading the text with that kind of attitude, the passage just becomes nonsense. The Bible says that Jesus is the Word (logos) and everything was created through Him. So, it is logically impossible for Him to be created and at the same time the creator of everything ("ALL THINGS" as John 1:3 says). Since the Word became flesh, then, in this sense, He is the firstborn, that means, the one who could fulfil the law, so that all others, after this, could be sons and daughters through Him.

    Nothing you said refuted this point. John 1:3, even the exclusive JW translation of John 1:3, says that Jesus created "ALL" things. Not most things. Not all things other things, not everything except for a couple of things, but literally all things. In this case, Jesus could only be one of two things; an uncreated Creator or a created creator. If the latter is the case, John 1:3 is wrong. Jesus didn't create "ALL" things, he at most only created MOST things. If the former is the case, then Jesus is co-eternal with the Father. He is an uncreated Creator of the universe.

    If you continue to insist that Jesus' description as firstborn means first created being, then you make scripture contradict itself. I don't know how the JW stance on biblical inerrancy, but I take the doctrine very seriously. Scripture, as God's inspired word, can never contradict itself on what it teaches.

    To continue to use that one verse Colossians 1 is sloppy hermeneutics. Every verse there needs to be interpreted by the immediate context of the passage, the context of the book, and the context of the entirety of Scripture. In this case, Colossians 1:19 and Colossians 2:9 are definitive.

    Colossians 1:19 "For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell"

    Colossians 2:9 "For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily"

    "Firstborn" must be interpreted in a way that does not violate the fact that Paul clearly says that Jesus possessed the fullness of God.

    You say you reject the hermenuetical principle that scripture must interpret scripture. But Alexander, if you do that, you're going to put yourself in danger of coming to affirm all kinds of heresy (I mean...more than you have already). You can build all kinds of false doctrine on reading one verse in isolation. Let me give you an example: One could argue that in order for women to go to Heaven, they have to give birth before they die. Sound preposterous? Well, in 1 Timothy 2:15 Paul says "But women will be saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety." If we didn't interpret this passage in light of the rest of The Bible which clearly and explicitly states that salvation comes by faith in Christ, we'd probably end up with a bizarre child-birthing cult!

    ReplyDelete
  5. YOU SAID: "The word for firstborn in Colossians 1:15 does not have the connotation of being created. It is the word, prototokos, which means preeminent. Jesus is the protokon of creation means that He is preeminent over the creation because He is the Creator, which also fits the context of Paul's Christology in Colossians 1. "

    I rejected the assertion that firstborn refers to pre-eminence and explained why! The burden is on you to show that it actually means that. You have not done that. You provided that link on answering Witnesses on Colossians 1:15 but then I explained why the site's evidence for the "pre-eminence" definition of "firstborn" fails.

    YOU SAID: "In context, it just means 'king of creation'. If anyone tries to take 'firstborn' literally and is consistent about reading the text with that kind of attitude, the passage just becomes nonsense. The Bible says that Jesus is the Word (logos) and everything was created through Him. So, it is logically impossible for Him to be created and at the same time the creator of everything ("ALL THINGS" as John 1:3 says). Since the Word became flesh, then, in this sense, He is the firstborn, that means, the one who could fulfil the law, so that all others, after this, could be sons and daughters through Him."

    Evan, I feel like we are going around in circles on this point. Jesus did created all things other than himself (as not only could he not have created himself but he was created by God).


    YOU SAID: "Nothing you said refuted this point. John 1:3, even the exclusive JW translation of John 1:3, says that Jesus created "ALL" things. Not most things. Not all things other things, not everything except for a couple of things, but literally all things. In this case, Jesus could only be one of two things; an uncreated Creator or a created creator. If the latter is the case, John 1:3 is wrong. Jesus didn't create "ALL" things, he at most only created MOST things. If the former is the case, then Jesus is co-eternal with the Father. He is an uncreated Creator of the universe. "

    I did though refute your point though? Colossians 1:15 is a perfectly relevant scripture. But there are many others that indicate Jesus was God's son, subordinate to the father, is sitting at God's right hand (how could he sit at God's right hand if they were literally one?)… I could just go on and on. The scriptures provide context on Jesus statement that he created all things. The context indicates that he did created all things (besides himself as he was created by God).


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YOU SAID: "If you continue to insist that Jesus' description as firstborn means first created being, then you make scripture contradict itself."

      This is a fundamental disagreement we are having. I have not seen the evidence to believe that "firstborn" does not always have the common sense meaning. You are asserting that it can mean "pre-eminence" - you've quoted some people and shown what trinitarian scholars believe - but I want to go back to the Bible. I want a Biblical argument for such a view. I think it's worth my really driving this point home. This is at the centre of our disagreement. You entire argument rests on my accepting that "firstborn" in this context means "pre-eminence" - but I have not see a reason to accept such a view. Further, the fact that Colossians 1:16 follows the context given in 1:15 makes it clear that "all things" refer to that other than himself (as a created being) and Jehovah God (as an uncreated necessary being). Thus I see no contradiction whatsoever in maintain that Jesus was created!


      YOU SAID: " I don't know how the JW stance on biblical inerrancy, but I take the doctrine very seriously. Scripture, as God's inspired word, can never contradict itself on what it teaches. "

      I, and Jehovah's Witnesses, take the view also very seriously. The Bible clearly says "6 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16,17 NIV)

      YOU SAID: "To continue to use that one verse Colossians 1 is sloppy hermeneutics. Every verse there needs to be interpreted by the immediate context of the passage, the context of the book, and the context of the entirety of Scripture.

      Well I think that the entirety of scripture supports my view (obviously). But I think unless you can show that "son", "only-begotten son" & "firstborn" isn't being used in the common sense way when it refers to Jesus then I have no reason to accept you assertion that Jesus is God.

      Delete
    2. YOU SAID: "In this case, Colossians 1:19 and Colossians 2:9 are definitive. ""

      Well my research indicates that this interpretation is mistaken. For example, the "Insight on the Scriptures" says: "At Colossians 2:9 the apostle Paul says that in Christ “all the fullness of the divine quality [form of the·oʹtes] dwells bodily.” Here, again, some translations read “Godhead” or “deity,” which Trinitarians interpret to mean that God personally dwells in Christ. (KJ, NE, RS, NAB) However, Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon defines the·oʹtes in basically the same way it does thei·oʹtes, as meaning “divinity, divine nature.” (P. 792) The Syriac Peshitta and the Latin Vulgate render this word as “divinity.” Thus, here too, there is a solid basis for rendering the·oʹtes as referring to quality, not personality." (greater discussion here: https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200001201#h=7:0-9:756)

      YOU SAID: ""Firstborn" must be interpreted in a way that does not violate the fact that Paul clearly says that Jesus possessed the fullness of God."

      Well I just - by posting that quote just before - gave a reason to reject the idea that these verses indicate the deity of Jesus.

      YOU SAID: "You say you reject the hermenuetical principle that scripture must interpret scripture. But Alexander, if you do that, you're going to put yourself in danger of coming to affirm all kinds of heresy (I mean...more than you have already)."

      But you've given me no reason to accept that I am taking isolated passages to prove my view. Furthermore, from what I've seen thus far - in my opinion - you are relying on misunderstandings of the texts (that you have put forward) in order to prop up the trinity. I do not think the trinity/deity of Jesus view has any Biblical basis whatsoever and you just haven't given me any reason to think otherwise. As far as I can tell I've rejected every specific point you've brought in support of your view - I haven't accepted your reasoning and then denied the conclusion. You have made more general claims - like all of scripture proves your view - but clearly such a claim requires that you need a vast supporting argument rather than that I refute a claim I don't see as having been established.

      I think a clear picture I get from this discussion is that you seem to smuggle in your view that the trinity is obvious and that it is clearly taught by scripture. You act as if I see this but choose to ignore or reject it anyway. But this is preposterous - to make my position clear - I see no reason Biblical reason whatsoever to affirm such a view. Thus it is unreasonable for you to accuse me of rejecting a clear Biblical teaching as it is by no means clear to me!

      Delete
    3. I didn't mean for this to turn into such a heated exchange. I guess I just felt the need to answer the article because it was obviously aimed specifically at people like me. I had no intention to enter this discussion with a spirit of argumentativeness just for the sake of it.

      Delete
  6. I don't deny that Jesus is "God's Son, subordinate to The Father, is sitting at God's right hand", but what I, and what every Trinitariantakes that to mean Jesus is the Son of The Father, not a created being. He is subordinate to the first person of The Trinity. He is at the right hand of the first person of the Trinity. You asked, "how could he sit at God's right hand if they were literally one?" Good question. This is a good reason not to adhere to Modalism (also known as Sabellianism)! However, it isn't a strike against the doctrine of The Trinity which asserts that while the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all one divine being, they are distinct in their personhood.

    You wrote "But you've given me no reason to accept that I am taking isolated passages to prove my view." -- Dude! You just keep saying "firstborn means first created" and arguing that therefore, Jesus is a creature and not the uncreated God. Yet John 1 explicitly says "The Word was God" (John 1:1) and created ALL things (John 1:3 cf. Colossians 1:16), which couldn't possibly be ALL things if Jesus is included in things that were creating "Apart from him [Jesus] nothing was made that has been made]." If nothing came into existence except through Jesus, and yet Jesus came into existence, then there was at least ONE thing that was made that wasn't made through Jesus; namely Himself.

    And aside from the scriptures, we've been debating, I have a whole chapter in my book "Inference To The One True God" that explains that when Jesus claimed to be "Son Of Man", "Son Of God", and "Messiah", he was making claims of divinity. By the way, in my chapters on the Moral and Ontological Arguments, I show that only a Triune God can be a Maximally Great Being. So, besides an abductive biblical case, a philosophical case can be made for the Trinity. Check it out. It's available on Amazon. -- https://www.amazon.com/Inference-One-True-God-Believe/dp/1535461292/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

    Then you have Hebrews 1 in which God The Father calls Jesus "O God", tells him that he made the world, and commands the angels to worship him (an act of idolatry if Jesus isn't God) -- https://www.biblestudytools.com/hebrews/1.html

    But according to you, I should just ignore ALL of this because Colossians 1:15 says Jesus is "the firstborn of all creation" and this can't possibly mean anything but the barest, woodenly literal meaning of the word.

    This is why I said you're using one verse to interpret the rest of The Bible. The rest of The Bible, in both explicit and implicit ways, assert the deity "...of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:13)

    You wrote "As far as I can tell I've rejected every specific point you've brought in support of your view - I haven't accepted your reasoning and then denied the conclusion." -- rejected, yes. Refuted, no.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. **YOU SAID: "You just keep saying "firstborn means first created" and arguing that therefore, Jesus is a creature and not the uncreated God."

      You are right, I have been saying that. Because that is the definition of the word. My issue is that I don't see what reason I have to accept the other definition you posit.

      YOU SAID: "Yet John 1 explicitly says "The Word was God" (John 1:1)"

      That rendering is very controversial. I'm even willing to ignore the NWT in arguing the case. There are many translations that say (of the phrase rendered in your version "the word was God") things like: "the word was a god" or "the word was divine". So it seems to me by no means definitive that it be rendered that way. In fact I think even scholars who reject the rendering "a god" accept that what has been rendered "God" has a qualitative meaning and thus can be reasonably rendered as "divine". (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_1:1) I do know that trinitarian scholars generally accept the rendering you provided (of course), but I think there are good independent reasons to reject them. Just this verse is an entire conversation in and of itself!!

      YOU SAID: "...and created ALL things (John 1:3 cf. Colossians 1:16), which couldn't possibly be ALL things if Jesus is included in things that were creating "Apart from him [Jesus] nothing was made that has been made]." If nothing came into existence except through Jesus, and yet Jesus came into existence, then there was at least ONE thing that was made that wasn't made through Jesus; namely Himself. "

      Ok, well here's a reason why one might reasonably conclude that "all things" need not be all-encompassing. At times the Bible uses the word "all" in a way that allows for exceptions. Examples include:
      - 1 Corinthians 15:27 (NLT): "For the Scriptures say, "God has put all things [Other versions render it "everything"] under his authority." (Of course, when it says "all things are under his authority," that does not include God himself, who gave Christ his authority.)"
      - Romans 5:12 (NIV): "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned-"
      (Clearly this would exclude Jesus who was a man while on earth).

      YOU SAID: "By the way, in my chapters on the Moral and Ontological Arguments, I show that only a Triune God can be a Maximally Great Being. So, besides an abductive biblical case, a philosophical case can be made for the Trinity."

      I have heard Craig make an argument similar. That for God to be all loving he had to have someone to love at all times. But I guess I don't find this to be convincing because I don't see why it is necessary that God have someone to love at all times - it just doesn't seem clear to me. That said I am open to hearing such an argument - do you have a link or something you can give me to just that argument?

      YOU SAID: "Then you have Hebrews 1 in which God The Father calls Jesus "O God", tells him that he made the world, and commands the angels to worship him (an act of idolatry if Jesus isn't God) -- https://www.biblestudytools.com/hebrews/1.html "

      Well "god" can also mean mighty one. Jesus is called "mighty god" for example in Isaiah 9:6 ʼEl Gib·bohrʹ (not ʼEl Shad·daiʹ [God Almighty]). At Psalm 82:1, 6, men are referred to as 'gods". Jesus quoted from this Psalm at John 10:34, 35. They were gods in their capacity as representatives of and spokesmen for Almighty God. Similarly Moses was told that he was to serve as “God” to Aaron and to Pharaoh.​—Ex 4:16, ftn; 7:1.

      Delete
  7. I think this conversation has been steered way off course. Let me just address a couple of things before I bring it back on track. First, regarding 1 Corinthians 15:27. This doesn't refute my point for the author (Paul) explicitly qualifies that "all things" excludes Christ. John doesn't do this. So it's comparing apples to oranges. Nor does Paul do this in Colossians 1, since, as one of my friends pointed out to me who was following this thread, there is no Greek word for "other". The NWT simply injects it in their based on their presupposition that Jesus is a created being.

    You wrote: "I have heard Craig make an argument similar. That for God to be all loving he had to have someone to love at all times. But I guess I don't find this to be convincing because I don't see why it is necessary that God have someone to love at all times - it just doesn't seem clear to me. That said I am open to hearing such an argument - do you have a link or something you can give me to just that argument?"

    Yes. --> https://cerebralfaith.blogspot.com/2016/11/a-rebuttal-to-philosophical-argument.html

    Regarding your response to Hebrews 1, there's some really bad ad-hoc reasoning and exegetical problems with what you said, but I'm going to ignore that for now. I think we need to get back to the topic we drifted from. As even you agree, Jesus created the whole universe and everything in it, from the galaxies to the mountains and planets and people. However, in The Old Testament, God explicitly stated that he and he alone stretched out the heavens In Isaiah 44:24, G"This is what the LORD says- your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who SPREADS OUT THE EARTH BY MYSELF," (emphasis mine). In Job 9:8, Job says of God "He ALONE stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea."

    How can John 1 and Colossians 1 be true if Isaiah 44:24 and Job 9:8 are true? If Jesus created the worlds (meaning he stretched out the heavens, spread out the earth), how could God say this was a solo construction project? If Jesus had created the universe as an agent of Yahweh, Yahweh most certainly couldn't say that he singlehandedly spread out the heavens and was "by himself" in spreading out the earth. He certainly wasn't "alone" or "by himself" if Jesus played a role. On the other hand, if Isaiah 44:24 and Job 9:8 are true, how can it be that all things were created through Jesus?

    The only plausible way I can see that we don't have a contradiction between the scriptures is if The Father and The Son are persons who make up the same divine entity. If Jesus IS God, one with the father in their divine essence, God could certainly say in one book He inspired that he was by himself in the act of creation while attributing the creative work to Jesus (The Word) in John and Colossians. And in this case, "The Word Was God" would mean Jesus is God, not "a" god.

    You haven't addressed this argument, but instead kept pounding the "Firstborn! Firstborn! Firstborn!" argument into the ground.

    ReplyDelete
  8. And by the way, with regards to that one word you put so much stock in (prototokos), I did some digging and found that while Manasseh was the first one born. Ephraim was given the "right" of firstborn (because God saw that Ephraim's descendants would be greater).

    Here is the text:

    Genesis 48:13-20

    "Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel's left, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel's right, and brought them close to him. But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh's head, crossing his hands, although Manasseh was the firstborn. He blessed Joseph, and said, 'The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has been my shepherd all * my life to this day, The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; And may my name live on in them, And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; And may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.' When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim's head, it displeased him; and he grasped his father's hand to remove it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head. Joseph said to his father, 'Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn. Place your right hand on his head.' But his father refused and said, 'I know, my son, I know; he also will become a people and he also will be great. However, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.' He blessed them that day, saying, 'By you Israel will pronounce the blessing, saying, 'May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!' " Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh."

    That Ephraim (the tribe), is called the "firstborn" in Jeremiah, and not the tribe of Manasseh indicates that even tribes do not have to be first, in order to be called "firstborn". Thus, even though Jeremiah is referring to the tribe, CARM's argument still stands.

    ReplyDelete
  9. By the way, this subject is of the utmost importance. One of us is a heretic. If I'm wrong, I'm breaking the first commandment as I'd be worshipping a being other than Yahweh. If I'm wrong, I'm worshipping a false god. If you're wrong, you're refusing to give Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, the worship he deserves. So, this is not a small, secondary issue like the age of the earth, or special creation VS. evolution.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YOU SAID: “First, regarding 1 Corinthians 15:27. This doesn't refute my point for the author (Paul) explicitly qualifies that "all things" excludes Christ. John doesn't do this. So it's comparing apples to oranges.

      I’m confused. It seems to me that Colossians 1:15 plausibly offers a qualifier as well when it says Jesus created all things (v 16).

      YOU SAID: “Nor does Paul do this in Colossians 1, since, as one of my friends pointed out to me who was following this thread, there is no Greek word for "other". The NWT simply injects it in their based on their presupposition that Jesus is a created being.””

      However I haven’t been referring to the NWT in interacting with you at all. I’ve only consulted the NIV and biblehub.com. I still prefer the NWT and think it is a superior translation - but I’ve dropped it entirely in talking with you. I am happy to use a whole bunch of translations!

      YOU SAID: “https://cerebralfaith.blogspot.com/2016/11/a-rebuttal-to-philosophical-argument.html”

      Thank you, I’ll have a look.

      YOU SAID: “Regarding your response to Hebrews 1, there's some really bad ad-hoc reasoning and exegetical problems with what you said,”

      I think it’s a little inappropriate to make such an assertion without being willing to defend it. I do agree such a discussion on this could take as a bit far afield, but perhaps you shouldn’t have said this then.

      YOU SAID “I think we need to get back to the topic we drifted from. As even you agree, Jesus created the whole universe and everything in it, from the galaxies to the mountains and planets and people. However, in The Old Testament, God explicitly stated that he and he alone stretched out the heavens In Isaiah 44:24, G"This is what the LORD says- your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who SPREADS OUT THE EARTH BY MYSELF," (emphasis mine). In Job 9:8, Job says of God "He ALONE stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea."”

      Well I did address this in an earlier post. That is, I think this view is compatible with Jesus having acted as God’s master worker in carrying out God’s will in creating the universe and such. It may rightly be said that it was by God’s will alone that all things were created. This may plausibly be divided into a question over mechanism vs ultimate source. Jesus was the mechanism but Jehovah God was the ultimate source of the creation. I can see your point - but don’t see it as a bit of a false dichotomy.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. *YOU SAID: “How can John 1 and Colossians 1 be true if Isaiah 44:24 and Job 9:8 are true? If Jesus created the worlds (meaning he stretched out the heavens, spread out the earth), how could God say this was a solo construction project? If Jesus had created the universe as an agent of Yahweh, Yahweh most certainly couldn't say that he singlehandedly spread out the heavens and was "by himself" in spreading out the earth. He certainly wasn't "alone" or "by himself" if Jesus played a role. On the other hand, if Isaiah 44:24 and Job 9:8 are true, how can it be that all things were created through Jesus?”

      As I said earlier. Jesus is the mechanism by which all was created and Jehovah God is the ultimate source of created (in that it was by his will that all things were created). I simply find it hard to accept that this lacks any plausibility whatsoever. Your suggestion is a plausible hypothesis, but in the understanding of scripture I have, my understanding seems more reasonable.

      YOU SAID: “The only plausible way I can see that we don't have a contradiction between the scriptures is if The Father and The Son are persons who make up the same divine entity. If Jesus IS God, one with the father in their divine essence, God could certainly say in one book He inspired that he was by himself in the act of creation while attributing the creative work to Jesus (The Word) in John and Colossians. And in this case, "The Word Was God" would mean Jesus is God, not "a" god.”

      I understand how you come to this view, but I view it as a bit of a false dichotomy. I’ve explained why I accept an alternative reading.

      YOU SAID: “You haven't addressed this argument, but instead kept pounding the "Firstborn! Firstborn! Firstborn!" argument into the ground.”

      I’m not trying to pound it to the ground. I just want a Biblical justification for accepting the qualitative definition you have postulated.

      YOU SAID: “And by the way, with regards to that one word you put so much stock in (prototokos), I did some digging and found that while Manasseh was the first one born. Ephraim was given the "right" of firstborn (because God saw that Ephraim's descendants would be greater).”

      You know that is a very good point, thank you. I read and had a think about those verses in Genesis that you provided. My thoughts are: it’s interesting that qualifying context is attached to “firstborn” rather than “firstborn” itself (without context) being the qualifier. By contrast I see no qualifying context that would mean that word “firstborn” itself has a qualitative meaning [clarification here - I mean qualitative in the sense of referring to something other than the common sense meaning of first born] - let alone in relation to Jesus. Of course you will assert that scripture supports such a case, but then I don’t agree with that.

      YOU SAID: “By the way, this subject is of the utmost importance. One of us is a heretic. If I'm wrong, I'm breaking the first commandment as I'd be worshipping a being other than Yahweh. If I'm wrong, I'm worshipping a false god. If you're wrong, you're refusing to give Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, the worship he deserves. So, this is not a small, secondary issue like the age of the earth, or special creation VS. evolution.”

      I couldn’t agree more. I do consider this an issue one should take very seriously. But at the same time - I wonder if one is worse than the other. Consider, at worst, if you are right then I am merely not worshipping God in his fullness (I worship 1/3rd of your version of God). On the other hand, if you are wrong then you are worshipping someone other than God. Just putting that out there - but I have no skin in that argument per se

      Delete
  10. You wrote: \\"YOU SAID: 'Regarding your response to Hebrews 1, there's some really bad ad-hoc reasoning and exegetical problems with what you said,'

    I think it’s a little inappropriate to make such an assertion without being willing to defend it. I do agree such a discussion on this could take as a bit far afield, but perhaps you shouldn’t have said this then.?"\\ -- Well, I'll just give you one example. You compared God called Jesus by the name God to God telling Moses he would be like God to Pharoah. This an apples-to-oranges comparison. It's one thing to tell a person that they'll be analogous to God in some sense. Indeed, Moses was LIKE God or AS God in the sense that he stood in judgment over him, but God never says to Moses "You are God". By contrast, in Hebrews 1, God says to his son "Your throne O God will endure forever and ever.". They're just not the same kind of statement.

    "You wrote "Well I did address this in an earlier post. That is, I think this view is compatible with Jesus having acted as God’s master worker in carrying out God’s will in creating the universe and such. It may rightly be said that it was by God’s will alone that all things were created." -- But neither Isaiah 44:24 nor Job 9:8 says it was God's WILL that was alone. They say it was GOD that's alone. Neither Isaiah nor Job say that God is the ultimate agent of creation, but that he was solely responsible for it.

    You wrote: \\"I read and had a think about those verses in Genesis that you provided. My thoughts are: it’s interesting that qualifying context is attached to “firstborn” rather than “firstborn” itself (without context) being the qualifier. By contrast I see no qualifying context that would mean that word “firstborn” itself has a qualitative meaning - let alone in relation to Jesus."\\ -- Well, I mean there's the fact that Paul says he's the visible image of the invisible God, that the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form, and that he's the creator of "ALL things". And then there's Hebrews 1 where God calls Jesus "God" and tells his angels to worship Jesus which would mean God is commanding the angels to commit idolatry if your theological system were correct. And there's the fact that Son Of Man, Son Of God, and Messiah were supercharged with divine meaning as I point out in chapter 7 of my book "Inference To The One True God". There's like a 50 page paper I could write on why "firstborn" should take on the qualified meaning of pre-eminence as it does in Genesis 48 and Jeremiah 31. If I took your interpretation that "firstborn" meant first person to ever come into being, there's a mountain of scripture I would have to re-interpret in light of that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YOU WROTE: "-- Well, I'll just give you one example. You compared God called Jesus by the name God to God telling Moses he would be like God to Pharoah. This an apples-to-oranges comparison. It's one thing to tell a person that they'll be analogous to God in some sense. Indeed, Moses was LIKE God or AS God in the sense that he stood in judgment over him, but God never says to Moses "You are God". By contrast, in Hebrews 1, God says to his son "Your throne O God will endure forever and ever.". They're just not the same kind of statement."

      I do think those verses I gave do provide context that does illustrate that "god" need not only refer to God Almighty. You objected to one of those (but even then I’m not convinced by your objection).

      YOU SAID: "But neither Isaiah 44:24 nor Job 9:8 says it was God's WILL that was alone. They say it was GOD that's alone. Neither Isaiah nor Job say that God is the ultimate agent of creation, but that he was solely responsible for it. "

      Well on their own I can understand how you come to that conclusion. But the context my understanding of the Bible offers is that your strict interpretation does not take into account Jesus as the (contingent) mechanism that carried out God's will. So with that context in mind I'd interpret these verses differently than you. You see we are starting to go around in circles at this point if you don't mind me saying.

      YOU SAID: "Well, I mean there's the fact that Paul says he's the visible image of the invisible God"

      Well, I don't know if you've ever heard someone say something like "Wow, Billy is the spitting image of his father!" So a priori I see no reason to conclude that Jesus is God from that. Further! If something is the image of some 'thing' then it is by definition not that 'thing'!

      YOU SAID: "that the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form"

      I addressed this exact point earlier in this thread.

      YOU SAID: "and that he's the creator of "ALL things""

      Yes, I already explained my position on this as well numerous times.

      YOU SAID: "And then there's Hebrews 1 where God calls Jesus "God" and tells his angels to worship Jesus which would mean God is commanding the angels to commit idolatry if your theological system were correct"

      Well Jesus is the appointed King of God's Kingdom! So of course the angels would treat him with dignity as King. The word rendered 'worship' by trinitarian translations can also mean "obeisance" as what a subject would render to their King/Queen. So when people bow or curtsy to the head of state for my country (as an example) - the Australian Monarch (Elizabeth II) - such people would be engaging in an act of obeisance. But to conclude that is false worship seems incorrect because there are plenty of passages in the Bible of Israelites engaging in obeisance to various Kings, both Israelite and not.


      YOU SAID: "And there's the fact that Son Of Man, Son Of God, and Messiah were supercharged with divine meaning as I point out in chapter 7 of my book "Inference To The One True God." There's like a 50 page paper I could write on why "firstborn" should take on the qualified meaning of pre-eminence as it does in Genesis 48 and Jeremiah 31. If I took your interpretation that "firstborn" meant first person to ever come into being, there's a mountain of scripture I would have to re-interpret in light of that."

      Well my studies haven't brought me to the conclusion that you seem to have come to - that those terms have a secondary definition of "pre-eminence". I think something you clearly believe is that there is some contradiction in believing Jesus was the literal son of God. But I can tell you I just don't think there's a contradiction.

      Delete
  11. First, "And the LORD said to Moses, 'See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.'" - Exodus 7:1

    "And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, 'Let all God’s angels worship him.' In speaking of the angels he says, 'He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.' But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever..." - Hebrews 1:6-8a

    Apple, meet Orange. One is told he will be LIKE God by God, the other is told He IS God by God. Let's not neglect the command of Yahweh for the angels to worship His son. I don't remember God ever commanding the angels to worship Moses. You said that you aren't convinced by this rebuttal, but one has to wonder why.

    Regarding the angelic worship, you said "Well Jesus is the appointed King of God's Kingdom! So of course the angels would treat him with dignity as King." -- I realize that your perverted translation renders the Greek word "obeiseance" but that's just not what the text means. In the Greek, the word is proskuneo. It means, worship: fall down and worship, kneel, bow low, obeisance. Obeisance means, "bending the head or body or knee as a sign of reverence or submission or shame."

    Jesus said in Matthew 4:10 that you should worship (proskuneo) God only. Did Jesus merely mean we should treat God with honor like we would an earthly king or did he mean we should worship Him? In Acts 10:25-26 it says, "And when it came about that Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter raised him up, saying, 'Stand up; I too am just a man'" (NASB). Here, Cornelius bows down before Peter. The Greek word here is "proskuneo." Why would Peter object to being paid obeiseance? He was one of the chief apostles after all. Why should he object to being proskuneo on the basis that he "is just a man"? Now, maybe you'll argue that Jesus was not "just a man". Jesus was, according to Watchtower doctrine The Archangel St. Michael. Perhaps angels can be paid obeiseance but mere humans cannot. Well, the problem with this response is that if angels could properly receive proskuneo, Revelation 19:10 becomes hard to explain. In Revelation 19:10, we read "At this I fell at his [an angel who appeared to John] feet to worship [proskuneo] him. But he said to me, 'Don't do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship [proskuneo] God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.'"

    Another example is Jesus' discourse with the Samaritan in John 4. In verse 21, he tells the samaritan that the time is coming in which they will worship (proskuneo) The Father neither there nor in Jerusalem and that true worshippers must worship (proskuneo) in spirit and in truth. For The New World Translation to render this as obeiseance in every place it refers to Jesus, I can only see as a result as a pre-commitment to the doctrine that Jesus is not God. Jesus obviously cannot be proskuneo the way The Father is because only The Father is God, not Jesus. So this word must take on an entirely different meaning when referring to Jesus than it does everywhere else in The New Testament.

    I could go on and on with examples from the NT where proskuneo means literal, actual worship. Not mere honor. If you're interested, you can take a gander here at other examples -- https://biblehub.com/greek/4352.htm

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Secondly, in your latest response to Isaiah 44:24 and Job 9:8, all I see is your refusal to take the verses at their plain and obvious meaning on a strong pre-commitment that Jesus created the world and Jesus is not and cannot be God. But if my argument from these verses go through, then it would be the case that Jesus is not merely the mechanism God used to create, but He is the Creator. Either that or scripture contradicts itself. I can see your Watchtower theology strongly preventing you from following the scriptural evidence leads.

      I don't see any reason not to take these verses as saying that the creation of the universe was a solo construction project of Yahweh UNLESS I had a strong pre-commitment to the Jehovah's Witness view of creation. If one looks at the biblical evidence openly, the conclusion one draws is pretty easily that God alone created the universe. No angels or demons or demi-gods assisted him in any way. But of course, we can't have that because John 1 and Colossians 1 say in no uncertain terms that Jesus created everything, and we have to Jesus as the creator of everything while avoiding the conclusion that Jesus and Yahweh are the same entity, so Isaiah 44:24 and Job 9:8 must simply mean that it was God's WILL alone that stretched out the heavens and spread out the Earth.

      Delete
    2. YOU SAID: “Apple, meet Orange. One is told he will be LIKE God by God, the other is told He IS God by God. Let's not neglect the command of Yahweh for the angels to worship His son. I don't remember God ever commanding the angels to worship Moses. You said that you aren't convinced by this rebuttal, but one has to wonder why.”

      Ok - I will concede the point (with regard to this specific verse), if only for the sake of argument. You still haven’t responded to my additional references to god being used to refer to beings other than God Almighty. For example - God’s Adversary, Satan the Devil, is called a “god” (2Co 4:4) because of his dominance over men and demons (1Jo 5:19; Lu 11:14-18). That being the case, how much more so should God’s firstborn Son called a “god,” or “the only-begotten god” (John 1:18). Also, when charged by opposers with ‘making himself a god,’ Jesus’ reply was: “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said: “You are gods”’? If he called ‘gods’ those against whom the word of God came, and yet the Scripture cannot be nullified, do you say to me whom the Father sanctified and dispatched into the world, ‘You blaspheme,’ because I said, I am God’s Son?” (Joh 10:31-37) Jesus there quoted from Psalm 82, in which human judges, whom God condemned for not executing justice, were called “gods.” (Ps 82:1, 2, 6, 7)

      YOU SAID: “Regarding the angelic worship, you said "Well Jesus is the appointed King of God's Kingdom! So of course the angels would treat him with dignity as King." -- I realize that your perverted translation renders the Greek word "obeiseance" but that's just not what the text means. In the Greek, the word is proskuneo. It means, worship: fall down and worship, kneel, bow low, obeisance. Obeisance means, "bending the head or body or knee as a sign of reverence or submission or shame."”

      I had this same discussion with the inspiring philosophy guy, ugh. Of course you are mistaken. You yourself admit that proskuneo can justifiably mean “obeisance”. The following link clearly shows that the word can be used in a variety of contexts - https://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/proskuneo.html - including:
      - in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication
      a used of homage shown to men and beings of superior rank
      1 to the Jewish high priests
      2 to God
      3 to Christ
      4 to heavenly beings
      5 to demons

      Delete
    3. YOU SAID: “Jesus said in Matthew 4:10 that you should worship (proskuneo) God only. Did Jesus merely mean we should treat God with honor like we would an earthly king or did he mean we should worship Him?”

      We should only worship Jehovah, but we may engage in obeisance toward rulers or people in authority (in keeping with the meaning of proskuneo). Just one practical example of the use of the word proskuneo is used in connection with a slave’s doing obeisance to a king (Mt 18:26) - https://biblehub.com/interlinear/matthew/18-26.htm

      YOU SAID: “I could go on and on with examples from the NT where proskuneo means literal, actual worship. Not mere honor. If you're interested, you can take a gander here at other examples -- https://biblehub.com/greek/4352.htm”

      I am absolutely baffled. That link clearly shows alternate uses of the word!? The link agrees with what I have said!! How can you justify cherry-picking the information in that link? I am accepting all the uses of the word are used, but you are blindly rejecting some uses of the word as far as I can see.

      YOU SAID: “Secondly, in your latest response to Isaiah 44:24 and Job 9:8, all I see is your refusal to take the verses at their plain and obvious meaning on a strong pre-commitment that Jesus created the world and Jesus is not and cannot be God... I can see your Watchtower theology strongly preventing you from following the scriptural evidence leads.”

      I feel the exact same about you! Except it is your a priori belief in the trinity that blinds you.

      YOU SAID “I don't see any reason not to take these verses as saying that the creation of the universe was a solo construction project of Yahweh UNLESS I had a strong pre-commitment to the Jehovah's Witness view of creation. If one looks at the biblical evidence openly, the conclusion one draws is pretty easily that God alone created the universe. No angels or demons or demi-gods assisted him in any way. But of course, we can't have that because John 1 and Colossians 1 say in no uncertain terms that Jesus created everything, and we have to Jesus as the creator of everything while avoiding the conclusion that Jesus and Yahweh are the same entity, so Isaiah 44:24 and Job 9:8 must simply mean that it was God's WILL alone that stretched out the heavens and spread out the Earth.”

      Well I view your belief as totally unbelievable on the other hand. I see absolutely no incompatibility in my understanding of these verses. You have to realise that you do have an a priori commitment that restricts you from appreciating the verses from the perspective of a nontrinitarian. So I hardly feel any need to take your views seriously. It is not as if you are a dispassionate observer as I know how dear the trinity dogma is to trinitarians.

      Delete
  12. First of all, Reading much of Michael Heiser's work, I'll admit that lesser beings were called gods (elohim). But that fact doesn't negate the arguments that Jesus is God. That lesser beings could be called a (g)od doesn't mean that Jesus falls into that same category. Context determines meaning. If we find things attributed to Jesus that only properly belong to Yahweh alone, that would be a good indication that Jesus isn't merely in the same category as The Watchers.

    One thing I pointed out was Jesus is the Creator of the entire physical universe (John 1:1-3, Colossians 1). The Old Testament says that God and God alone is responsible for why our world exists (Isaiah 44:24, Job 9:8). There's also the fact that Jesus is worshipped in various places in The New Testament, the verse in Hebrews 1 being only one example. Satan is a god (2 Corinthians 4:4) but is certainly barred from worship, as evident from Jesus' refusal to do so in Matthew 4. Proskuneo The Lord your God and serve Him only. Another point of evidence in favor of Jesus being THE God of the universe is that the New Testament authors very frequently quoted Old Testament verses referring to Yahweh, took Yahweh's name out and put Jesus' name in. For examples, in Revelation, Jesus describes himself as "Alpha and Omega" (Revelation 1:8; 22:13) which is a title Yahweh claimed for himself (cf. Isaiah 48:12). And in Philippians 2, Paul says that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth," (verse 9). This is almost a direct quotation of Isaiah 45:23 in which Yahweh says "By Myself I have sworn; truth has gone out from My mouth, a word that will not be revoked: Every knee will bow before Me, every tongue will confess allegiance."

    Secondly, what alternative uses of Proskuneo are you talking about? I re-opened the link and am scanning through the various usages of it, and every one I'm seeing is rendered "worship". Revelation 22:9 - Worship God. Revelation 20:4 - Those who had worshipped the beast. Revelation 19:20 - those who had worshipped his (the beast's) image. Revelation 19:10 - "I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, 'Don't do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.'" Matthew 4:10 - "You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only." John 4:21 - "in Jerusalem will you worship the Father". Proskuneo in all cases.

    I'm not seeing any instances in which it doesn't take on the meaning of the highest form of homage. However, even if there were, that doesn't mean that that's what's that means in Hebrews 1 (or any of the other areas where people proskuneo Jesus). If the word should properly be rendered worship in the majority of places in which it is used, a strong argument needs to be given for why it shouldn't be rendered that way when referring to Jesus, and I just see no reason other than a strong pre-commitment to the doctrine that Jesus is not God.

    (see also https://carm.org/new-world-translation-and-proskuneo-worship)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YOU SAID: “That lesser beings could be called a (g)od doesn't mean that Jesus falls into that same category. Context determines meaning. If we find things attributed to Jesus that only properly belong to Yahweh alone, that would be a good indication that Jesus isn't merely in the same category as The Watchers.”

      I understand where you are coming from here. But I guess things like this, on top of all my misgivings about the trinity add to my view that it’s a very suffers from a lack of simplicity (compared to a nontrinitarian hypothesis which explains the Bible without contradiction).

      YOU SAID: “One thing I pointed out was Jesus is the Creator of the entire physical universe (John 1:1-3, Colossians 1). The Old Testament says that God and God alone is responsible for why our world exists (Isaiah 44:24, Job 9:8). There's also the fact that Jesus is worshipped in various places in The New Testament, the verse in Hebrews 1 being only one example. Satan is a god (2 Corinthians 4:4) but is certainly barred from worship, as evident from Jesus' refusal to do so in Matthew 4. Proskuneo The Lord your God and serve Him only. Another point of evidence in favor of Jesus being THE God of the universe is that the New Testament authors very frequently quoted Old Testament verses referring to Yahweh, took Yahweh's name out and put Jesus' name in. For examples, in Revelation, Jesus describes himself as "Alpha and Omega" (Revelation 1:8; 22:13) which is a title Yahweh claimed for himself (cf. Isaiah 48:12). And in Philippians 2, Paul says that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth," (verse 9). This is almost a direct quotation of Isaiah 45:23 in which Yahweh says "By Myself I have sworn; truth has gone out from My mouth, a word that will not be revoked: Every knee will bow before Me, every tongue will confess allegiance."”

      Now you are just throwing out a whole new bunch of scriptures before we’ve adequately dealt with all the previous ones. I could go through these verses and explain how they have all been misunderstood or misinterpreted (in order to prop up the trinity) but it seems to me as if you’d just move on in an ad hoc manner and throw new scriptures (already interpreted according to your presupposition). You are doing a good job of further showing the ad hockery involved in believing the trinity dogma. If you ever wish to examine a simpler and more straightforward reading of these scriptures (that is plausibly in keeping with the context of the entire Bible), I recommend looking up the scriptures in wol.jw.org.

      Delete
  13. YOU SAID: “Secondly, what alternative uses of Proskuneo are you talking about? I re-opened the link and am scanning through the various usages of it, and every one I'm seeing is rendered "worship". Revelation 22:9 - Worship God. Revelation 20:4 - Those who had worshipped the beast. Revelation 19:20 - those who had worshipped his (the beast's) image. Revelation 19:10 - "I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, 'Don't do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.'" Matthew 4:10 - "You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only." John 4:21 - "in Jerusalem will you worship the Father". Proskuneo in all cases.”

    Firstly, I provided a scriptural example and other biblical reasons why proskuneo need not always be interpreted worship... Furthermore, I am surprised you don’t see alternate uses of the word in the link you provided (of course, I also provided other links). I’ll paste just a few instances:
    Definition: I go down on my knees to, do obeisance to, worship.
    4352 proskynéō (from 4314 /prós, "towards" and kyneo, "to kiss") – properly, to kiss the ground when prostrating before a superior; to worship, ready "to fall down/prostrate oneself to adore on one's knees" (DNTT); to "do obeisance" (BAGD).
    bow down (1), bow down before (1), bowed down (1), bowed down before (2), bowing before (1), bowing down (1), prostrated himself before
    https://biblehub.com/greek/4352.htm
    Thus it seems to me as if these these verses have been rendered “worship” in relation to christ due to a theological precommitment. But then I’ve provided reasons why one might plausibly doubt the pre-commitment by explaining alternative (and more straightforward) understandings of the scriptures we discussed. So these verses would be understood in the correct context as relating to the type of proskuneo one would render to a King (as Jesus is indeed a King).

    YOU SAID: “If the word should properly be rendered worship in the majority of places in which it is used, a strong argument needs to be given for why it shouldn't be rendered that way when referring to Jesus, and I just see no reason other than a strong pre-commitment to the doctrine that Jesus is not God.”

    Yes I know you think this, but it is because of the strong pre-commitment you and other trinitarians have to their dogma. I, frankly, see no reason why it should be interpreted your way based on the scriptures.

    Now, to take what seems to be your biggest gripe - with regard to your view that “all” cannot have exceptions - I’ve previously provided reasons to take it that there can be exceptions (because the entire Bible would provide context in understanding said scripture). I’ve provided sufficient reasons to believe it is plausible that there be exceptions when the Bible says “all” at least in cases where context is provided.

    You see, your whole argument relies on the assumption that it’s an “a or not-a” argument. But trying to examine what the Bible teaches is never that clear - as the history of various theological controversies has shown. Now I believe in absolute truth and that the Bible teaches absolute truth without contradiction. But ultimately the Bible has to be understood according to its context and the best way to examine different theological views in the Bible is about having multiple competing hypotheses. You are stating outright that there’s no plausible way to not believe the trinity if you believe in the Bible. However I don’t agree and I think the nontrinitarian view makes greater sense of a wider array of Biblical data, suffers no irreconcilable perceived contradiction, is simpler, and requires less ad hoc reasoning.

    ReplyDelete
  14. To clarify when I say it's not an "a or not-a argument" - I'm talking in an epistemic sense in that our conclusions as humans aren't always 100% certain. I think what the Bible teaches is absolute and suffers no contradiction - but as fallible humans it's plausible that our understanding of the scriptures may be mistaken.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This has certainly been a lively and stimulating discussion and I've thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you for the dialogue. I think we should probably end this discussion for now as we're approaching 50 comments. I do hope to have more dialogues like this with you in the future, and I hope you spiritually benefit from the writings on this website.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've honestly also appreciated discussing this with you. Thank you for your time. I hope we can discuss other issues as well and I will keep referring to your website.

      Delete

Post a Comment