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Sometimes questions by their very nature can contain assumptions. For example, if someone asked, “Have you stopped beating your dog yet?” how would one answer this question? Either way the question is answered, the assumption is that the person is guilty of the action. This form of questioning can be tricky when the assumption of the questioner is not easily detectable. For example, consider this excerpt from the famous British Christian author, C. S. Lewis:

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001), p. 52.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

When I read this paragraph I had two contrary emotions rush through my mind. On the one hand, I was delighted to see his argument against taking Jesus to be a nice moral person, because anyone who has read the Gospels knows that Jesus was extremely controversial in his own time and required either absolute commitment (to the point of death) from his followers or else they would end up with the same fate as the rest of the world. At the same time I was feeling appreciation for the anti-patronizing sentiment in this paragraph, I was also alarmed to see that I only had three categories in which to put Jesus of Nazareth: (1) God, (2) a liar, or (3) a madman.

This same strategy of arguing for Jesus’ divinity is still being used by many Christians today. Josh McDowell in his chapter “Significance of Deity: The Trilemma—Lord, Liar, or Lunatic?” narrows the options through the use of a flow chart. At the top is the statement, “Jesus claims to be God” followed by the title, “two alternatives.” Either his claims were false and he was lying or sincerely deluded OR his claims are true and he is God.



Lee Strobel, another extremely popular author, said it this way, “The cross either unmasked him as a pretender or opened the door to a supernatural resurrection that has irrevocably affirmed his divinity” (The Case for the Real Jesus, p. 105). This line of argumentation limits us to believing that Jesus was God (by virtue of his miracles, forgiving sins, his resurrection, his claims, etc.) or that he was a malevolent imposter. Yet is this how the Scripture speaks? Are these the answers the disciples gave Jesus when he asked them who people thought he was? Did they respond, “some say you are a lunatic, others say you are just a con man, but some think you are God—the second person of the holy Trinity?” No! Of course not! This is how they responded when Jesus asked them who he was:

“And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”” (Matthew 16.14-16)

Where is the category “God” or “God the Son” in this confession? Even with all of his miracles and authoritative statements, no one thought Jesus was anything other than a genuine human being on the order of John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah. Simon’s confession is that Jesus is the human messiah, the long awaited Davidic ruler, the Son of God. “Son of God” does not imply deity, it is a title conferred upon the Davidic king (2 Sam. 7.14; Ps. 2.7). Even trinitarian scholars know that Son of God has nothing to do with being God. John Howard Yoder writes,

John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), pp. 24-25.
“‘Son of God’ cannot very well in Aramaic have pointed to the ontological coessentiality of the Son with the Father…The ‘Son of God’ in Psalm 2:7 is the King; all the options laid before Jesus [in his temptation in the wilderness] by the tempter [Satan] are ways of being king…the title is meant messianically and not metaphysically…Luke 22:76-23:31 equates ‘Messiah’ and ‘Son of God’ with ‘King of the Jews.’ All three titles in standard usage referred not to incarnate deity but to a divinely mandated royal man.”

So, Jesus is not God as a man but a God empowered man who was anointed to be the King of the Jews—the Messiah. Furthermore, in the case of Jesus, there is a dual meaning to the title “Son of God” because God had begotten him in the womb of his mother via the holy spirit. Luke is explicit:

The angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy child shall be called the Son of God.’” (Lk 1.35)

Jesus is the Son of God precisely because of the miracle in the womb of his mother—because God begat him. To assert that “Son of God” equals “God the Son” is to anachronistically read later theology into the historical accounts. Nevertheless, very famous Christian radio preachers like Chuck Swindoll, chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary, continue to assert that “Son of God” equals “God.” Consider this excerpt from his book, Jesus:

Charles R. Swindoll, Jesus: The Greatest Life of All, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2008), p. 12.
“No one dared call himself a son of God, or he would be guilty of blasphemy. Only someone having God’s divine qualities and powers, and possessing God’s ruling authority, could call himself “the Son of God.” And for Peter to give Jesus this title meant that Jesus was a worthy object of worship, just like the God faithful Jews had worshiped in the temple for centuries. Jesus didn’t object. He praised Peter…Yes! You’ve got it! This is a supernatural insight you have received from heaven. I am in fact deity. Who is this man? If we are to believe the man himself, He is God.”

Incredible! Peter was not confessing that Jesus was the Messiah and God! He was confessing that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. Perhaps Dr. Swindoll has overlooked the fact that Adam was called the son of God (Luke 3.38)? Or perhaps he has not noticed several texts in which the titles “Christ” and “Son of God” are used interchangeably? Consider the following instances:

“But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, ‘I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.’” (Matthew 26.63)

“Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ.” (Luke 4.41)

“Nathanael answered Him, ‘Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.’” (John 1.49)

“She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.’” (John 11.27)

“But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20.31)

Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, the King of Israel, the one destined to rule on the throne of David (Lk 1.31-33) but these titles do not imply deity. Rather, they imply that God has anointed his man to be king, and not just over Israel, but over the whole world in the coming kingdom of God. So the next time someone says, “Is Jesus God, a liar, or a madman,” we can simply reply, “You are forgetting something, sir. What about the biblical idea that Jesus is the human Messiah, the second Adam, the Son of God destined to rule the world as God’s agent of reconciliation, justice, and peace?” We need to be people of the book, those who ground our understanding of Christ in Scripture rather than what popular books, radio shows, or TV shows teach. The only way to find truth about Jesus is to fearlessly, relentlessly, and prayerfully search the Scriptures.

105 Responses to “Is Jesus God, a Liar, or a Madman?”

  1. on 15 Jul 2008 at 9:45 pmTim

    Excellent point, there are at least three categories of beings / agents / personalities, etc. in the universe: God, man, Son of God (angels might be another, but that is not relevant here). I would argue that it is incorrect to compare or classify Jesus in the “God category” or the “man category.” Trinitarians try to classify him as both.

    Rather he is the singleton instance of all things that are “Son of God.” Just as there is one God (a singleton instance of all things that are “God”), so there is one Son of God in the sense that Jesus is the Son of God. Adam, while the Son of God, has a different set of characteristics from Jesus (he sinned, for example) therefore, he is an instance, among many, of the things that are “man.” The intersection of the set of “God” things with the set of “Son of God” things is the empty set. Similar for all pairwise intersections.

    I am puzzled at the use by trinitarians of “ontological.” In my experience, “ontological” implies defined categories of things, axioms, and an inference method for deriving new facts about the world. The “ontological trinity” has none of this.

    It is quite a simple thing to develop a formal ontology that demonstrates that Jesus is not a member of the set of things that are God (of which there is a single instance only).

    Of course, if you deny logic, as the trinitarian seems to do, then this is not much of a value.

  2. on 15 Jul 2008 at 11:51 pmJoseph

    Great points Sean!,

    I have always felt that Christ – not being God – has made his sacrifice to us and the Father even greater. What is it for the immortal God to give himself up? Christ had the faith to know that God would raise him from the grave.

  3. on 16 Jul 2008 at 12:38 amWolfgang

    Tim,
    you claim:

    Excellent point, there are at least three categories of beings / agents / personalities, etc. in the universe: God, man, Son of God (angels might be another, but that is not relevant here). I would argue that it is incorrect to compare or classify Jesus in the “God category” or the “man category.”

    As far as I can read the Bible, “Son of God” is NOT a “category of beings(agents/personalities, etc” … the only begotten Son of God is in the category MAN … cp Lk 1:35ff. Those who are “born of a woman” are of the category “man” …

    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

  4. on 16 Jul 2008 at 7:49 amTim

    Wolfgang,

    I urge to you list the characteristics of God, Jesus, and the typical human being. You will see clearly, that the members of these sets are non-overlapping. Jesus is distinct, at least, from all other humans in that he did not sin; he is distinct from God, at least, in that he died. From a true ontological standpoint, this puts him in a different class than you and I and every other human, as well as a different class than God. I think you are arguing that Jesus is subsumed by, or a sub-category of “man.” This I would agree with, so I am not sure that there is disagreement with you. I am not arguing that Jesus is not a human. For example, men and women are both members of the set of “humans”, yet they are non-overlapping, disjoint sets.

    This may seem strange to you that I am making this argument, because I am making a strict ontological argument; as opposed to what is traditionally called an ontological argument. It is pretty clear from reams of philosophical literature that the traditional use of “ontological” in these debated is not ontological in any meaningful sense.

    In my defense, if the trinitarians can make up categories such as “God-Man”, “God the Son”, “dual nature”, et al, then surely I can do the same?

    -Blessings-

  5. on 16 Jul 2008 at 8:40 amSean

    Perhaps we could call this class “resurrected human?”

    In my defense, if the trinitarians can make up categories such as “God-Man”, “God the Son”, “dual nature”, et al, then surely I can do the same?

    It is a free country…but a better question might be is it biblical?

  6. on 16 Jul 2008 at 10:29 amTim

    Perhaps we could call this class “resurrected human?

    That would be a step forward. One of the weaknesses of the unitarian position is that it is open to the “mere man” criticism. This is what I thought your post was getting at; that is, that Jesus was not a “mere man”. If not, then what? I did not feel that you countered this charge in your debate with Brant Bosserman. Jesus was not a “mere man” and this charge should be vigorously defended.

    It is a free country…but a better question might be is it biblical?

    Are you asking if it is Biblical that Jesus differs from other men in that he was sinless? Surely not! This is my only point. He is different, in core characteristics, from the rest of us. This is not to say that he is not human; as I said, men and women, while both human, are not the same at some level.

    I would urge you (maybe you have) to look at what “ontology” and “ontological” really means (no pun intended). This is something that trinitarians assert without demonstration. If they argue for an “ontological trinity”, then where are the axioms? Where are the concepts or classes? What is the inference method? Ontological does not mean: “we have words that mean something”, or “what we are talking about is so philosophically advanced that it can only be described as ‘ontological'”, or “I heard it from my theology professor and it sounds good.”

    If, as you have rightly asserted elsewhere, that reason and falsibility applies, then let’s use all the tools at our disposal to show the contradictions in the trinitarian view.

  7. on 16 Jul 2008 at 10:57 amSean

    Jesus was in the same category as Adam and Eve before they sinned. I think the best way to understand this is that Jesus was the second Adam. Remember, that until Adam sinned he was perfect. Do we need to create a new ontological category apart from “human” to describe our prefallen ancestors? The perfect-human-who-never-sinned category is already well defined by Adam and Eve before they sinned.

    I think where I faltered in the debate was not to propose that once a human passes through resurrection and out the other side, he or she, is no longer prone to sin.

    Rather than say Jesus is human+ or even making a whole new category for him I like to say that Jesus shows us what it means to be truly human. Apparently, we, in our fallen state, are slightly less than human. We are barbaric until we are indwelt by Christ through repentance and faith in the gospel of the kingdom.

  8. on 16 Jul 2008 at 11:35 amRon S.

    As to Sean’s article, yes this is the classic “False Trilemma”. It is false in that there are other options available so to only present three is wrong/false. An analogy might be if the school yard bully cornered you and said “you have three choices – you can get punched in the mouth, punched in the nose, or punched in the stomach”, but you suddenly punch him so hard it defeats him and makes him realize you’re not going to be bullied – this was a fourth option that he did not think was even there. The point or tie in for us should be that we don’t let ourselves be bullied by that false trilemma. There is another option available – the truth, and it is worth standing up for!

    As to whether or not Jesus was another category of being, I see this in the affirmative and negative – at the same time.

    It would seem that Jesus was a new category of being in that he was certainly unique in that there has never been a man created solely by God in the womb of a female human. Whereas Adam had neither a human father or mother and instead of coming from within humanity, was totally created out of organic materials (the earth) by God. So from a point of actual origins, both were “created” by God. But the way they were created was different.

    Then you have the fact that there never has been a human being that was without sin. Adam sinned and plunged the entire human race into a world of sin. Then Jesus came about and became the first and only human to never sin.

    Yet is Jesus really a different category than Adam was as he was orginally created? Paul compares and contrasts Adam and Jesus directly with one another in his Adam Christology passages, suggesting that they were in the same class as created “Sons of God” – albeit BEFORE Adam’s fall. Both Adam and Jesus were created perfect and fully capable of sin. But Adam wrongly chose to disobey God (sin), while Jesus always obediently followed God (without sin). Adam failed, where Jesus succeeded.

    And of course Jesus certainly became a whole new class of being once he was resurrected from the dead. Jeus is the progenitor of what the human race is to become. I think Paul extensively goes into this as a new class that will befall all those resurrected to immortality.

    Interesting stuff to discuss! 🙂

    Ron S.

  9. on 16 Jul 2008 at 11:42 amRon S.

    Sean,

    “Apparently, we, in our fallen state, are slightly less than human. We are barbaric until we are indwelt by Christ through repentance and faith in the gospel of the kingdom.”

    I LIKE that! Perhaps Adam “lowered” humanity with disobedience, whereas pefect obedience raises humanity to a much greater level possible by a closer direct communion with God.

    Ron S.

  10. on 16 Jul 2008 at 4:01 pmTim

    I think where I faltered in the debate was not to propose that once a human passes through resurrection and out the other side, he or she, is no longer prone to sin.

    Don’t get me wrong, I thought that you did an excellent job, especially in your cross-examination. Your points about ignorance and immortality were devastating to the trinitarian viewpoint. Brant brought up the non-issue about whether or not Jesus can sin in his exalted state. My retort would have been: (a) what about us in our resurrected bodies; will we be able to sin as well? and (b) 1 Cor 15 makes it clear that our resurrected bodies will be “incorruptible”, which means to me not only “no physical decay”, but “no sin” or not prone to sin as you say.

  11. on 16 Jul 2008 at 4:07 pmTim

    Do we need to create a new ontological category apart from “human” to describe our prefallen ancestors?

    If there are different characteristics for describing our pre-fallen ancestors, then yes. “Perfected man” or “ideal man” or some such thing would be a good start.

    One of the many aspects that trinitarians do not take into account in their “ontological trinity” is the element of time. Things change as time moves on. This is why their interpretation of John 1:1 is flawed. They think that they can make a transitive argument that Jesus is God from the Word being God and the Word becoming flesh (you make the same argument in your Peter / Satan analogy). If we can ignore time, then the trinitarian interpretation holds some weight. Unfortunately, we cannot ignore the time aspect.

  12. on 16 Jul 2008 at 8:36 pmMark

    I know Jesus was “able to sin” or he couldn’t have been tempted. But would you say that other men were unable to not sin because of Adam’s sin nature which we inherit? It seems to me that was part of the reason Jesus had to be begotten of God, as opposed to just “any man” being chosen to be the Messiah. This point seems to be getting lost in these debates.

  13. on 16 Jul 2008 at 8:56 pmSean

    Tim,

    Could you talk a bit more about how time proposes a difficulty to the trinitarian position?

  14. on 19 Jul 2008 at 1:33 pmJoseph

    What do you guys think of Genesis 3:8, and how Trinitarians use this as proof to support the Doctrine?

  15. on 19 Jul 2008 at 2:55 pmWolfgang

    Hi Joseph,

    how does Gen 3:8 supposedly proof the trinitarian doctrine? I have no clue how anyone could read or see a “trinity” in what the verse has to say …

    Gen 3:8 (AV)
    And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

    How does what is stated here have anything to do with the “trinity doctrine”?
    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

  16. on 19 Jul 2008 at 5:55 pmJoseph

    Shalom Wolfgang,

    Trinitarians have been saying that Christ is the one who was “walking” in the garden. Adam and Eve “hid themselves”, showing that a entity was present in the Garden with them. They say that since God is a Spirit, this must have been Christ manifest as God.

    I know, it’s hard to wrap ones head around this ideology.

  17. on 19 Jul 2008 at 7:45 pmSean

    Essentially, the dilemma begins by observing certain verses like:

    Exodus 33:20 But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”

    1 Timothy 6:16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.

    1 John 4:12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

    1 John 4:20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.

    Thus, no one has ever seen God. Then we add to these verses the following:

    John 1:18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

    John 6:46 “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.

    Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

    And viola, Christ is the only one who has seen God and is the image of God so if someone saw Christ prior to his human existence it could be seeing the image of God (i.e. seeing God in a mediated way).

    Not that I agree with the assertion, but I see where they get it from.

  18. on 20 Jul 2008 at 4:31 pmJoseph

    Sean,

    Thanks for the response.

    What type of entity do you believe was representing God in Genesis 3:8?

  19. on 20 Jul 2008 at 6:09 pmSean

    That is a tricky question. The post-biblical rabbis talked about the “shechinah” or presence of God in the world. The OT words to describe God’s immediate interaction in the world are wisdom, spirit, and word. Furthermore, I don’t believe it says they actually saw God in the garden but they heard him walking. Apparently God is able to manifest himself in such a way that people can see him without really seeing him. Another possibility is that an angel was representing God and that is what they heard walking. But, to say it was Jesus requires the a priori commitment that Jesus pre-existed.

  20. on 20 Jul 2008 at 11:00 pmPatrick

    “God is able to manifest himself in such a way that people can see him without really seeing him. ”

    Hmmm, is that hot-ice talk?

    “Another possibility is that an angel was representing God and that is what they heard walking.”

    No, it is not a possibility that this is an angel. What is written is the first parents heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden and hid from his presence (face!). How does this statement wind up construed, in what you wrote, as an angel was there? At verse 21 the LORD God conducted the first ever sacrifice and clothed the first parents with skins.

    A similar appearance of the LORD God takes place later, at chapter 18, with Abraham. The LORD God stood face to face with Abraham, as a man would and the scriptures call him a man and, if you are a careful reader, notice that only the other two, at 19:1 are specified as “angels”.

    “But, to say it was Jesus requires the a priori commitment that Jesus pre-existed”

    The same may be said of your statements, what you have said requires an a priori commitment that Jesus did not pre-exist. The LORD God was not seen in a mediated way but in the Mediator, the eternal Son and, yes, the image of God. God has never been without his image. Whose backside was that which Moses saw? Does a spirit have a backside?

  21. on 20 Jul 2008 at 11:17 pmJoseph

    Good point Sean, they did not see God walking, “they HEARD THE VOICE of the LORD God walking”

    I looked over the passage in the Hebrew, and I would like to make a couple of points.

    1. The Hebrew verb used for “walking” is, “הלך” which is more so defined as “going”. When we think of walking, we think of using our feet. But the context does not suggest this.

    2. The word used for “cool” is from the Hebrew word, “רוח”, which is mostly translated in English as “spirit” or “wind”. Gen 3:8 is the only occasion where the Hebrew word “ruach” is translated as “cool”. So perhaps the word “cool” could also be translated as “spirit” or “wind.”

    Here is the translation as the KJV has it…

    Gen 3:8
    And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

    Perhaps we could also translate as so…

    “And they heard the voice of the LORD God going in the garden in the Spirit that day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.”

    Why they hid themselves is obvious, they now knew of their “nakedness”, not because God was walking around searching for them. It wasn’t until Adam and Eve hid themselves did God then call out for them, “Where art thou”, communicating in the proper way with his Creation.

  22. on 20 Jul 2008 at 11:22 pmMark

    In Hebrew culture an agent speaking on behalf of another was looked on as if he were the person whom he represented. The angel of the Lord represented God (Exodus 23:20-22). He appeared to Hagar and spoke to her in Genesis 16:7ff, but verse 13 says that “she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me…” Similarly, an angel appeared to Manoah and his wife in Judges 13. Manoah did not know it was an angel at first, according to verse 16. But he realized it was the angel of the LORD in verse 21, yet in the next verse, he said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God.” In Exodus 20:1-2 it says that God spoke the ten commandments. But Galatians 3:19 says that the Law was “ordained by angels.” In Jewish culture, especially in Biblical times, Rabbis have a saying that the personality of the master is invested in the agent. The agent is as his master’s person. When the agent speaks, it is looked on as if it is the master speaking.

    This is not to say that it proves that it was an angel in the Garden of Eden. Only that it would be a possibility according to Hebraic thinking and wording.

  23. on 21 Jul 2008 at 12:25 amJoseph

    I would also like to point out that Adam reiterates the point of “hearing” God and not necessarily seeing God, in vs. 10. He did not hide because he saw God or any other entity…

    Gen 3:10

    And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I [was] naked; and I hid myself.

  24. on 21 Jul 2008 at 1:49 amPatrick

    Joseph,

    This is fascinating to me. If in the course of seeking to establish one’s doctrine a text does not quite agree, retranslate as needed to conform more closely to one’s doctrine? Simply disregard the mountains of scholarship and knowledge of Hebrew represented in the numerous men and women, of numerous translation committees, over the past several hundred years and make Gen. 3:8 into whatever is needed? According to what standard is your translation even “possible”? Please, demonstrate further how well you hold to context and translate the Hebrew at verse 21; tell us how it should read. Do you understand a sacrifice was made and the LORD God carried it out, clothing Adam and Eve with skins? Perhaps you could comment on “presence” in verse 8 and how it means actually being present, before one’s face?

  25. on 21 Jul 2008 at 4:39 amMark

    Patrick,

    Perhaps you could explain why John said “No man hath seen God at any time” (John 1:18).

  26. on 21 Jul 2008 at 10:23 amSean

    Mark,

    Thanks for giving the data on the angel as representative in comment #22. To your list we could add that in Ex 3.2, Moses really saw an angel in the burning bush (confirmed by Stephen’s comment in Acts 7.30), but then when the angel speaks from the bush he says, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,…” I think there was another case of this but I can’t remember where now.

    Patrick,

    “God is able to manifest himself in such a way that people can see him without really seeing him. ”

    Hmmm, is that hot-ice talk?

    I think I could have said that better. People saw visions of God but that is not the same as actually seeing God. People saw angels who represented God but that is not the same as seeing God’s unmediated presence. People saw manifestations of God (i.e. fire on Mt. Sinai), which language inspires the text, “Our God is a consuming fire” (Deut 4.24), but nonetheless, they did not actually see God. Alas, the beatific vision is the reward for the pure in heart who see God without mediation as described in the end (in the last two chapters of the book of Revelation.)

  27. on 21 Jul 2008 at 3:00 pmPatrick

    Mark,

    “Perhaps you could explain why John said “No man hath seen God at any time” (John 1:18). ”

    Think omnipresent Spirit and the inherent impossibility of taking in such a one with the eyes; this is true of the Father and the Holy Spirit. John 1:18a is specifically referring to the Father. The scriptures are distinguishing between the Father and the Son in this gospel prologue, e.g. some inherent attributes of each, such as invisibility for the Father and visibility for the Son. You may refer to John 6 and verse 46, in particular, for a parallel statement. Notice the Son of God, from the perspective of this account, had seen the Father, past tense, having been sent from him, from heaven and heaven, his place of origin, was where he returned to, verse 62 (“where He was before”); see also Acts 1:11, Heb 4:14. Something else is, seeing as the Lord is stating, in no uncertain terms, he saw the Father, how do some of you insist a. he did not preexist and b. he is just a man?

    I have something to suggest going forward; why not always cite the entire verse and remark on its significance?

  28. on 21 Jul 2008 at 3:40 pmJoseph

    Patrick,

    “This is fascinating to me. If in the course of seeking to establish one’s doctrine a text does not quite agree, retranslate as needed to conform more closely to one’s doctrine? Simply disregard the mountains of scholarship and knowledge of Hebrew represented in the numerous men and women, of numerous translation committees, over the past several hundred years and make Gen. 3:8 into whatever is needed?

    Firstly, I did not say that it was the right translation, I was simply pointing out the language being used in the Hebrew, hence my response “perhaps”. Just a little study time and reflection.

    The JPS Hebrew Tanakh has the verse as: “They heard the sound of the LORD God MOVING (not walking on foot) about in the garden at the breezy time of day”.

    Second, Gen 3:8 agrees with the Unitarian position “as is”. For example, they didn’t see God, but rather “heard” God. Adam reiterates this point in vs. 10 when he says: “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I [was] naked; and I hid myself.” There is no mention of actually seeing God.

    “Perhaps you could comment on “presence” in verse 8 and how it means actually being present, before one’s face?”

    The word used for “presence”, “panim”, is also used in the same manner in Gen 4:16, “And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.”

    Cain was in the presence of the God just as Adam and Eve were.

    Do you also believe that God’s literal “face” was with Moses in Exodus 33:14, “And he said, My presence shall go [with thee], and I will give thee rest.”

    “Please, demonstrate further how well you hold to context and translate the Hebrew at verse 21; tell us how it should read. Do you understand a sacrifice was made and the LORD God carried it out, clothing Adam and Eve with skins?”

    I have no problem with this, God had just made them from the dust of the Earth, gave them a soul, and had Adam help name the animals that he formed from out of the ground. I think that clothing them would have been an easy task.

    What makes you think that there was a sacrifice held with God and Adam to make the skins to cloth them? And even if there was, how could you prove that God was physically present?

  29. on 21 Jul 2008 at 3:41 pmJoseph

    How are you guys quoting in the light grey font?

  30. on 21 Jul 2008 at 3:46 pmSean

    Joseph,

    I’ll fix your post so it quotes properly. Click here to see how to quote and add other stylistic features to your comments.

  31. on 21 Jul 2008 at 3:50 pmJoseph

    Ahh, thanks Sean.

  32. on 21 Jul 2008 at 7:26 pmPatrick

    Joseph,

    I was simply pointing out the language being used in the Hebrew, hence my response “perhaps”. Just a little study time and reflection.

    Just a little study time? You made some assertive remarks about the definition of the words, how they might otherwise be translated and so on. Study time entails accepting what it says not what you perhaps think it should say. You went from Spirit back to cool in a rather quick about-face. Why even make such a suggestion, as your translation, when not one Bible version agrees with you? The JPS version? Is that the same one that altered the prophecy of the crucifixion of Christ at Psalm 22:16? That’s some translation to be citing; speaks volumes.

    Second, Gen 3:8 agrees with the Unitarian position “as is”. For example, they didn’t see God, but rather “heard” God. Adam reiterates this point in vs. 10 when he says: “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I [was] naked; and I hid myself.” There is no mention of actually seeing God.

    Yes, of course, at the point of the passage you cite, there is no mention of seeing God since Adam hid from him, as he heard him coming, much like anyone would do out of fear. What is clear is that God was approaching Adam. It’s a rather plain thing don’t you think? You’ve just done something terribly wrong and the one you have wronged is approaching, you hear him coming and, before you see him, you hide. That is what is presented here. Being able to see him is implied in his walking (yes, walking and “as is” doesn’t seem to agree with your position for why else would you keep insisting on changing “walking” to something else?) in the garden, effecting the foliage around him, being present. This isn’t the only passage that presents the actual, visible, physical presence of the LORD God; see Gen 18.

    The word used for “presence”, “panim”, is also used in the same manner in Gen 4:16, “And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.” Cain was in the presence of the God just as Adam and Eve were.

    Correct, it appears from the text not just Cain but Abel, as well, were in the custom of making offerings to the LORD, before his face, Gen 4:14, oddly omitted from your consideration. Please note the parallel of “face of the ground” and “from your face” our friend “panim” once again.

    Do you also believe that God’s literal “face” was with Moses in Exodus 33:14, “And he said, My presence shall go [with thee], and I will give thee rest.”

    I recommend reading the entire context, Joseph. For instance, we see written: Ex 33:11a “Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.” Ex 33:22 “and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.” Though there is a point, in the passage, where God says Moses had not seen his face, they nevertheless met with one another. Don’t you see what God is saying? He has a face. v. 20.

    Joseph, if face doesn’t mean face, according to you; what doesn’t back mean? These are real facets of a person.

    What makes you think that there was a sacrifice held with God and Adam to make the skins to cloth them?

    Really, that’s not plain to you? Does everything in a passage have to be spelled out in exhaustive detail? When it says God “made garments of skin” the source of the skins or hides is implied, right? You skin a creature to get its hide off and then you fashion a covering. Do you maybe see a prototypical institution of sacrifice that Abel, for instance, would comply with but Cain would not?

    how could you prove that God was physically present?

    It is not for me to prove anything rather to read and comprehend and point out to others what is written and allow the text to fend for itself. The face of the LORD here is as real as can be; I think that is sufficiently stated in repeated fashion.

  33. on 21 Jul 2008 at 8:42 pmMark

    I think we’re getting away from the point here. Regardless of how we translate the Hebrew words for “face” or “presence” or “walk” or whatever, the point was that Gen. 3:8 has been used to “prove” the trinity. All of the reasoning has been read into it, not derived from it.

    It’s not immanently clear exactly HOW God made Himself known at that time, or others. Scholars, both Jewish and Christian, have debated about it for years. But one thing is certain, that is that there is nothing on which to base the idea that it was Jesus, or the “eternal son,” that Adam heard “walking in the cool of the day.” Such an idea depends on the a priori assumption that Jesus pre-existed his birth. We can argue back and forth about whether he did or not (and about the lack of genuine meaning in self-contradictory phrases like “eternally begotten”), but the fact still remains that while this interpretation of Gen. 3:8 can be made to fit with the theory, it doesn’t PROVE the theory.

    Interestingly, Hebrews 1 contrasts the ways in which God spoke to people in OT times with Him speaking by His Son.

    Hebrews 1:
    1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
    2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

    God spoke (and interacted) in many different ways in OT times, but this verse strongly implies that only in “these last days” has He spoken by His Son. Whether you think it was because the Son didn’t exist yet (as I believe), or simply that God didn’t speak by The Second Person of the Trinity until these last days, either way the result is that we can’t interpret Gen. 3:8 as a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ.

    This also fits with the parable Jesus told in Matt. 21, in which the land owner sent servants to the husbandmen who were beaten and killed, and then finally sent his son. The Son is God’s ultimate communication of Himself to us.

    (BTW, before you go off on a tangent about “through whom also He made the world” in the above verses, let me remind you that “through” in Greek is dia, which can also be translated “for” or “on account of”.)

  34. on 21 Jul 2008 at 11:34 pmPatrick

    Mark,

    Regardless of how we translate the Hebrew words for “face” or “presence” or “walk” or whatever, the point was that Gen. 3:8 has been used to “prove” the trinity. All of the reasoning has been read into it, not derived from it.

    The very heart of the matter is translation, where translation is the most accurate expression, in another language, of what is written in the original language and, as this is done, one is enabled to get the meaning and derive from it, whatever is intended by it in the first place. “Face, presence and walk” aren’t inconsequential but are the very material that goes to establishing what is presented here and elsewhere in the scriptures. The disturbing bent I’m noticing here is a cavalier rewording and retranslation, as needed, of verses, deemed disagreeable in their present forms. None of you can even begin to justify or establish your ability to do so. Don’t you see? It is what is written that is at the heart of what God has said, how he said it, the words utilized, their meaning according to context and so on. When these things are established school is in, doctrine begins taking shape and so on. You’re words are distressing; suggesting translation is not at issue.

    It’s not immanently clear exactly HOW God made Himself known at that time, or others. Scholars, both Jewish and Christian, have debated about it for years. But one thing is certain, that is that there is nothing on which to base the idea that it was Jesus, or the “eternal son,” that Adam heard “walking in the cool of the day.”

    I think the clarity is what is so troublesome to many, even yourself. It is quite clear. Adam became frightened as he heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. It is just that, which causes such consternation and controversy in the minds of many. Your mentioning the scholars debating is supposed to mean something? Jews debating with other Jews; no surprise there. Jews debating with Christians; really no surprise there. I should be amazed if there was no debate; after all, they, mostly, remain in unbelief, ever the descendants of those who killed the Christ. That they have taken the tact of retranslating Psalm 22, Isa 53, just to name a few, is no surprise, either. That’s hostile bias not valid scholarship. I’ve heard this time and again, insisting on something being unclear, ambiguous and debatable and not actually getting into what is written. If this passage is not immanently clear for you, look at Gen 18 to 19:1 then go to John 8. Jesus said “Abraham rejoiced to see my day and he saw it and was glad” and “before Abraham was born, I Am”. Odd choice of words for him if in fact he was not before Abraham was born; wouldn’t you say?

    Whether you think it was because the Son didn’t exist yet (as I believe), or simply that God didn’t speak by The Second Person of the Trinity until these last days, either way the result is that we can’t interpret Gen. 3:8 as a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ.

    You narrowly consider these two verses in one of the most immanently clear scriptural attestations to the inherent Deity of the Son of God spoken by God the Father himself?

    “YOU , LORD*, IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH, AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS; 11 THEY WILL PERISH, BUT YOU REMAIN; AND THEY ALL WILL BECOME OLD LIKE A GARMENT, 12 AND LIKE A MANTLE YOU WILL ROLL THEM UP; LIKE A GARMENT THEY WILL ALSO BE CHANGED. BUT YOU ARE THE SAME, AND YOUR YEARS WILL NOT COME TO AN END.” – emphasis mine
    * The scriptures attribute the creation of the world to Jesus and cite psalm 102.

    The Lord Jesus could and did most certainly speak, “in the beginning” for how else did he make all things? Mark, survey the other occurrences of “in the beginning” and “since the foundation of the world”, in other places, in this letter and then in other passages in the NT. This is the common reference to the original creation of the world for, please note, the creation he is credited with here “will perish”, the present world that is passing away, not the new heavens and earth, which comes later still. Moreover, the still pending new creation is his to do as well.

    (BTW, before you go off on a tangent about “through whom also He made the world” in the above verses, let me remind you that “through” in Greek is dia, which can also be translated “for” or “on account of”.)

    You are here denying his preexistence and then regard the attribution of creation to the Son of God as tangential? Again, that’s some nerve evident in retranslating at will, whatsoever conflicts with your commitment to the denial of what is so apparent here; wow. Saying dia “can” mean etc is untrue; the word can only mean what it means, per the context, hence the consistent results of translation by better men than you or I. Not one major translation has dia as anything but through or by. This is in keeping with the context, in particular, Jesus being called the Lord God (see psalm 102) who is said to have “laid the foundations of the earth”. How does foundation of the earth and stretching out the heavens and so on, strike you? This was Jesus’ work!

  35. on 22 Jul 2008 at 1:04 amJoseph

    Patrick,

    “Just a little study time? You made some assertive remarks about the definition of the words, how they might otherwise be translated and so on. Study time entails accepting what it says not what you perhaps think it should say. You went from Spirit back to cool in a rather quick about-face. Why even make such a suggestion, as your translation, when not one Bible version agrees with you? The JPS version? Is that the same one that altered the prophecy of the crucifixion of Christ at Psalm 22:16? That’s some translation to be citing; speaks volumes.”

    You have taken my harmless study a little to far. Whether you think that one should reflect on the translation from the language of origin, or not, has no relevance on how we should study Scripture. Should we simply just accept the English as is, need I point out obvious textual corruptions in support of the Trinitarian Doctrine?

    I agree with Mark that Trinitarian assumptions have been “read into” Genesis 3:8. We know that “no man” has seen God, so therefore we can make this assertion with confidence.

    What is clear is that God was approaching Adam. It’s a rather plain thing don’t you think?

    Obviously we can assume that God knew of the sinful act that Adam and Eve had just committed, but The Hitpael participle of הָלָךְ (halakh, “to walk, to go”) here has an iterative sense, “moving” or “going about.” While a translation of “walking about” is possible, it assumes a theophany, the presence of the Lord God in a human form. This is more than the text asserts.

    Joseph, if face doesn’t mean face, according to you; what doesn’t back mean? These are real facets of a person.

    The Hebrew word “panim” is very unique in the sense that it is a plural word, yet can be used as singular. Not many Hebrew words are used in this manner. It can also be used to show place, i.e., “in front of” or “presence”. We both can agree on this, correct?

    The Hebrew word gav, “back”, is of no comparison to the word “panim”. “gav” does not carry the same broad usage as “panim.”

    It is not for me to prove anything rather to read and comprehend and point out to others what is written and allow the text to fend for itself. The face of the LORD here is as real as can be; I think that is sufficiently stated in repeated fashion.

    If I were under the assumption that the presence of God in Gen 3:8 was part of the Trinity, I may agree with you that “panim” supports the definition to be a physical “face.” But, I will still conclude that there is not enough evidence to prove that Adam “saw” God. The text only mentions of Adam “hearing” God and being in his presence, or in the case of Gen 3:8, his “jurisdiction” one might say. 🙂

  36. on 22 Jul 2008 at 2:26 amMark

    Patrick,
    It’s very frustrating to write something and have the person
    reading it completely miss nearly every point. The things you are claiming I said are not at all what I said. Please reread the post and respond to the points I made.

  37. on 22 Jul 2008 at 10:05 pmPatrick

    Mark,

    completely miss nearly every point.

    I’ve read and reread Mark and I see that I addressed the points you made and went into what you implied as well – maybe that wasn’t clear. For instance, you said the thread comments had gotten away from the point and that:

    “regardless of how we translate the words…” Gen. 3:8 has been used to “prove” the Trinity

    You also said the reasoning (for the Trinity) has been read into it and not derived from it. Please read what I said about the translation of the words since the right reasoning from the scriptures begins with right translation; so, how the words mentioned are translated, goes right to the heart of the matter of what is presented here in Genesis 3. So, you saying “regardless” of translation is untrue. Translation is very important, for why else do so many, commenting here, take it upon themselves to begin retranslating those words, in particular, if not in an effort to get away from what is presented here: God, who we know is Spirit, nevertheless recounts to us the sound of the LORD God, walking in the garden, in the cool of the day, implying quite a lot. This passage does not exist in a vaccuum; hence the reason I pointed out Gen. 18 and the LORD God walking in the heat of the day, there, appearing to Abraham. Do you see the parallel? The LORD God walking “in the cool of the day” then, later, walking in “the heat of the day”? This goes directly to what you were saying; Gen 3:8 is in the contextual company of Gen 18-19 and, moreover, the rest of the scriptures.

    If you agree this latest reply of mine begins to address one of the first points you made then please acknowledge that and I will continue. But if you think I’m still not getting even your first point then perhaps not. Let me know what you think.

  38. on 23 Jul 2008 at 3:17 amPatrick

    Joseph,

    Whether you think that one should reflect on the translation from the language of origin, or not, has no relevance on how we should study Scripture. Should we simply just accept the English as is

    Did I say a word on not reflecting on the translation from the original language or was I speaking to some, taking it upon themselves, to make assertions, as to how words and verses can be otherwise translated, as if the current translations aren’t quite right or the best? In lieu of actually dealing with what is presented to you in Gen 3, for instance, you appear to be engaging in second guessing the words themselves; not, as far as I can tell, due to any qualified, legitimate stance you can take against the translators and their work but simply due to the fact you cannot accept what they appear to say, which is contrary to your beliefs. What we believe is to be always conformable or reformable, as needed, according to what is written.

    Trinitarian assumptions have been “read into” Genesis 3:8. We know that “no man” has seen God, so therefore we can make this assertion with confidence.

    John 1:18 and 6:46 expand upon this truth of the invisibility of the Father, specifically, the Father is said to be unseen. No man has seen God the Father, indeed, it’s an inherent part of being an omnipresent Spirit. Affirming this is perfectly in keeping with what is taught in the divine nature, understood as a Trinity. Why do you imply this is somehow at issue? What is being said, repeatedly, is that one, identified as the LORD God, personally, visibly appears and interacts with men (see Gen 18, seems like no one is willing to take it into consideration). Jesus, in no uncertain terms, says he has seen the Father, God and, moreover, that to see him is to see the Father. This truth of the Father’s invisibility, with the simultaneous truth of many statements, in many places, in the scriptures, that the LORD God visibly appeared to men, taken with Jesus’ words, leads to concluding it was always, none other than him. After all, he is credited with laying the foundation of the earth “in the beginning” Heb 1:10-12; that clearly speaks to his existence and parity with the Father. The Trinity is not dependent upon Gen 3:8 for “proof”; it is a matter of taking Gen 3 with the balance of the scriptures. “No man has seen God” is likewise a statement that must be taken in context. No man has seen the Father but Jesus and to see Jesus is to see the Father.

    The Hitpael participle of הָלָךְ (halakh, “to walk, to go”) here has an iterative sense, “moving” or “going about.” While a translation of “walking about” is possible, it assumes a theophany, the presence of the Lord God in a human form. This is more than the text asserts.

    Is a translation of “walking about” just possible? Odd isn’t it; how many notable Hebrew scholars for centuries, even men whose native tongue is Hebrew, e.g. the Jewish Bible you mentioned earlier, without exception, translate this as walking. The assumption, really, is the translators have done their job correctly and the reading is upon us. Once again, short of accepting what is being taught you have become a translator. Wasn’t that the LORD God walking about at Gen 18, too? Is it really more than the text asserts; ought not the analogy of faith help out here? We’re just reading and making conclusions based on what is written, not as Joseph says it should be written; you don’t get to do that, sorry.

    As with all Hebrew words, they are always dependent upon immediate context as to which of their definitions, of their particular semantic domains, apply. I asked: if panim doesn’t mean face then what doesn’t back mean. My point was, the Hebrew word translated “face”, is in the immediate context of “hand and back”, two other facets of a person. That panim is a plural, used as a singular, is another consideration; thanks for pointing that out, but the matter is, which of panim’s definitions is to be used. Within a single sentence, with hand and back; it’s face, no question. Can it mean the other things you listed, sure, not here though and that’s the point. Moses was shown the back of the LORD God as opposed to his face, after the Lord had blocked his eyes with his hand. Now that the terms are cleared up, do you accept what has transpired at Exodus 33:22-23? Bear in mind, there is no conflict with affirming the truth of the Father’s invisibility, while affirming the truth, at passages such as this one, of the LORD God being seen, in the person of Christ. Again, Heb. 1:10-12 identifies Jesus as the creator of the world “in the beginning”. Exodus 33 took place subsequent to the beginning, obviously.

  39. on 23 Jul 2008 at 5:01 amMark

    Let me try to say this another way. I am not suggesting that translation is unimportant. But translation will always be affected by preconceived doctrinal beliefs to some extent. This is true for either side of the debate. Nevertheless, the discussion about the translation of those particular words, and the speculation about HOW God was seen by Adam and Eve, are getting away from the original point that was made, which was that Trinitarians have used Gen. 3:8 as a Trinity “proof text.”

    My point is that no matter how you translate the words for ‘face,’ ‘presence,’ ‘walk,’ or other words, it is still talking about God, and there is nothing in that passage that proves it was Jesus appearing before his birth. This has been read into it based on the a priori belief that Jesus pre-existed his own birth. Perhaps the best thing would be to refer you to the other thread, “No Theophanies or Christophanies in Scripture.”
    http://kingdomready.org/blog/2008/07/21/no-theophanies-or-christophanies-in-scripture/

    But the point I really want to emphasize, and which you didn’t respond to at all in either of your posts, was dealing with the statement in Hebrews that God did not speak to the world through His Son until these “latter days” (at the time Hebrews was written.
    Here is that portion again:

    Interestingly, Hebrews 1 contrasts the ways in which God spoke to people in OT times with Him speaking by His Son.

    Hebrews 1:
    1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
    2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

    God spoke (and interacted) in many different ways in OT times, but this verse strongly implies that only in “these last days” has He spoken by His Son. Whether you think it was because the Son didn’t exist yet (as I believe), or simply that God didn’t speak by The Second Person of the Trinity until these last days, either way the result is that we can’t interpret Gen. 3:8 as a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ.

    This also fits with the parable Jesus told in Matt. 21, in which the land owner sent servants to the husbandmen who were beaten and killed, and then finally sent his son. The Son is God’s ultimate communication of Himself to us.

  40. on 23 Jul 2008 at 11:50 amPatrick

    Mark,

    But translation will always be affected by preconceived doctrinal beliefs to some extent.

    Care to back this up with some of your expert commentary on the Hebrew language and a critical analysis of, say, the NASB translation of Gen 3:8, for starters? Do you care to substantiate this or is it your habit to cast aspersions on the works of many, many, many translators and numerous translations? If I cite any other passage will you say something similar, for starters and hinder any meaningful interaction over the text?

    the discussion about the translation of those particular words, and the speculation about HOW God was seen by Adam and Eve, are getting away from the original point that was made, which was that Trinitarians have used Gen. 3:8 as a Trinity “proof text.”

    Your point is words aside, translation aside, Trinitarians have used a verse in this passage as proof text. Yes, this is one of many scriptures that clearly show the LORD God appearing to a man. Also, I agree with your words, “God was seen by Adam and Eve”. Now the matter is, in fact, how and it is not a matter of speculation. Please read Genesis 18 to 19:1. How did Abraham see the LORD God?

    no matter how you translate the words for ‘face,’ ‘presence,’ ‘walk,’ or other words, it is still talking about God, and there is nothing in that passage that proves it was Jesus appearing before his birth.

    You said, just prior, that translation is important and now you’re back to “no matter how you translate..”. Which is it? I’m trying to keep up with your points but you are making points that contradict, though, so please pardon my frustration. “Nothing” is in that passage that proves it was Jesus? How do you do systematic theology? Do you always contend that every individual verse or passage, cited in support of a doctrine, must singly and exhaustively state the entirety of the doctrine for you to accept it? Genesis 3 is one of many, many parts taken together in a complimentary fashion.

    the statement in Hebrews that God did not speak to the world through His Son until these “latter days” (at the time Hebrews was written.

    I beg your pardon but that is not what is said here. The writer is speaking to Hebrews and is referring to the prior times whereby God spoke to “the fathers” in the prophets and how, now, he has spoken in his Son. At the outset he is establishing the supremacy of the ministry of the Son of God over the prior ministry. The writer is not denying anything in these two verses. You are construing his words to state something that is completely contrary to what he goes on to say immediately after.

    Hebrews: “…in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.

    Together with:

    “YOU, LORD (Jesus), IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH, AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS;11 THEY WILL PERISH, BUT YOU REMAIN; AND THEY ALL WILL BECOME OLD LIKE A GARMENT,….

    – emphases mine

    I don’t want to put the entire passage here but these two points, of this passage, give context to “through whom… He made the world”. The writer understands that the Son of God was the one through whom the world was made and by whom, later at verse 10 on.

    Since the Son of God not only existed but all things came into existence through and by him and are upheld by the word of his power; we can conclude his obvious capacity to speak and appear to men, right? As for whether the account at Genesis 3:8 is describing a visitation by Christ rests not on 3:8 alone but is according to clear passages of the scriptures (Hebrews 1) shedding light on less clear passages of scripture (Gen. 3); that’s the analogy of faith being applied. There are many others to consider but these two are best since they are what we’ve been looking at all along.

    I’ve taken time to answer your questions and to address your points; please do me the courtesy of acknowledging that Jesus, the Son of God is called the LORD God who, in the beginning (Gen 1:1), laid the foundation of the earth etc. Whether you believe this and what you think of me is besides the point. Did the writer of Hebrews believe it?

  41. on 23 Jul 2008 at 1:50 pmMark

    OK let me try this once more.

    Hebrews 1:
    1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
    2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through [for, or on account of] whom also He made the world.

    God spoke (and interacted) in many different ways in OT times, but this verse strongly implies that only in “these last days” has He spoken by His Son. Whether you think it was because the Son didn’t exist yet (as I believe), or simply that God didn’t speak by The Second Person of the Trinity until these last days, either way the result is that we can’t interpret Gen. 3:8 as a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ.

    Even though I made the side remark that “through him” means “for” or “on account of” him, you still went off on that tangent. (BTW “tangential” doesn’t mean it’s not important, it just means that it is going off the point I am making.) You went all over the place about why you believe Jesus pre-existed, when I said more than once that that is not the point I am making.

    Please read this carefully: Even if we were to allow that Jesus is God the Son and he existed in the beginning, Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us that God did not speak through the Son in OT times, but only in the latter times. Therefore, Gen. 3:8 cannot be talking about Adam and Eve hearing the voice of Jesus.

    Once again, I refer you to the thread, “No Theophanies or Christophanies in Scripture.”
    http://kingdomready.org/blog/2008/07/21/no-theophanies-or-christophanies-in-scripture/

  42. on 23 Jul 2008 at 2:25 pmPatrick

    You’re being a bit patronizing with “let me try this once more”. Your point is contrary to the writer’s whole address in the prologue of the letter. “Through” does not mean “for and on account of” in this case. Read the whole chapter. It is not what I believe that is what is being spoken about in Hebrews 1 but what the writer believes and it is his exegesis on display. I believe as he does, according to what he has written. You are taking verses 1 and 2 out of context and making them contradict, in meaning, to what he goes on to say. You are completely off in this regard. You can’t rest your “belief”, in the Son not existing and speaking, prior to his incarnation, on these two isolated verses.

    Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us that God did not speak through the Son in OT times, but only in the latter times.

    This is an affirmative statement not a negative, at verse 1 and 2, being the first of a series of affirmations of the supremacy of the Son’s ministry; the writer has the same theme THROUGHOUT the entire letter. Perhaps you might read the whole letter and see. It does not say “God did not speak through the Son”. It says after he spoke in the prophets he has spoken in his Son. There is no negative statement like “did not”. The Son spoke in the very beginning making the earth and the heavens, according to this writer, so what you are saying his verses mean is impossible! Do you get that?

    Might you answer one question?

    Hebrews 1:10-12; who does the writer say laid the foundation of the earth? One question – that’s it. The entirety of your thread posts are addressed by this single verse since you are calling this writer as witness, supposedly as a proof of the non-existence of the Son. How can he say, by the Holy Spirit, “You (Jesus the Son of God) in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth” and so on?

  43. on 23 Jul 2008 at 3:19 pmWolfgang

    Hi Patrick,

    you asked one question above

    The entirety of your thread posts are addressed by this single verse since you are calling this writer as witness, supposedly as a proof of the non-existence of the Son. How can he say, by the Holy Spirit, “You (Jesus the Son of God) in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth” and so on?

    The simple answer is: The wirter as inspired by God did NOT say “You (Jesus the son of God) in the begining laid the foundation of the earth” !!
    God, Jesus’ Father laid the foundations of the earth in the beginning. It may be helpful to note which parts of Heb 1,10-12 are quotations from the OT and how they are quoted.

    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

  44. on 23 Jul 2008 at 4:23 pmPatrick

    Wolfgang,

    To whom, according to the context of Hebrews 1, is the writer speaking of when he says “You” at verse 10. It is the same as the foregoing verses, all of which he has been playing to the Son. The writer, not me, is applying the psalmist’s speech, in the psalm directed to the LORD God, to the Son of God. My parentheses indicate to whom the writer of Hebrew was applying the foundation of the earth, Wolfgang. Are you saying that isn’t the case?

  45. on 23 Jul 2008 at 4:24 pmPatrick

    “applying to the Son” not playing; typo.

  46. on 23 Jul 2008 at 4:50 pmPatrick

    8 But of the Son He says, “YOUR THRONE, O GOD (the Son), IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS (the Son’s) KINGDOM.

    9 “YOU (the Son, still) HAVE LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATED LAWLESSNESS; THEREFORE GOD (the Father), YOUR GOD, HAS ANOINTED YOU (the Son, yet again) WITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS ABOVE YOUR COMPANIONS.”

    10 And, “YOU (still the Son), LORD, IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH, AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS; 11 THEY WILL PERISH, BUT YOU (the Son) REMAIN; AND THEY ALL WILL BECOME OLD LIKE A GARMENT, 12 AND LIKE A MANTLE YOU (again) WILL ROLL THEM UP; LIKE A GARMENT THEY WILL ALSO BE CHANGED. BUT YOU* ARE THE SAME, AND YOUR* YEARS WILL NOT COME TO AN END.”

    13 But to which of the angels has He ever said, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR* ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR* FEET”?

    – emphases mine

    * All “you” and “your” are directed to Jesus the Son of God so, yes, the writer indeed does say, per context, Jesus the Son of God laid the foundation of the earth, in the beginning. The writer of Hebrews believes this way and applies a psalmist’s address to the LORD God at psalm 102 to Jesus the Son of God and this as he was moved by the Holy Spirit to do so.

    You had said:

    The wirter as inspired by God did NOT say “You (Jesus the son of God) in the begining laid the foundation of the earth” !!
    God, Jesus’ Father laid the foundations of the earth in the beginning. It may be helpful to note which parts of Heb 1,10-12 are quotations from the OT and how they are quoted.

    The writer of Hebrews most certainly did say that; he attributes creation to the Son and it is his citation and application of the psalm (not mine), among the other citations.

  47. on 23 Jul 2008 at 5:56 pmTim

    Patrick,

    The very heart of the matter is translation, where translation is the most accurate expression, in another language, of what is written in the original language and, as this is done, one is enabled to get the meaning and derive from it, whatever is intended by it in the first place.

    I think you have fallen for the faulty bill-of-goods sold by Bible scholars throughout the ages that (a) the language of the Bible is unambiguous, and (b) natural language translations are lossless. Neither one of these are true (the fact that we are having this discussion proves this), which is why arguments over the meanings of words to prove a “essential” doctrine are a waste of time.

    To address your objection that is forthcoming, I believe that the Bible is written with a broad brush. That is to say, historical facts, high-level principles and teachings that we are to adapt to own own lives in order to follow the simple commands of the scriptures.

  48. on 23 Jul 2008 at 8:44 pmPatrick

    Tim,

    I think you have fallen for the faulty bill-of-goods sold by Bible scholars throughout the ages that (a) the language of the Bible is unambiguous, and (b) natural language translations are lossless.

    I’m going to be blunt as I think that is best; there’s no sense in beating around the bush. The Bible is written with a “broad brush” or, it is as the Lord Jesus believes and says, which is evident in how he uses them, Matt. 5:17-19, 22:29-45, Luke 24:44, John 5:39, just to name a few specific examples of his high view of it. Also there is the apostolic view of the scriptures: summed up beautifully at 2 Tim 3:14-17.

    My summary, of the necessity of right translation, in order for us to maintain right doctrine, is sound. Those, like yourself, who have a low view of the scriptures, frankly, grieve me deeply. God has spoken and what he has spoken is written for us and translation, via the effort of countless scholars, to keep for us a good working knowledge of now long dead languages, is noble and vital and your credibility is lost, in any discussion over these matters, if you continue with your weak stance toward the Bible. Claiming the language is ambiguous is a weak cop-out; this is a ruse of men, choosing what they will believe as suits them and, where they disagree with the scriptures, “oh, the words are ambiguous”. I’m sure the words telling you of free justification through faith in Christ aren’t so ambiguous – or are you uncertain of their correct translation? What words do you deem so ambiguous? Whatsoever words are in apparent conflict with your beliefs perhaps?

    There may be some loss in translation, due to the antiquity of the original languages, but the institution of scripture preservation and translation is one of devotion to the God who gave them. The goods I’ve bought are the words of eternal life, at no cost, from Jesus the Word of God. The sound scholars, who have labored long and hard to translate to us what we have, to make men wise unto salvation, are allies and brothers.

  49. on 23 Jul 2008 at 10:18 pmMatt

    Patrick has made great points, well done brother. I would passionately recommend that you all take heed of Patrick’s comments, and investigate them (and the scriptures) honestly, without presuppositions.

    As far as I can tell, C.S. Lewis’s trilemma still stands. As below is a very very short list of the biblical evidence which DO imply the deity of Jesus Christ:
    * Jesus refers to himself as God [John 8:24,56-59 & John 10:30-33]
    * the Father (God) refers to Jesus as God [Heb 1:8],
    * Titus 2:13 calls Jesus “…of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ”
    * Hebrews 1:8 (as Patrick discussed)
    * Stephen, while full of the Holy Spirit, prays to Jesus (Acts 7:59). Are Christians allowed to pray to anyone but God?
    * Thomas called Jesus, without being rebuked, “My Lord and my God” [actual literal Greek is ‘the Lord of me, and the God of me’] – John 20:28.
    * Compare Rev 1:17 / Isa 44:6
    * Jesus created all things, and was before all things [Col. 1:15-17, also I AM, Yahweh in Aramaic, statement and John 1:1-14]

    Now if the Messiah Jesus, is called God, worshipped, prayed to, then shouldn’t we continue with the biblical instructions, and with what the early church (including the Apostles) did and believed?

    If you read the bible with the presupposition that Jesus cannot be divine as well as man, wouldn’t that just mean that no matter what biblical evidence is presented, if you leave your mind closed you will ALWAYS find a way to discredit it to the satisfaction of your own mind?

    Put it another way, what would it take for someone to believe the trinity, what type of evidence do you require? And how do you think the early Christians interpreted the epistles/gospels in relation to the relationship of Jesus to his Father?

  50. on 24 Jul 2008 at 2:44 amJoseph

    Patrick,

    “Did I say a word on not reflecting on the translation from the original language or was I speaking to some, taking it upon themselves, to make assertions, as to how words and verses can be otherwise translated, as if the current translations aren’t quite right or the best?

    Well then you must have misunderstood me, because I remember stating that regardless to what the text says or doesn’t say in the original Hebrew, it still does not support the Trinity. How well is your Hebrew, Patrick? I happen to speak, read, and write rather well, and have considered many times as to why does one translator vary to the next when translating from the Hebrew to the English. The reason I have brought up the definition of a certain word in Gen 3:8 such as ruakh (Spirit, wind) is because out of the hundreds of times it used used in scripture, it only translates into the English as “cool” once. The Hebrew word for “cool” is “kar.”

    In lieu of actually dealing with what is presented to you in Gen 3, for instance, you appear to be engaging in second guessing the words themselves; not, as far as I can tell, due to any qualified, legitimate stance you can take against the translators and their work but simply due to the fact you cannot accept what they appear to say, which is contrary to your beliefs. What we believe is to be always conformable or reformable, as needed, according to what is written.”

    Are you understanding anything that I am posting? What did I say about how Gen 3:8 is being translated? Did I ever claim that it was a blatantly wrong translation into the English?

    Go back and read post #21.

    Is a translation of “walking about” just possible? Odd isn’t it; how many notable Hebrew scholars for centuries, even men whose native tongue is Hebrew, e.g. the Jewish Bible you mentioned earlier, without exception, translate this as walking. The assumption, really, is the translators have done their job correctly and the reading is upon us. Once again, short of accepting what is being taught you have become a translator. Wasn’t that the LORD God walking about at Gen 18, too? Is it really more than the text asserts; ought not the analogy of faith help out here? We’re just reading and making conclusions based on what is written, not as Joseph says it should be written; you don’t get to do that, sorry.

    This is one of the difficulties with translating. There is no doubt that the Hebrew word “halakh” in Gen 3:8 means “going” or “moving” in an iterative sense. If I were to say to you in Hebrew that I am walking as a human does on two legs, I would define how I am going, such as; “ani (I) holekh (going, m.s.) baregal (on foot, literally – “in the foot”). There is not enough information in the text of Gen 3:8 to assume that an entity was “walking” in the same manner as humans do. To say that the translators somehow implied that halakh meant “walking about” as a human does on two feet assumes a theophany. And even if God is representing himself in another form in accordance to that assumption, this still is no proof for a Trinity, or some other member of a Godhead.

    which of panim’s definitions is to be used. Within a single sentence, with hand and back; it’s face, no question. Can it mean the other things you listed, sure, not here though and that’s the point. Moses was shown the back of the LORD God as opposed to his face, after the Lord had blocked his eyes with his hand. Now that the terms are cleared up, do you accept what has transpired at Exodus 33:22-23?

    If the context is defined by enough information, leaving no doubt, then of course “panim” can be defined as a body part.

    Exd 33:22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:

    Exd 33:23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

    A couple of points to start, in Ex. 33:23, the word used for “back parts” is not the Hebrew word “gav” that is directly used to define a body part. The word used in Ex. 33:23 is “akhor” (1. the back side, the rear, a) backwards, b) hereafter (of time), c) behind”), which is related to the Hebrew word “akhar (afterwards).”

    Verse 19 gives us the context to what God is showing Moses in verse 23. Moses asked to see God’s glory (honor, “kavod”), and God responded to Moses telling him that he will pass before him “his goodness”, not his “body.” There is nothing here that implies God was manifest in a human form, or Moses saw his physical “backside.”

  51. on 24 Jul 2008 at 5:07 amMark

    This is one of the difficulties with translating. There is no doubt that the Hebrew word “halakh” in Gen 3:8 means “going” or “moving” in an iterative sense. If I were to say to you in Hebrew that I am walking as a human does on two legs, I would define how I am going, such as; “ani (I) holekh (going, m.s.) baregal (on foot, literally – “in the foot”). There is not enough information in the text of Gen 3:8 to assume that an entity was “walking” in the same manner as humans do.

    I’m not sure what “in an iterative” sense means. Let me make sure I’m understanding you (and clarify so no one else misunderstands). You’re saying that holekh means “going” and if you were describing how you would “go” you would add the word baregal (“on foot”). But that word baregal is not in the text of Gen. 3:8, and so the verse is only speaking of the voice of God “moving” and is not implying walking the way a human would (i.e., with feet). Is this correct? If so, that makes a lot of sense and goes a long way toward demonstrating that it was not a theophany or a christophany.

    To say that the translators somehow implied that halakh meant “walking about” as a human does on two feet assumes a theophany. And even if God is representing himself in another form in accordance to that assumption, this still is no proof for a Trinity, or some other member of a Godhead.

    This is my point exactly. They may twist it to fit with their dogma, but there is nothing in that verse that necessitates it being “God the Son.” But then we get into the arguments about Hebrews 1 and the whole cycle starts all over again. If they’d read John Cordaro’s article it might help, but I doubt it.

  52. on 24 Jul 2008 at 6:36 amJohnO

    Matt,

    Every single one of those scriptures has been dealt with. Probably in this very thread, or the adjoining one. The problem with your approach is the evidence you’re selectively ignoring, and the lack of any historical context whatsoever. Which we’ve also pointed out over and over.

  53. on 24 Jul 2008 at 6:58 amTim

    Patrick,

    Those, like yourself, who have a low view of the scriptures, frankly, grieve me deeply. God has spoken and what he has spoken is written for us and translation, via the effort of countless scholars, to keep for us a good working knowledge of now long dead languages, is noble and vital and your credibility is lost, in any discussion over these matters, if you continue with your weak stance toward the Bible.

    You know nothing about me and are completely out of line for making these personal attacks (“low view of scripture” and “weak stance toward the Bible”).

    As a defense of my character against your attacks, let me say that I view the scripture as the very guidebook by which I can serve God and my fellow man. Tell me how this is a low view of scripture? I study the Bible daily trying to find out how to apply it to my life to advance the Kingdom. Why does this grieve you?

    Please provide an example of any deficiencies in my personal walk with the Lord or retract this accusation.

    this is a ruse of men, choosing what they will believe as suits them and, where they disagree with the scriptures, “oh, the words are ambiguous”.

    Please provide me an example in my personal life of my “believing what suits me.” Or, please retract this accusation.

  54. on 24 Jul 2008 at 7:04 amTim

    Matt,

    As far as I can tell, C.S. Lewis’s trilemma still stands.

    Why is it a trilemma? As someone has previously mentioned (I think), this is a false classification because there is at least one more option; that is, that Jesus is the Son of God!!

  55. on 24 Jul 2008 at 9:03 amSean

    Hello Matt, welcome to the site. Here are some thoughts on your comment:

    As far as I can tell, C.S. Lewis’s trilemma still stands.

    Did you get a chance to read the article above to the end?

    As below is a very very short list of the biblical evidence which DO imply the deity of Jesus Christ:
    * Jesus refers to himself as God [John 8:24,56-59 & John 10:30-33]
    * the Father (God) refers to Jesus as God [Heb 1:8],

    I would assert that Jesus never, not even once, claimed to be God. In the case of John 8.24, 56-59, he is claiming to be the Messiah. He says unless you believe “I am he,” etc. The claim Jesus makes is that he is the Messiah. Regarding John 8.58, please see this post or listen to this mp3 by Victor.

    In the case of John 10. This is a primary case that proves Jesus understood and applied the concept of representational deity to himself. The quotation comes from Ps 82, where the judges of Israel were called “Gods” (or “gods”) because they were supposed to represent God to the people. It is interesting that Jesus responds by quoting this Scripture in defense of their misunderstanding that he was claiming to be God (as in the Father). In so doing, he denied their assertion while simultaneously claiming to be God’s representative, and convicting their own dereliction of their role to represent him.

    Also, and especially, in the case of Heb 1.8, the quotation applied to Jesus is from Ps 45 in which the Davidic king is called “God” in the sense that he represented God to the people. No one thought the king was actually God, but it was well understood that he was God’s anointed, God’s messiah (lower case “m” because we are not talking about the Messiah here, just read Ps 45 through). Thus, this is another instance of representation deity and that is the sense in which Jesus is called God in Heb 1.8. There is no other way to responsibly interpret Heb 1.8.

    If this piques your interest, perhaps you would take the time to read my paper, Jesus is God: Exploring the Notion of Representational Deity available here. If you read it, it will help you to understand how we are able to accept the whole of Scripture as God’s inspired truth, but not believe in the later doctrine of the Trinity.

    * Titus 2:13 calls Jesus “…of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ”

    Titus 2.13 is one of several texts that can be translated two different ways. I will quote two translations below to demonstrate this.

    Titus 2.13 [NASB]
    looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,

    Titus 2.13 [NAB]
    as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ,

    So, you see, there are two ways to translate this verse. If you would like further commentary on this verse along with several others (Rom 9.5; 2 Pet 1.1; etc.) see Appendix 2 of my paper on representational deity.

    * Hebrews 1:8 (as Patrick discussed)

    You already mentioned Heb 1.8…see above.

    * Stephen, while full of the Holy Spirit, prays to Jesus (Acts 7:59). Are Christians allowed to pray to anyone but God?

    Stephen actually saw Jesus. If I see someone and talk to them does that qualify as prayer?

    * Thomas called Jesus, without being rebuked, “My Lord and my God” [actual literal Greek is ‘the Lord of me, and the God of me’] – John 20:28.

    See my comment on this here.

    * Compare Rev 1:17 / Isa 44:6

    Just because two beings claim the same title doesn’t make them the same. For example, the judges of Israel were called “saviors,” God is called a “savior,” and so is Jesus. Jesus is the first and last of our faith. He is the founder and the trailblazer and also the one who will see us to completion. He is the firstborn from the dead, the beginning of the new creation of God.

    * Jesus created all things, and was before all things [Col. 1:15-17, also I AM, Yahweh in Aramaic, statement and John 1:1-14]

    In Christ were created all things: thrones, dominions, etc. This is not talking about trees and grace, but about the new creation and the accompanying reordering of cosmic powers when Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God and invested with “all authority in heaven and earth” (Mat 28.18).

    I don’t know what you mean by “also, I AM, Yahweh in Aramaic”

    John 1 does not call Jesus God. The word is God, i.e. it fully expresses him (you are your word, etc.). This word, the plan, intent, creative expression of God, became a living breathing human being in Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is what the word became, not 1 to 1 equivalent.

    Now if the Messiah Jesus, is called God, worshipped, prayed to, then shouldn’t we continue with the biblical instructions, and with what the early church (including the Apostles) did and believed?

    this is what the apostles and Jesus believed:

    Jesus believed that the Father is the only true God (John 17.3)

    Paul believed that for us Christians, there is only one God–the Father, and one Lord–Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 8.6). also see Eph 4.6 & 1 Tim 2.5.

    If you read the bible with the presupposition that Jesus cannot be divine as well as man, wouldn’t that just mean that no matter what biblical evidence is presented, if you leave your mind closed you will ALWAYS find a way to discredit it to the satisfaction of your own mind?

    We read the Bible based on it’s own presuppositions…it presumes God exists, that God is one, that his name is Yahweh, and that there are no other Gods besides him. The presupposition of the Scripture is evidenced by 20,000 singular personal pronouns and singular verbs. Since God is a single person he says “I” “me” , etc.

    Can I ask you to answer me the following questions?

    [1] God is immortal (1 Tim 1.17). Jesus died. Therefore Jesus cannot be God
    [2] God knows all things, Jesus did not know when he was to come back (Mark 13.32), thus, Jesus is not omniscient and therefore he is not God.
    [3] Why did the early church fight over whether or not to keep the law, whether or not to accept the Gentiles as full members, whether or not women could speak in church, etc., but never once had a controversy of a new revelation of how many God is. They were raised, as all Jews have been, to believe the Father is the only true God. To switch this understanding to Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Father as God, would certainly be a big step. Show me the controversy! It doesn’t occur until centuries later when the Trinity finally gets developed.

  56. on 24 Jul 2008 at 12:30 pmJoseph

    Mark,

    I’m not sure what “in an iterative” sense means. Let me make sure I’m understanding you (and clarify so no one else misunderstands). You’re saying that holekh means “going” and if you were describing how you would “go” you would add the word baregal (”on foot”). But that word baregal is not in the text of Gen. 3:8, and so the verse is only speaking of the voice of God “moving” and is not implying walking the way a human would (i.e., with feet). Is this correct? If so, that makes a lot of sense and goes a long way toward demonstrating that it was not a theophany or a christophany.

    Yes, this is what I am saying. To simply put it, the assumption comes in because the manifestation of God is not known in Gen 3:8, and there is nothing in the writing to define by what means he traveled. All the text tells us is they heard the voice (kol) of God. How does one define by what means a voice moves? The word “halakh” doesn’t tell the reader how one is “going”, or by what device, only that they are in the movement. This is what I meant by iterative sense, the action of halakh (going) is a repetitive or continuum of motion, not a means of defining how one got from point A to point B.

    For example, if one were to say that “I heard the voice of Mark going to the store”, it would read, “Shamati et hakol shell Mark mithalekh lakhanoot.” We could assume that you went by way of walking on foot, because we know that humans have two feet, but the context of the sentence does not assert this, you also could have went by taxi, bicycle, horse, ect.

    Here is a link to an article I found that goes into more detail on this issue, and how translators in the past have interpreted this passage…
    Click Here

  57. on 24 Jul 2008 at 12:33 pmJoseph

    If the link doesn’t work, try this…

    http://www.ericlevy.com/Writings/Writings_Gen3-8Main.htm

  58. on 24 Jul 2008 at 1:02 pmMark

    Just for a laugh (and couldn’t we all use one?) here’s a different context for using Gen. 3:10. I got this from another web site.

    A new pastor was visiting in the homes of his parishioners. At one house it seemed obvious that someone was at home, but no answer came to his repeated knocks at the door. Therefore, he took out a business card and wrote “Revelation 3:20” on the back of it and stuck it in the door.

    When the offering was processed the following Sunday, he found that his card had been returned. Added to it was this cryptic message, “Genesis 3:10.”

    Reaching for his Bible to check out the citation, he broke up in gales of laughter. Revelation 3:20 begins “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” Genesis 3:10 reads, “I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid for I was naked.”

    🙂

  59. on 24 Jul 2008 at 5:19 pmPatrick

    Joseph,

    I remember stating that regardless to what the text says or doesn’t say in the original Hebrew, it still does not support the Trinity.

    My whole point has been that it is precisely what the Hebrew scriptures say here and that it does go to show the capacity of the LORD God to appear, walk and interact with Adam, much like He did at Gen 18 with Abraham. Your strenuous effort is to obscure the translation of the words and get away from their apparent implications. I intend to back that up; please read the balance of this.

    The reason I have brought up the definition of a certain word in Gen 3:8 such as ruakh (Spirit, wind) is because out of the hundreds of times it used used in scripture, it only translates into the English as “cool” once. The Hebrew word for “cool” is “kar.”

    Ruakh appears to serve to describe day per every translation I have surveyed, hence I’ll take the word of whole committees and not your personal view, which appears to be leaning far in the direction of your particular doctrinal bias, evident in your own writings.

    Did I ever claim that it was a blatantly wrong translation into the English?

    Did I ever say “blatantly wrong” or, instead “…you appear to be engaging in second guessing the words themselves; not, as far as I can tell, due to any qualified, legitimate stance you can take against the translators and their work but simply due to the fact you cannot accept what they appear to say..”

    I did not say you thought the translation, as it stands, is “blatantly wrong” but you are offering assertions about how this passage is to be translated, that, so far, is way out of line with very qualified Hebrew to English scholarship.

    If I were to say to you in Hebrew that I am walking as a human does on two legs, I would define how I am going, such as; “ani (I) holekh (going, m.s.) baregal (on foot, literally – “in the foot”). There is not enough information in the text of Gen 3:8 to assume that an entity was “walking” in the same manner as humans do.

    There is clearly enough information for the current translation result and it is consistent with the rest of the context of Genesis etc.: “Walking” just as it is in Gen 3:8 of men, without the construction you mentioned – Gen 18:16, 24:65, Ex 2:5

    A couple of points to start, in Ex. 33:23, the word used for “back parts” is not the Hebrew word “gav” that is directly used to define a body part. The word used in Ex. 33:23 is “akhor” (1. the back side, the rear, a) backwards, b) hereafter (of time), c) behind”), which is related to the Hebrew word “akhar (afterwards).”

    Please see: “akhar” translated “back”, body part and how it is dependent on context, as with all Hebrew – 1 Sa 10:9, 2 Sam 2:23

    Also see: “akhor” translates “back” as the actual facet of a thing, the actual back of the tabernacle – Ex 26:12

    I had written that panim, in the context of words translated hand and back, has the influence of context upon it, as to which of its meanings apply at Ex 33; but isn’t that the case with every language? Not surprisingly, again, whole translation committees have stubbornly consistent results here too, much in contrast to your assertions. So, panim being a facet of a person just as the word for “back”, here, another facet, holds up in context both immediate and extended.

    Moses asked to see God’s glory (honor, “kavod”), and God responded to Moses telling him that he will pass before him “his goodness”, not his “body.” There is nothing here that implies God was manifest in a human form, or Moses saw his physical “backside.”

    “Nothing” but context and correct translation, actually, fascinating; I’m not convinced about your skill with Hebrew but I am convinced of your doctrinal bias. You know, any accusation of translating according to bias is a two-edged sword. As for akhor, akhar meaning “physical backside”, see above.

    All the text tells us is they heard the voice (kol) of God.

    For example: “kol” as “sound” not necessarily voice, also “thunder”. Kole appears to be commonly used of the sound made by something, produced by something: “sound” of a trumpet, “sound” of thunder, “sound” of the people, “sound” of walking, “sound” of words, etc etc – Ex 19:16,19 – 20:18 – 32:17,18 etc etc. This is so commonly the case and your neglecting context, again, while asserting your view, employing translation suggestions that don’t have a majority witness in support, is very telling.

  60. on 24 Jul 2008 at 6:55 pmPatrick

    Mark,

    This is my point exactly. They may twist it to fit with their dogma,

    Mark, you should not be so quick to pat Joseph on the back, akhar – akhor. Don’t congratulate him on imposing his bias on the translation of the words of 3:8, especially in light of the things posted in response. You all need to leave translation alone and deal with what is presented at 3:8 and the rest of the scriptures. Isn’t that the LORD God walking about at Genesis 18, too?

  61. on 24 Jul 2008 at 7:53 pmPatrick

    Sean,

    [1] God is immortal (1 Tim 1.17). Jesus died. Therefore Jesus cannot be God

    The Father and Jesus are distinct persons; what is said of the Father being immortal is true and remains true, even in the death of the body of his Son. Jesus became flesh and he is not the Father. Flesh is mortal and it is in his flesh that he died: Jo 6:51-56, Col 1:22, Eph 2:16.

    [2] God knows all things, Jesus did not know when he was to come back (Mark 13.32), thus, Jesus is not omniscient and therefore he is not God.

    Again, you stand in need of learning all that is entailed in the incarnation before you start making these statements as if they are profound proofs against the Trinity. When you cite that instance where Jesus indicated he didn’t know something, how about you balance that with all the times he indicated, either in a statement he made about others, or by the writer indicating the Lord’s knowledege of the very thoughts of men? What other instances are there, which indicate clearly that Jesus indeed had a real body, was actually flesh and blood like us, complete with all its attending frailty? Thank you for pointing out one more clear evidence that Jesus Christ was indeed manifest in the flesh and the Father was not. As for his omniscience? How much knowledge and power is required to, in the beginning, lay the foundation of the earth and make the heavens? Hebrews 1:10-12.

    [3] Why did the early church fight over whether or not to keep the law, whether or not to accept the Gentiles as full members, whether or not women could speak in church, etc., but never once had a controversy of a new revelation of how many God is.

    That is simple Sean, the church had no controversy, as you do, precisely because it was understood by all who came into the church, repenting from Judaism, to name one souce, that Jesus was in fact equal with the Father, full Deity, albeit bodily, not strictly spirit, Luke 24:39. A thing for which the Jews had him killed, remember? God is one! That is clear teaching of the Trinity; so, again, your straw man is burning, but we’re all still here.

    They were raised, as all Jews have been, to believe the Father is the only true God. To switch this understanding to Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Father as God, would certainly be a big step. Show me the controversy! It doesn’t occur until centuries later when the Trinity finally gets developed.

    there is no God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.

    This is a well known adaptation of the shema, according to the gospel and the faith that Jesus delivered, once for all unto the saints. If we take your stance reading these words, do we say Jesus Christ, though Lord, is not God? Well then, the Father, though God, cannot be Lord. Do you see the bad results of applying your take on these words, for instance? Lord, when the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit are the referent, is a strictly divine title, since what is said of them touching: existence, deity, power, eternality and possessing salvation, as their sole purview, is not said of men.

    The Lord Jesus, Son of God, is attributed laying the foundation of the earth “in the beginning” and making the heavens. I’m not so concerned about what you believe but what the writer to the Hebrews believed; my faith is conformed to his, how about yours?

  62. on 24 Jul 2008 at 8:38 pmPatrick

    Matt,

    Greetings to you.

    Now if the Messiah Jesus, is called God, worshipped, prayed to, then shouldn’t we continue with the biblical instructions, and with what the early church (including the Apostles) did and believed?

    Correct, we are to believe and do according to the apostles’ example and their sound doctrine, seen in the scriptures from their hand; their papers, in a sense. I notice the tendency of some who post here, linking to this paper and that, when an apostolic treatise on the Son of God is at Hebrews 1, for example. They will wrangle with the Greek word for “through” at Hebrews 1:2 to play down his co-creation, with the Father, of the cosmos, ignoring the explicit attribution of creation to the Son at verse 10. They pit the words of the writer against his own words; it’s a disturbing thing to witness.

    If you read the bible with the presupposition that Jesus cannot be divine as well as man, wouldn’t that just mean that no matter what biblical evidence is presented, if you leave your mind closed you will ALWAYS find a way to discredit it to the satisfaction of your own mind?

    The biblical evidence is especially hard to bring to bear, on what they believe, when they apply double standards, as in the case of the divine title of “Lord” and play re-translator, much to the contrary of sound translation. If they alter the standard between us, discussion falls apart.

    Put it another way, what would it take for someone to believe the trinity, what type of evidence do you require? And how do you think the early Christians interpreted the epistles/gospels in relation to the relationship of Jesus to his Father?

    For me the means have been: John 1:1, John 17, John 6, John 20, Col 1-2, Hebrews 1 all the scriptures you cited, additionally; add to that the Law, Prophets and the Psalms; for they are that which testify of me, said the Lord Jesus. Oh, and “I am” is what the Lord said at John 8, not “I Am he” as Sean cited. He was speaking of his perpetual existence, especially predating the birth of Abraham.

    Indeed, what type of evidence is required for them?

  63. on 25 Jul 2008 at 12:13 amO.J.

    Patrick,

    You said,

    Reading your posts here is like watching an episode of the Twilight Zone. Anyone whose brain functions can plainly see that nothing said here will have any effect on you, because you only seem interested in making your points and smugly patting yourself on the back. What good do you think that does? Most of the people you are trying to debate here know your view quite well, and have looked objectively at your arguments and the scriptures and sources you use long before you arrived at this website. I had 50 years on your side of the fence, and am so glad that God graciously showed me the light.

    Before you decide to put me in my place with your wisdom, please please, consider this; What is said here in this thread is not merely an exercise to impress others with our knowledge. There are actually others reading these posts whose lives will be influenced by what they see here. I can tell you this; your attitude alone will drive more people away than it will win, but that is common with trinitarians.

    I WAS a trinitarian, and there is not one point you have tried to make here that can’t be refuted, (which would take forever), and as far as it making any difference in what you believe, it obviously wouldn’t. I will only make one observation about the things you listed, and show here,(for the benefit of others only, since I realize it will have no effect on you), why your own methods for determining your position on this, are the methods which would show you that you are wrong, if only you truly believed in finding the truth, and not just in proving trinitarian doctrine.

    Patrick, what translation do “we all” need to leave alone for John 8?
    KJV? Have you ever read verse 58 in the NIV?The NIV says in the footnote that it can be translated as “I am he”, and it was translated by a ‘translation committee’. The “right translation” can be either “I am” or “I am he”, according to which ‘translation committee’, ( as you put it), you prefer to choose. You say that we need right translation to maintain right doctrine, but your posts all seem to indicate that you wish to use only your preferred translation to maintain YOUR preferred doctrine.

    What translation do you prefer? My guess would be KJV. Let’s use that for John 8. You’ve said repeatedly that we need to use context to determine what words mean, (an utterly backwards form of reasoning), but let’s do that here. Where did you start determining context for Jn 8:58? In verse 57? In verse 24? In 4:26? In 4:25?
    You say that Jesus did NOT say “I am he” in verse 58, that it is correctly translated as “I AM”, so I assume you’re using KJV. If so, please look at verse 8:24. Jesus says there “I am he”, and yet if you’ll check the Greek, it is exactly the same. EXACTLY. Verse 8;24 is translated by nearly all of the English translations as either “I am he” or “I am who I am”, or “I am who I claim to be”. Which is correct? Careful now. Which one is INCORRECT? The answer is, NONE ARE INCORRECT. (Oh my). If the same translators said that it’s “I am he” in verse 24, and “I am” in verse 58, yet the words they translated these two verses FROM are exactly the same. you will have a hard time telling me that they are right both times. If you want to use context, verse 25 says, “Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, “Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.?”
    Notice here that your KJV refers you back to John 4:26. But if you’ll go ahead and read verse 25 first, you might get a better understanding of Jesus’ statement in verse 26.

    4:25, The woman saith unto him, I know that Messsias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26, Jesus saith unto her, “I that speak unto thee am he.” What’s that? “I am he” ? He who? Ah, the Messiah. Is this who Jesus said he was “from the beginning?”

    I realize that you will go to verse 1:14, and use that to determine your “perceived context”, and what you wish for “word”, (Logos), to mean in verse 1:1, but like it or not, that is eisegesis. You’re merely projecting your belief back onto the translation instead of the other way around. Trinitarians can argue till they’re blue in the face that it’s not, but I’ve got news for you, everyone on the planet who is not already steeped in trinitarianism can see that it is.
    A “translation committee” decided this issue for you centuries ago, and no facts will sway you.

    The context to look for in Jn 8 is, who did Jesus SAY he was? At no time did he say that he was God, but he definitely DID say that he was the Messiah.

    I realize that not one word of what I’ve said means anything at all to you. I truly am sorry for that, Patrick. I hope your heart softens enough for you to start searching for the truth, with an open mind, (a mind open to the truth), and not just looking to make your points. You and I don’t amount to much in the scheme of things, but God’s truth does.

    I figured out years ago that there were problems with evangelical doctrines, and started searching for the truth. When I first came across the statements that Jesus was not God, I did not want to study it, it was too scary a thought for a trinitarian. But I did study it, and now I clearly see God’s plan. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

    You and I don’t amount to much in the scheme of things, but God’s truth does.

  64. on 25 Jul 2008 at 2:14 amMark

    Patrick wrote:

    You all need to leave translation alone and deal with what is presented at 3:8 and the rest of the scriptures.

    That’s what I’ve been saying for several posts now, and you kept saying translation was important! For example:

    The very heart of the matter is translation, where translation is the most accurate expression, in another language, of what is written in the original language and, as this is done, one is enabled to get the meaning and derive from it, whatever is intended by it in the first place

    how the words mentioned are translated, goes right to the heart of the matter of what is presented here in Genesis 3. So, you saying “regardless” of translation is untrue. Translation is very important, for why else do so many, commenting here, take it upon themselves to begin retranslating those words?

    (BTW, we aren’t the ones retranslating the words. We believe that “they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” means just that – the LORD God, not Jesus.)

    So I agree; let’s leave translation alone and deal with what’s presented. The LORD God is said to be apparent to Adam and Eve in some way. Likewise in Gen. 18, as you mentioned, He seems to be visible to Abraham, in the form of a man. This would seem to be a contradiction to the many verses that say that no man has seen God at any time. This, I believe, is the heart of the matter now.

    The Trinitarians’ explanation is that it was Jesus that they saw. But they base this on the pre-conceived notion that Jesus pre-existed his birth. A much better explanation, and one based on actual Scriptural evidence, is that presented by John Cordaro, in the “Theophanies and Christophanies” article. If you have not read it, please do. Then perhaps we can continue the discussion over in that thread, since this has gotten way outside of the “God, Liar, or Madman” discussion which started this thread.

  65. on 25 Jul 2008 at 2:17 amMatt

    Sean

    Hello Matt, welcome to the site. Here are some thoughts on your comment:

    Thanks Sean. I have tried to use italics for quoting, I hope it works (if not, can you delete it and I will repost or something) 🙂

    I would assert that Jesus never, not even once, claimed to be God. In the case of John 8.24, 56-59, he is claiming to be the Messiah. He says unless you believe “I am he,” etc. The claim Jesus makes is that he is the Messiah…

    No, He says, I AM!. Meaning, when spoken in Aramaic, YAHWEH (YHWH) the divine name only used by God Himself. Hence Jesus is identifying Himself with a timeless/eternal being (compare with the Deut passages). A close parallel to Jesus use of I AM is to be seen in the uses of ANI HU in the latter part of Isaiah. In Isaiah, ANI HU is always attributed to Yahweh and is a statement only He can make, so anyone else making the same statement would be guilty of an attempt to claim equality with God or maybe even to overthrow Him. It also means that YAHWEH alone is God and sovereign over history… the supreme creator. So by Isaiah, we see Jesus’ “I AM” sayings that match Him with the OT mentioning of the ‘bread of life’, the ‘light’ (in Isaiah), the ‘vine’, the ‘Shepherd’ (in Ezekiel).

    EGO EMI/YAHWEH (I AM) is a very powerful self identification of that Christ uses for Himself, in connection with the roles and person of I AM in the OT.

    In the case of John 10. This is a primary case that proves Jesus understood and applied the concept of representational deity to himself. The quotation comes from Ps 82, where the judges of Israel were called “Gods” (or “gods”) because they were supposed to represent God to the people. It is interesting that Jesus responds by quoting this Scripture in defense of their misunderstanding that he was claiming to be God (as in the Father). In so doing, he denied their assertion while simultaneously claiming to be God’s representative, and convicting their own dereliction of their role to represent him.

    First thing is that the trinity is not exclusively based off the ‘Son of God” title. You are making the mistake of trying to debunk the importance of “Son of God” as a title while ignoring or giving less attention to the others. Re: John 10, the answer is Qal Wahomer (going from the lesser point to the greater) – Jesus is using the qal wahomer here. He looks at this Psalm and tells them “If these evil guys are called gods and your Scripture which is perfect and cannot be broken affirms this so you have to accept that. Now if these evil guys have the right to be called gods, how much more do I have the right being the righteous one to be called the Son of God?”

    Notice that nowhere before this passage has Jesus said that he was the Son of God. When could he have possibly said anything like this in this passage?? It is in John 10:30 He claims that “I and the Father are one” – very bold statement (was He lying, was he mad, or is he the Second person of a Triune God?). For it, they tried to kill him, because v 33 “The Jews answered Him, saying, we do not stone you for a good work, but for blasphemy, and because you, being a man, make yourself God. The very people around him, who would have understood him better than us (Western cultured minds) KNEW he was claiming to be God (when adding ‘only begotten son of God’ the meaning goes much deeper). Jesus never denied the charge that he was claiming deity and we know this because in verse 39 the Jews again tried to seize him. He had made his claims and could not be refuted. The only way out was to try to execute him somehow. Are you ready to execute Jesus for obviously claiming to be God? Does it offend you that Jesus was saying he is equal to God? Even hypothetically, would it offend you?

    Notice in Psalm 82 the last line? [8 Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.]. That’s a plea to the one true God to judge. So what do you think Jesus’s point is in quoting a verse from this passage?

    Has Jesus ever used this style before (Qal Wahomer)? E.g. “The wicked judge who neither fears God nor cares about men helps the widow. How much more will your Father in Heaven hear your requests?”, or “You circumcise a man on the Sabbath? Then I can heal the whole man on the Sabbath”, or “God sends rain on the unjust? How much more will he send it for the righteous?”

    Also, and especially, in the case of Heb 1.8, the quotation applied to Jesus is from Ps 45 in which the Davidic king is called “God” in the sense that he represented God to the people. No one thought the king was actually God, but it was well understood that he was God’s anointed, God’s messiah (lower case “m” because we are not talking about the Messiah here, just read Ps 45 through). Thus, this is another instance of representation deity and that is the sense in which Jesus is called God in Heb 1.8. There is no other way to responsibly interpret Heb 1.8.

    Can you show to which king it applies? I say it was the son of David, Jesus the Lord. The messianic psalm applies to Jesus/God. If the author of Hebrews did not believe Jesus Christ to be the true and eternal God, then he has utterly misapplied this scripture.

    Titus 2.13 is one of several texts that can be translated two different ways. I will quote two translations below to demonstrate this… So, you see, there are two ways to translate this verse.

    There is only one ‘right’ way to translate any verse, according to what the writer actually intended. So will you just try and find a bible version that suits your interpretations, and to what end? Regardless, the construct in the Greek shows that the article is directed towards Jesus, and is evident when read in whole. Barnes quotes the works of Beza, Whitby, Bull, Matthaei, and Middleton on the Greek article here. Let’s remember the bible was written in Greek… not NIV NAB NASB etc.

    Patrick said it well (above) when he said “Claiming the language is ambiguous is a weak cop-out; this is a ruse of men, choosing what they will believe as suits them and, where they disagree with the scriptures, “oh, the words are ambiguous”.

    Stephen actually saw Jesus. If I see someone and talk to them does that qualify as prayer?

    If I “see” someone, does that mean I am allowed to ask them to receive my spirit? Would you ‘tell’ me (or maybe even a king) to receive your own spirit before you die? Why not call out to the Father for that? This links with the 1 Cor. 1:1-2 (calling on Jesus’ name), it shows that the worship due to God is here attributed to Jesus (compare it with Joel 2:32 and Matthew 4:10 and even Acts 9:14).

    * Thomas called Jesus, without being rebuked, “My Lord and my God” [actual literal Greek is ‘the Lord of me, and the God of me’] – John 20:28.
    See my comment on this here.

    I apologise, but I haven’t read it thoroughly, though I will attempt to provide an answer to the relevant (to our discussion) part of your post. I believe my comments further below (in relation to the systematic approaches taken by the ANE Jews in that era, help here). If Thomas wanted to express his wonderment at Jesus, I am sure “my King/Messiah” would have greatly assisted your claim. Instead he said “my God”. You basically claim that this idea was foreign to the Jews, though the Jewish Rabbi’s did actually know of the plurals (in reference to the divine) in their scriptures as well as the Wisdom of Solomon theology. All I have to do is show that multiple persons in the Godhead ‘were’ in Hebrew thought. E.g. Glenn Miller looks at Genesis 16, regarding “the angel’s promises to ‘increase the descendants’–a promise only GOD makes, this same angel is called YHWH by the writer, this angel is called God by Hagar, this angel refers to the LORD in the 3rd person. How does one explain these passages without going to a notion of the plurality of God? [Besides Jesus,] are there any angels or men called YAHWEH in the act of representing/speaking for God?”

    Since the notion of consubstantiality (the idea that multiple persons all share the substance or essence of God) was completely foreign to the Hebrew thought world of the first century, it is not plausible that this is what Thomas had in mind. No, the notion of multiple persons in God had to wait for the highly trained Greek/Christian philosophers of the following centuries.

    Do you disagree because it’s actually foreign to your own thought? Thomas’s statement still sides with Jesus being divine.

    Just because two beings claim the same title doesn’t make them the same. For example, the judges of Israel were called “saviors,” God is called a “savior,” and so is Jesus. Jesus is the first and last of our faith. He is the founder and the trailblazer and also the one who will see us to completion. He is the firstborn from the dead, the beginning of the new creation of God.

    Yet God reserves Himself as true Saviour does He not? Hos 13:4 “Yet I am Jehovah your God from the land of Egypt, and you shall know no God but Me. For there is no Savior besides Me.” [see Isa 43:11, 1Tim 1:1]. And compare to Phil 3:20, 2Ti 1:10, Act 5:31, Act 13:23 etc etc.

    I don’t know what you mean by “also, I AM, Yahweh in Aramaic”

    I AM, when said in Aramaic (the common language Jesus spoke) means YAHWEH, the divine name. As in, Jesus spoke his native Aramaic most of the time (and sometimes, when needed, Greek/Hebrew/Latin – Latin is iffy, as we are not 100% in what language he spoke to Pontius Pilate)

    John 1 does not call Jesus God. The word is God, i.e. it fully expresses him (you are your word, etc.). This word, the plan, intent, creative expression of God, became a living breathing human being in Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is what the word became, not 1 to 1 equivalent.

    I agree that the WORD is GOD. You have muddled your reading here, as verse 2 tells us that all things were created through “Him” (i.e. a person). So you acknowledge the pre-existence of the ‘Word’? Jesus being the word (or wisdom) of God, is called God in verse 1. Verse 14 has the “And the Word became flesh”. Do you acknowledge this pre-existent word (or wisdom) became flesh, i.e. the person Jesus? More simply, if the Word is incarnate and is union with Jesus (as one person), therefore Jesus is God (more exact, second person of the one triune God). That very person was with God – and who was God in John 1:1, became incarnated by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the womb of the virgin.

    Can I ask you to answer me the following questions?
    [1] God is immortal (1 Tim 1.17). Jesus died. Therefore Jesus cannot be God

    Hmm a disjunctive syllogism (and is the usual diatribe from the Islamic apologist who does not understand the Trinity). Ok, we understand Jesus to be in a hypostatic union, where He is man (Luke 24:39, Mark 15:39; John 19:5) and God (Heb 1:8, Col 2:9) at the same time, since His incarnation, as revealed by scripture. It is very true that God cannot die, and it is also true that man can die. But we see that Jesus has two natures, not one, that is, the divine nature is not mixed with the human nature to make a 3rd thing (100% man in nature and 100% divine in nature). It was the human part of Jesus that died on the cross, not the divine. But, because He is both God and man in one person, as well as being sinless, His sacrifice covers all sins (i.e. the perfect sacrifice). Also, does death mean a man ceases to exist?

    [2] God knows all things, Jesus did not know when he was to come back (Mark 13.32), thus, Jesus is not omniscient and therefore he is not God.

    I already mentioned the hypostatic union, but I like this game, it makes it easier for me to play… so if I find a verse that shows that Jesus is omniscient, that means he is God right? Ok – John 16:30, John 21:17. Or if I say that Jesus is eternal via Micah 5:1-2? So Jesus is omniscient and divine.

    As Jesus once answered, “Do you now believe?” [John 16:31].

    [3] Why did the early church fight over whether or not to keep the law, whether or not to accept the Gentiles as full members, whether or not women could speak in church, etc., but never once had a controversy of a new revelation of how many God is. They were raised, as all Jews have been, to believe the Father is the only true God. To switch this understanding to Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Father as God, would certainly be a big step. Show me the controversy! It doesn’t occur until centuries later when the Trinity finally gets developed.

    Isn’t the logical fallacy, begging the question? Also you said “how many God is”… they all knew God is one, but they also noticed the plurals in the OT – this shows you are bringing presuppositions to your interpretations of scripture. I merely accept it for as it is, not mould it to my liking.

    The Jews at the time knew that God’s glory stretched beyond the cosmos, yet His presence was in the Holy of Holies, and that He filled the prophets with his power, and led Israel by the pillar of light/fire. They knew of the Angel of YAHWEH and the plurality of the Godhead.

    The ANE Jews also had pre-Trinitarian idea’s as well as the Wisdom theology (e.g. John 1:1 to Wisdom of Solomon 9:9 “With you (God) is Wisdom, who knows your works and was present when you made the world”.).

    There was no controversy because the earliest Christians (till now) believe in the divinity of Christ. For the apostles, it was more like “ahh, that makes sense perfectly, the mystery has been revealed”.

    Example (lets span only 60 years)
    * Ignatius of Antioch “For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God’s plan; of the seed of David, it is true, but also of the Holy Spirit” (around 110AD)
    * Aristides “… are they who, above every people of the earth, have found the truth, for they acknowledge God, the Creator and maker of all things, in the only-begotten Son and in the Holy Spirit” In his Apology 16 [dated 140AD]
    * Tatian the Syrian “We are not playing the fool, you Greeks, nor do we talk nonsense, when we report that God was born in the form of a man” In his address to the Greeks 21 (around 170AD).
    * Any what about Pliny the younger’s letter, stating that after he ‘interrogated’ 2 deaconess’s he found, that the Christians were indeed worshipping Christ as God!

    Its’ when Arius came on the scene, HE was the one to cause controversy by going against what Jesus and His Apostles taught. And now you are caught up in this heresy.

    The Trinity is a revealed doctrine, not made up. Rather it is derived directly from scripture, by looking at the whole of scripture, not just by selective reading. Again, I appeal to the witness before him, how did his enemies understand him, how did his friends etc.

    What was the reaction of other people to Christ’s claims?
    * Matt 9.3: Notice that the experts KNEW that His claims were essential claims to deity, which is pure blasphemy by their standards (and perhaps yours).
    * Matt 26.63-66 – See how clear this is that the highest religious ‘experts’ in the land recognized Jesus’ claims to be blasphemy. Claims that made a man God!
    * John 15:8 – The leadership recognized Jesus’ claims as a claim to deity and they reacted. Also notice that John aligns himself with the plain claims of Jesus.
    * Luke 7.16 Notice that some believe Him to be “God”! etc etc

    2000 years later, are we trying to re-write the overwhelming evidence?

    I think some may not understand the Trinity, so can you all please define it in your own words without creedal statements etc, what you think it is/means please?

    Cheers.

  66. on 25 Jul 2008 at 2:43 amMark

    I realize that not one word of what I’ve said means anything at all to you. I truly am sorry for that, Patrick. I hope your heart softens enough for you to start searching for the truth, with an open mind, (a mind open to the truth), and not just looking to make your points. You and I don’t amount to much in the scheme of things, but God’s truth does.

    Well put. And for the benefit of anyone else reading this who genuinely wants to know the truth, I recommend Sean’s answers in comment #55, and especially the links in that post. All these points have been dealt with many times over. They aren’t new truths that Sean or anyone else just came up with. Rather than just saying “No it isn’t!” and covering your ears, just consider the points we are making honestly. Many people over the centuries (though not the majority obviously) have been persuaded when they wanted to know the truth.

  67. on 25 Jul 2008 at 3:08 amMark

    Matt,

    Sean was kind enough to provide references to where these points have already been dealt with, and by your own admission you haven’t even read them. Yet you post this long missive expounding on what you already “know”. My question is, why bother? From the tone of your post, you don’t seem to be searching for the truth, but rather looking for an opportunity to expound your views rather than actually engage in dialogue. As I said above, when people actually want to know the truth they can find it.

  68. on 25 Jul 2008 at 7:09 amTim

    Matt,

    It is in John 10:30 He claims that “I and the Father are one” – very bold statement (was He lying, was he mad, or is he the Second person of a Triune God?).

    You are reading into this something that is not there. Please answer the question “one what?” based on the context only and not some speculation about “one substance.” It is pretty clear from the context here and elsewhere that it is talking about one purpose which is the only one-ness that really matters.

    Trinitarians really make things harder than they are. The Bible, especially the NT, was written for simple, common folk. I don’t think that you and Patrick and others who argue the trinitarian position fall under those categories, and there is nothing wrong with that. I do not mean to disparage you since you have clearly done a lot of study in this topic.

    Trinitarian scholars treat the Bible as if it is a scholarly journal article that must be peer reviewed or a theological treatise. I do not think that it is either. Therefore, you have to comb through every nit and every character to try to reveal the true or hidden meaning. These are personal letters and simple stories witnessing to Jesus.

    Christianity is a lifestyle, not a set of doctrines, at least in my opinion.

  69. on 25 Jul 2008 at 7:18 amTim

    Patrick,

    That is simple Sean, the church had no controversy, as you do, precisely because it was understood by all who came into the church, repenting from Judaism, to name one souce, that Jesus was in fact equal with the Father, full Deity, albeit bodily, not strictly spirit, Luke 24:39.

    This is an embarrassingly weak argument. Was apostolic succession also “understood by all who came into the church”? What about infant baptism? How about polygamy?

    So, I can take whatever doctrine that “suits me” (using your own words) and prove that it is true because it is not included in the Bible?!? This seems to be what you are doing.

    I am still waiting an apology from you …

  70. on 25 Jul 2008 at 7:48 amSean

    Matt,

    I’m unable to respond to your last comment right now. I’m busy all weekend, so I hope to get back to you on Monday or Tuesday, Lord willing.

    Just a reminded regarding your comment about “I am.” The blind man, 9 verses later (after John 8.58) used the same exact phrase “ego eimi.” Is he claiming to be Yahweh?

  71. on 25 Jul 2008 at 10:19 amKen

    Thanks be to God for His unadulterated oneness, so foundational to understanding the scope of the Scriptures: Isaiah 43:10-13.
    Sean and others have offered so much insight into a Biblical Christology on this blog and in other references, for those who have eyes to see ….
    Being converted to become like children so as to be able to enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 18:3) is so vital!
    Maybe an anecdotal sharing would be helpful to some, not that experience w/o regard to Scripture means anything.
    Having been recently converted from agnostic (really atheistic) Darwinism to Christianity (about 36 years ago) I wholeheartedly embraced the thinking of my new acquaintances, including belief in the Trinity. With fondness and love I recall their zeal to help me; I do not think less of them for passing on their traditions.
    Two experiences made me re-evaluate aspects of my new beliefs: I was working at my library job with long pauses in which I could pray. I tried dividing my prayer effort into addressing each of the 3 Persons …. My mind became so befuddled that I cried out, “Lord, help me, I can’t figure this out.” (A while later that cry for help was certainly answered!)
    Later I witnessed to a friend I had known before becoming a Christian. When she asked why Jesus was unique, I confidently asserted that Jesus is God. She asked me (w/o sarcasm) how something like that could be possible if Jesus was praying to God in the garden; was he praying to himself? I had no answer.
    But I did have an ever-increasing resolve to find out the truth. I WANTED to believe in the Trinity – if it were true! I did not want to be a liar while professing to know “the truth.”
    “Do not add to His words or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.”- Prov. 30: 6
    The following rhetorical questions became more and more obvious (as to real answers) as I began to worhip God as one, while loving His son as the anointed one sent by Yahweh:
    If God were a Trinity, why did He not spell it out in the Scriptures?
    Why is the term itself absent from the Scriptures?
    Why is the 3-in-1 formula not used even once in the old manuscripts?
    Why would I John 5: 7 be deliberately corrupted (starting in a 16th century Greek ms.- using notes from margins of old Latin copies) if the Trinity were already clear in the Scriptures?
    Why are all questions about the Trinity quickly dismissed with solemn warnings NOT FOUND in Scriptures? (i.e. It is a mystery not to be understood [though illustrated: 3 states of water/ parts of an egg]; nevertheless; not believing it means forfeiture of salvation.)
    The list goes on about “this emperor’s” mysterious set of “new clothes.”
    Isn’t it direspectful to “add to His words” and redefine our God and His Son in unscriptural ways? And on top of that to violently treat as heretics those who question this traditional bandwagon? Where is such an attitude present in Jesus’ teachings?
    (Of course I do not imply that those who have followed traditions unknowingly have intentionally been disrespectful toward God or His son.) Today is a wonderful opportunity to cast off unbiblical, confusing lies.
    What a joyous freedom to know Yahweh as one and pray to Him in the name of his human representative, our Lord and Savior, Jesus, the Messiah!

  72. on 25 Jul 2008 at 11:36 amO.J.

    Patrick, sorry about your quotes not showing up at the beginning of my post. They were;

    “Indeed, what type of evidence is required for them? ”

    “My summary, of the necessity of right translation, in order for us to maintain right doctrine, is sound. ”

    “You all need to leave translation alone and deal with what is presented at 3:8 and the rest of the scriptures”

    ” Oh, and “I am” is what the Lord said at John 8, not “I Am he” as Sean cited.”

    I listed these at the beginning of my post.

  73. on 25 Jul 2008 at 12:32 pmTim

    Sean,

    Could you talk a bit more about how time proposes a difficulty to the trinitarian position?

    Sorry it has taken so long to respond to this, so here goes.

    It seems that the time element must be ignored in order for the trinitarian position to make sense. I will use one example from Scripture and a couple of analogies.

    John Chapter 1
    The trinitarian viewpoint must completely ignore the timeline that is described in the prologue. There are several explicit time-based transitions. I like to think of it as a linear, time-based state machine. It seems to me that these timepoints also provide some context.

    The first reference point is given in verse 1 – the beginning. We are given here a description of the state of interest until the next time point. That is, there is something called “the Word” that is with God and is God, etc. This provide some context for the following state transitions / timepoints. I think that is inaccurate to read this forward into the future.

    The second reference point is given in verse 6 – the ministry of John the Baptist

    The third reference point is given in verse 14 – the Word became flesh. This seems to be a clear transition point. What was once not flesh, is now flesh. It is inaccurate, in my view, to read this back into the first time period. This is what trinitarians do. It is as if there was no time reference at all.

    The fourth reference point is given later in the book – the resurrection of Jesus. Again, something happened at a specific point in time that is different than what happened before. The resurrected Jesus is different from the post-incarnation / pre-resurrection Jesus, which is in turn different from the pre-incarnation Word. Unless, as trinitarianism requires, we completely ignore time, then we can wave our hands and say that it is all the same.

    This is all pretty clear if we draw out a state transition diagram, though I have never seen anything like this done.

    Analogy #1
    Consider the statement “President Bush owned the Texas Rangers in the 1990s.” Is this a true statement?

    My answer would be “no” because he was not President at the time. To be consistent, a trinitarian would say unequivocally “yes;” not only that, they would call me a heretic for suggesting otherwise. Because the man who is named Jesus is the Word made flesh; therefore, the Word must have been Jesus prior to his birth!

    Analogy #2
    Suppose I want to start a software company. I lay our a five year plan to take the company public. My plan is to start out on a shoe-string budget, with just myself as an employee. After a year, I plan to hire some employees, and then at year three I want to bring in a top-notch CEO that can successfully IPO my company.

    My plan goes along just as I had hoped. Revenues climb, the company grows and three years later I hire my CEO, “Bill Jobs.”

    The question is – was “Bill Jobs” my CEO when I started the company? A trinitarian would say unequivocally “yes.” I would say “no.” The reason is that they ignore the time component!

    Caveat – to head off the standard objections that will come from the knee-jerk triuneratti; these are strictly my opinions. I am not forcing them down anyone’s throats!

  74. on 25 Jul 2008 at 2:51 pmFrank D

    Tim, Interesting post. You have definitely sparked my curiosity and I will have to spend some quality time reading more. Anyone know if there are any references to similar/counter view points?

  75. on 25 Jul 2008 at 4:07 pmTim

    I look forward to your feedback! I was not able to give a whole lot of careful thought to the post (it is the internet after all), so it is kind of stream-of-consciousness. Hopefully it will generate some discussion.

    I expect that there will be disagreement about “time.” That is, the counter argument will be based on “a day with the Lord is a thousand years and a thousand years a day” which would presumably make any arguments from time irrelevant.

  76. on 25 Jul 2008 at 9:21 pmO.J.

    Ken,

    Thank you for sharing. It is obvious that you have a kind heart and it seems that you know the love by which all true followers of Christ will be known. In my own search for truth, I was amazed at how this was not present in most congregations that I visited. Not real, unconditional love for others. And I have also noticed that it is much more prevalent in believers in the one true God, and His son, the annointed Messiah. I believe that that one thing will be of absolute necessity in order to be resurrected as one of the Masters judges in the kingdom. No matter what else you believe, or have done, without that true Christian love for all others, you will not receive the maximum reward, because you will not have what it takes to help govern the kingdom.

  77. on 26 Jul 2008 at 9:44 amMatt

    I’m unable to respond to your last comment right now. I’m busy all weekend, so I hope to get back to you on Monday or Tuesday, Lord willing.
    Just a reminded regarding your comment about “I am.” The blind man, 9 verses later (after John 8.58) used the same exact phrase “ego eimi.” Is he claiming to be Yahweh?

    Sean, that’s all good I understand 🙂 as it took me quite some free time to write up that last one. I just hope I can stay engaged for long enough, as we may go back and forth a bit (I have some free time next weekend, God willing).

    I was thinking if you would bring that up 🙂 The man in John 9:9 is not using the divine name, as that lacks context in this situation. But in context, the blind man in John 9:9 was answering a question as to whether or not he was the one who was blind but had been healed. Compare it to what Jesus was saying. This is clearly a different contextual situation from the “I am” used by Jesus, or the “I am that I am” used by Yahweh in the OT. E.g. with Jesus’ statement, the people near him regarded his response as blasphemous, and tried to kill him for it. If he felt they misunderstood, he would have easily corrected them.
    Others have said “ego eimi”, but that doesn’t mean they are claiming to be God. And the same applies to all the other instances where people may have used the words “I am” in different contexts. The use of those words by Jesus and Yahweh in the OT mark them as distinct/different, and it is a mistake to compare what They said with what others said in contexts that are not even similar, let alone identical. So this argument fails because it discounts the important differences and assumes that all uses of “I am” must be identical.

    Matt,
    Sean was kind enough to provide references to where these points have already been dealt with, and by your own admission you haven’t even read them. Yet you post this long missive expounding on what you already “know”. My question is, why bother? From the tone of your post, you don’t seem to be searching for the truth, but rather looking for an opportunity to expound your views rather than actually engage in dialogue. As I said above, when people actually want to know the truth they can find it.

    Mate, I said I didn’t read it thoroughly (every single post within that section – though I did offer an apology, though you may have thought it was conceited) and I was going to skip it, but there was a hole in the argument, which I pointed out. I did read Sean’s post on the matter, and read his argument regarding the ontological aspect of the statement, that I felt was relevant to the discussion. I already have the truth, as revealed by scripture, as taught by the early church fathers/mothers, as well as the apostles and Jesus Christ Himself. I am merely preaching it in hopes that I can bring you to the Lord Jesus (I suspect our intentions are similar, though from different positions). Why resist the overwhelming evidence I am presenting from scripture and history? Are your presuppositions that strong? Either accept Christ claimed to be divine, or cast a stone at him for blasphemy (Lev 24:16).

    You are reading into this something that is not there. Please answer the question “one what?” based on the context only and not some speculation about “one substance.” It is pretty clear from the context here and elsewhere that it is talking about one purpose which is the only one-ness that really matters.

    Hi Tim, where did you get ‘one purpose’ from, as its not there in the scripture. Your biggest hurdle is why would the Jews accuse him of blasphemy if he did not mean to claim equality with God (and why didn’t he correct himself if that was the case)? Those a big holes to fill. Obviously by the reaction of those around Jesus, they knew exactly what he was talking about. Example, John 10:30 (in the Greek) Jesus says that he and the Father are “HEN”, neuter nominative for “one” (no masculine HEIS), and the neuter says that Jesus and the Father are one thing, one ontological unity (Laney, Robertson, Clark, Barnes). And yet we find that the Persons of the Godhead all throughout Scripture have their own person, ego, etc. This is the Trinitarian blueprint of God that the scriptures teach. So the Trinitarian interpretation fits quite nicely with Jesus’ assertion of full unity of nature (and action) with God, not that they are one and the same person. [John 14:23-4, 15:10] Here is where Jesus indicates they are united in purpose, and the claim actually goes beyond that as to claim to be able to ‘obey God perfectly and in full obedience’ implies perfection, a trait reserved only for God.

    RE: Ken, I don’t know if you listed a one off story or a counter, but I have dealt with these arguments. However, if you wish to make a case against scripture or history, could you sight sources? You do know stating “that since the word Trinity is not in the bible therefore its concept is not taught within it”, is invalid? Incarnation, bible, atheism, divinity, monotheism also are not found in the bible, does that mean they are invalidated?

    In regards to 1 John 5:7, Erasmus was still a Trinitarian and he didn’t believe that verse should have been in there (as per Metzger – its missing from the earliest manuscripts and from the quotes of the early church fathers who would have relied on it). How does that even begin to invalidate the Trinity? Regardless Christians understood the divinity claims of Christ, long before this translation. In regards to questions like “who did Jesus pray to” you should refer back to what’s known as the hypostatic union. Can I ask what do you think the trinity [and hypostatic union] is, in your own words, with no creedal statements?

    Why is it a trilemma? As someone has previously mentioned (I think), this is a false classification because there is at least one more option; that is, that Jesus is the Son of God!!

    Missed this before mate, but just to say that you have increased the number from ‘tri’, but you still have the ‘lemma’. Now it’s God, Liar, Lunatic, {add whatever you think Jesus is}

    John Chapter 1
    The trinitarian viewpoint must completely ignore the timeline that is described in the prologue.….

    Yeah right, Tim. Your analogies (I didn’t understand 1, maybe because I am from Australia), reveal that you don’t understand the Trinity, and that you’re hermeneutic is faulty. It is very funny that you accuse the Trinitarians of ‘ignoring’. Is the Word, God? Was he in the beginning, did ALL things come from him, and did he become a man (divine shechkinah) who tabernacled among mankind? I think Saint Thomas summed it up well that happy day.

    Cheers

  78. on 26 Jul 2008 at 7:34 pmPatrick

    OJ,

    Reading your posts here is like watching an episode of the Twilight Zone. Anyone whose brain functions can plainly see that nothing said here will have any effect on you, because you only seem interested in making your points and smugly patting yourself on the back.

    You go on here, to say, how unkind I am, but, let the reader judge between you and I, as to who has avoided such language as “twilight zone”, “brain functions” etc. My interest here is clear, defending theology proper to those who have gone astray from it. If I’ve simply failed with the points I’ve made, surely you can bring me to my senses. Are you just going to ridicule me with your twilight zone talk or say something substantial? As for what you do address; I’ll be glad to reply as I continue. So far though, Joseph’s points have been dealt with and his expertise in Hebrew, upon closer review, falls short. Mark, hastily congratulated him on, come to find out, invalid statements about the necessity of “on foot” to modify “walking” at Gen. 3:8. Neither of them have anything to say in reply. That is a simple fact; I’m not congratulating myself – I am happy for the durable truth of the language at Genesis 3 and elsewhere.

    Most of the people you are trying to debate here know your view quite well, and have looked objectively at your arguments and the scriptures and sources you use long before you arrived at this website.

    If they know the Trinity so well why is it they keep saying things to the effect, “since no man has seen God” therefore Jesus is not God because men saw him, etc. They appear to not understand the Trinity, OJ. Jesus specifically said it is the Father, no man has seen, John 1:18, 5:37, 6:46 and the apostles go on to affirm the same thing 1 Tim 6:15-16. A fault for your side is not distinguishing between the persons of the Father and the Son and which statements apply to each one. Statements from your side like:

    This [seeing the LORD God] would seem to be a contradiction to the many verses that say that no man has seen God at any time.

    are dislocated from context and fail to keep in mind the expanded explanations of this affirmation of invisibility; it applies to the Father, specifically and the Holy Spirit; I might add. This presents no problem for the Trinity or myself who believes this. No man has seen the Father but men, have indisputably seen the LORD God in ancient times, Gen 18, Gen 32:30, notice Jacob says “yet my life has been preserved” so he indicates that it is in fact God whom he sees yet remains alive; he knows about the warning of death for seeing God yet he sees and wrestles him and lives. There is not a contradiction; the Father is not seen except in the Son John 1:18, 14:7, among other such statements. This is the only way to understand this given what the rest of the scriptures teach, otherwise one pits one text against another and this is mishandling them.

    Seeing an angel is not seeing God, btw. Notice the difference between Jacob clearly seeing “angels” at 32:1-2 and this latter verse where he says he saw God and lived. Also, 31:11 has the “angel of God” who speaks as God personally and not as an angel, of that specific created order, sent by God to deliver a word. The “angel of God” and “angel of the LORD” occurrences must be read carefully for how he speaks, if in the first person as God then it is God, mere angels don’t do this. I know this assumes it is the Son but it’s perfectly justifiable to do so since the Son is said to be the maker of the heavens and the earth, as in Hebrews 1:10-12, just to name one time where the Son is said to be creator. This, the Son as founder of the earth and maker of the heavens, is what the writer to the Hebrews believed; do you have the same faith as him? If not, why not? Would Mark and yourself dispute with Jacob if he was to recount to you that he “saw God and lived”? Would you scoff and tell him he was in the twilight zone?

    Are you just 50 years old or 50 something? Don’t take this the wrong way, just hear me out. Depending upon how old you are now, say 55 or 60; are you saying you completely understood the Trinity, with all those parts, including hypostatic union, consubstantiality, coessentiality, incarnation, coeternality and coequality of the persons and so on by the age of say 5 or 10? Saying you were a Trinitarian for 50 years would necessitate you possessing these things to a sufficient degree for 50 years. Based upon the level to which you engage the subject, as here in this thread, I’m not persuaded you ever did. I’m sorry about that but you really shouldn’t represent yourself as one so experienced as having 50 years as something, like a Trinitarian, if in fact you weren’t.

    I can tell you this; your attitude alone will drive more people away than it will win, but that is common with trinitarians.

    I have refrained from insulting others in this thread, in spite of Tim’s being offended at what I said about his stance toward the Bible, evident in his own words, a standard liberal view of the scriptures and this is not opinion, look up any liberal verbiage describing the scriptures and lo, Tim’s words nearly verbatim. I think your opening salvo speaks to your attitude and you will not find one scintilla, of my writing here, which descends to the level of your attitude. Let the reader judge.

    what translation do “we all” need to leave alone for John 8?

    Please reread what I wrote, “translation” was used as a verb in what I wrote:

    You all need to leave translation alone and deal with what is presented at 3:8 and the rest of the scriptures.

    That is, the act of translating is what I’m saying “you all”, e.g. Joseph et al, need to leave alone. Please don’t take my words out of context, too. It’s a verb not a particular translation.

    You say that we need right translation to maintain right doctrine, but your posts all seem to indicate that you wish to use only your preferred translation to maintain YOUR preferred doctrine.

    Moot, see above. I mostly read the NASB as it is rather literal. The KJV is a mighty work in so many ways, having served the church and it still serves the church, as any legitimate translation of the scriptures does, being the word of God. Now, for a short list of “I Am” at John 8:58: NIV, NASB, KJV, NKJV, WEB, ESV, ASV, GLT, CSB, ERV, RSV and one more for good measure, The Complete Jewish Bible. This is by no means the entirety but suffices to make the point. Also, a footnote is just that; what is in the text is the translation. They all [translators] understand the context rather well. The Lord is referring to his existence not that he is the Christ, at this point; he does that in many places and in many ways but here, specifically, he is speaking of his being I Am, before Abraham was born, that’s a chronological reference. His audience was physically descended from him so, He is saying, in effect, before you people ever were, I Am! How does that strike you? Do you believe this?

    You’ve said repeatedly that we need to use context to determine what words mean, (an utterly backwards form of reasoning), but let’s do that here.

    Let’s try something, everday example:

    The two of them are friends only, they are not intimate.

    I wish to intimate my intentions to my family of joining the military.

    One word, two completely different meanings. In order to understand what I’m saying, the meaning of intimate in each case, one must read the context of the sentence to know which definition applies and even which pronunciation to use.

    Biblical example:

    John 9:5 – Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.

    John 11:9 – “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”

    Identical word “light” with two completely different meanings that are utterly dependent upon context to know which definition applies. Even the underlying Greek clauses translated “light of this world” and “light of the world” are identical with only eimi as the distinguisher between them.

    OJ, what you said about context doesn’t even fly in a classroom. When pigs fly perhaps context won’t matter to define words. I have to fly now; it has been a pleasure responding to your comments. No, I’m not finished, but I think my point is clear.

    If the same translators said that it’s “I am he” in verse 24, and “I am” in verse 58, yet the words they translated these two verses FROM are exactly the same. you will have a hard time telling me that they are right both times. If you want to use context, verse 25 says, “Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, “Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.?”

    John 8:23 And He was saying to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. 24 “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

    You don’t see what he is saying here? He is from above. He is personally, according to this gospel, “from the Father”, “from above”, “from heaven” and “I came down” etc; so how is it, your side often says He did not exist before His birth? Jesus believes He did. Why don’t you? Are you offended at these words of His? You’re basing your objection to 8:58 on other occurrences of “I Am” where there may be the italicized He (meaning it’s not there in the Greek but isn’t your citation a capitalized “He”; seems to indicate who the translators think He is, right?). Why are you thinking this is such an effective objection? What is translated, which does appear in the Greek, is that He is from heaven, the only Savior, the one in whom men must believe for the forgiveness of sins, hence YHWH. Furthermore, what is He addressing in each instance? Is He answering that He is the Christ, as with the woman at the well; is He speaking of Himself as YHWH the eternal One, as in Him who saw Abraham? To what is He responding, specifically, in each case?

    The context to look for in Jn 8 is, who did Jesus SAY he was? At no time did he say that he was God, but he definitely DID say that he was the Messiah.

    The scriptures repeatedly call him God and I need not make all the quotes for you, right? As for him not saying he was or is God the Father, agreed, that would be to defeat the truth of the personal distinction between himself and the Father. The Lord said nevertheless “unless you believe that I Am, you shall die in your sins”. You think you have this settled as not a claim to Deity; I shudder at the consequence of your error.

    Your truth claims are as strong as your handling of the subject matter, let the reader judge; your denials are like those of the Muslims, JWs, Way Int’l and liberals, just to name a few, all of whom I’ve run across, either in person or virtually. It is striking how you all borrow from one another, the same arguments are employed by the enemies of Christ as are employed by you, Sean and some others here. It is strange doctrinal company you keep. Have you ever considered Arius and Arianism? Him and his ilk, their denials of the Trinity, denials of the deity of Christ, are predicated on the same stance and arguments you have; are you proud of that? Do you count such a heretic as a doctrinal predecessor? If not, why not? Matt deftly cited some of the anteNicene Christians who wrote often of the deity of Christ Jesus.

    You and I don’t amount to much in the scheme of things, but God’s truth does.

    Indeed, to possess the truth of God is life and righteousness; he saw fit to put his Son to death in the flesh and raise him in the same so that I might be with him. Men appear to amount to a great deal for such a high price to be paid.

    Peace!

  79. on 26 Jul 2008 at 11:20 pmMark

    Others have said “ego eimi”, but that doesn’t mean they are claiming to be God. And the same applies to all the other instances where people may have used the words “I am” in different contexts. The use of those words by Jesus and Yahweh in the OT mark them as distinct/different…

    You’re right. Just because somebody says “ego eimi” does not mean they are claiming to be God. This is because that phrase is not the unique divine title used in Exodus 3:14. The Septuagint renders “I AM THAT I AM” as ego eimi o on and then the second “I AM” as simply o on. Ego eimi simply means “I am” in the same way anyone would say “I am.” It is o on that is the unique divine title, which literally means “The Being” or “The Self-existant One.” God told Moses to say that “The Self-existant One” sent him. Jesus never claimed this title for himself. When he said ego eimi (NOT ego eimi o on) he was saying “I am he.” And who was he saying he was? You were correct in stating that it must be determined from the context.

    Jesus used the same phrase twice before in the same chapter in which he said “Before Abraham was, I am.” In John 8:24 he said “I am he” (ego eimi) which he defined in v.25 as “I am who I have been saying I am all along.” He’d been saying all along that he was the Son of God, not God in the flesh. And then verse 28 says as plain as can be, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He (ego eimi).” The Son of Man is a title for the Messiah that originated in Daniel, and was a title that Jesus often used of himself. He uses it here, adding “I am he” (ego eimi).

    He also used the phrase “I (that speak to you) am he” in John 4:26, when he identifies himself as the Messiah to come. Son of Man and Son of God are Messianic titles, as well as “Messiah” itself, all of which refer to the One who was to come and declare God’s will, judge the world, and rule on God’s behalf, as well as offer himself as the ultimate sacrifice. This is who and what Jesus claimed to be. He did not claim the divine title of “The Self Existant One (o on) for himself.

    (BTW, this is covered in one of the links in Sean’s post. I recommend reading all of them to see what other points have been dealt with.)

    I already have the truth, as revealed by scripture, as taught by the early church fathers/mothers, as well as the apostles and Jesus Christ Himself. I am merely preaching it in hopes that I can bring you to the Lord Jesus (I suspect our intentions are similar, though from different positions). Why resist the overwhelming evidence I am presenting from scripture and history? Are your presuppositions that strong? Either accept Christ claimed to be divine, or cast a stone at him for blasphemy (Lev 24:16).

    This kind of attitude is what renders discussion pointless. You think you already have the truth, so there is no genuine exchange of ideas, or honest consideration of the other point of view. The “overwhelming evidence” does not prove your point, since nowhere in the Bible is God ever presented as three persons in one essence. The historical evidence also shows that the Jews, including Jesus and the apostles were unitarians (i.e., they believed God was one PERSON), and that the trinitarian dogma did not even exist until a few hundred years after Christ. You again (just like C. S. Lewis) offer an ultimatum with only your approved choices, i.e. “Either accept Christ claimed to be divine, or cast a stone at him for blasphemy.” But there is also another option in this case, and that is to believe that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, the Messiah. And this is the choice that we are given in the Scriptures themselves:
    I John:
    10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
    11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
    12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

  80. on 27 Jul 2008 at 12:53 amMark

    Mark, hastily congratulated him on, come to find out, invalid statements about the necessity of “on foot” to modify “walking” at Gen. 3:8. Neither of them have anything to say in reply.

    The verses you presented as proof that his statement was invalid all had either “man” or “maid” as the subject of the sentence. Therefore it was plain from the context how they were walking. But Gen. 3:8 says “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” It is not apparent from the context HOW the voice was “walking” since voices don’t literally walk. It is obviously not as clear and literal as when a person walks. That was his point. There is not enough evidence in THAT verse to determine whether it was a physical manifestation or something else. And my reply was to agree with you when you said we need to leave translation alone and deal with what’s presented.

    As I said, God is said to be apparent to Adam and Eve in some way, as well as other places that seem to describe Him appearing to people. This would seem to be a contradiction to the many verses that say that no man has seen God at any time. John Cordaro’s article, linked in the “Theophanies and Christophanies” thread explains this quite well. Have you read it? It doesn’t seem like it, based on your arguments about who saw what, and your statement that “Seeing an angel is not seeing God.” The problem is you’re not looking at it with a Hebrew mindset.

    Your version of our argument, “since no man has seen God” therefore Jesus is not God because men saw him, is not what we have said. We did not say therefore Jesus is not God, as if the whole argument depended on that one point. Our belief that Jesus is the Son of God is based on many other points working together. But there is the fact that the Bible says “No man has seen GOD at any time” (not just the Father) in John 1:18 and I John 4:12, and GOD (not just “the Father”) is called “invisible” in I Tim. 1:17. (Also I Tim. 6:15-16 does not specify the Father as you claimed.) As I said, I recommend you read John Cordaro’s article and we can discuss it over on that thread.

    The subject of this particular thread has long since been abandoned and it has again degenerated into a repetition of all the same arguments that have been covered. There’s no point in going over and over the same arguments that have been dealt with so many times elsewhere. You’re not going to believe it, and you don’t even seem to remember what’s been dealt with. (You say, “The scriptures repeatedly call him God and I need not make all the quotes for you, right?” In fact the Scriptures only call him God twice for sure, and those verses have been discussed at length.)

    How old one was when they came to a particular belief is not the point. The point is how much one has looked into BOTH sides of the argument. I can’t speak for OJ since I don’t know him (and neither should you), but I know how much I have looked at both sides, and I know that Sean has as well. I studied both sides for a long time and was ultimately convinced that the Bible nowhere presents God as three-in-one. If you want to effectively debate, in the sense of sharing ideas, then avoid the “I have the truth” attitude and openly consider what we are saying. Look at the resources on the “God is 1 not 3” resource page, and learn what we really believe. Then there can be open discussion. Otherwise we’re just going around in circles trying to summarize entire research papers in a few paragraphs, which doesn’t do either side justice.

  81. on 27 Jul 2008 at 1:13 amMark

    Your truth claims are as strong as your handling of the subject matter, let the reader judge; your denials are like those of the Muslims, JWs, Way Int’l and liberals, just to name a few, all of whom I’ve run across, either in person or virtually. It is striking how you all borrow from one another, the same arguments are employed by the enemies of Christ as are employed by you, Sean and some others here.

    I wasn’t going to say any more, but I had to address this point. To denigrate our beliefs because of who else has them is no different than someone saying that you have the same (Trinitarian) belief as the Roman Catholic Church, who was responsible for… (fill in whatever evils you want to blame on the RC’s). Let the reader judge. Where we agree with those groups, obviously we will use the same arguments. But we do not agree with Muslims who say that Jesus was a prophet and not the son of God. Nor do we agree with JWs who belive that Jesus was an angel incarnated. We do happen to believe pretty much the same as The Way Int’l as far as the Trinity is concerned, although there are many other doctrines which we do not share with them. Who else shares this belief has no effect on the truth of it.

    It is strange doctrinal company you keep. Have you ever considered Arius and Arianism? Him and his ilk, their denials of the Trinity, denials of the deity of Christ, are predicated on the same stance and arguments you have; are you proud of that? Do you count such a heretic as a doctrinal predecessor? If not, why not? Matt deftly cited some of the anteNicene Christians who wrote often of the deity of Christ Jesus.

    We do not have the same arguments as Arians. They believed Christ was a lesser supernatural being, but not God. We believe that Christ is a man, the only-begotten son of God. As I said in my previous post, if you want to have an intelligent, informed discussion about our beliefs, please take the time to read the resources and find out what it is we believe.

  82. on 27 Jul 2008 at 1:30 amJoseph

    Patrick,

    I’ll be glad to reply as I continue. So far though, Joseph’s points have been dealt with and his expertise in Hebrew, upon closer review, falls short. Mark, hastily congratulated him on, come to find out, invalid statements about the necessity of “on foot” to modify “walking” at Gen. 3:8. Neither of them have anything to say in reply. That is a simple fact; I’m not congratulating myself – I am happy for the durable truth of the language at Genesis 3 and elsewhere.

    You will have to excuse my delay in response as I am working 12 hour days during the summer months.

    You seem to be putting words into all of my statements, so let me clarify myself. I didn’t say that describing the Hebrew word “halakh” with details such as, “on foot” was necessary to translate the word as “walking.” I was making a point to show that we need more detail in Gen 3:8 to ascribe that God or Christ was somehow “walking” in human form. As far as we know, scripture tells us that “no man has seen God”, so how would you describe God? This is what I am getting at, the point that you seem to be ignoring, that Trinitarians must assume a Theophony or Christophony to make the “walking” version work.

    It is a fact to anyone who understands Hebrew that halakh simply means “going, moving, went.” To say that halakh means something other than this, there must be something else defining the verb in the context.

    Let’s have a bit of fun, let’s make Satan a person to – those of you that can read Hebrew compare Gen 3:8 to Job 1:7. The same term translated by many Trinitarians as “walking” is employed there, mihithalekh. Simple grammatical rules- if you’ve got God in the form of a man, Satan just did it it to.

    The term halakh means “going”, not necessarily “walking.” A voice going forth, even the NT uses the term in Romans 10:18.

    On a more serious note, the idea of God’s voice being visually seeable isn’t foreign – see Deut 4:12. G-d frequently manifests Himself in some way throughout Tanach.

  83. on 27 Jul 2008 at 2:59 pmJoseph

    Patrick,

    Before you come off with more statements of how my “expertise” has fallen short, we should be on the same page. I don’t claim to be a Hebrew “Scholar”, however, I do understand the language quite well. Having lived in Israel and studied Biblical Hebrew from my wife and her sister, both natives to the language, I have been able to grasp the Jewish understanding of the Hebrew language, a concept absent from most modern day Christian denominations.

  84. on 03 Aug 2008 at 9:23 amMatt

    Sorry, I am finding it hard to make time from work/kids to read and post here (like most of us I think), but I will try.

    You’re right. Just because somebody says “ego eimi” does not mean they are claiming to be God. ..… He uses it here, adding “I am he” (ego eimi)….

    Mark, you should have stopped there, instead of making an ass out of it. And not only that, you fail to understand what Jesus meant at John 8:58-9.

    I like your style – use the translation that bests suits your heretical interests, ignore the Hebrew, and ignore the later part of Isaiah [e.g. 44:6]. From what I understand, the Exodus verse appears to say “Yahweh asher Yahweh”, and saying I AM in Aramaic/Hebrew yields “Yahweh”. Hence, the reason they picked up stones in verse 59 – they knew that Jesus applied the divine title to Himself. It is funny that the Jews understood exactly what He was claiming.

    Patrick covered this quite well above, and provided good examples of context and applicability, and I am sure we are just repeating the same thing, though its’ falling on deaf ears.

    (BTW, this is covered in one of the links in Sean’s post. I recommend reading all of them to see what other points have been dealt with.)

    You mean the one that quotes from Patrick Navas? I remember reading about him getting smashed in a Trinitarian debate at Theologyweb with JP Holding, see http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?t=90771 – I recommend you read that.

    Mark, you could also find refutations to every single Unitarian argument you have put up/referred to – which are sourced and researched in greater depth than I could do. Try JP Holdings [tektonics.org] site, and stick around the Theologyweb forums – there are Unitarians that present some lengthy arguments for you to read as well.

    The historical evidence also shows that the Jews, including Jesus and the apostles were unitarians (i.e., they believed God was one PERSON), and that the trinitarian dogma did not even exist until a few hundred years after Christ.

    Utter garbage. Prove it instead of making these crappy, unsupportable statements. I gave you quotes from the early church, as well from non-Christians (Pliny) informing others (emperor Trajan) that the Christians worship Jesus as God, let alone Wisdom understanding of the BC era. How about Celsus or Porphyry who both understood that Jesus did make divine claims (as pagan skeptics, they thought He was wrong of course, or tried to downgrade His status, in line with pagan thought).

    I’m betting most of you don’t even understand the Trinity, like what Patrick mentioned above… how many more times will anti-Christians fail to see the Trinitarian distinction between ontological equality & functional subordination (with questions like “who did Jesus pray to” etc – the Trinity/hypostatic union understanding explains this fully!). Patrick is right in saying your arguments emulate those of other heretics (and accusing the RCC of “evils” is not the same thing – we are not making an ad hominem), because they use the same ones, and they also fail to understand the Trinity as seen in the Qu’ran or by the door-to-door JW for example.

    If Thomas calls Jesus his deity, if Jesus identifies Himself with Yahweh (and His peers understand Him doing exactly that), if Stephen prays to Jesus (tells/prays to Him to receive his spirit), if the early church believe in the divinity of Jesus and as Paul says, ‘call upon his name’ (compare to OT & use of calling on Yahweh), then you are wrong. I even showed the reactions of the public (who would have understood their own cultural norms better then both of us) to Jesus, and how they thought he was claiming divinity.

    The Trinity is the only explanation that fits, barring blasphemy. Are you ready to pick up those stones, mate?

    You again (just like C. S. Lewis) offer an ultimatum with only your approved choices…. But there is also another option in this case, and that is to believe that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, the Messiah….

    Like I said, the “lemma” remains. Christ did claim divinity to His peers, to your disappointment, because now you will have to stone Him – since you will not accept His claim of divinity as true. And that’s what it comes down to; there is no way you can accept Him as claiming divinity at all, is there?

    This subject has been debated, and review and scrutinized, and it has been shown every single time that the view of the orthodox Trinity is the only compatible one with scripture, unless you like ripping pages (or context) out of the NT.

    But there is the fact that the Bible says “No man has seen GOD at any time” (not just the Father) in John 1:18 and I John 4:12, and GOD (not just “the Father”) is called “invisible” in I Tim. 1:17. (Also I Tim. 6:15-16 does not specify the Father as you claimed.)

    So your now telling Christians how to understand the Trinity, and invoking ‘persons’ wherever *you* want? I smell the smoke of a strawman burning! And funny that it’s right after you accuse Patrick of it. Please, understand the Trinity first, then make your rebuttals. For starters (in regards to OT treatment) see Glenn Miller’s http://christian-thinktank.com/trin02.html – try the section on Criterion 2, his intermediate summary is “The Angel of the LORD is both God and yet refers to someone else as God. (If we don’t believe there are TWO gods, I think we are ‘locked into’ developing some kind of plurality-within-unity concept.) This figure is beyond the normal angels and indeed is somehow SPECIALLY linked to the ‘being’ of God–He is called the angel of “His presence” (Is 63.9), the angel with God’s “Name” in Him (Ex 23:20-23), and is placed in a parallel construction with God’s action in Zech 12.8 (“and the house of David will be like God, like the Angel of the LORD going before them.”).”

    We believe that Christ is a man,

    And Christians also acknowledge where scriptures tell us He is fully divine. The Word/Wisdom is an attribute of God. (i.e. the Father eternally begets the Son and pours forth the Spirit). Christians look at the whole scriptures, recognize that there is only one God, then see that Jesus is the Word became flesh, and realize it in the Trinity. If He is ‘man’ only, then Thomas and Stephen are definitely committing idolatry.

    Saying that there is no evidence that Jesus claimed divinity can only be done by ignoring mountains of evidence, or by some superficial hand-waving, like what’s being done.
    Who does the Bible say is God? The Father (Ephesians 4:6)? The Son (Titus 2:13; John 1:1, 20:28)? The Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4)? The one and only true God (Deuteronomy 4:35)?

    t is a fact to anyone who understands Hebrew that halakh simply means “going, moving, went.” ….The term halakh means “going”, not necessarily “walking.” A voice going forth, even the NT uses the term in Romans 10:18.

    Joseph, Romans doesn’t say a ‘voice walking’ and doesn’t apply due to the definition of halak. You are using your modern day understanding of Hebrew here, so your already on the back foot mate. Strong’s says: [H1980] hâlak’ – Akin to [H3212]; a primitive root; to walk. I can only refer to the scholarly experts (which I am not) in biblical Hebrew, which affirm it in droves.

    Having lived in Israel and studied Biblical Hebrew from my wife and her sister, both natives to the language, I have been able to grasp the Jewish understanding of the Hebrew language, a concept absent from most modern day Christian denominations… On a more serious note, the idea of God’s voice being visually seeable isn’t foreign – see Deut 4:12. G-d frequently manifests Himself in some way throughout Tanach.

    Joseph, this does not qualify you to the understanding of ancient biblical texts (authoratively speaking). And to say that the concept is absent from Christian’s is just silly, and it smells of elitism. I could easily sight the ancient Aramaic language used/taught in the church that I attend – but that doesn’t assist me in the matter either.

    You seem to be very hung up in trying to prove that it isn’t “walking”, but then go on to sight Deut 4:12 as your failsafe (and can’t the adversary walk in some type of angelic/man form anyways?).

    If you already accept your own argument in terms of Deut 4:12, then you do accept the possibility in Gen 3:8? You have just helped Christianity’s arguments by telling us that “G-d frequently manifests Himself” and “God’s voice being visually seeable isn’t foreign” . I thought that was strange that you affirmed our points, but perhaps I misunderstood you…. It’s late and I am tired though 🙂

    Indeed, to possess the truth of God is life and righteousness; he saw fit to put his Son to death in the flesh and raise him in the same so that I might be with him. Men appear to amount to a great deal for such a high price to be paid.

    Amen, brother Patrick, nicely said! Though I can’t really see our comments as helping them in particular – they keep sidestepping you. At the very least, they should let us know exactly what they think the Trinity (and hypostatic union) is, else whatever we say will not be understood properly – or learn it from an actual authority who believes it.

    They seem to be leading themselves blindly around the metaphorical pit. Hopefully others will reflect on our comments and make a more informed decision, or at least, test their doubts and beliefs with those who are qualified (I’m definitely not qualified, just a learner).

    Tiredly, cheers.

  85. on 04 Aug 2008 at 6:44 amTim

    Matt,

    And Christians also acknowledge where scriptures tell us He is fully divine. The Word/Wisdom is an attribute of God.

    Are you saying that he Word in John 1 is an attribute of God?

  86. on 05 Aug 2008 at 6:16 pmJoseph

    Matt,

    Joseph, Romans doesn’t say a ‘voice walking’ and doesn’t apply due to the definition of halak. You are using your modern day understanding of Hebrew here, so your already on the back foot mate. Strong’s says: [H1980] hâlak’ – Akin to [H3212]; a primitive root; to walk. I can only refer to the scholarly experts (which I am not) in biblical Hebrew, which affirm it in droves.

    You are not understanding me. I did not say that the Hebrew word “halakh” cannot mean “walking.” It can read walking, but only if defined rightly so by the context. In Gen 3:8, we can safely assume that voices to not walk. Adam only “heard” not “saw.” So if you want to believe that God was in human form, this is your assumption. There is not enough in the text to determine that somehow a being was walking on two feet as you and I do. I happen to agree more so with the JPS when using the translation as “moving.”

    But really, whether physical walking was present or not, it doesn’t really matter. Because, we know that God has manifested himself before in various ways, and the assumption of a pre-existing Christ is necessary to assume a Christophany is somehow taking place.

    Joseph, this does not qualify you to the understanding of ancient biblical texts (authoratively speaking). And to say that the concept is absent from Christian’s is just silly, and it smells of elitism. I could easily sight the ancient Aramaic language used/taught in the church that I attend – but that doesn’t assist me in the matter either.

    You seem to be very hung up in trying to prove that it isn’t “walking”, but then go on to sight Deut 4:12 as your failsafe (and can’t the adversary walk in some type of angelic/man form anyways?).

    If you already accept your own argument in terms of Deut 4:12, then you do accept the possibility in Gen 3:8? You have just helped Christianity’s arguments by telling us that “G-d frequently manifests Himself” and “God’s voice being visually seeable isn’t foreign” . I thought that was strange that you affirmed our points, but perhaps I misunderstood you…. It’s late and I am tired though

    I agree that God can and has manifested himself in various ways, but I do not agree that he is Christ. This is where we seem to disagree.

    Hebrews 1 says, for God will speak “through” (not “as”) the Messiah “in these last days.”

  87. on 08 Aug 2008 at 1:13 amJoseph

    I have heard that the Greek word latreuo only denotes worship to God, while other words in the Greek are used for Christ.

    Is the Greek word for worship (latreuo) in Rev. 22:1-5 referring to Christ? Or both God and the Christ?

  88. on 08 Aug 2008 at 7:51 amTim

    I had not heard that there are two different words for worship. Can someone confirm this? This is something that I have had trouble addressing with trinitarians. My argument has always been that either (a) it is a different kind of worship, or (b) so what? Jesus is God’s Son and it is OK to worship him (in God’s eyes) because of that.

    Also – I think that there is a big difference between Jesus pre-resurrection and post-resurrection. I often think that trinitarians minimize the resurrection as if it was a formality; in their view, the incarnation was the “big thing.”

  89. on 08 Aug 2008 at 8:42 amSean

    Here is an article I wrote on this that you may find helpful. It is called Should Jesus be Worshiped: A Practical Conundrum for Unitarians.

    click here

  90. on 08 Aug 2008 at 9:04 amJohnO

    If I remember correctly, Sean’s article uses as one of it’s main sources Jason BeDuhn’s (Harvard) Truth in Translation; as one of the four or so main points of the book are the words for worship.

  91. on 08 Aug 2008 at 6:32 pmJoseph

    Great resources, thanks guys. 🙂

    I did a bit of studying and to find out, I don’t believe that the Greek Latreuo (worship) is used for the Lamb in Rev 22:3, rather, it is the presence of God that is receiving the worship (latreuo). This verse is highly against a Trinity because once again we have God AND the Lamb, God being the exalter. Latreuo is future tense in Rev 22, the events take place after the resurrection and exaltation of Christ to the right of God.

    So in respect to God’s will, one could worship (Latreuo) Christ along side him, for God has placed Messiah next to him in the great throne. But we must remember that this is a future event, and as Tim pointed out, Christ has been exalted at this point.

    Latreuo is used to pay worship to God through an Angel. Is the Angel God?, no, but the concept of worshiping God’s agents as though God is present is not foreign to Scripture. But does this verse really tell us that Paul was serving the Angel as God’s representative, or, that the Angel of God was with him, and was simply acknowledging God’s authority over him because of the Angels presence…

    Act 27:23
    For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve(latreuo),

    Here in Philippians we have Latreuo being used only to God and not Christ, if both were co-equal we should see the same language used for the both in this passage…

    Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship (Latreuo) God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

    And to clear things up to the context of Rev 22 we read in Rev 7:15, “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.”

    We will worship (Latreuo) God, and the Lamb will be present as God’s representative. God is the only one who receives worship as God, just as Christ worshiped him. Trinitarians should used Christ’s teachings and worship God in the same manner, as one God, not as a Trinity.

    Thoughts? What do you guys/gals think?

  92. on 09 Aug 2008 at 8:22 pmSean

    John,

    I came across James BeDuhn’s fine book a few minutes before I presented my paper in Ackron, OH. It was wonderfully confirming to see a Harvard grad saying the same things I was saying. Anyhow, his book is absolutely stellar and deals with the remarkable amount of christological bias in our translations.

    Joseph,

    I didn’t touch on the latrevo idea but rather focused on proskeneo in my paper (and the OT word shacha). I think latrevo just means to serve someone…I should probably look into it a bit more.

  93. on 11 Aug 2008 at 12:31 pmWolfgang

    Hello,

    someone just wrote me an e-mail to point out my non-trinitarian error in not accepting Mt 28:19 (“baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”) as a prooftext for the trinity.

    He had read an article of mine where I compared the wording found in our Bibles today with the records in Acts where baptisms are mentioned and nowhere we find the formula now seen in our Bibles in Mt 28:19 …. Now I concluded that possibly the text in Mt 28:19 has been changed in the 4th century, since there is an indication in writings of Eusebius that he quoted from a Matthew text which may not have contained that formula.

    The “trinitarian” gentlemen however claimed that the “in the name of Jesus” / “in the name of the Lord Jesus” / etc. as found in Acts are a legitimate “shortening” of Jesus’ trinitarian formula in Mt 28:19 and therefore these text passages prove that already Jesus and his disciples must have believed in the trinity. Else, their shortening of Jesus’ words would need to be considered an illegitimate change of Jesus’ words by Peterand the other apostles … but since that is not likely, we can only come to the conclusion that the trinity must be a biblical doctrine, for only then do Jesus’ trinitarian formula wording and the later used shortened wording by the apostles harmonize …

    What do you all think of that type of logic and interpretation of Mt 28:19 in light of the many other verses in Acts where the trinitarian baptism formula is not used ?

    Cheers
    Wolfgang

  94. on 11 Aug 2008 at 4:12 pmTim

    Wolfgang,

    I think that it shows that if you believe something to be true, the evidence for it is everywhere.

    I listen to a daily talk show in which a Catholic guy calls in fairly frequently to spar with the host. Recently, he used the story in which someone asked Bathsheba to approach King David to request something or the other as proof that we should pray to Mary to gain access to Christ. The argument went something like, “since David was a type of Christ and Bathsheba was an intermediary to David, therefore Mary is the intermediary to Christ.”

    Because that guy had been taught this in his Catholic upbringing, he was convinced that it was true.

    The trinity doctrine, I think, is one of the last doctrines that still hold on to the medieval Roman Catholic way of approaching the Bible. We have this doctrine, our job is to make the whole Bible prove that it is true.

    -Regards-

  95. on 11 Aug 2008 at 4:55 pmMark

    The theory that the text of Matthew 28:19 was corrupted is very hard to prove, considering that ALL extant manuscripts include that wording, as do several quotes of the verse by other Church Fathers besides Eusebius. In fact, Eusebius himself quotes it three different ways, including the traditionally accepted wording with “Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”

    The question is not, “Are these really the words of Christ,” but rather, “Is this intended to be a baptismal formula?” First of all, they only mention the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but do not say anything about them being “three persons in one God” or being “coequal” or “coeternal.” There are other places which refer to the three, but also say nothing of three persons in one God (II Cor. 13:14; I Peter 1:2; I Cor. 12:3-6) .

    Secondly, there is no reason to assume that it was meant as a formula for baptism, rather than simply describing what people would be baptized “with respect to” (which is another way of rendering the phrase “in the name of”).

    Jews knew of the Father, and were aware of the workings of the holy spirit, but the identification of Jesus as the Son of God was now crucial to their baptism. Gentiles, on the other hand, may or may not have known God as a Father, or His holy spirit working in the world, and would need to be introduced into that knowledge as well as that of Christ.

    This would be a reasonable description of the Commission to preach and teach to “all nations” which was the point of this verse. All three – God, Jesus, and the holy spirit (which is also called the spirit of Christ) – are instrumental in the entire plan of salvation. It’s only later that the words of this verse become a formula. In Acts the only “formula” was baptizing in the name of Jesus.

    I have researched this quite a bit, actually, and wrote an entire chapter on Textual Evidence and the Great Commission in my study, “Repent and Be Baptized.” You can download it as a Word doc here:
    http://godskingdomfirst.org/REPENT AND BE BAPTIZED.doc
    …or as a PDF file here:
    http://godskingdomfirst.org/REPENT AND BE BAPTIZED.pdf

  96. on 12 Aug 2008 at 12:14 amMark

    P.S. – Right click on the above links and select “Save Target As” to download the files to your computer.

  97. on 12 Aug 2008 at 3:07 amWolfgang

    Hi Mark,

    why would say that the words of Jesus in Mt 28:19 (“in the name of …”) were not a baptism formula, but then later you speak of “in the name of Jesus” in Acts as a baptism formula ?

    The dilemma remains that nowhere in Acts the apostles seem to have done what the Lord Jesus supposedly commanded them to do in regards to baptizing them (whether “in the name of” or “with respect to”) … they apparently “shortened” (=> deleted Father and Holy Ghost) Jesus’ words. Wjy would they have done so? Why did Jesus not use the “in my (Jesus’) name” which the apostles later actually did use? How would you like to explain this discrepency?

    The man who wrote me simply said that there is only one explanation: Jesus and the apostles believed in God as a trinity, and with that, no discrepency nor dilemma exists between what Jesus said and what the apostles then did … is that your explanation as well?

    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

  98. on 12 Aug 2008 at 1:28 pmMark

    why would say that the words of Jesus in Mt 28:19 (”in the name of …”) were not a baptism formula, but then later you speak of “in the name of Jesus” in Acts as a baptism formula ?

    Because the apostles baptized “in the name of Jesus” on a regular basis, as you point out. But the phrase in Matthew 28:19 is more of a description of what they were baptized into than a formula to be spoken or invoked when baptizing.

    The dilemma remains that nowhere in Acts the apostles seem to have done what the Lord Jesus supposedly commanded them to do in regards to baptizing them (whether “in the name of” or “with respect to”) … they apparently “shortened” (=> deleted Father and Holy Ghost) Jesus’ words. Wjy would they have done so? Why did Jesus not use the “in my (Jesus’) name” which the apostles later actually did use? How would you like to explain this discrepency?

    I explained it in the chapter of the study to which I provided the link. Have you read it?

    The man who wrote me simply said that there is only one explanation: Jesus and the apostles believed in God as a trinity, and with that, no discrepency nor dilemma exists between what Jesus said and what the apostles then did … is that your explanation as well?

    I think you know the answer to that question. We have both been posting here for quite a while and you know that I am not a trinitarian. I think there is no discrepancy when you understand that Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:19, first of all do not prove the trinity, and second, were not meant to be a formula for performing a baptism. I refer you to the words of G. R. Beasley-Murray, in his book, Baptism in the New Testament:

    We must first make up our mind whether Mt. 28.19 reflects a baptismal formula in current use in the Church, or whether it is intended to describe the nature of Christian baptism. Several notable exegetes have supported the latter alternative. Schniewind considered that a baptismal formula is as little intended here as in the evangelic traditions of the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer and the Last Supper. F. C. Grant more recently has expounded a similar view: the baptismal statement combines the disciples’ inherited Jewish faith in God (‘the name of the Father’), their new faith in the Son (i.e. Son of Man) and their experience of the holy spirit, the earnest of the New Age.

    The chapter in Repent and Be Baptized goes into much more detail about it. I encourage you to read it if you haven’t yet.

  99. on 12 Aug 2008 at 2:54 pmSean

    Mark,

    What do you make of the Didache and it’s reference to the triadic formula?

  100. on 12 Aug 2008 at 11:09 pmMark

    The passage referring to baptism in the Didache reads as follows:

    7:1 But concerning baptism, thus baptize ye: having first recited all these precepts, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in running water;

    7:2 but if thou hast not running water, baptize in some other water, and if thou canst not baptize in cold, in warm water;

    7:3 but if thou hast neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

    Like Matt. 28:19, this passage says nothing about three persons in one God, or any other trinitarian doctrine, which did not exist until hundreds of years later. It is apparently quoting Matt. 28:19, which is further proof that the words were in the older manuscripts, contrary to the theory that they were added later to corroborate the trinity. (That theory was first suggested by F. C. Conybeare in the late 19th and early 20th century.)

    However, the reference to pouring water on the head three times shows that we are seeing the earliest beginnings of the triadic formula being used in baptism, which became more widespread later, especially when connected with the doctrine of the trinity. But this was not the practice of the original apostles and their followers, as witnessed by the book of Acts, where we only read of people being baptized in the name of Jesus.

    As I said, the theory that those words were added to Matt 28:19 is impossible to prove, and is really unnecessary, because those words say nothing about three persons in one God, and so do not prove the trinity.

  101. on 13 Aug 2008 at 5:18 amWolfgang

    Hi Mark,

    Like Matt. 28:19, this passage says nothing about three persons in one God, or any other trinitarian doctrine, which did not exist until hundreds of years later. It is apparently quoting Matt. 28:19, which is further proof that the words were in the older manuscripts, contrary to the theory that they were added later to corroborate the trinity. (That theory was first suggested by F. C. Conybeare in the late 19th and early 20th century.)

    The Didache passage does NOT show that the words were in older manuscripts at all … It rather shows how far the baptism practices had already deviated at that time from the practice of the apostles we read in the book of Acts !!

    As you point out as well, the reference to the water pouring three times indicates that the “trinity thinking” was beginning, and I would include the talk of “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” as another indicator of the beginning establishing of triadic / trinitarian formulas.

    The practice of the apostles in Acts does indicate that they did NOT follow these triadic formula words and actions, but rather adhered in their practice to a non-trinitarian, a non-triadic influenced instruction which they had received from the lord.

    You explanation with Mt 29:19 not being a baptism “formula” but “a description of what they were baptized into” sounds like a rather complicate theological explanation which does not follow the rather simple tenor of the instruction and other uses of the term “IN the name of”. To change the meaning here to “with respect to” or to “into the name of Father, Son and Holy Ghost” while at the same time NOT doing so with the records in Acts and keeping those as “in the name of” seems rather “theologically artifical” and not convincing because the logic behind such an idea is just not consistent in itself.

    The theory of words being later added to Mt 28:19 are only impossible to prove at this time from a manuscript point of view (in other words, no manuscripts of Mt 28:19 from an earlier date than the 4th century AD are known at this time, and all the later manuscripts in extent today do have the triadic formula) …. however, internal evidence of comparing the command mentioned in Mt 28:19 and how it was executed by the apostles starting only a few days later, does point to a discrepency and leads to the fact that either the woirds now found in Mt 28:19 are suspicious or the practice of the apostles is suspicious.

    Now then, since the wording now found Mt 28:19 does reflect a somewhat “triadic / trinitarian” concept (as seen in combination with the 3 x water pouring idea as seen in the Didache passage) while a “Trinity Godhead” is NOT taught in the rest of Scripture, I tend to consider it a greater possibility that the words in Mt 28:19 were indeed added later, and that the recocds in Acts indeed tell us indirectly by implication what Jesus would have commanded his apostles.

    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

  102. on 13 Aug 2008 at 9:07 amJohnO

    The Didache passage does NOT show that the words were in older manuscripts at all … It rather shows how far the baptism practices had already deviated at that time from the practice of the apostles we read in the book of Acts !!

    That’s an either-or argument, it could show both – other evidence is needed to determine that. The Didache is 95AD-105AD, well within twenty years of the eyewitnesses. Hard to imagine a widespread change, in all of christendom, in twenty years, codified in the Didache. Therefore Mark’s position (and mine) is much more persuasive.

    As you point out as well, the reference to the water pouring three times indicates that the “trinity thinking” was beginning, and I would include the talk of “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” as another indicator of the beginning establishing of triadic / trinitarian formulas.

    I don’t think it shows any trinitarian thinking whatsoever. Paul is using triadic “formulas” in his epistle’s greetings and endings. This just goes to show the modern notion of a “formula” is all wrong. Matthew, recording chapter 28 writes what he writes. But he would have come from a Christian community in which the apostolic pattern of baptism was followed. (If we don’t agree to that, then Matthew isn’t really Matthew, or is way later than the 80AD usually ascribed). So Matthew feels free to write what he does (seeing as there was no interpolation or redaction) even with the apostolic experience he himself had. There are no formulas recorded. The Didache is as much “formula”, codified for the benefit of a spreading religion, as anything.

    The practice of the apostles in Acts does indicate that they did NOT follow these triadic formula words and actions, but rather adhered in their practice to a non-trinitarian, a non-triadic influenced instruction which they had received from the lord.

    There is no line by line instruction about baptism in the NT. So you’re arguing that the absence of evidence is the evidence of absence. Which just isn’t solid ground to stand on. The standard practice of baptism is assumed by all NT writers, because they themselves have been baptized, and everyone they’re writing to has been baptized. This is shown by the repeated “leaning” on their baptismal event as either a metaphor, or reminder of their commitment.

  103. on 13 Aug 2008 at 10:01 amMark

    The Didache passage does NOT show that the words were in older manuscripts at all … It rather shows how far the baptism practices had already deviated at that time from the practice of the apostles we read in the book of Acts !!

    Why couldn’t it be both? The practice of baptism had deviated, but based on what? The idea of three persons in one God did not exist at the time. They must have gotten the phraseology, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” from somewhere. And the evidence of not only the Didache, but many quotes in the writings of the Church Fathers (including Eusebius) indicates that these words from Matthew 28:19 were known all along. The Didache shows that the words were known AND that the practice of baptism had begun to deviate, using those words as a formula rather than a simple description (but still had nothing to do with the trinity at that time).

    As you point out as well, the reference to the water pouring three times indicates that the “trinity thinking” was beginning, and I would include the talk of “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” as another indicator of the beginning establishing of triadic / trinitarian formulas.

    Not so much “trinity thinking” as using the words “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” as a formula to be invoked when baptizing, rather than a description as Matt. 28:19 was.

    Remember, “triadic” in this sense is not referring to the trinity in any way, and is not interchangeable with “trinitarian.” It simply refers to mentioning the three names/titles which the Bible does in a few other places as well.

    The error of the trinity historically did not begin with “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” but rather with the nature and identity of Jesus. It was theorized that he was a “lesser god” and that he pre-existed as a spiritual being. Eventually that developed into “Jesus is God” and then from there that the Father and the Son are co-equal and co-eternal. Not till many years after that did they decide that the Holy Spirit was also a third co-equal person and thus completed the Trinity. Simply saying “in the name of the F, S, & HS” does not represent the beginnings of the trinity.

    Sorry you don’t like the explanation of “in the name of” but it’s how scholars and linguists interpret the phrase “in the name of” based on its Hebrew as well as Greek usage. It’s not really that complicated. You go on to say:

    To change the meaning here to “with respect to” or to “into the name of Father, Son and Holy Ghost” while at the same time NOT doing so with the records in Acts and keeping those as “in the name of” seems rather “theologically artifical” and not convincing because the logic behind such an idea is just not consistent in itself.

    It’s not that I’m changing the meaning in one place and not another. “In the name of” means “with respect to” especially when it’s used of baptism. The difference is that “with respect to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” in Matt. 28:19 is a description of what they would be baptized into, whereas “with respect to Jesus” not only describes what they would be baptized into (Jesus does not contradict the Father or the Spirit) but is ALSO the formula which they invoked when baptizing throughout Acts. Later on people deviated and started using “in the name of the F, S, & HS” as a baptismal formula, but there was still nothing trinitarian about it at that time.

    The theory of words being later added to Mt 28:19 are only impossible to prove at this time from a manuscript point of view (in other words, no manuscripts of Mt 28:19 from an earlier date than the 4th century AD are known at this time, and all the later manuscripts in extent today do have the triadic formula) ….

    This is not true. In addition to the fact there are no MS that do not contain these words, there is also the witness of many early church writers who quote these words.

    There is only a contradiction or a discrepancy between how the apostles baptized and what Jesus said in Matt. 28:19 if you start with the assumption that Matt. 28:19 has anything to do with the trinity, or that it was intended to be the formula with which they baptized rather than simply a description. There is no reason to assume either point, so there is really no contradiction.

  104. on 18 Aug 2008 at 4:01 pmRandy

    Moses is said to have talked with God, face to face, as a friend. Pehaps we are being dogmatic and too confining to the text in John which says no man has seen the Father. Perhaps John was speaking of man in his day. Just a thought. It would seem Moses, a man, communed with God as no man has since.

  105. on 18 Aug 2008 at 5:09 pmRon S.

    Randy,

    No I don’t think we’re being dogmatic at all. We should let the verses that are abundantly clear say what they say. No man has seen God at any time, God is invisible, and God dwells in unapproachable light who no man has seen or can see. Those are pretty darn specific and clear cut.

    And as far as Exodus 33:11 saying that God spoke to Moses “face to face” as a friend, that can’t be literally face to face look since just a few verses later God tells Moses flatly that “no man can see me and live (33:20). It has to be describing the closeness of their relationship, otherwise there’s a direct contradiction right there in the same chapter!

    No, the key to making everything harmonize is to realize that while God had a closer relationship with Moses than any other man (outside of Jesus of course), God still used Angels to be his “shaliach” or “sheliah” (divine agents/emissaries). See the Jewish “Law of Agency” at: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=894&letter=A&search=law%20of%20agency

    This is confirmed in Acts 7:30, 35, 38, & 53.

    30 And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. 35 This Moses whom they rejected, saying, “Who made you a ruler and a judge?” is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush. 38 This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us, 53 who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it. (NKJV)

    When it is understood that God always spoke through His chosen emissaries (Angels or appointed human prophets) or through dreams/visions until Jesus the Messiah came onto the scene, then the NT verses and Exodus 33:20 all match up and make perfect sense and we don’t have to twist many perfectly clear verses to mean something other than what they say.

    Peace!

  

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