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Last month on both Saturday 6/13 and Sunday 6/14, I attended the 2009 One God Seminars put on by the ACD (Association for Christian Development).  This was the first such conference I went to in person though I’ve read a lot about previous years conferences from this site (Sean has attended many), Anthony Buzzard’s Restoration Fellowship website & monthly newsletter (Focus on the Kingdom), and even the ACD Seminar organizer – Ken Westby’s website: http://www.godward.org/. I’ve always wanted to attend one, but for one reason or another never was never able to make the journey to the host location.  However this year’s chosen location happened to be in my home turf of Dallas-Ft. Worth.  And even more convenient was that the actual meeting location was a whole 15-20 minute drive from my house. What could be more perfect?  I was very ecstatic about it and even more so when I learned that Sir Anthony Buzzard was going to be a presenter. I had always wanted to hear him speak in person and to have the chance to meet him and possibly have a discussion or two on our mutual biblical interests.

Here’s a listing of the Seminar topics as they were presented (#1-4 on Sat. &  #5-10 on Sun.) along with an overview/review of each.

Note: For all the presenters that provided a printed copy of their paper/ presentation, I have asked each for an electronic copy that I’ll make available for download from here.  As I get them, I will create PDF versions of each and then Sean & I will publish a direct download link here.  Web/html version links will also be provided for any available as such.

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The 8th Annual One God Seminar
6/13 – 6/14/09
Dallas-Forth Worth, TX

Introduction:

 “Why  Study the Nature of God?”— Ken Westby and Sir Anthony Buzzard

Opening intro comments given by the Seminar host – Ken Westby.  He introduces Anthony and has him present some opening comments as well.  Ken’s opening in the Seminar booklet basically mirrors this introduction.  Here it is:

There can be no more important knowledge than that about God himself. These seminars are dedicated to growing in understanding of our Creator and his son, Jesus Christ. Rightly understood, theology (the study of God) is the granddaddy of all fields of knowledge and science. The zenith of knowledge is to understand and know the one who planned the cosmos; to know the one who created us in His image and to discover His unique plan for us. We will never “arrive” at a complete understanding, but there is no more noble use of our time, energy, and material than the pursuit of knowing God.

Presentations:

#1  The Greatest Commandment vs The Greatest Deception!  — Mark Bosserman

The first presentation was by the uncle of the Trinitarian who debated Sean Finnegan at last year’s 2008 One God Seminar in Seattle (and launched a very long series of debates here on Kingdomready afterwards).  Naturally I first assumed that Mark might be of the Trinitarian persuasion, but it seems that the Bosserman family is split among Trinitarian and Unitarian Christians – with Mark being a unitarian.

Mark’s presentation was good though I thought he really had three topics worthy of deeper and more intense coverage separately.  He started contrasting the first commandment in Exodus 20:3 (“Thou shall have no other gods before me”) with the greatest lie of Gen 3:4 (“You will not surely die”) and then went into his three main points of:
1. Why is this the first & greatest commandment? Who knew this truth and lost it? Who still has this truth?
2. Can a spirit being be destroyed?
3. Where in Scripture does Jesus speak as God? If Jesus were God, he would have spoken his own words!

I did really like his points about how the Old Testament presents Yahweh in the role of a Father to child (us humans) relationship.  And Jesus’ “son” with that father is similar and therefore more of a “big brother” of ours. The “firstborn” who sets the example for the rest of us to follow as fellow children. If Jesus was God, the father to son relationship concept would have zero meaning in a relationship of co-equal beings who both are God.

#2  “Godless”  The Current State of Affairs in Defining Who God Is  — John Obelenus

Kingdomready’s very own John Obelenus was scheduled to be a presenter (and one whom I was excited to meet and talk to in person), but alas he became very sick just before he was to fly down to Dallas.  So John had to stay home sick and Anthony Buzzard did his best filling in and presenting John’s paper.  Though I think John’s work was very in-depth and Anthony just didn’t have the time to really get a true feel for it. And of course he just couldn’t present it the way the John would have.

Since JohnO is one of the contributors here on this site, I’ll let him talk about his own paper.  John, if you want to provide a link to it here, feel free.  Or if you want to cover it in a separate post of your own here, then you could just link to that from here as well.

#3 “unitarians” And the Need to Keep Christ at the Center of  Faith, Along with the Gospel as Jesus Preached It — Anthony Buzzard

An excellent paper by Sir Anthony that cautions Unitarians to not throw the baby out with the bath water when it comes to going overboard in making God the Father “the only true God”. As Messiah – God’s chosen ultimate representative, Jesus is God in everyway possible without actually literally being God.  As Anthony puts it in his presentation – “Jesus is doing God-like things. He is doing what God does.”  Of course this is because God has chosen to do this with a human being unlike any other who accomplished what no other accomplished.

#4 Intelligent Design, Unintelligent Evolution, and The God Hypothesis   — Michael Keas, PhD
(PowerPoint presentation)

The afternoon presentation on Saturday was by Dr. Michael Keas a professor at the College at Southwestern, an adjunct professor at Biola University, and is a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute.  Dr. Keas’ presentation centered on how scientists should always look to where the evidence leads even if that leads to a designer.  And his presentation gave a LOT of evidence that leads to the inescapable conclusion of design.  His PowerPoint presentation showed a lot of examples of how the fossil record simply doesn’t support what should be seen from evolution.

For example instead of a gradual appearance of different species evolving and splitting off into other variations, we see the sudden appearance of many species of animal life that pretty much stay within those specie lines throughout the fossil timeline.  This sudden appearance without evidence of ancestry is very telling.  But the religion of evolution is so pervasive that most of our current science textbooks leave out a discussion of this sudden appearance in what has been termed the “Cambrian Explosion”.

Dr. Keas also showed a video in the latter part of the afternoon about how the study of observable universe also shows evidence of design. He recommended two films (one of which a shown clip was from) – Lee Strobel’s  “The Case for a Creator” and “The Privledged Planet” by John Rhys-Davies.

I enjoyed Dr. Keas’ presentation and thought he gave a very nice introduction into a vast and very controversial subject area.  And even though he joked at being a typical Evangelical Trinitarian in his religious life (being at a One God seminar with so many Unitarians and Binitarians/Armstrong people), his knowledge on the subject matter was first rate!

#5 Colossians 1:16: Who Is The Creator?  — Mel Hershberger

HTML Version of paper/presentation

PDF Version of the paper/presentation 

Sunday morning kicked off with the first presentation by building contractor and part-time bible theologian (a unique coincidence since that is exactly what my Dad was) – Mel Hershberger.  Mel was a former Armstrong believer of the “God Family” view that is basically a “binitarian” Christology of Jesus being the pre-existent God that did the creation and did all the OT speaking and actions.  However since being politely challenged many years ago by Anthony Buzzard to show where Scripture says that Jesus was the OT God, Mel has changed his beliefs.  He now sees that the Bible plainly says the God the Father was the God of the OT and Jesus did not come into actual being until God’s Holy Spirit created him in the womb of Mary (as Luke 1:35 says).

Mel’s paper is somewhat of a rebuttal to his own paper he did several years back on saying Col. 1:16 showed Jesus as the OT creator.  In his new paper, Mel rightly identifies the OT God as Yahweh and that in NT times, nobody ever “changed” Gods from Yahweh to Jesus – or ever thought Jesus was Yahweh. And Mel does a pretty good analysis of Col. 1 to show that the creation discussed there is not the physical cosmos but the NEW creation of his CHURCH and the world to come in the Kingdom of God.  Mel states: “Jesus was the first one harvested from the dead. He was a perfect proto-type who was going to be used to create many others into his image.”

#6 Preexistence: A Different Understanding  — Bob Woodburn

Bob Woodburn comes from a Methodist background and has studied at the Houston Graduate School of Theology.  Bob’s presentation on preexistence was a very interesting take on the subject.  He argued that Jesus’ preexistence was “notional” in God’s mind – His foreknowledge. That God’s “Logos” was how God’s blueprint plan was a part of him because it came from His mind and thoughts, but there was not actual existence of Jesus until He brought about His Son in the womb of Mary – God’s word finally becoming flesh.

He also brought up the fact that God is presented as a Father figure and Jesus as a Son figure in Scripture over and over again. Co-equal beings would not warrant such a description. It would not make sense. Also the only preexistence that can come from a Father/Son relationship is a metaphysical or genetic one.  We all “preexist” inside our parents as part of them (in a genetic sense) before we are born, but we do not become literal until our parents actually “act” to create/bring us into physical existence.

#7 Time, Transcendence, and Theodicy  — Noel Rude

PDF Version of the paper/presentation

Noel Rude is a biblical researcher and writer who is also a former university professor and linguist. His presentation was one of two in the subject area of Open Theism – which happens to be of great interest to me.

Noel’s presentation paper is VERY in-depth and could be discussed for hours or even days.  But he did a pretty good job going through it in summary during his 50 minute session. Noel’s basic premise is that the classic view of God being outside of time is incorrect and leads to all sorts of problems – one specifically being that according to Scripture, God acts as if he is in time with us.  And that was Noel’s argument – that God is IN time with us.  If free will is a gift from God or one of the ways that we are made in God’s “image”, then God although timeless and immortal, is in the present with us determining the future along with us.

Noel states this nicely on page #5 (of his 23 page paper) with: “Open Theism which argues that the future is open for God, presumes presentism, which says that only the present exists, that the past is the past and the future hasn’t happened yet from any perspective. If the open theists are correct, then there really is a “now” even for God.”

#8 What Judaism Offers for an Understanding of Christology  — James Trimm

Going into the seminars I had thought that this presentation was going to be from the viewpoint of Orthodox Judaism on the Messiah.  But after hearing speaker James Trimm and learning a little about him, I realized the title of the presentation was missing one VERY important word – Messianic.  The title should have been “What Messianic Judaism Offers for an Understanding of Christology”.  Had that been the title, I would have known to have expected to hear how Jesus is God because I know that is what Messianic Judaism typically teaches.  And they do this because Messianic Judaism is really just mainstream Evangelical Christianity with traditional Jewish customs and practices thrown in as a guise to recruit Jews to believing that Jesus just isn’t the Jewish Messiah – but literally God in the Flesh as the second member of the Trinity.  I wrote an article about that here on kingdomready last year – see here.

Having a Messianic presenter would not be that much of a surprise though. Each year Ken invites one “opposition” view to do a presentation at the One God Seminars and this year’s presenter James Trimm was exactly that. He basically presented the view that Jesus was the Yahweh of the Old Testament (the Jewish Tenach/Bible).  Though I thought Mr. Trimm did so in such a rapid fire manner that made it incredibly hard to follow all his verse quotes and how they fit with the points he attempted to make.  He also provided no paper or notes for his presentation.  All he did give out was a list of the books he has for sale and a list of websites he is personally associated with and/or sells his literature. And in the end question and answer session he didn’t seem to have any kind of answer for Anthony Buzzard’s question of how many Yahweh’s are there if Jesus is Yahweh (If God the Father is Yahweh and Jesus is Yahweh then you have two Yahweh’s – but Scripture says there is only one).
In trying to locate a possible paper of Mr. Trimm’s on this subject, I did see that he posts regularly on what seems to be his main website – nazarenespace.com.  I also ran across quite a few negative web pages out there that speak out against him and accuse him of everything from plagiarism to false academic credentials. So I don’t know what kind of overall opinion to have of Mr. Trimm. I will say that from the length of time he has been involved in the Messianic movement (approx. 20 years or so) and the shear amount of content he has written in various forms – the man seems very dedicated.

#9 The Amazing Abuse of Simple Language to Undermine Jesus’ Creed — Anthony Buzzard

PDF Version of the paper/presentation

Sir Anthony’s second presentation of the conference was another one of his excellent anti-trinity arguments for letting the words that Scripture uses to communicate – mean what they really mean. God chose to communicate with us using simple language, and we should heed that simplicity instead of twisting it and attempting to make it say things it doesn’t.

God has used Scripture to tell us that He is ONE and is alone God, that there were no Gods before Him or after Him – He is the one and only Yahweh.  As children in basic grammar classes we learn that singular personal pronouns are used when referring to a single person.  And this is exactly what the Bible uses in reference to God – singular personal pronouns – thousands of times over and over again. And one in biblical Hebrew means exactly what one in English means.  One is one and does not mean two or three. Other words exist to communicate groups or combinations.  But one still means one.  Yet we humans have taken such simple concepts and created a huge mess out of it by trying to read into it added-on complexities – such as The Trinity.

#10 Let’s Argue With God  —Ken Westby

HTML Version of paper/presentation

The final presentation was the second one on the subject of Open Theism and was given by One God Seminars organizer Ken Westby.  I personally found it interesting that when Ken showed several books on Open Theism, I noticed one of them was a book I just picked up awhile back and am in the process of  reading – Gregory Boyd’s – “God of the Possible – A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God”. And two others were books that I have on my “wish list” to get in the future – John Sanders’ – “The God Who Risks – A Theology of Providence”, and Clark Pinnock’s – “Most Moved Mover – A Theology of God’s Openess”.

Throughout Ken’s presentation, he did a fine job of showing why the “classical” view of God just doesn’t match the Biblical view.  Instead, throughout the pages of Scripture we find a God that chooses to directly involve Himself with His creation and wants a give and take relationship with us.  God is not some static, unchanging being that only follows His own perfect, predestined plan for His universe.  Instead God is a hands-on parent that wants to role-up His sleeves and work with us.

Ken states such with the following: “We will further suggest that God can and does change in response to circumstances and human requests, that He does not know the future perfectly, that the future is partly open and partly set. The biblical record will reveal that we humans have the freedom to affect the future—both our own and God’s.”

Amen to that. I too view God as that loving Father that desires a genuine relationship of love and trust – with a future of working openly with one another. And that is a future to look forward to.

Final Thoughts:

All in all it was a very enjoyable two day seminar, with some very intriguing topics.  I enjoyed each presentation and getting to talk to and visit with many of the presenters.  I look forward to next year’s One God Seminars and encourage each of you to try to attend one in person. I think you too would find the experience enriching to your quest to better know and understand God.

9 Responses to “2009 One God Seminars – a review”

  1. on 24 Jul 2009 at 9:03 amTim

    No audio?

  2. on 24 Jul 2009 at 4:25 pmRon S.

    Well Tim, I didn’t think that any audio was recorded at the event. But after just finding and listening to Ken Westby’s audio recap of the Seminars (similar yet different than my written one above), I heard Ken say in there that he did have MP3 recording of the various presentations. I remember Ken used his cell phone to “broadcast” each speaker live on his ACD phone network, but I didn’t think it was being recorded. But now it seems that it was, so I’ll get in contact with Ken and see if he can either give me copies of the files to post here, or if he is going to post them to his site – I’ll post links to them here.

    You can listen to Ken’s audio or video recap (similar yet different than my written one above) on his site at this link (under 6/20/09 “Report on Dallas Nature of God Seminar–Ken Westby” link). Just skip the first 8 minutes as Ken has some technical issues getting his recording started. And he really doesn’t start giving his recap proper until the 17:20 mark in the recording and lasts till around the 45-50 minute mark.

    Keep checking back as I’ll update the main post here as I get copies of the papers and any audio.

  3. on 26 Jul 2009 at 9:16 amFrank D

    Thanks, Ron. I am waiting eagerly for the audio. Good for long drives.

    One question I have had and trinitarians can’t seem to handle:

    How can God the Father and Jesus be “equal” if one has children and the other doesn’t?

  4. on 26 Jul 2009 at 1:46 pmSean

    Ron,

    Thank you for this excellent summary. I really wish I could have been there this year, but alas I’ve got too much going on this summer with our move to New England.

  5. on 27 Jul 2009 at 7:35 amJohnO

    I do hope to post my paper as a discussion topic (although I am unsure that this is the appropriate venue). I was very sad to miss the conference at the last minute.

  6. on 12 Oct 2010 at 1:21 pmBill Bartholomew

    Hi,
    Is there a scripture index so I can check on what’s been written about Hebrews 1:8 and Psalm 45:6-7?
    Thanks, Bill 559)225-4598

  7. on 12 Oct 2010 at 3:32 pmSean

    Hi Bill. For a general index of resources sorted by Scripture related to Christian monotheism, click here. For specific resources which mention Hebrews 1.8, click here. Here’s my take on it:

    Hebrews 1.8 But of the Son He says, “YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM. (capitalization in NASB used denote OT quotation)

    This text is an example of when an OT verse is brought in to explain why Jesus is superior to the angels. To the angels he said, “who makes his angels winds, and ministers a flame of fire” (Hebrews 1.7) but to the son he said “your throne O God is forever” (Hebrews 1.8). In Hebrews 1.7 the quotation comes from Psalm 97.7 and in Hebrews 1.8 the quotation comes from Psalm 45.6-7. Thus, the author is contrasting two OT texts in order to make the point that the Son is superior to the angels. However, there seems to be a problem because in his zeal to demonstrate that the Son is superior he calls the Son “God.” This dilemma is easily solved once we realize the context of Psalm 45.

    The Psalm speaks of the Davidic king’s marriage to a foreign princess from Tyre. The court poet sings of God’s choice of a king, of his role in establishing God’s rule, and of his splendor as he waits for his bride. The psalmist calls this king (perhaps Solomon) “God” because he represents God as God’s agent to rule over God’s people. The king is not called God in an ultimate sense because, as God, he has a God (see Psalm 45.7 or Hebrews 1.9). So, this Psalm is being applied to Jesus in Hebrews 1.8-9 in order to make the point that he is superior to the angels because he is God’s representative to rule as an anointed one. Besides, if one concluded that Hebrews 1.8 means that Jesus is God, then the Davidic King of Psalm 45.6 is also God, which would make a “Quadity” rather than a Trinity.

  8. on 12 Oct 2010 at 4:13 pmXavier

    Sean

    What’s your present view on Heb 1.10? Would you agree that it is one of the [if not the] toughest text to explain for us Socinians?

    Would appreciate anyone else putting forth their own interpretationl.

  9. on 12 Oct 2010 at 5:36 pmMark C.

    Anthony wrote about Hebrews 1:10 in the November 2006 issue of Focus on the Kingdom:

    http://www.focusonthekingdom.org/92.htm#1

  

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