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This is the fifth post in a moderated debate between Biblical Unitarian Danny Dixon and Trinitarian Marc Taylor. A complete list of posts can be accessed here.

In examining the discussion thus far, I see that I have presented a few points that I do not think Marc has dealt with well, and I will restate them as well as present my final constructive points for the readers’ consideration.

1. Jesus, Uniquely Begotton, Was “With God”

We are discussing whether the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is alone Almighty God. And I do not think that Marc has adequately addressed some of my strongest points. Not the least of them is Jesus’ concession that the Father has given him life. While Marc has cited sources that have provided some opinions of some recognized classic scholars, on this point his commentators have not adequately provided contextual argumentation as to why John 5:26 and 6:57 fail to establish Jesus’ dependence in the absolute sense on having received life from the Father. Fathers generate life, they beget sons. While Marc has not stated it outright, Trinitarians believe, strangely, in a concept called the eternal begettal of the Son of God by the Father. The problem with this is that begettal is a point in time event. There was a moment in the past when Jesus did not exist. Then he did exist and, for a time, he was “with God” John reveals to us under inspiration (John 1:1).

Mark, in his Rebuttal 1b, follows Barnes in saying John 5:26 teaches Jesus role as mediator in raising the dead and judging the world. Neither Barnes nor Marc had a comment on John 6:57 where Jesus says flatly, “I live because of the Father.” And whatever may be the specifics of his role as mediator regarding others, he stressed the personal point in the two passages that he owes his life to the Father. While God had other sons, only Jesus is monogenes (John 1:14, 18). That is he is literally “one of a kind,” “only,” and “unique” among them (J.H.Moulton and G.Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament 416-417). God gave this Son unique existence among all others that he also gave life.

2. Jesus, Named The Word of God (Revelation 19:13), Was “A God”/Divine, who Became Human

C.H. Dodd, who directed the work of the New English Bible translators, from 1950, writes, “‘The Word was a god.’ As a word-for-word translation it cannot be faulted” (“New Testament Translation Problems II,” Bible Translator_28.1[1977]:101-102). In fact, this translation/sense is not only grammatically possible, but grammatically the most natural reading (Other texts with the same grammatical construction are John 8:34: “Everyone who does sin is a slave of sin”; John 8:48: “You are a Samaritan”; John 9:24: “This man is a sinner”; John 1:1 “the word was a god’)
If the word was “a god” (a divine being), then it is natural if not necessary to conclude that “the word” was a personal entity who was “with God” in the beginning. And, if “the word” (who was a divine being) “became flesh” in the man Jesus, the straightforward interpretation is that “the word” actually became flesh (a man). In other words “the word,” ceased being “a god/divine being” and truly “became flesh/human,” not that he became some kind of a divine-human hybrid, or a ‘god-man,’ or a divine being who merely “cloaked himself” in a human “outfit.”

The translation “the word was a god” also harmonizes well with the most likely manuscript reading of John 1:18 that speaks of Jesus as “an only-begotten/unique god” who dwells “in the bosom of the Father.” This is, in fact, the most likely reading A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd Edition, pp. 169-170).

3. John 1:1-18 Harmonizes with Philippians 2:5-11, 2 Corinthians 8:9, and John 17:5

Paul tells us that although Christ was existing in God’s form (or ‘in a god’s form’), he “did not think to snatch at equality with God,” but “emptied himself” and took on “a slave’s form” when he “appeared in the likeness of men.” The text also speaks of a point in time when Christ “found himself in fashion as a man,” a seemingly redundant/nonsensical comment to make about someone who has never been anything but a man. The plain reading of the text indicates that Christ was in one form (God’s form) and took on a different form (a slave’s form) when he “appeared in the likeness of men” and when he “found himself in fashion as a man.” The plain reading also indicates that Christ’s conscious decision not to “snatch at equality with God” (or ‘exploit his likeness to God for his own advantage’) took place before he “appeared in the likeness of men.”

Incidentally, this understanding based on the plain reading perfectly fits Paul’s comments about Jesus in 2 Corinthians 8:9: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” This clearly tells us that Christ had something very valuable that he gave up for our sake. This is just like Paul’s statement to the Philippians: “although he was existing in God’s form (‘he was rich’), he emptied himself, and took on the form of a slave (‘he became poor for our sake’).” In addition, these two texts (Philippians 2:5-11 and 2 Corinthians 8:9) also appear to harmonize wonderfully with Jesus’ statement in John 17:5: “Father, glorify me alongside [para] yourself with the glory I had alongside [para] you before the world was”—language suggesting, again, that Jesus had something valuable at one time that he gave up (See para with the dative of person = by the side of, beside, by with in G. Abbott-Smith, A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, pp. 336-337).

When all these points are kept in mind, Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 8:9 seems like it means: “although Christ was rich (though he ‘had glory’ with God before the world was) he became poor (he emptied himself of his ‘god’ form and took on a slave’s form when he appeared in the likeness of men/and the word1 became flesh) for our sake, so that through his poverty (through his human life, sacrificial service, and ultimate death) we might become rich.”

4. Psalm 110:1The Distinction Between the Messiah (Adoni) and Yahweh

Marc still has not given a satisfactory response to this passage. The teaching of the Psalm is supported by Passages like 1 Timothy 2:5, which among other passages demonstrates the distinction between the exalted man Christ Jesus and the Father. This will become increasingly significant as I try to demonstrate more thoroughly in the latter part of this debate, what I mentioned in my first presentation, namely how a Trinitarian perspective cannot coherently be maintained. Only by recognizing that Jesus is a separate entity from the one who gave him life can we make sense of some very plain biblical texts that become muddled if there are more than one Almighty beings. That Jesus is a separate individual—and I do not mean that in a philosophical sense where, for instance, “person” does not mean individual entities with individual wills that they may choose to offer in harmonious cooperation with another (or not)—that Jesus is a separate individual from the Father who is Almighty God is easily demonstrated.

_____________________

In preparing for this discussion, I have done a lot of reading. I’ve reviewed the first debate that I had with Mark June – October 2006, and I’ve tried to keep up with the most current discussions available on the topic. Two excellent resources that I would recommend, regardless of the position you embrace, are, on the Trinitarian side, Robert Bowman’s and J.E. Komoszewski’s Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ , which reads a lot like Marc in some specific points of argumentation. On the strict monotheist side, see Patrick Navas’ Divine Truth or Human Tradition: A Reconsideration of the Roman Catholic – Protestant Doctrine of the Trinity in Light of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures (That’s really the whole title!). I’ve spent a lot of time talking with Patrick about issues in this discussion, and respect his balance and fair-mindedness immensely (There are differences on the Jesus is not Almighty God side too!), sometimes even embracing perspectives that he tried to provide with equanimity, some of his insights appearing in my share of the present debate.

6 Responses to “2nd Unitarian Constructive (3a)”

  1. on 01 Sep 2010 at 1:56 amMarc Taylor

    Hello Danny,

    I would like to ask you when you think Christ’s existence began?

    Thank you

  2. on 01 Sep 2010 at 10:04 amDanny André Dixon

    Marc:

    Please clarify the question. If you are asking what I think you are asking, as “the Word,” (later fully revealed name being “The Word of God”), as God’s agent of creation, was given life as a divine being before the beginning of the physical universe. So as the Word he made all that came to be.

    Danny

  3. on 01 Sep 2010 at 10:07 amDanny Dixon

    Marc:

    I would like to ask you a question (I know we’ll have five formal ones apiece for the regular debate fields).

    Do you believe in the Eternal Begottenness of the Son of God as do most Trinitarians?

    Danny

  4. on 01 Sep 2010 at 10:36 amDanny Dixon

    Marc:

    Let me clarify in answering your question.

    1. I believe the “Christ” existed formerly as “The Word” “in the beginning” (John 1:1). It was before this beginning that God gave “the Word” life (John 5:26; 6:57) as a “unique” (Greek: monogenes) being who was “one of a kind” as compared with other sons of God (angels).

    2. I take “in the beginning” to mean sometime before the “in the beginning” of Genesis 1:1 when God created the heavens and the earth (the universe).

    3. The Word was existing as “a divine being” or as “a god” for some time “with God” before the beginning, and it is through the agency of the Word that all things that “came to be” (the universe) were made

    Hope this helps. Please ask for clarification if I have been more confusing than I was earlier.

    Respectfully,

    Danny

  5. on 02 Sep 2010 at 4:42 amMarc Taylor

    Hello Danny,

    Yes I believe in the eternal begotteness of the Son of God.

    Thanks for clarifying your position.

    Peace

    Marc

  6. on 03 Sep 2010 at 12:30 amDanny Dixon

    Thank you, Marc for your answer to my question.

    Cordially,

    Danny Andre’

  

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