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September 22, 2009

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Without the Trinity, love is only a nice idea.

How do you argue the trinity to a unitarian?

John, you should check out James White's book, "The Forgotten Trinity." Some of the arguments are summarized on this blog. If you go over to March 2005 and scroll to the bottom, there are four more entries answering objections to the trinity typically raised by unitarians (especially Jehovah's Witnesses).

Hi theologians,

I hope this can be considered on topic. I have a burning need to know.

Jesus is fully man, right?
Does Jesus have a human soul?

RonH

Why does the Trinity matter? For those 3 talking points? Creation, evangelism, and relations? Without a trinity I can make just as much good points from the bible...ask someone from Judaism.

I contend it's really not that important...definitly not as important as Mike just made it sound "Without the Trinity, love is only a nice idea".

How does not having a trinity make one 'less loving'? Beyond me.

Loved RonH's question - was Jesus completely human - complete with a human soul and everything? Answer has to be 'no' if the claim is he was God...or did Jesus have 2 souls...or maybe just one and God doesn't need a soul? How exactly do you find a way around that question?

I am truly confused by this topic as well. I believe every thing else, and I want to believe this because it seems everyone else does. However, it is not in the bible. It is added to the word of God. I don't know how so many references are made to being at the right hand of God, and asking (himself?) for the cup to be taken away from himself? Just starting to read what is posted here. Hope it helps...

ericka, you seem to have the trinity mixed up with modalism. In the Trinity, there are three distinct persons, which is how one can speak to another and interact with each other. And the Trinity is Biblical, as I explained in the blogs I linked to above.

Hi Ron

I think it goes something like this. In him (Jesus) the fullness of deity dwells bodily.

Todd


There's some helpful information to be made use of regarding many of the questions so far, for one, the the Council of Chalcedon declared for the unified visible Church what the scriptures teach men about the God we worship. Here is a link to anyone who'd care to read it.

http://www.lgmarshall.org/Creeds/chalcedon2.html

This isn't an infallible document, but insofar as the multiple hundreds of called men of God who participated in the coucil submitted to the infallible Word, it is authoritative--in other words, orthodox Christian teaching and thought conforms to it. To divert from this historic statement of the Person of Christ is to divert from Christianity and thus fail to worship God in spirit and truth.

>> Jesus is fully man, right?
Does Jesus have a human soul?

No. God inhabited human flesh.

If it helps, think of human dualism, but swap out the soul with god.

No soul is swapped in Jesus' case, however.

Note that James said humans are dualist in nature (Jam. 2:26).

Todd, Agilius,

Thanks for your replies but I still don't know:

Does Jesus have a human soul?

I'm looking for Yes or No.

If this is not a yes or no question, please explain why it is not.

RonH

RonH -- newbie here. I'm confused by your classifying a soul as "human"? I take it your implication is that there are different kinds of souls? In other words, do you mean to contrast a human soul to a divine soul? Or do you mean to say "Does Jesus have a human nature?"

Maybe you could define what you mean by soul?

The fact that Agilius answered your question directly but you dismissed it leads me to think perhaps you two aren't in agreement to terms? Perhaps that's possible?

Thanks,
Mark

Just get to the point Ron. What are you wanting to hear. I'm sure your sitting on a comment or two no matter what we say.... right?

"I'm looking for Yes or No" (Ron)

Agilius answered 'no'. Apparently God was in a human body making him 'not quite human but close' (looked like us basically but was not human as we know).

"To divert from this historic statement of the Person of Christ is to divert from Christianity and thus fail to worship God in spirit and truth." (Brad)

Thanks Brad for clarifying the standard and if we don't agree with it - we aren't seeking God in spirit and truth. Who knew? Judaism is way off I guess.

Doesn't it kind of shock you Judaism doesn't see what that council of bishops see's in Jesus' nature from the tanakh (OT) scriptures? One's gotta ask why?

One's also gotta ask 'since when does Jesus being divine become a voting declaration in a council?'

I admit it's the standard Christian position from 325 forward (and from behind a bit) - but the scriptures say none of that intricate stuff about Jesus these people assume. Find me one scripture where Jesus - or anyone else for that matter - says Jesus is 'Thus Christ was declared as to his deity "consubstantial with the Father," and as to his humanity "consubstantial with us in manhood."'

Consubstantial? With God? With man? So he's 50/50 both and neither one? That sure as heck doesn't make him human as much as I can tell...disclaiming many of the beliefs about him and his 'suffering like us'...cause how can a God-man suffer like a man? Did he have a soul like us? Did he have no clue about the afterlife like us? Was he scared of death? Was he scared of public speaking? Was he tempted by sexual fantasies with women? James also says 'God cannot be tempted'. So I find this all interesting.

>> I'm looking for Yes or No.
>>
>> If this is not a yes or no question, please explain why it is not.

I gave you a yes or no answer, and then I elaborated.

I suspect that you mean to charge this doctrine with being inconsistent with your understanding of what the Bible considers to be "human nature".

The idea being (correct me if I'm wrong), that if part of being human is having both a human soul and a human body, and if god takes the place of the human soul in the body of Jesus, then Jesus lacks the requisite human soul for the designation of human.

But this misses the point, since, in taking on human flesh, Jesus controlled his body in much the same way we do, and his emotions were affected by his body in much the same way ours are. It's in this sense that he's human.

This reminds me of the omnipotence/omniscience argument against god, where it's fairly obvious, upon some reflection, that both these terms were always qualified (e.g. No, god can't know evil in some of the senses humans can; and no, god is not so powerful that he can accomplish illogical feats).

Agilius, a small correction, God not being able to accomplish illogical feats is not a matter of "not being so powerful"; it doesn't involve power at all.

"Agilius answered 'no'. Apparently God was in a human body making him 'not quite human but close' (looked like us basically but was not human as we know)."

RonH is right about this. The Jesus you're describing, Agilius, is not fully human. You're actually (although I'm sure not intentionally) recapitulating the ancient heresy of Apollinarianism. The First Council of Constantinople condemned this heresy for exactly the reason Ron describes above. "What Christ has not assumed He has not healed," the fathers argued. And if Christ had no rational soul, then "the noblest portion of man is excluded from Redemption."

Derek, if it turned out that the Jehovah's Witnesses, or even the secularists, were right and that we had no immaterial aspect to our nature, would that mean that we aren't fully human? The reason I ask is because considering how many people there are who are not substance dualists, but who nevertheless think we are humans, there's obviously no consensus about what a human is, or what is essential to human nature. So where does the idea come from that souls are essential to human nature, or that having a human soul is part of what it means to be human?

RonH,

>>Does Jesus have a human soul?

Yes. He is fully man, and thus has all that a man has, including a soul.

Agilius,

Derek is correct - orthodox Christianity holds that Jesus had a human soul as part of his human nature, which is disctinct from the divine nature that assumed it. Do deny him a human soul is exactly the Apollinarian heresy, which the Council of Chalcedon rejected and the creed enumerated. Apollinarians teach that the uncreated Second Person of the Trinity (the Logos) replaces the rational spirit of teh man Jesus. This amounts to a rejection of the full humanity of Christ (no matter whether you're a dichotomist or a trichotomist in your anthropology), which is unorthodox.

Aaron, if Jesus has both a human soul and a divine soul, and if the soul is the seat of the self, doesn't that imply that Jesus has two selves?

Society, does this count? (I am honestly asking because I dont think I understand your question):

"The Jews answered him [Jesus], saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. John 10:33 "

(The context of this verse implies the Jews understood that a man, was claiming to be the literal Son of God)

"16So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. 17Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." 18For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

(Again, Jesus speaking of heavenly things concerning the Work of His father, who is God, when according to the Jews he was plainly a man, and nothing more)


Theres another verse im looking for in the OT where a prophet sees Jesus among the angels being praised... And he (the prophet) is not sure as to why he was allowed to see this, given his own nasty nature.. In isaiah maybe? I forget. My point would have been to establish his pre-incarnate Divinity.

"5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."

My question for that text would be, then, what would it take for Jesus to truly humble himself? What kind of humility would be required that truly accomplishes Gods plan of salvation?..

Sam,

No, because Christ's human nature is anhypostatic - it has no subsistence or person in and of itself, but instead subsists in the person of the Logos for the sake of the incarnation. That anhypostatic (non-self-subsitent) human nature receives its personality in the personality of the Logos, and only in the Logos - it is never a free-standing thing. This is called enhypostasis.

The hypostatic union is a well-worked-out account of the God-man, but requires a fair amount of precision and time invested to grapple with and understand. Related to your question are such issues as, "Does Christ have a single self-consciousness or two?" or "Does Christ have one will or two (the divine and human)?" These questions have been worked out and answered by the church over time, and I'm convinced that the conclusions that were reached are the best we have. However, it's not easy stuff, I'll grant you.

There are a whole host of concepts and terminology that undergird these Christological formulations, so when other concepts like "seat of the self" or "divine soul" are introduced to the conversation, it is important to clearly define what is meant by that and how that concept relates to the others in play.

If I could guess at what you're getting at, I would say that the notion of a "divine soul" is incorrect, if "soul" is understood in the classical sense of a created rational spirit. Once terms start getting redefined, philosophical havoc tends to be the result.

There just isn't space in a combox to lay out a fully developed Christology, so I would encourage you to read a systematic theology text or two on the issue to get a better handle of what I've been (probably unsuccessfully) trying to communicate.

Grace & peace,
Aaron

Aaron, do you have a recommendation for me on what I should read? There was a time when I thought I had a good grasp on the incarnation, but lately I've begun to see there's some things I don't understand.

"The context of this verse implies the Jews understood that a man, was claiming to be the literal Son of God" (Tallgeese - on John 10)

Actually tallgeese if you read that whole chapter very carefully you will find the idea of messiah is what they were debating - and for some odd reason the writer has the messianic ideal mixed with being 'god'. This is not actually original Jewish theology on the messianic vision.

John 10:24 "The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, "How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly"

That there is the question that starts the whole conversation in John 10...about being the 'messiah' (Christ being a greek word for that term). It seems the writer has Jewish people debating about Christ being God in John - when the idea of such a thing was never present in their religion. I dare you to go read and find out...and you might find this close connection between messiah being equal to God never existed. It does reveal an agenda by the writer - and some theological confusion about the what Jewish people understood about the messiah...which is prevelant throughout John.

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped"

I am not sure what version that is - but let's see the New American Standard on the same passage:

"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped" (Phil 2:5-6)

Form vs nature of? Interesting translations to say the least.

Nonetheless, by the NASV if we follow that path completely out - it says 'existed in the form of God' (perhaps as a representative of God but not God). Which makes a lot sense when you think this same person 'did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped' - which makes a lot of sense for a Jewish messiah.


The question “Did Jesus have a human soul?” cannot be answered “yes” or “no.” It assumes the term “human soul” is clearly defined. It is not. Here's why:

One of the OT Hebrew words translated as “soul” is nephesh. This word is not even confined to humans:
Gen. 2:7 “...and man became a living soul.”
Gen 1:20 & 24 “...living creatures”

Another word that might be considered almost equivalent is "ruach,” translated as spirit, breath, or wind:
Gen. 1:2 “...Spirit of God”
Gen. 6:17 “...the breath of life.”
Gen. 8:1 “...a wind...”

Since we can't exactly define what a human soul is, it is difficult to say if Jesus had one.

At least one attribute of "soulness" is to have the breath of life--to be a living, breathing being with a physical body. The Bible emphasizes that Jesus was a living person with a human body--not a spirit-being that only seemed to be alive in the physical sense. I think this is to demonstrate him as fully human and that he therefore experienced life the same as every other human experiences it.

Now, to those who wonder how Jesus could be "fully human" and "fully God" at the same time, I offer an analogy:

Consider a flying car. It is fully a car and fully a plane at the same time. This doesn't mean it operates as a car and airplane at the same time, but that it has within it all the elements that define a car and an airplane simultaneously.

The flying car is not a car OR a plane; it is both.
Jesus is not God OR man; he is both.

This analogy is not perfect, but it serves to show how something can fully be two different things at the same time.

Sure, Sam - I typically prefer older systematics, since I think they operate at a high level of sophistication that is often lacking in more modern works. I come from a more Reformed perspective, so I'd recommend Shedd or Berkhoff - the former, I think, is better as far as clarity and precision, and attention to philosophical considerations but with a strong biblical basis. And you can't get much more rigorous treatment than Turretin. Both Shedd and Turretin really deal with the philosophical side of the Incarnation and hypostatic union, but Shedd's probably the easier and clearer read of the two.

BTW, it's not all philosophical speculation and systematization that undergirds these creedal conclusions - Scripture really does give us the building blocks when it talks about how Christ became "flesh" (John 1:14) and has a humanity like ours "in all things" yet without sin (Heb 2:14, 17; Rom 8:3). But the philosophical considerations help us form a theology consistent with itself.

Anyway, hope this helps!

>> The First Council of Constantinople condemned this heresy for exactly the reason Ron describes above. "What Christ has not assumed He has not healed," the fathers argued. And if Christ had no rational soul, then "the noblest portion of man is excluded from Redemption."

First, let me say that I'm going to be hashing this out with some people, in the interest of remaining orthodox. I will say that I believe Jesus had to be human in order to save humanity, to be sure.

Second, the First Council of Constantinople, or anyone else, will ultimately need to be compared with the Bible, such that the Bible is the final arbiter. It's not enough to point to councils and church fathers.

Third, the proposed "rational soul" seems to prove too much, since that would require a second person other than the Second Person of the Trinity.

Anyway, I will be looking into this, so as to avoid heresy. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

I am not educated in theology but may I ask this: Gen 2:7 says "God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Thus as I understand it, man was formed from the union of a physical body and a spirit which was placed inside it by God. The union of body and spirit produced a soul according to this King James verse i.e. "man became a living soul". So in the case of Christ a specially prepared body was inhabited by the second Person of the Trinity. So, His union with this body should likewise have produced a soul manking Him completely Human but also remaining completely God - not so?

Societyvs,
Love either eternally existed right along with God, (Trinity), or it was something that God came up with after or as He created. A unitary God could not have "experienced" love until he created. The Trinity (Godhead) is perfect love in perfect unity ETERNALLY! Would you not agree that apart from the Trinity, love is not nearly as significant?

At least it wouldn't be eternal. If you compare two things. One is eternal and one is not. Then the eternal one would naturally be more significant than the other is all I'm saying.

"Would you not agree that apart from the Trinity, love is not nearly as significant?" (Mike)

Actually Mike I wouldn't agree. The Jewish people still hold to the notion of God is One..and is loving by nature...and they base this on the OT alone. So I am not sure why the Trinity has to exist for love to be 'greater' when we have a perfect example of how this works monotheistically.

It should also be noted - God has a court according to Judaism and on passages with Genesis 1. Who is in that court - possibly the other created beings God loves - angels. Humans actually seem to be created after them.

Maybe God just is love with our without creation whatsoever?

>> So I am not sure why the Trinity has to exist for love to be 'greater' when we have a perfect example of how this works monotheistically.

The doctrine of the Trinity entails Monotheism.

Also, the OT teaches (to some degree, at least), that there were multiple "persons" [floabw] in the Godhead (e.g. gen. 1:26 ("us"); prov. 30:4 ("his son").

Hi Agilius, you make a good and necessary point toward defense of the true Christian doctrine, even in the OT scriptures. I believe this url:
http://against-heresies.blogspot.com/2008/11/implicit-or-explicit-doctrine-of.html

makes the case that the OT is sufficiently clear on its doctrine of God. In other words, the OT makes clear references that 1)there is only ONE God. 2)there are 3 distinct Persons called God, and 3)that each of the Persons are fully God.

Hi Societyvs, do you submit to the authority of the revealed Word of God? [The Bible]

"The doctrine of the Trinity entails Monotheism" (Agilius)

I would claim it actually doesn't entail Monotheism - but a dualism alone - a father and son (2 seperate personalities).

"Also, the OT teaches (to some degree, at least), that there were multiple "persons" [floabw] in the Godhead (e.g. gen. 1:26 ("us"); prov. 30:4 ("his son")." (Agilius)

Well, to no degree actually (I would claim this confidently). Gen 1:26 is agreed to not include the 'trinity' in most educated Christian circles based on the Hebrew (including the NIV bible saying this). And proverbs 30:4 proves not a hell of a lot...it's rhetorical questioning by the author.

"makes the case that the OT is sufficiently clear on its doctrine of God. In other words, the OT makes clear references that 1)there is only ONE God. 2)there are 3 distinct Persons called God, and 3)that each of the Persons are fully God." (Brad)

Do you know anything about Christianity's fore-runner - Judaism? They seem fairly adamant the OT contains only the idea God is One. I tend to believe Hebrew scholars personally.

"Hi Societyvs, do you submit to the authority of the revealed Word of God? [The Bible]" (Brad)

I do.

Societyvs,

>>I would claim it actually doesn't entail Monotheism - but a dualism alone - a father and son (2 seperate personalities).

Hmmm...Could you state the doctrine of the Trinity as you understand it, please?

"Hmmm...Could you state the doctrine of the Trinity as you understand it, please?" (Aaron)

I don't think the trinity exists first off. God is God alone - for me there is only One God - that seems pretty clear from Exodus 20 to me.

The trinity to explain God within Christian circles is actually at least seperate people/personalities (making it 2 seperate people) and add in the Holy Spirit for some odd reason (but no one actually prays to this aspect of supposed deity).

Here's the problem:

(a) The Holy Spirit appears in the Tanakh a handful of times and never did Judaism ever see those times as 'another personage of God'. Jesus never even states such babble - just the Holy Spirit eminates from God (kind of like God being a Spirit you know).

(b) Jesus and the Father are uniquely different and when the trinity is actually discussed this is always perfectly clear (father and a son). They are in fact 2 different people - it's clear in scripture. For example, when God speaks audibly to Jesus at his baptism - well there's one in the sky and one being baptized (seperate and unique from one another). To think they are the same is basically ignoring events like that.

Is it possible the trinity is a made up doctrine? For some 1200 years prior Judaism never dreamed of such a possibility nor saw the exception within their scriptures. God is One - if He is not One - He is breaking His own word.

For people that dare think this is not important - do people truly understand that Judaism has embraced this position in faces of many persecutions and within their own exiles? This position has never changed and never will - God seems to stick to this and it was His first piece in the 10 commandments (as uber important). This idea alone has helped Judaism remain the longedt reigning monotheistic religion on the planet.

Societyvs,

Ah, I see the problem! You don't know what the Trinity is.

You seem to be objecting to the view called Tri-theism, which is not what Trinitarianism teaches. The doctrine of the Trinity is monotheistic - it teaches that there is only one God, not three separate gods.

Are you interested is finding out what the doctrine of the Trinity actually teaches? It's not what you've represented here, and hence your objections to it miss the mark.

"Ah, I see the problem! You don't know what the Trinity is" (Aaaron)

I know what the Trinity teaches - I do have a bachelor of theology - that's actually not the problem

"The doctrine of the Trinity is monotheistic - it teaches that there is only one God, not three separate gods." (Aaron)

I don't care what people say the trinity is - question is is it true and does it stand up under biblical scrutiny? No. Because as nice as the definitions used for the trinity are - they are absolutely unbiblical and have no basis from within the texts...not helping the situation...muddying it.

You see - the claim is 3 is 1. That's impossible - numerically. Yet this is the wild claim people like to think merits reasonability. There is nothing logical about the idea 3 and 1 are the same number in some way.

The bible sure doesn't back this claim - only early Christian communities seeking to make the messiah God back this claim developed arguements of how this all worked and co-existed...and even they could barely come to some rational concensus (and it still sucked as an explanation).

Top that off, the Holy Sprit should have nothing to do with this debate one iota - most people ignore this 'personality' as God anyways. Why it is is even included is quite beyond my biblical reasoning skills. To me it's God working in the lives of people - like the 'Spirit' God is claimed to be...no 3rd person - 1st person and their own emanations to humanity.

So Aaron, you tell me what the trinity is and why it makes sense to have 3 = 1? I think it's really 2=1 but I am willing to set that aside to hear how you defend that claim?

Societyvs,

>>I know what the Trinity teaches - I do have a bachelor of theology - that's actually not the problem

But you have not yet stated it correctly or demonstrated that you do understand it, even in your most recent comments.

>>I don't care what people say the trinity is - question is is it true and does it stand up under biblical scrutiny?

But you need to care what people say the Trinity is if you're going to determine if it's true or not. I could ask you if you believe in "pharglnox" and you'd have to know what I meant by "pharglnox" to know whether or not you did too. So the first question MUST be "What is it?" before the SECOND question - "Is it true?" - can even be answered. Does that make sense? Your (at this point) seeming refusal to work to understand what we mean by "Trinity" makes you - at least at this point - inelligible to offer any meaningful critique. The objections you've raised so far are based on a misunderstanding of the Trinity.

>Because as nice as the definitions used for the trinity are - they are absolutely unbiblical and have no basis from within the texts...not helping the situation...muddying it.

What definitions? Again, you haven't demonstrated that you know the definitions (actually, there's only one) you here dismiss as "unbiblical."

>>You see - the claim is 3 is 1. That's impossible - numerically. Yet this is the wild claim people like to think merits reasonability. There is nothing logical about the idea 3 and 1 are the same number in some way.

...and the doctrine of the Trinity does NOT say that 3 and 1 are the same number, nor does it say that the 3 Persons are 1 Person. You think the claim is wild because you don't understand the claim we are making.

>>The bible sure doesn't back this claim - only early Christian communities seeking to make the messiah God back this claim developed arguements of how this all worked and co-existed...and even they could barely come to some rational concensus (and it still sucked as an explanation). [sic]

That's an interesting, if less-than-accurate, view of history. It was not that some early Christian communities wanted to make Jesus God and so invented the Trinity as a way of doing so. Rather, the early church had to make sense of 3 rather strong biblical teachings, or three classes of texts:

1) There is one God.

2) The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all fully God.

3) The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are simulatneously distinguished as persons.

Trinitarian doctrine was developed to explain these biblical ideas and how they work together.

>>Top that off, the Holy Sprit should have nothing to do with this debate one iota - most people ignore this 'personality' as God anyways. Why it is is even included is quite beyond my biblical reasoning skills.

Really? Have you read John 14 & 15 recently, specifically 14:16-17

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth . . .”

or 14:26

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name,…”

or 15:26

“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me.”

>>To me it's God working in the lives of people - like the 'Spirit' God is claimed to be...no 3rd person - 1st person and their own emanations to humanity.

The above verses don't sound like they're just talking about the power of the Father working in people, do they? (Personal pronouns, etc.)

>>So Aaron, you tell me what the trinity is and why it makes sense to have 3 = 1? I think it's really 2=1 but I am willing to set that aside to hear how you defend that claim?

Fair enough, I'll spell it out plain for ya. The doctrine of the Trinity could be stated thus: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three eternal Persons who equally share one infinite, undivided divine nature. In other words, within the one Being of God there exist three coeternal and cosubstantial Persons - God is an eternal, infinite, necessary, independent, self-existent, immaterial Being that simultaneously subsists in three personal modes, and each of the divine persons coinhere in each other.

There is language in that definition that must be properly understood for the definition to make sense, such as "being" or "nature" or "subsistence" or "coinherence" language. A popular way of simplifying it is to say that God is one "what" and three "whos" - He is one in regards to his being or nature, and three in regards to his modes or persons.

This is why the doctrine of the Trinity does not violate a rule of logic. The logical violation your "3=1" characterization implies is of the law of non-contradiction - a thing cannot be both A and non-A at the same time and in the same sense. Applied here, that works out to, "God cannot be both 3 and 1 at the same time and in the same sense." But trinitarianism specifically says that He is not three in the same sense as He is one - He is one in regards to Being and three in regards to Person. The only way for there to be a contradiction is to mischaracterize the formulation as you have (e.g., 3 persons = 1 person, or 3 beings = 1 being).

I am not inventing my own definition here. I am merely using the definition that was worked out over 1600 years ago and has been used ever since by orthodox Christians. Do you see how your objections have consistently misrepresented what the Trinity is?

Look, I'm not trying to convince you that the Trinity is either biblical or true, at least at this point. My goal right now is much more modest. I'm trying to help you understand what the Trinity is, and to disabuse you of your bad objections against it. Once you understand what classical Christianity means by "Three in One" we can have a decent conversation about the merits of the doctrine itself, and whether it is biblical and true.

“But you have not yet stated it correctly or demonstrated that you do understand it, even in your most recent comments” (Aaron)

I don’t understand it because it makes no sense. Here are Kevin’s 7 points again as an explanation about the trinity:

“The doctrine of the Trinity can be summarized in seven statements. (1) There is only one God. (2) The Father is God. (3) The Son is God. (4) The Holy Spirit is God. (5) The Father is not the Son. (6) The Son is the not the Holy Spirit. (7) The Holy Spirit is not the Father” (Kevin DeYoung)

Let’s do the very simple reasoning here based on the 7 points presented:

1 God = Father + Son + Holy Spirit

The sub-context to this makes it even more illogical – none of the 3 are actually the same exact person (according to points 5 – 7).

There is nothing illogical about what I am claiming – as unbelievable as you think it is – I see 3 people counted under the terminology for a ‘single/One’ God. I also see that these 3 beings are not the ‘same’. The claim seems to be simple: God is all 3 people (but still one) and the three are not the same person – yet God. Isn’t that gods?

I am not sure how you take 3 passages from the book of John and make the Holy Spirit into another person of God – when nothing of the like is exactly stated there. Jesus could of spared us all this debate with something simple as ‘the Holy Spirit is the 3rd person in the God-hood’. But these kind of saying do not exist anywhere in the texts – and likely for good reason – no one was thinking them. I see the term ‘helper’ (not God) and the ‘spirit of truth’ (again not God) as titles of this phenomenon – nothing more. Oddly enough Eve in Genesis is also called a ‘helper’ – are we also to think women are more of God than men because of this ‘term’?

Top it off, that term – Holy Spirit – is used handfuls of time in the OT…and not once did some Jewish sect come to observance of this phenomenon as another distinct personage of God. Never occurred to a people group that uses Torah as its basis that God was more than ‘One’. And the term itself is a great explainer – Holy Spirit – the spirit of holiness perhaps? Holiness belonging to God. The Spirit that emanates from God?

Or as Judaism might put it “The Rabbinic “Holy Spirit,” has a certain degree of personification, but it remains, “a quality belonging to God, one of his attributes” and not, as in Christianity, representative of “any metaphysical divisions in the Godhead” (Wikipedia – from a Jewish encyclopedia)

So the Holy Spirit is dealt with.

“The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three eternal Persons who equally share one infinite, undivided divine nature.” (Aaron)

You may not call this a ‘numbers’ game but it obviously is. You have 3 eternal people all sharing the same nature…easily put 3 in 1. So discredit my argument – but any kid that read your sentence there would see what I am seeing. Or as you have more clearly stated it:

“He is one in regards to Being and three in regards to Person.” (Aaron)

I see a ‘1’ and a ‘3’ again…fronting as a ‘1’. Now it is obvious God is One – no one is debating the essence of God’s being. But once you claim God is three in regards to ‘persons’ – then how can you claim God is ‘1’ anymore? The three persons are easily separated from one another and unique.

Now one can say they have a child – which is of the same dna as the 2 parents – which is a 3 in 1. However, no one person on this planet would then claim that kid is exactly them – same person as themselves – in being and personage. The kid is unique…true?

And that’s the real problem with the trinity – because that is exactly what the biblical writers seemed to have thought as they wrote of the ‘virgin birth’. We have God, Mary, and then the birth of Jesus. We get God and humanity all wrapped up in Jesus (the child). Does this make Jesus the same as God? The same as Mary? And do you have grown children?

“Do you see how your objections have consistently misrepresented what the Trinity is?” (Aaron)

Obviously I am way off. I just skipped all the prior stuff because I didn’t know it needed to be re-hashed – but guess I was wrong.

In the history of the Church, the Bride of Christ, [the beloved of Jesus], Who sent the Holy Spirit to guide her and lead her into all truth, the orthodox Christian doctrine of God is as Aaron and others have so far defended. It seems that according to Societyvs, all of those called ones described in Ephesians 4 given to build and mature the Church have blown it on this doctrine. Whats worse, the Holy Spirit has failed. I have no patience for this kind of obstinate solo scripturalism.

The historic creeds and confessions are there to help avoid this type of abberation. They are authoritative for reproof and discipline within the umbrella of "orthodoxy". In other words, one is not a Christian who denies historic Christian doctrines that the historic creeds and confessions have clarified and defended.

At this point Societyvs, I would suggest that you use your demonstrated Bible knowledge and Bible study and mix it with a little humility as you consider that God has indeed instructed the body of Christ and that where the visible Church has come together and councils/synods/assemblies have stated the position of orthodoxy, that you submit. To so violently stray from what is a central doctrine puts you in a dangerous place--one outside of worshipping God in spirit and truth.

"all of those called ones described in Ephesians 4 given to build and mature the Church have blown it on this doctrine. Whats worse, the Holy Spirit has failed. I have no patience for this kind of obstinate solo scripturalism." (Brad)

So we are still going to play a numbers game? Now because the majority of people from within the inner church that defined these statements (confessions) are right because of 'time' 'place' and 'amount of support'?

As for the Holy Spirit failing - I doubt that...I just don't doubt human pride and invention.

Brad what you fail to realize I am not taking a single thing out of context here - it's scriptural and it's brutally honest. Puts me in the extreme minority within Christian circles - but not in Judaic ones. Do you believe your faith was handed down to you from the roots of Judaism?

"The historic creeds and confessions are there to help avoid this type of abberation" (Brad)

But of the creeds are wrong they are not to be followed. When the Tanakh tells me God is alone/One (Exodus 20) and then a creed tells me God is 3 in 1 (what scripture mentions trinity?) - I have to look at that claim a hell of a lot closer. Fact is, nowhere in the whole bible will you find that term 'trinity' used and explained. However, the opposite is not true - I look for the idea of One God I can find it and it's well mentioned.

"use your demonstrated Bible knowledge and Bible study and mix it with a little humility..." (Brad)

Why do I need humility - because I don't agree with this orthodox doctrine? Do we serve a Living God or a 'fall in line' human metality? Just because I do not agree does not make me 'proud'...I am being beyond reasonable with what I am presenting.

I wanna state something here - you know what got Israel thrown into Babylonian exile? Towing the line did. The groups around them served a variety of gods and many people within the Jewish camps started to also do so (peer pressure lets call it). Meanwhile, God stated He was One - nothing more. That terminology is that serious of a term - that it got people thrown in exile, they lost their land and were ruled, and people under Moses were killed for that action (ie: golden calf). I don't think I am going too far overboard by standing up for the idea God is One.

"To so violently stray from what is a central doctrine puts you in a dangerous place--one outside of worshipping God in spirit and truth." (Brad)

Is it me that is standing in this 'dangerous place'? It is me worshipping outside of the 'spirit of truth'? You would have me go right against the ideas of Exodus 20 - where God clearly states there is 'no one beside/before Him' and no one has ever seen 'God's image'. I have to land on the side of Judaism with this one - because the alternative is idolatry.

Trinitarianism implies monotheism, for the simple reason that it is the conjunction of 7 claims (see Kevin's article for that), the first of these 7 claims is monotheism.

So there's really no argument that can be made to the contrary on that. No amount of appealing to OT (or NT) passages that assert monotheism can count as evidence against Trinitarianism. Instead, it counts as evidence for Trinitarinaism

What might be argued is that Trinitarianism is inconsistent thus Societyvs:

"1 God = Father + Son + Holy Spirit"

This is supposed, somehow, to prove that Trinitarianism implies that 3=1.

Obviously, it does nothing of the sort. Consider this:

My daughter has one father.

My father has one son.

My wife has one husband.

Father, son and husband are not the same. But behold:

WisdomLover is the one father.
WisdomLover is the one son.
WisdomLover is the one husband.

Yet there are not three WisdomLovers, but one WisdomLover.

This is not a perfect analogy, but at least it should get us past the 3=1 silliness.

But is the Trinity biblically supported? Well. There are 7 claims. Each has substantial biblical support. The most well supported is surely the claim of monotheism.

The second best supported claim is the Deity of Christ...Scripture identifies Christ with YHWH again and again. Many Christians believe that when they see "The LORD" in the OT, they should think of the Father. There are many more passages to suggest that they should think of Christ. (In fact, there are more passages to suggest that they should think of the Holy Spirit than there are to suggest that they should think of the Father.)

The weakest Scriptural support probably involves the distinction of the Persons. There is no doubt that Scripture refers to the Father as doing one definable category of things, the Son as doing another, and the Spirit as doing yet another. What one might take issue with is whether Scripture teaches that these three distinct aspects of God are essential to His nature (though, really, you won't get far with that either).

But the question arises whether Trinitarianism was an innovation of Chistianity. Thus Societyvs again:

"Top it off, that term – Holy Spirit – is used handfuls of time in the OT…and not once did some Jewish sect come to observance of this phenomenon as another distinct personage of God."

With all due respect, how on earth can anyone know that? What we do know is that Judaism today does not endorse a Trinity in the Godhead. But what past Jews and other children of Israel held to be the case is far from a settled question. The best you can really say for your view that they did not hold Trinitarian views (or views that imply Trinitarianism) is that it's anyone's guess.

But we do know that God is referred to throughout the OT as Elohim. This is a plural form, yet the verb with it is always singular (unless the author is referring to the many false gods). With the exception of mass terms, such a construct (plural subject, singular verb) is not used in any other connection in the OT. For all I know, this may reflect proto-trinitarian views, or even full trinitarian views. It does, at the very least, suggest that there is something oddly plural about God.

Caiaphas and the other priests of Jesus time might have been Trinitarians. Indeed, the priests' gripe with Jesus is that he made himself equal to YHWH-God, and they found that dangerous. Why would they find Christ's claims dangerous, if they held flat-monotheistic views? I mean, that would be like a man claiming to be Middle-C or the Planet Jupiter. On flat-monotheistic grounds, it is a category error of monumental proportions to claim to be God. The reason the Jews were angry at Jesus wasn't because they viewed his claim to be YHWH-God as silly and impossible. It was because they viewed it as possible, but believed it to be false.

“Trinitarianism implies monotheism…” (Wisdomlover)

Actually no it doesn’t…it implies 3 (tri) within the One. Monotheism imples just One (Mono). The terms are very different – even linguistically.

“No amount of appealing to OT (or NT) passages that assert monotheism can count as evidence against Trinitarianism. Instead, it counts as evidence for Trinitarinaism” (Wisdomlover)

Huh? You have to be aware Judaism has never accepted nor taught this claim of Trinitarianism in it’s long elaborated and recorded history? So for you to claim appeals to the OT go to prove nothing – is way off basis – according to simple wisdom. See chart below:

Judaism follows OT = Monotheism only (not trinity)

Christianity follows NT – Trinitarianism only (no monotheism)

If a Christian were to claim God is mono (One) theism (God) alone – this would be ridiculed and re-checked in Christian circles to make sure it included the ‘trinity’ (a mass redefinition of monotheism which doesn’t ‘add up’). Judaism has never accepted this claim – even when Christians were persecuting them in times past – they’d rather die at the hands of the condemners than say anything like that. They even were willing to die in horrific numbers when Antiochus Epiphanes tried something like this in 167 BC. That’s a whole 160 years prior to Jesus and some 220+ years prior to Paul authoring anything at all. All this for One God?

“To consolidate his empire and strengthen his hold over the region, Antiochus decided to Hellenize the Jews by outlawing Judaism and by ordering the worship of Zeus as the supreme god” (Wiki – Antiochus Epiphanes)

Of worthy note, Epiphanes also considered himself God at one point and appointed a priest to the Temple. So it wasn’t only the Zeus thing Jewish people were outraged at – but the audacity of this human to control the worship of God (which Epiphanes considered himself).

“My daughter has one father/My father has one son/My wife has one husband” (Wisdomlover)

Here is wisdom…are these 3 people separate people or the same person with different titles? I know God has many titles in the Tanakh – known in many ways by various generations. Still the same One God though.

“The second best supported claim is the Deity of Christ...Scripture identifies Christ with YHWH again and again” (Wisdomlover)

Within the NT perhaps – but even then it is pretty obvious they have an agenda when one reads something like John are the passages Paul asserts such a claim. This explains a dualism that I think may have been believed in Gentiles communities of early Christianity – but find me where the Holy Spirit has this claim made about him? It doesn’t exist – we have to infer that claim into the passages. As for the claim to divinity to Jesus there is maybe 2 or 3 concrete passages making this claim – and even they are muddied in what seems to be the idea the Christ had to be God (a claim Judaism also has never held).

“With all due respect, how on earth can anyone know that?” (Wisdomlover)

Do you think Christians are the only religious group recording history? Judaism has an elaborate and well known history pre-dating many Christian writers – including the Tanakh – the Christians use as their reasoning for the claim to the NT having scriptural meaning (they derive this sense of authority from the OT).

“But what past Jews and other children of Israel held to be the case is far from a settled question” (Wisdomlover)

It’s a very settled question – Judaism has never for some 3200+ years accepted that God is more than One. There is not a single writing within Judiasm supporting such a claim. Have you ever read the OT? These people were exiled for breaking this belief – this was not an option to break according to the scriptures. In fact, if you check, almost every single bad thing that happens to Israel in the Tanakh is related to breaking that one single idea…God is One.

“For all I know, this may reflect proto-trinitarian views, or even full trinitarian views. It does, at the very least, suggest that there is something oddly plural about God.” (Wisdomlover)

No it doesn’t…nowhere in Judaism is this argument for Elohim being used. The Trinity idea wouldn’t have even entered a Jewish mind (thanks to Exodus 20) because of scripture but also because the trinity didn’t come about until way after the Tanakh texts were finished (some 400 years for sure). So I can pretty much clearly state Judaism never mentioned this in their texts – and no rabbi’s since have pulled that ‘plualism’ out of it’s meaning. The trinity is a Gentiles construct – let that be known – based in Greco-Roman philosophical argumentation.
“The reason the Jews were angry at Jesus wasn't because they viewed his claim to be YHWH-God as silly and impossible. It was because they viewed it as possible, but believed it to be false.” (Wisdolover)

It’s stuff like this that convinces me there was clearly an agenda at work at the tail end of these gospels and for sure in John. Jewish people have never held the view God was more than ‘one person’…namely a human for that matter…which Roman Rulers in that time claimed BTW. This was absolutely anathema to think or even consider – since God gave them His identity – He is One.

The fact you see this in the gospels and then believe Judaism must have somehow supported such a claim about the messiah and a human shows your lack of knowledge of Judaism – in this or that era. Judaism would have never made such a claim since it is a foreign idea to their culture/religion…from the day they are born God is One…again as children ‘God is One’ in the Shema…and again in Exodus and in the Prophets as they continue to learn. God is never a human and God is never more than One…these are pretty concrete ideas in Judaism…which is solely based on the OT.

What we have here is a failure to communicate…It makes more sense Christianity invented this viewpoint based on the virgin birth alone. The virgin birth being a simple religious construct of their day and time…found in a variety of Gentile religions of the era (usually to signify importance of a person). In this case, God becomes a human through a woman. It’s actually more plausible they constructed this idea within their scriptures than Judaism believed any of that kind of stuff…way more plausible.

Once again, the doctrine of the Trinity is a conjunction of 7 propositions. The first of these propositions is that there is exactly one God (monotheism). Therefore, the doctrine of the Trinity implies Monotheism.

The form of the argument here is straighforward:

Premise: A is true, and so are B, C, D, E, F and G.

Conclusion: A is true.

Any evidence for the truth A of is ipso facto evidence for the truth of the conjunction of A through G. Obviously, any such evidence will typically be only partial (B through G would usually require their own evidence as well). But no amount of evidence for the truth of A can ever count as evidence against the conjunction of A with B through G.

These remarks hold no matter what A through G are.

Let A be Monotheism and B through G be the other 6 claims of the doctrine of the Trinity, and the case is proven. That is: Trinitarianism implies Monotheism.

Let us move now to my Father/Son/Husband example.

"…are these 3 people separate people or the same person with different titles? I know God has many titles in the Tanakh – known in many ways by various generations. Still the same One God though."

You do realize, SVS, that I lifted the wording of my example directly from the Athanasian Creed (the definitive expression of Trinitarian doctrine)? You do realize that the terms "The Father", "The Son" and "The Holy Spirit" (and "God" for that matter) are title terms. So I'm not sure why you think that your identification of "Father", "Son" and "Husband" as titles somehow vitiates the point of the example in which they are used. Instead, it underscores the fact that I've got a pretty good analogy going. The example was meant to prove that the language of the Athanasian Creed is perfectly consistent. And it succeeds in doing so.

The upshot of this is that since Monotheism is part of Trinitarianism, and Trinitarianism is consistent, there can be no argument against Trinitarianism simply from Monotheism.

Now let us move to the views of the Ancient Hebrews. Your arguments on this front simply show that Jews have been committed Monotheists for 3200 years (I'd say more like 2500 years, since they were constantly flirting with idolatry between the Exodus and the Deportation.)

The response to this is simple. Since, as already proven, Trinitarians are also committed Monotheists, this body of arguments proves exactly nothing.

To put it another way, the argument isn't about the number of Gods. All parties agree on that. The argument is about the nature of the One God.

On the larger point of Ancient belief, remember, my claim was fairly weak: that we don't know what pre-Christian Jews and Hebrews believed about this issue. Though there are some suggestive lines of the OT and some very suggestive actions by 1st century priests.

But you claim to know what pre-Christian Jews believed. So it is up to you now to prove that point. Can you produce Hebrew writings that pre-date Christ that claim that the One God does not have a nature that is expressed in multiple persons?

Finally, the deity of Christ.

"there [are] maybe 2 or 3 concrete passages making this claim – and even they are muddied in what seems to be the idea the Christ had to be God"

You'll find Jesus being identified with YHWH within the first two chapters of 3 of the 4 Gospels (Matthew, Mark and John).

Consider Mark. Many scholars tell us that Mark is the earliest. In Mark 1, the author describes John the Baptizer as the voice crying to prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness. The passage makes it crystal clear that the Lord that John is preparing the way for is Jesus.

But the voice was crying in the OT as well.

In the Isaiah 40, the voice crying said to prepare the way of YHWH in the wilderness. The author of Mark thus identifies Jesus as YHWH.

(BTW, there are actually quite a few passages where the NT author quotes an OT passage to describe Jesus, but when you look at the OT passage, it's describing YHWH. There's a similar case that proves the full deity of the Spirit, where Job describes the Spirit breathing life into man, but Genesis 2 describes YHWH as doing that)

The full deity of Christ, therefore, is not a later addition, but present in the earliest book in the NT canon (expressed by an unsophisticated 1st century author).

Hi Societyvs, you are arguing that those who crucified the Lord had it right about who God is. This is an embarassing position for a supposed Christian to hold. Even though the labor WisdomLover has provided in aptly answering you is significant, the formulation of the Creeds which have stood as the standard for orthodoxy are more precise and reliable. What's more, they are scripturally sound lest you make another charge that scripture trumps creeds--which we all who're orthodox believe. In fact, insofar as the creeds reflect what scripture says, they *are* speaking God's word.

Dismissing the Nicene, Athanasian, and Chalcedonian creeds causes you to stray from Christian thought. The Athanasian Creed actually says that it is essential to acknowledge the truth of the Trinity to be called Christian. Societyvs, at this point, from what you stated, you are more a Jew in your theological system than Christian. With what you know to be true, would you be inclined to call out "crucify him"? In other words, are you missing Him while being bathed in His word? Sadly, I think so.

"Even though the labor WisdomLover has provided in aptly answering you is significant, the formulation of the Creeds...are more precise and reliable."

Brad-

I hope that nothing I said made you think that I opposed the creeds or even thought I could do better in expressing the doctrine.

I was merely trying to defend the precise words of the Athanasian Creed against the charge of inconsistency (that 3=1 talk that SVS introduced midway through this thread).

I selected the wording of my Father/Son/Husband example to closely follow the triadic formulas contained in the Creed. I could have done better thus:


There is one father of L_, one son of D_ and one husband of A_

The father is WL.
The son is WL.
The husband is WL.

Yet they are not three WLs, but one WL.


Like all analogies, this one will break down at some point. But it served the narrow purpose I intended for it: It showed that the language of the creed is perfectly consistent...it doesn't involve a ridiculous claim that 3=1.

"Societyvs, at this point, from what you stated, you are more a Jew in your theological system than Christian. With what you know to be true, would you be inclined to call out "crucify him"?" (Brad)

This is anti-semitic in nature...this is racism. All of a sudden because I decline the invitation to agree with the trinity I am more 'Jewish' meaning I want Jesus 'dead'? Where the hell is this logic coming from? In your heart of hearts - is this what you think God thinks of Jewish people? Agenda at the end of Matthew - I think so. That's just plain out jaded.

Yes, I'll admit I'd rather be Jewish than Christian - that's a fact. I think definitively they have their scriptures apportioned correctly and take nothing out of context or try to re-explain things that seem strange...plus they focus on humanity and making the world a better place to live (tikkun olam).

"Tikkun olam (Hebrew: תיקון עולם‎) is a Hebrew phrase that means, "repairing the world" or "perfecting the world." " (Wikipedia - Tikkun Olam)

"In other words, are you missing Him while being bathed in His word? Sadly, I think so" (Brad)

Well at least I am not a bigot for that missing of Him in the word...and if this is the case...maybe I am better off missing that version of God anyways.

“The first of these propositions is that there is exactly one God (monotheism). Therefore, the doctrine of the Trinity implies Monotheism.” (WL)

I still get how you figure that when the 7 propositions explicitly state there are 3 persons that make up this One? That’s a re-definition of monotheism if anything that actually takes no account for the definition of mono (One) theism (God). Nowhere in the definition of monotheism is the idea of three (triune) persons.

Monotheism: “Derived from Greek μονοθεϊσμός (monotheïsmós), from μονός (monós) meaning "one" + θεós (theós) meaning "god" or "deity" + English –ism” (Wikipedia)

Christianity re-invents the term to mean One God but with 3 personalities. I cannot think of another thing on this planet that is anything like that and yet One.

Your declaration of the 3 titles of one person as father, son, and husband is still the same singular person in the persepctive lens of 3 relationships around him at various times. At one time we will not see a father and a son (the same person) being 2 different people at 2 different times – like for example – speaking at his own baptism (as his father) as he is baptized. They are simply titles used for the one single person who is just one single person and that single person cannot show up ‘twice’ at the same event as 2 separate people.

“Can you produce Hebrew writings that pre-date Christ that claim that the One God does not have a nature that is expressed in multiple persons?” (WL)

That will take some serious work to do – good question to be exact. I will have to read and look through tones of passages (Midrash and Talmud) to refine this to exact-ness…or I can borrow from Jewish scholars of then and now.

I will use Maimonedes (Rambam) basic definition of Judaism (13 points – still agreed upon to this day):

1. G-d exists
2. G-d is one and unique
3. G-d is incorporeal
4. G-d is eternal
5. Prayer is to be directed to G-d alone and to no other
6. The words of the prophets are true
7. Moses' prophecies are true, and Moses was the greatest of the prophets
8. The Written Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) and Oral Torah (teachings now contained in the Talmud and other writings) were given to Moses
9. There will be no other Torah
10. G-d knows the thoughts and deeds of men
11. G-d will reward the good and punish the wicked
12. The Messiah will come
13. The dead will be resurrected
(found at: http://www.jewfaq.org/beliefs.htm)

Now you tend to think the nature of God changed for some reason…or the Jewish faith never accepted God was One alone. You are accurate to say there were questions around this concept – but even with these questions the position always accepted was ‘God is One and unique’ (also in the Shema). If there were other positions accepted concerning the idea of ‘God is One’ – they do not make the historical record a lot (if ever). The only one that does is Christianity’s version of Trinity.

One has to ask though – why doesn’t Judaism (which uses the same scriptures as Christianity – the OT) see this same obvious claim concerning the Trinity? Why has it never been accepted – even at the point of persecution? The only reasonable thing I can think is – it doesn’t exist as a concept in the OT Hebrew nor in the understanding of the totality of God through-out the Torah and Prophets. I mean, shouldn’t they be seeing the exact same thing we are seeing in Christianity?

It also makes me wonder how Christians are using Jewish texts of prophecy – in that both religions are coming to different conclusions on the same passages. You haul out Isaiah 40 and how that fits into Mark – and I can’t disagree – the does make it seem like Jesus was the ‘Lord God’ (even as the messiah). However, if this is the exact case with the passage – how come Judaism does not get that same interpretation on that passage?

“Part I, chapters 40 48, is a collection of prophecies of comfort emphasizing an imminent redemption; these oracles arc addressed to the Babylonian exiles (called Jacob or Israel) and highlight the power of God as the creator of the universe and the fulfiller of prophecies.” (Micheal Fishbane - http://www.myjewishlearning.com/texts/Bible/Prophets/Latter_Prophets/Isaiah/Isaiah_40-66.shtml)

So when they see that passage ‘preparing the way for the Lord’ (in the totality of the context it was written in) they see the Lord coming to Israel – just as the exiles are coming back to the land from the exile…to rebuild the temple (see Ezra). So yes, prepare the way for the Lord – his people are being released from their horrible exile and now can start to worship God again in spirit and truth.

It’s just a different way of seeing that passage – and believe me – I am not doing it as much justice as it deserves.

What also strikes me is the passage has John the Baptist (likely as orthdox jewish as they come) claiming this about Jesus. Did he now know the messiah was not seen as equal to God – or being God? Did he invent this? Nowhere in atiquity, and even in those days, was the Jewish messiah even remotely seen as God. This is testified by the Bar Kokhba and Maccabee’s revolutions – when they were picked as messianic figures. One is prior to Jesus some 160 years and one after Jesus – some 100 years after Jesus. Study them both – no one so much as would make the claim the messiah is God…no clue that was an option.

Which makes me wonder…where does that idea come from if not from Judaic scriptures? This is the question that the messiah is God truly rests on in my opinion. Christianity has this at it’s core concerning the messiah – Jesus as messiah must have been God – so core to remove one from the other makes the NT cringe. Yet, this is not a claim coming from within Judaism…was it Gentile in nature?

To re-ittirate something else from Mark – Jesus mentions the Shema (verbatim) in a discussion with a scribe.

Mark 12:28 - 34

“One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "What commandment is the foremost of all?" Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.'

The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these." The scribe said to Him, "Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that HE IS ONE, AND THERE IS NO ONE ELSE BESIDES HIM; AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE'S NEIGHBOR AS HIMSELF, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.”

This piece of writing right here describes Jesus great understanding of being Jewish. He recites the Shema and the mezuzah (what passages are put on the doorposts of houses) tradition in Judaism (from Deut 6:4-9).

What is intriguing in his upholding of these traditions and his description to the Jewish scribe (a copyist of the Tanakh texts) Jesus does not change anything about the Shema and it’s meaning in Judaism. Jesus does not abridge the Shema to include himself – which would be quite ideal to do if he felt he was God. No, he makes the proclamation alongside a fellow Jewish adherent and they are in full agreeance. In fact, the scribe re-iterates the point back to Jesus. Jesus changes nothing. His only quip is ‘you are not far from the kingdom of God’. Making me think Jesus also embraced these core teachings from Torah within his view of messiahship.

Notice the key points they agree on: (a) God is One (Shema) (b) Love God and (c) Love your neighbor. The latter 2 points would come to symbolize the 2 teachings Jesus called the ‘greatest commandments’ and continuously re-iterated within the letters and 4 gospels. But in this instance they include the Shema as part of it – this God we serve is One God alone…the rest hinges on that idea.

How is it Jesus can uphold such an idea if he thinks he is part God? Why not plainly state to the scribe his error with his understanding of the Shema and the understanding of the trinity instead? It truly makes me wonder if Jesus upheld the aspect within Christianity about the trinity…when it seems he clearly thinks ‘God is One and there is no one else besides Him’.

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