Friday, December 21, 2012

"The peril of worshiping Jesus"

According to Clarkian Scripturalist Drake Shelton,


Samuel Clarke was a semi-arian. Semi-Arians were clearly admitted into communion by Athanasius…Semi-arians are not heretics.

Drake has now added the follow claim:


My friend Mark Xu and I have come to an agreement, in our readings of Clarke, that when Clarke says that the Son and Spirit are not necessities of nature, he is simply affirming that they are not auto-theos. That is his essential point, when you take his statement in context. This interpretation would then be perfectly consistent with Nicene Orthodoxy.

However, that’s not all there is to Clarke’s position. As Dale Tuggy notes, in his summary exposition of his position:


The God of Israel, the one true God, just is the Father of Jesus. Further, he is the main and the primary and ultimate object of Christian worship and prayer, and as the sole recipient of the highest kind of worship.


And that’s not an incidental or disposable feature of Clarke’s overall position. Rather, that’s a logical and practical consequence of how he understands Scriptural usage (“Certain names or titles in the Bible, including ‘God’, always or nearly always refer to the Father, giving him a kind of primacy among the three”), along with his theory of divine derivation.

Do Clarkian Scripturalists like Drake Shelton, Mark Xu, and Ryan Hedrich, agree with Clarke’s conclusion? Is the Father more worshipful than the Son and Spirit? Are there different degrees of worship we should accord the different members of the Trinity? Should we accord the Father the highest degree of adoration?

If they disagree with Clarke, how do they logically distinguish their position from his?

Put another way, was Fosdick right to say worshiping Jesus is perilous? Do Christians run the risk of idolatry if we accord the Son and the Spirit the same level of adoration we accord the Father?

If Jesus is less worshipful than the Father, should Christians practice mental reservations when worshipping Jesus? Should we reserve the highest adoration for the Father alone?

Is worshipping Jesus secondary to worshiping the Father? Is worshiping Jesus just a means to an end? Is the Father the ultimate and true object of adoration and devotion? 

Are Calvinists like B. B. Warfield, John Murray, John Frame, Paul Helm, and Calvin himself, idolaters for worshiping Jesus too much? Must we guard our hearts against the grave danger of esteeming Jesus too highly?

What do other Clarkian Scripturalists like Vincent Cheung, Daniel Chew, Gary Crampton et al. think of these developments?

12 comments:

  1. Don't paint with such a broad brush. These guys aren't in lockstep. I know Drake and Mark personally. (I'm not of Drake's perspective.)

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    1. I'm painting with the brush they handed me.

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  2. Steve,

    “And that’s not an incidental or disposable feature of Clarke’s overall position. Rather, that’s a logical and practical consequence of how he understands Scriptural usage (“Certain names or titles in the Bible, including ‘God’, always or nearly always refer to the Father, giving him a kind of primacy among the three”), along with his theory of divine derivation.”

    >>Steve, that is the Theology of the Early Fathers. Why do you speak of this view as if it is some novelty? The well known Presbyterian Theologian Francis Nigel Lee admitted it: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=101904115850

    and John Murray admitted that your party apostasized from it: http://eternalpropositions.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/the-reformed-apostasy-from-the-nicene-creed-in-john-murray/


    “Do Clarkian Scripturalists like Drake Shelton, Mark Xu, and Ryan Hedrich, agree with Clarke’s conclusion?”

    >>>First of all, Mark Xu does not have a specific apologetic system or epistemic theory. It is unfair to call him a scripturalist though he does believe that a person is a distinct numeric mind. Others in our camp are scripturalists but as a whole our camp is united on an affirmation of the same essential theology: The Father’s Hypostatic Monarchy, the generic consubstantiality of the three divine persons, thus the Son's and HS' subordination at the level of hypostasis but equality at the level of nature and the accompanying eternal generation of the Son doctrine, a generation of not only a name inside the same mind, but the entire being and hypostasis of the Son.I'm also pretty sure that we all agree on the single procession doctrine as well. That one goes hand in hand with the Father's monarchy.

    “Is the Father more worshipful than the Son and Spirit?”

    >>>Yes.

    “Are there different degrees of worship we should accord the different members of the Trinity? Should we accord the Father the highest degree of adoration?”

    >>Yes, as the worship performed to the son is instrumental terminating upon the person of the Father.

    John 14:3 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. KJV

    http://eternalpropositions.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/which-divine-person-should-we-worship/

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    1. I'm just making an observation. I noticed that Drake quoted John 14:13 and used the Textus Receptus based KJV.

      When it comes to verse 14 there's a textual variant where the critical text has the word "me/Me" in it.

      Here's the KJV:
      If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. [italics original]

      Here's the NASB (based on modern critical texts)
      If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. [italics original; bold ADDED]

      Here's the ESV (based on modern critical texts)
      If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. [bold ADDED]

      I don't know if that makes a different or affects Drake's position. I wouldn't think it would.

      I'm still trying to understand Drake's position. If I understand correctly, Drake holds to Nicene Trinitarianism (pre-filioque). I'm not sure if the Ante-Nicene and Nicene fathers were aware of that variant.

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    2. makes a different = makes a difference

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    3. Yes, I have studied that issue. From what I remember the "Me" is bracketed in every Greek text I studied.

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  3. Steve,

    continuing..

    “If they disagree with Clarke, how do they logically distinguish their position from his?”

    >>>We don’t. His view is the Nicene view. It is the teaching of the Holy Scriptures.

    “Put another way, was Fosdick right to say worshiping Jesus is perilous?”

    >>>When considered an end in itself, yes.

    “Do Christians run the risk of idolatry if we accord the Son and the Spirit the same level of adoration we accord the Father?”

    >>>Yes.

    “If Jesus is less worshipful than the Father, should Christians practice mental reservations when worshipping Jesus? Should we reserve the highest adoration for the Father alone?”

    >>>Yes

    “Is worshipping Jesus secondary to worshiping the Father? Is worshiping Jesus just a means to an end? Is the Father the ultimate and true object of adoration and devotion?”

    >>>Yes

    “Are Calvinists like B. B. Warfield, John Murray, John Frame, Paul Helm, and Calvin himself, idolaters for worshipping Jesus too much?”

    >>>Yes

    “Must we guard our hearts against the grave danger of esteeming Jesus too highly?”

    >>> Yes. John 14:28 You heard that I said to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

    And I dare you to study the way this scripture is interpreted in the Pre-Nicene and Nicene Fathers. You will be most horrified to find that it is I who am holding to Orthodoxy while your party has followed a Roman innovation designed to conflate the ontological trinity with the economical and thus weave ther Church into the Godhead.

    “What do other Clarkian Scripturalists like Vincent Cheung, Daniel Chew, Gary Crampton et al. think of these developments?”

    >>>I have contacted these men on these issues: Cheung said he didn’t care to comment on these issues because he was not as much a Clarkian Scripturalist as many people think. That was an almost exact paraphrase of what he told me when I asked him about his view of Divine Simplicity and its relationship to scripturalism. When I contacted the T Foundation and Gary Crampton on these issues they referred me to Crampton’s massive 5 page work The Biblical Doctrine of the Trinity. From what I remember I responded to them rather harshly for not even taking these issues remotely seriously.

    Never heard of Daniel Chew.

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  4. Drake,

    coming in as a simple minded man, I find your answers odd.

    Let's just take one "yes" answer. Explain what you mean by that answer to the statement made: "“Is the Father more worshipful than the Son and Spirit?”"

    Aren't you conflating the ontological nature of Christ with His Eternal Nature as One with Our Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit?

    I see you wrote this: "...Others in our camp are scripturalists but as a whole our camp is united on an affirmation of the same essential theology: The Father’s Hypostatic Monarchy, the generic consubstantiality of the three divine persons, thus the Son's and HS' subordination at the level of hypostasis but equality at the level of nature and the accompanying eternal generation of the Son doctrine, a generation of not only a name inside the same mind, but the entire being and hypostasis of the Son."...

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    1. "Explain what you mean by that answer to the statement made: “Is the Father more worshipful than the Son and Spirit?”

      >>>The Father is the ultimate cause and source of all things. Thus worship must ultimately be directed to him. Worship of the Son was lawful in an instrumental sense.

      "Aren't you conflating the ontological nature of Christ with His Eternal Nature as One with Our Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit?
      "

      >>>Either you do not know what "conflate" means or what "ontological" means. Eternality is an essential aspect of divine nature nature, thus ontology. What your point is escapes me.

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    2. Yes,

      at least we agree on this, "what your point is escapes me."

      What escapes me is your inability to comprehend the Trinity properly as has been explained here at Triablogue.

      Not to worry though. No one knows the Father but the Son and to whom He reveals Him.

      I do not purport to be the Son so I am not trying to reveal the Father to you!

      Mat 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.


      Therefore it is easy to conclude that Jesus has not chosen to reveal Him to you!

      Would you like me to pray that He will?

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  5. To the question, no: "Must we guard our hearts against the grave danger of esteeming Jesus too highly?"

    Someone teach me what is grave or dangerous esteeming Jesus too highly?



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    1. It is the same danger as Filioque: Making the Son a second Father.

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