John 20:28; Hilary of Poitiers Puts all Doubts of the Father’s Monarchy to RestMy Nicene Monarchist party has been accused of innovation respecting the interpretation of John 20:28 which states,Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”My group has stated that this verse does not mean that Jesus is the one God, but that Jesus is the eternally begotten son of the one God who is “the radiance of His (the one God the Father) glory and the exact representation of His nature”. (Heb 1:3-Which reeks of the idea of emanation.)
i) One wonders how many other Clarkian Scripturalists belong to Drake’s “Monarchist party.”
ii) How would Hilary’s opinion lay to rest all doubts about the Father’s monarchy? The mere fact that Hilary believes something to be the case hardly makes it to be the case. His interpretation of Jn 28:28 isn’t self-validating.
iii) Jn 20:28 says nothing about the Father’s monarchy one way of the other. It’s entirely silent on that issue.
Notice that Drake is making a classic unitarian move in relation to Jn 20:28. He draws a distinction between the articular use of theos and the anarthrous use of theos, then acts as though that syntactical distinction is theologically significant. Indeed, all-important.
For him, this means that while Jesus may be “God” is some muted sense, he falls short of being the God.
Anyone who’s debated Jehovah’s Witnesses will recognize this tactic.
An obvious problem with that argument is that John uses the anarthrous construction for theos in passages like Jn 1:6,13 & 9:16,33 where Drake’s “Monarchist party” presumably thinks the Father is the grammatical referent.
I also notice that Drake and Ryan both fail to draw a rudimentary distinction between theos as a proper noun and theos as a common noun. I went over that ground with unitarian Dale Tuggy.
iv) Does Heb 1:3 “reek of emanation”? Let’s consider the second clause: “the exact representation of his nature.”
Drake is assuming that the metaphor emphasizes the process rather than the result. As if the point of the metaphor is to explain the process by which the Son originates: “emanation.”
However, the verse itself accentuates the resultant aspect of the metaphor: By nature, Father and Son exactly resemble each other. Exact, essential correspondence.
This trades on the metaphorical relationship between a die and what is stamped, like stamping an image and superscription on a coin. There’s a mirror image between the die and the impression made by the die.
v) In addition, if Drake is going to press the metaphor, then that backfires. A die is made of harder metal than the metal it stamps. Precious metals like gold and silver are softer than iron. If you press the metaphor, this doesn’t mean the Father is greater than the Son. To the contrary, a gold or silver coin is more valuable than the metal composing the die.
That’s true of the casting process generally. Take a ceramic mold for a golden bowl, where molten gold is poured into the mold. After it cools, the outer mold is broken, leaving a solid gold bowl. The shape of the bowl exactly matches the mould, but the bowl is clearly more valuable than the mold.
vi) Incidentally, the same problem afflicts to press the father/son metaphor. For sons can outstrip their fathers. For instance, Isaac Newton’s father was a farmer, whereas his son was the founder of modern physics, and cofounder of calculus. Clearly the son was greater than the father.
vii) This is not the only unitarian move made by Drake’s party. For instance, Ryan draws a distinction between the Mighty God and God Almighty. Once again, that’s a classic unitarian tactic. Anyone who’s debated Jehovah’s Witnesses will recognize that move.
They act as if that’s a theologically significant distinction. They also disregard equally exalted titles applied to Jesus, viz. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev 22:13).
As a rule, Ryan is more careful and cautious than Drake, so I’m hoping that he will outgrow his youthful infatuation with Drake’s “semi-Arianism.” Only time will tell.