Thursday, January 17, 2013

Reply to Ryan

This is a belated reply to a post by Ryan. For now I’m going to focus on two paragraphs:

But in the past few months, I’ve come to accept a position on the Trinity that appears to be highly controversial in Reformed circles. Insofar as I would be more inclined to agree that my position is more in line with the early church than with the classic Reformers, this isn’t so surprising. It’s the fact that the position to which I hold has been seemingly singled out by Reformed Protestants who are themselves in disagreement that is a little more surprising.

In any case, by this point I have heard enough insinuations and accusations from Sean to be immunized against superficial comparisons with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Unitarians, and semi-Arians. I believe my position is within the bounds of Trinitarianism as established in the [pre]Nicene Fathers, an assertion I have so far defended here and here.

That’s equivocal:

i) If Drake, Ryan, et al. were simply reaffirming the version of Nicene Triadology ensconced in the Westminster Standards, that would not be controversial, much less highly controversial.

ii) There’s also the question of whether their position really lines up with the ante-Nicene church fathers. How much of this is filtered through the jaundiced lens of Samuel Clarke?

iii) Then there’s the additional question of the extent to which Ryan’s position coincides with Drake’s. Only Ryan can say.

Drake Shelton has said the Father is the one true God–in contrast to the Son and the Spirit. Drake has said Jesus is less worshipful than the Father. For him, the Father is the ultimate and true object of worship.

Drake repudiates the terminology of the “Triune God.” He repudiates the proposition that the three persons are the one God.

Drake has resorted to a classic unitarian interpretation of Jn 10:30. Drake has also resorted to a classic unitarian interpretation of Jn 20:28. He disallows 1 Jn 5:20 as a prooftext for the deity of Christ. And, most recently, he’s attacking Jn 1:18 as a prooftext for the deity of Christ.

He repudiates Tit 2:13 and 2 Pet 1:1 as prooftexts for the deity of Christ.

He repudiates the identification of Christ with Yahweh.

He repudiates the identification of Christ as the Alpha and Omega.

He accepts Samuel Clarke’s interpretation of Rom 9:5, which reduces it to a delegation of divine authority.

He leans heavily on David Waltz, whose own commitment to the Trinity is dubious.

You’d have to have blinders on not to see a pattern here. These aren’t “superficial comparisons” with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Rather, Drake is systematically discounting standard prooftexts for the deity of Christ. And he repudiates basic Trinitarian formulations, e.g. the Triune God, the three persons are the one God.

Drake is backing into unitarianism. 

Now, in Ryan’s post, he’s speaking for himself. I don’t know to what degree he agrees with Drake in the examples I’ve given.


  1. In my comments HERE I posted some of the classic passages that either imply or seem to directly identify Jesus with Jehovah/YHWH of the Old Testament.

    Here's more:

    While it's true that Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:12) and Nebuchadrezzar (Ezek. 26:7; Dan. 2:37) are called "King/king of king" like Jesus is in Rev. 17:14 and Rev. 19:16, the New Testament tries to differentiate between God and His creatures in a stronger way than it did in the Old Testament.

    So, for example, in the OT it was common for humans to bow before angels. But by the time of the writing of the book of Revelation, God expected such obeisance to supernatural entities to be reserved for Him alone. So much so that angels (or the same angel) rebuked John because he bowed down to them (Rev. 19:10; 22:8). Yet, in Jesus' presence John fell at His feet as though he were dead (Rev. 1:17). It was a kind of forced spiritually induced obeisance. In fact, Jesus as the Lamb is bowed downed to and worshiped along with "Him who sits on the throne." by all creation in Rev. 5:8-14 (esp. v.14).

    Similarly, when Jesus is referred to as "King of kings" and "Lord of Lords" in the book of Revelation I don't think it's to identify him as merely the greatest human king and lord above all other human kings and lords. Rather it's to identify Him with Jehovah/YHWH.

    Rev. 17:14; 19:16 cf. 1 Tim. 6:15; Deut. 10:17; Josh. 22:22; Ps. 136:2; Dan. 2:47; 11:36

    Jesus refers to Himself as greater than Jonah (Matt. 12:41), greater than Solomon (Luke 11:31) and greater than the Temple (Matt. 12:6). By so doing, Jesus is stating He's the greatest fulfillment of the offices of prophet, king and priest. But more than that, His claim to be greater than the Temple is a subtle claim to deity because the Temple wasn't just the place were priests officiate, but the very "house of God" where God dwelt in a special sense in the midst of His covenant people. The place where the Ark resided and where God's shekinah glory glowed between the wings of the golden cherubim on top of the ark. For Jesus to claim to be greater than the Temple would be blasphemous if He weren't God in the flesh, and that's precisely what's hinted at in John 1:14 where it says the Word "dwelt" (literally "tabernacled" among us.

  2. Classic arguments indicating or at least suggesting plurality in the Godhead:

    Genesis 19:24 "Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens."

    This passage suggests that there are two persons with the name [or who share the name of] YHWH. One on earth who had been speaking to Abraham and one in heaven.

    Isaiah 54:5: "For your Maker is your husband…" [Literally: makers, husbands.]

    Ecclesiastes 12:1: "Remember now you creator…" [Literally: creators.]

    Psalm 149:2: "Let Israel rejoice in their Maker." [Literally: makers.]

    possibly Job 35:10 too, see John Gill on that verse

    Joshua 24:19: "…holy God…" [Literally: holy Gods.]
    John Gill says of this verse, "In the Hebrew text it is, 'for the Holy Ones [are] he': which may serve to illustrate and confirm the doctrine of the trinity of, persons in the unity of the divine Essence, or of the three divine holy Persons, holy Father, holy Son, holy Spirit, as the one God..."

    Hosea 1:7: "Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword or battle, by horses or horsemen."

    Here YHWH speaks about another person as YHWH.

    Zechariah 2:8-9: "For thus says the LORD of Hosts: "He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he that touches you touches the apple of His eye. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me."

    This passage could be referring to the prophet (Zechariah) himself, or (possibly) it has YHWH speaking and saying that another person who is YHWH has sent Him (i.e. YHWH).

    Isaiah 48:16
    " Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD [YHWH] and His Spirit Have sent Me."

    Here's another passage where YHWH is speaking and says that another person whose name is also YHWH and YHWH's Spirit (evidently the Holy Spirit) has sent Him (i.e. YHWH who was speaking).

    There are places where God speaking speaks of "Us" as if there's a plurality in the Godhead.

    Gen. 1:26 "Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness..."

    Gen. 3:22 "22 Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us..."

    Isa. 6:8 "Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: " Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."

  3. Also, I once heard the following argument that is based on Hebrew from an episode of the John Ankerberg show (which can be viewed on I've posted the link that directly goes to the part in the video where the argument is made below (at minute 1, second 13).

    In essence it said that there are three ways to say "god" in Hebrew. "EL" (singular), "ELOHIAM" (dual) and "ELOHIM" (three or more). "ELOHIAM" (dual) is never used of God in the Old Testment while "ELOHIM" which means 3 or more is used of God over 2000 times. Ankerberg cites Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar p. 244 which state "[The dual] in Hebrew, however, it is almost exclusively used to denote those objects which naturally occur in pairs." If this argument is true, then that would support (though not prove) the doctrine of the Trinity. However, I'm not sure this argument is true. I need to confirm it since I believe this is the same Gesenius who some claim foisted the anachronistic hoax that pluralis majestiticus (royal plurality of majesty) was a concept known and used by ancient Semitic cultures. Whether is it anachronistic or not the royal plurality of majesty has been used by many to explain away the odd use of plurality in reference to the one true God of Israel.

  4. Quoting Richard N. Davies book The Doctrine of the Trinity page 18-19 Christ said to a certain ruler: "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God." (Mark x, 17, 18.) Christ did not deny that he himself was "good," nor did he deny that he himself was God; but the ruler had not acknowledged him to be God, and our Lord's question to the ruler was based upon that fact. It was as much as to say, As you do not confess me to be God, why call me good? Our Lord said: "There is none good but one, that is, God." It would follow from this that whoever is perfectly good must be God; but our Lord is perfectly, infinitely good, hence must be God........The dilemma, as regards the Socinians, has been well put (see Stier II, 283, note), either, 'There is none good but God; Christ is good; therefore Christ is God;' or, 'There is none good but God; Christ is not God; therefore Christ is not good.' " (Alford, in loco)

    The New Testament says no one has ever seen God (John 1:18; 1 John 4:12). Yet, the Old Testament records various times when "the God of Israel was seen" (Ex. 24:10), when Jehovah was seen (Isa. 6), that Jehovah appeared to Abraham (Gen. 18-19) et cetera. By accepting the full deity of Christ the apparent contradiction can be resolved because it would have been the pre-incarnate Christ who was seen by and appeared to the people in the Old Testament. That fits with Christ's statement that no one has seen the Father at any time (John 5:37; 6:46). Apparently, they didn't see God the Father, but they did see God the Son. Jesus said "Abraham rejoiced to see my day" (John 8:56) and John says Isaiah saw Christ's glory and spoke of Him (John 12:41).

    I haven't purchased it yet, but I've heard that the book Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ has an ingenious acronym used by the authors (Robert Bowman, J. Ed Komoszewski and Darrell L. Bock) to designate the ways in which the New Testament reveals Jesus' full deity. The acronym is "HANDS"

    H-Honors (Jesus shares the honors that are due God)
    A-Attributes (Jesus shares the attributes of God)
    N-Names (Jesus shares
    the names of God)
    D-Deeds (Jesus shares the deeds that God does)
    S-Seat (Jesus shares the seat of God's eternal throne)

    Some glowing recommendations HERE

  5. Annoyed Pinoy wrote:

    "While it's true that Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:12) and Nebuchadrezzar (Ezek. 26:7; Dan. 2:37) are called "King/king of king" like Jesus is in Rev. 17:14 and Rev. 19:16, the New Testament tries to differentiate between God and His creatures in a stronger way than it did in the Old Testament"

    It is a little more nuanced than that. The reason why Artaxerxes and Nebu are called king of kings is because they were the dominant kings on earth. In other words they were the king over all other earthly kings. However, Jesus is the King of all kings while in heaven! This means that he isn't simply the highest ranking earthly king, higher than any other earthly ruler, but rather he is the highest ranking ruler in all existence! Jesus is King over all power, authority and rule, whether angelic or human, whether in heaven or on earth. Yet this identifies him as Yahweh since only Yahweh has this kind of rule. Otherwise, we would have to argue that a creature is equal in status with Yahweh, which means that in reality there are two kings of kings ruling from heaven itself.

  6. Annoyed Pinoy,

    1. I was going to post the following when I noticed your response. I'll quickly comment on your blog.

  7. Steve wrote...
    He accepts Samuel Clarke’s interpretation of Rom 9:5, which reduces it to a delegation of divine authority.

    Here's a paper I read (circa 1998) on Rom. 9:5 that I found interesting.

    It's by Gary F. Zeolla (translator of the ALT)

    Romans 9:5 Research
    Part ONE
    Part TWO