Saturday, February 27, 2016

Unitarian Judaism

For the last few years, Dale Tuggy has been laboring to fire up a theological revolution from the wet kindling of "Christian unitarianism". Dale imagines that the OT precludes the Trinity and the deity of Christ. But he's stuck with the NT.

Fact is, it would be so much simpler for him to be a Jewish unitarian rather than a "Christian unitarian". Given his view of OT monotheism, it would be far more logical for him to take the position of Maimonides and other Orthodox Jews who regard Christianity as a heretical sect, who regard the NT as heretical sectarian offshoot of Judaism. Ironically, Orthodox Jews interpret the NT much better than "Christian unitarians", while Christian Trinitarians interpret the OT much better than Orthodox Jews. 

49 comments:

  1. "But he's stuck with the NT." LOL. The NT, of course, is really my motivation. http://trinities.org/blog/how-trinity-theories-conflict-with-the-new-testament/

    Can't be a Jew (in the religious sense) of course, and believe that Jesus is the risen and exalted Messiah. I believe what is explicitly taught in the NT. But to folks like Steve, that I don't accept this theory (or rather, one view in this family of theories) makes me an apostate.

    Of course, many would agree. But this just shows the stranglehold certain catholic traditions have on many Protestants. Everyone would would roll their eyes at someone who shrieked that an evidently lifelong Christian was an unbeliever because he was not a Molinist, or not an Arminian. What's the difference? Basically, Constantinople (381) - the catholic movement's leadership declared this 4th c. Trinity language to be mandatory. And many of the 16th c. Reformers failed to roll this back in light of scripture, and shamefully persecuted other Protestants who made moves in that direction. Others got it right, though, and also, the business of reformation is ongoing. http://21stcr.org/ Admittedly, the wood is wet; but God can get around that, when he wants to - see 1 Kings 18.

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    1. "Can't be a Jew (in the religious sense) of course, and believe that Jesus is the risen and exalted Messiah. I believe what is explicitly taught in the NT."

      Dale's attempt to change the subject. The question at issue was the deity of Christ. That's something a Jew can indeed believe in. That's what Messianic Jews like Michael Brown, Darrell Bock, John Feinberg, Charles Lee Feinberg, Jonathan Sarfati et al. believe.

      But I specifically referred to Jews like Maimonides and other Orthodox Jews. They correctly see the NT affirming the deity of Christ. They simply reject the NT. In that regard they are far more consistent than "Christian unitarians".

      "Basically, Constantinople (381) - the catholic movement's leadership declared this 4th c. Trinity language to be mandatory. And many of the 16th c. Reformers failed to roll this back in light of scripture…"

      Actually, theologians like B. B. Warfield, John Frame, and Paul Helm have modified conciliar tradition by denying Nicene subordinationism. So, no, we're not all marching in lockstep with Constantinople.

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  2. The idea of "Unitarian Reformation" seems almost oxymoronic. Especially if it's meant to connect itself with the 16th century Reformation (which it may not be doing).

    Regardless, Unitarianism doesn't seem to fit well with 16th century Reformational emphases like:

    -penal substitutionary atonement (only if Jesus were God could His sacrifice be of infinite value),

    -justification by faith alone (how can Christ be an object of ultimate faith if He's not truly God? cf. John 14:1),

    imputed righteousness of the God-man Christ (e.g. Jer. 23:6; 1 Cor. 1:30-31; Phil. 3:9; 2 Pet. 1:1, Rom. 1:17),

    -the indwelling of God in believers as temples of God via the Holy Spirit,

    -sanctification by God the Holy Spirit

    Speaking of "wet wood" and revival fire, I wonder where Unitarianism has ever sparked great evangelistic and missionary endeavors and revivals of repentance and faith like in the 1st and 2nd Great Awakenings, the Welsh Revival, the Reformation. Where are the Unitarian St. Patricks, John Wyclifs, Jan Husses?

    After formal and explicit Trinitarianism broke out in the 4th century where in history are the Unitarian apologists who made worldwide difference? Where are the modern day Unitarian C.S. Lewises, William Lane Craigs, Alvin Plantingas, Thomas Aquinases etc?

    Where in history are the Unitarian George Muellers? D.L Moodys, Charles Spurgeons, William Careys?

    Where are the great Unitarian theologians and systematic theologies?

    For those who are continuationists and/or charismatics like myself, the progress (or explosion) of Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity around the world with signs and wonders are mostly from Trinitarians. Where are their Unitarian counterparts?

    Where are the great Unitarian hospitals, seminaries, charities? When I was an anti-Trinitarian, I found it strange how Unitarians often referenced Trinitarian scholars and works. Where are the Great Unitarian scholars? There are Unitarian seminaries or (Bible schools) and theologians and scholars out there, but are there any that are Great?

    Where has God ever truly blessed and prospered Unitarian endeavors so as to mark His approval of them as He seemingly has for over a millennia in Trinitarianism?

    Maybe they are out there, but I haven't seen it. Apparently the impact is not great enough that one really has to dig to find them (if they're there). But then, that just goes to show that they weren't providentially blest by God, or one wouldn't have to dig too deeply into history.

    Pointing to the horrific things Trinitarians have done in the past doesn't negate the apparent blessing of God on Trinitarianism. Shouldn't God have just abandoned Trinitarianism and only blessed Unitarian projects and endeavors? Also, historically Unitarianism tends to slide toward or have affinities toward liberalism and atheism. I'm not making the slippery slope fallacy. I'm only noting historical fact. It happened among the Socinians in the 17th century and various Unitarian groups in the 20th century.

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    1. typo correction: Where has God ever truly blessed and prospered Unitarian endeavors so as to mark His approval of them as He seemingly has for over a ["millenium" not "millennia"] in Trinitarianism?

      I'm thinking from the 4th century on. Which would be approximately a millenium and a half.

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  3. “Everyone would would roll their eyes at someone who shrieked that an evidently lifelong Christian was an unbeliever because he was not a Molinist, or not an Arminian.”

    Don’t whine. You consider Trinitarians idolaters. Be an adult.

    “Can't be a Jew (in the religious sense) of course, and believe that Jesus is the risen and exalted Messiah.”

    Can’t be a Christian and Unitarian, just like you can’t be a Christian and a polytheist.

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    1. "You consider Trinitarians idolaters." No, I don't!

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  4. In about 1 1/2 millennia Trinitarianism has gone around the world and is on the verge of fulfilling the Great Commission of making disciples of all nations with its Bible translations and Trinitarian theology and only in the 21st century will the great Unitarian Reformation finally take place? It's got a lot of catching up to do. Trinitarianism has had a 1 1/2 millennia head start with apparent blessing of God.

    Besides missionaries, they are going to need Unitarian counterparts to evangelists like Billy Graham, Billy Sunday, D.L. Moody, George Whitefield, Luis Palau, Greg Laurie etc.

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    1. My view of God's providential dealings with His church is one that's similar to Sam Waldron's. One of progressive doctrinal development and refinement during the church age "until we all attain to the unity of the faith" (Eph. 4:13) at end of the Age. With heresies being exposed so that the truth is clarified more and more. As 1 Cor. 11:19 says, " for there must be factions ["heresies" in the KJV] among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized."

      It only makes sense that in God's providence He would make sure that the doctrine of God would be the first major issue He would guide the church into fuller and fixed truth. Yet, given the attempted 21st Century Unitarian Reformation view, God seems to have waited at least 20 centuries to make clear the truth of Unitarianism and having it spread throughout the church (assuming it happens). Why would God wait so long?

      For those interested Dr. Sam Waldron's lectures on Historical Theology I AND Historical Theology II

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    2. I find it amusing (and slightly humorous) how some (not all) Unitarians present Unitarianism almost as a secret gnostic truth hidden in plain sight and obscured by unbiblical human traditions. Attempting to champion it as the heroic but diminutive David did against the Giant Goliath. There's almost a kind of glamorous rebellious or revolutionary spirit in it all. Like the American revolutionaries against Britain, or the Rebel Alliance against the Galactic Empire in Star Wars. But in this case it's against Catholic theology, tradition and it's influence.

      When it may be they are really just rebelling against Biblical truth and God's providential approval of Trinitarianism (or something very much like it). In my limited inductive experience, I haven't found Unitarians really addressing comprehensively the biblical case for Trinitarianism.

      For anyone interested, here's a link to my blog:

      Trinity Notes
      www.trinitynotes.blogspot.com

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    3. Well, that was quite an avalanche of words! Just one quick reply. This triumphalist speech would have been just as persuasive in the year 1500, in favor of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christianity, against any sort of Protestants. A mistake then, a mistake now.

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    4. I wouldn't really call it triumphalistic since in all of my five previous comments in this blogpost I never dogmatically said Trinitarianism is actually true. In fact, I left room for the possibility that Unitarianism is true.

      What I did do is call into question the plausibility of Unitarianism in the light of history and (admittedly my subjective sense of) God's providential blessing/prospering/approval of Trinitarianism. That's why I sincerely posed the question of why God would wait till the 21st century to make a major course correction in the core/fundamental doctrines of the church? It's like waiting till a cancer metastasizes to finally attack it.

      The doctrine of God was hotly contested in the first centuries of the church and it only makes sense that God would providentially guide and (more or less) fix the church's teaching on this most essential issue in those early centuries.

      Admittedly, from a purely logical point of view, for all we know the church Age will last 20,000 years and we're actually still in the early church. In which case, it's logically possible that for the remainder of the church age (the next 17,000 years or so) will be Unitarian. But is that really plausible?

      In the final analysis, I don't think so based on the Biblical evidence against Unitarianism and for something like Trinitarianism (as I've argued in my blog).

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    5. I've seen many knowledgeable and committed Unitarians becoming Trinitarians, but I haven't seen many knowledgeable and committed Trinitarians become Unitarians. I suspect that's because the actual Biblical evidence is against Unitarianism and for Trinitarianism. I myself was once a Unitarian. Unitarianism makes plenty of prima facie and intuitive sense. But the Biblical data should trump intuition if they conflict. It's more noble and God honoring to humbly bend one's opinion to Biblical teaching than to persist in one's entrenched position. It can be costly to one's pride to renounce a position one has invested years into. But that just commits the sunk cost fallacy.

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    6. I think you're absolutely right that we all should be worried about the sunk cost fallacy. And pride is a main danger, to be sure.

      In my view, God has blessed catholic Christianity - both before and after it became trinitarian - because it has by and large held to the essentials of the gospel, as expressed in Acts. It is perilous business to infer that he's blessed it because of some other feature, in my view. That would have led us in various past times to feel sure that the bishops, the religious use of images, sacramental theology, and clerical celibacy were his ideas.

      "I haven't seen many knowledgeable and committed Trinitarians become Unitarians"

      Well, that's my case.

      Annoyed, I've interacted with you a number of times, and you often mention having been a unitarian. I suspect, though, that you were more at an "anti-trinitarian" stage. Those seem to be the level of unitarian arguments you're most aware of, and those are not unlike your trinitarian arguments.

      My experience is that people who fully "get" unitarianism on a scriptural level - the positive sense it makes of the NT, as opposed to the alleged problems of Trinity theories - pretty much never become trinitarians. They're just inoculated against running together Jesus and God like so many do, and they cease to see any real motivation for Trinity speculations in the Bible. Among them exact views on Jesus and the Holy Spirit / holy spirit differ, and change, but not the conviction that the one God is the Father himself, as opposed to the Trinity.

      I agree that the Bible should trump some of our intuitions. But not things like that modus ponens is valid, that 1 + 1 = 2, or that no claim can be simultaneously true and false. Or the transitivity and reflexivity of identity. We of course rely on such rock-bottom level convictions any time we interpret the scripture. How could things be otherwise? And some of those come into play, too, in weighing Trinity theories. But that's another conversation.

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    7. In my view, God has blessed catholic Christianity - both before and after it became trinitarian - because it has by and large held to the essentials of the gospel, as expressed in Acts.

      You don't think Trinitarians as idolaters. However I think a consistently Unitarian position would. In which case, God shouldn't have blessed catholic Christianity since it raises Jesus to the same level as God the Father not merely in terms of authority and rank but metaphysically/ontologically. As faith alchemist said, "How can YHWH be ok with me worshipping Jesus as YHWH and have a problem with Buddhists, or Jains?"

      That would have led us in various past times to feel sure that the bishops, the religious use of images, sacramental theology, and clerical celibacy were his ideas.

      Those are peripheral issues and not central like the doctrine of God. They aren't part and parcel to the Gospel. Yet the full and equal deity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit with the Father is an essential element to the Gospel as preached by Trinitarians. Your doctrinal leeway, if applied consistently, would seem to allow for Mormons to be true Christians since you are rejecting (or sweeping under the rug) the importance of the ontological underpinnings of Trinitarianism to invalidate it as a form of genuine Christianity. I have to ask again, where and when has Unitarian preaching/evangelism/missionary work lead to mass revivals or conversions with lasting results as it has in Trinitarian preaching? If Unitarianism is doctrinally purer, then shouldn't God have blessed their efforts more (or at the very least equally)?

      Those seem to be the level of unitarian arguments you're most aware of, and those are not unlike your trinitarian arguments.

      I admit that your Unitarian arguments are more sophisticated (some like Steve might say sophistical in the negative sense) than most Unitarian arguments. But it's not like I'm completely ignorant of Unitarian arguments. For example, I've read books like the first edition of Greg Stafford's Jehovah's Witnesses Defended.

      Among them exact views on Jesus and the Holy Spirit / holy spirit differ, and change,....

      That and things like the disagreement among Unitarians as to whether Jesus had a personal preexistence makes Unitarianism (IMHO) doctrinally unstable and an (admittedly fallible) indication of it's unbiblical nature.

      But not things like that modus ponens is valid, that 1 + 1 = 2, or that no claim can be simultaneously true and false. Or the transitivity and reflexivity of identity. We of course rely on such rock-bottom level convictions any time we interpret the scripture. How could things be otherwise? And some of those come into play, too, in weighing Trinity theories. But that's another conversation.

      I leave such issues to better apologists like Steve Hays, James Anderson et al. For myself, the positive case for something like Trinitarianism in the Bible is so overwhelming that unless those positive evidences are undermined I can't help but continue rejecting Unitarianism and holding onto Trinitarianism.

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    8. Regarding those other peripheral issues, it has been shown by scholars that "bishop" is just another term for "elder". You're probably rejecting monarchical one-man episcopates. There's nothing specifically wrong Biblically with them. Though, as a Baptist I don't think that's the Biblical model. The one man bishopric, pastorate, or eldership wasn't popular until around the 2nd half of the 2nd century. Religious images were used by laymen Christians but it's not clear whether they were allowed early on by those in the ministry. And if so, were they rejected as aids in religious worship? It seems so. The Iconoclastic Council of 754 (with 338 bishops in attendance) unanimously condemned the use of images of Christ. Epiphanius of Salamis rejected them as the famous curtain incident demonstrates. Apparently so did Augustine. The Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges that prior to the 7th ecumenical Council (i.e. Nicaea II) the Synod of Elvira likely rejected the use of images. So did Eusebius of Caesarea. The encyclopedia states,

      These texts all regard idols, that is, images made to be adored. But canon xxxvi of the Synod of Elvira is important. This was a general synod of the Church of Spain held, apparently about the year 300, in a city near Granada. It made many severe laws against Christians who relapsed into idolatry, heresy, or sins against the Sixth Commandment. The canon reads: "It is ordained (Placuit) that Pictures are not to be in churches, so that that which is worshipped and adored shall not be painted on walls." The meaning of the canon has been much discussed. Some have thought it was only a precaution against possible profanation by pagans who might go into a church. Others see in it a law against pictures on principle. In any case the canon can have produced but a slight effect even in Spain, where there were holy pictures in the fourth century as in other countries. But it is interesting to see that just at the end of the first period there were some bishops who disapproved of the growing cult of images. Eusebius of Caesarea (d. 340), the Father of Church History, must be counted among the enemies of icons. In several places in his history he shows his dislike of them.

      Early on Lactantius wrote: wrote: "These are they who taught men to make images and statues; who, in order that they might turn away the minds of men from the worship of the true God, cause the countenances of dead kings, fashioned and adorned with exquisite beauty, to be erected and consecrated, and assumed to themselves their names, as though they were assuming some characters."

      Regarding sacramental theology that clearly developed as scholars have demonstrated. Regarding clerical celibacy that's not a requirement in the Eastern Orthodox churches and most other eastern churches. Even in Catholicism, they acknowledge it's a a post-Apostolic discipline and NOT a dogma. They teaching that it being a discipline it can be recinded in the future.

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  5. “No, I don’t!”

    Not my fault you’re so confused.

    Of course you’ll eventually prove what annoyed said. If Trinitarians aren’t idolaters, then be quiet. Let the differing traditions be differing traditions. Let Mormons and JWs and universalists and Muslims be what they are. That’s the nonsense Unitarianism always comes to, and why it’s never been anything but annoying.

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    1. Who says only doctrinal idolatry should be confronted? Can you tell me where you get this idea?

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    2. "faith alchemist" - perhaps you are confusing biblical unitarians, who are Christians, and almost never religious pluralists, with Unitarian Universalists, which are not Christians, and often are religious pluralism. If you don't know just what I mean by "religious pluralism," please see here. http://www.iep.utm.edu/reli-div/ God bless, Dale

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    3. Dale said:

      “perhaps you are confusing biblical unitarians, who are Christians,”

      ai-yi-yi. Don’t try to be cute. You want to press the “I just want to have a levelheaded discussion guys and I’m willing to put up with your abuse to show how much I care” angle. But to Christians, you’re a heretic. Like all unitarians. If you, as a unitarian, honestly believe that me worshipping Jesus as YHWH, the uncreated, eternal Son, every day of my life is not rank idolatry, then I see why you gave up on the Trinity. You need to repent and turn to the real Christ.

      “and almost never religious pluralists,”

      So “biblical unitarians” are “almost never religious pluralists” huh? Baby steps I guess.

      “Unitarian Universalists, which are not Christians,”

      Why aren’t they Christians? Who died and made you guy who gets to decide who is and who isn’t a Christian? How can YHWH be ok with me worshipping Jesus as YHWH and have a problem with Buddhists, or Jains?

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  6. "Why aren’t they Christians?"

    Gee, I don't know. Let's look at a UU statement of faith: http://www.uua.org/beliefs/what-we-believe/principles

    Now, let's look at a typical biblical unitarian one:
    http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/articles/what-do-biblical-unitarians-believe

    Not much alike, eh? I know it's more fun to rant and denounce than look things up, but there you go.

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    1. To Annoyed,

      ""How can YHWH be ok with me worshipping Jesus as YHWH and have a problem with Buddhists, or Jains?""

      In my view, based on the NT, God is glad that you are worshiping Jesus. After all, it is God who raised him to that position, effectively commanding us to worship him. He is not pleased, of course, if you're confusing together him and Jesus. That obscures the glory of both. Note how in Rev 4-5 they cite different reasons worshiping each.Perhaps you're assuming that necessarily, it is wrong to worship any (mere) human. But this is neither self-evident, nor taught in the Bible, nor supported by any scripture. God is perfectly free to command us to worship Jesus, as Paul says in Phil 2, ultimately to his (God's) glory. (That presupposes, btw, that they're indeed two recipients of worship.) If you think the NT teaches that it is idolatry to worship any creature whatsoever, I deal that objection in this talk. http://trinities.org/blog/who-should-christians-worship/

      "the full and equal deity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit with the Father is an essential element to the Gospel as preached by Trinitarians"

      That's what they think, I know. But that's not what we see in the NT. John Locke showed this at great length, combing through all the NT to see what a person must believe in order to be saved, according to them.

      "where and when has Unitarian preaching/evangelism/missionary work lead to mass revivals or conversions with lasting results as it has in Trinitarian preaching?"

      Many times and places before 381, especially in apostolic times. The Socinians produced a number of godly believers and a thriving community before they were scattered by persecution. Some Anglicans c.1690-1730, and some American congregationalists c. 1770-1820 too. I'm not aware of any revivalist-type phenomena among modern-era unitarians. What happened to English and American unitarianism in the 19th c. is that they face-planted. There are a number of reasons why, but I can't go into them here.

      "That and things like the disagreement among Unitarians as to whether Jesus had a personal preexistence makes Unitarianism (IMHO) doctrinally unstable and an (admittedly fallible) indication of it's unbiblical nature."

      Please consider the wildly divergent understandings of the Trinity which are out there! The formulas are (mostly) the same, but the views are not. See any "Trinity" entry in a philosophical encyclopedia for some of these - there's one by me, one by Baber, and one by Howard-Snyder. All are clear that the differences are not matters of emphasis. One would also have to note the views c. 150-350 that some try to pass off as "trinitarian"; those too are many, and different.

      "For myself, the positive case for something like Trinitarianism in the Bible is so overwhelming"

      Annoyed, if that's how things seem to you, then by all means, continue your current course. You must follow the evidence as you best judge it. From where I sit, you're counting anything that kind of sort of can be read in some trinitarian way as scriptural evidence. This is too loose a standard, and will just confirm one in whatever one's position is. I started to rethink mine when I started to seek out how the scriptural authors would have understood what they were writing in the context of their own places and times. And I guess that was after I decided to worry about how trinitarian theology could be consistent, and tried out a bunch of ways to try to make it come out coherent.

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    2. Wrong Jesus = hell

      Right Jesus = heaven

      The eternal implications of a correct Scriptural Christology is a pretty important topic to simply gloss over. The effort seems positively serpentine.

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    3. Regarding your first paragraph. You've said that all before. I don't fault you for that because we both sometimes need to repeat ourselves. However, it entirely misses the point I was making above. It wasn't about worshipping Jesus, it was about regarding Jesus as ontological YHWH. It seems to me that a consistent Unitarian should consider that idolatry, and if Unitarianism is true, that the Father who alone is YHWH should consider it idolatry as well. In which case, He shouldn't bless the preaching of a gospel which teaches Jesus is YHWH. Yet, apparently the Father does, and for some strange reason you accept such preaching as "close enough" to the truth that both you and God can "wink at" this (major idolatrous) error.

      Please consider the wildly divergent understandings of the Trinity which are out there!

      The differences has to do with deeper theological and philosophical issues. At the surface level they generally affirm that each person is fully God even though each person is also distinct from the other persons. They are pushing the envelope of what can be inferred from Scriptural revelation. Whereas the differences between Unitarians already show up at the surface level, the most basic level. What could be more basic than whether Jesus did or didn't have a personal preexistence? Or whether the Holy Spirit is a person or not?

      I started to rethink mine when I started to seek out how the scriptural authors would have understood what they were writing in the context of their own places and times.

      I think we should both interpret the Biblical authors' writings as they originally intended. But also to interpret them as they were later gathered into the NT canon and simultaneously added to the entire canonical Scriptures. The latter sense does so in light of the fact that God inspired the individual books of the Bible to one day be part of a complete canon which would reveal more than the sum of their individual parts. An analogy would be how (as Michael Ward speculates in his revolutionary book argues) only after reading and studying the Chronicles of Narnia can one see a hidden third layer of meaning. One in which C.S. Lewis likely wrote each of the seven Narnia books in a way that was modelled on the attributes of one of the seven "planets" in medieval astronomy. [(Prince Caspian = Mars; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader = Sun; The Horse and His Boy = Mercury etc.)] Only when studied together is that third layer of meaning clearly seen. Similarly, both OT and NT writers didn't fully understand what they themselves and their contemporary prophets/apostles were inspired to write. There was more to what they were inspired to write than they themselves understood at the time (cf. Matt. 13:52; Dan. 12:4, 10; 2 Pet. 3:15-16, 1 Pet. 1:10). I've discussed in times past how the NT church along with the apostles grew in its understanding of the implications of the gospel. They grew in their understanding of who Christ and the Holy Spirit was. Their experience of God was Trinitarian even if their words weren't explicitly and formally Trinitarian. Yet, they were groping for theological language to express their Trinitarian experience of God (cf. 1 Cor. 8:6, Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Cor. 12:4-6 etc. Or one can just check out my blogpost: All Three Persons of the Trinity Mentioned In Scripture (Directly or Indirectly) ).

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    4. Regarding the issue of worship, I understand your position. However, I don't think it reflects the Biblical teaching on worship. To put it in slightly theological/philosophical terms, YHWH is worthy of worship because He is the maximally great being. Only the maximally great being ought to be worshipped or endorsed as worthy of worship. For the Father to endorse the Son to be worshipped even though He isn't the maximally great being would involve the Father committing idolatry. It's precisely because the Son perfectly manifests the Father's maximal greatness (which He share with the Father) that the Son can and ought to be worshipped. That's why in Phil. 2:10-11 Paul was able to apply Isa. 45:23 to Jesus even though that verse is the most monotheistic verse in the chapter that's arguably the most monotheistic chapter in the entire Hebrew Scriptures.

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    5. Dale said:

      “Gee, I don't know. Let's look at a UU statement of faith: http://www.uua.org/beliefs/what-we-believe/principles”

      So what? God can raise people to be a god alongside Himself, whilst simultaneously commanding that people believe in and worship only one God. God is ok with me worshiping Jesus, his creation, why’s he got a problem with the Jains? I’m sure many of them are better people than you or I. I think the problem is you haven’t read enough Christian pluralists.

“Now, let's look at a typical biblical unitarian one:
http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/articles/what-do-biblical-unitarians-believe”

      “Typical” in the sense that these “biblical unitarians” reject pluralism?

      There are, after all, some “biblical unitarians” who are religious pluralists.

      Now you assure us there aren’t many, but when you’re limited to a paltry bunch that includes “The Socinians,” the Arians, and “Some Anglicans c.1690-1730, and some American congregationalists c. 1770-1820” (the “apostolic times” comment is pathetic wishful thinking) you have to take what you can get.

“Not much alike, eh? I know it's more fun to rant and denounce than look things up, but there you go.”

      You talk about ranting, but you don’t read carefully enough to know who your responding to.

      “To Annoyed, In my view, based on the NT, God is glad that you are worshiping Jesus.”

      I raised the point about Buddhists and Jains. Not Annoyed. You’re correct that the NT teaches that God is glad that I worship Jesus. Because the NT teaches that Jesus is God, not a second god He’s, somehow, raised up to godhood. The Greeks would have loved you btw, your Jesus is a lot like some of their most popular guys.

      “After all, it is God who raised him to that position, effectively commanding us to worship him.”

      You’re at loggerheads with many unitarians I’ve spoken to over the years. They deny the NT commands Jesus be worshiped at all. Certainly your argument here is a non sequitur. God raised Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt, David to lead it to a thriving ANE kingdom. He didn’t command they be worshiped. That’s why you have to say “effectively.” Don’t worry. Stick with unitarianism you’ll jettison that pesky “worship Jesus” belief soon enough.

      “He is not pleased, of course, if you're confusing together him and Jesus.”

      Not enough to consign me to hell for worshiping another as God, the Creator. So be quiet. You are, by your own admission, fighting a meaningless fight.

      “Perhaps you're assuming that necessarily, it is wrong to worship any (mere) human. But this is neither self-evident, nor taught in the Bible, nor supported by any scripture.”

      The Shema? Yeah, that leaves room for another god. But the problems don’t end there. Of course you know as a Christian I also worship the Holy Spirit as YHWH. Every. Day. Of. My. Life. Am I an idolater yet? Can’t we just get down to brass tacks and call each other what we know the other one is? I know your position depends on trying to make unitarianism just another flavor, but that’s your problem.

      “God is perfectly free to command us to worship Jesus, as Paul says in Phil 2, ultimately to his (God's) glory.”

      You’re almost there. But almost, as they say, only counts in horse shoes and hand-grenades.

      “That presupposes, btw, that they're indeed two recipients of worship.”

      And the solution is… bitheistic adoptionism? You’re not a unitarian. You’re starting your own thing. You just don’t realize it yet.

      “If you think the NT teaches that it is idolatry to worship any creature whatsoever, I deal that objection in this talk.”

      Like all tainted by unitariansism, you’re a poor exegete. But once you’ve devolved to bitheism… well…

      Delete
  7. Sorry for missing the point, Annoyed.

    "it was about regarding Jesus as ontological YHWH. It seems to me that a consistent Unitarian should consider that idolatry"

    Annoyed, the idea is that God is merciful, and so tolerates believers confusing together him and his Son. That needn't involve *literal* idolatry, no. Is it metaphorical idolatry - something like putting a man in God's place? It is doing that, but then again, the trinitarian will think of the two as distinct, particularly when they focus on the Bible or on Christian experience. God has allowed the catholic traditions to develop as they have, and in so doing he's allowed this resulting confusion. To tar that as a sin of "idolatry" - I just don't think that's my place, or anyone's place. Especially since worshipping Jesus is *obeying* God. People just have this unexamined assumption that worshipping means to believe to be, as you put it, "ontological Yahweh." But no, it only requires being Yahweh, or being exalted to Yahweh's right hand - according to the NT.

    "At the surface level they generally affirm"
    Yes - a verbal level. Those formulas became the majority view by force. And naturally, one can only enforce the use of words, not beliefs. There are trinitarians who think the Trinity is a single self, who think that it's all really one self, and those who don't think the concept of self applies either to the Trinity or to its members. It's pretty chaotic, beneath the veneer of language.

    Annoyed, I'm assuming you're a Protestant. If so, I don't see how your principle of imposing 4th c. and later readings on the NT doesn't open the floodgates to many unwanted conclusions re: belief and practice.

    Here's an example. Annoyed, do you think that Church-mandated readings of the NT can overturn logically incompatible readings which their authors had in mind? e.g. John 10:30 Clearly the point is that Jesus and God are about the same business, one in will. (Note that this presupposes that each has a will, and so are two.) Do you think that later tradition helps us to see that this really means that God and Jesus are one in essence?

    "For the Father to endorse the Son to be worshipped even though He isn't the maximally great being would involve the Father committing idolatry."

    Sorry, but this is just speculation. Just where do you think the contradiction is in a perfect God deciding that people should religiously honor his human Son too, as Paul says, to his own glory?

    "It's precisely because the Son perfectly manifests the Father's maximal greatness (which He share with the Father) that the Son can and ought to be worshipped. That's why in Phil. 2:10-11 Paul was able to apply Isa. 45:23 to Jesus even though that verse is the most monotheistic verse in the chapter that's arguably the most monotheistic chapter in the entire Hebrew Scriptures."

    Sorry, but that's a wild hypothesis re: Phil 2. Paul thinks that Is 45 has a double meaning, and is fulfilled also in this human kurios, who he has just explained heroically and selflessly obeyed God past the point of a horrible death. This is an example of what I call the "fulfilment fallacy" - and is sadly common nowadays. e.g. Jesus fulfils the "Immanuel" prophecy - but he's not that baby back in Isaiah's day! Just so, Jesus is said in the NT to fulfil a number of prophecies about YHWH. But that doesn't mean he's YHWH. Explicitly and repeatedly in the NT, it is taught that Jesus is YHWH's Son, and that YHWH is Jesus's God. And readers are assumed to know by OT background that any "Son of God" isn't God himself, but someone else, and that YHWH has no god over him. (So, anyone who does is not YHWH himself, but someone else.)

    Note the total lack of speculation in what I just said. That is the safer way.

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  8. "faith alchemist" - it's sad to see someone who claims to be a Christian "argue" so obnoxiously. Most of my atheist friends have less on an anger problem. Still, a few replies.

    "God is ok with me worshiping Jesus, his creation, why’s he got a problem with the Jains?"

    First, they practice literal idolatry. God is against that. Second, God never told anyone to worship Mahavira and company. Thus, it is unfitting.

    "I think the problem is you haven’t read enough Christian pluralists.

“

    I dare say I've read more than you have! I'm the author of this: http://www.iep.utm.edu/reli-div/

    I've not yet met a biblical unitarian who is a pluralist, though I reckon it's possible there are a few out there. But nearly all Christian pluralists are in officially trinitarian groups.

    "You’re at loggerheads with many unitarians I’ve spoken to over the years. They deny the NT commands Jesus be worshiped at all."

    Some accept the idea that "worship" is *by definition* something suitable to God alone, or that to "worship" someone involves believing him to be the one God himself. One response is: if *that's* what you mean by "worship," then we're not to "worship" Jesus. But importantly, that's not what the NT authors mean by the words we translate as "worship" - though there are some different nuances between them, as Dunn explores in a recent short book. There are some other confusions too, which I try to untangle here: http://trinities.org/blog/who-should-christians-worship/

    "The Shema? Yeah, that leaves room for another god."

    No, unitarians don't think that Jesus is another god *in the sense that YHWH is a god.* e.g. http://trinities.org/blog/jesuss-jewish-error/ The NT applies god-language to redeemed humans, and even worship-language, once in Revelation, if memory serves. Here's an excellent trinitarian scholar on the former point: http://trinities.org/blog/podcast-59-dr-carl-mosser-on-salvation-as-deification/

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    1. Dale said,

      “it's sad to see someone who claims to be a Christian "argue" so obnoxiously. Most of my atheist friends have less on an anger problem.”

      Considering your atheist friends are likely elitists who never venture far from the university, and thus are not regularly challenged to tease out the logical problems their worldview has for simply living a peaceful day-to-day life, this means nothing. I’ve not been any more obnoxious than someone who can’t keep straight who he’s responding to but chides others for “ranting.” I've also noticed you like to whine a lot.



      “First, they practice literal idolatry. God is against that.”

      First, the Bible never says there’s only one god. That’s a very uncharitable reading. On the contrary, a straightforward and charitable reading of both the OT and NT shows that there is a pantheon of gods, and YHWH is their leader/progenitor. You’re too wedded to the catholic tradition. You need to read more “Christian polytheists.”

      Second, it isn’t “literally” idolatrous to worship the Son and the Spirit as YHWH on your view? I can’t force you to be consistent, but I will tell you when you're saying foolish things.

      One of your problems is (or will someday be) one of motivation, not unlike that of many atheists. Be consistent within the atheist worldview, and you become complacent. Bored. You realize you’re not going to change anything. So you stop trying to convince Christians they’re wrong. You just want to run out the clock. Sounds like your atheists buddies now that I think about it. The only atheists who ever get anything done are the inconsistent “salt and burn” types like Stalin, Mao et al. They pretend there’s something to fight for, knowing all the time it’s a lie.

      You can’t even get a foothold with most Christians, so you preach this “You’re not in as good a relationship with God as you can be, but we’re all still basically brothers” nonsense. But all the time you’re really seeking to fundamentally change the basis of their worldview, their epistemology, their worship and their hermeneutic. Basically you’re a liar. What you give with one hand you take with the other. I don’t buy it and you don't like that. Oh well.

      The real problem is you’re never going to get anywhere with that, because people are going to keep telling you what I’ve been telling you. If you believe that we’re not committing idolatry by worshiping Jesus, the created son, as YHWH (not to mention the Spirit) then be quiet. You’ve no reason to squawk. Let your church worship your way and mine ours. God’s cool with it.

      Of course, according to you (from a comment you made to Annoyed) God “tolerates believers confusing together him and his Son: and “has allowed the catholic traditions to develop as they have, and in so doing he's allowed this resulting confusion.”

      The Bible is so vague and confusing that it can take “worship YHWH alone but also his created son, I guess” and turn it into trinitarian doctrine and it’s really not that big a deal. There’s a reason no one’s paying attention to you.

      “Second, God never told anyone to worship Mahavira and company.”

      Why can’t God, in His mercy, “tolerate” these people’s well-intentioned confusions? The Bible is pretty messy, according to you, after all. Why can’t he have allowed these traditions and the resulting confusion?



      “I dare say I've read more than you have! I'm the author of this: http://www.iep.utm.edu/reli-div/”

      There is no such thing as a “Christian pluralist.” Is that so hard to see? There is no such thing as a “Christian universalist,” “Christian polytheist” or “Christian unitarian.” The terms may mean nothing to you beyond their uses in Philosophy of Religion textbooks, but they do to me.



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    2. “I've not yet met a biblical unitarian who is a pluralist, though I reckon it's possible there are a few out there.”

      Again, I’m not responsible for keeping you consistent. Above you said: “perhaps you are confusing biblical unitarians, who are Christians, and almost never religious pluralists.” So unitarians are Christians, and “almost never religious pluralists.” Regardless of whichever you actually think, I’m telling you there is no such thing as a “Christian pluralist.” Much less a “biblical” one.

      “But nearly all Christian pluralists are in officially trinitarian groups.”

      If they're pluralists, the're not Christians, and thus, not trinitarians. 



      There’s no possible way you think your videos refute the mountains of Biblical data that show the Son and Spirit’s identifications as YHWH.

      “No, unitarians don't think that Jesus is another god *in the sense that YHWH is a god.*”

      Your position died from the poison of a thousand qualifications years ago. If Jesus is raised to YHWH’s throne and we are commanded to worship him, he is our god as much as YHWH.

      Spare me your standard unitarian nonsense. You don’t believe the “god language” means the same thing you think it means for Jesus. Or maybe you do. Heck I dunno. Consistency isn’t your strength. “Worship language” is determined by context, so again, don’t be cute. It’s a whole different thing to command everyone to worship the son.

      You’ll feel much better once you admit you believe God added another god to the hierarchy.

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  9. Unsurprisingly, Dale continues to duck the actual point of the post: it would be far more consistent for him to convert to Orthodox Judaism.

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    1. Steve, this little taunt of a post falsely assumes that the OT is my main motivation. But it never has been. It is the NT that rules out a multi-personal God, as the NT clearly identifies the Father alone with God. So, nothing to duck; it was a wild pitch.

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  10. Dale, you wrote: Annoyed, the idea is that God is merciful, and so tolerates believers confusing together him and his Son. That needn't involve *literal* idolatry, no.

    Many professing Trinitarians are actually Modalists because of a lack proper catechesis. I think God and fellow Christians should be merciful and patient with them in the sense you're referring to above. However, were Unitarianism true, then God's and Christians' acceptance of confusing Jesus with YHWH *IS* literal idolatry. Since it literally involves regarding and worshipping a creature (Jesus) as the Creator. Part of what makes God morally perfect is that He infinitely (qualitatively, not quantitatively) delights in the maximally great being, the supreme Being. That's why God places His own glory above creatures and creation, AND WHY the Father can delight in the Son as He delights in Himself (the Son also being absolute Deity). To place creatures and/or creation on par with the Creator is the very definition of idolatry. As Paul said, they worshipped and served the creature/creation rather than the Creator. The reason why the Father delights in the Son is because He manifests the Father's maximal greatness. That's what Paul meant in Phil. 2:11 when he said every (creaturely) tongue in heaven and earth will confess Jesus Christ is Kurios (YHWH in Hebrew) ***to*** the glory of God the Father. Notice how in Rev. 5:13 (a passage you mentioned) "...EVERY CREATURE in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them..." worship the Father and the Son. No rational creature is excluded, therefore the Son is not a creature but the Creator (cf. John 1:3 which also places the Word on the Creator side of the Creator/creature divide). While I'm open to a non-subordinationist version of the Trinity (e.g. Steve's), Christ's eternal generation does make some sense to me. Given Unitarianism, Jesus isn't literally the the Son of God since (ex hypothesi) Jesus doesn't share the exact same nature as the Father. In Semitic understanding like begets like, kind begets kind. I've argued this further in my blogpost titled, Jesus the True and Proper SON of God.

    Is it metaphorical idolatry - something like putting a man in God's place? It is doing that,....

    There you go. If I'm interpreting your statement correctly, then you admit it is putting a man in God's place and therefore idolatry even though you don't want to call it that.

    God has allowed the catholic traditions to develop as they have, and in so doing he's allowed this resulting confusion.

    God has allowed/permitted a whole host of evils to come to pass, but that doesn't make then good. They remain evil and worthy of God's condemnation and cursing. Yet, given Unitarianism God has apparently blessed the heretical and idolatrous theology of Trinitarianism.

    Especially since worshipping Jesus is *obeying* God.

    Unitarianism involves God in a contradiction whereby on the one hand God says ONLY worship the maximally great being, and on the other hand ALSO worship the creature Jesus. Metaphorically, Unitarianism wants to affirm a square circle. Unitarians disobey Jesus' repetition of the OT command 'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve" (Matt. 4:10//Luke 4:7). There is no indication in the NT that this greatest of all OT laws has been abrogated, modified attenuated. Rather than attenuating that law, the NT places Christ on par with the Father in every sense.

    CONT.

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    1. People just have this unexamined assumption that worshipping means to believe to be, as you put it, "ontological Yahweh."

      The problem is that the NT repeatedly implies over and over Jesus is ontological YHWH.

      I don't see how your principle of imposing 4th c. and later readings on the NT doesn't open the floodgates to many unwanted conclusions re: belief and practice.

      I do hold to Sola Scriptura. I'm not trying to impose a 4th century interpretation on folks. I'm saying that something like that 4th century interpretation is much closer to the truth than Unitarianism. Trinitarian-like interpretations safeguard God's unity, monotheism, the worship of one God, Scripture's teaching on who Jesus and the Holy Spirit is (etc.). While Unitarianism violates all that.

      Re: John 10:30, I agree with you that the primary meaning likely has to do with oneness of will, not of essence. Though, in light of the rest of the Gospel (indeed the NT) I don't oppose a secondary meaning by which the passage was meant (by God, if not by John) to imply the reason such a unity of will exists is because of a unity of essence.

      Just where do you think the contradiction is in a perfect God deciding that people should religiously honor his human Son too, as Paul says, to his own glory?

      Surely you were conscious in your switching from the term "worship" to the term "honor." It makes it appear less idolatrous.

      Just so, Jesus is said in the NT to fulfil a number of prophecies about YHWH. But that doesn't mean he's YHWH.

      But the evidence for Jesus being YHWH goes beyond Trinitarians merely citing how Jesus fulfills YHWH roles and prophecies regarding YHWH.

      ...and that YHWH has no god over him.

      Yet, as I've documented on my blog, there are numerous OT passages where YHWH speaks and says YHWH sent Him (i.e. YHWH sending YHWH). Or YHWH speaking about someone else who is YHWH. Or where two YHWH are referenced. Or where the Angel of YHWH (who is subordinate to YHWH) is simply termed/named YHWH. I know you know such passages exist, but I wonder whether you know HOW PERVASIVE such passages are in the OT. For those interested, here's a recommended blogpost of mine.

      But importantly, that's not what the NT authors mean by the words we translate as "worship" - though there are some different nuances between them, as Dunn explores in a recent short book.

      I haven't read Dunn's book. Nevertheless, Hebrew 1:6 applies to Jesus an OT verse or verses regarding YHWH [Ps. Ps. 97:7 (LXX), Deut. 32:43]. I don't see how this can refer merely to "worshipping" in the sense of honoring an exalted creature as in Unitarianism since in the same chapter (Heb. 1:10ff.) the author implies Jesus is the YHWH of Ps. 102 who " laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning..."

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    2. Just where do you think the contradiction is in a perfect God deciding that people should religiously honor his human Son too, as Paul says, to his own glory?

      You're alluding to Phil. 2:10-11 but you seem to want to evade the reasonable interpretation has Paul is saying Jesus IS in fact the YHWH of Isa. 45:23. In context Paul is NOT highlighting Jesus' Messiahship, but Godhood. That's why earlier he had just said that Jesus was in the form of God in His preexistence (the author implying Jesus had "neither beginning of days nor end of life" in Heb 7:3).

      The theology of worship in Revelation is "Worship [only] God!"

      Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God." For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.- Rev. 19:10

      8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me,9 but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God."- Rev. 22:8-9

      The implied theology of the angel(s) is that only God ought to be worshipped. That's why in the Apocalypse Jesus is worshipped along with the Father; Is referred to as the first and last (and likely also the beginning and end alpha and omega); Is united with the Father in so many ways (e.g. the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are/is the temple of the New Jerusalem, and its light and lamp (Rev. 21:22-23), share the same throne Rev. 7:17; 12:5; 22:1; 22:3). One might argue that Rev. 3:21 has Jesus sharing His throne with believers. It may be that this is a second throne distinct from the Father's which Jesus shares. But even if it is the same throne as the Father's, it isn't the saints inherently. Whereas the Lamb is implied in Revelation to be YHWH in various ways and repeatedly. So much so that if it weren't for the rest of the NT, I could see how Modalists could claim the book of Revelation as confirmatory of their theology.

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    6. Between Trinitarianism and Unitarianism, which theology is more perilous to hold given your acceptance that Jesus can be worshipped? If Trinitarianism is true, then there's no problem with worshipping Jesus. Given Unitarianism, not all Unitarians believe Jesus should or can be worshipped, but some reserve worship to the Father alone. Isn't it safer to either to hold to Trinitarianism if you accept Jesus can be worshipped? Or safer to reject Jesus can be worshipped if one sticks with Unitarianism?

      To hold the middle ground that you do makes it more likely that you're committing idolatry given the possible truth of either Trinitarianism or Unitarianism.

      TO REPEAT:

      The safer course would be to accept some form of Trinitarianism (or Binitarianism) when accepting Jesus can/should be worshipped,

      OR

      Reject Jesus can/should be worshipped if one is determined to hold on to Unitarianism.

      Yet you subscribe to both Unitarianism and Jesus can/should be worshipped.

      All this seems to confirm my diagnosis that Christian Unitarianism is inherently unstable.

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    7. This isn't a theoretical/abstract problem. It strikes at the heart of what it means to live the Christian life. The Jehovah's Witnesses themselves have flip flopped on this issue. If you recall from our previous conversations, the above dilemma really bothered me personally. Because of it I didn't know how to relate to Jesus. Was I to worship him? If not, am I accidentally giving him too much honor? If I am to worship Him, in what way? To what degree? Am I worshipping Him in the wrong way? Or if the right way, is it too much? There's always the fear of committing idolatry and of diverting devotion that belongs to God away to Christ. In Unitarianism one has to somehow have a heart with precisely divided and calibrated devotion between God and Jesus. Trinitarianism disposes of all that "in one fell swoop" (if I'm using that phrase correctly).

      I remember when I first went into an Evangelical church (circa 1993). I was irritated by how Christocentric the preaching, theology and worship was. Then I re-read the NT and saw that that same Christocentrism was there all along.

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    8. "confusing Jesus with YHWH *IS* literal idolatry. Since it literally involves regarding and worshipping a creature (Jesus) as the Creator. ... To place creatures and/or creation on par with the Creator is the very definition of idolatry. As Paul said, they worshipped and served the creature/creation rather than the Creator."

      This is your definition of idolatry, and I don't accept it. If you want to argue further with me about this, you'll need to address the points I make in my "Who Should Christians Worship" - I think I deal with all the relevant passages there, including the one you quote. Also the "Worship God!" passages.

      "God has allowed/permitted a whole host of evils to come to pass, but that doesn't make then good. They remain evil and worthy of God's condemnation and cursing."

      Yes, but this sort of confusion we're talking about is theoretical. Generally speaking, it is correction and not condemnation that's called for, though yes, there is sin involved on the part of some. BTW, there is something bizarre about your trying to push me to condemn other Christians' theories!

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  11. "Just where do you think the contradiction is in a perfect God deciding that people should religiously honor his human Son too, as Paul says, to his own glory?

    Surely you were conscious in your switching from the term "worship" to the term "honor." It makes it appear less idolatrous. "

    OK, so you're admitting there is no contradiction in the idea of God commanding us to "religiously honor" a creature. Now, how about "worship"? Same question. Suppose God commands us to worship a man. Where, in your view, is the contradiction in that scenario? Serious question.

    "Yet, as I've documented on my blog, there are numerous OT passages where YHWH speaks and says YHWH sent Him (i.e. YHWH sending YHWH). Or YHWH speaking about someone else who is YHWH. Or where two YHWH are referenced."

    If two are called "YHWH" in the OT - let me grant that only for the sake of argument - it does not follow that YHWH himself (God) "is" two or more "Persons." A number of earlier and latter-day unitarians accept those "two Yahwehs" readings of those passages, and yet hold the one true God to be (only) the Father.

    Just think about the form of argument:
    a is named "x."
    b is named "x."
    Therefore, a = b.
    Or: therefore: a and b are the same being.

    Wild non-sequiturs, both. It would appear that you need some premise like, For anything whatever, it is called "x" only if it is a "Person" of the Trinity. But that is an obvious anachronism in reading the OT. And it would seem that any name could be shared, in principle.

    About the rest, Annoyed, I'm just about done arguing with you. You seem sure that "the NT repeatedly implies over and over Jesus is ontological YHWH." This phraseology is unique to you. Does it mean that Jesus and YHWH are numerically identical? It shouldn't, as you think YWHW is triune, and that Jesus is not triune.

    Or is it that Jesus is divine in the way that YHWH is divine? Well, that makes two gods, two deities. Why? We know they're not numerically identical, as they've differed, as all will agree. But numerically two things, each of which is divine, are two (numerically) different gods. If you have an coherent answer to this, I'd like to hear it. http://trinities.org/blog/podcast-124-a-challenge-to-jesus-is-god-apologists/

    But I'd losing patience with murky arguments that in my view foist obvious incoherence on the NT, reading it as saying that Jesus is and isn't God, and that there is and isn't only one God. The thing is, I think the theological and christological teachings of the NT are *true*. Self-contradictory readings, or ones that plainly imply contradictions, are just non-starters.

    "Between Trinitarianism and Unitarianism, which theology is more perilous to hold given your acceptance that Jesus can be worshipped?"

    I prefer sober exegesis of the NT to fear-based arguments. Again, if you want to argue further on this, you'll to interact with my "Who Should Christians Worship."

    "Christocentrism"
    Hurtado and Dunn have said interesting things about this. They denounce "Christocentrism" where he takes the place of God. But they, and I, agree that the NT has Jesus always in the foreground, but with God at all times, as it were, standing taller, behind him and upholding him, if I can put it that way. As Hurtado says, Jesus in the foreground, but with constant reference to God. No confusion in that.

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  12. Dale wrote: OK, so you're admitting there is no contradiction in the idea of God commanding us to "religiously honor" a creature.

    I've always believed that. People in the OT bowed to prophets with God's approval. God commands honoring both religious and political leaders both in the OT and NT (whether it be a Davidic king, THE Davidic King [i.e. Messiah], the High Priest or even Caesar).

    Suppose God commands us to worship a man. Where, in your view, is the contradiction in that scenario? Serious question.

    Worship in Scripture is distinct from merely honoring someone. One can honor a religious leader without worshipping the religious leader. Merely because the person to whom the honor is directed is a religious figure doesn't turn the honor into religious worship.

    Admittedly, in centuries past the English word "worship" can mean honor. That's why in Britain magistrates can be addressed "Your Worship". Catholics like to point these types of things out because they like to distinguish between Dulia (which the saints can receive), Hyper-Dula (which Mary can receive) and Latria which God alone can receive. I'm not scholar or linguist, but those who are have argued that the semantic range of the words for worship in Hebrew and Greek are such that by context you can still distinguish between honor due to creatures and the worship and service do only to God. So, in answer to your question, the answer is "yes" and "no." Depending on how one is using the word worship, I can affirm or deny whether a creature can be be "worshipped."

    As the human Messiah, we both believe Jesus deserve (at the very least) some honor. The real heart of the matter is whether the worship the NT and OT teaches Jesus can receives can include the kind that only Almight God can receive. I think it does. For example, according to James White (in his debate with Adnan Rashid) the underlying Greek word used in the LXX for "serve" in Dan. 7:14 refers to the highest kind of worship and service which only belongs to God. It's true that the Septuagint isn't an inspired translation of the Hebrew. Nevertheless, many of the 1st century Jews and Christians would have known this passage as it's found in the LXX and have known how Mark's claim that Jesus applied the passage of Dan. 7:13ff. to Himself is an indirect claim to full deity. I argued that more fully in my blogpost : The Meaning of the Term "Son of Man". There are other passages in the NT where Jesus is worshipped in a way that would be inappropriate for a creature to receive. Just in this blogpost I already mentioned Heb. 1:6 in light of Ps. 97:7 (LXX) and Deut. 32:43; Rev. 5; Phil. 2:10-11. More could be cited, but these should be enough when exegeted correctly.

    If two are called "YHWH" in the OT - let me grant that only for the sake of argument - it does not follow that YHWH himself (God) "is" two or more "Persons."

    That's right, and that's why I don't directly argue that way. And why I've said in the past I'm open to Nicene Monarchism. Nevertheless, if the "lesser YHWH" (as some Jews referred to Him) really is called YHWH, it seems (IMHO) inappropriate if this 2nd YHWH didn't really and truly share the same genus/kind/type of nature as the "greater YHWH." In fact, it's a better abductive fit if Jesus really were the true and proper offspring of God (as I argued in my blogpost on Christ's Sonship). Unitarianism cannot affirm true Sonship since it places Christ in the creature side of the "Divide."

    CONT.

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    1. And it would seem that any name could be shared, in principle.

      But we're not referring to just any ordinary name. It would be one thing if the Second of the "Two Powers" was only termed "el" or "elohim." But He's specifically named (not merely titled or representative of) YHWH. That has ontological significance. Even among humans, you can't just take on any name you want (e.g. Rockefeller). There are reasons why claiming/assuming a name is legitimate or ILLegitimate.

      This phraseology is unique to you. Does it mean that Jesus and YHWH are numerically identical? It shouldn't, as you think YWHW is triune, and that Jesus is not triune.................[entire next paragraph]....................If you have an coherent answer to this, I'd like to hear it.

      Both Steve and I have addressed this repeatedly. It doesn't seem that you're trying hard to argue in good faith because you know how both Steve and I have made clear the distinction between person and being. It's difficult (if not impossible) to get you suppose even hypothetically and (just) for the sake of argument that two or three persons can share one being.

      Self-contradictory readings, or ones that plainly imply contradictions, are just non-starters.

      That assumes all Trinitarian theories are internally contradictory or contradict the NT data.

      They denounce "Christocentrism" where he takes the place of God.

      I think Christ does take the place of God, but doesn't replace God (i.e. the Father). Christ can represent the Father while also being absolute Deity in His own right.

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    2. How does Christ take the place of God? In many ways. For example, the OT states eschatological judgment will be meted out by YHWH. Yet, Jesus states that all judgment has been committed to the Son (John 5:22, 27; Matt. 25:31-46; Matt. 16:27; cf. 2 Cor. 5:10; Acts 17:31; Rev. 2:23).

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  13. This will be my last comment in this blogpost. Thanks for the dialogue Dale.

    Does it mean that Jesus and YHWH are numerically identical? It shouldn't, as you think YWHW is triune, and that Jesus is not triune.

    Admittedly, there are different Trinitarian theories. The following are just SOME that are popular among Evangelicals (as listed by David Waltz):

    1.) The Son and the Spirit are generated from the Father’s essence, who is the source, fountain-head of the Trinity (Melanchthon, Jonathan Edwards). 2.) It is the person alone, not the essence which is generated from the Father (John Calvin, Francis Turrettin, and most Reformed theologians). 3.) There is no generation of persons within the Godhead; the Logos became the Son at the incarnation (Oliver Buswell, Walter Martin, early writings of John MacArthur). 4.) The Godhead is one person, and within the being of this one person there are three personal subsistences (Cornelius Van Til). 5.) The Trinity is not composed of persons in the modern sense (i.e. three distinct centers of conscious personal beings), but rather of three modes of existence (Donald Bloesch). 6.) Social Trinitarianism (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Millard Erickson, Edward Wierenga).

    I'm open to different theories, but #2 above (possibly in conjunction with #4) is the default position I defend and tentatively/provisionally hold. Given it, I'll try to answer your original question which was:

    Does it mean that Jesus and YHWH are numerically identical? It shouldn't, as you think YWHW is triune, and that Jesus is not triune.

    If I understand the question correctly, I don't believe Jesus and YHWH are numerically identical. In my default position, three persons share the one being or nature of YHWH. It's analogous to a human being with what's commonly called Multiple Personality Disorder. In this condition apparently multiple centers of consciousness share one body (or being). What's an abnormality among humans may not be abnormal with God. At a minimum numbers 2 and 3 (if not more) definitions above of the Trinity gets around or answers your dilemma regarding numerical identity. Steve has shown this multiple times in his numerous blogposts. I believe Steve holds to definition #3 which rejects generation and procession.

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  14. "if the "lesser YHWH" (as some Jews referred to Him) really is called YHWH, it seems (IMHO) inappropriate if this 2nd YHWH didn't really and truly share the same genus/kind/type of nature as the "greater YHWH.""

    IMO is right. This is merely an assumption, sorry.

    "Unitarianism cannot affirm true Sonship since it places Christ in the creature side of the "Divide."

    "true Sonship" Sigh. That Athanasian rhetoric is depressing to me. Of course, all that should matter to a Protestant is what the NT means in calling Jesus God's "Son."

    Re: person vs. being.

    The reason I'm unimpressed here is that (1) I'm painfully aware of the many things this might mean, and (2) it's wholly unclear just how that traditional distinction is supposed to supply any rebuttal to this argument: http://trinities.org/blog/podcast-124-a-challenge-to-jesus-is-god-apologists/ I invite anyone to clearly say which premise should be doubted or denied, and why, or which inference is invalid.

    "Self-contradictory readings, or ones that plainly imply contradictions, are just non-starters.
    - That assumes all Trinitarian theories are internally contradictory or contradict the NT data."

    No, Annoyed, I was making a point about your readings, not all trinitarian ones.

    "How does Christ take the place of God? In many ways."

    Yes, I agree with those examples. But that was not the point being made by me, Dunn, or Hurtado. We were talking about a kind of Jesus-focus where God is thereby obscured. Imagine one person standing in front of another, so you can barely discern that there's someone else back there. Not the NT perspective. But a common one nowadays, so we say, and not a good thing.

    "Does it mean that Jesus and YHWH are numerically identical? It shouldn't, as you think YWHW is triune, and that Jesus is not triune.
    -If I understand the question correctly, I don't believe Jesus and YHWH are numerically identical. In my default position, three persons share the one being or nature of YHWH. It's analogous to a human being with what's commonly called Multiple Personality Disorder."

    So, you're what I call a one-self trinitarian. You don't think Jesus and the triune God are one being because you don't think Jesus is a being. Rather, Jesus / the Son is, on your theory, something like a property or event in God, like a mental state ("center of consciousness"). It's God-being-a-certain-way. Not all would use the MPD comparison, but this is possibly the most popular way that educated Christians interpret the Trinity. Some with this view would call the Son a "mode" of God. I think it runs into severe problems with the NT though. http://trinities.org/blog/if-modalism-about-the-son-were-true-then/ http://trinities.org/blog/an-argument-against-son-modalism/ Dissatisfaction with one-self views is a major factor driving three-self views, people like Swinburne and Hasker.




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