Friday, March 10, 2017

Jesus is the one Yahweh

Dale Tuggy attempted to respond to my defense of Jonathan McLatchie:

Of course, 10 of something is a popular trope. Since that's an round number, Dale has to pad his post with lots of fluff. Most of his tips have no substance. 

On #1, Dale is dissembling. The Trinity is always his target. And he denies that Jesus has a divine nature at all. He views Jesus as just a human being. 

Moreover, I specified the sense in which I use the term "divine nature". 

On #2, it isn't "well-poisoning" to identify someone's viewpoint. If I respond to an atheist, I identify him as an atheist. Dale has repudiated a cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith. He's free to do that, and I'm free to say so.  

On #3, the post that Dale is laboring to respond to was, by my count, the 96th post I've written critiquing Tuggy's position. It's not as if I haven't detailed my position.

On #4, it's a shellgame based on Dale's chronically equivocal usage regarding "God", combined with his chronic inability to distinguish between words and concepts.

On #5, that's Dale's bubblewrap to make his post add up to 10 tips.

On #6:

The common noun would be 'god.

That's confused. Common nouns, proper nouns, and abstract nouns (or concrete nouns) all use the same word. Same word, different sense. 

He’s saying that "The Trinity is God" means that the Trinity is a god.

No, I defined what I mean. To say "the Trinity is God" means the Trinity belongs to the class of Deity. The Trinity is "God" in that categorical sense (although the Trinity is also "God" in a qualitative sense). 

Likewise, if I said "There is one God," I mean "God" in a categorical sense. And because God is sui generis, that has a quantitative sense as well. 

evangelical apologists, when they say 'Jesus is God' are usually asserting the numerical sameness of Jesus and the one God.

When I say "Jesus is God", I mean "God" in a qualitative sense (i.e. the "deity of Christ"). And I mean the same thing if I say "the Father is God" or "the Spirit is God". 

Easy to explain with the NT authors assume that the one God is the Father

Strictly speaking, the Trinity is the one God. 

Let's compare these two passages:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one (Deut 6:4).

yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Cor 8:6).

i) Now Dale might exclaim, "See, that proves my point! Paul calls the Father the 'one God'"! 

Oh, but that's not all Paul does.

ii) Because Paul is writing in Greek, he uses Greek synonyms for Hebrew words. And we're using English words. But if we were to retrotranslate Paul's statement in light of the background text, this would capture the true force of the usage:

Hear, O Israel: Yahweh is our Elohim, Yahweh is one (Deut 6:4).

yet for us there is one Elohim, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Yahweh, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Cor 8:6).

iii) Elohim doesn't necessarily denote the one true Deity. But in Deut 6:4, the one true Deity is the intended referent. To my knowledge, Yahweh is a distinctive designation for the one true Deity in OT usage. So that's actually the stronger term.

Using the Shema as his framework, Paul assigns Elohim to the Father and Yahweh to the Son:

The Father is the one Elohim


The Son is the one Yahweh

That's what Paul is saying. He is taking the nutshell confession of OT monotheism, but apportioning the two divine titles to the Father and the Son respectively. 

And notice the symmetry. This isn't working the Son into the Shema, as if the Father was the baseline. It isn't making room for the Son, but making room for Father and Son alike. Including bothFather and Son in the Shema. 

Finally, the overwhelming usage of the NT is that “God” (ho theos) refers to the Father.

Actually, the comparative rarity of calling Jesus God in the NT makes that stick out when it does happen. One way to underscore the importance of something is to use it sparingly. Like miracles, infrequency makes something stand out by contrast to what's commonplace. 

He seems to not understand my point about the fulfillment fallacy.

Yes, blame the reader for Tuggy's failure to express himself clearly. 

What I’m talking about is deducing that Jesus is supposed to be God himself from the application of Yahweh-texts to him as a fulfiller of them.

That's hardly fallacious. There are OT texts that describe the absolute uniqueness of Yahweh. What makes him the one true God to the exclusion of creatures or the false gods of paganism and polytheism.

Some of these are applied to Jesus in the NT. Dale's dilemma is that if such texts can be applied to a creature, then there are no descriptors that uniquely pick out Yahweh in contrast to creatures or false gods. What's left? 

Finally, notice that Dale is still stuck in the rut of words rather than concepts, as if the debate is reducible to the meaning of isolated words rather than ideas. 

On #7, Dale backpedals on his appeal to Ehrman.

On #8, I didn't cite Bauckham and Fee as "authorities". It wasn't an argument from authority. Rather, as I noted, they marshal meticulous exegetical arguments for their interpretation of 1 Cor 8:6. 

the numerical identity of Jesus and God.

Of course, NT writers don't use the philosophical terminology of "numerical identity". They don't say that "Jesus is numerically identical with Yahweh". 

If, however, that's Tuggy's standard of comparison, then it either proves too much or too little, for by the same token, NT writers don't say "the Father is numerically identical with Yahweh". 

If you wish to recast NT predications in terms of numerical identity, the Son is no more or less numerically identical with Yahweh than the Father is numerically identical with Yahweh.  

Does "being included in the Shema" imply being God himself? Does "being included in the Shema" imply being God himself? Or only being in some sense divine?

It implies being "God" or being divine in the same sense that the Shema singles out Yahweh as the one true God, in opposition to creatures or divine pretenders. 

The Son doesn’t have a God.

On this, Steve unapologetically opposes the NT authors. Sorry, I have to go with them.

i) To begin with, the Son qua Son is not synonymous with Jesus. Jesus is the Son qua Incarnate. So you can't just substitute "Jesus" for the "Son" if you're speaking with philosophical precision.

Likewise, the Father is not synonymous with God. Dale denies that because he's anti-Trinitarian Christ-denier, but one of Dale's tactics, unless he's just hopelessly muddleheaded, is to constantly use certain words as interchangeable, which a careful Trinitarian would distinguish, then accuse the Trinitarian of contradiction, when, in fact, he's imputing his own equivocal usage to the Trinitarian. 

The Son has a Father and the Father has a Son. 

Jesus has a "God". 

ii) Dale then twists himself into a pretzel. He admits that eternal generation has a very dubious textual basis. So he agrees with me in that respect. He agrees with me that God is not the source of the Son in the sense of eternal generation. And he agrees with me that the Father is not the source of the Son in the sense of eternal generation. Yet he labors to camouflage his polemically inconvenient agreement on this point.

Since, however, Dale regards Jesus as just a creature, just a man, he does think God is the ultimate source of the Son's existence. But that's where we part ways. I take the position of theologians like Benjamin Warfield, Paul Helm, John Frame, and John Feinberg. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm tired with the use of Logic to rebuke the Triune view of God. I'm assuming it's the figurative use of logic and not the scientific standpoint, because I have spoke with some muslim scholars in this topic (like Paul Williams) using the scientifical approach and to my surprise they don't know anything about Logic. In a desperate way they change the topic lol