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Evidence for the Trinity

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on May 26, 2010 at 5:07 am

My conversation with a Brother I do not want to repeat the New Testament evidence for the Trinity here. Following hermeneutical logic we simply need to prove that Father, Son and Spirit are God and that there is only one God, Creator, Judge and Savior alike. Now the dogma of the Trinity and of the divine and human nature of Jesus is so interwoven (see e.g. Rom 1:1-4) that proving the existence of Jesus and of the Trinity in the Old Testament is more or less the same. But there is one question regarding the biblical foundations of Trinity that brings the whole problem more into focus than any other: Is the Trinity found in the Old Testament? Is the Trinity a New Testament addition to Old Testament monotheism? Or, if we believe that the Trinity existed in Old Testament times, because the New Testament says so, was the Trinity at least a new revelation in the New Testament? Could it be that Jews or even other monotheists are in the state of Old Testament believers and just need to hear about the fulfillment of their monotheism in New Testament Trinity? There are some other doctrines alluded to in the Old Testament that are more fully developed in the New Testament. 2 Tim 1:10 is most helpful here because it says that Jesus “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel”. So although several Old Testament passages merely hinted at certain doctrines, these teachings were fully brought to light by Christ. Many concepts merely alluded to in the Old Testament, were explicitly taught in the New Testament. All these things were alluded to in the Old Testament but the Jews didn’t comprehend it. Same with Trinity!

  1. Final resurrection (Ps 16:10; 17:13-15; Dan 12:1-12 = Jn 5:28)
  2. Final judgment (Ps 96:13; Dan 7:10 = Rev 20:12)
  3. The Messiah would be all of the following: both king and priest (Zech 6:13) and prophet (Deut 18:18) The Jews were looking for several different individuals and hadn’t understood that Jesus would fulfill all three roles. (Acts 3:22; Jn 18:37; Heb 3:1)
  4. The Messiah would be crucified (Isa 53 = Jn 19:6)
  5. The Messiah must be killed (Dan 9:26 = Lk 9:22)
  6. The Messiah was to be raised from the dead (Ps 16:10 + Lk 24:46)
  7. Immortality and eternal life (Dan 12:3 = 2 Tim 1:10)
  8. That the first covenant (10 Commandments) would be fulfilled and replaced by a new covenant (Jer 31:31f = Heb 8:6-13).
  9. The Trinity (Gen 1:26 = Jn 1:1; 20:28; Mt 28:19)

The three essential models are provided in the first chapter of Genesis. No one picture, image or model of God is good enough and these three models are essential if the basic outlines of the Christian understanding of God is to be preserved. The first model is that of the transcendent God who lies beyond the world as its source and creator; the second is the human face of God, revealed in the person of Jesus Christ; the third is that of the immanent God who is present and active throughout his creation. The doctrine of the Trinity affirms that these three models combine to define the essential Christian insights into the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead. None of them taken on their own is adequate to capture the richness of the Christian experience of God. A helpful distinction may be used at this time to avoid a misunderstanding, we need to draw a distinction between God as he actually is, and the way God acts and reveals himself in history – for example in creation, redemption and the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. In other words to put it crudely the impression might be given that God is Father until the birth of Jesus, that he is Son until Pentecost, and thereafter he is the Holy Spirit. It may be that certain actions emphasize that God is Father, just as others may emphasize that he is Son-but God acts as Trinity throughout all his works. Starting at creation it is epically striking to find God’s sovereign and variegated ordering of his creation. In particular, he forms the earth in a threefold manner. First he issues direct fiats. He says, “Let there be light,” and there is light (v.3). By seemingly effortless command, he brings into being the expanse (v.6), the dry ground (v.9), the stars(vv14-15), and the birds and fish(vv.20-21). It is enough for him to speak; his edict is fulfilled at once. Second, he works. He separates light from darkness (v. 4). He makes the expanse and separates the waters (v. 7). He makes the two great lights, the sun and the moon (v. 16), setting them in the expanse to give light on the earth (v. 17). He creates the great creatures of the seas and various kind of bird (v. 21). He makes the beasts of the earth and reptiles (v. 25 finally he creates man—male and female—in his own image (vv. 26-27). The thought is of focused, purposeful action by God, of divine labor accomplishing his ends. However, there is also a third way of formation, in which God uses the activity of the creatures themselves. God commands the earth to produce vegetation, plants, and trees (vv. 11-12). He requests the lights to govern the day and night (vv. 14-16). He commands the earth to bring forth land animals (v. 24). Here the creatures follow God’s instructions and contribute to the eventual outcome. This God who created the universe does not work in a monolithic way. His order is varied—it is threefold, but one. His work shows diversity in its unity, and unity in its diversity. This God loves order and variety together. This reflects the chapter’s record of God himself. The triadic manner of the earth’s formation reflects the nature of its Creator. He is a relational being. This is implicit from the very start. Notice the distinction between the God who creates the heavens and the earth (v.1), the Spirit of God who hovers over the face of the waters (v. 2), and the speech or word of God who issues the fiat “Let there be light (v.3. Of course, it is highly unlikely that the author and original readers would have understood the Spirit of God in a personalized way, due to the heavy stress in the OT on the uniqueness of the one God. The Hebrew word roach can mean spirit, wind, or breath. Many commentators understand it to refer to the energy of God—the divine force, the power that creates and sustains life (Driver), an awesome wind (Speiser), a mighty wind (Westermann), God’s outgoing energy (Kidner), or the wind of God (Wenham). Wenham is sound when he suggests that this is a vivid image of the Spirit of God. Driver recognizes that this passage prepares for the personal use of the term “Word” in John’s gospel and, by the same, token, the later NT personalizing of the Spirit of God is a congruent development from this statement. Gen 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Gen 1:2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Gen 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Starting with Genesis 1 V.1 we see referenced God this word in english is actually Eloheem meaning Plural of (strong’s) H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative: – angels, X exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty. Part of Speech: noun masculine plural) 1a) rulers, judges 1b) divine ones 1c) angels 1d) gods. This is not referencing names but persons specifically distinct in nature. This use of Eloheem in its current understanding by the writers of the Old Testament is over 2605 times and translated as God the same amount by the “70”. We are first introduced to God as the creator and then in the prologue of John (John 1:1-18), John declares that Jesus Christ is identical with the eternal Word who made all things, who is with God and who is God. Jesus is the Word who became flesh. Not one thing came into existence apart from that Word. The Word “who was in the beginning” (note the allusion to Genesis 1:1), was “with God” (directed toward God) and indeed “was God”. Jehovah’s witnesses and other Arians point to the absence of a definite article before “God” and argue that John means the Word is “a god.” However (see Wainwright and other Greek scholars), when nominative predicate nouns precede the verb, as is the case here, they normally lack the definite article. The issue is one of Greek syntax. John points to the unity, equality, and distinction of the Word (logos) and God (Theos). He then underlines that the Word is the creator of all things (vv.3-4), and that he became flesh (v.14). To cap it all, he is the only begotten God (v.18). Just a short note on begotten (monogenēs ) we can cover more fully later so as not to distract from the substance of this argumentation. My suggested solution is to take note of the request of Christ to his Father: “And now glorify me, Father, in your presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was” (Jn 17:5). There is continuity between the primeval, pre-incarnate glory of the Son and his redemptive historical, resurrection glory. The Son was raised from the dead and designated to be the Son of God in power, because he was the eternal Son of God. Thus, only the Son of God could rightfully have been “begotten” on the day of his resurrection, that is, anointed as the Messianic king (II Samuel 7:14 shows that the “begetting” of Psalm 2:7 is not an ontological generation but a functional appointment to kingship). The eternal generation of the Son is ontological, while the historical generation is redemptive historical; but the latter is appropriate only because the former is a reality. Having thus seen some of the biblical data which compels us to affirm the eternal generation of the Son, let us examine more carefully what we mean by it. First, it should be obvious that we are using an analogy from human experience to describe something about the eternal, immutable God. Clearly, then, the manner in which a human father begets a son differs significantly from the manner in which the Father begets the Son. For one thing, in human begetting, there is a time when the son does not exist; but in the divine original of which the human begetting is but a pale reflection, there never was a time when the Son did not exist (pace Arius). Furthermore, human begetting involves a mother and a father, whereas the Son is begotten of the Father alone. And a human father’s begetting is a free and voluntary act, while the Son’s filiation is an eternal and necessary act. Otherwise, the Son would be a contingent being, but no contingent being is divine. Athanasius wrote: Nor is the Son’s generation like a man’s from his parent, involving His coming into existence after the Father. Rather He is God’s offspring, and since God is eternal and He belongs to God as Son, He exists from all eternity. It is characteristic of men, because of the imperfections of their nature, to beget in time; but God’s offspring is eternal, His nature being always perfect. (J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, Fifth Edition San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1978, p. 244.) So with all of these vast differences between human and divine begetting, wherein lies the point of analogy? Just as a human father communicates his essence (humanity) to the son, so the Father communicates his essence (deity) to the Son. In the words of Turretin: (Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. I (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1992), pp. 292-93.) As all generation indicates a communication of essence on the part of the begetter to the begotten (by which the begotten becomes like the begetter and partakes of the same nature with him), so this wonderful generation is rightly expressed as a communication of essence from the Father (by which the Son possesses indivisibly the same essence with him and is made perfectly like him). John’s description of Christ as Creator is echoed by Paul in Colossians 1:15-20, where he says that Christ made all things and sustains his creation in being. Hebrews says the same thing in Hebrews 1:1-4, where he says that the Son is the one through whom the world was made and the one who directs it toward his intended goal. In Corinthians 8:6 Paul couples God the Father, “from whom are all things,” and the Lord Jesus Christ, “through whom are things,” evidently referring to their respective work in creation. In short, this God who made the universe—establishing an order with a vast range of variety, with human beings as the crown of his creation, representing him as his image bearers—is relational. Communion and communication are inherent to his very being. In creating the world, he has made us for himself, to enter into communion with him in a universe of ravishing beauty and ordered variety. By his creation of the seventh day, he ceased from his works in contemplation of their ordered beauty and goodness, and invites us to join him. The first chapter of Genesis says to all who read it that Yahweh, the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Moses, is also the Creator of all things. He who made his covenant with his people Israel is not merely some territorial divinity, but the one to whom all nations are accountable, for he is their maker. There is a clear unity between creation and redemption. The mandate in verses 26-29 to multiply and subdue the earth embraces the whole creation, and it is also the basic building block for the unfolding structure of salvation after the Fall. Reflecting on this implicitly Trinitarian structure of Genesis 1, Athanasius writes of creation being in Christ.” Since Genesis (no less than any other part of the Bible) is to be read in the context of the whole of Scripture, we can see references in the NT to the role of Christ and the Holy Spirit in creation as reinforcing this interpretation (Col. 1:15-20; Heb. 1:3; 11:3; John 1:1ff.). This vital point is underlined by other—unmistakably poetic—accounts of creation in the OT. In Psalm 33:6, creation is said to have originated “by the word of the LORD … and by the breath of his mouth. (Karl Barth, CD, 111/1: 196. Athanasius, On the Incarnation 1, 3, 12, 14 (PG 25:97-102, 115-22). Gen 1:2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. The Spirit of God is mentioned nearly four hundred times in the OT. In general, the Spirit is seen as the power of God at work, occasionally as an extension of the divine personality, but for the most part as little more than a divine attribute. Sometimes Hebrew poetic parallelism implies that the Spirit of God is identical to Yahweh (Ps. 139:7), but this simply begs the question, for there is not the slightest hint even here that the Spirit is to be understood as a distinct person. Rather, it is God’s divine power or breath,’ “God’s manifest and powerful activity in the world.” (O’Collins, Tripersonal God) Frequently, anthropomorphic language is used. The Spirit has personal characteristics—guiding, instructing, being grieved. The Spirit, or breath, of God gives life (Gen. 1:2; Ps. 33:9; 104:29-30), coming upon the inert bones in Ezekiel’s vision to reanimate them (Ezek. 37:8-10). The Spirit of God empowers people for various forms of service in God’s kingdom (Num. 27:18; Judg. 3:10; 1 Sam. 16:13; Ex. 31:3; 35:31-34) and is the protector of God’s people (Isa. 63:11-12; Hag. 2:5; 1 Sam. 19:20,23), indwelling them (Num. 27:18; Dent. 34:7; Ezek. 2:2; 3:24; Dan. 4:8-9, 18; 5:11; Mic. 3:8) and resting upon and empowering the Messiah (Isa. 11:2-3; 42:1; 61:1). The most remarkable actions of the patriarchs and prophets are due to the Spirit of God, whether they be those of Gideon, Samson, Saul, or Joseph, who is able to interpret dreams because he is full of the Spirit of God (Gen. 41:38). However, there is no evidence that the Spirit was seen as a distinct person. In fact, everything points the other way. In view is not the Spirit’s nature, but the Spirit’s action. Yahweh acts through the Spirit, as Wainwright comments.’-” To have suggested the contrary would have challenged the insistence of Deuteronomy that there is only one God, for no tools existed at that time to distinguish such a putative claim from the pagan polytheism that Israel was bound to reject. The Spirit is the power of God at work—no more than a distinctive attribute. However, a development in the course of the OT helps pave the way for the Christian teaching. Generally, the Spirit comes only intermittently on the prophets and on select persons such as Samson and Saul, and his presence with his people in general is also intermittent (Ps. 51:11). However, later on the Spirit is seen as a permanent possession, with an increased focus on his ethical effect in terms of righteousness and justice (Isa. 11:2; Zech. 12:10).`9 The Spirit is also linked with the Messiah in three passages (Isa. 11:1-2; 42: 1; 61: 1), and the Spirit is expected to come as a future gift to all God’s people (Joel 2:28ff.; Ezek. 11:19; 36:26; 37:12; Zech. 12:10). Thus, “the developing idea of the Spirit provided a climate in which plurality within the Godhead was conceivable.” At this point, B. B. Warfield’s magisterial article, “The Spirit of God in the Old Testament,” is important.” He considers the work of the Spirit in connection with the cosmos, the kingdom of God, and the individual, concluding that he is at work in the OT in all the ways that he works in the NT. However, there is a difference. What is new in the NT are the miraculous endowments of the apostles and the worldwide mission of the Spirit, promised in the OT, but only now realized. Gen 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God speaks. From this we learn that He not only is, but is such that He can express His will and commune with His intelligent creatures. He is manifest not only by His creation, but by Himself. If light had come into existence without a perceptible cause, we should still have inferred a first Causer by an intuitive principle which demands an adequate cause for anything making its appearance which was not before. But when God says, “Be light,” in the audience of His intelligent creatures, and light forthwith comes into view, they perceive God commanding, as well as light appearing. Speech is the proper mode of spiritual manifestation. Thinking, willing, acting are the movements of spirit, and speech is the index of what is thought, willed, and done. Now, as the essence of God is the spirit which thinks and acts, so the form of God is that in which the spirit speaks, and otherwise meets the observations of intelligent beings. In these three verses, then, we have God, the spirit of God, and the word of God. And as the term “spirit” is transferred from an inanimate thing to signify an intelligent agent, so the term “word” is capable of receiving a similar change of application. Inadvertent critics of the Bible object to God being described as “speaking,” or performing any other act that is proper only to the human frame or spirit. They say it is anthropomorphic or anthropopathic, implies a gross, material, or human idea of God, and is therefore unworthy of Him and of His Word. But they forget that great law of thought and speech by which we apprehend analogies, and with a wise economy call the analogues by the same name. Almost all the words we apply to mental things were originally borrowed from our vocabulary for the material world, and therefore really figurative, until by long habit the metaphor was forgotten, and they became to all intents and purposes literal. And philosophers never have and never will have devised a more excellent way of husbanding words, marking analogies, and fitly expressing spiritual things. Our phraseology for mental ideas, though lifted up from a lower sphere, has not landed us in spiritualism, but enabled us to converse about the metaphysical with the utmost purity and propriety. And, since this holds true of human thoughts and actions, so does it apply with equal truth to the divine ways and works. Let there be in our minds proper notions of God, and the tropical language we must and ought to employ in speaking of divine things will derive no taint of error from its original application to their human analogues. Scripture communicates those adequate notions of the most High God which are the fit corrective of its necessarily metaphorical language concerning the things of God. Accordingly, the intelligent perusal of the Bible has never produced idolatry; but, on the other hand, has communicated even to its critics the just conceptions they have acquired of the spiritual nature of the one true God. It ought to be remembered, also, that the very principle of all language is the use of signs for things, that the trope is only a special application of this principle according to the law of parsimony, and that the East is especially addicted to the use of tropical language. Let not western metaphysics misjudge, lest it be found to misunderstand eastern aesthetics. It is interesting to observe in the self-manifesting God, the great archetypes of which the semblances are found in man. Here we have the sign-making or signifying faculty in exercise. Whether there were created witnesses present at the issue of this divine command, we are not here informed. Their presence, however, was not necessary to give significance to the act of speech, any more than to that of self-manifestation. God may manifest Himself and speak, though there be none to see and hear. We see, too, here the name in existence before the thing, because it primarily refers to the thing as contemplated in thought. The self-manifesting God and the self-manifesting act of speaking are here antecedent to the act of creation, or the coming of the thing into existence. This teaches us that creation is a different thing from self-manifestation or emanation. God is; He manifests Himself; He speaks; and lastly He puts forth the power, and the thing is done. Let there be light. – The word “be” simply denotes the “existence” of the light, by whatever means or from whatever quarter it comes into the given locality. It might have been by an absolute act of pure creation or making out of nothing. But it may equally well be effected by any supernatural operation which removes an otherwise insurmountable hindrance, and opens the way for the already existing light to penetrate into the hitherto darkened region. This phrase is therefore in perfect harmony with preexistence of light among the other elementary parts of the universe from the very beginning of things. And it is no less consonant with the fact that heat, of which light is a species or form, is, and has from the beginning been, present in all those chemical changes by which the process of universal nature is carried on through all its innumerable cycles. New Testament Doctrines merely alluded to in the Old Testament that the Jews had misinterpreted: Some of the concepts alluded to in the Old Testament, were misunderstood by the Jews because they misinterpreted the scriptures:

  1. The Sadducees for example, rejected conscious life after death but Jesus stated they were wrong, (Luke 16:19-31; 20:37-38 = Ex 3:6). However, the Pharisees opposed the Sadducees and Luke 16, (rich man and Lazarus) was exactly what they believed at the time of Jesus Even David understood conscious life after death: 2 Sam 12:22-23.
  2. The following will send shivers up the spine of every Jehovah’s Witness! To their horror, the divine name underwent change and development. “God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, Lord, I did not make Myself known to them.” (Exodus 6:2-3) From Adam to Moses, God’s name was “El-Shaddai” (God Almighty). From Moses to Christ, God’s name was YHWH (Yahweh or Jehovah). For Christians the name of God is JESUS! “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Certainly the Jews never foresaw the time when YHWH would no longer be used as the name for God and it would be replace with Jesus! But actually, in God’s providence, the Jews were actually part of the change. The Septuagint was a translation in 250 BC from the Hebrew Old Testament by 70 scholars into Greek. They translated YHWH as LORD (Kurios). It was no mistake that the Holy Spirit Himself continued in this tradition in the New Testament. God ordained that YHWH would never once be found in the original Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Of course the New World Translation (sectarian paraphrase used only by JW’s) adds YHWH into the English New Testament where never found in the underlying Greek. The Watchtower has actually added to the word of God and will be punished according to the curses of Revelation for doing such! Meanwhile, thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses are also deceived.
  3. The Essenes and even the disciples, incorrectly expected the messiah to deliver the Jews from Roman domination and restore an independent Jewish nation, (Acts 1:6) yet they were clearly mistaken about this role of the Messiah because Jesus came and returned to heaven without doing what they were expecting. (Mk 1:15) Even the Romans had heard this rumor that Jesus would overthrow them. When specifically asked by Pilate if His kingdom was physical, Jesus told Pilate that His kingdom was spiritual, not physical. (Mk 1:15; Jn 18:33-36)
  4. The Jews may have had the mistaken idea that during the age of the Messiah (between cross and resurrection) that they would be keeping the weekly Sabbath and monthly New moon festival (Isa 66:23), yet they were abolished by the Messiah. (Col 1:14-16; Gal 4:10)
  5. They didn’t understand his death and resurrection even though the Old Testament prophesied it and Jesus explicitly taught it: (Lk 24:46; Mt 16:21-22; Lk 18:31-34; Jn 16:16-18; 20:9)
  6. They didn’t understand the second coming even thought Jesus explicitly taught it: (Jn 13:36-14:6)

New Testament Doctrines merely alluded to in the Old Testament by way of shadows and types and the Jews had not comprehended at all. These represent unique New Testament revelation. Many concepts completely lacking in the Old Testament (except in some cases for shadows and types) were introduced as brand new revelation in the New Testament. In other words, without the New Testament, no one would have ever understood the hidden meaning of the Old Testament events, shadows and anti-types.

  1. Water baptism (Acts 2:38 = Ex 30:18; Col 2:11 + Ex 30:6 = Gen 17:10)
  2. The Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:26 = Ex 12)
  3. The second coming of the Messiah (Heb 9:28 = Jude 14)
  4. That the Messiah was the creator Jn 1:3 + Col 1:16 + Heb 1:10-12 = Gen 1:26 + Eccl 12:1 [lit: creators])
  5. That we would become part of the body of the Messiah, (1 Cor 12:12f)
  6. That the physical universe would be uncreated at the second coming (2 Pe 3:8-10, Rev 20:11)
  7. That Jesus Christ was the “Rock that followed” the Jews through the wilderness (1 Cor 10:1-4)
  8. An excellent example of progressive revelation in the Bible is Peter’s first sermon in Acts 2:39 “For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.” The key phrase is “all who are far off” which is a reference to the Gentiles now included in God’s specific plans for salvation for the first time at Pentecost. A direct parallel is Eph 2:13 “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” The amazing thing is, that Peter did not understand what he was saying through the Holy Spirit! He preached that the Gentiles were on the same equal level as the Jews, yet we see in Acts 10, that Peter did not understand this because God had to show Peter this truth, through an elaborate vision. In the same way, New Testament writers taught the basic elements of trinity doctrine, but may not at first, have understood the specific plumbing of how the trinity works, as discussed in the later centuries.

New Testament Doctrines that contradicted Old Testament doctrines:

  1. During the Old Testament God’s people first entered into “Covenant relationship” by way of circumcision on the 8th day, and afterward were taught about the conditions of the covenant. The New Testament teaches the opposite because God’s people will first be taught, then enter covenant relationship by “consensual believers baptism” (Heb 8:9-11)
  2. Great emphasis is placed in the Old Testament about God’s people living the physical life to the fullest of enjoyment, yet Jesus taught the opposite, namely that we should deny ourselves in this life, for the sake of the kingdom, and await for eternal reward. (Mt 16:24-26)
  3. Moses permitted divorce for reasons other than adultery (Deut 24), Jesus had forbidden divorce unless your spouse had committed adultery (Mt 19:9; 1 Cor 7:10-12)

There are many references in this response to our conversation from the other day. I have approximately 9 to 12 references I wish to more fully develop in regards to this issue. I would be remiss if I didn’t ask for your personal refutations and argumentation of this first exegesis of Genesis 1:1-3. To be continued.

Evidence for the Trinity

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on May 26, 2010 at 5:07 am

My conversation with a Brother

I do not want to repeat the New Testament evidence for the Trinity here. Following hermeneutical logic we simply need to prove that Father, Son and Spirit are God and that there is only one God, Creator, Judge and Savior alike. Now the dogma of the Trinity and of the divine and human nature of Jesus is so interwoven (see e.g. Rom 1:1-4) that proving the existence of Jesus and of the Trinity in the Old Testament is more or less the same.

But there is one question regarding the biblical foundations of Trinity that brings the whole problem more into focus than any other: Is the Trinity found in the Old Testament? Is the Trinity a New Testament addition to Old Testament monotheism? Or, if we believe that the Trinity existed in Old Testament times, because the New Testament says so, was the Trinity at least a new revelation in the New Testament? Could it be that Jews or even other monotheists are in the state of Old Testament believers and just need to hear about the fulfillment of their monotheism in New Testament Trinity?

There are some other doctrines alluded to in the Old Testament that are more fully developed in the New Testament. 2 Tim 1:10 is most helpful here because it says that Jesus “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel”. So although several Old Testament passages merely hinted at certain doctrines, these teachings were fully brought to light by Christ. Many concepts merely alluded to in the Old Testament, were explicitly taught in the New Testament. All these things were alluded to in the Old Testament but the Jews didn’t comprehend it. Same with Trinity!

  1. Final resurrection (Ps 16:10; 17:13-15; Dan 12:1-12 = Jn 5:28)
  2. Final judgment (Ps 96:13; Dan 7:10 = Rev 20:12)
  3. The Messiah would be all of the following: both king and priest (Zech 6:13) and prophet (Deut 18:18) The Jews were looking for several different individuals and hadn’t understood that Jesus would fulfill all three roles. (Acts 3:22; Jn 18:37; Heb 3:1)
  4. The Messiah would be crucified (Isa 53 = Jn 19:6)
  5. The Messiah must be killed (Dan 9:26 = Lk 9:22)
  6. The Messiah was to be raised from the dead (Ps 16:10 + Lk 24:46)
  7. Immortality and eternal life (Dan 12:3 = 2 Tim 1:10)
  8. That the first covenant (10 Commandments) would be fulfilled and replaced by a new covenant (Jer 31:31f = Heb 8:6-13).
  9. The Trinity (Gen 1:26 = Jn 1:1; 20:28; Mt 28:19)

The three essential models are provided in the first chapter of Genesis. No one picture, image or model of God is good enough and these three models are essential if the basic outlines of the Christian understanding of God is to be preserved. The first model is that of the transcendent God who lies beyond the world as its source and creator; the second is the human face of God, revealed in the person of Jesus Christ; the third is that of the immanent God who is present and active throughout his creation. The doctrine of the Trinity affirms that these three models combine to define the essential Christian insights into the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead. None of them taken on their own is adequate to capture the richness of the Christian experience of God. A helpful distinction may be used at this time to avoid a misunderstanding, we need to draw a distinction between God as he actually is, and the way God acts and reveals himself in history – for example in creation, redemption and the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. In other words to put it crudely the impression might be given that God is Father until the birth of Jesus, that he is Son until Pentecost, and thereafter he is the Holy Spirit. It may be that certain actions emphasize that God is Father, just as others may emphasize that he is Son-but God acts as Trinity throughout all his works. Starting at creation it is epically striking to find God’s sovereign and variegated ordering of his creation. In particular, he forms the earth in a threefold manner. First he issues direct fiats. He says, “Let there be light,” and there is light (v.3). By seemingly effortless command, he brings into being the expanse (v.6), the dry ground (v.9), the stars(vv14-15), and the birds and fish(vv.20-21). It is enough for him to speak; his edict is fulfilled at once. Second, he works. He separates light from darkness (v. 4). He makes the expanse and separates the waters (v. 7). He makes the two great lights, the sun and the moon (v. 16), setting them in the expanse to give light on the earth (v. 17). He creates the great creatures of the seas and various kind of bird (v. 21). He makes the beasts of the earth and reptiles (v. 25 finally he creates man—male and female—in his own image (vv. 26-27). The thought is of focused, purposeful action by God, of divine labor accomplishing his ends. However, there is also a third way of formation, in which God uses the activity of the creatures themselves. God commands the earth to produce vegetation, plants, and trees (vv. 11-12). He requests the lights to govern the day and night (vv. 14-16). He commands the earth to bring forth land animals (v. 24). Here the creatures follow God’s instructions and contribute to the eventual outcome. This God who created the universe does not work in a monolithic way. His order is varied—it is threefold, but one. His work shows diversity in its unity, and unity in its diversity. This God loves order and variety together.

This reflects the chapter’s record of God himself. The triadic manner of the earth’s formation reflects the nature of its Creator. He is a relational being. This is implicit from the very start. Notice the distinction between the God who creates the heavens and the earth (v.1), the Spirit of God who hovers over the face of the waters (v. 2), and the speech or word of God who issues the fiat “Let there be light (v.3. Of course, it is highly unlikely that the author and original readers would have understood the Spirit of God in a personalized way, due to the heavy stress in the OT on the uniqueness of the one God. The Hebrew word roach can mean spirit, wind, or breath. Many commentators understand it to refer to the energy of God—the divine force, the power that creates and sustains life (Driver), an awesome wind (Speiser), a mighty wind (Westermann), God’s outgoing energy (Kidner), or the wind of God (Wenham). Wenham is sound when he suggests that this is a vivid image of the Spirit of God. Driver recognizes that this passage prepares for the personal use of the term “Word” in John’s gospel and, by the same, token, the later NT personalizing of the Spirit of God is a congruent development from this statement.

Gen 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Gen 1:2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Gen 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Starting with Genesis 1 V.1 we see referenced God this word in english is actually Eloheem meaning Plural of (strong’s) H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative: – angels, X exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty. Part of Speech: noun masculine plural) 1a) rulers, judges 1b) divine ones 1c) angels 1d) gods. This is not referencing names but persons specifically distinct in nature. This use of Eloheem in its current understanding by the writers of the Old Testament is over 2605 times and translated as God the same amount by the “70”. We are first introduced to God as the creator and then in the prologue of John (John 1:1-18), John declares that Jesus Christ is identical with the eternal Word who made all things, who is with God and who is God. Jesus is the Word who became flesh. Not one thing came into existence apart from that Word. The Word “who was in the beginning” (note the allusion to Genesis 1:1), was “with God” (directed toward God) and indeed “was God”. Jehovah’s witnesses and other Arians point to the absence of a definite article before “God” and argue that John means the Word is “a god.” However (see Wainwright and other Greek scholars), when nominative predicate nouns precede the verb, as is the case here, they normally lack the definite article. The issue is one of Greek syntax. John points to the unity, equality, and distinction of the Word (logos) and God (Theos). He then underlines that the Word is the creator of all things (vv.3-4), and that he became flesh (v.14). To cap it all, he is the only begotten God (v.18). Just a short note on begotten (monogenēs ) we can cover more fully later so as not to distract from the substance of this argumentation.  My suggested solution is to take note of the request of Christ to his Father: “And now glorify me, Father, in your presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was” (Jn 17:5). There is continuity between the primeval, pre-incarnate glory of the Son and his redemptive historical, resurrection glory. The Son was raised from the dead and designated to be the Son of God in power, because he was the eternal Son of God. Thus, only the Son of God could rightfully have been “begotten” on the day of his resurrection, that is, anointed as the Messianic king (II Samuel 7:14 shows that the “begetting” of Psalm 2:7 is not an ontological generation but a functional appointment to kingship). The eternal generation of the Son is ontological, while the historical generation is redemptive historical; but the latter is appropriate only because the former is a reality.

Having thus seen some of the biblical data which compels us to affirm the eternal generation of the Son, let us examine more carefully what we mean by it. First, it should be obvious that we are using an analogy from human experience to describe something about the eternal, immutable God. Clearly, then, the manner in which a human father begets a son differs significantly from the manner in which the Father begets the Son. For one thing, in human begetting, there is a time when the son does not exist; but in the divine original of which the human begetting is but a pale reflection, there never was a time when the Son did not exist (pace Arius). Furthermore, human begetting involves a mother and a father, whereas the Son is begotten of the Father alone. And a human father’s begetting is a free and voluntary act, while the Son’s filiation is an eternal and necessary act. Otherwise, the Son would be a contingent being, but no contingent being is divine. Athanasius wrote:

Nor is the Son’s generation like a man’s from his parent, involving His coming into existence after the Father. Rather He is God’s offspring, and since God is eternal and He belongs to God as Son, He exists from all eternity. It is characteristic of men, because of the imperfections of their nature, to beget in time; but God’s offspring is eternal, His nature being always perfect. (J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, Fifth Edition San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1978, p. 244.)

So with all of these vast differences between human and divine begetting, wherein lies the point of analogy? Just as a human father communicates his essence (humanity) to the son, so the Father communicates his essence (deity) to the Son. In the words of Turretin: (Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. I (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1992), pp. 292-93.)

As all generation indicates a communication of essence on the part of the begetter to the begotten (by which the begotten becomes like the begetter and partakes of the same nature with him), so this wonderful generation is rightly expressed as a communication of essence from the Father (by which the Son possesses indivisibly the same essence with him and is made perfectly like him).

John’s description of Christ as Creator is echoed by Paul in Colossians 1:15-20, where he says that Christ made all things and sustains his creation in being. Hebrews says the same thing in Hebrews 1:1-4, where he says that the Son is the one through whom the world was made and the one who directs it toward his intended goal. In Corinthians 8:6 Paul couples God the Father, “from whom are all things,” and the Lord Jesus Christ, “through whom are things,” evidently referring to their respective work in creation.

In short, this God who made the universe—establishing an order with a vast range of variety, with human beings as the crown of his creation, representing him as his image bearers—is relational. Communion and communication are inherent to his very being. In creating the world, he has made us for himself, to enter into communion with him in a universe of ravishing beauty and ordered variety. By his creation of the seventh day, he ceased from his works in contemplation of their ordered beauty and goodness, and invites us to join him. The first chapter of Genesis says to all who read it that Yahweh, the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Moses, is also the Creator of all things. He who made his covenant with his people Israel is not merely some territorial divinity, but the one to whom all nations are accountable, for he is their maker. There is a clear unity between creation and redemption. The mandate in verses 26-29 to multiply and subdue the earth embraces the whole creation, and it is also the basic building block for the unfolding structure of salvation after the Fall. Reflecting on this implicitly Trinitarian structure of Genesis 1, Athanasius writes of creation being in Christ.” Since Genesis (no less than any other part of the Bible) is to be read in the context of the whole of Scripture, we can see references in the NT to the role of Christ and the Holy Spirit in creation as reinforcing this interpretation (Col. 1:15-20; Heb. 1:3; 11:3; John 1:1ff.). This vital point is underlined by other—unmistakably poetic—accounts of creation in the OT. In Psalm 33:6, creation is said to have originated “by the word of the LORD … and by the breath of his mouth. (Karl Barth, CD, 111/1: 196. Athanasius, On the Incarnation 1, 3, 12, 14 (PG 25:97-102, 115-22).

Gen 1:2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

The Spirit of God is mentioned nearly four hundred times in the OT. In general, the Spirit is seen as the power of God at work, occasionally as an extension of the divine personality, but for the most part as little more than a divine attribute. Sometimes Hebrew poetic parallelism implies that the Spirit of God is identical to Yahweh (Ps. 139:7), but this simply begs the question, for there is not the slightest hint even here that the Spirit is to be understood as a distinct person. Rather, it is God’s divine power or breath,’ “God’s manifest and powerful activity in the world.” (O’Collins, Tripersonal God)

Frequently, anthropomorphic language is used. The Spirit has personal characteristics—guiding, instructing, being grieved. The Spirit, or breath, of God gives life (Gen. 1:2; Ps. 33:9; 104:29-30), coming upon the inert bones in Ezekiel’s vision to reanimate them (Ezek. 37:8-10). The Spirit of God empowers people for various forms of service in God’s kingdom (Num. 27:18; Judg. 3:10; 1 Sam. 16:13; Ex. 31:3; 35:31-34) and is the protector of God’s people (Isa. 63:11-12; Hag. 2:5; 1 Sam. 19:20,23), indwelling them (Num. 27:18; Dent. 34:7; Ezek. 2:2; 3:24; Dan. 4:8-9, 18; 5:11; Mic. 3:8) and resting upon and empowering the Messiah (Isa. 11:2-3; 42:1; 61:1).

The most remarkable actions of the patriarchs and prophets are due to the Spirit of God, whether they be those of Gideon, Samson, Saul, or Joseph, who is able to interpret dreams because he is full of the Spirit of God (Gen. 41:38). However, there is no evidence that the Spirit was seen as a distinct person. In fact, everything points the other way. In view is not the Spirit’s nature, but the Spirit’s action. Yahweh acts through the Spirit, as Wainwright comments.’-” To have suggested the contrary would have challenged the insistence of Deuteronomy that there is only one God, for no tools existed at that time to distinguish such a putative claim from the pagan polytheism that Israel was bound to reject. The Spirit is the power of God at work—no more than a distinctive attribute.

However, a development in the course of the OT helps pave the way for the Christian teaching. Generally, the Spirit comes only intermittently on the prophets and on select persons such as Samson and Saul, and his presence with his people in general is also intermittent (Ps. 51:11). However, later on the Spirit is seen as a permanent possession, with an increased focus on his ethical effect in terms of righteousness and justice (Isa. 11:2; Zech. 12:10).`9 The Spirit is also linked with the Messiah in three passages (Isa. 11:1-2; 42: 1; 61: 1), and the Spirit is expected to come as a future gift to all God’s people (Joel 2:28ff.; Ezek. 11:19; 36:26; 37:12; Zech. 12:10). Thus, “the developing idea of the Spirit provided a climate in which plurality within the Godhead was conceivable.”

At this point, B. B. Warfield’s magisterial article, “The Spirit of God in the Old Testament,” is important.” He considers the work of the Spirit in connection with the cosmos, the kingdom of God, and the individual, concluding that he is at work in the OT in all the ways that he works in the NT. However, there is a difference. What is new in the NT are the miraculous endowments of the apostles and the worldwide mission of the Spirit, promised in the OT, but only now realized.

Gen 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

God speaks. From this we learn that He not only is, but is such that He can express His will and commune with His intelligent creatures. He is manifest not only by His creation, but by Himself. If light had come into existence without a perceptible cause, we should still have inferred a first Causer by an intuitive principle which demands an adequate cause for anything making its appearance which was not before. But when God says, “Be light,” in the audience of His intelligent creatures, and light forthwith comes into view, they perceive God commanding, as well as light appearing.

Speech is the proper mode of spiritual manifestation. Thinking, willing, acting are the movements of spirit, and speech is the index of what is thought, willed, and done. Now, as the essence of God is the spirit which thinks and acts, so the form of God is that in which the spirit speaks, and otherwise meets the observations of intelligent beings. In these three verses, then, we have God, the spirit of God, and the word of God. And as the term “spirit” is transferred from an inanimate thing to signify an intelligent agent, so the term “word” is capable of receiving a similar change of application.

Inadvertent critics of the Bible object to God being described as “speaking,” or performing any other act that is proper only to the human frame or spirit. They say it is anthropomorphic or anthropopathic, implies a gross, material, or human idea of God, and is therefore unworthy of Him and of His Word. But they forget that great law of thought and speech by which we apprehend analogies, and with a wise economy call the analogues by the same name. Almost all the words we apply to mental things were originally borrowed from our vocabulary for the material world, and therefore really figurative, until by long habit the metaphor was forgotten, and they became to all intents and purposes literal. And philosophers never have and never will have devised a more excellent way of husbanding words, marking analogies, and fitly expressing spiritual things. Our phraseology for mental ideas, though lifted up from a lower sphere, has not landed us in spiritualism, but enabled us to converse about the metaphysical with the utmost purity and propriety.

And, since this holds true of human thoughts and actions, so does it apply with equal truth to the divine ways and works. Let there be in our minds proper notions of God, and the tropical language we must and ought to employ in speaking of divine things will derive no taint of error from its original application to their human analogues. Scripture communicates those adequate notions of the most High God which are the fit corrective of its necessarily metaphorical language concerning the things of God. Accordingly, the intelligent perusal of the Bible has never produced idolatry; but, on the other hand, has communicated even to its critics the just conceptions they have acquired of the spiritual nature of the one true God.

It ought to be remembered, also, that the very principle of all language is the use of signs for things, that the trope is only a special application of this principle according to the law of parsimony, and that the East is especially addicted to the use of tropical language. Let not western metaphysics misjudge, lest it be found to misunderstand eastern aesthetics.

It is interesting to observe in the self-manifesting God, the great archetypes of which the semblances are found in man. Here we have the sign-making or signifying faculty in exercise. Whether there were created witnesses present at the issue of this divine command, we are not here informed. Their presence, however, was not necessary to give significance to the act of speech, any more than to that of self-manifestation. God may manifest Himself and speak, though there be none to see and hear.

We see, too, here the name in existence before the thing, because it primarily refers to the thing as contemplated in thought.

The self-manifesting God and the self-manifesting act of speaking are here antecedent to the act of creation, or the coming of the thing into existence. This teaches us that creation is a different thing from self-manifestation or emanation. God is; He manifests Himself; He speaks; and lastly He puts forth the power, and the thing is done.

Let there be light. – The word “be” simply denotes the “existence” of the light, by whatever means or from whatever quarter it comes into the given locality. It might have been by an absolute act of pure creation or making out of nothing. But it may equally well be effected by any supernatural operation which removes an otherwise insurmountable hindrance, and opens the way for the already existing light to penetrate into the hitherto darkened region. This phrase is therefore in perfect harmony with preexistence of light among the other elementary parts of the universe from the very beginning of things. And it is no less consonant with the fact that heat, of which light is a species or form, is, and has from the beginning been, present in all those chemical changes by which the process of universal nature is carried on through all its innumerable cycles.

New Testament Doctrines merely alluded to in the Old Testament that the Jews had misinterpreted:

Some of the concepts alluded to in the Old Testament, were misunderstood by the Jews because they misinterpreted the scriptures:

  1. The Sadducees for example, rejected conscious life after death but Jesus stated they were wrong, (Luke 16:19-31; 20:37-38 = Ex 3:6). However, the Pharisees opposed the Sadducees and Luke 16, (rich man and Lazarus) was exactly what they believed at the time of Jesus Even David understood conscious life after death: 2 Sam 12:22-23.
  2. The following will send shivers up the spine of every Jehovah’s Witness! To their horror, the divine name underwent change and development. “God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, Lord, I did not make Myself known to them.” (Exodus 6:2-3) From Adam to Moses, God’s name was “El-Shaddai” (God Almighty). From Moses to Christ, God’s name was YHWH (Yahweh or Jehovah). For Christians the name of God is JESUS! “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Certainly the Jews never foresaw the time when YHWH would no longer be used as the name for God and it would be replace with Jesus! But actually, in God’s providence, the Jews were actually part of the change. The Septuagint was a translation in 250 BC from the Hebrew Old Testament by 70 scholars into Greek. They translated YHWH as LORD (Kurios). It was no mistake that the Holy Spirit Himself continued in this tradition in the New Testament. God ordained that YHWH would never once be found in the original Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Of course the New World Translation (sectarian paraphrase used only by JW’s) adds YHWH into the English New Testament where never found in the underlying Greek. The Watchtower has actually added to the word of God and will be punished according to the curses of Revelation for doing such! Meanwhile, thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses are also deceived.
  3. The Essenes and even the disciples, incorrectly expected the messiah to deliver the Jews from Roman domination and restore an independent Jewish nation, (Acts 1:6) yet they were clearly mistaken about this role of the Messiah because Jesus came and returned to heaven without doing what they were expecting. (Mk 1:15) Even the Romans had heard this rumor that Jesus would overthrow them. When specifically asked by Pilate if His kingdom was physical, Jesus told Pilate that His kingdom was spiritual, not physical. (Mk 1:15; Jn 18:33-36)
  4. The Jews may have had the mistaken idea that during the age of the Messiah (between cross and resurrection) that they would be keeping the weekly Sabbath and monthly New moon festival (Isa 66:23), yet they were abolished by the Messiah. (Col 1:14-16; Gal 4:10)
  5. They didn’t understand his death and resurrection even though the Old Testament prophesied it and Jesus explicitly taught it: (Lk 24:46; Mt 16:21-22; Lk 18:31-34; Jn 16:16-18; 20:9)
  6. They didn’t understand the second coming even thought Jesus explicitly taught it: (Jn 13:36-14:6)

New Testament Doctrines merely alluded to in the Old Testament by way of shadows and types and the Jews had not comprehended at all. These represent unique New Testament revelation.

Many concepts completely lacking in the Old Testament (except in some cases for shadows and types) were introduced as brand new revelation in the New Testament. In other words, without the New Testament, no one would have ever understood the hidden meaning of the Old Testament events, shadows and anti-types.

  1. Water baptism (Acts 2:38 = Ex 30:18; Col 2:11 + Ex 30:6 = Gen 17:10)
  2. The Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:26 = Ex 12)
  3. The second coming of the Messiah (Heb 9:28 = Jude 14)
  4. That the Messiah was the creator Jn 1:3 + Col 1:16 + Heb 1:10-12 = Gen 1:26 + Eccl 12:1 [lit: creators])
  5. That we would become part of the body of the Messiah, (1 Cor 12:12f)
  6. That the physical universe would be uncreated at the second coming (2 Pe 3:8-10, Rev 20:11)
  7. That Jesus Christ was the “Rock that followed” the Jews through the wilderness (1 Cor 10:1-4)
  8. An excellent example of progressive revelation in the Bible is Peter’s first sermon in Acts 2:39 “For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.” The key phrase is “all who are far off” which is a reference to the Gentiles now included in God’s specific plans for salvation for the first time at Pentecost. A direct parallel is Eph 2:13 “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” The amazing thing is, that Peter did not understand what he was saying through the Holy Spirit! He preached that the Gentiles were on the same equal level as the Jews, yet we see in Acts 10, that Peter did not understand this because God had to show Peter this truth, through an elaborate vision. In the same way, New Testament writers taught the basic elements of trinity doctrine, but may not at first, have understood the specific plumbing of how the trinity works, as discussed in the later centuries.

New Testament Doctrines that contradicted Old Testament doctrines:

  1. During the Old Testament God’s people first entered into “Covenant relationship” by way of circumcision on the 8th day, and afterward were taught about the conditions of the covenant. The New Testament teaches the opposite because God’s people will first be taught, then enter covenant relationship by “consensual believers baptism” (Heb 8:9-11)
  2. Great emphasis is placed in the Old Testament about God’s people living the physical life to the fullest of enjoyment, yet Jesus taught the opposite, namely that we should deny ourselves in this life, for the sake of the kingdom, and await for eternal reward. (Mt 16:24-26)
  3. Moses permitted divorce for reasons other than adultery (Deut 24), Jesus had forbidden divorce unless your spouse had committed adultery (Mt 19:9; 1 Cor 7:10-12)

There are many references in this response to our conversation from the other day. I have approximately 9 to 12 references I wish to more fully develop in regards to this issue. I would be remiss if I didn’t ask for your personal refutations and argumentation of this first exegesis of Genesis 1:1-3.   To be continued.

the Beleaguered Believer

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on May 1, 2010 at 3:02 pm

There are enough Religions choose any one you want it’s like clothes pick the one that suits you!

(Eph 4:11-25 AMP)  And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers. His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church), [That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him. So then, we may no longer be children, tossed [like ships] to and fro between chance gusts of teaching and wavering with every changing wind of doctrine, [the prey of] the cunning and cleverness of unscrupulous men, [gamblers engaged] in every shifting form of trickery in inventing errors to mislead. Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). For because of Him the whole body (the church, in all its various parts), closely joined and firmly knit together by the joints and ligaments with which it is supplied, when each part [with power adapted to its need] is working properly [in all its functions], grows to full maturity, building itself up in love. So this I say and solemnly testify in [the name of] the Lord [as in His presence], that you must no longer live as the heathen (the Gentiles) do in their perverseness [in the folly, vanity, and emptiness of their souls and the futility] of their minds.

 Their moral understanding is darkened and their reasoning is be clouded. [They are] alienated (estranged, self-banished) from the life of God [with no share in it; this is] because of the ignorance (the want of knowledge and perception, the willful blindness) that is deep-seated in them, due to their hardness of heart [to the insensitiveness of their moral nature].  In their spiritual apathy they have become callous and past feeling and reckless and have abandoned themselves [a prey] to unbridled sensuality, eager and greedy to indulge in every form of impurity [that their depraved desires may suggest and demand]. But you did not so learn Christ! Assuming that you have really heard Him and been taught by Him, as [all] Truth is in Jesus [embodied and personified in Him], Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, rejecting all falsity and being done now with it, let everyone express the truth with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one body and members one of another. [Zech. 8:16.]

 

Henry Ford “People can have the Model T in any color –so long as it’s black.” One more “History is more or less bunk!” His point People don’t want the constraints of the past getting in the way of living in the moment. Do what makes you feel good, has been tearing at the fabric of our society ever since the counter culture movement of the 60’s. The response to this from the Christian community has also moved from the proper doctrine, traditions and dogma of the church into panic mode. Some churches have made traditionalism their doctrine and we will fight any change their battle cry. Others have moved to destroy their doctrine by removing the concept of sin, repentance, and salvation. With marketing companies and demographics statists the Emerging church preaches a dogma of accommodation.  And sadly a lot of churches are closing their doors and giving up the fight. It seems to me at the very heart of this the Beleaguered Believer isn’t being instructed on how to respond to any of this. 

For example this some would say “ That’s just your opinion” and the Beleaguered Believer is left with a statement that on the surface seems intelligent but if we let the truth of scripture renew our minds and the Holy Spirit control our thoughts we find an answer. (1st) clarify the position taken: Are you saying there’s no truth only opinion? If so, how do you know this is so? (2nd) we can raise questions about obviously wicked or false ideas: What if some people fell like the Holocaust or the genocide in the Sudan never took place? Should we accept their feelings or opinion as truth? Should we be tolerant and accept their opinion and how does it match up to reality? (3rd) We should respond to this issue as we do skepticism: Your opinion is a statement of knowledge: it purports to be truth not just opinion. The opinion holder adopts a position of intellectual and moral evasion, the easy way out of taking moral responsibility seriously. We as God followers can remind people it’s OK to speak of true and false beliefs without being arrogant or disagreeable. We’re designed to be truth-seekers, not truth-deniers.

(Rom 16:16-20 AMP)  Greet one another with a holy (consecrated) kiss. All the churches of Christ (the Messiah) wish to be remembered to you. I appeal to you, brethren, to be on your guard concerning those who create dissensions and difficulties and cause divisions, in opposition to the doctrine (the teaching) which you have been taught. [I warn you to turn aside from them, to] avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites and base desires, and by ingratiating and flattering speech, they beguile the hearts of the unsuspecting and simple-minded [people]. For while your loyalty and obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I would have you well versed and wise as to what is good and innocent and guileless as to what is evil. And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) be with you.

Have you ever heard this statement before: “I’m not into religion but into spirituality” or organized religion, with all their doctrine, creeds, or “tradition” really are unnecessary. These are people who prefer experience, follow an “inner voice” or the “divine within”. Or even people who have been raised in the church treating it like a “have it your way” picking and choosing from a menu. They give no more thought to what they believe other than the music is good the preacher seems excited and I feel better when I’m done. A preference based (over truth based) approach means a pick and choose, who cares if it’s inconsistent syncretism. (the fusion of diverse religious beliefs and practices. Instances of religious syncretism—as, for example, Gnosticism (a religious dualistic system that incorporated elements from the Oriental mystery religions), Judaism, Christianity, and Greek religious philosophical concepts—were particularly prevalent during the Hellenistic period (c. 300 bc–c. ad 300).Many of our youth today are choosing to avoid biblical theology in favor of syncretic, culture based theology and sadly such choices put them further away from genuine reality. It seems easier to make God into our own image and make Him more comfortable for us to worship. The only problem with making God look like you is you become your own God. Many feminists refuse to refer to God as Father because many women have been oppressed and abused by men apparently due to a belief in a male-favoring deity. Rather than adjust to God’s revelation, people may shape God into this or that image or impose their own experience. Yes men have abused women, but this is a deviation from true divinely designed masculinity. And it’s precisely the fatherhood of God that must orient our understanding of how human fathers can and should act toward their children. The crucifixion was not a form of “divine child abuse” as many feminists argue, it reveals the relational triune God who suffers with his creatures, and Father and Spirit shared in Son’s suffering. The Trinitarian language of Scripture reminds of God’s personal nature, his relationality, his authority, and his special revelation in Jesus the Christ.

(2Co 5:18-19 HCSB)  Now everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us.

If God is the worship-worthy Creator of all, then we are to live by his terms as Lord rather than seek to define the terms ourselves from a safe distance. There are many things that are unsafe in our society that may nevertheless help us to draw near to God. If God the Father didn’t challenge us then our natural bent towards self fulfillment our self centered orientation would not be kept in check making us depend less on God and more own ourselves. The invent –a religion- idea assumes experience-not truth is the bottom line. Jesus always challenges us to consider who He is.

 (Mat 16:15 HCSB)  “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?” not “Who do you want me to be?” He is to be the object not subject of our faith.  The trumpeting of experience over truth means tortured affirmation of conflicting belief systems. As Lewis wrote in his Screwtape Letters (here the experienced demon, Screwtape, writes to his apprentice, Wormwood, about how to handle his human project):

Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to having a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily “true” or “false,” but as “academic” or “practical,” “outworn” or “contemporary,” “conventional” or “ruthless.” Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church.

‘This theological mushy-mindedness is the result of the create-your Own philosophy, which destroys the soul and sucks the evangelistic life out of the church. Then the church becomes a philosophical club of errant pseudo moral do-gooder who practice moralism based on what’s convenient and comfortable. That’s how we end up with modem slogans like “personally I am against abortion but I support a woman’s right to choose”, “You can’t legislate morality” or “It’s arrogant to say your values are better than others”.

Have you ever heard the claim that “morality can’t be legislated”? I have heard it too many times, and it has often been said by religious people. I’m afraid the majority of people in this country have bought into this lie, which has been propagated by the liberal left.

Those who argue in favor of abortion often insist that morality should not be legislated. They say that the pro-life movement should not force their morals on society. In fact, the Supreme Court seems to have bought into the lie. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court said,

Some of us as individuals find abortion offensive to our most basic principles of morality, but that cannot control our decision. Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code…at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.

But to say that morality cannot be legislated is to betray an ignorance of what laws really are. All laws declare one behavior right and one behavior wrong, which is the very definition of morality. When people say morality cannot be legislated, they should be saying that legislation cannot change hearts. While this is true, changing hearts is not the purpose of laws. Regardless of one’s personal convictions, laws encourage a certain behavior by citizens. Legislation cannot be divorced from morality. All laws mandate morality. The question is not then can we legislate morality, but whose morality do we legislate?1

 

The language of “freedom of choice” doesn’t make sense we are letting culture redefine the language to exclude moral imperatives. The words of freedom or rights seem empty and without content. The right to choose what? The termination of a pregnancy is not a morally neutral act or decision. We as humans don’t have the abyss of moral neutrality something is either right or wrong. Thankfully we do legislate morality so we can co-exist in free society.

The sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) declared:

It can no longer be maintained nowadays that there is one, single morality which is valid for all men at all times in all places. We know full well that morality has varied ….The purpose of morality practiced by a people is to enable it to live; hence morality changes with societies. There is not just one morality, but several, and as many as there are social types. And as our societies change, so will our morality. It will no longer be in the future what it is today.

My first response is really? This was the man who established sociology as a science in France, a friend of Marx and a supporter of the Communist system of economics and social construct. It seems the absurdity of history can reveal how stigmas attack dogmas and we are left to rebuild the dogma. Moral values have different cultural expressions (how we honor our parents in Eastern and Western cultures).

At the same time there are some things ought never to be practiced in any culture this would present a defect in that culture. Beating women for not wearing appropriate clothing in public sin reveals itself in all societies and pretending to tolerate (ignore) it doesn’t mean we are black balling the entire society. We can affirm and reject moral beliefs based on an absolute truth standard. One philosopher comments: If (members of a particular tribe) think that it is acceptable to engage in practices like the sacrifice of firstborn children, then their grasp on the conception of morality is somewhere between inadequate and nonexistent. Moral truths are not dependant on a cultures acceptance of them. For the true relativist there is no virtue or vice, only the quest for autonomy the pop culture maxim of “have it your way!” The test of truth for morality is what kind of moral hero does your moral system produce?

(Eph 4:17-32 ESV)  Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!– assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

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