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  • January 13, 2010

    January 13, 2010 | 138 Comments

    Dr. Brown Debates Kermit Zarley on the Deity of Jesus (Part Two)

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    Excellent book on the preexistence of the Son:
    The Preexistent Son

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    Comments

    138 Responses to “January 13, 2010”

    1. John Saputo
      January 13th, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

      Dr. Brown you are very gracious and kind but Mr Zarley has an agenda that is beyond intellectual integrity. It is like debating someone who is an atheist and believes in Darwinian evolution and will not admit that there is not one stich of evidence for macro-evolution that can be verified by true science.

      There is something going on here with this man under the surface that is not too clear. I will pray for him. Jesus was with the disciples for at least three years and it still took Pentecost for most of these truths to sink in!

    2. Jaco
      January 14th, 2010 @ 2:52 am

      John,

      Don’t you be the judge of another person’s motives! Measure his arguments against the evidence he provides. If you disregard Jesus’ and Paul’s words regarding Jesus’ identity, at least obey them by not judging others.

      You’re equivocating anyway. You need some praying for yourself.

    3. Xavier
      January 14th, 2010 @ 8:06 am

      Saputo,

      Jesus was with the disciples for at least three years and it still took Pentecost for most of these truths to sink in!

      According to Acts 2, what finally sunk in was the self-evident truth [cf. Mat 16.16; Mar 1.24; Jn 1.49] that Jesus has been made by his God and Father “lord Messsiah”!! See Psalm 110.1…

    4. Johan Rabie
      January 14th, 2010 @ 3:04 pm

      Dr. Brown, thank you very much for your efforts on this matter.
      Often these kind of teachings evokes a mixture of emotions.
      I think you did a excellent job.
      This just goes to prove that you can make the Bible say just what you want and how important it is to rightly divide the truth in context of the entirety of scripture.

      Dr Brown you certainly are a good example on how to present ourselves even in adversity and dispute without being overly critical.

      There are obviously students on both sides of the fence and those who have a strong foundation in their doctrine will not budge unless through the power of God. Having said that I am sure that there may be many people who have not done study or exhaustive thought on the matter and we can pray that those people will be moved to the truth.

      Again, thank you very much Dr. Brown.

    5. Carl Staton
      January 14th, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

      Titus 2:11-14 is my theological “slam dunk”. Paul clearly declares that Jesus Christ is “our great God and Savior” unless it is KJV (which has two subjects, namely “Our great God” and our “Savior Jesus Christ). These verses are packed with spiritual truths and references to two appearings of the Lord marking the beginning and end of God’s amazing season of grace toward all peoples.

      May the Lord have mercy upon those of us who continually resist God’s amazing grace.

    6. Vicky
      January 14th, 2010 @ 5:31 pm

      I learn so much from you Dr. Brown, what a blessing you are.
      Let us pray for Mr. Zarley, that God would open his eyes.

    7. Xavier
      January 14th, 2010 @ 9:29 pm

      Recently I read an excellent essay by AE Harvey, Jesus and the Constraints of History, perhaps “pray” for people to read such articles with a totally unbiased, open-mind.

      It is therefore no cause for surprise that the New Testament writers appear to have submitted to this constraint, and to have avoided using the word ‘god’ or `divine’ of Jesus. Jesus himself is recorded as having endorsed the standard Jewish confession of monotheism (Mark 12.29) and accepted the prohibition which this implied of any moral comparison between himself and God (Mark 10.18); moreover in the Fourth Gospel he is made to deny vigorously the accusation that lie set himself up as a being equal to and independent of God. The New Testament writers similarly are insistent about the absolute oneness of God and show no tendency to describe Jesus in terms of divinity: the few apparent exceptions are either grammatically or textually uncertain or have an explanation which, as we shall see, brings them within the constraint of Jewish monotheism. It was not until the new religion had spread well beyond the confines of its parent Judaism that it became possible to break the constraint and describe Jesus as divine; and it is significant that Jewish Christian churches continued to exist for at least a century which refused to take this step. But given that this option was closed, only one alternative remained. If no divine attributes were possible, only human categories could be used. Jesus’ unique authority must somehow be expressed by a model or paradigm drawn from human experience and human relationships. We have seen already that one designation that was chosen (and was apparently inspired by the character of Jesus’ activity) was that of the person anointed to proclaim good news to the poor and bring sight to the blind: the Christ. Another, which has become of critical importance in subsequent Christian doctrine, was Son of God.

      For the full article see:

      http://inthenameofwhowhat.blogspot.com/2010/01/jesus-and-constraints-of-history.html

    8. Rob S.
      January 14th, 2010 @ 9:56 pm

      Xavier,

      If you know Greek, I would suggest reading Daniel Wallace’s article on the Graville Sharp Rule.

      Check out:
      http://bible.org/article/sharp-redivivus-reexamination-granville-sharp-rule

      It’s pretty exhaustive. I’d definitely have to say that the Granville Sharp Rule remains established.

    9. Steve
      January 14th, 2010 @ 10:44 pm

      Though I believe in the deity of Christ I wouldn’t call Titus 2:11-14 a “slam dunk”. I’m familiar with the argument about the Granville Sharp Rule as well. In his recent book “Pauline Christology” Dr. Gordon Fee argues that two people are in view in the passage. He says that what it is saying is that Jesus is the glory of the great God and Savior not that Jesus is the great God and Savior. In the book Dr. Brown listed yesterday, Putting Jesus in His Place, they disagree with Dr. Fee but I think the fact that someone of Dr. Fee’s caliber arguing against this as a text that calls Jesus God makes it difficult to call it a “slam dunk”.

    10. Xavier
      January 14th, 2010 @ 11:12 pm

      Rob S.

      Yes, I am familiar with the Rule but, as Harvey states in his book “Jesus and the Constraints of History” [1980]:

      The New Testament writers similarly are insistent about the absolute oneness of God and show no tendency to describe Jesus in terms of divinity: the few apparent exceptions are either grammatically or textually uncertain or have an explanation which, as we shall see, brings them within the constraint of Jewish monotheism. It was not until the new religion had spread well beyond the confines of its parent Judaism that it became possible to break the constraint and describe Jesus as divine; and it is significant that Jewish Christian churches continued to exist for at least a century which refused to take this step.

      Why are we even arguing texts that we all know [Trinis or not] are “grammatically or textually uncertain”. As Steve has shown in the above comment, even Trini scholars are not uniform in their interpreation.

    11. Nathaniel
      January 14th, 2010 @ 11:46 pm

      “moreover in the Fourth Gospel he is made to deny vigorously the accusation that lie set himself up as a being equal to and independent of God. The New Testament writers similarly are insistent about the absolute oneness of God and show no tendency to describe Jesus in terms of divinity:”

      I find that people who claim that the NT does not say that Jesus is divine have to contort the grammar in egregious ways or project a theology on the text that the text itself does not teach. The NT teaches the existence of the Trinity, but only by allowing us a glance into the fellowship of the Godhead (seeing his backside through the cleft of a rock as it were). I understand the plea to be logical in this instance, but we must remember that God is more logical than us, even if we do not understand him. Furthermore, appeals to what the early church believed about Christ (as well as what we Moderns say) should be evaluated with Scripture and not taken as true interpretation unless it is consistent with Scripture. This claim in particular cannot be found consistent with what Scripture teaches.

    12. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 15th, 2010 @ 12:10 am

      Xavier,

      Thanks so much for your posts. I must say, however, that I strongly differ with Harvey’s assessment (held by others too) that it was only when the Jesus movement strayed from its Jewish roots that it embraced concepts of His deity. Surely not!

      From an OT/ANE perspective, I would encourage you to read Collins and Collins, King and Messiah as Son of God (I actually think they are stronger on the OT material than the NT), as well as the books I referenced on the previous broadcast by Hurtado and Bauckham, as well as my treatment on the subject in vol. 2 of my Jewish Objections series.

      I can demonstrate my primary points using the Hebrew Scriptures alone — and I believe the main lines of argument for the deity of the Son in the OT and NT are, as Harvey claims, grammatically or textually uncertain. Consider the quote from Hebrews 1, citing Ps 102. The Son’s deity is indisputably affirmed there.

      Again, thanks for being part of the discussion in a literate way.

    13. Dr. Michael L. Brown
      January 15th, 2010 @ 1:55 am

      Please note the typo in my last post (a doozie!).

      In place of “and I believe the main lines of argument for the deity of the Son in the OT and NT are, as Harvey claims, grammatically or textually uncertain” please correct to read: “and I believe the main lines of argument for the deity of the Son in the OT and NT are NOT, as Harvey claims, grammatically or textually uncertain.”

      Sorry for any confusion.

    14. Johan Rabie
      January 15th, 2010 @ 3:19 am

      2 Timothy 4:3
      For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.

      I am sure that both sides of the fence will look across the fence with 2 Tim 4:3 in mind. The reality of the matter is that only one side can be right. For me it is painfully clear that Christ is God. As Dr Brown states, the point can be made made in Old Testament alone. A lot of text has been thrown around during this talk and I think it is because there is so much at stake. We are called to rightly divide the word and when we stand before Christ we will either show ourselves as approved or not.

      I must be honest; no amount of “you should read this or that” will make a difference to me. I have always fund that the Bible explains itself well enough. Example: Christ stating “I AM” being a clear reference to the Name of God “I AM” given to Moses for the people of Israel in Egypt. The fact that the Jews at the time picked up stones to kill him clearly shows that they understood this to be blasphemy. When you rightly divide the Word, It is the best source of comment.

      What I take away from this is a warning that there will be people who will go to extreme lengths to mislead you and you need to be supper attentive and disciplined in your study of the Word with the sole purpose of getting to know God better and cultivating a better personal, intimate relationship with Him.

      Ultimately it is your relationship with God that matters and I think this topic is so explosive because it is your understanding of who God is that is at stake.
      May God bless all of you.

    15. Jaco
      January 15th, 2010 @ 4:51 am

      Johan, you said

      There are obviously students on both sides of the fence and those who have a strong foundation in their doctrine will not budge unless through the power of God.

      That goes for you too.

      To answer your question on John 1:1:

      En arche hen ho logos kai ho logos hen pros ton theon kai theos hen ho logos.

      The latter theos is called an anarthrous (without the article) predicate (object before verb) noun. This does NOT depict identity. It serves as a description or explanation of some quality of the subject. Nothing in the text not anywhere else identifies the logos with a person. The masculine article is a conventional grammatical gender of masculinity, not biological masculinity. Jesus is what God’s expression or logos BECAME. Trinitarians have the convenient ambiguity in English by saying “Jesus is God.” It is ambiguous since “God” is somehow meant to be somewhere between a person and an attribute. The noun God always referred to the Father, Yahweh, and where the possible ambiguous references allow Jesus to be called G/god, the rule and reality of Agency, or Representation (shaliach) cannot be denied.

      Your other reference to John 8:58 on the doctrinally exaggerated “I am” statement is also invalid, since that was the typical way of self identification in Greek as can be seen in both the LXX and NT where both Yahweh and humans use the expression. NOTHING to do with the trinity. John 8:54 refutes the fallacious equating and identifying of Jesus with Yahweh. The valid reasoning goes like this:

      If Jesus were Yahweh, Jesus’ glorifying himself would mean everything.
      According to John 8:54 Jesus’ glorifying himself means nothing
      Thus, Jesus is not Yahweh.

      Perfectly true and valid reasoning (modus tollens). Jesus identifies his Father as being Yahweh, whom Jesus is not.

      Acts 3:13 the confessional testimony by Peter irrefutably identifies the Father with Yahweh, separate and distinct from His servant, Christ Jesus. In no confessional statements of Acts is Jesus ever identified as Yahweh. That was the Gospel that was preached, leaving the trinity one to be rejected (Gal. 1:8, 9)

      I agree with Harvey’s observation. While the Biblical Unitarian stance (i.e Yahweh’s simple unity) is overwhelmingly confirmed by innumerable proofs, trinitarians have to comb Scripture, prooftext, divorce texts from immediate and distributed context, and rely on extra-biblical terms and notions completely foreign to the Hebraic cognitive mindset of times past. Not to mention the horrendous fallacies required to arrive at a fourth century heresy or creating a doctrinal rule from ambiguous exceptions.

      Jaco

    16. Jaco
      January 15th, 2010 @ 5:06 am

      Johan,

      I must be honest; no amount of “you should read this or that” will make a difference to me. I have always fund that the Bible explains itself well enough. Example: Christ stating “I AM” being a clear reference to the Name of God “I AM” given to Moses for the people of Israel in Egypt. The fact that the Jews at the time picked up stones to kill him clearly shows that they understood this to be blasphemy. When you rightly divide the Word, It is the best source of comment.

      Johan, you see, that is another area where you and your trinitarian friends have a problem. A post-biblical heresy takes preference over the Sacred Text. Or you superimpose Scripture to fit your Nicean/Chalcedonian gospel. Thanks for your honesty. You have just admitted your resistence to any possibility of knowing and professing divine truth. That’s bad.

      Since when do we use the Jews’ judgments to determine who Jesus and Yahweh are? In that case Jesus was a blasphemer, a drunkard, demon-possessed, guilty of sedition, and a sabbath breaker! As soon as your arguments are consistently applied to other areas of Scripture, one arrives at unthinkable absurdities! I prefer to read Jesus’ own words and determine his identity from those. I couldn’t care less what those Jews thought of my Lord!

      By the way, do you live in South Africa? I do.

      Jaco

    17. Johan Rabie
      January 15th, 2010 @ 5:11 am

      Jaco thank you for your great and eager participation.
      Yes, both sides by definition would include me.

      Jaco, are you by any chance a jehovah witness?

    18. Xavier
      January 15th, 2010 @ 5:42 am

      Dr. Brown,

      I have read my fair share of trinitarian scholars such as Hurtado, Bauckham, and have come to strongly disagree with their persistence on “splitting the Shema” [viz. Wright, Dunn and others]. Something Jesus instead takes as his own “statement of faith” [Mar 12.29]. For some of my comments on their analysis please see:

      http://inthenameofwhowhat.blogspot.com/2009/03/splitting-shema-how-not-to-guide.html

      Its interesting you reference Heb 1, a passage I was looking at recently. If v. 10 emphasizes the “preexistent” Son’s role in creation [as some suggest] why is the rest of the Bible silent on this extraordinary statement? Let alone the author of Hebrews, who starts the chapter seemingly contradicting this view:

      Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but IN THESE LAST DAYS [i.e. NO "preexistent Son"] HE HAS SPOKEN TO US BY HIS SON… v.1-2a

      Furthermore, Jesus says that God alone is the creator [Mat 19.4]. So it makes more sense that Hebrews places the Son as a sort of “co-creator” of the New Earth, since “it was not to angels that God subjected THE WORLD TO COME, OF WHICH WE ARE SPEAKING…” [Heb 2.5].

      Its interesting to see the bias by some commentators when it comes to Hebrews. For example, when it comes to v. 8 the NIV Study Bible claims that “the author selects a passage that INTIMATES THE DEITY OF THE MESSIANIC (and Davidic) King…” [Phillip E. Hughes, Donald W. Burdick, p 1859, ed. Kenneth L. Barker, Zondervan, 1985.].

      Yet, when commenting on the OT passage the author of Hebrews cites they say this:

      Psa 45.6 “O, God”: Possibly the king’s throne is called God’s throne because he is God’s appointed regent. But IT IS ALSO POSSIBLE THAT THE KING HIMSELF IS ADDRESSED AS “god”.

      The Davidic king (the “LORD’s anointed,” 2Sa 19:21), BECAUSE OF HIS SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, was called at his enthronement the “son” of God (see 2:7; 2Sa 7:14; 1Ch 28:6; cf. 89:27).

      In this psalm, which praises the king and especially extols his “splendor and majesty” (v. 3), IT IS NOT UNTHINKABLE THAT HE WAS CALLED “god” AS A TITLE OF HONOR (cf. Isa 9:6). Such a description of the Davidic king attains its fullest meaning when applied to Christ, as the author of Hebrews does (Heb. 1:8-9).

      (The pharaohs of Egypt were sometimes addressed as “my god” by their vassal kings in Palestine, as evidenced by the Amarna letters). John H. Stek, NIV Study Bible, p 831, ed. Kenneth L. Barker, Zondervan, 1985.

    19. Rob S.
      January 15th, 2010 @ 8:30 am

      Xavier,

      Wallace’s article demonstrates that Granville Sharp’s rule is not “grammatically or textually uncertain” in spite of centuries of challenges.

      Also, is it possible to arrive at unitarianism without pitting Biblical authors against each other?

    20. Dr. Michael L. Brown
      January 15th, 2010 @ 8:38 am

      Xavier,

      Yes, the Son functions as a co-creator, as attested in numerous passages. Yet there are some unitarians who deny His pre-existence!

      As for Ps 45, I deal with the passage in some depth in vol. 2 of my aforementioned series. As for the Pharaoh’s of Egypt, etc., surely you know that they were considered divine, believed to be gods — hence referred to as such.

    21. Kermit
      January 15th, 2010 @ 1:57 pm

      Michael,

      In the debate you mentioned Tit 2.13. But then you had to go to a station break and I was only able to say “grammatical difficulty, Michael.” Now, in these comments, Rob S. twice affirms Granville Sharp’s application of his grammatical rule to Tit 2.13. I have six pages in my book on Tit 2.13. Here is an excerpt concerning Sharp’s rule, but without the several scholarly references. Many scholars would say Sharp’s rule is outdated, having been put forth in 1789, because today’s grammarians know more with more mss.:

      Many grammarians have since insisted that Sharp’s supposed rule is uncertain. Some add that a second article is unnecessary in Tit 2.13 because soteros (Savior) is sufficiently qualified by the pronoun hemon (our). In 1881, Ezra Abbot observed that Sharp’s construction of Tit 2.13 and the above passages was supported
      by only a “few scholars.” Grammarian Nigel Turner [a Tinitarian] admits, “Unfortunately, at this period of Greek we cannot be sure that such a rule is really decisive.” J.N.D. Kelly adds, “the absence of the article cannot count as decisive, for ‘Savior’ tended to be
      anarthrous (cf. 1 Tim 1.1), and in any case the correct use of the article was breaking down in the late Greek.” Grammarian G.B. Winer admitted that either view is grammatically possible; but he added, “only doctrinal conviction, deduced from Paul’s teaching, that this apostle could not have called Christ the great God, induced me to show that there is also no grammatical obstacle to taking kai … sotaros … Christou by itself as a second subject.”
      Other grammarians have insisted that there is an exception to Sharp’s rule, in which the second article can be omitted when the author knows that his/her readers will assume a distinction in subjects.

    22. Xavier
      January 15th, 2010 @ 10:22 pm

      What are the names of the “3 persons in the one God[head]” [i.e. Son=Jesus, Father=YHWH?]?

      If so, don’t we break with trinitarian doctrine when making statements such as: “Jesus is YHWH” or vice versa? Since the doctrine does not allow its adherenets to confound “the persons nor divide the substance” [Athanasian Creed].

    23. Dr. Michael L. Brown
      January 15th, 2010 @ 10:58 pm

      Kermit,

      Thanks for your post. I’m aware of the arguments back and forth, but I can summarize things briefly by saying this: 1) Where biblical statements are quite explicit and beyond grammatical doubt, you must explain them as not meaning what they say (especially in terms of the pre-existence of the Son); 2) Where the grammatical arguments lean towards Yeshua’s deity, you must say there is grammatical ambiguity.

      So, with all respect to your studies and with no insult intended, you’re avoiding the obvious and misreading the complex.

    24. Xavier
      January 15th, 2010 @ 11:25 pm

      Dr. Brown,

      Just to change tack on the “grammatically and ambigous texts”, could you in summary explain John 17.3. Where Jesus himself defines “the only true God” as “the Father” [v.1].

      Note the ESV Study Bible commentary on this verse:

      ‘That they know you’ implies an intimate relationship that involves actually knowing GOD AS A PERSON [i.e. "one person", cp. Gal 3.20 AB].

    25. Dr. Michael L. Brown
      January 15th, 2010 @ 11:52 pm

      Xavier,

      I suggest that you read vol. 2 of my Jewish Objections series where I wholeheartedly emphasize the “one God” message of the Bible and interact with verses like John 17:3. If I have more time to post here — which is rare — I’ll respond in more detail, but since you appear to be a reader, please do check out the volume cited.

    26. Rob S.
      January 16th, 2010 @ 1:22 am

      Kermit:

      As someone who is presenting non-Orthodox theology to the Evangelical world, you should know that you’ll need to interact with the very best that the other side has to offer. This is an area where scholarly quotations won’t do you much good if you aren’t able to reconstruct their arguments using the original languages. In the coming months I expect that you’ll be bombarded with responses to your material.

      I would highly suggest reading Daniel Wallace’s article on Granville Sharp before commenting further (http://bible.org/article/sharp-redivivus-reexamination-granville-sharp-rule). In the article he interacts with many classical challenges to Granville Sharp’s rule and demonstrates that they either misunderstand what the rule actually states or fall drastically short of challenging it.

      Xavier:

      I think we’re getting to a point where we are talking past each other. It is not a trinitarian violation to say that Jesus is YHWH any more than it is a violation to say that the Father is YHWH since they are both individual premises that make up the trinitarian formula. We do not need every passage to carefully spell out the entire argument. On this point, you could just as well deny Jesus’ Messiahship because most Messianic passages deal with individual components of Messianic formula (suffering or conquering).

      Because the Trinity is systematic each proof text acts as a premise while passages such as John’s prologue function as one cohesive argument. The same thing is true regarding Messianic prophecy, though you refuse to apply the rule to New Testament Christology.

    27. Xavier
      January 16th, 2010 @ 1:27 am

      Dr. Brown,

      It is not about “the ‘one God’ message of the Bible” but more specifically WHO is that one God? Jesus defines the one God as “the Father” alone (John 17:1, 3); in contrast Trinitarians define the one God as “the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” [viz. Nicene-Athanasian creeds].

      In your book you seem to agree with this fact when you exclaim that “Jesus himself taught that his Father was the one and only God!” [p 11]

      Yet, later you write:

      …the Hebrew Bible nowhere teaches that our Lord, who is the only [one?] true God, is an absolute unity, while it does give indications that his unity [one person?] is complex or compound.[p 14]

      This statement is full of contradictions. How do you even know we’re talking about one “only true God” and why do you use personal singular pronouns to describe Him?

      Furthermore, you make void the Shema of Deu 6.4 by saying that the Hebrew for “one” ['echad] does not mean “one”? In any language, doesn’t “one month” still mean “one” and not more than “one month”? Or, “one team” still means it is not 2 or 3 teams?! These are old trinitarian arguments that few scholars would support today, same goes for the “us” verses of Gen 1.26 etc.

    28. Xavier
      January 16th, 2010 @ 1:43 am

      Rob S.

      So how many YHWH’s are there? If Jesus is YHWH, the Father is YHWH, doesn’t that make 2 WHO are YHWHs? Yet, the Shema states that “YHWH our God is ONE YHWH”. A creed Jesus affirmed, taught and lived by according to Mar 12.28-29.

      All this should be understood through the Messianic reading of Ps 110.1, where 2 Lords are in view but defined:

      …Jesus assumes that this second Lord is the Messiah. ‘The Lord said to my Lord’ meant ‘God said to my king’…In Hebrew the phrase says, ‘Yahweh said to adoni’ (neum YHWH la’adoni). Adoni means ‘my master’ or ‘my lord’. The devout Jew would read this phrase by covering ‘YHWH’ (Yahweh), saying instead, ‘Adonai said to Adoni’. Adonai (in distinction from adoni) means Yahweh, the God revealed to Israel. The Greek translation of the Hebrew text wrote simply here, ‘The kyrios to my kyrios’ (Eipen ho kyrios to kyrio mou), using the same word—kyrios—for both Hebrew terms. In the Greek translation, too, the first kyrios is assumed to be Yahweh-God [the second] human ‘lord’ in the Psalm’s second noun is distinguished from the deity of the first ‘LORD’, as strict exegesis suggests…adon in Hebrew means ‘master’ (BDB, 11), a term of superiority…this is all Jesus seeks to establish…(cf. Briggs in McNeile, 327; Green, 186; Taylor, 492, emphasis added, who comments: ‘The value of the saying is not thereby destroyed, since its main importance is the light it throws on the manner in which Jesus interpreted Messiahship’)…If David, then, called the…second kyrios [my lord], whom specifically was David’s first kyrios addressing? The only other person deserving any such title of majesty, to Jewish consciousness, is the Messiah…[Matthew: The Churchbook, Matthew 13-28, Frederick Dale Bruner, Eerdmans, p 243-244, 2007.]

    29. Dr. Michael L. Brown
      January 16th, 2010 @ 7:55 am

      Xavier,

      I’m glad to see that you have my book in front of you, but simply throwing out accusations — which indicate that you’re even missing the point of some of my arguments (regarding, say, echad or Gen 1:26, which, by the way, I do NOT use to prove a trinitarian reading)– in no way invalidates all the scriptural evidence I present. And you obviously don’t understand the meaning of the Shema either (and you apparently gloss over the best reading of the Hebrew as well).

      I asked you a simple question in terms of providing a scriptural statement of “absolute unity” as opposed to complex unity. That shouldn’t be so hard for you to provide if your case is correct.

      If you’re going to fling accusations around, please come with substance from the Word.

    30. Erika
      January 16th, 2010 @ 8:22 am

      I think I’m just repeating here what I wrote in the blog on Jan. 12 already, since I think that some people here do have a huge problem with the fact that human dimensions and YHVH’s dimensions are NOT one and the same. I wrote there:

      “As long as we don’t pray to three different Gods – where is the problem with stating that YHVH is triune?

      Fact is that the human mind can’t comprehend God in His complexness anyway, and even the Kabbalists say (in the Zohar I think) that God consists out of three parts. Not that I believe in the Kabbalah, but what I’m saying is that God is multidimensional, and we as humans are a lot more restricted in our dimensions.

      Which implies that we can’t necessarily apply OUR dimension to God’s Word. That’s why we need the Ruakh HaKodesh.”

    31. Tom
      January 16th, 2010 @ 4:15 pm

      I just wanted to reply to a comment by a caller named Sam from Chicago. Sam pointed out that in John 1:1b (“The Word was with God”), ‘with’ translates the Greek preposition pros + accusative. He said this grammatical construction suggests a state of personal fellowship or intimacy, and said he knew of no Greek authorities who disputed this.

      Actually, Daniel B. Wallace, one of the foremost Greek grammarians of our time, disputes this. On p. 359-360 of his book Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, he notes that pros + accusative indicates movement toward the object as in Luke 6:47. However this only applies when the verb and proposition both imply motion. If the preposition implies motion but the verb is stative (as in John 1:1b), the force of the verb overrides that of the preposition.

      As Wallace notes, “It is simply that too often prepositions are analyzed simplistically, etymologically, and without due consideration for the verb to which they are connected. Prepositions are often treated in isolation, as though their ontological meaning were still completely intact.” (p. 359)

      Now Sam, I agree with you that John 1:1 is talking about a preexistent divine being, in the orthodox sense. There are good reasons for this conclusion, but the pronoun pros+accusative is not one of them.

    32. Xavier
      January 16th, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

      Dr. Brown

      What “accusations” are you specifically referring to? If its referring to the Shema, which scripture cites as the foundation for its ABSOLUTE UNITY of YHWH [the LORD GOD], then I do not see how this is it. Jesus himself points to it as the foundation of all commandments [Mar 12.28-29]. Yet, I am to presume that Jesus is referring to some kind of “complex unity within the ONE LORD”? If so, where is this teaching in its fullest sense, since it does away with 4-6 000 years of Jewish belief regarding the ONE YHWH-DEITY.

      Are we Christians to presume that all the patriarchs got it wrong when they thought YHWH was a unified, absolute, ONLY ONE DEITY?

      Furthermore, does it really matter in what word order you quote the Shema? Be it:

      The LORD our God, the LORD is ONE;

      The LORD our God is one LORD;

      The LORD is our God, the LORD is one;

      The LORD is our God, the LORD alone

      I really can’t believe we are arguing how many LORDs there are in the Shema. Consider this statement regarding Deut 6.4:

      Yahweh is one…the statement INSISTS on a UNIFIED VIEW OF YAHWEH.
      Matthews, V. H., Chavalas, M. W., & Walton, J. H. (2000). The IVP Bible background commentary : Old Testament (electronic ed.) (Dt 6:4). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

      But I digress, how then should we understand the Shema?

      Am I to presume that when Jesus quotes it and says “our God is ONE LORD” he includes himself in the Shema?

      Or, as I previously stated, am I to presume a “complex unity” of persons within the one LORD, as per later Catholic Creedal statements?

      Or, am I suppose to just read the Shema through the Nicene-Chalcedonian dogma of the “Church Fathers”?

      Your misreading of Gen 1.26 and complete denial of the simple numerical value of ‘echad may not prove the Trinity but you certainly do not discount it as a possiblity in your book. Thus, misleading your readership and using your expertise in languages to further cloud the issue.

      As I said, some of your trinitarian arguments have been done away long ago by trinitarian scholars themseleves, even though you write that it serves to neither prove nor disporve the Trinity. But, why still turn to them at all?

      I am still waiting for your response on my initial query regarding John 17.3…

    33. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 16th, 2010 @ 7:46 pm

      The “zeal for God” accusation. And your current post still indicates you haven’t grasped what I wrote.

    34. Xavier
      January 16th, 2010 @ 11:43 pm

      Dr. Brown,

      It seems I have to agree with you in order to “grasp” at your contradictory statements and studies.

      Anyways, thank you for your valuable time, its been…educational!

    35. Ruth Smith
      January 17th, 2010 @ 2:24 am

      I am not a scholar. But I would like to know — why isn’t this (the deity of Jesus) just so much more CLEAR. Why can it be taken both ways? For years I read the Bible with the interpretation that Jesus was very close to, as in “one with” but not the actual, God, based on certain passages. Now I tend to see Jesus as like the avatar of God — like a physical manifestation, extension. I must admit, I’m still not 100% sure, either way. The fact that there is a discussion on this topic today and that there has been for hundreds of years points to the fact that it CAN be taken both ways.

      But I am curious as to why you would say, Dr. Brown, that this is the case — why isn’t it just so much CLEARER?

    36. sam shamoun
      January 17th, 2010 @ 2:52 am

      Tom, you have either misread or misrepresented Wallace or both. Here are Wallace’s notes to John 1:1 as found in the NET Bible:

      2 tn The preposition πρός (pros) implies not just proximity, BUT INTIMATE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP. M. Dods stated, “Πρός …means more than μετά or παρά, and is regularly employed in expressing the presence of one person with another” (“The Gospel of St. John,” The Expositor’s Greek Testament, 1:684). See also Mark 6:3, Matt 13:56, Mark 9:19, Gal 1:18, 2 John 12. (http://net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Joh&chapter=1&verse=1&tab=commentaries)

      So Wallace agrees wiht Robertson and confirms my point, and you are therefore mistaken.

      When I get chance to go to my office I will search Wallace’s grammar and quote what he actually said concerning the meaning of pros in John 1:1, not what you have represented him as saying.

    37. Kermit
      January 17th, 2010 @ 3:08 am

      Michael,

      In this last post, by Ruthie Smith, she inquires about the lack of clear, nonambiguous statements in Scripture that Jesus is God and mentions that this is why she’s not 100% sure either way. You had asked me on the program if I was 100% sure, and I said I was. But I also said it had been a process.

      It took me almost three years of studying this issue in the Bible and reading commentaries on it before I made my decision that the Bible does not say Jesus is God. But at that time I was only about 80% sure. I had decided that since there are no clear statements in the NT, esp. in Jesus sayings, which declare him to be God, and so many of the foremost texts that traditionalists cite to support that he is God are ambiguous due grammatical uncertainty (and one with textual uncertainty), then it is most likely that Jesus is not God.

      However, there were two NT texts I considered as “obstacles” that prevented me from being 100% sure of my christological change. And authorities who write on this subject agree that those two texts are foremost for the position that Jesus is God: John 1.1c and 20.28. It took about four more years before I came to an understanding of them which resulted in my 100% certainty that the Bible does not say Jesus is God. Yet, as I said on your program, it took me ten years before I abandoned belief that the NT says Jesus preexisted. But that had not prevented me from being 100% sure, since I did not think preexistence necessitates deity. Many traditionalists scholars now say this as well, and, of course, that was a precept embraced by Judaism in antiquity.

    38. sam shamoun
      January 17th, 2010 @ 4:14 am

      This is for Xavier. I am a Trinitarian who is interested in reading the most definitve book written from a unitarian perspective which sets forth the best case for the unitarian position while also responding to trinitarianism. I have Buzzard’s book and I am not impressed so do you have anything else you would recommend to me?

      Any books that you could suggest that would be worth reading would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    39. Xavier
      January 17th, 2010 @ 6:31 am

      Kermit,

      We have to put our stakes in the clear texts like John 17.3 which defines God as the Father only. Then when we see someone else called “god”, we know it has to be in a secondary sense [cp. the Davidic king, Ps 45; human judges, Ps 82; 138].

      So, even if Jesus were to be called “god” in the scriptures, I personally would not have a problem as to its meaning. The Jews certainly didn’t when it came to calling others “god”. I think Jesus uses this same claim to refute the Pharisees’ FALSE ACCUSATIONS regarding his “equality” with the one God of Israel, YHWH. Coming to the conclusion that he is “the Son of God” and not God!

      Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?

      We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

      Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”‘? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken—what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I AM THE SON OF GOD’?” John 10.31-36

    40. Erika
      January 17th, 2010 @ 9:46 am

      What false accusation regarding Yeshua being YHWH?

      John 10:38 “… that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in the Father”.

      This is how Yeshua and YHWH are ONE.

      If you want to know exactly HOW Yeshua is YHWH, I would again recommend this teaching: http://www.waytozion.org/audiot.htm,
      and listen to the fiirst teaching in the seventh section: “Is Yeshua YHVH?”

    41. Rich L.
      January 17th, 2010 @ 11:21 am

      Ruth,

      I hope that you will pray and continue to study this out. Some things in life we can afford to be wrong about….this issue however, is not one of those. I am not a scholar either, but I contend that God has made this clear enough that a degree in semitic languages is not needed.

      In Mark 12:28, a Jewish scribe came to Jesus and asked him what is the GREATEST (most important) commandment is. Then in vs. 29 we read how Jesus answered him (before saying to love God) – “The first of all the commandments is ‘Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one’ “. Could it be that Jesus was saying we cannot love God with all our hearts before knowing WHO it is we are loving (and how many He is) ?

      When I look at Deut. 13:6, God warned Israel about serving a God that they have not known. I have to ask myself…Is the modern triune God the same God that Israel had, or is the triune God ‘serving gods, that you nor your fathers have not known’ ?

      I also reference what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman in John 4:22 “the Jews know who they worship”. He said the Jews have that right (see also verse 23). Jesus brought no new teaching about WHO the one person of God is.

      If we are truly followers of the Messiah Jesus, let’s have the same God as He has. (John 20:17)

    42. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 17th, 2010 @ 2:36 pm

      Xavier,

      If there was sarcasm intended in your post, I forgive you. If you meant your comments sincerely, I appreciate it. As for your comments about the need to agree with me, not at all. But before you try to refute someone’s position, you need to understand it, and that’s what you failed to do.

      Kermit,

      After almost forty years of study on my end, I’m absolutely sure that your position is wrong, so we stand where we stand after much study and reflection. I find no verses that are obstacles to my position and scores that support it, thus I must go with the biblical evidence as I see it after much prayerful and careful study. The Lord will be the judge.

    43. Kermit
      January 17th, 2010 @ 3:40 pm

      Xavier,

      I agree with your last post, but I don’t think any NT character or writer ever intended by their remarks to identify Jesus as God.

      Michael,

      Well, as they say, we’ll just have to agree to disagree. But, of course, I believe both of us will stand before the judgment as men of God in his kingdom, but it doesn’t look like you think that of me. Still, thanks for having me on your program.

    44. Dr. Michael L. Brown
      January 17th, 2010 @ 4:34 pm

      Kermit,

      I’m glad you came on the program, and I do not claim to be your judge.

    45. Xavier
      January 17th, 2010 @ 6:33 pm

      Dr. Brown,

      I do not fully understand how the numeral 1 [echad] cannot be one and how an absolute unity is really not absolute at all. Although the Trinitarian doctrine is a riddle wrapped in an enigma, I think I can sort of understand the word and mind games it tries to play on people. i.e. consubstantial, substantial etc…

      Then again, what exactly did I misunderstand in your trinitarian view of God and His Son? In your often quoted book you seem to contradict yourself on John 17.3 [i.e. for Jesus "the Father" is the "only true God"], which, by the way, I am still waiting for you to answer.

      Furthermore, you “challeneged” me to produce at least one text to support an absolute unity view of YHWH, as you can see from my previous posts I have provided plenty. What say you?

      Kermit,

      Do you think that the writer of Hebrews did intend to “identify Jesus as God” [1.8-10]? Like I said, even if it did [cp. John 20.28] I have no problem understanding it as per the OT precedent of angels and humans being called elohim [Sept. theos].

      Lastly, do you see likeminded Christians such as yourself as part of “the body” that is modern-day Christendome [Catholic-Protestant alike]?

    46. Ruth Smith
      January 17th, 2010 @ 8:27 pm

      Well, one thing I am certain of: Jesus is certainly part of the Godhead. He is so close to the Father, that we can only come to Him through Jesus. He is the door, he is the gate, the real one. And all our mysteries are likely to be explained later to us, or revealed, more fully, as long as we enter through that gate. If we’re pure in heart, we can see God someday, face to face. Could there be any greater joy that that? Seeing Him face to face, being able to draw nearer than ever, and Him lovingly answering whatever we need to know…!

    47. Ruth Smith
      January 17th, 2010 @ 8:31 pm

      though I do think many of our questions will probably seem superfluous in the light of THAT presence!

    48. Ruth Smith
      January 17th, 2010 @ 8:35 pm

      Xavier,

      From what I just read a few minutes ago on his latest post, Dr. Brown said he’d be exiting the forum for awhile and recommends you write through his website if you have any more questions for him rather than posting Q’s here….

    49. Xavier
      January 17th, 2010 @ 9:12 pm

      Ruth Smith,

      If anyone else would like to have a go, feel free. May benefit all of us…

    50. Bijoy
      January 17th, 2010 @ 11:31 pm

      Xavier,

      Your arguments don’t make any sense. I quoted you the definition of ‘echad’ according to Strong’s. Echad has the root Achad which refers to collective unity.

      Secondly, a person can be a father, a brother, a friend, uncle, etc. He is still one person. God brought us salvation from death through His Son Jesus (Yeshua).

      It is not that difficult to understand. Yeshua is the Deliverer. He is the Right Arm of Yahweh.

      Please read Genesis 15 and try to understand what it means. Also, Yahweh is described by the word Kurios in the Septuagint and which is also the word used for Yeshua in the NT scriptures.

      Also Colossians 1 tells us that Jesus is the visible image of the invisible Father and it was through Jesus that all in Heaven and earth were created.

      God bless you in Jesus’ Name.

    51. Ben KC
      January 17th, 2010 @ 11:48 pm

      What did you mean by that

    52. sam shamoun
      January 18th, 2010 @ 12:06 am

      I had posted a reply to the assertion that Wallace doesn’t support that pros in John 1:1 implies that the Word was engaged in intimate personal communion with God. I also posted a request to Xavier but I see neither one of my posts were approved. Why not? I didn’t say anything which would lead to my posts being rejected from being posted.

    53. Kermit
      January 18th, 2010 @ 1:39 am

      Xavier,

      Michael asked me in the debate about Heb 1.8-10. I said I did not think that author meant to call Jesus “God” in v. 8. For one thing, that would seem to me to clash with his saying in v. 9 that “God” (the Father) is the God of Jesus. And I also said to Michael that if he thinks the author calls Jesus “God,” i.e., one of the members of the trinity, in v. 8, “you’ve got a problem with the psalmist in Ps 45.6 calling the king god,” meaning the same god of the Trinity.

      The author writes half of his letter attempting to prove that Jesus is superior to angels, Moses, Abraham, and Melchizedek. Proving Jesus’ superiority is his purpose of the catena of seven quotes in ch. 1, so he just quotes things as they are in the LXX. All of it would be superfluous if he calls Jesus God. But, of course, you mean calling him elohim/theos as it is used in Ps 82.6 of the rulers of Israel (cf. Jn 10.34).

      Some of the most important scholars in the 20th century who wrote on whether the Bible calls Jesus God claim that ho theos in v. 8 should not be taken as a vocative, as most traditionalists do, but as a nominative, e.g., V. Taylor. Accordingly, it can be treated either as the subject (“God is your throne”) or predicate (“your throne is God”). Ewald and others even rended it adjectival (“your throne is divine”).

      I think it is possible that it is as you say, Xavier, but I prefer to accept the nominative interpretation. Some biblical unitarians think Heb 1.8 and Jn 20.28 call Jesus God, but in the sense of Ps 82.6. as you think I don’t think Thomas calls Jesus God, but that by his utterance “my God” he recogizes God in Jesus just as Johannine Jesus had been teaching the disciples in Jn 10.38, 14.10-11, and 17.21, 23. That is also a trait of the crafty author of the Fourth Gospel, that he writes things that are to be interpreted by other things he has already written: scripture interprets scripture.

    54. Kermit
      January 18th, 2010 @ 1:48 am

      Xavier,

      Regarding your last question, I don’t think that way. I only think of my being a member of the body of Christ, i.e., the true universal (catholic) church of God and Christ. It consists of those people who have truly trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior, so that binitarianism, trinitarianism, arianism, and such have nothing to do with it. And in this church there are many people who are also members of churches on earth such as Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and nondenominational. Does that answer you?

    55. Jaco
      January 18th, 2010 @ 6:15 am

      Johan,

      No, I’m not a Jehovah’s Witness. I do know their theology very well, though. I’m one of the few Biblical Unitarians in South Africa. I ask you again, please, are you living in South Africa?

      Rob S.,

      I think we’re getting to a point where we are talking past each other. It is not a trinitarian violation to say that Jesus is YHWH any more than it is a violation to say that the Father is YHWH since they are both individual premises that make up the trinitarian formula. We do not need every passage to carefully spell out the entire argument. On this point, you could just as well deny Jesus’ Messiahship because most Messianic passages deal with individual components of Messianic formula (suffering or conquering).

      Scripture, Rob, Scripture! Where’s your Scriptural references, and where are your arguments??? BTW, what is orthodox is pre-Nicene Unitarianism, NOT Nicene/Chalcedonian heresy. Progressive revelation is not a wager. Inspiration of Scripture ended in the first century, and not one of the Apostles preached a trinity.

      Erika,

      “As long as we don’t pray to three different Gods – where is the problem with stating that YHVH is triune?

      The simple answer: because he isn’t triune. He is alone God.

      Which implies that we can’t necessarily apply OUR dimension to God’s Word. That’s why we need the Ruakh HaKodesh.”

      Well, aparently Ruach haQodesh is not even good enough for you, Erika. Trinitarians can only rely on extra-Biblical, pagan, philosophical and vague terminology (not to forget horrendous logical fallacy), to argue their case. They’re as guilty as the Watchtower in that, whatever their Governing Body says, can with some semantic acrobatics be proven using Scripture. Exactly with the trinity. Use Scripture alone, and use terms that are current with Biblical thought to interpret Scripture. Yahweh’s ruach provided enough to make us sufficiently competent to do that.

      If you want to know how Jesus and Yahweh are one (Joh. 10:38), read John 17:21.

      Mr. Zarley, you won’t know how heart-warming it is to see that honest-heartedness moved you to arrive at the Truth regarding Yahweh and Jesus. Not with military force, but by God’s spirit, Biblical orthodoxy will prevail. And, if this is the Lord’s time, He will guide, direct and lead to victory this 21st century reformation. Thank you for pointing out the truly ambiguous nature of Heb. 1:8. Even among Biblical Unitarians this fact is sometimes glanced over.

      Xavier, brother, once again great questions. You see, as far as it suits trinitarians, Yahweh is a compound unity. As far as ambiguity serves in their interest, “God” could be Yahweh “or” the Father. But now, the Son of God calls, not God (=Father, Son and Holy Spirit according to trinitarians) the only true God. He calles the Father the One who is only and truly God. Compound unity cannot be their wild card now…that is a problem…And now, suddenly, also the other ambiguities are finally resolved. Titus 2:13, Joh. 8:58, 2 Pet. 1:1, etc. all give glory to the Only true God, Yahweh, through his perfect human Son, our elohim (Ex. 7:1), Yahshua haMoshiach!

      Something else to consider: If the Biblical Unitarian position was based on such weak arguments and ambiguous texts, how powerless would we have felt! Also, as with any argument, the trinity heresy has to be falsifiable. So, my question to trinitarians would be, what would falsify their trinitarian position? What do they expect the Bible to say if it indeed taught the singular and sovreign Unity of Yahweh apart from the Son, and not the trinity.

      Looking forward to the answers. The bloggers are also more than welcome to argue their case on http://www.kingdomready.org/blog.

      Jaco

    56. Erika
      January 18th, 2010 @ 12:15 pm

      Jaco, do you also have a comment on this original post of mine? –>

      “Fact is that the human mind can’t comprehend God in His complexness anyway, and even the Kabbalists say (in the Zohar I think) that God consists out of three parts. Not that I believe in the Kabbalah, but what I’m saying is that God is multidimensional, and we as humans are a lot more restricted in our dimensions.

      Which implies that we can’t necessarily apply OUR dimension to God’s Word. That’s why we need the Ruakh HaKodesh.”

      I find it quite unbelievable that people do indeed stick to the idea that humans can talk to God while believing to be on the same level as Him. I would call this impudence.

      And by the way, I do use Scripture alone, and the terms that are current with Biblical thought to interpret Scripture. Yahweh’s Ruach provides enough to make me sufficiently competent to do that.

      And if I want to know how Yeshua and Yahweh are one, I’ll read Joh. 10:38, John 17:21, Hebrews 7 through 10 and all the other relevant places in the Bible.

    57. Jaco
      January 18th, 2010 @ 12:37 pm

      Erika,

      “Fact is that the human mind can’t comprehend God in His complexness anyway, and even the Kabbalists say (in the Zohar I think) that God consists out of three parts. Not that I believe in the Kabbalah, but what I’m saying is that God is multidimensional, and we as humans are a lot more restricted in our dimensions.

      I agree with you. Fortunately, with what the Bible DOES reveal, we can say with absolute certainty that Yahweh is the only true God (Joh. 17:3) and that his human Son is our Redeemer (1 Tim. 2:5, 6).

      And if I want to know how Yeshua and Yahweh are one, I’ll read Joh. 10:38, John 17:21, Hebrews 7 through 10 and all the other relevant places in the Bible.

      Heb. 7-10 contain the best proofs for Biblical Unitarianism. I hope that you’ll notice them.

      Jaco

    58. Dr. Michael L. Brown
      January 18th, 2010 @ 12:41 pm

      Hey folks,

      In case there was any doubt where some of our Unitarian friends are coming from, Jaco has made himself absolutely clear: If you follow the witness of Scripture that the One True God is triune, you hold to the TRINITY HERESY and you are terribly deceived. The good news is that neither Jaco nor anyone else can overthrow the witness of the Word in its totality. Truth will continue to triumph. 2 Cor 13:8.

    59. Erika
      January 18th, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

      It would be a sad world, this world we live in, if there was no hope that God would change it with His right arm as described in Isaiah 59:16-21 through Yeshua, His right arm (Isaiah 53:1). This is how YHWH’s kingdom will come about in this world.

    60. tj
      January 18th, 2010 @ 2:17 pm

      Amen to that, Erika! I will only add something I suspect you’d echo as well with a hearty Amen: that there would be no world in existence to begin with for God to change with His “right arm,” if He hadn’t first created that same world in the beginning with that very same “right arm” (the preexistent Word, the Son of God) by which He redeems it. This, as we know, is testified by such reliable witnesses as John (John 1) and Paul: “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. FOR BY HIM ALL THINGS WERE CREATED, BOTH IN THE HEAVENS AND ON EARTH, VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE, WHETHER THRONES OR DOMINIONS OR RULERS OR AUTHORITIES—ALL THINGS HAVE BEEN CREATED THROUGH HIM AND FOR HIM. HE IS BEFORE ALL THINGS, AND IN HIM ALL THINGS HOLD TOGETHER. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:13-20).

      Now surely our unitarian friends have an “answer” for this as they have an “answer” for everything that contradicts their opinions, because, as we know, “there is a way that seemeth right unto a man…” Most unfortunately for them, though,–with the exception of several pet verses removed from context–it is the united body of Scripture against which they contend, the end result being that they must hack the clear sense of the word of God to pieces before they’ll yield to its clear sense. Unfortunately for them, though, it is not their opinions and ingenuity but the word of God alone that is “Sharper than any double-edged sword…”

      I must sadly conclude, that this ongoing exchange with Xavier and Jaco will yield no fruit until they’ve at the very least opened their eyes to the many and undeniable evidences in Scripture concerning Jesus’ preexistence, and until they’ve openly admitted that He did preexist according to God’s clearly expressed word. How can we expect them to even consider the possibility of a triune God, if they will not (or CANNOT because of post-Biblical, unBiblical presuppositions) either recognize or admit that the Bible MOST EXPLICITLY states Yeshua’s preexistence, as Yeshua Himself affirms! With that being said, I make my exit from this current forum, and leave completely justified in my initial 1/12 prediction concerning this debate.

      I offer my blessings in Christ (who always was and will always be “Alpha and Omega”) to all. Amen.

    61. Erika
      January 18th, 2010 @ 3:07 pm

      Well, I think it is very simple, at least with Jaco: Proverbs 9:10

      “The fear of YHWH is the beginning of wisdom.
      The knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

      Which proves that impudence towards YHWH leads to a lack of understanding.

    62. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 18th, 2010 @ 5:37 pm

      TJ,

      A quick note (as I really try to drop out of the forum for a while):

      I totally agree with you that, if our unitarian friends will not admit to the pre-existence of the Son — which is taught emphatically and clearly in so many different ways throughout the Word — there’s no way to get them to acknowledge the next level of the biblical truth, namely that the Son is eternally pre-existent. As I asked on the radio, how could it have been stated any more clearly?

    63. Xavier
      January 18th, 2010 @ 6:33 pm

      Erika & tj,

      So, Jesus is a “right arm”? I suppose he is [or was?] also “the rock that followed them” [1Cor 10.4]? A disembodied “preexistent Word” and female “Wisdom” [Pro 8]? Where, pray tell, do we find this personal beings in the OT? How do you explain the writer of Hebrews when he says that God UNTIL “these final days…has spoken to us through his Son” [Heb 1.2]?

      There is a big difference between the biblical teaching of God having “foreknown” [cp. predestined] not only the Son [1Pe 1.20] but other people like the prophet Jeremiah [1] and Christian believers [2Tim 1.9; Eph 1.4, 11].

      We do not have to resort to extra-biblical language to keep within the confines of “the sound doctrine” [preexistence, trinity, same substance etc.].

      To answer Dr. Brown’s question ["how could (preexistence) have been stated any more clearly?"], how about in the actual text of the scriptures? As in: “In the beginning was the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, they created the heavens and the earth.”

      Quick qord on the oft-used-trini-twisted passage of Col 1.15f. from another Hebrew/Greek scholar, Sir Anthony Buzzard:

      Literally translated, Colossians 1:16 does not say that all things were created by Jesus. The Expositors Commentary on the Greek text of Colossians says flatly of Col. 1:16: “This does not mean ‘by him.’” The margins of many Bibles will show that the text actually reads: “In [en] Him all things were created…. All things have been created through (dia + gen.] Him and with a view to [eis] Him.” Paul’s chief purpose in this passage is to speak of Christ’s work in redemption and his position in the hierarchy of authority, i.e. the Kingdom in which Christians have been promised a share and which they await as an inheritance (Col. 1:13; 3:24). Jesus has a supreme position overall created beings and rival powers. Paul describes the position of Jesus as “firstborn” [prototokos] and first principle or chief [arche] of the creation. Jesus is to head up the Kingdom, the “Kingdom of God’s dear Son” (v. 13). The issue here is authority and rule. “Firstborn” is a Messianic title drawn from Ps. 89, in which the Father speaks of the coming Messiah:

      “He will cry to me, ‘Thou art my Father, my God and the rock of my salvation.’ I will make Him my firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. I will establish His seed for ever and His throne as the days of heaven” (Ps. 89:26, 27, 29).

      Because Jesus is God’s eldest Son, he is the reason for the creation. All things were created “in” Him. The exact force of these prepositions is difficult to specify, but one distinguished authority suggests that it should be taken here in a causal sense: “For because of Him the universe was created” (Moulton, Milligan, Grammar of the New Testament, III. p. 253.

      We should observe that all Christians were chosen “in Christ” before the foundation of the world. This does not imply of course that we were alive before the Genesis creation.

      In Col.1:13 Paul sets the all-important context of his following description of Jesus the Son. Paul is talking not about the Genesis creation but the new creation and the Kingdom into which Christians have been transferred at baptism, when they gave up their political allegiance to the present nation-states and committed themselves to the Kingdom of God. That Kingdom is announced now as Gospel (Mark 1:14, 15;Acts 28:23, 31, etc.) and will come into force worldwide when Jesus returns to rule the world.

      Paul is concerned with the hierarchy of God’s Kingdom. All the angelic authorities were created with Jesus in mind and at his ascension Jesus attained his supreme position under God, at God’s right hand. Jesus is the beginning nor of the Genesis creation but of the new creation. “He is the head of the body, the church, and he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he himself will come to have first place in everything.”

      It would be nonsensical to say that Jesus attained the primary status next to God by being set at God’s right hand, IF indeed Jesus from eternity already enjoyed status as Deity! You cannot be promoted to attain a status you already had in the past. The truth is that all things visible and invisible, defined as “thrones, rulers and authorities” (v. 16) were created by God IN (not ‘by’) Jesus, with him and his supreme position in mind.

      Col. 1:17 states that Jesus is now before all things, which means that he is set above them all, since his ascension. “Before” is ambiguous in the Greek and can mean equally “before in time” or superior as to rank. Even if we take it in the former sense, Jesus is indeed the first of the new creation of human beings — the first to be immortalized. He is also in a superior position over all other creatures. All things since Jesus ascension are “through him and for him” (v. 16). Paul describes the activity of Jesus when he says that God is reconciling “all things to Himself through Jesus, having made peace through the blood of his crosss,” Paul again tells us that he is discussing not the Genesis creation which happened millennia before the Son even existed, but the new creation in Christ, the new covenant by which we can be given a new status before God. Col. 1 is all about reconciliation to God through Christ and about the supreme mediatorial position of Jesus.

      It is to make nonsense of the rest of the Bible to say that the Son created the original heavens and earth. Rather Paul is discussing our Christian inheritance (Col. 1:12), our present position as heirs of the Kingdom (1:13) and our redemption and forgiveness (v. 14). Paul then introduces his great description of the Son of God “who is the image of the invisible God,” God’s firsborn king. Note that the subject of the whole discourse is the Son and “image of God.” Jesus is the visible and thus the historical personage born in Bethlehem some 2000 years ago. Adam was the image of God also and man is made in the image of God. Jesus is the perfect human image of God. At no point does Paul speak of a pre-human Son of God who was invisible! His whole concentration is on the status of Jesus. He is the ruler over all authorities and he gained that status only at his ascension. The whole flow of Paul’s description is meaningless if the Son was literally supreme from all eternity. Restoration Fellowship.org

    64. sam shamoun
      January 18th, 2010 @ 10:57 pm

      I don’t think Xavier saw this so I am going to repost this.

      This is for Xavier. I am a Trinitarian who is interested in reading the most definitive book written from a unitarian perspective which sets forth the best case for the unitarian position while also responding to trinitarianism. I have Buzzard’s book and I am not impressed so do you have anything else you would recommend to me?

      Any books that you could suggest that would be worth reading would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    65. Jaco
      January 19th, 2010 @ 1:25 am

      Dr Brown,

      Hey folks,

      In case there was any doubt where some of our Unitarian friends are coming from, Jaco has made himself absolutely clear: If you follow the witness of Scripture that the One True God is triune, you hold to the TRINITY HERESY and you are terribly deceived. The good news is that neither Jaco nor anyone else can overthrow the witness of the Word in its totality. Truth will continue to triumph. 2 Cor 13:8.

      I actually agree with you here. Truth will prevail. The difference is our understanding of what that truth is. All of us want to be in line with that truth, else we wouldn’t have had these discussions. You figured out that that truth is trinity. I don’t. Kermit Zarley debated you and you came across as patronising, even arrogant to many of his punchlines (I say that with as much respect as possible. As a fallible human, I’d hope you would also admit to mistakes). He could have pointed out much more of your arguments’ fallacious leaps and erroneous conclusions if you allowed him to. I concede that my own reaction to all of this was definitely too over-zealous. I apologise to all for that.

      I just think that, to dismiss anyone’s arguments without providing any support for doing so, does not contribute to healthy interaction. Your ad hominem dismissal of Zvi, Xavier (the student)and now me, proves nothing. To me trinitarianism is a heresy. To you Unitarianism is. Now which is it? I think that is what we need to determine in a respectable way. (I’ve been at fault myself). If not, we’ll have to agree to disagree, and leave in peace.

      tj, I’d like to echo your own words:

      Now surely our [trinitarian] friends have an “answer” for this as they have an “answer” for everything that contradicts their opinions, because, as we know, “there is a way that seemeth right unto a man…” Most unfortunately for them, though,–with the exception of several pet verses removed from context–it is the united body of Scripture against which they contend [including the absence of even a hint of trinitarian theology, 25 000+ singular pronouns for Yahweh, and Jesus constant obedience and subjection to Yahweh's sovereignty as a perfect human agent], the end result being that they must hack the clear sense of the word of God to pieces before they’ll yield to its clear sense[even change the value of "one," fallaciously connect unrelated isolated texts and read back into Scripture what Constantine and his fellow sun-worshipers concocted as biblical truth]. Unfortunately for them, though, it is not their opinions and ingenuity but the word of God alone that is “Sharper than any double-edged sword…”

      I must sadly conclude, that this ongoing exchange with Xavier and Jaco [and tj and the rest] will yield no fruit until they’ve at the very least opened their eyes to the many and undeniable evidences in Scripture concerning Jesus’ [human creation], and until they’ve openly admitted that He [started his existence at his human birth] according to God’s clearly expressed word. How can we expect them to even consider the possibility of [an only true] God, if they will not (or CANNOT because of post-Biblical, unBiblical presuppositions) either recognize or admit that the Bible MOST EXPLICITLY states Yeshua’s [humanity], as Yeshua Himself affirms!

      God be with us all.

      Jaco

    66. Dr. Michael L. Brown
      January 19th, 2010 @ 2:04 am

      Jaco,

      Just FYI, virtually all of Zvi’s arguments had been answered in books I had written — which is why I wrote them! — but he refused to read them, even when offered to him for free. He also refused to call into my show to discuss the issues. So, he disqualified himself from being taken seriously, although no one stopped him from posting here and interacting with others.

      Time simply doesn’t permit me to get into every challenge from everyone who disagrees with me on every website (including this one), but I offer in-depth materials to those who are seeking more truth. (Trust me: I get “called out” constantly and actually enjoy interaction in hostile environments, but there’s only so much time in a day.)

      In the case of Xavier, aside from his personal attacks that violated the rules of the forum, he misrepresented or misunderstood things I had written, again, making further interaction fruitless (even if time permitted). Also, when people think that by shouting louder, so to say, they have made their point, interaction also proves fruitless.

      That being said, the reason I had Kermit on my show for two days and the reason I’ve invited Anthony Buzzard onto the show is to air the issues. Whether someone makes a good case or not is not up to me, but I can least give them an opportunity to state their case. And then, on this forum, listeners and others who are interested can air out their differences. That’s what we encourage, and hopefully, all parties involved will grow and learn. (I did, of course, provide support for my views on the relevant broadcast.s)

      And where I do address issues in depth — primarily in the books I have written that are relevant to certain subjects, or on lectures on DVD, etc. — I would hope that those interested would avail themselves accordingly.

    67. Ben KC
      January 19th, 2010 @ 2:49 am

      Jaco,

      If you want and if you have the chance, you should call into Dr. Browns radio show to discuss more directly with Dr. Brown on this topic.

    68. Erika
      January 19th, 2010 @ 7:14 am

      And just by the way – I don’t agree with Constantine’s idolatrous definition of the Trinity – if that should be the issue here.

      Let’s be very clear: Yeshua is the King of the Jews ond our eternal Cohen Gadol (High Priest) – though even Isaiah says that the arm of YHWH is not revealed to most of us.

      Fact is, that His Arm saves us – even if it is not revealed to us – so what’s all that fuss here?

    69. Xavier
      January 19th, 2010 @ 8:11 am

      Erika,

      Are you going to answer my previous question regarding Jesus being an “arm [of the LORD]” or “the rock that followed” Israel in the OT?

      Also, when Peter, John and James are mentioned together does that make them one and the same?

    70. Erika
      January 19th, 2010 @ 11:48 am

      Xavier, I believe that as Isaiah says in Isa. 53:1, the arm of YHWH has not been revealed until he came to us as a human being, this is when he first was revealed, but this is also an ongoing revelation process, since only a few really got this revelation in Yeshua’s time, for example his 12 disciples, although it also took them a while (see Matthew 28:17 and John 20:28).

      So if people don’t think Yeshua is YHWH I just think it hasn’t been revealed to them yet. But with more revelation comes more power – and as I said before: Through Yeshua YHWH interacts with this world, so if we really understand what we have access to through Yeshua (Matthew 28:18), it will only be to our benefit!

    71. zvi
      January 19th, 2010 @ 12:05 pm

      Erica,does this mean that Abraham didnt worship jesus as lord since he didnt know him at that point?

    72. Erika
      January 19th, 2010 @ 12:44 pm

      Zvi, I think Abraham could well distinguish between whom to worship and whom not to worship. Fact is that Abraham did worship Yeshua, as we can read in Genesis 18:2
      Shalom!

    73. zvi
      January 19th, 2010 @ 12:49 pm

      Erica who were the 3 men?

    74. Erika
      January 19th, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

      Well, since Abraham worshipped them, they must have been some physical extension of YHWH.

    75. Erika
      January 19th, 2010 @ 1:09 pm

      P.S. Actually I think just one of them, since in Genesis 18:3 Abraham is not talking to all three of them, but just to one of them (“My Lord”…. not “my Lords”).

    76. zvi
      January 19th, 2010 @ 1:16 pm

      Erica, the first thing abraham does is offer g-d something to eat?

    77. Erika
      January 19th, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

      Yep :-)

    78. zvi
      January 19th, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

      Erica the verse means “my master”,not my god! That is why the vers DOES NOT use the regular way of spelling his name here. The word “adon” means master. Besides according to trinitarians hjesus only came into human form through a virgin birth and prexsisted as a spiritual being but was NOT of human form at hte get go.Furthermore,the verses in the ot state thatg-d is not a man,one cannot be god and man at the same time.

    79. zvi
      January 19th, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

      To back up my claim please take a look at chapter 19 verse 18 (at least in the jewish version) the 2 people that were left were called the same word (i just dont feel comfortable writing the name that usually means g-d)that you call g-d to refer to them so obviously it can only mean the word masters!!!

    80. Erika
      January 19th, 2010 @ 2:59 pm

      Zvi, I did not say that Abraham called them Elohim – it is written Adonai there which means Lord. But Abraham still worshipped at least one of them, and Abraham was not an idol-worshipper.

      And these three men did not necessarily have human bodies, actually I don’t think so. Then you would ask me “How could they eat then?” Well – how not? Can only we eat?? Of course angels don’t nead to eat, but they can.

      Again, I think that the revelation of Yeshua is a progressive revelation, and Abraham was the starting point of YHWH revealing Himself to the human race. How much Abraham knew – I don’t know it. But he still did the right thing.

      I would suggest to you Zvi – give Yeshua a try. Ask YHWH sincerely to show you what will bring you closer to Him and what will prevent you from having access to Him. Yahweh’s hand is not to short to reach us – if we really want Him to reach us. Ask Him to show you the REAL thing – and you don’t have to tell anyone about it.

    81. Adam
      January 19th, 2010 @ 5:04 pm

      Dr. Brown,

      I just wanted to write to tell you that I enjoyed these shows with Kermit Zarley. I also saw that you wanted to get Anthony Buzzard on your program. Might I also suggest that another person who would be willing to air these issues out with you is a man by the name of Greg Stafford:

      http://www.elihubooks.com/

      In fact, Greg Stafford debated James White on these very issues. He is a former Jehovah’s Witness who still holds to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ view of God and Christ. He also has a very sophisticated argument with regards to John 1:1c where he argues that qualitative is not a valid syntactical category for theos in 1:1c, because it is a count noun, rather than a mass noun. I obviously disagree with him. Dr. Donald Hartley, a Dallas Seminary grad, has done excellent work in dealing with this argument, addressing the definition of mass and count nouns in the Greek New Testament, the meaning of Colwell’s construction as it relates to mass and count nouns, as well as the application of this information to John 1:1c:

      http://bible.org/article/revisiting-colwell-construction-light-masscount-nouns

      As you can see, the issues that he brings up are much different than an average Jehovah’s Witness who would knock on your door. Greg Stafford also has plenty of followers, so you would likewise get calls, even some from practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses. Also, every time I have heard Greg Stafford speak, he always has good behavior, so that would not be a concern.

      God Bless,
      Adam

    82. Xavier
      January 19th, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

      Erika,

      The ‘Apostolic revelation’ regarding Jesus of Nazareth is the fact that he is the human [anthropos=man] “Messiah, Son of the Living God” [Mat 16.16].

      Also, you said:

      Through Yeshua YHWH interacts with this world…

      Yet, their one and the same? So really you should be saying: “Yeshua through Himself interacts with this world”, no?

    83. S. Johnson
      January 19th, 2010 @ 7:39 pm

      I am a little late getting in on this discussion but I will throw this out. I was privileged to take a course from Norman Geisler in which he laid out 7 things Jesus said of Himself to support His deity. One which I had never heard before goes like this.

      1) The OT says the Messiah would be God.
      2) Jesus who was an expert in the OT claimed to be the Messiah
      3) Therefore Jesus claimed to be God.

      Some examples for the support in premise 1: Isaiah 9:6 (“For a child will be born to us a son will be given to us….and His name will be called…Mighty God), Isaiah 7:14 (“A woman will be with child…and she will call His name Immanuel”), Psalm 45:6 (“Your throne O God, is forever and ever”), Zachariah 12:10 (…They will look on me whom they have pierced). While the meaning of each of these has been debated by anti-missionaries, when taken in total provide a strong basis for supporting the first premise. To this there is one more scripture that I believe can be added. Jer 23:5-6: “Behold the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land….And this is His name by which He will be called, the LORD (Yahweh) our righteousness”. Note that this branch that rises from David’s line is called LORD which is the English translation for Yahweh. So the branch that God raises up will be called also be called Yahweh! Not Lord in the sense of some great king but Yahweh. Since Dr. Brown has just done a commentary on Jeremiah, I would love to know if he agrees with this interpretation from the NASB.

      Premise 2: Jesus asks Peter who He is and Peter replies in Mat 16:16 “You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the Living God”. To which Jesus replies “Blessed are you Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven”. Thus, Jesus agreed with Peter’s appraisal that Jesus was the Messiah. The claim is even more direct when Jesus meets the woman at the well and she says in John 4:25: “I know that the Messiah is coming; when that One comes. He will declare all things to us.” To which Jesus replies: “I who speak to you am He”.

      Given that premise 1 is true and premise 2 is true the conclusion that Jesus was claiming to be God must follow. Isn’t the God given gift of logic wonderful!

    84. S. Johnson
      January 19th, 2010 @ 7:49 pm

      Just a side note here for Adam. I wrestled with the question of Jesus’ deity for quite some time. One of the most comprehensive books I have read on the topic is by Robert Morey entitled “THE TRINITY: EVIDENCE AND ISSUES”. While I find Dr. Morey on a personal level to be rather abrasive, his scholarship is sound. He has challenged Stafford to a debate, and as far as I know to date, Stafford has declined!! Given the level of Morey’s expertise it would have been an interesting debate. Having listened to both Morey and Stafford, I would venture to guess that Stafford would not have come out on top.

    85. sam shamoun
      January 19th, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

      S. Johnson, the facts are different from what you state here. Stafford challenged Morey on Gene Cook’s show to debate the Deity of Christ. Morey declined and challenged him to debate the extent of God’s foreknowledge provided that Stafford agreed to write out his position concerning this issue/ Stafford did and Morey never kept his word to debate. You can verify this for yourself by simply googling their names and see what pops up.

    86. sam shamoun
      January 19th, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

      I would agree with Adam that Stafford would be great and perhaps your toughest opponent to date. He is sharp and will be handful to deal with.

    87. Xavier
      January 19th, 2010 @ 8:59 pm

      S. Johnson,

      What about Gen 3.15 where YHWH says that a “seed of the woman” would crush the serpent?

      What about Deu 18.15-18, where YHWH would raise from “among the people” a prophet?

      What about 2Sam 7.14; Ps 2.7; 89.26-27, where YHWH will “beget” [create] a human Who is identified as a “firstborn son”?

      What about Ps 110.1, where the 2 Lords in view are defined by the Hebrew as: YHWH [LORD] said to adoni [my lord].

      Or about the simple fact that Mashiach [Gk. Christos=Messiah] denotes a human being, since only a human being can be “annointed by YHWH”, as per the OT teaching [cp. 1Sam 10].

      In Jewish messianic tradition and eschatology, messiah refers to a future King of Israel from the Davidic line, who will rule the people of united tribes of Israel and herald the Messianic Age of global peace. In Standard Hebrew, The Messiah is often referred to as מלך המשיח, Méleḫ ha-Mašíaḥ (in the Tiberian vocalization pronounced Méleḵ haMMāšîªḥ), literally meaning “the Anointed King.”

      Christians believe that prophecies in the Hebrew Bible refer to a spiritual savior, partly evidenced in passages from the Book of Isaiah [7:14; 53:5] and believe Jesus to be that Messiah (Christ). The (Greek) Septuagint version of the Old Testament renders all thirty-nine instances of the Hebrew word for anointed (Mašíaḥ) as Khristós (Χριστός). The New Testament records the Greek transliteration Μεσσίας, Messias twice in John[Jn. 1:41] and [4:25]. Wikipedia, Messiah article

    88. S. Johnson
      January 19th, 2010 @ 9:01 pm

      I stand corrected. It has been awhile since I have written to Morey for an update on the status of the debate. A few years ago, on his radio show, he was quite anxious to debate Stafford, and at that time Stafford would not bite. Perhaps I will write Morey again for clarification.

    89. zvi
      January 19th, 2010 @ 9:15 pm

      Erica as I said all 3 people were called ado…. so its either all 3 or nothing.

    90. sam shamoun
      January 19th, 2010 @ 9:19 pm

      Also write Stafford (http://www.elihubooks.com/) and Gene Cook of the unchained radio broadcast (http://unchainedradio.com/) to be all sides of the issue. Lord bless you bro.

    91. sam shamoun
      January 19th, 2010 @ 9:26 pm

      SJ, I would like to post your argument for the Deity of Christ on our website. If you are interested please email me at sam_shmn40@hotmail.com

    92. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 19th, 2010 @ 9:43 pm

      Adam,

      Anthony Buzzard has gladly agreed to be on the program, hopefully next month, but I’d certainly be open to debating Greg Stafford as well at some in the future, although there are lots of other subjects to debate and discuss on the show and I don’t want to focus on just this one.

      Thanks!

    93. Xavier
      January 20th, 2010 @ 2:24 am

      Dr. Brown,

      What other subject would merit “focus” than defining the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and the name of [who is] Jesus Christ” [Acts 8.12]?

    94. Erika
      January 20th, 2010 @ 7:32 am

      To Xavier: You said:

      ” Through Yeshua YHWH interacts with this world…

      Yet, their one and the same? So really you should be saying: “Yeshua through Himself interacts with this world”, no?”

      Xavier, an arm is an arm, and YHWH through His arm interacts with this world. Is the arm the same as the whole person?? You have a guess.

      It is so ridiculous how people try again and again to stuff YHWH into their human dimension. And if they then cannot comprehend it, they just say “it must be false”.

    95. Erika
      January 20th, 2010 @ 7:44 am

      To Zvi: If you have a look at the Hebrew word in Genesis 18:3 (Adonai) and then also look at the translations into other languages, “Adonai” is singular, meaning “My Lord”, therefore I’m thinking Abraham was just talking to one of them. But anbody can be called “my Lord” – my point is that Abraham did recognize that one person as an extension of YHWH and hence worshipped him (verse 2b and 3a).

      To Xavier: If Abraham had worshipped an angel or a human being here, Abraham would have been an idol-worshipper, which he was not!

    96. zvi
      January 20th, 2010 @ 8:23 am

      Erica, the word ado…. is also used in chapter 19 verse 18 in reference to the OTHER 2 “beings” so therefore ALL 3 MUST be at the same level. Therefore I conclude that since all 3 CANNOT be speaking of god plus the fact that the name of hashem is spelled differently here than in all other places and that the word means MASTER, therefore we can assume that this is the definition.

    97. Dr. Michael L. Brown
      January 20th, 2010 @ 11:05 am

      Xavier,

      There are scores of very important biblical, theological, social, and moral subjects that merit focus on the show.

    98. Dr. Michael L. Brown
      January 20th, 2010 @ 11:54 am

      Xavier,

      Also bear in mind that neither to me nor the vast majority of my listeners is there the slightest question about the Bible’s clear teaching on the deity of the Son, so to discuss it endlessly would be to beat a dead horse.

      For everyone’s information, Anthony Buzzard is now confirmed to join me on the air Feb. 8, God willing.

    99. S. Johnson
      January 20th, 2010 @ 12:26 pm

      Xavier

      I seem to be missing your point. All of the verses you listed seem to point to the coming Messiah. Certainly these verses point at least in part to the human nature of Jesus, just as the NT did. Jesus grew in wisdom, there were things in His human nature He did not know. The premise in your objection seems to be that the Messiah can be ONLY human. But nothing in the texts you cite, says that the Messiah can have ONLY a human nature. He has two natures that intersect. He is not the infinite that became finite. He did not abandon His devine nature, but rather added on an additional nature that was fully human.

      As far as the terms “firstborn” and “begotten” go, these also provide for no contradiction. Firstborn is used elsewhere where it does not mean first born in the literal sense. For example, in Exodus 4:22: ‘Thus says the LORD’, “Israel is My son, My firstborn. ” The privileges and preeminence of the firstborn are in sight here.

      Begotten also poses no contradiction. First in the NT, James White has argued that the word begotten in John 3:16 is better translated from the Greek to “unique” (see his book “The Forgotten Trinity”). Even if you don’t buy that, it still does not seem problematic to me as Jesus body was in some sense begotten. That is, His body came to be at some point–He acquired an additional nature that was fully human.

      Since there is no logical contradiction here, there is no problem. If you want to do an in depth study Morey’s book (about 500 pages) I cited above goes through the both the OT and NT referencing the original languages, pointing to the complex unity of God . Another shorter book is that by Ron Rhodes “Reasoning from the Scriptures with Jehovah’s Witnesses”. While this latter book does not systematically go through all the evidences for the Trinity, it does examine the problematic verses used by the JWs.

    100. S. Johnson
      January 20th, 2010 @ 1:05 pm

      My personal take on this topic is that it is extremely important. I wrestled with this problem for years. The misunderstanding of the Trinity is at the heart of many “alternative” forms of Christianity, thus its importance cannot be minimized, it is one of the key features that distinguishes “mainstream” Christianity from the rest. The existence of the complex unity of God is also a major stumbling block for other world views to take Christianity seriously. At first blush it just does not seem to make sense.

      Here is what I believe to be another straight forward syllogisms:

      1. Yaweh created the World.
      2. Jesus created the World.
      3. Therefore Yaweh and Jesus are in some sense one.

      Support for premise 1: Multiple verses starting with Gen 1:1.

      Support for premise 2: John 1:3 “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being”, Col 1:16 “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavesn and on earth, visible and invisible….all things have been created through Him and for Him”

      First, it seems that Col 1:16 could not be more comprehensive in terms of what Jesus created–simply put, everything. If memory serves, I believe Stafford attempts to solve this dilemma by positing that Jesus was not the author of creation, but the agent of creation (i.e. the instrumental cause).

      But there is the problem with that notion which stems from Isaiah 44:24 “I the LORD am maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by MYSELF and spreading out the earth all ALONE”. [caps added for emphasis] It seems the words “by Myself” and “all alone” could not be clearer. They seem to preclude someone else acting as an agent. Given that the agent theory flys in the face of Scripture, the syllogism stands intact.

    101. S. Johnson
      January 20th, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

      Sorry for the typo (e.g. heavesn=heavens, flys=flies)

    102. Erika
      January 20th, 2010 @ 3:26 pm

      To Zvi:

      “…plus the fact that the name of hashem is spelled differently here than in all other places…”

      Are you talking here about Genesis 18:1 ?

      Genesis 18:1 reads:
      “YHWH appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day.”

      YHWH is spelled here in the Hebrew “Yod”, “Hey”, “Vav”, “Hey” (YHWH) – like always.

    103. Rich L
      January 20th, 2010 @ 3:34 pm

      I write as a Jewish believer in Jesus. I have read Dr. Brown’s commentary about the trinity in “Jewish Objections to Jesus”. Although well written, I did not find it persuasive. It seems like his point is that the OT allows room for the trinity although it is not explicitly stated (he can correct me if I’m wrong). I do agree that the ‘Old Testament’ is the key to understanding who God and Jesus are (along with of course Jesus’ own words).

      Does ANYONE think Moses and the Israelites (as a whole) have ever viewed the God Israel in a pluralistic, triune way? The Jewish Shema (Deut. 6:4) has been recited by Jews for millenniums since Deuteronomy was written, and there has not been confusion among Jews about what the word ‘echad’ (one) means.

      Here’s what God spoke through Moses in Deut 13: 6-8:
      6 “If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul secretly entices you, saying “Let us go and serve other gods WHICH YOU HAVE NOT KNOWN, NEITHER YOU NOR YOUR FATHERS,
      7 “of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth,
      8 “YOU SHALL NOT CONSENT TO HIM or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him;”

      Does anyone want to propose that Moses knew God in a way, other than in a strict monotheistic way?…. that Moses knew God as pluralistic (Father, Son, and Spirit) ?

      Deut 6:4 “Hear O Israel, the LORD your God, the LORD is one”

      Deut 4:39 ” Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; THERE IS NO OTHER.

      Deut 32:39 ” Now see that I, even I, am HE, and there is no God besides ME, I kill and I make alive, I wound and I heal, nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.

      Armed with this understanding I can read the rest of the bible and it not only makes sense, but is scripturally sound !

      I can fast forward from Moses to Jesus and read:
      John 4:22-23 “You (Samaritans) worship what you do not know; WE (JEWS) know who we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming and now is, when THE TRUE WORSHIPERS WILL WORSHIP THE FATHER in spirit and in truth;

      In Mark 12:29, Jesus quoted and affirmed Deut 6:4, the creed of the Jews. (The MOST IMPORTANT commandment He said)

      In John 17:3 Jesus identifies the Father as “the one true God”

      John 20:17 Jesus said he is going to “my God and my Father”

      It should be painfully obvious that Jesus brought no new revelation about WHO and HOW MANY God is. No Torah grounded Jew is going to look at Jesus who has a God and Father, as co-equal and co-eternal in nature with that same God, and as if Jesus was the co-creator in the Genesis account.

      This topic alone makes me believe that the serpent from Genesis 3 is alive and well.

      1 Thes 5:21
      “but test everything that is said to be sure it is true, and if it is, then accept it. ” (TLB)

    104. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 20th, 2010 @ 5:03 pm

      So, Rich, those of who affirm that the Word of God teaches the deity of the Son and God’s tri-unity are deceived by the devil?

    105. zvi
      January 20th, 2010 @ 5:15 pm

      Erica, I am speaking os 18:2 and 19:18 alef,daled,nun,yud, and although there are times that god is referred to as such,still in all in both verses the 3 beings are ALL called by this name so either they are all divine or none of them are.

    106. zvi
      January 20th, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

      Dr. Brown,I would love to see you debate rav Amnon Yitzchack(you can google him if you dont know who it is) and although he speaks in hebrew I’m sure you can work it out,he is considered to be a world class debater.

    107. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 20th, 2010 @ 5:46 pm

      Zvi,

      Thanks for the reference. For many years now, I am on record as saying that I will gladly have a live debate with any qualified rabbi or counter-missionary. Feel free to contact him and if he’s open, I will gladly pursue it. Again, thanks, and I have heard of him before.

    108. Xavier
      January 20th, 2010 @ 7:32 pm

      Erika,

      The references to “arm of YHWH” etc. are types, metaphors regarding the one YHWH. In and of themselves these are not personages, as you suggest. For example, Jesus is said to be the manna from heaven in John 6, does that mean he literally is the bread that came down from heaven? I do not think so.

      Similar metaphor is used in 1Cor 10, where Messiah is said to be “the spiritual rock” that followed the Israelites in the wilderness, and the body of Christ described as “one bread” [vv.16-17]. But to the writer it is clear that these things “became types [examples] for us” [vv.6, 11].

      Yes, YHWH is way beyond our “human dimensions” [as you suggest], but He [singular] has revealed Himself [singular] as the one and only “true God” of Israel [Deu 6.4; Mar 12.28-29].

      Abraham did worship others apart from YHWH, did you read my previous post regarding worship? Also, the NT writers distinguish clearly between that exclusive, “sacred/divine worship”, offered to God the Father alone [latreuo: LXX, Ex 3:12; 7:16; Deu 4:28; Jdg 2:11, 13; in a religious sense to worship God, Mat 4:10; Luk 1:74; 2:37; 4:8; Act 7:7; 24:14; 27:23; Rom 1:9; Phi 3:3; 2Ti 1:3; Heb 9:14; 12:28; Rev 22:3; “worshipping creatures [other] than the Creator”, in other words, false gods, Rom 1:25; LXX, Deu 4:28; Jdg 2:11, 13] and general worship/reverence offered to others[prokuneo: for “angels”, Rev 19.10; 22.8; human beings, Mat 8.2; 18.26; 20.20; Acts 10.25; false gods or idols, Act 7:43; Rev 13:8; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4].

      Where idolatry lies is in worshipping others apart from the One Deity, YHWH [God the Father], as God Himself. Something Christians are not supposed to do since we pay reverence, obeisance, worship to Jesus Christ as the “lord Messiah” [Acts 2.36; 2Cor 4.5] and not the Lord God!

      It is equally notable that [the Apostle Paul uses] the normal prayer terms (deomai, deesis)…to God and never to Christ… [Jesus] is neither simply the content of the thanksgiving (the phrase is dia with the genitive “through”, not dia with the accusative “on account of” [cp. Col 1.16]), nor its recipient…

      Such uniformity in Paul’s usage should certainly make us hesitate before asserting that Paul [divinely] ‘worshipped’ Christ [as Deity], since the evidence more clearly indicates otherwise. James Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle, p 257-260 [emphasis added].

      For my full study see: http://inthenameofwhowhat.blogspot.com/2009/04/what-does-bible-mean-by-worship.html

      Dr. Brown,

      Obviously not everyone shares the beliefs of this forum. Just because the majority do, does not make it true either. Just look at what traditional Christianity has done with Jesus’ teachings regarding the Gospel, is it Kingdom of God oriented? Yet, Jesus went to his grave and came out of it preaching and teaching something called the coming Kingdom of God on earth [cp. Acts 1.3]. This is the reason why he came [Lu 4.43] not just to do “3 day’s work” [viz. Billy Graham].

      But, is anyone even aware of this simple biblical teaching? I do not think so.

      Furthermore, in regards to the issue of how many are “God” and who is the Son of God, its all a muddle as we can see. Some profess a “mere man” Jesus [Muslims], some a demi-god Jesus [Trinis], some a fully Detiy-Jesus [Trinis, Oneness], some an angelic-Gnostic Jesus [JWs], yet others a tritheist Jesus [Mormons]. In the process, turning the Jesus of the Bible into Sui Generis.

      As time went on and proto-orthodox Christians came to believe that Christ was both divine and human, they needed to explain how that was possible [not from scripture]. Near the end of the 2nd century, one of the common solutions was that Christ was himself God the Father, come to earth in human form. This view was widespread among the proto-orthodox in Rome, and it was the view advocated by the Roman bishop himself at the beginning of the 3rd century. But it came to be mocked as ‘Patripassianist’ (a view that made the ‘Father suffer’), castigated as false and deemed heretical [yet it survives to this day as Oneness]. Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, 2003, p 254.

      Thus, a variety of Christological positions played their role in the transmission of the New Testament text: orthodox scribes who believed that Jesus was both God (contra the adoptionists) and distinct from the Father (contra the Patripassianists), sporadically modified texts that could be used by heretical opponents of either persuasion. See further discussion on Acts 20.28, pp. 87-88, Bart Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, 1993. p 84, 114, n. 185.

      When you shoot the messenger you shot down the message that came with it, this is where we have stood for almost 2 000 years now. In a sort of theological Dark Age with a made up “plastic Jesus”:

      …in the Christian understanding of Christ as being one with the Father, there is a constant possibility that faith in God will be absorbed in a ‘monochristicism’—i.e., that the figure of the Son in the life of faith will overshadow the figure of the Father and thus cause it to disappear and that the figure of the Creator and Sustainer of the world will recede behind the figure of the Redeemer. The New Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 16, Christianity Macropaedia article, p 274.

      S. Johnson,

      Could you point explicitly to where scripture says “the infinite…became finite” [i.e. God became a man]? Instead the Bible explicitly teaches that “God is not a human being” [Num 23.19; 1Sam 15.29] and that His very nature [being] does not change [Mal 3.6].

      That the one Creator God can appear [theophanies] and work through agents [angels, humans] is another matter entirely.

      Thanks for recommending those books but how about re-reading the virgin birth narratives and studying the koine Greek words the NT writers use regarding “the origin” [genesis, Mat 1.1, 18-20] and “coming into existence” [gennao, John 1.14; cp. ginomai, Rom 1.3] of the Son of God.

      [Christ] is unique in His existence. His existence is peculiarly determined by the power of God. This is the most important feature in the Lucan infancy story…Luke [1.33-35] is here describing the conception of Jesus as the miracle of the Virgin Birth…the divine miracle which causes pregnancy…In the background stands the biblical conception of the God who begets His Son by a verbal act which cannot be rationalised…For this reason the Son has a special name not borne by other men, namely, “Son of God”…

      At the beginning of His existence a special and unique act of divine power…gives Him the title “Son of God”…the linking of the Messianic title “Son of God” with the miracle of conception and birth. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 2: 300.

      In his birth narrative Luke is more explicit than Matthew in his assertion of Jesus’ divine sonship from birth (1:32, 35, note also 2:49 where Jesus recognizes God as his Father). Here it is sufficiently clear that a virginal conception by divine power without the participation of any man is in view (1:34). But here too it is sufficiently clear that it is a begetting, a becoming, which is in view, the coming into existence of one who will be called, and will in fact be the Son of God, not the transition of a preexisting being to become the soul of a human baby or the metamorphosis of a divine being into a human fetus. Christology in the Making, Eerdmans, 1996, 50-51. [emphasis added]

    109. Rich L
      January 20th, 2010 @ 8:55 pm

      Dr. Brown,

      I appreciate you taking time to read my post and reply. I look forward to hearing future radio shows dealing with this topic and other Jewish related issues.

      To answer your question – I see 2 general possibilities here with Deuteronomy 13:6-8 in mind. (I invite anyone’s input on this)

      1) That Moses and the patriarchs knew God as Father, Son, and Spirit (even though there is no record of this) and then just like the pronunciation of God’s Name became lost, so did the idea of His triune nature……when we get to John 4:22, Jesus said “the Jews know who they worship”….the interpretation being that the disciples who are Jews, know God as the Father, Son, and Spirit…and the Father in verse 23 should be worshipped as the head of the triune Godhead. (I’m doing the best I can to present this point)

      OR

      2) Moses and the patriarchs knew God in a strict monotheistic way, God having one sacred Name (denoting one single individual).
      Centuries later Jesus affirmed the Jewish Shema in Mark 12:29. Jesus also said many times “You have heard it said, but I say to you….” never do we read Jesus correcting the Jews understanding of who (and how many) God is, but on the contrary, He confirmed it as He did in John 4:22 saying “the Jews know WHO they worship”…..being ‘the Father’ in verse 23.
      In James 2:13 we’re told we “do well” to believe there is one God (as even the demons believe). Paul said in 1 Cor 8:6 that to us “there is one God, the Father”.

      Since I take #2 as being accurate, I have to ask myself….Who came up with the trinity doctrine? Admittedly, I think the devil is a likely candidate to concoct such a concept.

      You mentioned in a reply to Xavier that this topic is starting ‘to beat a dead horse’ I hope you don’t mind if the lively conversation continues about ultimately what Jesus answered to the question “what is the GREATEST commandment ?”

      Thanks for creating this forum where people can participate in mind stimulating dialogue :)

    110. zvi
      January 20th, 2010 @ 9:03 pm

      I’m quite surprised that the word echad can be used at all as a proof to trinitarians. Although we find that morning and night became one day,the word “echad” is only referring to the day as a whole. In other words,athough the day is comprised of different componenets that all come together to create a “day”, doesn’t suggest that a day is the same entity as morning or night is,so therefore it is still possible for an entity like g-d that will share no other components,to still be called “echad” because in the cases of morning and night, and husband an wife there happen to be some contributing factors, but the final product,which is “day” is as one and alone as one can be.

    111. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 20th, 2010 @ 9:25 pm

      Rich,

      I do hope the discussion will continue on this forum, but on the radio, there are obviously other topics to take up.

      Since I don’t have the time to get into in-depth discussions here, I just want to make one point: In vol. 2 of my series, which you mention, I argue that the best explanation of the biblical text is that God is complex (triune) in His nature. So, you didn’t accurately present here what I sought to present in the book.

      Enjoy the forum!

    112. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 20th, 2010 @ 9:27 pm

      Zvi,

      Good job! You are correct: God is certainly one — even though His unity is complex, just like a husband and wife are truly one flesh or evening and morning are truly one day. Again, if you had read my actual writings on this, you would understand the arguments better about echad.

    113. zvi
      January 20th, 2010 @ 10:00 pm

      Dr.brown, all I’m saying is that it MUSN’T be that echad is speaking in a case where there are multiple components but rather it can ALSO be speaking of a case when there is but one componenet, as the echad is referring to the final product regardless. But I do apreciate that you still go through my arguments.

    114. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 20th, 2010 @ 10:06 pm

      Zvi,

      That’s exactly the same point I make in my book. We agree! (Seriously.)

      I wish I had time to read and respond to every argument here, but as you know, I’m not able to do that. But I do read what I can and pitch in here in small ways.

    115. zvi
      January 20th, 2010 @ 10:17 pm

      There is something that I would like to bring up to the audience. Ibelieve that there is a major difference between a jew and a gentile when it comes to belief in the trinity. Without getting into the validity of religion and the nt, we all know for certain that the ot was given to the jews and not to the gentiles, for a gentile is not obligated to observre kosher and I dont think anyone disagrees on that. With that said we still find in the ot that idolatry was prohibited to all even prior to the Torah being received by the jews,as were basic moral laws that jews and gentile alike had to observre,and when violated payed for it as we can see that gd brought a flood upon the earth. So the guidlines of believing in god and what constitutes idolatry are not necessarily the same for a jew who is bound by the laws of the torah, and a gentile who is only bound by pre torah law which we happen to call noahide laws. In fact for all those that are intersted there is a dispute between the rabbis whether a gentile who believes that g-d shares his divinity with another like the sun,the moon or even jesus whether he has comitted idolatry,in fact the jewish code of law which all orthodox jews follow believe that a gentile will NOT get punished for believing in the divinity of jesus,it is only jews that have to follow the torah which says to believe in “no other gods”.

    116. Rich L
      January 20th, 2010 @ 10:19 pm

      Shalom Zvi,

      Dr. Brown mentioned you are an orthodox Jew…..I want to ask a question to you that Yeshua of Natzeret asked his talmidim in the gospel of Mark 16:15. As if Yeshua himself asks you, “who do you say that I am?”

    117. zvi
      January 20th, 2010 @ 10:27 pm

      Rich, I can only answer with the permission of Dr.brown and his staff.

    118. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 20th, 2010 @ 10:34 pm

      Zvi,

      God bless you for seeking to honor the parameters of this forum. Please feel free to respond to Rich, and again, thanks for being a real mensch.

      Rich,

      Because we’re trying to keep this forum on topic, we had requested that Zvi not get into a Jewish-Christian discussion here, so I’d encourage you to take up these issues with him privately (or, on another thread here that Zvi can point you to). So, once Zvi responds, please do carry out this important discussion at another location here. Thanks!

      Again, Zvi, thanks for being honorable.

    119. Xavier
      January 20th, 2010 @ 10:41 pm

      zvi & Dr. Brown,

      The ‘compund one’ argument does not account for the simple fact that the plurality alluded to in such statements as “one day, one team” etc. is placed on “day, team”. These are still “one” and not “2″ or “3 days”. Same goes with “one flesh”, we are still talking about 2 seperate, individual, absolute human beings.

      Following comment is from the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament on echad:

      In the famous Shema of Deut 6:4, “Hear, O Israel… the LORD is one,” the question of diversity within unity has theological implications. Some scholars have felt that, though “one” is singular, the usage of the word allows for the doctrine of the Trinity…[but] the verse concentrates on the fact that there is one God and that Israel owes its exclusive loyalty to him (Deut:9; Deut 6:5). The NT also is strictly monotheistic

      Anthony Buzzard rightly dissects Robert Morey’s ‘compund unity’ thesis in his book The Trinity: Evidence and Issues (World Publishing, 1996):

      Morey includes a footnote to p. 25 of the standard Lexicon of Biblical Hebrew for support. But the page he appeals to contains not a
      word of support for his theory that ‘one’ really means ‘compound unity.’ The lexicons rightly define ‘one’ as the cardinal number ‘one.’ Echad is the word for ‘one’ in counting. Imagine the chaos of communication if ‘one’ really means more than one.

      Ecclesiastes 4:9 speaks of two being better than one (echad). The use of ‘one’ in the sentence ‘The two shall become one flesh’ does not mean that ‘one’ is really plural. It means that two human beings in marriage become one (not two) things. The idea of plurality is not found in the word ‘one’ at all. It is found in the context: male and female human persons.” ⎯Buzzard, Does Everyone Believe In The Trinity?

      If we stick to scripture [which is what we're supposed to do], Jesus himself tells us how he is one with his God and Father [cp. John 10.30] when he prays that believers may also become one with them, in the same way:

      I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one… that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17.11, 21

      So that now, according to the Apostle Paul, “whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in [through] the spirit” [1Cor 6.17]. It seems there are more than 3 persons in the “Godhead”, does it not?

      Jesus shows the kind of profound unity that should be the norm among genuine believers. As the following verses indicate (through John 17:26), this is to be a reflection of the unity that has existed eternally [ideally] between the Father and the Son (v. 11), namely, the unity of a common mind and purpose, an unqualified mutual love, and a sustained comprehensive togetherness in mission, as revealed in the Father-Son relationship characterized by Jesus’ own ministry. ESV Study Bible, John 17.11

    120. zvi
      January 20th, 2010 @ 10:46 pm

      Thank you Dr.brown, Firstly I’m glad to see that we agree on something! I’ll try to be as brief as I can, I believe there is a dispute among the rabbis whether jesus believed that he was g-d,and in that case he would be considered a heretic, however the the talmud does discuss somone by the name of “yeshu”who was executed for that very sin, but it is questionable whether this was the jesus as we know him.

    121. zvi
      January 20th, 2010 @ 10:51 pm

      Rich and all others,if you would like to debate this any further you can post on the “debate with rabbi shmuly boteach” blog.

    122. zvi
      January 20th, 2010 @ 10:54 pm

      Exavier, what you said is EXACTLY my point.

    123. Dr Michael L Brown
      January 20th, 2010 @ 11:02 pm

      Xavier,

      Please review my discussion of this with reference to the NJPSV version and the related rabbinic commentaries for echad as one in the sense of “that one alone” (as opposed to other gods or regional Yahweh’s). And nothing that Mr. Buzzard writes here addresses the claim in question, namely that echad as traditionally rendered in the Shema must mean absolute unity. Perhaps I can take it up with him on the air; until then, I remain thoroughly unimpressed with the arguments.

    124. zvi
      January 20th, 2010 @ 11:10 pm

      Xavier, you should really be proving your case from the ot which states twice “I am not a man”.

    125. John
      January 20th, 2010 @ 11:14 pm

      In light of the topic of this thread (Was Jesus divine, and did He deem himself to be divine?) I find the Talmudic account (mentioned above by Zvi) of a certain “Yeshu” who was executed for claiming to be God, to be quite significant..

      He that hath ears to hear, let him hear..

    126. S. Johnson
      January 20th, 2010 @ 11:18 pm

      Xavier;

      I only have time for a few lines. I never said that the infinite became finite, that would be a logical contradiction. What I said was that Jesus had two natures, that of deity and that of human. Understanding this is key to understanding the Trinity. The human nature was an addition to Deity not a substitute. Sorry if I was not clear.

    127. Rich L
      January 20th, 2010 @ 11:52 pm

      The debate about ‘echad’ reminds me of Bill Clinton…..”it depends what the definition of the word is, is….” Echad means the number one. If God wanted to tell us solely about his unity, perhaps a word like yachad (together), would have been appropriate.

      Does anyone contend that Moses and the patriarchs viewed the God of Israel in a pluralistic way…anything even hinting to a tri-unity?

      And Zvi, you have permission from Dr. Brown to answer my previous post….. if you don’t mind answering.

    128. zvi
      January 21st, 2010 @ 12:12 am

      Rich,please be more specific if you dont mind.

    129. Xavier
      January 21st, 2010 @ 12:27 am

      Dr. Brown,

      …echad as traditionally rendered in the Shema must mean absolute unity.

      Your statements contradict each other, since you also claim for the one God as described in the Shema a “complex unity”. So, I do not follow what your argument is, unless your trying to cloud the issue, as you have done in reference to John 17.3. Where in your book you recognize that Jesus calls the Father “the only true God”, i.e. the only one that is God. Yet, you contradict this statement by giving to the Son of God a co-equal identity with God the Father [YHWH of the OT].

      zvi,

      I did refer to Num 23.19; 1Sam 15.19, as well as Mal 3.6 where YHWH says He does not change.

      S. Johnson,

      You have any scripture to back up the double nature of Jesus Christ? The NT emphatically states that the whole person, that is, the Son of God died on the cross. No where, as far as I know, does it even hint that part of the Son of God died.

      But then again, we’re back to illogical fallacies regarding this double nature theme. For if Jesus was fully Deity and fully human all the time, why does he feign not knowing certain things [Mar 5.9, 30.16; 13.32; Lu 8.30, 45; John 11.34; 21.17]. Or that he remains subordinate to someone else whom he calls “God the Father” [1 Cor 15.27-28]?

      There are ways in which the Old Testament and the New differ. Yet they constitute one book. Both Testaments present the same One [not triune] God. The God who speaks in Jesus Christ in the New Testament is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob [and Jesus]. The God who works in Christ as His final agent in the New is the God who delivered Israel from Egypt and who spoke to her at Sinai.

      The New Testament never doubts that the God of which it speaks is also the God of the Old Testament. The God who acted in creation in Genesis has acted also in Jesus Christ. As Paul puts it: ‘For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ’ (2Cor. 4:6).

      The God who spoke to Israel in various ways and manners also spoke in his Son Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1ff.) W. D. Davies, Introduction to the NT, p. 6-7.

      In other words, that ONE “God was in Christ” [2Cor 5.19] and not “God was Christ”, or a “person” thereof!

    130. Rich L
      January 21st, 2010 @ 1:00 am

      Zvi, my question was basically “who is Yeshua” to you ? (God incarnate, Moshiach, a false moshiach, a make believe story ?)

    131. Jaco
      January 21st, 2010 @ 3:26 am

      Hi, S. Johnson

      Certainly these verses point at least in part to the human nature of Jesus, just as the NT did. Jesus grew in wisdom, there were things in His human nature He did not know. The premise in your objection seems to be that the Messiah can be ONLY human.

      S. Johnson, the premise all trinitarians start off with is to argue their case for God in terms of his “nature.” This has never been the concern for either Jews nor Christians. Not His “nature” but his identity was their concern. “Nature” is a concept imported from Hellenistic thinking, and is NOT scriptural. Scripturally speaking the Messiah is firstly inferior to Yahweh, originated by Yahweh, different from Yahweh and a full member of the human race.

      He has two natures that intersect. He is not the infinite that became finite. He did not abandon His devine nature, but rather added on an additional nature that was fully human.

      NOTHING in scripture says this. Jesus was fully human (Rom. 5:15), subject to exhaustion (Joh. 4:6), thirst (Joh. 4:7), hunger (Joh. 4:8), pain (1 Pet. 2:21), anxiety (Lu. 22:44), ignorance (Mt. 24:36), limited goodness (Mr. 10:18), even death. All these show that the Messiah was the human servant of Isa. 52:12-53:13, the promised prophet like Moses (Deut. 18) They also show overwhelmingly ontological separateness from Yahweh, ontological inferiority and dependence upon Yahweh, and in servitude to a will separate and higher than his own. These are but few of the overwhelming evidence showing just that, explaining the humanity of the Messiah, without fallacious leaps, extra-biblical concepts, or linguistic acrobatics.

      As far as the terms “firstborn” and “begotten” go, these also provide for no contradiction. Firstborn is used elsewhere where it does not mean first born in the literal sense. For example, in Exodus 4:22: ‘Thus says the LORD’, “Israel is My son, My firstborn. ” The privileges and preeminence of the firstborn are in sight here.

      That’s fine. The anthropomorphism explains itself. It explains itself further by the notion of TEMPORALITY, of AUTHORITATIVE INEQUALITY with the one whose firstborn he is, as well as the notion of APPROVAL by the one making the appointment. This is only from the term first-born itself. Lu. 1:35 gives the starting point and the ultimate reason for him being a son.

      Even if you don’t buy that, it still does not seem problematic to me as Jesus body was in some sense begotten. That is, His body came to be at some point–He acquired an additional nature that was fully human.

      Nowhere does Scripture state this. Even if monogenes means “uniquely begotten,” Scripture explains in what way: Matthew 1:20, 21. There’s no need to read back into scripture what it doesn’t say.

      Since there is no logical contradiction here, there is no problem.

      There are serious logical fallacies in all of this. The greatest of which is the fallacy called: affirming the consequent. Since the trinity doctrine is nowhere taught in the Bible, not even in clear confessional statements by Paul or the apostles according to Luke’s “Acts,” trinitarians will always be on the affirming side of the consequent, putting them in an unfavorable position (logically) to start with.

      The misunderstanding of the Trinity is at the heart of many “alternative” forms of Christianity, thus its importance cannot be minimized, it is one of the key features that distinguishes “mainstream” Christianity from the rest.

      The formulation of the doctrine is in itself ambiguous and equivocating in its reference to “God.” The “proofs” of the trinity, after combing and prooftexting Scripture reflects this. Hence, in my opinion, the confusion among many church-goers.

      John 1:3 “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being”, Col 1:16 “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavesn and on earth, visible and invisible….all things have been created through Him and for Him”

      Here you first equate grammatical gender with biological gender, and secondly you assume creative origin of all created things with Jesus. The scriptures you site prove neither.

      But there is the problem with that notion which stems from Isaiah 44:24 “I the LORD am maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by MYSELF and spreading out the earth all ALONE”. [caps added for emphasis] It seems the words “by Myself” and “all alone” could not be clearer. They seem to preclude someone else acting as an agent. Given that the agent theory flys in the face of Scripture, the syllogism stands intact.

      As already pointed out, were their numerous prophecies anticipating the coming of the Messiah. All those were given with anthropomorphisms of some sort. All those prove the separateness and inequality between Yahweh and His Anointed. Jesus is strikingly absent in revelation and in vision in all Yahweh’s dealings in the OT. So, instead of changing or twisting what is explicitly stated (all alone, by Myself) one has to use explicit language as the starting point and clarify what is ambiguous and vague.

      Regards,

      Jaco

    132. Jabez H.
      January 21st, 2010 @ 5:05 am

      OK Zvi, Are you aware of other instruction on how Jews are to minister to Gentiles in the Tenakh? Are you aware of other statements there which indicate that G-d created and placed other people groups within boundaries he established?

      As for the trinity. When John the Baptiser baptised Yeshua for repentance from sin, and as to He being greater than John while so accepting this action from him, two other realities are recorded in the Brit Hadasha (by Mark). 1) a voice was heard from heaven declaring Yeshua His son, in whom He was well pleased, and 2) the Ruach Ha Kodesh was seen, as a dove, descending upon Yeshua from heaven. These are coincidental and curious reports, where, as such, all members of the so-called trinity were shown both separately and together. In fact they were interactively representing a “fulfillment of righteousness.” Certainly this is indicative of the Messianic. What each of these realities then are stated to be in the Brit H. is also very telling of their place and provision for any of those of a New Covenant faith in the completed works of Yeshua.

      Why bother to record these details if it is simply about an idol? Something more is happening, and that is challenging of anyone’s perception of reality.

    133. Jabez H.
      January 21st, 2010 @ 5:06 am

      OK Zvi, Are you aware of other instruction on how Jews are to minister to Gentiles in the Tenakh? Are you aware of other statements there which indicate that G-d created and placed other people groups within boundaries he established?

      As for the trinity. When John the Baptiser baptised Yeshua for repentance from sin, and as to He being greater than John while so accepting this action from him, two other realities are recorded in the Brit Hadasha (by Mark). 1) a voice was heard from heaven declaring Yeshua His son, in whom He was well pleased, and 2) the Ruach Ha Kodesh was seen, as a dove, descending upon Yeshua from heaven. These are coincidental and curious reports, where, as such, all members of the so-called trinity were shown both separately and together. In fact they were interactively representing a “fulfillment of righteousness.” Certainly this is indicative of the Messianic. What each of these realities then are stated to be in the Brit H. is also very telling of their place and provision for any of those of a New Covenant faith in the completed works of Yeshua.

      Why bother to record these details if it is simply about an idol? Something more is happening, and that is challenging of anyone’s perception of reality.

    134. zvi
      January 21st, 2010 @ 7:24 am

      Rich,he was a regular human being who claimed to be moshiach and may have also claimed to be g-d.As I said we can discuss this issue on another website if you’d like.

    135. John
      January 21st, 2010 @ 9:30 am

      Rich,

      Zvi had already answered your question above. He did so by citing Talmudic authority on a certain “Yeshu” who was executed for claiming to be God. He noted that current Rabbinic opinion varies regarding the identity of this Yeshu. I think the Talmudic account also says that this Yeshu’s name was “Miriam.”

    136. John
      January 21st, 2010 @ 9:39 am

      Please excuse the above typo: the final sentence should read, “I think the Talmudic account also says that this Yeshu’s mother’s name was “Miriam.”

    137. Erika
      January 21st, 2010 @ 10:15 am

      OK Xavier, regarding worshipping angels and human beings you quoted these passages:

      Revelation 19:10 and 22:8
      –> John is REBUKED here for worshipping an angel!!!

      Matthew 8:2
      –> Here Yeshua is worshipped – and rightly so, since He is the arm of YHWH and had (and still has!) YHWH’s nature!

      Matthew 18:26
      –> Here a SLAVE is prostrating himself to his master, and this is a parable of human beings prostrating themselves before YHWH.
      The lesson of that parable: If YHWH (the master in that parable whom the slave prostrated to) forgave you all your sins, you too should forgive your debtors!
      By the way – I’m not in favor of slavery, but this was what slaves were doing, and hence Yeshua could use it as a parable for the relationship between humans and YHWH.

      The story goes on that also second debtor fell down before the first debtor, which can be compared to the story in Genesis 33:3 where Jacob prostrated himselg before Esau. This does not mean that this second debtor worshipped the first debtor or that Jacob worshipped Esau – it rather demonstrates the message “I know I have wronged you and am not able to restitute it – I am dependant on your forgiveness – have mercy on me!” A plea for undeserved forgiveness.

      The first part of that story in Mattew 18 tells us about the relationship between the master and the slave – the second part tells us about the relationship between two slaves.

      Matthew 20:20

      –> Here again Yeshua is worshipped, and He does not rebuke the people for it like John gets rebuked for worshipoing an angel in Rev. 19:10 and 22:8
      He simply says that the arm does not decide what to do, rather the arm obeyes the brain!! (Yeshua here again being the arm of YHWH). And in the verses 25-27 Yeshua explains the rules of YHWH’s kingdom: The great ones in YHWH’s kingdom don’t receive adoration from men but rather serve them. Other behaviour is IDOLATRY!!!

      So there is NO problem with worhipping Yeshua – but there is a HUGE problem with worshipping other people!!!

      Acts 10:24

      –> again: Cornesius is so happy here about Peter’s arrival, since this is the open door for Corneslius to enter YHWH’s kingdom, that Cornelius somehow gets a little confused about who is God and who not. Peter quickly clarifies that in the next verse

      (Acts10:26)

      “But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up! I myself am ALSO A MAN!” ”
      Guess what – Peter didn’t deserve the worship!

      Again, Isaiah says that the arm of YHWH has not been revealed to most people – and I just see that this is very true!! I think that Zvi has a clearer understanding here about whom to worship and whom not to worship, with the exception of course of our opinion on who Yeshua was / is.

    138. Xavier
      January 21st, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

      Erika,

      We seem to be talking past each other here. I will reiterate what I have said before.

      Jesus was “worshipped” [proskuneo, relative worship] as the Christ [annointed one of YHWH], “the Son of the Living God” [Mat 14.33]. No one else, including Jesus, is worshipped [latreuo, rendered sacred/divine service] as God the Father [YHWH].

      “Worship” may be offered to kings as representing God, and even to glorified saints (1 Chron. 29:20; Rev. 3:9). It is fallacious, therefore, to argue that because Jesus is “worshipped,” he must be God. Jesus can be “worshipped” as Messiah. Only the Father is worshipped as God. The same Greek verb does service for both senses of “worship”. Buzzard and Hunting, The Doctrine of the Trinity, p. 203. [emphasis added]

      According to Luke 2.11 this was his birth right, which was recognized by people like the Magi who worshipped him as the promised Messiah, “king of the Jews” [Mat 2.2, 11].

      According to Romans 1.1-4 “through the spirit of holiness [that brought him back to life] was appointed [declared] with power to be the Son of God”. Which means his God and Father has “exalted him to the highest place…to the glory of [that one and the same] God the Father” [Phil 2.10-11].

      As Messiah, Jesus, the accredited representative of the Creator, is honoured in association with the One God, his Father (Rev. 5:12, 13). But he also joins the saints in the Lamb’s song of praise to the Father (Rev. 15:3).

      He is the beginning and end of God’s great plan of salvation (Rev. 1:17). Yet he died (Rev. 1:18), a fact which plainly means that he cannot be God since God cannot die. Only the Almighty God is God Himself.

      In Revelation 1:8 the Father is both the Alpha and Omega and the Lord God Almighty. The latter title (“the Lord God Almighty”) is nowhere given to Jesus, despite the attempts of some red-letter Bibles to apply this verse to the Son, perpetuating the long-standing confusion of the Messiah with God. Ibid., p. 134.

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