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Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Trinity Delusion: a response

(See my blog article. God is one: On a Unitarian and Trinitarian Debate)
This is my brief comment on an extract from the article The Trinity Delusion by Adam Pastor in the Adoni Messiah blog. The article content is the usual rehash on the Shema ("Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one"). The points from both sides of the discussion table about God usually fixate on the same: quantitative values of singular and plural pronouns. Of course, the original Deuteronomy 6 passage can't be beat, not because it was, as some cheer for their side, seemingly championed by Jesus. The quotation of the Shema in Mark 12 by Jesus is seized upon by some as an endorsement by Jesus of their particularly numeric, quantitative take on God. What, you might wonder is the Jewish awareness and response to that plurality? Rabbi Goldmark summons it up this way: "We just ignore it." Amazing. There is a gag reflex which overcomes some at the mere sound of a non-biblical term (which is equally unnecessary and non-useful to my understanding and my contribution to the discussion [for those who may not know it that term is, "trinity"]) which is suggestive of a plurality concerning God. One can hardly blame a man for not thinking clearly when he is gagging.

The default interpretation of the Shema from the Jews adapted by
the saints in Christ to their Christology is on the assumption that surely the Jews, being God's chosen people, would know the answer to the riddle about expressions or references to God involving singular or plural forms. The truth is that there were more than a few matters on the Jewish interpretation of scripture on which Jesus questioned and challenged them. One example of these challenges was when he admonished on them about their profession of believing and being disciples of Moses. Jesus said if they believed in Moses as they claimed, they would believe in Jesus because, he said, Moses wrote of Jesus. One reputed scholar alleged anti-Semitism at the thought that anyone would hold a view different than that of the Jews on the Shema. He says the Jews were the recipients of the scriptures. Yes, this is true as the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 3:1,2 that the Jews were "entrusted with the oracles of God", _ not the interpretation. Every generation is to examine and learn the scriptures and become convinced in their conviction on the interpretation as they learned those oracles.

The questions posed in the article by Pastor are the usual assortment. However, there is one question posed by Jesus which he did not answer for his listeners. It is in the context of the Mark 12 passage on the Shema which is preceded by a brief enlightenment of the Sadducees by Jesus. It's a heartfelt personal favorite of mine in which Jesus prefaces and ends with two powerful and similar phrases: Isn't this because you are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God? and You are therefore badly mistaken.

There was a scribe who was impressed when he heard how Jesus had answered the Sadducees. Whether or not the question he posed to Jesus, Which commandment is the greatest of all? was another attempt to throw Jesus back into a doctrinal debate with the Sadducees; the scribe played it safe for himself. Basically, he reiterated for Jesus the Shema, the first commandment, and the second command. It is to this answer from the scribe that Mark notes that Jesus SAW (not as Adam Pastor notes in the article that Jesus told him) that the scribe answered, wisely. There's nothing wrong or non-biblical about the scribe's answer. It is as safe as the children's standard Bible class answer to most any question: God! Jesus! What the scribe, presumably a man who understood the scriptures, was unwilling to do in the presence of the Sadducees was to risk anything other than a safe, non-controversial answer. Jesus commended the scribe: You are not far from the kingdom of God.

This, then, leads Jesus to pose the question from Psalm 110 in the following verses.

No one dared ask him any question after that. 12:35 Jesus responded, as he taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 12:36 For David himself said in the Holy Spirit,

‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies the footstool of your feet.”’
12:37 Therefore David himself calls him Lord, so how can he be his son?

Matthew's account relates the Pharisees were present and took their turn at Jesus when they saw He had silenced the Sadducees. Jesus' question seems directed as much to the Sadducees, the Pharisees and the scribes. The question had an unsettling effect because in the context of the much referenced Shema on God being one here Jesus has posed a question from Psalm 110 about "The Lord" and "my Lord." The familiar tactic of modern scholars who resort to splicing of nouns and verbs in their original language was not the approach taken by Jesus or the writer of Hebrews in the first chapter. The Hebrews' writer interprets and applies Psalm 110 to Jesus.

Finally, I prefer to leave it to the individual to discern for themselves the one God so I will close with this last point. It is safe to say all believers accept the deity of the Father as being God. Leaving Jesus, whom the Father sent, out of that picture for the time being it is also the Holy Spirit whom the Father sent. This Holy Spirit who brought all things to their remembrance which Jesus had taught them was to also lead them into all truth.

One of those truths the Holy Spirit revealed to the disciples about  the Holy Spirit himself and preserved in the New Testament scriptures is in Acts 5:1-4: He is
God.

15 comments:

  1. ''One of those truths the Holy Spirit revealed to the disciples about himself and preserved in the New Testament scriptures is in Acts 5:1-4: He is God.''

    How does this view fit Acts 5:9 Where they tempt the Spirit OF the Lord?

    Act 5:9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.

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  2. Act 5:32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath GIVEN to them that obey him.

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  3. Yes, the Acts 5:9 is one which attributes deity to the Holy Spirit. So much of the article I was refuting here is the same stuff over and over. Too often these are mere copy pastes with the poster never contributing any comments of his own to convey his own understanding and convictions. The travesty of this is that there are too many who read it and accept it as being true. Thank you for your comment. I WISH my blog would hold its settings to alert me as it should when I receive comments. Again, thank you, Roald.

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  4. Psalm 110:1 in Hebrew is "Yahweh said to Adoni." Adoni is never used for Yahweh in the Bible. Psalm 110:1 does not mean "Yahweh said to Yahweh" but "Yahweh said to my superior / my liege / my master"

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  5. Thank you for your comment,

    I mindful and am aware of the Jewish handling of the name of God. It is also my understanding this was in accordance with their own notions about his name. When God sternly warned Israel not to take the name of the God in name they thought to play it safe. This is a ill conceived plan any time believers think they can improve on what God has said. When God declared his name to Moses it was not for him to keep silent or keep among the Jews. No, he was told to declare the name of God to pagan Pharoah and his entire court.

    I encourage you to review the Hebrew and Greek translations on lord or LORD in Isaiah 6. Then, with the knowledge of who it was that Isaiah saw see how the same passage is applied by John in John 12. Both passages are in the context of unbelief . . . of whom?

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  6. Jesus is God (Titus 2:13) and God the Father calls Jesus God (Hebrews 1:8). These are just two powerful New Testament passages which identify Jesus as God the Son.
    There are many theological words hated by the Churches of Christ, like the Word Trinity. Trinity is just a word which describes the reality of the being of God as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are not each other, but they are all equally God. To deny the doctrine of the Trinity is to place oneself outside of of the Christian faith. The Trinity is the last teaching standing as Biblically true, when the alternatives to the Trinity are examined and weighed.
    I left the Churches of Christ in 1971, learned decent Biblical Theology and have not looed back.

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    1. I do appreciate your comment.

      I prefer to take your words personally, not because I take offense, but because I can much sooner speak for myself as opposed to the saints in the fellowship of the churches of Christ.

      I word that I hate? Trinity? trinity? Really? When I stated that I have no need, desire or use for the term trinity I also stated that I take no offense when I hear my brothers and sisters in Christ use it.

      I understand it is just one other indicator of the struggle by the saints to understand and know the God who loves us and whom we love. The term, like various others, is what that saints are served up by those who lead, teach and preach as a substitute for helping the saints to attain a greater understanding of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

      Just minutes ago I pointed out to a brother who was a bit more brief than you, but who also mistakenly concluded (as he admitted, he had not read the my article) that I had rejected the deity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Whether it is of myself or my brothers and sisters in the fellowship of the churches of Christ, you are seriously mistaken, both about what (and I can hardly blame you) you might have heard and learned up to 1971 and what I have spelled out in this article. (I elaborated much further on the content in the hyper links which appear in this article. Those links are to to the "God who is one: on a unitarian and trinitarian debate.)

      Grace and peace to you in Jesus our Lord and Savior.

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    2. Based on this analysis all Jews are God - John 10:34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods” ’? (Psalms 82:6). The same word in the Hebrew for "God" and "god" and the same word is used in the Greek is used for "God" and "god".

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    3. You have merely parroted Psalm 82 and Jesus quotation of the same. It does not necessarily reflect or communicate an understanding, unless of course, I have misunderstood your brief comment. Your conclusion that all Jews are God may be as much of an overshoot as the other common assumption that the psalms reference by Jesus is about the prophets.
      Your focus, too, on the single word definition in isolation is a common practice.

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    4. Titus 1:13 is referring to two separate beings, God the Father and His Son.

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    5. I appreciate your comment, Winston. It rings familiar. Did you post this comment on my blog before? Just curious on that point.


      There are two things which it appears you have completely misunderstood.


      First, although I make the point that I have no need or use for the term “trinity” I do not have a problem with anyone who uses it. I do not need to present my understanding and teaching for the edification of the saints concerning the deity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The use of the term DOES NOT, in my understanding, rise to the level of some kind of heresy.


      Second, I am not aware of your description of the term “trinity” as being a “word hated” by the fellowship of churches of Christ. I will not argue if that is what you might have experienced in a particular congregation. I am aware that the use of the term by most people, yes, that is a very broad generalization, is mistakenly parroted by Christians as evidence that they understand the deity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit when this is often far from the truth. This is not a condemnation or ridicule of anyone. It just simply means that there is work to be done.


      Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting.

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  7. Thank you Gil, your blog has been a blessing to me. I am a Biblical Unitarian always searching for good online resources on the truth about Jesus, the human Christ of God the Father.
    You have introduced me to Adam Pastor's page which contains many links to excellent and well researched material on the truth, namely that Jesus is not God and the Holy Spirit not a person.
    Ironic isn't it? Your aim was to criticise Adam's post on The Trinity Delusion but your post only served to guide me toward more wonderful truth away from the lie of the Trinity doctrine.
    God uses people in unusual ways.

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    1. It is fine by me that you found Adam Pastor's blog useful, Anonymous.
      I was far more open towards Adam then he or you, Anonymous, have shown yourselves. I am not surprised about your assessment that my "aim was to critise (sic) Adam." I am also not surprised about the cozy label you pin, like so-called trinatarians, pin proudly on yourself. Your need for the extra coating of not just "Unitarian," but "Biblical Unitarian" is very much a part of the standard parroting of slogans and catchy phrases on both sides of that so-called discussion. A superficial browsing of Adam's post reveals that he does not seem to have anything to say other than to copy/paste what others say, hence, his own parroting. Blessing to you brother or sister, Anonymous.

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    2. I was open once, now I have chosen.
      If we simply say Unitarian this can lead to confusion because we also have the Unitarian Universalist church.
      If you believe that the Holy Spirit is a person, then your belief is a Trinitarian one. You may not like labels but we human beings are comfortable with labels, they tend to clarify things somewhat.
      Greetings.

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    3. It would appear you that either you have not read anything of what I have written or you have failed to understand the most basic points which I have made in this and other articles.
      As an example of the latter is your mistaken assumption that I the Holy Spirit is a person. Secondly, your complete mistaken assumption that I _ don't like labels?
      The last mistaken assumption is solely your own. I refer to your statement that labels "tend to clarify things somewhat." Again, if you had read my article you would I am not bothered in the least by my brothers and sisters who use them. I understand what they mean. Labels are what those who lead, teach and preach and scholars and theologians have handed down to the saints as a clarifying agent of the muddled concoctions. So, no, Anny, labels don't clarify anything. They are for parroting by so-called trinitarians and so-called unitarians. They are TEND to give the impress that the person using the label understands what is behind the label, but nothing could be farther from the truth. peace to you, Anny.

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