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Re: [biblicalapologetics] Re: Rob Bowman on the Trinity

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  • Patrick Navas
    Rob, You wrote: …I am not exaggerating. My outline study cites about a thousand biblical references from some three hundred chapters of the Bible, including
    Message 1 of 96 , Sep 26, 2009
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    Rob,

    You wrote:

    …I am not exaggerating. My outline study cites about a thousand biblical references from some three hundred chapters of the Bible, including passages from every book of the NT.
     

    Yes, your outline does cite about a thousand biblical references from three hundred chapters of the Bible, but none of those “thousands of biblical references” teach or support the doctrine of the Trinity.

     

    You would think, but I know professing Christians who dispute both of those doctrinal truths.

     

    Please, name one person or group who claims to be “Christian” yet denies that Jesus was once alive, died, and came back to life (resurrection), and please name one person or group who claims to be “Christian” yet denies that Jesus is the “Christ” or “Messiah.”

    That the Son is God seems clear to me and also to some anti-Trinitarians (Oneness Pentecostals) but not to you.

     

    It is clear that the term “God” is applied to Jesus in Scripture. What is not clear or clearly articulated in Scripture is that Jesus is “God” in the sense of being “God the eternal Son, the second person of the Trinity.” I agree that Jesus is “God” in the sense meant in Scripture; just as I agree that Moses was “God” in the sense given in Scripture, and just as the judges were “gods” in the sense meant in Scripture, and just as Satan himself was “god” in the sense meant in Scripture.

     

    Your argument really amounts to shifting the issue from how much biblical evidence can be marshaled in support of the doctrine of the Trinity to whether any of it passes your self-serving standard of clarity.

     

    My standard for “clarity” is hardly self serving. Scripture says that “everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.” Therefore, I conclude, Scripture clearly teaches, “Jesus is the Christ.” Scripture says, “There is one, God, the Father…and one Lord Jesus Christ.” Therefore, I conclude, the one God is “the Father” and that Jesus Christ is our “one Lord” and that Jesus has his status as "Lord" and "Messiah" because God "made" him to be such. Jesus said, “believe in God; believe also in me.” Therefore I conclude, “I must believe not only in God but in Jesus.” Jesus said, “the Father is greater than I am.” Therefore I conclude, “the Father is greater that Jesus.” Scripture says “if you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead you will be saved.” Therefore I conclude, “God raised Jesus from the dead and I must believe such in order to be "saved."

     

    Unless the Bible asserts the doctrine in just so many words, you will insist that it isn't clear.

     

    That is right; because every truly biblical doctrine is taught explicitly and in “so many words.” I can think of no genuinely biblical doctrine that isn’t explicitly taught or stated in Scripture.

     

     But you don't put this burden on yourself to show that a particular anti-Trinitarian theology passes the explicitness standard you set up for the Trinity. For example, you won't find the Bible saying "Jesus is not God, but only a creature exalted to function as God's agent," or anything even approaching an explicit statement of that type supporting subordinationism.

     

    Why would the Bible ever explicitly deny that Jesus is God if that was never even an issue for the biblical writers? One of the Bible’s major purposes is to positively set forth who Jesus is (‘these things were written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God…”), not to present who he is not, so your argument is completely moot and entirely misdirected. And an “agent” is simply someone who is used by another for a particular purpose and who functions as the representative of the other. The Bible explicitly speaks of Jesus in such ways. And I myself do not even go around using the language “Jesus is only a creature exalted to function as God's agent,” so I fail to understand the relevance of your argument.  In my view, Jesus is not “only” anything. To me he is “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” since that is how he explicitly portrayed in the Scriptutres.

    You wrote:

    *All* theologies that offer some systematic explanation of the relations of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are products of theology and interpretation. To say otherwise is to show an incredible naivete.

     

    Not really. The Bible itself clearly articulates the relations of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I just choose not to go beyond what the Bible articulates.

     

    The Bible

    repeatedly refers to Jesus Christ as "God," even in some texts in the JWs' NWT (notably John 20:28), but this doesn't stop some professing Christians from saying he isn't God.

     

    Wrong. The Bible does not “repeatedly" refer to Jesus as God. In fact, the only indisputable texts that apply the term “God” to the Messiah specifically are Isaiah 9:6, John 20:28 and Hebrews 1:8 (where there is actually a degree of grammatical uncertainty). So your “repeatedly” would actually have to go down to “three texts” and at best (for your view) “seven or eight texts.” You are in error again and the following Trinitarians were right when they observed: “Belief in the deity of Christ has traditionally been the keystone of the doctrine of the Trinity, yet explicit reference to Jesus as ‘God’ (theos) in the New Testament are very few, and even those few are generally plagued with uncertainties of either text or interpretation.” (Christopher B. Kaiser, The Doctrine of God, A Historical Survey, p. 29). “But we shall find that on almost every occasion in the New Testament in which Jesus seems to be called God there is a problem either of textual criticism or of translation. In almost every case we have to discuss which of two readings is to be accepted or which of two possible translations is to be accepted.” (William Barclay, Jesus as They Saw Him, New Testament Interpretations of Jesus, p. 21)—and whatever text does use the term “God” for Jesus never uses the term in the post-biblical, Trinitarian sense.

     

    On the other hand, [JWs] seem convinced that the Bible clearly teaches all sorts of things I can't find anywhere in the Bible, such as that Jesus became invisibly present in some new and significant way in 1914. Guess how many Bible passages they have to support that doctrine, and guess how many of them fall short of your explicitness test?

     

    You are absolutely correct. The Bible nowhere explicitly teaches that Jesus has been present since “1914.” That is why JWs are wrong for holding it up as an essential Christian doctrine and as a requirement for “approved association.” And the methods and means JWs use to arrive at their conclusion are plagued with holes, weaknesses and uncertainties, at every step of their interpretive chain of reasoning (see attached document).. In fact, there are actually some points of similarity between the Protestant doctrine of the Trinity and the JW doctrine of 1914. Both doctrines are set up as essential to Christian faith and fellowship by each group, yet neither doctrines are explicitly taught in Scripture, but rely on speculation and highly debatable inferences and scriptural connections, even seeming to contradict clear scriptural statements.

    You wrote:

    Well, throwing in the words "and interpretation" make the statement trivial. Practically everything in the Bible has and continues to be highly disputed, at least in some quarters. Good grief, we have people arguing for practically every conceivable Christology and all claiming that their view is *the* biblical view. The fact is that all of them are interpretive and theological constructs. ALL OF THEM.

     

    Of course I appreciate how essentially everything we read in books and perceive in the world is a matter of “interpretation.”  But it is not a matter of “interpretation” for me to say that the Bible teaches that Jesus is the Messiah, that God is one, that God raised Jesus from the dead, that God is love, that Jesus is the Son of God, and that Jesus is Lord. The Bible explicitly says these things. These points did not require my “interpretation.” The Bible teaches these doctrines explicitly and objectively. They are not matters of "interpretation."

    You wrote:

    I'm still working on my paper on John 12:41, which is going to be greatly expanded and tightened. The fact that you can find two or three Trinitarian scholars that propose or favor an alternative explanation does not disprove the traditional Trinitarian explanation.

     

    Your characterization of things is wrong. There are not “two or three” but scores of Trinitarian scholars who propose and favor alternative explanations (explanations that agree with mine), and not just for some “Trinitarian proof-texts” but for essentially all of them. Why? Because none of the texts Trinitarians use are solid in terms of giving a clear-cut Trinitarian meaning. So we not only have the absence of explicit Trinitarian teaching in the Bible, we do not even have a single text (out of all the thousands you claim defend your view) that clearly bears the meaning Trinitarians have traditionally assigned to them.

     

     This is the big fallacy that riddles your book and your whole approach to the subject. To show that the traditional explanations of such texts are wrong, you must show that another explanation is exegetically superior -- without smuggling in anti-Trinitarian presuppositions.

     

    That is precisely what I have done in my book. I have not only demonstrated that the traditional Trinitarian explanations are wrong but that alternative explanations are superior. And, most significantly (but a point you mistakenly attempt to trivialize), respected Trinitarian scholars themselves support my conclusions with respect to nearly every biblical text. That is to say, after close scrutinty, the Trinitarian hypothese fails, because Trinitarian scholars themselves have cancelled out the arguments of their own Trinitarian brethren.

     

    Patrick Navas

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     


    --- On Fri, 9/25/09, Rob <faithhasitsreasons@...> wrote:

    From: Rob <faithhasitsreasons@...>
    Subject: [biblicalapologetics] Re: Rob Bowman on the Trinity
    To: biblicalapologetics@yahoogroups.com
    Date: Friday, September 25, 2009, 6:16 AM

     
    Patrick,

    You wrote:

    << With all due respect, the claim that there is a "mountain" of evidence for the Trinty is not only an exaggeration but a false and misleading thing to say. >>

    No offense taken. But I am not exaggerating. My outline study cites about a thousand biblical references from some three hundred chapters of the Bible, including passages from every book of the NT.

    You wrote:

    << If the biblical writers wanted to teach the doctrine of the Trinity, they could have simply done so by saying so clearly ("to us there is one God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit"), as they did so often with doctrines they considered to be central to the Christian faith. If the writers of Scripture intended to teach the Trinity there is no reason why they would not have done so explicitly. If they had, none of the theologians and apologists would have to argue for it or claim that there is a "mountain" of evidence that supports it, just as no professing Christian disputes that Jesus is the Messiah or that he was raised from death to life. >>

    You would think, but I know professing Christians who dispute both of those doctrinal truths.

    Clarity is often confused with subjective ease of recognition. They are not the same thing. What does not seem clear to you seems clear to Paul Leonard and vice versa.. What seems clear to me does not seem clear to you. That the Father is God almost everyone agrees is clear. That the Son is God seems clear to me and also to some anti-Trinitarians (Oneness Pentecostals) but not to you. That the Holy Spirit is God seems clear to me and also to the Oneness Pentecostals. That Jesus is not God the Father or the Holy Spirit seems clear to you, me, and Paul, but not to our Oneness friends. That the Son existed before his human life seems clear to Paul and to me, but apparently not to you and not to Oneness Pentecostals (as confusing as that is!).

    Your argument really amounts to shifting the issue from how much biblical evidence can be marshalled in support of the doctrine of the Trinity to whether any of it passes your self-serving standard of clarity. Unless the Bible asserts the doctrine in just so many words, you will insist that it isn't clear. But you don't put this burden on yourself to show that a particular anti-Trinitarian theology passes the explicitness standard you set up for the Trinity. For example, you won't find the Bible saying "Jesus is not God, but only a creature exalted to function as God's agent," or anything even approaching an explicit statement of that type supporting subordinationism.

    You wrote:

    << Why are these points not disputed by Christians? Becuase the Bible explicitly and consistently teaches these points. Whey do Christians dispute over the Trinity? Because the Bible nowhere teaches it and because the doctrine is a product of theology and interpretation, not a doctrine taught--or even so much as mentioned- --by Jesus or his apostles. >>

    *All* theologies that offer some systematic explanation of the relations of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are products of theology and interpretation. To say otherwise is to show an incredible naivete. The Bible repeatedly refers to Jesus Christ as "God," even in some texts in the JWs' NWT (notably John 20:28), but this doesn't stop some professing Christians from saying he isn't God. The Bible teaches repeatedly in many ways that Jesus' dead body rose from the grave to immortal life, but the JWs feel convinced this isn't "clearly" taught anywhere in the Bible. On the other hand, they seem convinced that the Bible clearly teaches all sorts of things I can't find anywhere in the Bible, such as that Jesus became invisibly present in some new and significant way in 1914. Guess how many Bible passages they have to support that doctrine, and guess how many of them fall short of your explicitness test?

    You wrote:

    << In fact, as Paul alluded to, the vast majority of Trinitarian "proof texts" have always been highly disputed in terms of translation and interpretation. >>

    Well, throwing in the words "and interpretation" make the statement trivial. Practically everything in the Bible has and continues to be highly disputed, at least in some quarters. Good grief, we have people arguing for practically every conceivable Christology and all claiming that their view is *the* biblical view. The fact is that all of them are interpretive and theological constructs. ALL OF THEM.

    You wrote:

    << In my book I document how the meaning of nearly every important text used to prove the Trinity is either given an alternative explanation, or outright contradicted, not by "anti-trinitarians, " but by respected Trinitarians themselves (even texts like John 12:41). >>

    I'm still working on my paper on John 12:41, which is going to be greatly expanded and tightened. The fact that you can find two or three Trinitarian scholars that propose or favor an alternative explanation does not disprove the traditional Trinitarian explanation. This is the big fallacy that riddles your book and your whole approach to the subject. To show that the traditional explanations of such texts are wrong, you must show that another explanation is exegetically superior -- without smuggling in anti-Trinitarian presuppositions.

    In Christ's service,
    Rob Bowman

  • Isa
    Bill, Religion is not science. Nobody could have corrected the Bishop of Rome. The most one can do really is to propose or argue a different opinion on
    Message 96 of 96 , Oct 26, 2009
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      Bill,

      Religion is not science. Nobody could have "corrected" the Bishop of Rome. The most one can do really is to propose or argue a different "opinion" on certain subject, like the canonicity of certain writings from that expressed by the Pope, or on the Pope's stand on certain "unsettled" church issues. Of course, one can expose abuses by Popes, as did Luther on the sellling of iidulgences. But that did not happen in the first 1000 years of the Catholic Church.

      Isabelo
      In the Service of the Lay People of God.

      --- In biblicalapologetics@yahoogroups.com, "William" <eliadefollower@...> wrote:
      >
      > Isabelo,
      >
      > I wrote very little in the post about the bishop in Rome being corrected. Most of it was cut and paste from my cited sourde.
      >
      > Likewise you use of the Catholic Encyclopedia and Eusebius to defend your position is roughly comparable to asking the fox if he raided the chicken coop. Those which have reason to defend the position of Rome will find ways to defend it rather then admit wrongdoing. Please find non-Catholic defenses of this incident. Also remember, there is evidence that Eusebius intentionally corrupted sources to accomodate his patron, Constantine, even as he sought, as a historian, to present the truth. Eusebius is one of the sources I refer to in support of the fact that Acts in not historical, but rather denies history when inconvenient.
      >
      > Bill
      >
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