The Restitution of Jesus Christ with Servetus the Evangelical

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“Servetus the Evangelical” is the pseudonym for an evangelical scholar who recently published a book called The Restitution of Jesus Christ in which he describes who God and Jesus are from a biblical unitarian perspective including exegesis of several texts typically used to teach that Jesus is God (i.e. John 1.1; 20.28; etc.). Though he has been a Bible-believing evangelical all his adult life he began to question the doctrine of the Trinity when he couldn’t make sense of certain Scriptures within a trinitarian mindset. In particular Matthew 24.36 (also Mark 13.32) convinced him that Jesus was not omniscient since he confessed that he did not know when he would return. Texts like this began “Servetus” on a quest for truth which ended in his confession of the historic creed of the people of God that Yahweh alone is God (Deut. 6.4; Mark 12.29) and that Jesus is the human Messiah divinely begotten by God via the Holy Spirit.

“Servetus” has a website at which many articles are free for download including this tract which describes in a couple of pages what his research on God and Jesus has revealed. Furthermore, there is a contest on www.servetustheevangelical.com to guess his identity. Since 2008 he has revealed a clue each month. He will continue to do this until 2011 (the 500th birthday of Michael Servetus) when he will reveal his identity and publish a new book about his personal journey. Listen in to this conversation to hear the mysterious “Servetus the Evangelical” describe why he changed his views on these critical matters. (Thanks to JP Smajda–audio engineer extraordinaire–for his help in disguising Servetus’ voice).

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30 Responses to The Restitution of Jesus Christ with Servetus the Evangelical

  1. […] Our modern “Servetus” has stirred a bit of buzz on the Web, mostly negative, by those who either question his motives for remaining anonymous or harshly dismiss him as a heretic and apostate. My guess is his critics have not bothered to examine his arguments. You can hear an interview with the author, complete with disguised voice, here. […]

  2. […] he thought I’d find interesting, and I did find them both interesting.  The first was to a radio interview conducted by my old sparring partner Sean Finnegan with Servetus the Evangelical, the pseudonymous […]

  3. Nathan Prophet says:

    I just read a little about this book, its author, and his little mystery game. It’s his business about the pseudonym and the contest, and all the rest; that’s up to him. No doubt it is a good marketing ploy for the book. Oh well. What I challenge is how he has come up short if his intention is to restore the truth about the historical Jesus of Nazareth. He says he bases his research on the Bible. He will never reach the truth by building his arguments on a terribly flawed document as the Bible. It is well known among true truth-seekers that the Bible is full of historical inaccuracies, exaggerations, forgeries, myth-as-fact, and downright untruths. Jesus of Nazareth was not God; he was not born of a virgin (what difference does it make anyway?; he did not die for the sins of all human beings (human sacrifice?); and he did not ascend to “heaven.” He was a Jewish man, who, with John the Baptizer, went about talking to Jews about the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God. They were wrong about that. I could go on, but that’s enough. All in all, I think this whole thing doesn’t add much to truth except debunking the Trinity concept which was invented long after Jesus’ death. That much the author gets right, but evidently little else. I will read the book, however and amend my comments if convinced by his arguments and research.

    • Xavier says:

      Hey Mr Prophet, did you know that the NT scriptures are the most authorative and best attested works of antiquity?

      Don’t just believe me, check it out…or resort to a séance.

  4. Servetus’ book is a joke. Standard Unitarian canards, poor understanding of critical background concepts in Jewish theology, excuses/contrivances used when the text doesn’t cooperate, etc.

    I doubt he’s anyone important, but if he is, he can get in the corner with John Allegro and the sacred mushroom thesis.

  5. Xavier says:

    Hey JP why don’t you try to set forth some of your refutations regarding the “Unitarian canards” instead of attacking them?

    whjat’s your beef lil’ buddy?

  6. Already did years ago…get out of your hole:

    http://www.tektonics.org/uz/unitresp.html

    Same old same old from Servetus.

    What’s my “beef”? Heretics make good meals — with enough Worcestshire sauce.

  7. sean says:

    JP please conduct yourself in a Christian manner if you would like to participate on this website. This is your only warning. I understand you disagree with us about who God and Jesus are but telling us that the notion of genuine monotheism is in the same category as a sacred mushroom thesis is disrespectful not only to us but to Jesus who believed that the Father was the only true God (John 17.3). Furthermore, you assume that Xavier is in a hole because he did not read your response to unitarianism. A little humility may be in order. Then you say that “heretics make good meals.” This is all very inappropriate behavior for a follower of Jesus.

    Col 3.8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.

  8. sean says:

    Sadly, J.P. was not willing to defend the faith with gentleness and respect (as we are instructed in 1 Peter 3.15), so his last comment has been removed. I’m really sorry to have to do that. Rarely do I come across some so vituperative.

  9. John Paul says:

    Unfortunately, a quick google search on Mr. Holdings name yielded results that show that even athiests cannot tolerate his aragance.

    The second result from google (followed after his website)
    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2006/06/writing-james-p-holding-off.html

    You will find some more interesting stuff when you google

    “James Patrick Holding pseudonym”

    • Rebecca says:

      Holding is actually Robert Turkel. lol I guess he was ashamed of his real name and came up with something that sounded a bit better. When he was a child he was probably taunted with such chants as “little Bobby Turkel sure is a jerkel”. Changing his name hasn’t helped! He is without a doubt one of the most hateful arrogant creatures on the entire net. I highly suspect he has some sort of severe mental distress and really needs professional help. In his small mind, to disagree with him is to disagree with God. He is most likely a very sad and lonely little man.

      • Xavier says:

        Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.

        See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. 1Thess 5.14-15

  10. […] More and more I hear of individuals properly rejecting unchristian teachings as the Trinity and Modalism, for which I rejoice before God.  But I am greatly concerned that many take this rejection to the opposite extreme, also denying Jesus’ preexistence. One such individual is the yet to be identified “Servetus the Evangelical.”  Apparently someone of reputation, he has come to properly reject the doctrine of the Trinity, but in doing so he has also rejected the true nature and identity of Jesus Christ (listen to him discuss this). […]

    • Xavier says:

      There is no doubt that the Bible intimates a preexistence teaching, but what type? Literal [actual preexistent human beings] or ideal [in the mind, purposes of God]?

      “‘Judaism has never known anything of a preexistence peculiar to the Messiah antecedent to his birth as a human being’.” (Dalman, Words of Jesus, pp. 128-32, 248, 252).

      “The dominance of the idea in any Jewish circle cannot seriously be upheld. Judaism knew nothing of the [literally] preexistent ideal man.” Charles Gore, Belief in Christ, John Murray, 1923, p. 31.

      Note also that a literal preexistence for the [God] Son was developed by later [Gentile] Church Fathers such as Origen, Athanasius and Justin Martyr. Jesus was Sui Generis, the doctrine of the “pre-existent” Christ accepted by some Gnostics and ‘orthodox’ Christians. Hanson R. P. C [The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian Controversy, 318-381 A.D. Edinburgh T. & T. Clark, 1988]. But these provide no scriptural support for such an ante-mundane begetting of the Son.

      For example Justin differs from Matthew [1.1, 18, “genesis (origin) of Jesus”] by saying that the Son came “through” Mary. Matthew holds that he came from Mary. This points to the shift of thinking that has taken place by 150 AD, a shift which provided the seed of the later Trinitarian formulation.

      Athanasius, although he took his monotheism seriously, later taught that the only way to save mankind from moral and physical extinction was for God to do the unthinkable, descend into human flesh [see Athanasius, “On the Incarnation of the World”, in Phillip Schaff and Henry Wace, eds., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd Series, vol. 4, Athanasius: Select Works and Letters (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994].

  11. Josh Ratliff the Trinitarian says:

    Xavier, by appealing to the word γενέσεως in Mt. 1:1 in your denial of pre-existance, you have committed the simple word study fallacy. You cannot take a word that has a large semantic range and then just choose which ever definition best suits your theology. Since γενέσεως is the word used to set up a geneology, it is not Jesus’ source or beginning being referred to at all, but the rendering “lineage” or “geneology” correctly conveys the understood meaning.

    Further, your take on the church fathers is incorrect. You claim that Justin, Athanasius, and Origen were later developers of pre-existance? When did they do this? Can you demonstrate this development in patristic writings? Let me share with you some of the earliest patristic Christological statements. Here is a quote from Ignatius (A.D. 35-98):

    “We have also as a Physician the Lord our God Jesus the Christ the only-begotten Son and Word, before time began, but who afterwards became also man, of Mary the virgin. For ‘the Word was made flesh.’ Being incorporeal, He was in the body; being impassible, He was in a passable body; being immortal, He was in a mortal body; being life, He became subject to corruption, that He might free our souls from death and corruption, and heal them, and might restore them to health, when they were diseased with ungodliness and wicked lusts.”

    Sounds like some solid Trinitarian, “pre-existence” doctrine to me! Now this from Polycarp’s (A.D. 70-155) Epistle to the Philippians:

    “…and may he give you lot and part with his saints, and to us with you, and to all under heaven who shall believe in our Lord and God Jesus Christ and in his ‘Father who raised him from the dead.'” (12:2)

    Sir, the earliest Christology was the highest Christology.

    As for the Scriptures, the Biblical evidence is overwhelmingly against you. Ignatius’ reference to John 1 is a great place to start. Ignatius and I believe that Jesus was the “Word made flesh” (v. 14). Do you? If you do, then based on vv. 1-2 you’ll also have to acknowledge that He is God and was in the beginning with God (i.e. pre-existent).

    I’ll close with the Carmen Christi. Philippians 2:5-11 answers your question about Christ having “ideal pre-existance.” Notice verse 6 concerning Christ: “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.” Notice this chronologically precedes v. 7 where Christ is said to have “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Notice it does not say that God the Father made Him nothing. Jesus made Himself nothing. Jesus, before His birth, shared glory with His Father that was so great that His human form seemed as nothing. In v. 6 “did not count” implies that Jesus made a decision. He decided that the “equality with God” as something not to continue holding on to. When did Jesus make such a decision? In order for Jesus to make the decision to humble Himself and become a man, he had to have existed before so doing. In other words, Jesus existence has to precede his humanity for Philippians 2:5-11 to have any significance. If He were only a thought in the mind of God before the Incarnation, the Carmen Christi would be meaningless.

    • Xavier says:

      Josh, you are correct that the word genesis is used to explain Jesus’ “lineage and geneology” in 1.1. But my comment is geared more to v. 18, where the writer uses it again in a different sense to that of v. 1. I agree with Ehrman and Metzger findings textual criticism of these orthodox corruptions:

      “Both genesis and gennesis mean “birth,” but the former also means “creation,” “generation,” and “genealogy” (compare 1.1), whereas the latter means more strictly “engendering” and therefore became the customary word used in patristic literature to refer to the Nativity.” Metzger, Textual Commentary on the NT

      “Matthew began his Gospel by detailing the ‘book of the genesis’ of Jesus Christ [i.e., his genealogical lineage; 1:1], making it somewhat more likely that he would here [v.18] continue with a description of the genesis itself…

      unlike the corrupted reading, genesis can also mean “creation”, “beginning” and “origination”. When one now asks why scribes might take umbrage at Matthew’s description of the genesis of Jesus Christ, the answer immediately suggests itself: the original text could well be taken to imply that this is the moment in which Jesus Christ comes into [existence]. In point of fact, there is nothing in Matthew’s narrative, either here or elsewhere throughout the Gospel, to suggest that he knew or subscribed to the notion that Christ had existed prior to his birth. Orthodox scribes found Matthew’s account useful nonetheless, particularly in conjunction with statements of the Fourth Gospel supporting the notion of Jesus’ existence with the Father prior to his appearance in the flesh. The orthodox doctrine, of course, represented a conflation of these early Christological views, so that Jesus was confessed to have become “incarnate [Gospel of John] through the virgin Mary [Gospels of Matthew and Luke]”. Anyone subscribing to this doctrine might well look askance at the implication that Matthew was here describing Jesus’ origination and might understandably have sought to clarify the text by substituting a word that ‘meant’ the same thing, but that was less likely to be misconstrued.” [Erhman, Orthodox Corruption, pgs. 75-76]

      Though the Messiah was foreknown (not known, but foreknown, as was Jeremiah before his birth, Jer. 1:5), he was manifested by being brought into actual existence at his birth (Luke 1:35)…There is a deafening silence about any real preexistence of Christ in Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts and Peter, and the whole of the OT. Not only do they not hint at a pre-human Son of God, they contradict the idea by talking of the origin (genesis) of Jesus (Matt. 1:18) and his begetting as Son (Matt. 1:20) in Mary’s womb.

      Note that for Arians and Trinitarians, who think that Jesus was begotten in eternity long before his conception/begetting in Mary, this would be a second begetting. Luke knows nothing of such an idea. Unprejudiced readers will see (as acknowledged by a host of biblical experts) that the Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts and Peter is a human being originating at his “begettal” [gennao] and birth as do all other human beings. He has not preexisted. Matthew even speaks of the “genesis” of Jesus in Matt. 1:18.” [excerpts from: The Nature of Preexistence in the New Testament by Anthony Buzzard]

      Yes Sir, the earliest Christology of the Gospels is the highest Christology we should stick to.

      You are also right that some of the earliest Patristical writings contained vestiges of what would become orthodox teaching regarding the literal preexistence of [God] the Son. But my point was that it was formulated and brought into creedal form more specifically by those mentioned “Church Fathers”. In the earlier witings they fluctuate between holding [what would become] an orthodox interpretation of preexistence, and the nascent, Gnostic interpretations that were “flooding the market” as early as the Apostolic Age. As Irenaeus himself attests:

      “There are also some who maintain that he also produced Christ as his own proper son, but of an animal nature, and that mention was made of him by the prophets. This Christ passed through Mary just as water flows through a tube; and there descended upon him in the form of a dove at the time of his baptism, that Saviour who belonged to the Pleroma, and was formed by the combined efforts of all its inhabitants.” Ag. Her. 1.7.2

      As to Jn 1.1 and Phil 2.5-11, old Trini “set texts”, much has been written about. Suffice it to say that in regards to Jn 1.1, until people like you can be persuaded to the simple fact that the writer is talking about logos and NOT huis, the debate will remain a stalemate.
      o
      As to Phil 2.5-11, if Trinis are correct, then we are dealing with a Binitarian belief in this passage and not a trinitarian one since there are 2 Who are Gods, God the Son and God the Father [v.11]. Even in saying that it makes no sense since this passage speaks of the subservience of one to the other.

  12. Josh Ratliff the Trinitarian says:

    It is baffling that you speak of “set texts,” yet you are placing so much emphasis on Matt. 1:1, 18. At any rate, the Metzger quote is accurate and I have no problem with accepting his position on Mt. 1:18. However, it is interesting that you wouldn’t quote him on what he actually believes γένεσις to mean in the context of Mt. 1. But why would you? He was one of the strongest proponents of the deity of Christ in the 20th century.

    So, even if γένεσις is to be the preferred rendering, the context is clear and serves to connect this thought with the rest of the narrative that is taken up after his birth. In other words, the wording of verse 18 is contextually connected with 2:1 where we have the participle γεννηθέντος which simply speaks of the events surround Christ’s birth. You fail to take this into account along with the rest of the context of Mt. 1. We must seek to understand a word’s meaning in light of its context, not our theological presuppositions. There is no doubt that the context of v. 18 here refers simply to Christ’s birth.

    Of course, it is true that whenever anyone else is described as being born, or their γένεσις, that we also mean their source or origin. However, in Mt. 1, we have the birth of the Son of God. There was no word available to the evangelist that could have conveyed such a marvelous truth as the Incarnation, so he used the familiar word to describe Jesus’ birth. But the implications you derive from such a word choice does violence to the text.

    Regarding Ehrman’s quote, he has only given us a great amount of conjecture when it comes to the textual variation. This is classic Ehrman. Textual variation does not necessitate textual corruption! To draw this conclusion is wishful thinking for apostates like Ehrman. It is dishonest and misrepresentative on his part and yours to call variations in the text “corruptions,” especially in this case. It would be easy to see how a scribe could make an error in translating γένεσις. Just one “ν”! That’s the only difference. Of course, a heretic would rather view it as a corruption. Why? Because this makes more sense to his presuppositions.

    Further, when Ehrman claims that Matthew never speaks of Christ’s pre-existence, he fails to take into consideration what the Bible actually says about the Messiah born of a virgin– two doctrines clearly taught in Matthew. The Messiah was to be the “Mighty God, the Everlasting Father” (Is. 9:6). Nonetheless, Scipture is to be interpreted in light of Scripture, and there are other passages that reveal Jesus’ deity very clearly. Unless you can come up with some other concept of Messiah, the burden of proof is on you to offer an interpretation of the Gospels that would disprove pre-existence, which you have failed to do with all your quotes about Mt. 1.

    Concerning patristics, you’re not making very much sense. Are you defending the Gnostic concept of Christ? This is clearly what Irenaeus was speaking against. Gnosticism is a far cry from Unitarianism. So because there were Gnostics around in by the 2nd century does not offer us any evidence of your heretical views among the early church. You say that the early writings “fluctuate” between the Gnostic idea and orthodox pre-existance. Again, it is true that there were Gnostics in the early days of Christianity, but the quotes I gave you were from 1st century Christians who were pupils of John! You’re taking problems encountered in the second cenutry and reading them back into the Christology of the 1st century church. This is terrible historiography.

    When it comes to John 1:1, you may continue to imagine that we are at a stalemate on the issue, but you do so only inside your head. John 1 clearly expresses that Jesus the Son of God is logos. Verse 14 says that logos was made flesh. Then notice v. 15 which states, “John bore witness about him, and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.”‘” Who did John say this about? It was the Son (Luke 3:16). But what is the antecedant in the immediate context? Verse 14 explains that it was the logos of whom John spoke. Sorry to disappoint, Xavier, but there is no stalemate. Jesus Christ the Son of God, of Whom John spoke, is the eternal logos.

    In Phil. 2, you have some serious logical inconsistency. First, your argument concludes that since the passage only speaks of the Father and Son as God, then there is no Trinity, only Binitarianism. This would be true if this were the only verse in the Bible. However, the Bible teaches elsewhere the deity of the Holy Spirit. Second, you assume that different roles in the Trinity mean that there is no equality. I pity your wife, or future wife! It does not follow that Jesus’ role which differentiates Him from his Father makes Him less God any more than it would make your wife less of a person because she has a different role in the relationship.

    Further, I want to point out that you have made no attempt at dealing with either text that I brought up. You simply call them “set texts” and seemingly dismiss them. With John 1, you say it’s a stalemate which I demonstrated to be untrue. With Phil. 2, you don’t offer any reasons as to why I’m wrong about pre-existence. You simply comment on what the implications would be if I’m right. Why did you fail to offer any exegesis? I would imagine it’s because you know that both texts shatter your heretical position.

  13. Xavier says:

    I guess we’ll agree to disagree that the Gospels [especially the Synoptics] do not speak of a literal Incarantion of a preexistent being. Like I said previously, I am aware that the Bible describes and teaches some type of preexistence, not only for the Son but also for other people [i.e. Jeremiah; saints etc], but again we have to ask the right questions: what does the Bible MEAN by preexistince. Even in extra biblical, Jewish texts preexistence is understood as such:

    “For this is what the Lord of the world has decreed: He created the world on behalf of his people, but he did not make this purpose of creation known from the beginning of the world so that the nations might be found guilty… But He did design and devise me [Moses], who was prepared from the beginning of the world to be the mediator of the covenant” (Testament of Moses, 1:13, 14).

    As a result, most scholars agree that this is the case when it comes to what the Bible means by preexistence:

    “‘Judaism has never known anything of a preexistence peculiar to the Messiah antecedent to his birth as a human being’ (Dalman, Words of Jesus, pp. 128-32, 248, 252).

    “The dominance of the idea in any Jewish circle whatever cannot seriously be upheld. Judaism knew nothing of the [literally] preexistent ideal man.” Charles Gore, Belief in Christ, John Murray, 1923, p. 31.

    “The assumption that John dispenses with [a literal] future resurrection [of the dead] would mean that he has significantly altered the view of ‘resurrection’ found elsewhere in the documents of the NT or in the Judaism of the period [where] the dead are raised, not ‘spiritually’ or metaphorically, but bodily…The data of the gospel [of John] do not bear out the assumption that John has collapsed the future resurrection into a present quality of life, even a divinely given life…Language about being raised up remains resolutely attached to the future, to the ‘last day’…thus bringing to fruition what the Father offers through the Son, the gift of life.” Marianne Meye Thompson, The God of the Gospel of John, 2001, p. 82-83.

    I recently did a presentation on the word “begotten” as expressed in the Catholic Creeds where they claim that the Son was “begotten not made”. A contradiction in terms if I ever heard one since the word beget, according to ALL the dictionaries I researched, means to “create, cause, generate, procreate etc.

    But again, I must digress, if I am interpreting the scriptures wrong, doesn;t this mean we are dealing with a non-human, alien, Jesus here? And how can we say that he in any way suffered and died for the sins of the world when he really didn’t?

    My point regarding the Patristic accounts is that a seemingly Gnostic [docetic, cp. letters of John] influence was already al play in the Apostolic churches. In light of this our standard and where are research should be directed would be at the Gospel account regarding the “high” Christology you mention. A Christology that according to the NT does not have a preexistent, alien being in a blood and flesh costume calling himself Jesus.

    Again I repeat, it is a considerable mistake to read John 1:1 as though it means “In the beginning was the Son of God and the Son was with the Father and the Son was God.” Jesus is what the logos became and not vice versa.

    In his book, Born Before All time, the Catholic scholar Kuschel comments on Raymond Brown, who believes ”that it must have been the pre-existence of Jesus and his heavenly origin which had been lacking in the Christology of the “Apostolic Christians,” and concludes from this: “Both Apostolic and Johannine Christians say that Jesus is God’s Son; yet Johannine Christians have come to understand that this means that he is ever at the Father’s side (1:18), not belonging to this world (17:14), but to a heavenly world above (3:13, 31). Once again Christology I attribute to the Apostolic Christians is not a pure hypothesis based on an interpretative reading of the Fourth Gospel. From the Gospels of Matthew and Luke we know of late-first-century Christians who acknowledged Jesus as Son of God through conception without a human father; but in whose high Christology there is no hint of pre-existence. They know a Jesus who is king, lord and Saviour from the moment of his birth at Bethlehem, but not a Jesus who says, “Before Abraham even came into existence, I AM.” [p 377]

    Kuschel then adds, “So John is not concerned with the epiphany of a divine being, but with the incarnation of the Word of God himself; not with the miraculous formation of a divine being among us, but with the manifestation of God in an historical human being.” [Born Before All Time: The Dispute Over Christ’s Origin]

    Now some questions I hope you can answer:

    If the Holy Spirit is a “person”, what is his name? Where is he worshipped? And where is his throne next to the other 2 “persons” of the Trinity in the Book of Revelation?

    According to the Bible, God cannot die [1Timothy 1.17; 6.16; Romans 1.23] neither is He a human being [Num 23.19; 1Sam 15.19; Hosea 11.9] nor does His nature change [Malachi 3.6; Psalm 102.27], yet Jesus is God?

  14. Josh Ratliff the Trinitarian says:

    Xavier, you continue to demonstrate your unwillingness to engage the text of Scripture. Besides your brief comment on John 1 and the listing of some proof texts in your conclusion, you have offered no exegesis whatsoever. This is especially the case when it comes to the Scriptures I presented you which clearly show Jesus to have been a pre-existant person (John 1:1-3, 14) Who was equal with God and made a conscious decision in eternity past to limit himself, become a man, and die for the sins of the world (Phil. 2:5-11). It seems that you put more stock in extra-biblical books like the Testament of Moses than you do in Scripture. I’m not against the study of those books, but if Scripture plainly says one thing, we shouldn’t look to extra-biblical sources to prove the opposite.

    At any rate, regarding the passage in The Testament of Moses that you cited, you’re still showing a lack of understanding when it comes to actual/ideal pre-existence. The words of this text could be true. God could have planned to use Moses for His purpose before the world began. This is not what we have in the Carmen Christi! Christ was actually in existence making a conscious decision to “not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” (v. 6). Subsequently, He then “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (v. 7) Christ’s willingness to become a man and die was before His birth. He pre-existed as an actual person.

    With your long strand of quotes, you are presenting the opinions of “most scholars” on pre-existence. 1) You fail to demonstrate that this most widely held opinion on Christology by quoting only three sources, the last of which you failed to make obvious how it is pertinant to our discussion. And 2) You are simply committing the fallacy of ad populum and appeal to authority. It does not matter if what you claim is the most widely held position it doesn’t make it right. Do you know that the majority of the academic world disbelieves that Christ had miracle working power, or that He raised from the dead? Does that make their position correct?

    And no, my position does not posit, a non-human, alien Jesus. There are two possibilities we can derive from your comments here: 1) You have absolutely no understanding of what Trinitarians teach. Or 2) You do understand and are purposefully misrepresenting and making a caricature of our position. I hope the former is true and not the latter.

    At any rate, assuming you don’t know what Trinitarians teach regarding the humanity of Christ, allow me to help you. Jesus Christ was a human being with two natures. He was divine in that He was the eternal logos (John 1:1) and He was human in that He “was made flesh” (1:14). This is laid out beautifully for us in Romans 1:3-4: “…who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead…” Jesus was actually a descendant from David and our father Adam, but we also understand that He existed in equality with God long before (Phil. 2:5-11). That is why Jesus could confidently assert in John 8:58, “Before Abraham was, I am.” So, in short, Jesus was fully man in that he descended from Adam in his humanity, and fully God in that He was equal with the Father having existed in eternity before His birth. Your question is really geared more toward a Docetist. I have heard Unitarians corrected on this point in the past, but they persist to misrepresent the Trinitarian position.

    And you are correct, with regard to our discussion about patristics, that we should direct our research primarily to the Gospels, and I might add, the rest of Scripture. Unfortunately you haven’t been following your own advice. I have been trying to stick to Sola Scriptura in this debate. You have been basing you understanding of pre-existence, at least in part, on extra-biblical writings.

    Again, with John 1:1, you simply refuse to regard context. Yes the logos became flesh. But what you fail to realize is that when it comes to Jesus’ personhood, no distinction is made between Him and the logos as if the logos was just some force that brought Him into being. I suppose that’s why you failed to comment on v. 15 where it is actually the logos that is referred to as being spoken of by John. The context shows that John’s statements were about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Thus, there is no distinction between “Son” and “Word” that you are trying to make.

    With Kuschel’s comments you have only raised the same points that you raised before concerning the Gospels. With the Synoptics, the burden of proof is still on you. You have to demonstrate another concept of Jesus Christ as the Messiah. The Messiah was called God in Is. 9:6 and Ps. 45:6. Thus, while the Synoptics may not be as explicit as John in proclaiming Christ’s deity, there is no contradiction but rather correlation.

    The name of the Holy Spirit, Who is God, is the normal name that we have given to us for God in the Old Testament–Jehovah. We don’t have a distinct name for the Father in the New Testament either. But the name of Father, Who is God, is Jehovah.

    As far as the other two questions, they are logically flawed. Implicit in both is the fallacy of bifurcation. If the Holy Spirit does not have a throne, He is not God. If no one ever says “Hallelujah Holy Spirit!” He is not God. Do you see the problem with this reasoning?

    So some questions for you. If he is not God, why is it such a grievous sin to blaspheme Him? How could he have raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 8:11)? How is He omnipresent (139:7)? How is it possible to sin against Him (Acts 5, Ephesians 4:30)?

    Lastly, you have misunderstood the attributes of God that you have given us. You don’t see how a God with all those attribute (i.e. not dying, not being human) could limit Himself. That is where you have missed the point of the Incarnation. Jesus as the eternal God limited Himself. In so doing, you have denied the God of the Old Testament. Tell me, how is it possible for Him to be omnipresent, outside of time, yet choose to dwell in a temple made with hands in history?

  15. Xavier says:

    I have offered you my interpretation of Jn 1.1 Josh. The writer is talking about the LOGOS of God and not the SON. The pronoun in verse 3 can legitimately be translated as “it.” It does not have to be translated as “him,” and it does not have to refer to a “person” in any way. This is reflected in translations of the text before the KJV came along.

    A primary reason why people get the idea that “the Word” is a person is that the pronoun “he” is used with it. The Greek text does, of course, have the masculine pronoun, because like many languages, including Spanish [my native tongue]], French, German, Latin, Hebrew, etc., the Greek language assigns a gender to all nouns, and the gender of the pronoun must agree with the gender of the noun.

    “In the beginning there was one God, who had reason, purpose and a plan, which was, by its very nature and origin, divine. It was through and on account of this reason, plan and purpose that everything was made. Nothing was made outside its scope. Then, this plan became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ and tabernacled among us.” Understanding the opening of John this way fits with the whole of Scripture and is entirely acceptable from a translation standpoint.

    “Some early Christians maintained their monotheism by believing that the one God simply took on a human form and came to earth—in effect, God the Father was born and crucified as Jesus. They are entitled to their belief, but it cannot be derived legitimately from the Gospel according to John. John is not describing something like the Hindu concept of an avatar, such as when the god Vishnu is thought to periodically take a mortal form to accomplish things on earth…What then is the logos?…

    John says it was the agent through which God (the Father) made the world…How does God create in Gen 1.1? He speaks words that make things come into existence. So the word is God’s creative power and plan and activity…theos in John 1.1 is used qualitative [“and the word was divine”]…by placing theos first in a be-verb sentence, without the article [ho=the], John is trying to stress that the Word has the character appropriate to a divine being…As Christians chewed on this problem in the decades and centuries after John, some of them developed the idea of the Trinity…But John himself has not formulated a Trinity concept in his gospel…

    A failure to grasp the nuance of John’s thought can be seen in how several translations inappropriately introduce the male pronoun ‘he’ into John 1.1-2. In John 1.1 the TEV and LB use the pronoun ‘he’ for ‘the Word’ at some point to reduce the redundancy of John saying ‘the Word’ three times. A similar substitution of ‘he’ can be seen in John 1.2 in the NASB, NIV, NRSV, NAB, AND the AB. In this case ‘he’ replaces houtos, ‘this one’…all this translations suggest that ‘the Word’ is a male of some sort…the Word is not Christ in the Gospel according to John. The Word is a divine being or agency that transcends human qualities.

    [What I have just explained is not some novel interpretation of the passage. It is, in fact, part of the orthodox, mainstream understanding within Christianity, what is known as the ‘Two-Nature Christology’. The ‘Two-Nature’ doctrine is not the only possible way to understand what John meant by the Word becoming flesh. But that doctrine is in agreement with John in the idea that Jesus Christ does not pre-exist with God, rather the Word does.]
    The preponderance of evidence, from Greek grammar, from literary context, and from cultural environment, supports this translation [“And the Word was a god”], of which “the Word was divine” would be a slightly more polished variant carrying the same basic meaning…Bias has shaped most of these translations much more than has accurate attention to the wording of the Bible…No translation of John 1.1 that I can imagine is going to be perfectly clear and obvious in its meaning. John is subtle, and we do him no service by reducing his subtlety to crude simplicities.” BeDuhn, Truth in Translation, p 113-134.

    As to Phil 2.5-11, the Trinitarian assertation that the word “form” [morphe] somehow refers to Christ’s inner nature as God. I do not believe that morphe refers to an “inner essential nature”. Different lexicons have opposing viewpoints about the definition of morphe, to such a degree that I can think of no other word defined by the lexicons in such contradictory ways.

    Using lexicons like Vine’s, Trinitarians boldly make the case that the “nature” underlying Jesus’ human body was God. Trinitarian scholars like Vine contrast morphe, which they assert refers to an “inner, essential nature,” with schema, (in verse 8, and translated “appearance” above) which they assert refers to the outward appearance. A study of other lexicons (many of them Trinitarian) gives a totally different picture than does Vine’s Lexicon. In Bullinger’s Critical Lexicon, morphe is given a one-word definition, “form.” The scholarly lexicon by Walter Bauer, translated and revised by Arndt and Gingrich, has under morphe, “form, outward appearance, shape.” The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by Gerhard Kittel, has “form, external appearance.” Kittel also notes that morphe and schema are often interchangeable. Robert Thayer, in his well-respected lexicon, has under morphe, “the form by which a person or thing strikes the vision; the external appearance.” Thayer says that the Greeks said that children reflect the appearance (morphe) of their parents, something easily noticed in every culture. Thayer also notes that some scholars try to make morphe refer to that which is intrinsic and essential, in contrast to that which is outward and accidental, but says, “the distinction is rejected by many.”

    The above evidence shows that scholars disagree about the use of the word morphe in Philippians. When scholars disagree, and especially when it is believed that the reason for the disagreement is due to bias over a doctrinal issue, it is absolutely essential to do as much original research as possible. The real definition of morphe should become apparent as we check the sources available at the time of the New Testament. After all, the word was a common one in the Greek world. We assert that a study of the actual evidence clearly reveals that morphe does not refer to Christ’s inner essential being, but rather to an outward appearance.

    Other uses of morphe in the Bible support the position that morphe refers to outward appearance. The Gospel of Mark has a short reference to the well-known story in Luke 24:13-33 about Jesus appearing to the two men on the road to Emmaus. Mark tells us that Jesus appeared “in a different form (morphe)” to these two men so that they did not recognize him (16:12). This is very clear. Jesus did not have a different “essential nature” when he appeared to the two disciples. He simply had a different outward appearance.

    Yet I digress, if the point of the verse is to say that Jesus is God, then why not just say it? Of course God has the “essential nature” of God, so why would anyone make that point? This verse does not say, “Jesus, being God,” but rather, “being in the FORM of God.” Paul is reminding the Philippians that Jesus represented the Father in every possible way.

    After saying that Christ was in the form of God, Philippians 2:6 goes on to say that Christ “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped” (NIV). This phrase is a powerful argument against the Trinity. If Jesus were God, then it would make no sense at all to say that he did not “grasp” at equality with God because no one grasps at equality with himself. It only makes sense to compliment someone for not seeking equality when he is not equal. Some Trinitarians say, “Well, he was not grasping for equality with the Father.” That is not what the verse says. It says Christ did not grasp at equality with God, which makes the verse nonsense if he were God.

    If the HS is a “person” He should be defined as clearly as the other “two persons of the Trinity” Josh. I do not see how this is a “fllacy of bifurcation”. People like you claim Jesus is Deity because he was worshipped, called God, and shown in many other ways to be a distinct “person” from YHWH. Where is this for the HS? Its “personhood” is ambigious at best and obscured at worst. HS is not a distinct “person” but God’s Spirit itself:

    “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.

    For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.

    Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God…” 1Cor 2.10-12

    See the parallel Paul makes between “God’s Spirit” and “the spirit of the man”? One and the same thing not a distinct “person” inside of God or human beings!

    Lastly, God’s attributes are manifested in his Creation, ergo, it doers not follow that just because He is manifested in a Temple, Ark [of the covenant], or donkey, God is somehow “limiting” Himself and reducing His omnipresence to that specific place. The Lord Jesus says that God is Spirit and he dwells in believers through that same Spirit. Yet, that does not tell me He has “limited” or reduced everything He is into a specific locale. Your reasoning is totally illogical.

    God is still God and cannot “limit” who He is for God does not change [Mal 3.6; Psa 102.27]. The hypostatic union states that Jesus was still “in very nature God”, which by plain reasoning means that he could not have died!!

    Previously you accused me of holding a “heretical position”. If it is heresy to believe and proclaim a fully human Messiah, one and only Son of the Living God [Mat 16.16] and his Jewish creed of only One who is LORD GOD, YHWH [Mar 12.28-29; cp. Jn 17.3], then I guess I will stand or fall by the biblical evidnece at hand and not via other’s misrepresentation of said faith!!

  16. Josh Ratliff the Trinitarian says:

    I never claimed you didn’t give us your interpretation of John 1, Xavier. I explained that you refuse to engage the text. I have interpreted John 1:1 in light of the rest of the chapter, especially v. 15. You have done nothing but given us more of your “appeal to authority” and the assertion that αὐτοῦ can also mean “it.”

    Further, you are respoding to arguments I have not raised. You say “the primary reason” that we believe the logos to be in reference to a person is because of the translation of the pronoun “he” instead of “it.” Can you direct me to the quote where I said anything similar to this? Do you actually think you’ve given us proper exegesis just because you have pointed out that pronouns can take on various meanings? Do you really think looking up words in lexicons is exegesis? You need to realize that what you are giving us is no more than a basic word study. You don’t take into consideration any syntax or exegesis in your argumentation. As James White says, “A little Greek is a dangerous thing.” It has certainly proved to be a detriment for your poor interpretation.

    Now the scholar that you quoted did at least makes an attempt to offer some exegesis. So we’ll examine some of his problems. At this point in our conversation, I want to point out a flaw of yours. You don’t raise solid argumentation yourself, you just give us your endless list of quotes from people you may or may not have actually read after. So when I challenge their points it is not possible for you and I to have meaningful discussion because they’re not your points to begin with. At any rate maybe you can offer some comments.

    So with that, I challenge you, Xavier, to demonstrate how by using θεόν with an eimi verb (ἦν) in John 1:1 takes away the possibility of a legitimate reference to God (as opposed to a qualitative idea) just because the article ὁ is not present. This is the same argumenation used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses to defend their pathetic NWT. This becomes evident when BeDuhn says a better translation would be “And the word was a God,” the exact rendering given by the NWT. So, Xavier, will you defend this translation?

    The reason why “him” is to be preferred in John 1:3 with reference to ὁ λόγος is because we have context to support this. You still have not commented on the context of the whole chapter. You’re simply isolating a single word, and telling us a possible translation. You’re not defending that translation. I have explained to you that ὁ λόγος is the antecedent for John the Baptist’s words in v. 15, which clearly speak of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Thus we have a contextual obligation to understand Jesus as ὁ λόγος. The references from “the word” to Jesus flow together with no break in the context. John does not say, “I’m now referencing Jesus not the word.” Please, look at vv. 14-15 in context. They go together and provide for us the antecedent for John’s statement that says “This was he of whom I spoke.” Who did John speak of, Xavier? Do you not know that it was Jesus Christ? Jesus is the Word!

    With Phil. 2, again, you’re using a word study approach. In Greek scholarship, we use lexicons to help us with possible word meaning. You, on the other hand, use them to assert a particular word meaning on a passage. And again, your argument about μορφῇ is responding to an argument I never raised. Still, with your argumentation, you fail to realize that it can simply mean “outward form” as in Mark 16:12 or “nature” as in Phil. 2:6. Your interpretation makes the whole passage absurd. So Jesus looked like God, I guess? How do you square this with v. 7 which explains that Jesus took on the form (μορφὴν) of a human slave? Which is it? If it only refers to outward appearance, when people saw Jesus, did they think he looked like a human or did they say, “We can tell He’s God. Just look at Him!” But if you understand the context, you’ll see that not only did Jesus have the “nature” of God, He also limited Himself and took on the “nature” of a human being.

    Concerning v. 6, Jesus was God and was equal with His Father in every respect. But the fact that Jesus “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” tells us that Jesus decided to willingly to lay down the glorious attributes He had shared with His Father. This is made clear by the next verse. He “made Himself nothing.” So here is the chronology: 1) Jesus was in the form of God. 2) He did not consider this to be something to hold on to. 3) He willingly limited Himself and was born a human being. But notice, it was the conscious decision of Jesus to “make Himself nothing” by being born. You have still failed to comment on this! If Jesus’ existence had its beginning at His birth, how is His birth seen as Jesus making Himself nothing? How can someone who does not exist prior to his birth choose to make himself nothing through his birth? Your interpretation is absurd! Further if your interpretation is true, how did Jesus have glory with His father “before the world existed” (John 17:5). Maybe it was when He was still an “idea” as you say. Preposterous!

    You say that the Holy Spirit should be defined as clearly as the other two persons if He were truly God. Why? What is your basis for this? I’ve noticed you like to make up rules for discussion. Where is the source for all these qualifications you keep coming up with? At any rate, it is no surprise that the Holy Spirit is not expounded upon in the New Testament as much as the deity of Christ. This was not His purpose as Jesus clearly said (John 16:13). However, He was clearly referred to as God. In Acts 5:3-4 the words πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον and τῷ θεῷ are used interchangeably.

    And His personhood is not ambiguous. This is illustrated for us in Mt. 28:19. When you have the phrase εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος. Notice that each person of the Trinity is separate by καὶ and the definite article. Had the writer wanted us to understand the Spirit as merely a part of God the Father’s being, the construction would have been different. There would have been only one definite article to describe them. Had this been the case there would be no mistaking that the Father and the Spirit were one in the same.

    And you still have not answered my questions that I asked you about the implications of several verses if the Holy Spirit is not deity.

    You say that God is not limiting Himself by manifesting His presence in a specific place. Oh no? What is it then if it is not God transcending and choosing to inhabit a part in human history? How can the God, Who is eternal and outside of all time, actually speak to men in time? How can His presence be in a building without the glory of it overtaking everyone inside? You don’t see how this is God limiting Himself? Further, God says He does not change (Mal. 3:6). He also says that He will not repent (1 Sam. 15:29). But the Exodus 32:14 tells us He did change His mind and repent. How is this possible? God, who dwells in eternity, knows all– every decision we will make. However, this God chose, even in the Old Testament, to limit Himself becoming a partaker in the history He already knew would take place. In doing this, He, as a part of history, can change His mind. But in eternity, there was doubt about what would happen, God knew all along. So, in eternity, God knows all and couldn’t possibly change his mind. In time and history, God transcends to deal with men, thus He must be able to change if His dealing with men is to be of any genuine value. So it is not illogical, as you contend, to believe that God could limit Himself to human form and experience death any more than it is illogical that God can enter human history in the Old Testament and change His mind.

    And yes, you are a heretic. You can’t tell my tone from the text that I am typing, but I don’t get any joy out of that. I say it with sorrow. The Jesus that you trust in is not the Jesus of the Bible. The sacrifice of a mere human would not be sufficient to save you, me, or anyone else. If Jesus to you is only human, you are still in your sins. And further, that Jesus would have been born into a condemned race, therefore he himself would need someone to save him.

  17. Xavier says:

    I have explained time and time again that the “primary reason” why I believe Jn 1.1 is not referring to the Son is because the writer is talking about LOGOS and not HUOIS! As a result, it explains how that LOGOS of God, which in itself is “divine” [theos], CAME TO TABERNACLE inside a flesh and blood human being [sarx], Jesus [v.14f.].

    JESUS IS WHAT THE WORD BECAME AND NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. The Son is only introduced by the writer at v.14 as you rightly observe. I cannot accept the ambigious statement that the writer here is teaching us about the Incarnation of a preexistent “second person” [called logos?] or that the man who we come to know as Jesus of Nazareth is in someway HO THEOS when not only the Johannine context doesn’t say that, but the whole Biblical testimony doesn’t either.

    It is obvious that whatever I say, and in which ever way I try to appraoch the text that you keep accusing me ov avoiding, will not be to your liking since you want me to see it as you do. Well, I am sorry, but I cannot accept the testimony of human interpretation. I’ll stick to the testimony of the scriptures.

    Why is it “absurd” to say “Jesus looked like God”? That’s what the scriptures say!!Phil 2 passage is simply reiterating the fact [2 Cor 4:; Col 1:15; Heb 1:3].

    “Col. 1:1: the image of the invisible God. Paul depicts Christ in terms similar to the presentation of “wisdom” in Proverbs 8 (“When he established the heavens, I [wisdom] was there . . . I was beside him, like a master workman” [Prov. 8:27, 30]). In later Jewish wisdom literature, personified divine wisdom is described as the image of God.” ESV Study Bible

    Furthermore, the context of Phil 2 is about HUMILITY, and not some Christological treatise on how a preexistent “being” came to earth in a human disguise. Context remember? Take your own advice my friend. Where is the birth metaphor at v.6?? This is clear eisegesis your employing here. Stick to the context of the passage. There is nothing to intimate all the stuff your adding onto Paul’s example of how Jesus own example of being Son of the Living God [therefore, his exact image, representation, and form] did not turn him into a conceited, arrogant individual just because he was walking around with all the attributes and titles pertaining to the Son of a King! If so, then Jesus was both God and a slave IN NATURE AS WELL?!

    As for Jn 17.5, still doesnt say Jesus is God. The “glory” in question is also said to have been given to believers as well [v.20f].

    My basis for the evidence pertaining to the “personhood” of the HS I already mentioned. A “person whould be defined as clearly as any other person”! How else can we know you are a distinct, seperate person? How else can you [wrongly] claim Deity for the “person” of Jesus? Or anyone else for that matter? You have to give clear evidence for a distinction of persons. Where is a triune God defined in the Bible? I know where a simple MONO THEISM is:

    “You, Father,” Jesus said, “are the only one who is truly God” (John 17:3). Can anyone else be “truly God,” if the Father of Jesus is “the only one who is truly God”? The Greek of the Bible gives us these lucid words: The Father is the “MONOS [only, unique] alethinos [true, genuine] THEOS [God].” Do you see here the roots of our English word “monotheism,” which summarizes the fundamental appeal of the Bible to avoid any God but the one true God?

    To claim that Mat 28 indicates that all men should be baptized into a ‘triune’ God is to be quite ignorant of the facts and the whole message of the Bible and therefore the baptismal language used in v. 19. And to insist that “name” here is a term used to indicate that “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” are somehow one God is a hermeneutic violation of the immediate context, ignoring the fact that all authority has been given “in the name” of Jesus alone. The one thing that name is pertaining to, is not the identity of a ‘triune’ God, but the one authority, the one plan and purpose, of God the Father through the authority of God’s Son in God’s Holy Spirit. The disciples are to do these things in the name of the authority of the Father, given to the Son, by the Holy Spirit. And this is why Jesus commanded his disciples to do nothing until they had received the Holy Spirit from on high.

    James Moffett’s New Testament Translation, in a footnote on page 64 about Mat 28:19, writes:

    “It may be that this (Trinitarian) formula, so far as the fullness of its expression is concerned, is a reflection of the (Catholic) liturgical usage established later in the primitive (Catholic) community. It will be remembered that Acts speaks of baptizing ‘in the name of Jesus’, cf. Acts 1:5.”

    So am I to assume that everytime 3 things are mentioned or alluded to in scripture its really telling me its one and the same thing??

    The point I was trying to make about God not changing is the simple fact that His nature [personhood] does not change. Do we change our “nature” into an animal “nature”? What are we chameleon-like beings or something? God made species according to their own seeds remember [cp. Gen 1:11, 12, 21, 24, 25]? An angel is always a spirit being, although it can appear to be human. Same for God, WHO IS SPIRIT. He does not stop ceasing to be God just because He appeared in the bush, cloud, fire, mountain, Temple etc. That is ludicrous.

    Show me where YHWH in the OT claims what your claiming? “I, the LORD GOD, will change my nature, become a human being [whom I shall call “my servant, annointed One and Son”] so I can suffer and die for all your sins!” You know how blasphemous and heretical that sounds???

    As I said before, if heresy is believing that Jesus was created [begotten] and came into existence [gennao] via God’s Spirit in the womb of a woman [Mat 1.1,18-20; Lu 1.32-35] AND BECAUSE OF THIS miraculous event came to be [and was not previously] the promised Propther [Deu 18], Messiah, Son of the Living God [Mat 16.16] whose creed was the unchanging Shema Ysrael of his Jewish brethren [Deu 6.4; Mar 12.28-29]…then I guess you can label me a heretic to the ridiculous, non-sensical Catholic Creeds your desperately holding onto my friend.

    And if your going to keep ignoring all the evidence I have given you by offending me and misrepresenting the biblical basis which I hold by calling me a “heretic”, I think we have more than exhausted this debate.

    Good luck to you!

  18. Josh Ratliff the Trinitarian says:

    Xavier, you have mischaracterized my methodology by stating that I will not accept anything you say no matter how you say it. This is simply not true. All I have been asking is that you actually interact with the points I raise. I have attempted to pay you this same respect. The amazing thing is that even with your above comments on John 1, you still have not interacted with my actual argument. I understand that you believe John 1 does not equate “the Son” and “the Word.” I comprehend what you are saying. The reason I disagree is that v. 15 speaks of the Son as the Word. No distinction is being made. The antecedant for John’s statement is “the Word” yet we know he was referring to Jesus the Son. Therefore, we can know from the context that the Word in v. 1 refers to the Son. Your only argument is the same thing you’ve been affirming from the beginning–that the Word is not the Son. My arguments demonstrate why this thinking is incorrect. And how do you respond? By affirming again what you’ve already stated. This is not proper argumentation. If you at least attempted to explain why my objection to you position is wrong, I would at least accept it as valid argumentation. The Word became flesh, and the Word was Jesus Christ before He ever became flesh. Read vv. 14-15.

    Yes, as you point out with reference to Scriptures like Col. 1:15, Jesus is the image of God, and in Him dwells the fulness of God (Col. 2:9). Jesus is the only human representation of God that we could ever see. However, with the word morphe, you are claiming that He has the outward physical appearance of God (Phil. 2). But the same passage says that he had the morphe of a man. If you interpet morphe this way, which is it? Could you have lined Jesus up with 50 other human beings and been able to spot God in the line-up? No. Phil. 2 does not refer to outward appearance, it refers to His two natures. Explain to me what one would look like if they had the outward appearance of God mixed with the outward appearance of a man.

    In your quote from the ESV study Bible, you need to realize what they are NOT saying. They are not saying that Jesus is merely wisdom or some incorporeal ideal just because Paul shapes his passage similar to what we see in Proverbs. In Colossians 1, Jesus is Creator (1:16). He created all things in heaven, earth and the entire universe (Heb. 1:2). How did Jesus create the universe before He existed? Will you acknowledge Him as your Creator.

    Phil. 2 does refer to the humility of Christ, that you note correctly. However, you still fail to see how Paul illustrates his humility. He humbled Himself before His birth! He made a decision to become nothing before His birth. I gave you the chronology before. And your response? The passage is about the humility of Christ! We agree. But that doesn’t change the fact that He humbled Himself before His birth. How was Jesus “made nothing” in the “form of a servant” if he was always “nothing” and always in human form throughout His entire existence? He pre-existed as the eternal God, and he became nothing subsequently.

    You say that John 17:5 doesn’t say that Jesus was God. Well if you’ll notice, my point was not about His deity here. It was concerning His pre-existence. Jesus had to exist before the world began in order to have shared glory with his father “before the world was.” Your argument positing that this doesn’t prove His divinity is an argument against something I was not even claiming about the verse. Why did you do this? Could it be perhaps that you know full well that this verse obliterates your position on pre-existence? That’s my guess!

    I gave you “clear evidence” for the deity of the Holy Spirit. Acts 5:3-4. “Holy Spirit” and “God” are used interchangeably in this passage. And, no surprise, you failed to comment on this passage! I’m learning a lot about your methodology. If you’re given a passage you have no answer for you either: 1) Argue against a position I have not even raised concerning the passage, or 2) Ignore it altogether and claim that I haven’t offered any evidence. Either approach is incoherent.

    Apparently, you completely missed my point about Mt. 28:19. Read carefully: I am not using Mt. 28:19 to prove that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one and the same. This is called modalism, and I challenge you to show me where I said anything of the sort. You claimed the Holy Spirit was not a separate person from God the Father. I was demonstrating through the kai … definite article construction that they are clearly illustrated to be different persons. Please try to understand my argumentation before you attack it. If I need to be clearer about something, just tell me. I’ll be happy to clarify.

    You say that God does not cease to be God because he manifests Himself in a central location (i.e. the temple). Exactly! That’s my point! Neither does God cease to be God because he became a man and experienced the death of the cross.

    Concerning Jehovah in the OT, you still fail to recognize that the Messiah was to be Almighty God (Is. 9:6; Ps. 45:6). Through progressive revelation God did not reveal to us everything in the Old Testament. But He did give glimpses. For instance, John 12:41 explains that Isaiah saw His glory. Whose glory? The context explains that it was Jesus’ glory. But who did Isaiah actually see when he beheld the glory in Is. 6? Jehovah! Thus, on that basis alone, Jesus is Jehovah God!

    In calling you a heretic, I have not done so on the basis of one single creed! Show me where I have done this. You claim that I have offended you in doing so. As if you’re surprised that I, as a Trinitarian, would consider you and your doctrine heretical? Do you think this is something new? Christians who have a proper understanding of Scripture have always condemned your doctrine as heresy. You teach another Jesus.

    And we have only scratched the surface, friend. I have not even brought up the Scriptures where Jesus is explicitly called God. For instance, Titus calls Him “our great God and Savior” (2:13). Peter calls Him the same in 2 Peter 1:1. Please, I implore you, humble yourself like Thomas and confess Him as “My Lord and My God!”

  19. Xavier says:

    Josh, your a heretic to your own Trinitarian “faith” when you claim “Jesus is Jehovah God”. That is called Oneness theology, in case you didn’t know. This is typical of trinitarian debate, they are either reduced to modalism, tritheism or, like you, Oneness.

    I am happy to disagree on Jn 1.1, seems we have reached a stalemate there. Further, 1 verse [or a copilation of disconnected ones] is not enough to “obliterate” the creed of Jesus at Mar 12.28-29, which is the same UNCHANGING creed of all the people of God [Deu 6.4].

    “The word logos then, denoting both “reason” and “speech,” was a philosophical term adopted by Alexandrian Judaism before St. Paul wrote, to express the manifestation of the Unseen God in the creation and government of the World. It included all modes by which God makes Himself known to man. As His reason, it denoted His purpose or design; as His speech, it implied His revelation. Christian teachers, when they adopted this term, exalted and fixed its meaning by attaching to it two precise and definite ideas: (1) “The Word is a Divine Person,” (2) “The Word became incarnate in Jesus Christ.” It is obvious that these two propositions must have altered materially the significance of all the subordinate terms connected with the idea of the logos.” J. B. Lightfoot, St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians and Philemon (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA, 1993), pp. 143-144.

    If we understand that the logos is God’s expression—His plan, purposes, reason and wisdom, it is clear that they were indeed with Him “in the beginning.” Scripture says that God’s wisdom was “from the beginning” (Prov. 8:23). It was very common in Hebrew writing to personify a concept such as wisdom. No ancient Jew reading Proverbs would think that God’s wisdom was a separate person, even though it is portrayed as one in verses like Proverbs 8:29 and 30: “…when He marked out the foundations of the earth, I [wisdom] was the craftsman at His side.”

    Phil 2, I have proven exegetically that “morphe” means “form”, simple. It does not denote some “inherent nature”, you keep looking at this through the typical Greek, philosophical eyes. How can God empty Himself of being God yet remain “inherently” remain God? Non-sequential-sensical language. The passage has nothing to do with some “born before all time” period.

    Col 1.16 can also be translated “For in him all things were created…” [TNIV]. But again, if the Genesis creation is in view here, or is saying that Jesus is the Creator. Why does Jesus himself not support this view when he attributes someone else, whom he calls “God”, sole ‘creation rights’?

    “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.'” Mat 19.4; cp. Mar 10.6

    Jn 17.5, I do not refute a biblical preexistence teaching regarding not only the Son but believers in general. I do disagree with a LITERAL preexistence of all humans and the Son of God. Which is to say, in God’s ETERNAL foreknowledge, plan and purpose for His creation. Even so, if a literal preexistence is in view, the verse in and of itself does not prove Jesus is God. It simply says that he preexisted his “human birth”. Which would make him an alien wouldn’t it?

    Yes, I agree, the HS is Deity because it is God’s spirit. Just as the human spirit proves its humanity by being “man’s spirit” as per 1Cor 2 passage I quoted for you.

    Mat 28.19, sounds like your arguing for tritheism here? So are you saying that the verse teaches us 3 whom are “god” by your use of kai? If not, just because 3 things are mentioned does not mean they are 1 thing.

    The phrase translated “Mighty God” in Isaiah 9:6 in the NIV in the Hebrew, el gibbor. That very phrase, in the plural form, is used Ezekiel 32:21 where dead “heroes” and mighty men are said, by the figure of speech personification, to speak to others. The phrase in Ezekiel is translated “mighty leaders” in the NIV, and “the strong among the mighty” in the KJV and NASB. The Hebrew phrase, when used in the singular, can refer to one “mighty leader” just as when used in the plural it can refer to many “mighty leaders.”

    Even so, you do realize that both Psa 45.6 and Isa 9.6 were initially referring to human kings. Does this mean they are “gods”?

    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.

    A “proper understanding of Scripture” would tell you that just because the Bible calls someone “god” [elohim, theos], it does not make them YHWH. That is once again doing violence to the text and a misrepresentation of the said faith you are supposed to properly teach and preach.

  20. Josh Ratliff the Trinitarian says:

    You have proven, without a doubt, that you are completely inept when it comes to discussing Trinitarian theology! You say that my statement about Jesus being Jehovah God is “Oneness Theology?” Read carefully: Trinitarians virtually unanimously agree that Jesus is Jehovah! Why? Because Jehovah is the name of God revealed in the Old Testament, and Jesus is God! Even your friend Sean Finnegan knows this. It was brought up in his debate with Brant Bosserman. You have proven your dishonest methodology by not checking out your statement before you make it. Google “Jesus/Jehovah” and you will see virtually every Trinitarian apologetic website proclaims and defends Jesus as Jehovah. Such an error on your part is very telling of the sub-par scholarship that you have offered throughout this entire discussion, and is, quite frankly, embarassing for your own position that you do not understand the positions you stand against.

    Concerning John 1:1. I’m not going to let you slide. You still have not commented on why I’m wrong about John 1:14-15. You continue to quote scholars out of context to somehow bolster your position. You’re “happy to disagree” because you know your position won’t stand up to the truth of the passage. Why haven’t you commented on the Greek construction in John 1:1-3? I explained how an eimi construction without the definite article does not mean that nominative case anarthrous noun cannot be attributed literally to the nominative case noun with the article (the subject in English). What are your thoughts on this Xavier? If you don’t understand what is going on in the Greek in John 1:1, why would you post the words of someone who comments on the Greek construction? There again, you’re more concerned with proving your theology than you are with honest scholarship. You’ve demonstrated this consistently. At any rate, the logos cannot be compared to wisdom personified. The Word was a person (John 1:14-15). You are avoiding these verses like the plague. But again, as long as you continue to discuss John 1, I’m not letting it go. Tell us what you think about the Greek construction in John 1:1-3 (not just quoting more scholar’s works that you can’t defend) and give us your comments on vv. 14-15. I have sought to answer all of your objections. You have avoided mine.

    Further, concerning the Shammah that you mention, all Trinitarians confess that there is One God. He is one in His essense as Jehovah God. But He has eternally revealed Himself in three persons. This is basic Trinitarian theology.

    Concerning Phil. 2, the inaccauracies and misrepresentations continue. You’ve given us a straw man if I’ve ever seen one. Why do you keep creating positions and statements I’ve never made and refute them? Direct me to the place where I said that Jesus emptied Himself of being God. Again, it is dishonest to make up a position for your opponent. Jesus limited His divinity, He didn’t give it up. Do you not believe that the Almighty God can limit Himself if he so chooses? I have shown you clear examples of this in the Old Testament.

    With Colossians, you only give us what could be a possible translation. What about context? The rest of the passage leaves no other option than Christ as a pre-existant Creator. How can all things “hold together” (v. 17) in Him if He is only a human? Try to answer this question: do you believe that Col. 1 speaks of Jesus as Creator? All you gave us in your response above is obfuscation.

    All Trinitarians believe that one God is creator just like Jesus said in Mat. 19:4, but that one God is revealed in three distinct persons. There is no contradiction here. And notice in Gen. 1:26 God says, “Let us make man in our image . . .” Do you believe God was talking to the angels like your other Unitarian friends?

    Concerning John 17:5, an incorporeal, ideal pre-existence does not work here. Notice Jesus was active in glorifying God on earth (v. 4). He didn’t glorify an ideal, He glorified God. Likewise, He asked that the Father glorify Him (v. 5). He was speaking of glorifying Him as the person of Jesus Christ. And how would the Father do this? The same way he did before time began. “To glorify” is to impart dignity, luster, and respect to someone. It means that you actively ascribe excellence to them. God was not imparting these attributes to an idea before time. He was imparting them to the person of Jesus Christ. Talk about doing violence to the text!

    When it comes to the Holy Spirit, you bring up 1 Cor. 2:11. Paul is using the illustration of our spiritual make-up with our mind and spirit to show that only the Spirit of God knows the thoughts of God. Was Paul stating that our spiritual make-up is the same as God’s? Do you believe this? You fail to see that there is a difference in the innerworkings of God and the innerworkings of man. Because one thing is true for both God and man does not necessitate that everything about both is true for both. Thus, when the Bible uses the term Holy Spirit in reference to God, it does not follow that it is a reference to spirit in the same manner that we understand the human spirit. So you have failed to demonstrate how this text takes away the possibility that the Holy Spirit is a divine person.

    Based on 1 Cor. 2:11, do you assume that our spirits are relative to us in the same manner as the Spirit of God to the Father? If this were the case, can you please explain how God the Father can send the Holy Spirit to earth from heaven?

    Concerning Mat. 28:19, you reference my “use of kai”? It is not mine, sir. It is Jesus’ use of the definite article…kai construction. This is not tri-theism. This verse demonstrates that there are three distinct persons. Belief in the Trinity does not denote a belief in three gods. There is one essence and three persons. Tertullian illustrated this with his phrase “una substantia et tres personae.”

    With Isaiah 9, do you not see that we have a passage that cannot have been applied to any mere human? Do you not believe this was a reference to the Messiah? A human messiah could not fulfill the description given to us here. How could his government and kingdom continue forever (v. 7) if Isaiah only speaks of a human being? “Mighty God” should be taken literally in this passage. Bringing the idea that “god” is used in the OT to speak of mere humans is a tactic commonly used by Unitarians to avoid the plain meaning of these passages. Unfortunately for them, their argument still does not hold up. Any time the term “el” or “elohim” is ascribed to a human being, the writer immediately qualifies that he is speaking of humans and not Almighty God. This is true with Ezek. 32:21, in which the passage is clearly speaking of uncircumcised men in sheol. Another example would be Exod. 7:1 in which Moses was said to be made “like God to Pharaoh.” Clearly, Moses was not called God, but was a representative of God to Pharaoh. Every single example like this that Unitarians bring up will be shown to have these qualifying statements included in the passage that make it clear that the writer was not referring to the humans as God. However, such is not the case with Is. 9 or Ps. 45. There is no such qualifying phrase in the context. Both speak of Messiah as Almighty God.

    As the scholar you quoted rightly points out, God’s throne could be what is referred to as God here. But first, let’s point that this would make the translation very awkward. But that’s beside the point. Jewish translators have argued that it should refer to God’s throne. Why do think this is? Because they are unwilling to entertain the idea that any passage would refer to a human as God. This serves to illustrate my point that I made above. Ps. 45 contains no qualifying statement that makes you understand that the writer does not intend for us to view the King he mentions as God. That’s why Jewish translators make such an issue out of it. Again, any other passage, like the one you brought up, will clearly show that Jehovah God is not the one being referenced as “god.”

    So, you’re still left with 2 Peter 1:1 and Titus 2:13. Your argument that someone being called “god” does not make them God does not hold water when all the facts are understood. But in the case of the two passages at hand, I challenge you to compare them to the rest of the epistle in which they are contained. In Titus 1:3, Paul refers to “the command of God our Savior.” Do you take this to mean the command of God Himself? Yet, in the following chapter, you would completely change the meaning of the title “God and Savior” (2:13) when it is applied to Jesus Christ. On what basis, and by what criterion, are you determining that the same author writing in the same letter could so quickly change the meaning of the phrase “God and Savior”? I guess when it comes to Unitarian methodology, words can mean whatever they want.

    You still haven’t told us whose glory Isaiah saw (John 12:41). John was clearly referring to Jesus Christ. But in the passage from the OT (Is. 6), it seems clear that Isaiah sees the glory of God. If Jesus were not God, what would be the Unitarian explanation for such a verse?

    Another exellent passage where we see divine titles applied to Jesus would be Revelation 1:8 where we have the statement, “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'” Clearly this is God speaking acribing to Himself the title Alpha and Omega. Notice Revelation 22:13, we see that Jesus states, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” The same divine titles applied to God are applied to Jesus Christ. He is your Lord and Your God! If it weren’t true, why would he not have rebuked Thomas immediately when he proclaimed such? Jesus accepted Thomas’ confession of faith, and He will accept yours as well if you will humble yourself and acknowledge Him as your Creator God.

    With that said, I do not believe any future dialogue with you will be beneficial for anyone for the following reasons:

    1) Your employment of a dishonest methodology, in which you accused me of believing Oneness doctrine because I called Jesus “Jehovah God.” As I explained above, this has always been the belief of Trinitarians, but you failed to check the facts before making your assertion. That is dishonest by academic standards.

    2) You continue to raise arguments against positions that I have not mentioned. For instance, you argued from Phil. 2 against the position that Jesus emptied Himself of being God. Again, I never, and would never, make any statement remotely similar to that.

    3) You consitently quote Greek scholars without demonstrating that you have any knowledge whatsoever of the points they raise. If it sounds like it supports your theology, you quote it. But based on our discussion, I question whether or not you understand the quotes you post. For instance, with John 1:1-3, you quoted a scholar who commented on the absence of the definite article in the passage in reference to θεὸς. When I questioned you on these claims, you gave no explanation, which indicates to me that you never had an understanding of the argument in the first place. There is a certain propriety when it comes to scholarship, especially Biblical scholarship, and posting information to prove your point when you don’t even comprehend it yourself, is just poor methodology.

    Therefore, I will be glad to give you the last word in our discussion. If someone else who visits this blog would like for me to clarify a point that I’ve made, I will be happy to do that, but I am finished insofar as it concerns our dialogue.

  21. Xavier says:

    “Belief in the Trinity does not denote a belief in three gods. There is one essence and three persons. Tertullian illustrated this with his phrase ‘una substantia et tres personae’.”

    When you say Jesus is YHWH this trinitarian statement is untenable. Just like what happened with Sean’s debate with Bosserman. Notice that’s where Sean is inevitably leading Bosserman to confess. You can tell this by his reaction! There is no where else for us [as unitarians] to go in so far as debating this matter.

    Reason I choose to disagree with you is because every individual has the RIGHT TO CHOOSE to disagree. I can only try and persuade people not force them into a state of believe.

    You continue believing whatever theology [trini, Oneness or otherwise] you choose to believe and modify in your opposition to the Creed of Jesus [Mar 12.28-29] and that of the Apostolic Church [Mat 16.16; Acts 2].

    Behold, a day is coming for YHWH, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst…Then YHWH my God will come, and all the holy ones with him…And YHWH will be king over all the earth. On that day the YHWH WILL BE ONE AND HIS NAME ONE. [Zech 14]

  22. […] Sean Finnegan’s Truth Matters Radio Show interview with Kermit Zarley can be found here. […]

  23. Roald says:

    ”In particular Matthew 24.36 (also Mark 13.32) convinced him that Jesus was not omniscient since he confessed that he did not know when he would return.”

    I was really caught of guard when my trinitarian teacher with the brothers (darby descendants) plainly told me, when I asked him how Jesus could be ominpotent if He doesn’t know when He is returning, ”Jesus didn’t know this when He spoke those words while being here on earth, but now that He is glorified ‘again’ he most assuredly knows when He will return”. For me this was the moment to leave that place. I told my friend well these words were written down after He had allready ascended and it was written for us to know. If Jesus knew here on earth that He would know when He returns He would have told us, because Jesus is perfect truth, Jesus IS the truth. And now half a year later I am still so thankfull that I was given these insights, simply because I prayed for it and was unbiased. Jesus doesn’t know when He will return, wonderful simple truth. Only our Holy Omnipotent Mercifull Rightiouss Wonderful Creator Father knows that. I was never a trinitarian but I could never discern what it was, or what is wrong with it, I wanted to know, so my testimony is that trinity doctrine is false and alters the gospel quite significantly.

  24. I completely agree with Kermit Zarley (Servetus the Evangelical) on the false pre-existence of Yahshua doctrine, but I do not agree that he was conceived of a virgin.

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