How Many Gods Are There?

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Paidion
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Re: How Many Gods Are There?

Post by Paidion » Tue Dec 25, 2018 11:02 pm

Homer, you wrote:Seems to me context, along with other scriptures, should determine whether an English translation should supply an indefinite article where there is none in the Greek.
That is precisely what I was doing in this case! Going by context! There was no need for you to quote verses that refer to God, where the writer does not precede "God" with the article. I was well aware that there are many passages in which this is the case. Indeed, I thought John 10:33 was another such passage. But my problem was that Jesus' reply makes no sense with that understanding. However, when someone pointed out that if it is translated "a god" in John 10:33, then Jesus' reply makes perfect sense. Thus I was convinced. So it was the context that convinced me—not merely the absence of the article.
Paidion

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darinhouston
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Re: How Many Gods Are There?

Post by darinhouston » Sat Dec 29, 2018 10:14 am

Paidion wrote:
Darin wrote:I’m curious if anyone has watched the videos and what they think about them.
I watched the first one, and was impressed. He talks like a simple person, and yet with great intensity.

However, like Homer, I think it a huge mistake to deny the pre-existence of the Son of God. Jesus said, "Before Abraham was I am."
The second-century Christians all taught that God had begotten His Son before all ages, the first of God's acts.
I’m not sure what I believe about the pre-existence of the Son of God. I think it’s a shame that we have had such a dogmatic position on the Trinity that we have anathemitized anyone who has divergent views of any kind and have burned their materials so that alternative views could not even be considered or clarified/corrected over the years. If we had a millenia of open-minded academic discourse around non-Trinitarian yet high Christological theories to resolve these difficult passages and allusions, we may have better answers to these questions. There are reasonable positions even today on the “I am” passages even if they aren’t fully convincing.

With that in mind, I’ve posted elsewhere here that I believe there is a way to reconcile these issues yet maintain what does appear to be some allusions to some form of pre-existence and some manner in which Jesus could rightly be called God while not being or forming a part of the eternal Yahweh. To me, the non-Trinitarian passages are more clear than the number of allusions to aspects of Christology which might seem to support aspects of Trinitarian positions. As to pre-existence specifically, I can’t even fathom his post-resurrection existence, so without clear Scriptural explanation, I hold all of it very loosely and wish others could, too. It seems to me that holding a wrong view of Christology is not worth having a cohesive set of beliefs as a church (or anything really, but especially as it pertains to the nature of God, which though revealed has aspects that it seem to please Him to remain hidden). As I read a number of the early non-Trinitarian writings that remain (many are characterized by others), I'm struck particularly with the piety they seem to have towards trying to understand and honor God and Christ and seem to have a higher Christology than even most Trinitarians today. If that had continued to develop, who knows what truth we would have today that has otherwise been largely lost. Just as an example, if I read John (and especially John 1) through non-Trinitarian eyes, I see (though can't fully develop) a very different basic teaching from John -- instead of a largely confusing Trinitarian apologetic, I can see a re-telling of Creation to reveal teachings about the New Creation and with an emphasis not on comparing Adam the man to Jesus the God but instead comparing Adam a flawed and non-obedient man with Jesus, a perfect and obedient man with the apologetic confirming that this wasn't a "secondary plan" for God, but was the plan from the beginning with Christ being the center and purpose of Creation. I think many people see "Logos" as just another name for Jesus and it's surprising how many apologetics say "Scripture says Logos was God --- see, it clearly says Jesus is God." That's just about the most ignorant apologetic I can imagine and is typical for even professional apologists and preachers today. That's shameful and to me is a low Christology. The parallels of the Logos discourse in John to the references and discourses on Sophia seem too striking to ignore and a Christological apologetic of any kind deserves to better develop these ideas. I am not equipped to assimilate all of this but the church should have done a better job rather than dumbing it down to an incomprehensible and illogical Trinitarian formulation. The best you get on the third person of the Trinity is to suggest personal pronouns are used -- so there, it must be a separate person of the godhead!

As to pre-existence, without millenia of academic consideration and debate, I do think there must be some manner of pre-existence (whether as the Logos/Sophia or otherwise), but eternal Sonship doens’t ring true to me and only Paidion can maintain a position of eternal begotten-ness (I can’t understand his metaphysical position on time not pre-existing the first act of begetting Jesus). Jesus, the man, certainly didn’t pre-exist His birth. Was He in some pre-incarnate form as part of the Godhead? I don’t see that in Scripture, at least not plainly. Can He be rightly called God because He perfectly represents God in His human expression? Or because He is fully the Temple of God’s very Spirit in a perfect fullness in contrast to our fullness only in part? I don’t know, but am open to that sort of explanation. Does pre-existence equate to eternality? I don’t know that either. As to how He could have been eternally begotten, I can’t fathom that, but it does seem that Scripture tells us that He was begotten not as God’s first act of Creation, and not even at His birth, but at His baptism.

These are great things you simply can’t debate or fully explore within the institutional church. When academics and church leaders react this emotionally and reflexively to something, I have to wonder if there might be truth to be explored. But, having considered and followed these issues over the past several years, I have noted how inconsistently Trinitarian teaching is when referring casually to God, Jesus, and the Spirit not to mention the illogical positions they take when trying to explain what they think they believe about the Trinity (even academics). I don’t believe many people have a very firm grasp on something they say they hold as the most important dogma in the church. That’s unfortunate in and of itself.

Even the history of Nicea is dumbed down and simplified for the mass consumption -- I dare say most pastors believe Nicea was formed to correct a rogue bishop by a unified church leadership. I wonder how many even know that Arians even took over shortly after Nicea and that the Trinitarians were banished and virtually anathematized for a time. Or that the creed was only accepted by a vast majority when language came that could be interpreted by non-Trinitarians to maintain their non-Trinitarian positions.

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Paidion
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Re: How Many Gods Are There?

Post by Paidion » Sat Dec 29, 2018 4:48 pm

Thank you for expressing your thoughts, Darin! Yes, some denominations will not accept as members those who do not believe in "the Trinity," that is, that God is a compound God consisting of three divine Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. However, in the New Testament, the word "God" refers to the Father alone in more than 90% of its occurrence, and NEVER refers to a Trinity.

As for the Son of God, I believe He is not "the God," that is the Father, but that having been begotten by the Father, He is God in the sense of being divine. This may be analogous to each human being being, having been begotten by his or her parents, is "man" in the sense that he or she is human.

Concerning the holy Spirit, my position is that the Spirit is the very Persons of the Father and of the Son. The Father and/or the Son can extend their Persons anywhere in the Universe, and especially into the hearts (or minds) of the faithful.
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Homer
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Re: How Many Gods Are There?

Post by Homer » Sun Dec 30, 2018 12:04 am

IMO the passage in John 10 is being misunderstood. The broader context of John is not understood.

John 10:24-38 (NASB)
24. The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25. Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. 26. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.

If Jesus had said "Yes, I am the Christ" there would be no charge of blasphemy. But Jesus goes on:

27. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

The "hand" represents power. Jesus has the power to keep the sheep.

29. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

And the Father also has the power to keep the sheep. To snatch the sheep out of the hand of Jesus is the same as to snatch them from the Father.

30. I and the Father are one.”

Jesus is speaking of power, not simply purpose. He and the Father are one. The equality of the power is due to the equality of the persons.

31. The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. 32. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” 33. The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”

The Jews clearly understand the import of Jesus' words; He is God in the flesh.

34. Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35. If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36. do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37. If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38. but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”

It is a big mistake to see Jesus making a minor to minor argument here: The judges in Psalm 82 were called gods in the sense that they were representatives of God in a theocracy, God's judicial sovereignty, and Jesus is no more than a man. But they were unjust judges! Jesus is arguing from minor to major, as in John 8:21-24:

John 8:21-24 (NASB)
21. Then He said again to them, “I go away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come.” 22. So the Jews were saying, “Surely He will not kill Himself, will He, since He says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23. And He was saying to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. 24. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

Here Jesus alludes to the routine circumcision that occured on the Sabbath compared to His healing on the Sabbath of a man lame for 38 years - a minor to major argument as in John 10.

And we should not pass over Jesus' "I am He" words. See also John 13:19. Werner Georg Kummul, in his "New Testament Theology" points out that in Old testament and apocalyptic Judaism "I am He" was a designation of God himself.

I think some of the great difficulty we have with understanding the relation of God, Jesus, and the Spirit is that we have no good analogies of the Spirit world, nor do we know what kinds of relationships can exist there. How can God be invisible, omnipresent, and omniscient? On the other hand the Christ came in human flesh and in our realm we have much more to work with.

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darinhouston
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Re: How Many Gods Are There?

Post by darinhouston » Sun Dec 30, 2018 11:07 am

Homer wrote:If Jesus had said "Yes, I am the Christ" there would be no charge of blasphemy.
Do you really believe the Jews considered Christ as equivalent to “God?” Their view of the Messiah was not divinity to my understanding. Yes, their views of blasphemy would extend to a claim of being the Messiah/Christ but also to being a prophet or even apostle or otherwise having authority from God.
“Homer” wrote:Jesus is speaking of power, not simply purpose. He and the Father are one. The equality of the power is due to the equality of the persons.
That’s a logical leap of several orders. One doesn’t necessarily mean equal, and equality of power wouldn’t necessarily imply equality of person.
“Homer” wrote: The Jews clearly understand the import of Jesus' words; He is God in the flesh.
Again, that’s assumes the premise — they did understand the import of His words, but that doesn’t mean He was God in the flesh. Though God in the flesh can be interpreted a number of ways. Was there a “God in a pillar of fire?” That doesn’t make fire God but only that God manifested or made Himself known in and/or through the fire. Likewise, it can be said that Jesus is God in flesh because God was embodied or made known perfectly through Jesus. That doesn’t make them a part of a godhead. Even if they are part of a godhead, however, saying they’re equal denies their separate personhood and also the subjugation of the Son to the Father that I think even you would agree.


I think a basic reason for re-assessment is that I just don’t see the Jews having any notion of Jesus being God. Yes, I’ve seen people argue there are hints and allusions to divinity in the NT, but generally speaking there is no greater belief the Jews held than their monotheism. The sort of things the NT deals with and the controversies that arose they had difficulties with (like eating His flesh or circumcision or holy days, etc.) pale in comparison to this major issue. There is just no hint of controversy in this regard (apart from the passage above which I believe is better understood differently). In my heart of hearts I believe that the apostles would have hit this head on, especially in Hebrews or Romans if they had a clear view of Jesus being in actually and in any sense the actual God they knew and worshipped as Yahweh.


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Homer
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Re: How Many Gods Are There?

Post by Homer » Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:10 am

Hi Paidion,

You wrote:
Concerning the holy Spirit, my position is that the Spirit is the very Persons of the Father and of the Son. The Father and/or the Son can extend their Persons anywhere in the Universe, and especially into the hearts (or minds) of the faithful.

That sounds very close to my thinking. The Father can extend His person in the form of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

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darinhouston
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How Many Gods Are There?

Post by darinhouston » Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:47 am

Homer wrote:Hi Paidion,

You wrote:
Concerning the holy Spirit, my position is that the Spirit is the very Persons of the Father and of the Son. The Father and/or the Son can extend their Persons anywhere in the Universe, and especially into the hearts (or minds) of the faithful.

That sounds very close to my thinking. The Father can extend His person in the form of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
And mine is that the Father can extend His Person anywhere He wants including into Jesus. Since after having done so, they are of the same Spirit, and Jesus has authority over Creation, it can be said that we share the Spirit of Christ as well as that of the Father and that we are in the Father by abiding in the Spirit of Christ.

What I’m thinking (if it doesn’t sound sacrilege) is something akin to Possession/Inhabitation by God in the form of Jesus. This makes better sense to me of Jesus being the Temple and gives perhaps better life to the types of Christ in OT Israel.

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Re: How Many Gods Are There?

Post by Homer » Tue Jan 01, 2019 12:36 am

Darin,

You wrote:
What I’m thinking (if it doesn’t sound sacrilege) is something akin to Possession/Inhabitation by God in the form of Jesus. This makes better sense to me of Jesus being the Temple and gives perhaps better life to the types of Christ in OT Israel.
I'm at a loss to understand your position. Could you exegete John 1:1-18 in regard to the Christ? It appears to clearly reference Jesus' preexistence as the Logos, that this Logos/Christ is, if not part of a Godhead, at least divinity (of the same essence as God). The Greek seems very plain and clear on this and my New Testament translated from the ancient Aramaic of the eastern Christians says the same things.

Do you believe that the Christ preexisted His birth of the virgin Mary? That He was divine being prior to His birth or just an idea in God's mind? Or are you just trying to sort out a mystery?

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