Devil's Advocate

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darinhouston
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Devil's Advocate

Post by darinhouston » Tue Mar 16, 2021 2:55 pm

I hate that term and wish there was a better one, but I think it's worth mentioning on this forum that I take the term unitarian in some posts and speak of Trinitarians as "they" often largely out of efficiency in communication, but I hope you all understand that I am still exploring these topics and am largely trying to test the positions by trying to see how they hold up to scrutiny and (where they don't) to find alternatives. So, I seek best arguments and am not so much trying to persuade anyone but myself. Cracking the stronghold of traditional understanding of passages is often the only way to get some to consider alternatives, but it is those alternatives and mental exercises I seek, not so much to disprove an understanding, but to consider maybe tradition has caused us to miss the real point of a passage. So, perhaps we can say sometimes "ok, maybe that doesn't mean that" - what are the consequences of that, what else could it mean, etc. recognizing we may well return to the traditional understanding. I think sometimes people are so afraid to lose their belief that they can't let go of their interpretations. But, I suspect most around here wouldn't be here if that were the case - I consider this a safe place to explore these ideas. I hope it's seen in this vein.

With that in mind, I am not convinced that the Unitarian view of each of these scriptures are sound, but that does not mean that I believe the Trinitarian interpretations are any better. (both camps incidentally have a wide variety of arguments and positions, so it's a bit of a moving target). Sometimes both sides have to hold their tongue "just so" in order to make it work. But, when that happens, it usually means there's a third position. I guess in the end I'm pretty firmly not a Trinitarian anymore (and have read enough to be fairly confident I'll never see an argument to convince me otherwise) but am not strictly speaking a committed Unitarian either.

While the Unitarians may not get it right completely and I'm not 100% sure on some of their positions, I am persuaded that the leading historic Trinitarian positions are mostly ill conceived and nonsensical (and contradictory). But, I do think there has not been a perfect answer to all of the Trinitarian objections to certain unitarian interpretations. I do find that I am more content with mystery left by some scriptural declarations and willing to "leave it at that" while Trinitarians seem to be content only with the mysteries (or incoherence) that their doctrine actually creates and are (it seems) trying too hard to reconcile non-contradicting "mysteries" with self-contradictory theories which themselves beg "mysteries."

You may ask "what's the point?" Just go with tradition. What's the harm? But, there can be no more important question than who God is and who Jesus is (within the limits of revelation). If Jesus turns out to be God in some way not obvious from scripture, then I think God is probably ok with us not knowing what he has not revealed plainly. However, Scripture reveals a pretty simple straightforward basic proposition that God is one, that Jesus was a man and that he was God's Son in some titular and existential sense that isn't fully revealed. There are some mysterious passages that hint at some sense in which Jesus was a way that God walked amongst us - the extent to which that is literal or in Spirit indwelling him as His Temple/Torah or otherwise figuratively isn't revealed. But, the Trinitarian certainty to say that Jesus just is God introduces many doctrinal problems as well as incoherence to who God is, and seems wrong-headed and contrary to basic revelation.

On another aspect of "harm" of declaring Jesus to be God in the sense of Yahweh (the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob), consider the millions of Jews who may have rejected Christianity not because of Jesus being Lord/Messiah/Son of God or even his resurrection and role as mediator, but because they can't even consider a faith which starts with the premise that Jesus is Yahweh. Many of them (not all of course) are not rejecting Jesus for who Scripture clearly says he is, but are trying to remain faithful to the abundantly clear and unchangeable truth of monotheism. Merely saying the Trinity is monotheistic isn't very convincing (to anyone, really).

steve7150
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Re: Devil's Advocate

Post by steve7150 » Tue Mar 16, 2021 8:06 pm

On another aspect of "harm" of declaring Jesus to be God in the sense of Yahweh (the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob), consider the millions of Jews who may have rejected Christianity not because of Jesus being Lord/Messiah/Son of God or even his resurrection and role as mediator, but because they can't even consider a faith which starts with the premise that Jesus is Yahweh. Many of them (not all of course) are not rejecting Jesus for who Scripture clearly says he is, but are trying to remain faithful to the abundantly clear and unchangeable truth of monotheism. Merely saying the Trinity is monotheistic isn't very convincing (to anyone, really).





I think the great majority of Jews simply don't accept the premise that anyone can die for their sins just as Muslims don't which is a theme of the OT. The traditional Trinity i agree doesn't make sense in that three eternal Gods do not equal "one true God." But Christ is a unique case, higher then the angels and IMO divine but not God Almighty. Whatever Christ has was given to him, nothing was given to God Almighty.

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darinhouston
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Re: Devil's Advocate

Post by darinhouston » Tue Mar 16, 2021 9:55 pm

steve7150 wrote:
Tue Mar 16, 2021 8:06 pm
On another aspect of "harm" of declaring Jesus to be God in the sense of Yahweh (the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob), consider the millions of Jews who may have rejected Christianity not because of Jesus being Lord/Messiah/Son of God or even his resurrection and role as mediator, but because they can't even consider a faith which starts with the premise that Jesus is Yahweh. Many of them (not all of course) are not rejecting Jesus for who Scripture clearly says he is, but are trying to remain faithful to the abundantly clear and unchangeable truth of monotheism. Merely saying the Trinity is monotheistic isn't very convincing (to anyone, really).





I think the great majority of Jews simply don't accept the premise that anyone can die for their sins just as Muslims don't which is a theme of the OT. The traditional Trinity i agree doesn't make sense in that three eternal Gods do not equal "one true God." But Christ is a unique case, higher then the angels and IMO divine but not God Almighty. Whatever Christ has was given to him, nothing was given to God Almighty.
That's an interesting thought - I have not heard a Jew make that argument. Have you? Substitutionary atonement was front and center in their theology. I do see how they might be offended if it was seen as a form of human sacrifice. But, I guess though they might view atonement more as a martyrdom situation rather than a human sacrifice, I wonder if they might still accept it if it weren't required that they accept that their one true God was actually three persons, including the man who was claiming to be their Messiah. That's a pretty big pill to accept and it seems the evangelism in the first century omitted this to great power. If it were true, I would really think it would be a required and express part of the gospel presentation from the very beginning even if it weren't understood.

steve7150
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Re: Devil's Advocate

Post by steve7150 » Wed Mar 17, 2021 12:11 pm

That's an interesting thought - I have not heard a Jew make that argument. Have you? Substitutionary atonement was front and center in their theology. I do see how they might be offended if it was seen as a form of human sacrifice. But, I guess though they might view atonement more as a martyrdom situation rather than a human sacrifice, I wonder if they might still accept it if it weren't required that they accept that their one true God was actually three persons, including the man who was claiming to be their Messiah. That's a pretty big pill to accept and it seems the evangelism in the first century omitted this to great power. If it were true, I would really think it would be a required and express part of the gospel presentation from the very beginning even if it weren't understood.






Jews certainly don't accept human sacrifice as you mentioned & the animal atonement was for the covering of sins not really salvation to eternal life. When the gospel is presented the Trinity does not come up at all and isn't an issue for quite some time as it really isn't a salvation issue, after all Jesus disciples most likely knew nothing about it.

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