This a reply to Michael Burgos' response to my Open Letter.
I would like to thank Michael Burgos for taking the time to reply to my Open Letter. His full response can be found at http://www.grassrootsapologetics.org/
A Response to an Open Letter.
The reader should be fully aware that I have elected here for the sake of brevity and clarity not to repost absolutely everything I said in my original letter or everything that Mr. Burgos said in his response. I want to avoid a page muddled with complexities since my purpose here is for clarity. If you want to compare absolutely everything I said or asked, or everything he said, open a window. If any readers, including Mr. Burgos, would like me to address any specific thing stated by Mr. Burgos, please send me an email and I can either reply privately or post the response here on this site, whichever you like.
Reply to Michael Burgos' Response
Unless a doctrine is clear, consistent, unambiguous, and without contradiction, I think all would agree that it has very little value. I had hoped that it would be self evident that the point of my Open Letter was to request clarity to a doctrine which presents numerous ambiguities to many people including Trinitarians themselves. Perhaps I will need to add further clarity to my Open Letter so that my request for clarity is undeniably evident.
In this reply to your response, I have found it necessary to ask you to clarify your response(s). I would surmise that you wish to make your position absolutely clear and that you have no desire to muddy the waters. Would you be so kind as to please clarify your response(s)? Also, if you require any clarification from me concerning the subject matter, please ask. I have also asked you a number of Yes or No questions below. If any of these questions contain what you consider to be a false premise preventing you from answering Yes or No, please identify what you believe to be a false premise so that I can reword the question for you without the said false premise. Please qualify your answers to these Yes or No questions as you see fit. I would just ask that you clearly answer "Yes" or "No" unless a false premise is present which you will identify instead of answering Yes or No.
[TD] = Trinity Delusion comments
1. Definition of the "Trinity"
[TD]: My first question seems to be just one example where I did not make it clear enough as to what is being requested. Either that, or you avoided this question and several others. Since Trinitarians commonly refer to THE doctrine of the Trinity, I want to see THE definitive elucidation of this doctrine and I would like to know where I can find it. But you rather provided me YOUR definition/explanation. Am I to assume there is no such thing as a definitive explanation of this doctrine to which you or I can refer? Should I now refrain from referring to THE doctrine of the Trinity and begin referring to A doctrine of the Trinity? Or, since you have apparently provided me your own personal definition, am I to conclude that you are the authority on the matter? Let me attempt to be absolutely clear. If there is no definitive explanation of this doctrine anywhere to be found, and to which anyone can refer, what then are we discussing exactly? Michael Burgos's unique version of a Triune God?
2. Definition of the Word "Person."
[TD]: Since the word "person" has been central to Trinitarian explanations of the doctrine of the Trinity, this question asked for a clear, concise, unambiguous definition of the word "person." To help you understand why I am asking this question, and what I am asking for, I asked a number of background questions.
You seemed to agree that hypostasis, as it is used by Trinitarians in terms of their own doctrine, is a synonym for "person" by saying "it can be used" as a synonym. On the other hand, you deviated somewhat. Since we are not talking about 1st, 2nd, or 3rd century definitions of a word which might be defined differently and used in other contexts, but how a word is defined and used in Trinitarian doctrine, will you affirm that your definition of the word hypostasis never changes when discussing the doctrine of the Trinity? In the doctrine of the Trinity, is the word hypostasis always a synonym for the word "person" or just sometimes?
You also indicated that you do not believe there is a definitive quality about something defines it as a person. Additionally, you provided a list of things which you think qualifies or defines something to be a person. Where did you get your information? Where do you get the idea that your list of things is what defines something as a person?
I also asked if your definition of a person would also be applicable to the one God. After giving me your list of things which you believe defines something as a person, such as why you think the Father is a person, why you think the Son is a person, and why you think the Holy Spirit is a person, you concluded by saying:
"It therefore is certainly true that the God of Israel is personal, but not a single person."
[TD]: "Therefore"? How does it follow that you affirm the Father is a person therefore the God of Israel is not a single person? How am I to make sense of your conclusion? You first describe what it is that you think defines three different persons each as a person and then you conclude by saying "therefore" the God of Israel is personal but not a person? Shall I take that as a "No, my definitions of a person do not apply to the one God of Israel"? At this point, I must assume your definition of the word "person" does not apply to the one God of Israel. If that is the case, please explain what it is, or isn't, in your definition of the word "person" that rules out the God of Israel as a person since you would be insisting your definition does not apply to Him.
Since the word "person" is so central to the doctrine of the Trinity, the main question here was a request for a clear, concise, unambiguous definition of the word "person" to give your doctrine meaning. I am sure you can agree that the doctrine of the Trinity is meaningless if the terms used are not clearly defined. You responded by saying:
""Person" refers to that which makes someone who they are."
[TD]: Do you really consider that statement to be unambiguous? Is this your definition of the word "person"? Is that it, no more, no less?
3. Definition of the Word "Being."
On page 14 of Robert Bowman's book, Why You Should Believe in the Trinity, he attempts to explain how the Triune God is a singular "I" and he explains that the one Triune God is one "I" because He is one "divine being" (bold emphasis mine). I expect that you have your own copy of his book. Perhaps you are unaware, but Bowman's response is a very common Trinitarian response to the question at hand and I would like a clear, concise, unambiguous definition of the word "being" as it is used in this context. You quote Mr. Bowman elsewhere in your response but it seems quite clear from your response to this particular question that you disagree with him on this particular matter:
"Firstly, I would not say that the singular pronouns that are used of God are necessarily indicative of God in His being."
[TD]: Are you disagreeing with Bowman? Yes or No. If Yes, please refer to Question No. 1. If No, please define the word "being" as it is being used in this context.
4. Confusing or Conflating "Person and Being."
[TD]: As to this particular question, you didn't answer what I asked. I am not interested in whether the use of the words "who" and "what" and "who vs. what", and the like, are classified as a didactic tool or a creed. Nobody suggested this was a creed. The question pertains to "confusing person and being" and whether Trinitarians do it themselves while at the same time commonly insisting that one should never do such a thing. So I will ask the question again. Can you assure me, and everyone else, that the divine nature is always a "what" and that the divine nature is never ever a "who"? Yes or No.
5. Three Who's Yet One Who
[TD]: In this question, you seemed to respond by insisting that the doctrine of the Trinity is more than simply saying that God is three hypostases, one divine ousia. This is the type of problem I had in mind in Question No. 1.
You responded by saying:
"Actually, Trinitarianism affirms the biblical truth of monotheism and not merely the unity of God's being. A more accurate representation would be, "the Trinitarian doctrine indicates that there is one and only one Living God in existence, and that this one God eternally exists as three co-equal, fully divine persons."
[TD]: May I conclude that you would use the word "He" to refer to the above mentioned "one Living God" and I can take your statement to effectively mean, "there is one and only HE in existence, and that this one HE eternally exists as three co-equal, fully divine HE's"? In other words, are you using the term "one and only Living God" as a reference to a personal identity?
Or if we do NOT use the word "identity" as a synonym for the word "person" may I take your words to mean, ""there is one and only one Identity in existence, and that this one Identity eternally exists as three co-equal, fully divine Identities"?
Are either one of the above statements acceptable within this context?
I also asked, "Do you believe that the three Who's are one Who, the three He's are one He? If yes, can we say the oneness of God is that God is three 'I's' who are also altogether one 'I'?" You answered:
"No and no. Such assertions are illogical."
[TD]: And in the same context you went on to say:
"Again, three persons are not one person as such an assertion is illogical."
[TD]: Interesting response. I never asked you if three persons are one person or made such a suggestion. How is it that you believed that saying "three He's are one He" would amount to saying three persons are one person?
6. The Trinity is an "Incomprehensible Mystery"
[TD]: As you are aware, it is common practice among Trinitarians to insist that the Trinity is an unfathomable or incomprehensible mystery? Since the Bible does not state the doctrine anywhere, and you must come up with this conclusion by reasoning out the implications of various Scripture verses according to your own interpretations, do you think it makes any sense whatsoever to claim that you reasoned out a conclusion which you yourself cannot comprehend?
When a Trinitarian states that the doctrine is a "mystery" that does not mean that the doctrine cannot be apprehended from the biblical text. I obviously disagree with the assertion that the Trinity is not found in Scripture. What is meant by "mystery" is that while we can understand that which is revealed, we cannot fully comprehend God. One need not think it anachronistic to believe that an infinite and eternal God be beyond the comprehension of finite fallen creatures. In other words, the doctrine of the Trinity is found in Scripture and that much we can apprehend, but we cannot fully grasp the totality of God and His majesty. Certainly there are Trinitarians who, not being trained in theology or having the necessary relevant knowledge, appeal to mystery to compensate for their inability to explain or defend the doctrine. These persons, by virtue of their ignorance or inability, ought not to be considered as being qualified to represent the doctrine accurately. Therefore, those non-Trinitarians who see it fit to attack the appeal to mystery by the ignorant only attack a caricature.
[TD]: As you can see in my question above, I indicated the doctrine of the Trinity is not stated in the Bible. You disagreed. Where then is this doctrine stated in the Bible? Also, since God is the main character of the Bible, can you show me one single mention of the Triune God in the Bible without suggesting I resort to the practice of eisegesis?
Secondly, your response seems to indicate that while we cannot fully comprehend God Himself (and I would agree), the doctrine of the Trinity itself is not incomprehensible or unfathomable and there is no reason to make a "unfathomable mystery" claim concerning the doctrine itself. Is that correct? Yes or No.
7. The Father and the Triune Being
[TD]: You assumed I was referring to John 14:28. Your assumption was incorrect. I was referring to Ephesians 4:6 not John 14:28. Is the Triune God positionally above/over the Father? Is that singular "HE" positionally (1) above/over the Father, (2) below the Father, or (3) lateral to the Father?
8. Jesus The Divine Being
[TD]: As you are aware, it is common practice for Trinitarians to insist that the Father is the only true God, Jesus is the only true God, and the Holy Spirit is the only true God. Since the only way in which these three are one in Trinitarian doctrine is the one divine nature, or "being", may I conclude that the statement, "Jesus is the only true God," effectively means "Jesus is the one divine being"? And if so, may I conclude Jesus is a divine being known as "God", the same divine being as the Father?
"The means by which the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the true God is that they are one in the same God, albeit they are distinct persons. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit possess and exhaust the divine being respectively. Therefore, to say that Jesus is true God as Scripture does (1John 5:20) is to simultaneously affirm the deity of the Father and the Holy Spirit, as they are not separate gods. Jesus is a divine person who like the Father possesses the singular divine being as intimated in the question."
[TD]: I asked if I may conclude that Jesus is the one divine being? Was your answer a Yes? I also asked if I may conclude that Jesus is a divine being known as "God" and the same divine being as the Father? Was your answer a Yes?
9. The Two Being Jesus
[TD]: I asked if I may conclude that Jesus is two beings: a divine being and a human being.
"Yes, the one person of the Son possesses both divinity and humanity."
I'll accept your Yes as a Yes.
[TD]: I also asked, "And if so, may I conclude that since Jesus is one person and his divine nature is one and human nature is another, that the divine being is one and the human being is another?"
Jesus Christ is one "Theanthropic" person. That is, He possesses two natures. The ancient heresy know as Nestorianism propogated the notion that the two natures of Christ constituted two persons. This however has been rejected by Trinitarianism for millenia and is neither biblical, nor is it phylosophically necessary. It was God the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. Furthermore, the divine being is not a person and therefore the question is non-sensical.
[TD]: I found this to be a most interesting response considering what I actually asked. Note exactly what I said in my question, "[is it] therefore consistently true that the possession of two natures by Jesus means that he is one person yet two beings?" I didn't say anything about two persons. Why would you believe that if the divine being is one and the human being is another, that two persons would be in view? Is not the divine nature one thing and the human nature another? Is not the divine nature of Jesus the same thing as the divine ousia/being of Jesus? If so, is it not true that the divine being is one and the human being is another?
You also insist that the divine being is not a person. Does your statement mean that the divine nature is not a 'who'? Yes or No. Or do you mean that the Triune God is not a person? Yes or No.
10. The God of Jesus
[TD]: As you are aware, in Trinitarian doctrine, Jesus according to his divine nature is God and does not have a God but Jesus according to his human nature does have a God. Does this mean that Jesus according to his human nature is NOT God and that's the reason he can have a God? Is the person Jesus both God and NOT God at the same time? And would you say that the human being has a God but the other divine being does not have a God?
"The question presupposes the validity of separating the two natures of Christ. Trinitarianism holds to the inseprable union of the human and divine natures as the are unmixed yet had by the one person of the Son. It would be better to say, "Jesus is God" rather than, "Jesus according to his divine nature is God." Jesus Christ is an authentic human person and therefore He does indeed have a God; for He is a perfect human. Christ's humanity is not deified. That is, His human nature is exactly like ours, save sin. Again, the earthly ministry of Christ must be understood in light of His humilation, in that He was functionally subordinate to the Father for the redemption of God's people. A difference of function does not necessitate essential inferiority. If it did, men as heads of households ought to think of themselves as ontologically superior to their wives (Cf. Eph 5:22-33). When we come to understand that Jesus endured a self inflicted humiliation in taking on the limitations of humanity, we can then begin to appreciate His statements of subordination as statements of substitution.
We are told by Jesus that He did not come to abolish the Law, but instead He came to fulfill it (Matt 5:17). Jesus, from the moment of His conception as a human being, was substituting Himself in order that He might reckon those who believe in Him righteous (Rom 4:5) to the glory of God the Father. The Apostle tells us that "when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the Law" (Gal 4:4). The Lord Jesus was born under the Law that His obedience to the Law might be the righteousness of the redeemed (Rom 5:19). Thus, the Son's recognition of the Father as His God cannot justifiably understood as a statement of ontological inferiority."
[TD]: I have three questions pertaining to your response:
1. Since you seem to be saying that separating the two natures of Christ is invalid, may I conclude that you yourself never separate the two natures of Christ and and insist, for example, that one thing is true of Jesus according to his divinity but not true according to his humanity? Yes or No.
2. Do you disagree with Trinitarians who say "Jesus is God according to his divine nature"? Yes or No.
3. Since you insist that Jesus is an authentic person who has a God, may I conclude that the Second Person of the Trinity had/has a God? Yes or No.
11. The God of God
[TD]: As you are aware, in Trinitarian doctrine, "God the Son" is a name for the second person of the Trinity. As you are also aware, "Jesus" is another name for the very same second person of the Trinity such that Jesus and God the Son are not two different persons but the one and same identical equivalent person. Therefore, since Jesus had/has a God, may I conclude that indeed God the Son had/has a God?
"The Son is one person and He does indeed recognize the Father as God. Would the perfect man be an atheist?"
[TD]: May I take that as a YES, to wit, that indeed God the Son had/has a God? Yes or No.
May I also conclude that the God of God the Son is God the Father? Yes or No.
12. The Dead Man on the Cross
[TD]: As you are aware, Jesus was dead on a cross and was laid dead in a tomb. May I conclude the Second Person of the Trinity was dead on the cross? If not, may I conclude someone else was dead? Shall I perhaps conclude the human being was dead but someone else, the divine being, was not dead but still alive? Or, if nobody was hanging dead on the cross, who then was dead for your sins?
"Again, Jesus is one person who is both human and divine. Thus, the one Theanthropic person suffered a human death and was buried. Consistent Trinitarians affirm a dualistic anthropology (i.e., man has a physical and immaterial aspect, namely a soul or spirit). When Christ suffered and died He, being one person with two natures, died a human death. This human death did not result in the cessation of His human existence because human persons do not cease to exist at death. The Son existed as do all deceased human persons; as an incorporeal human spirit, and therefore the inseprable unity of natures was preserved in His death. While Christian dualism tends to be a point of contention for non-Trinitarians, its discussion is beyond the scope of this effort."
[TD]: I did not ask you if anyone died or who died. My question concerned who was dead on the cross. Define death however you like and please answer the question which was actually asked.
1. May I conclude the Second Person of the Trinity was dead on the cross? Yes or No.
2. If No, was someone else dead on the cross? Yes or No.
3. If No, was anyone at all dead on the cross? Yes or No.
13. Is the Definition of "God the Son" fixed or not?
[TD]: As you are aware, "God the Son" is a name which refers to the second person of the Trinity. May I ask if you ever shift the definition of this term, "God the Son" to mean not a person but "the divine nature" for convenience's sake? If so, why would you confuse person and being when you tell everyone else they are not to do that type of thing? If not, then can you again explain who was dead on the cross if it was not God the Son?
"I do not say God the Son means the divine nature. God the Son experienced a human death in much the same way as He experienced a human life. That is, God in human flesh (Col 2:9) died on the cross. This is why the Apostle could state in 1Corinthians 2:8, "the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." So too he stated in Acts 20:28, "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood."
[TD]: I have two questions in reply to your reponse:
Again, I did not ask who died or if anyone died. My question asked if God the Son was dead on the cross. Was that a Yes? May I conclude that the Second Person of the Trinity was dead on the cross? Yes or No.
Also, do you ever separate the two natures of Christ when you discuss his death? Yes or No.
14. The Spirit who Fathered Jesus
[TD]: As you are aware, Trinitarian translators have translated the word gennao as "fathered" in some translations where the words "Abraham fathered Isaac" means the same thing as "Abraham begat Isaac." Do you agree that the person who begets someone is the father and not someone else? If so, do you agree that the Third Person of the Trinity who begat Jesus is Jesus' Father? If not, wherever did you get the idea that one person conceives a son but another person turns out to be the father?
"When we speak of ordinary human beings we understand "begotten" to mean that a person has been concieved by parents, namely a father and a mother. However, we must observe that the Son of God, while truly human in all respects, was not an ordinary human. Even the most resolute Unitarian would concede the Son's uniqueness in humanity. Christ's birth was not an ordinary birth, and therefore we ought not force a strict comparision between the normative birth of humans and that of Christ. It was the Holy Spirit who overshadowed the virgin. The title Father is a relational title to both the Son and humanity, but certainly the questioner does not believe that he is the product of being begotten by the Father."
[TD]: I have three questions in reply to your response:
1. The Scriptures say that baby Jesus was begotten out of the Holy Spirit. In the doctrine of the Trinity, this would mean that baby Jesus was begotten out of the Third Person of the Trinity. Your response seems to indicate that you do not believe the begetter of a human child is necessarily the father. Is that correct? Yes or No.
2. We are also told by Luke that the reason baby Jesus will be called "the son of God" is because he was begotten by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). Does Gabriel's statement have any relevance to you at all? In other words, how does it follow, or make any sense, that Jesus will be called the son of the First Person of the Trinity because he was begotten by the Third Person of the Trinity?
3. Was baby Jesus begotten of God the Father? Yes or No.
15. The God of the Lord
For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
[TD]: As you are aware, it is common Trinitarian practice to insist that the word "Lord" is used of Jesus to imply deity. May I conclude that the "one Lord" mentioned at 1 Corinthians 8:6 means there is only one Lord in existence and that the Father is also this Lord? If so, may I conclude that the following verses of Scripture indicate that this one Lord, who the Father also is, has a God?
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 15:6).
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor 1:3).
The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor 11:31).
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 1:3).
the God of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 1:17).
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Col 1:3).
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:3).
Or shall we conclude that the Lord in the above verses is a different Lord than the one Lord mentioned at 1 Corinthians 8:6 Or shall we conclude the Father is a different Lord than this Lord who has a God?
"It is in this text that Paul adapts the Septuagint's rendering of the Shema (Deut 6:4) to include the personhood and deity of God the Father and Jesus respectively. The Septuagint states, "ἄκουε Ισραηλ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν κύριος εἷς ἐστιν (Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord)." Trinitarian apologist Ray Goldsmith comments,
"Paul has redefined the 'God' of the Shema as 'One God, the Father,' and the 'Lord' of the Shema as 'One Lord, Jesus Christ.' As the context is that of religious devotion (whether eating food sacrificed to idols was acceptable or not) and the distinction between pagan deities on the one hand, and God the Father and Jesus Christ on the other, Paul's appeal to the Shema as a proclamation of how the God of Israel was unique is understandable. What was unprecedented was his inclusion of Jesus in the formula - again it must be stressed in the context of devotion - which could only mean that the Lord God (YHWH) was now to be perceived as including both the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ .""
[TD]: I have three questions for you:
1. I asked you if the Lord of 1 Corinthians 8:6 is the same Lord in the above mentioned verses. You appear to have answered "Yes." Please confirm.
2. I also asked if the Father is the same Lord as mentioned in the above verses (Rom 15:6; 2 Cor 1:3, etc.). You appear to have answered "Yes." Please confirm.
3. Are you suggesting that the Septuagint rendering, "God is one Lord," is correct and the Shema does in fact mean that there is only one Lord? Yes or No.
16. The Identity of the One Lord
[TD]: As you are aware, Trinitarians respond to 1 Corinthians 8:6 by insisting anyone who suggests this verse indicates Jesus is not the one God must also consistently indicate that the Father is not the one Lord who Paul identifies. And as you know, Trinitarians are suggesting here that the Father is also the "one Lord" just as Jesus is also the "one God" whom Paul identifies. Since you demand consistency, if I could demonstrate to you that the Father is NOT the "one Lord" being identified in this verse, would you allow me then to consistently conclude Jesus is not the one God?
"My response to the Unitarian utilization of 1 Corinthians 8:6 is not what the questioner has suggested. Rather, it is what I have noted in my response to the previous question. The authors of the New Testament went through great effort to affirm the deity of the Son while simultaneously identifying that He is personally distinct from the Father. This was done primarily by assiging the Septuagint's rendering of YHWH, κύριος (kurios, Lord), to the Son, and ὁ θεός (ha Theos, God) to the Father. Therefore, the suggested argument is unnecessary as an attempt to defend the true deity of the Son and it ignores the efforts of the biblical authors. Thus, I agree that the Lord of said verse is not the Father, and the God of said verse is not the Son."
[TD]: Again I need to refer you to Question No. 1. What I mentioned in my question is a well known and very common Trinitarian response. But you depart from this. Again, are we talking about the Burgos Trinity or the Trinity?
You said that you agree that the Lord of said verse is NOT the Father and the God of said verse is NOT the Son. So I need to ask you two follow up questions. If the Lord of 1 Corinthians 8:6 is not the Father, may we conclude the one Lord of 1 Corinthians 8:6 is another Lord? Yes or No. If No, may I conclude that the God of our Lord is the God of this same Lord?
[TD]: As you are aware, it has been common for Trinitarians to suggest that the Hebrew word Elohim is plural because this is how you would refer to a multi-personal being in Hebrew. Since (1) this word is also used to refer to the Father exclusively and to refer to the Son exclusively, in Trinitarian interpretations of Scripture, may we conclude the person of the Father and the person of the Son are each multi-personal beings?
It is not my position that the utilization of Elohim is indicative of a "multi-personal being."
[TD]: Again I must refer you to Question No. 1. Are we discussing THE Trinity or Burgos' Trinity?
18. They shall look upon ME WHOM they have pierced
[TD]: As you are aware, it has been common for Trinitarians to quote Zechariah 12:10 to attempt to demonstrate Jesus is YAHWEH. Can you explain why Trinitarians usually make sure they cherry-pick the KJV of this verse for the occasion? Also, do you think it makes any rational sense for the people to look upon ME but mourn for HIM? Why do you adopt a translation that says one identity is pierced but the people mourn for someone else? And why do you completely ignore John's testimony for this verse where he quotes it not as "they shall look upon ME" but "they shall look upon "HIM", especially given the fact that we know some manuscripts do read HIM and not ME?
There is really no question as to which reading is correct when it comes to Zechariah 12:10. Dr. Robert Morey puts it this way:
"To the dismay of the Jews, Muslims, Unitarians, rationalists, and Arians, this passage reveals that the Speaker who is pierced is Yahweh. But a 'pierced God' is too close to the Christian doctrine of the death of Christ. Thus, they go to extreme lengths in order to avoid the obvious meaning of the text. But the Hebrew text is as clear as the English...there are no textual difficulties with the word אֵלַי (to me). There are no variant readings in the Hebrew Text or the Septuagint, Talmud, Targum, or even in the Latin Vulgate. Thus, the attempt of some modern Jews to change אֵלַי to 'him' is without justification ."
The NET commentary adds,
""Because of the difficulty of the concept of the mortal piercing of God, the subject of this clause, and the shift of pronoun from "me" to "him" in the next, many mss read אַלֵי אֵת אֲשֶׁר ('ale 'et 'asher, "to the one whom," a reading followed by NAB, NRSV) rather than the MT's אֵלַי אֵת אֲשֶׁר ('ela 'et 'asher, "to me whom"). The reasons for such alternatives, however, are clear - they are motivated by scribes who found such statements theologically objectionable - and they should be rejected in favor of the more difficult reading (lectio difficilior) of the MT ."
[TD]: Your response is certainly perplexing. You quote Moray who insists there are no variant readings in the Hebrew text and then you quote the NET commentary (Wallace?) who admits there are variant Hebrew readings. Which one are you picking?
You also said:
The reason I affirm the correct reading is because it is the accurate reading. I am not inclined to enter into textual criticism with a bent to make a preconcieved doctrine the test of validity for a particlar variant. The textual evidence is conclusive, and that is undoubtebly why most translations take the reading .
[TD]: I seem to hear you stamping your feet. Self reaffirmations do not make your preference the correct reading. The fact that significant variant readings exist renders Trinitarian claims here useless and meaningless unless you can prove beyond any doubt which one is correct. That also goes for John 1:18, Acts 20:28, 1 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:1, and 1 John 5:7. Otherwise, you are just cherry picking and attempting to justify your choice. The fact that you, or anyone else, can dream up with a scenario concerning what an imagined scribe, or scribes, might have done with this verse does not amount to proof of the authenticity of any text but amounts to a display of your imagination concerning what was going on in the mind of an imagined scribe. That also goes for Daniel Wallace. Additionally, there have been Trinitarian scholars who have stated that the nature of the MT indicates that it means "they shall look to me concerning whom." You also have that problem to address. Even further, John 19:34 literally means in English words, "look to the one whom." I refer you back to your own quotation of the NET Bible's commentary on Zechariah 12:10 concerning variant readings, many mss read אַלֵי אֵת אֲשֶׁר ('ale 'et 'asher, "to the one whom," a reading followed by NAB, NRSV)." So which variant was John reading?
Since you have indicated that you do not wish to entertain anything but the choice you have made, I leave you with this question concerning this verse. Do you think it is likely to suppose this verse should have YAHWEH saying, "they will look to ME," and also have YAHWEH saying in the same breath, "and they will mourn for HIM"? In other words, do you honestly think, given all the evidence before us, that it is a conherent statement for YAHWEH to say people will look to ME but mourn for HIM? Yes or No.
19. I Will Not Give My Glory to Another
[TD]: As you are aware, it has been common for Trinitarians to quote Isaiah 42:8, "I will not give my glory to another," to try and demonstrate that Jesus is YAHWEH. Can you explain how this makes any sense whatsoever when Matthew indicates to us that it is the Father speaking in this passage? Aren't you even aware that you are unwittingly excluding everyone but the Father from identity as the one God?
It is the Trinitarian position that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not separate gods, and in light of the aforementioned characterizations of how the Father, Son, and Spirit respectively exhaust the divine being, the New Testament revelation of a particular person being identified as YHWH does in no way pose a contradiction to the doctrine of the Trinity.
If Jesus is not YHWH then there wouldn't be a place within the text of Scripture wherein the Son shares in the glory of the Father. This would undoubtebly demonstrate the validity of the questioner's position. However we see the exact opposite in the biblical text. For example, in John 17:5 we read,
καὶ νῦν δόξασόν με σύ, πάτερ, παρὰ σεαυτῷ τῇ δόξῃ ἧ εἶχον πρὸ τοῦ τὸν κόσμον εἶναι παρὰ σοί.
and now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
It is within this text that the Son petitioned not just for the glory that He possessed before the world existed, but the glory that He shared with the Father before the world was ("the glory that I had with you"). This is indicated by the verb εἶχον (eichon), which is applied to both the Father and the Son . Jesus was not petitioning for a glory that was separate from the Father, but rather glory with the Father. In addition, the construction παρὰ σοί (para soi) indicates that this glory was had when the Son was in the Father's presence , thus necessitating the Son's glorious and personal preexistence with the Father. Therefore, in light of texts like Isaiah 42:8 and 48:11, the weight of John 17:5 forces the reader to affirm both the deity, eternality, and identification of the Son as YHWH; a notion that only Trinitarianism can properly satisfy.
[TD]: Have you not noticed that the glory in question, the very same glory, was also given (past tense) to Jesus' disciples who did not yet exist?
And the glory which You gave me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one
Since Jesus' disciples share the very same glory, shall we conclude they are God too? Shall we conclude they are Isaiah 42:8's YAHWEH as well? Who is the speaker at Isaiah 42:1? Is the speaker at Isaiah 42:1-8 the person of the Father? Yes or No. If Yes, did the Father give his glory to another person? Yes or No. If No, please explain precisely who put His Spirit upon Jesus as mentioned at Matthew 12:18.
20. John 20:28
[TD]: As you are aware, Trinitarians love to insist that Granville Sharp's First Rule indicates how we can tell when only one person is in view. Would you agree that this rule is meaningless unless it is also demonstrated how a Greek speaker would speak differently if he intended to refer to two persons (GS Sixth Rule)? If Thomas had intended to refer to two persons, what would the sentence structure look like in Greek? Would it just happen to look exactly like what Thomas said? Also, since the context of this verse is about seeing and believing, why would I want to deny that Thomas was affirming Jesus' teaching at John 12:44-45 and John 14:9 where he teaches about seeing two persons in him, the Father and the Son, and not one?
[TD]: I have three questions in reply to your response.
1. If TSKS is the Koine Greek grammar convention for referring to one person, does the Granville Sharp First Rule of Greek Grammar have any relevant meaning if a Greek speaker did not use a different convention when referring to two persons? Yes or No.
2. Jesus taught at John 12:44-45 and John 14:9 that to see him was not to just see one person but to see two persons. Do you agree? Yes or No.
3. If Thomas had indeed wanted to affirm that to see Jesus was to see the Father and he had indeed wanted to refer to two persons at John 20:28, and not one person, what exactly would the Greek grammar look like? What exactly would Thomas have said?
21. Romans 9:5
As you are aware, Jesus is not God according to his human nature but according to his divine nature and that is the reason Jesus according to the human nature can have a God. He is not God according to his human nature. As you are also aware, it is commonplace for Trinitarians to suggest Paul is referring to Jesus as "God" at Romans 9:5. Since Paul is talking about "Christ according to the flesh" and Christ "according to the flesh" is most certainly NOT God in Trinitarian doctrine, but someone who has a God, were you just hoping nobody would notice?
Again the questioner predicates his question upon the assumption that Jesus, having two natures, can be divided such that one part of Him can be called God while the other cannot. This is not a sentiment consistent with Trinitarianism which confesses Christ as one and only one person...
[TD]: I have two questions for you:
1. Do you affirm that the Second Person of the Trinity came out of the nation of Israel? Yes or No.
2. Do you affirm that the Second Person of the Trinity was dead on the cross? Yes or No.
22. Titus 2:13
[TD]: As you are aware, it is common for Trinitarians to insist that Paul is identifying Jesus as "our great God and Savior" along with an appeal to the Granville Sharp Rule (1st Rule). Since Paul actually said, "the appearing of the glory of the great God and Savior of us Jesus Christ," why do you suppose Trinitarian apologists almost always conveniently ignore this fact? And why do they refuse to interpret Paul as saying Jesus Christ is the glory OF our great God and Savior, that is, the glory OF the Father, where the words "our great God and Savior," refer only to one person: the Father? And since the Scriptures do say the risen Jesus is bodily glorified and is indeed the glory of the Father and that he will return in the glory of the Father, and Jesus' return is what this verse is also about, why do you reject this interpretation, which is the natural reading of the text and it does not break the beloved Granville Sharp rule either? On what grounds are you denying that the words "our great God and Savior" refer to one person and that one person is the Father?
[TD]: You responded by apparently advocating an adjectival understanding of the Greek word doxa. I have three questions pertaining to your response:
1. Are you implying that doxa should be translated as "glorious" at Titus 2:13? Yes or No.
2. Are you imply that translating doxa as "glory" at Rom 8:21, 9:23, 1Cor 2:8, 2Cor 4:4, Eph 1:17, 18, 3:16, Phil 3:21, Col 1:11, 27, 1Tim 1:11 is incorrect? Yes or No.
3. What is the difference between the Greek word doxa and endoxos?
23. Hebrews 1:8
[TD]: As you are aware, Trinitarians insist that Hebrews 1:8 must be translated as "Your throne O God"? That being the case, shall we conclude that God has a God?
Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness, therefore God, your God, has anointed you.
Don't you find it the least bit bizarre to adopt a translation which results in God having a God? Also, is this God who has a God also the same God who became superior to the angels in verse 4?
Your answer to my question seemed to be "No, I do not find it bizarre to adopt a translation which results in God the Son having a God." Is that correct? Yes or No.
24. Matthew 24:36
As you unaware, Jesus declared that the Son does not know the day and hour. But he went even further and also declared that ONLY the Father knows the day and hour. If the Son does not know, and only the Father knows, does it make any rational sense whatsoever to claim that the Son also knows the day and hour? Could you also explain how it is that God the Son grew in wisdom and knowledge if he was omniscient? Are you actually trying to claim this person did know and did not know things at the same time?
"As previously mentioned, Jesus endured a self inflicted humiliation in taking upon Himself the limitations of humanity (Phil 2:6-8)."
[TD]: I will take your response to mean that you believe Jesus gave up at least some of his knowledge when he became a human being. I have three questions:
1. Are you saying Jesus was NOT omniscient while he was on earth? Yes or No.
2. Are you saying that omniscience is not a necessary attribute of divinity? Yes or No.
3. Since Jesus said that only his Father knows the day and hour, could you explain why the third person of the Trinity also does not know the day and hour?
25. Conflating Identity and Nature
[TD]: As you are aware, it is a Trinitarian premise that you have the divine nature of God then you are God. If having God's divine nature means someone is God by identity, may I also conclude that having Adam's human nature makes me the first man Adam by identity?
"I struggle to believe that anyone would doubt the divinity of a person if they were essentially divine. That is, if someone is by nature deity, then they are by definition God. The questioner presupposes the validity of paralleling the nature of finite humanity with the nature of the infinite God; a catogorical fallacy at best. That aside, the Scripture does not teach that we have the same essential being as Adam, as we are separate human beings. Unlike humanity, there is only one divine being, hence monotheism. Thus, the attempted parallel is an apples to elephants comparision."
[TD]: No one suggested that a divine person would not be divine. The question pertains to confusing identity and nature, who and what. I have three questions:
1. Do you have a human nature? Yes or No.
2. Is your human nature the same human nature as Adam's human nature? Yes or No.
3. Is what we are equivalent to who we are? Yes or No.
26. What is Begotten of God is God
[TD]: As you are aware, it has been a common Trinitarian expression to say, "what is begotten of God is God." Since, all Christians are born of God, begotten again from above by the Spirit, may we conclude these begotten sons are "God" too?
"The question assumes that the way in which the Son of God was "begotten" is identical to the way in which the human race has been begotten. Because we understand the person of the Son to be one single person who possesses two natures, the attribution of a quality that belongs to one of the natures is made to one and the same person. To say that "the one who was begotten in Mary's womb is God" is an accurate statement because both true humanity and true divinity belong to Christ. While a repentant sinner's new birth by a sovereign act of the Spirit of God has some similiarity to the birth of Christ (in that they are both births in a sense), an attempted parallel is futile and without biblical warrant."
[TD]: Your assumption about my assumptions was incorrect. You insist that there is no parallel between Jesus the begotten Son and all the begotten sons of God. Please clarify by answering these questions:
1. Was baby Jesus begotten of God the Father? Yes or No.
2. Was baby Jesus begotten of the Holy Spirit? Yes or No.
3. Are true believers also begotten of God the Father? Yes or No.
4. If believers are begotten of God, then may we conclude they are God? Yes or No.
[TD]: As you are aware, it is common practice among Trinitarians in recent times to insist that monogenes does not mean "only-begotten" but means "one of a kind." Upon what Scriptural basis then do Trinitarians claim that the Son was "begotten" before all ages? Psalm 2:7 just doesn't pan out when Acts 13:30-33 and Hebrews 1:5 are considered. So where are you getting the idea that the Son was begotten before all ages?
It is a lexical fact that μονογενὴς (monogenes) does not mean "only begotten," but rather "one and only ." The etymology of monogenes makes this evident. The word is derived from μόνος (monos), meaning "only" or "unique," followed by γένος (genos), meaning "kind" or "type. It was previously thought that the word was derived from γεννάω (gennao, to beget). However, it is now understood that because the term possess only one ν (nu), γένος is its most likely derivative.
Because some translation have kept the erronious rendering of "only begotten" their remains some confusion as to the meaning of μονογενὴς. However, if the term is understood rightly, then we can grasp the notion of the Son being the Father's "one and only" before all ages.
[TD]: I am not sure why you went on and on about the definition of monogenes which I had already stated in my question. You did not answer my question so let me ask it again:
Where are you getting the idea that the Son was begotten before all ages? To be clear, I am not asking you if the son existed before all ages but where you got the idea that the son was begotten before all ages?
28. Definitions of the word "God"
[TD]: As you are aware, Trinitarians have more than one definition of the word "God." I am sure that you would agree that in most cases in Scripture it means the Father, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. But in other cases, you define the same word differently. For example, at John 1:1 it does not mean "the Father" or "the Son" or "the Holy Spirit" or "the Triune Being" in your theology. Rather, it means "the divine nature." Would you agree that the following list of 5 Definitions accurately reflects all the different definitions of the word "God" used in your doctrine of the Trinity?
- The word "God" is defined as One Person: the Father (Numerous examples)
- The word "God" is defined as a second Person, the Son (Ex. Hebrews 1:8).
- The word "God" is defined as a third Person, a the Holy Spirit (Ex. Acts 5:3-4).
- The word "God" is defined as that singular identity known as The Triune Being (Ex. Deut 4:35: 32:39)
- The word "God" is defined as a "divine nature", not a who but a WHAT. (John 1:1).
[TD]: I will take your response to my question as a YES and that you do agree that Trinitarianism has all these definitions of the word "God" except the fourth definition. Would you provide me with a definition of "God" for Mark 12:29? Is Jesus referring to (1) the Father, (2) the Son, (3) the Spirit, (4) the Triune God, (5) the divine nature? If none of these, would you care to clearly and unambiguously identify exactly what identity the scribe and Jesus are talking about here?
29. Defining God as One Person
[TD]: As you are aware, Trinitarians commonly insist that the one God is not one person but is three persons. However, at 1 Corinthians 8:6, Paul defines the one God as one person, the Father. Since your doctrines insists that the Father is one person, why do you continue to tell others it is wrong to define God as one person when Paul did define the one God as one person?
"As always, the context of a verse must be taken into account to obtain the correct meaning. As I have already noted in my answer to question 15, there are other considerations within the context of 1Corinthians 8:6 that need to be taken into account; I refer the reader back to that discussion. Otherwise, using the methodology of the questioner, one could say that since Thomas (John 20:28), John (John 1:18), Paul (Titus 2:13), Peter (2Pet 1:1), and even the Father (Heb 1:8) identify Jesus as God the text of Scripture contains contradictions. In the context of 1 Corinthians 8:6, I concur with the Apostle that "God" is one person," in the sense he has provided. That is, that God the Father is one person. "
[TD]: Based on your response, would you then agree that it is therefore appropriate to identify the one God as one person? Yes or No.
30. John 17:3
[TD]: At John 17:3, would you agree that Jesus intends the word "YOU" to be an equal identity to "the only true God"? If so, please unambiguously define the word "God" as you are interpreting it in this verse. If you deny that "YOU" and "the only true God" are to be understood as equivalent identities in this verse, on what grounds are you insisting "YOU" is not equivalent to "the only true God"?
"The person identified in the text as "the only true God" is the Father. Trinitarians have affirmed this for millenia. We can rightly say that the Father is the only true God, but what we cannot say is that the Father is God to the exculsion of the Son. This is because to affirm the deity of the Father is to affirm the deity of the Son. That is, the Son is in the Father, and the Father is in the Son (John 14:10); they are not separate gods. Those who wish to take a text like John 17:3 and use it to communicate that the Father is God to the exclusion of all else ought to be consistent in their interpretation. Take for example Jude 4 wherein the Son is called "our only Master and Lord." Does the Unitarian affirm that sentiment in the same way that they interpret John 17:3? Examine the way in which YHWH is identified as the only Savior in the Old Testament (Is 43:11, 45:21, Hos 13:4), and then examine the title given unto the Son in John 4:42 which states, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world." As Dr. James White has stated, "inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument."
[TD]: Once again, you seem to have avoided the question which I asked. Therefore I must ask you to clarify your answer:
1. Would you agree that Jesus intends the word "YOU" to be an equal identity to "the only true God" at John 17:3? Yes or No.
2. Please unambiguously define the word "God" as you are interpreting it in this verse.
31. Definitions of the one God
[TD]: If someone defined the "one God" differently from one moment to the next, would you agree that different definitions of God, where each definition intends to describe something different, results in different Gods? For example, is a one person God the same God as a three person God? And is your definition of the one God fixed or not? Is your definition of the one God fixed or do you change your definition of the one God to suit the occasion? If you do change your definition of the one God, do you then have different Gods for different occasions? If your definition of the one God is fixed, please provide your one fixed definition of the one God and answer the following three simple questions:
1. Jesus is that one God which I just defined. True or False.
2. That One God which I just defined is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. True or False.
3. Jesus is the Son of that One God which I just defined. True or False.
My understanding of the word "God" is not based in a uniequivocal definition, and neither is the Scriptural usage. Paul called the Accuser, "the god of this world" (2Cor 4:4). Are we then to think the Accuser is the Father? Even the most ardent Unitarian must have a varied semantic domain for "God." It is the context of one's statement that defines the meaning of a term, and not a preconcieved uniequivocal definition. Thus, the questions offered above exemplify what is absolutely illogical and unbiblical, and therefore they are not worth the dignity of an answer.
[TD]: I did not ask you to define the word "God." I did not ask you to define a word at all. I asked you to provide your definition of the one God. So I must again ask you to answer the question and to either:
(1) provide your fixed definition of the one God which always describes the same entity, or
(2) make it clear that you have different definitions of the one God and they are not always describing the same entity. Here I am not referring to semantics and using different words to define the same thing. I am talking about defining a different entity.
And if your definition of the one God is fixed and always defines the same entity, and you have provided said definition, please answer these questions:
1. Jesus is that one God which I just defined. True or False.
2. That One God which I just defined is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. True or False.
3. Jesus is the Son of that One God which I just defined. True or False.
I also have two additional questions in this particular reply which I would like to ask you for the purposes of clarifying your beliefs.
32. Is the Triune God a "HE" or not?
Do you concur with other Trinitarians that the Triune God is an "I" and a "HE"? Yes or No.
33. What is What?
Are any of the following three things equivalent to any one of the other two things?
1. The second PERSON of the Trinity.
2. The DIVINE NATURE of the second person of the Trinity.
3. The HUMAN NATURE of the second person of the Trinity.
Thank you for your time.
Note to Reader: Michael Burgos has indicated that he does not wish to continue this dialogue (December 9, 2011).
ABOUT the Trinity Delusion
First Draft Posted: December 7, 2011
Final Revision: December 8, 2011