In the preceding three rounds of this debate, I have argued that the person of Jesus Christ existed as God prior to the creation of the world and that the Holy Spirit is also a divine person. If my argument up to this point has been successful, I have thoroughly refuted the Biblical Unitarian position and established two key elements of the doctrine of the Trinity. Add to these two points the premises that there is only one God who existed before creation and that the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Father is not the Holy Spirit, and the only theological position in the marketplace of ideas that is left is the doctrine of the Trinity. Since these are all premises that Biblical Unitarianism accepts, I have not defended them here.

A possible objection to my argument so far is that it does not show that the “threefoldness” of God that the doctrine of the Trinity affirms has any clear support in the Bible. I will therefore now address this aspect of the doctrine directly.

I think everyone is aware of the fact that the NT in many places exhibits a “triadic” pattern in which Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are coordinated in some fashion. The NT writers sometimes use these three specific designations, but they also use other terms, such as God, Christ, and Spirit, or God, Lord, and Spirit, or some variation of one of these triads. My online outline study of the Trinity lists well over fifty clear examples of such triads, and that is a conservative list. I won’t discuss or even list all such texts here, but will instead draw attention to several notable examples and comment on their relevance to the doctrine of the Trinity in some depth.

Matthew 28:19

“Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into [eis] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

It is not without good reason that orthodox Christians historically have usually regarded this statement as at least implicitly trinitarian. It specifies the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as all objects of confession in the initiatory rite of the Christian religion. No one claims that this verse presents a formal, systematic theological definition or complete exposition of the doctrine of the Trinity, but it does give us a particularly clear and straightforward example of a triadic statement in which the three persons are equally the object of Christian faith.

Don’t take my word for it. Consider the many anti-Trinitarians over the years who have grasped at the straw that the fourth-century writer Eusebius supposedly testified to an original form of the text in which Jesus said to baptize disciples “in my name” instead of what we find in all of the Greek manuscripts. Many continue to repeat this claim today, though it is hard to find any contemporary scholars who will support it. The Biblical Unitarian website that Dave recommended prior to our debate endorses this theory: “we believe that the earliest manuscripts read ‘in my name,’ and that the phrase was enlarged to reflect the orthodox position as Trinitarian influence spread” (emphasis added). In a comment in the first round, Dave implicitly disagreed with this claim; I cite it to show how popular it still is among anti-Trinitarians.

Note that these Biblical Unitarians acknowledge that “the phrase” does seem to “reflect the orthodox position”; indeed, they claim that it was written to promote a Trinitarian view. Yet in the very next breath they argue hard that even if the text is authentic it “does not prove the Trinity”! They cannot reasonably have it both ways.

The usual strategy of Biblical Unitarians to defuse Matthew 28:19 is the argument from silence. Matthew 28:19, they point out, does not say that the three are “one God.” The site just quoted makes this point, as does Anthony Buzzard (Doctrine of the Trinity, 333). The Biblical Unitarian site also insists that the text does not say explicitly that the Holy Spirit is a person. No text says explicitly that the Holy Spirit is not a person, either, but this doesn’t stop Biblical Unitarians from drawing that conclusion.

If Biblical Unitarianism is true, the Father is God himself, while the Holy Spirit is an aspect of God, specifically his power. Thus, two of the three names in Matthew 28:19 denote either God himself or an aspect of God, according to Biblical Unitarianism. The middle name, however, supposedly refers to a mere human being (though the greatest of them all) whom God exalted to a divine status. This would seem to be a problematic way of reading the text. If we simply paraphrase Matthew 28:19 to express explicitly how the Trinitarian and Biblical Unitarian theologies understand its meaning, the difficulty facing the Biblical Unitarian will become clear:

Trinitarian: “Baptize disciples in the name of God the Father, the name of God the Son, and the name of God the Holy Spirit.”
Biblical Unitarian: “Baptize disciples in the name of God, the name of the exalted virgin-born man Jesus, and the name of the power of God.”

Criticizing the Trinitarian interpretation based on arguments from silence ignores the fact that the Biblical Unitarian interpretation cannot simply repeat the words of the text without explanatory comment. Both views offer an interpretation of the text. The question is which of those interpretations best fits the text.

Jesus says explicitly here to baptize disciples “into the name of…the Holy Spirit,” so that “Holy Spirit” is a name, like “Father” and “Son.” Anti-Trinitarians commonly assert that the Bible never gives the Holy Spirit a name and therefore he is not a person (at best another argument from silence), but Matthew 28:19 says explicitly that “Holy Spirit” is a “name.” This would seem to be very good evidence that the Holy Spirit is a person after all.

Matthew 28:19, then, refers to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three names. The coordination of these names in this context of the initiatory rite of baptism strongly supports the conclusion that all three are names of divine persons. Keep in mind that Biblical Unitarians agree that the Father is a divine person (indeed, God himself), that the Son is a divine person (though “God” only in a secondary sense), and that the Holy Spirit is at the least an aspect of the divine being. Also recall the evidence I presented in the previous round that in biblical usage the term “spirit” (pneuma) commonly designates an incorporeal, invisible person, being, or entity. This means that the presumptive conclusion with regard to Matthew 28:19 must be that the Holy Spirit is also a divine person.

We agree that the Father is God. If the Holy Spirit is a divine person, obviously he must also be God, because (we agree) the Holy Spirit is at the very least an aspect of God’s being, not some creature or other deity. But if in Matthew 28:19 the Father is God and the Holy Spirit is God, then it is difficult to resist the conclusion that the Son is also God. Nor is this conclusion out of keeping with the context, which reveals the Son as one who has universal authority and is capable of being present with all disciples in all nations in all generations until the end of the age (Matt. 28:18-20). Thus, Matthew 28:19 presents powerful evidence in support of the doctrine of the Trinity.

John 14:26

“But the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

Here the Father, in the Son’s name, sends the Holy Spirit. It is remarkable that the Father does this in the Son’s name, since the Father obviously is not a mere agent acting on the Son’s behalf. Can one imagine Moses saying that the Father would send the Holy Spirit (or anyone or anything else) in his (Moses’) name? Can one imagine Elijah, or Michael the archangel, making such a statement? Recall also the evidence presented in the previous round that the Paraclete here is clearly a divine person, not an impersonal power or force. We have, then, three divine persons coordinated in a nutshell of the NT narrative: The Son came here, returned to heaven, and then the Holy Spirit came from the Father in the Son’s name.

Acts 2:33

“Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he [Jesus] has poured forth this which you both see and hear.”

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all in evidence here. Jesus (v. 32) has been exalted to the right hand of God; that is, he now sits on God’s throne at the Father’s right hand, exercising divine sovereign rule over the cosmos. As evidence that Jesus the Son performs the functions consistent with him occupying this position, Peter says that Jesus “has poured forth this which you both see and hear.” Earlier in the same speech, Peter has quoted Joel 2:28, where the LORD states that he will pour forth from his Spirit (Acts 2:18). Yet here Peter says that the Lord Jesus is the one who does this “pouring forth.”

The statement in 2:33 is not the only indication in Acts 2 that Peter identifies Jesus as the LORD of the Book of Joel. After his speech, Peter tells the people to be baptized “upon the name [epi tō onomati] of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (2:38). In context this statement means that they are to call “upon the name of Jesus Christ” for salvation when they are baptized, also echoing the words of Joel 2:32, “everyone who calls upon the name [epikalesētai tō onomati] of the Lord shall be saved” (quoted in Acts 2:21). We know from the rest of the Book of Acts that this is how the apostles and other early disciples applied Joel 2:32 (see Acts 7:59-60; 9:14; 22:16), and Paul makes this explicit (Rom. 10:9-13; see also 1 Cor. 1:2, 8, and my discussion of these texts in the third round).

Dave and other anti-Trinitarians think that Acts 2:34-36 shows that Jesus’ designation “Lord” in these contexts does not identify him as the LORD YHWH: “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Biblical Unitarians interpret Psalm 110:1 to mean that the LORD YHWH exalted a mere man to be the Messianic lord, and so they understand Acts 2:36 to mean that Jesus’ designation as “lord” refers to a status that he acquired for the first time in his exaltation.

Taken out of context and read with modern eyes, “God has made him both Lord and Christ” may very well sound as if it means that before he was “exalted” Jesus did not have those titles. Luke, however, explicitly disagrees. In his Gospel, Luke reports the angel announcing Jesus’ birth with these words: “Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Luke tells us several additional times that Jesus, prior to his death, was already both the “the Christ” (Luke 2:26; 4:41; 9:20; 24:26, 46) and “the Lord” (Luke 3:4; 6:5, 46; 7:13, 19; 10:1, 40-41; 11:39; 12:42; 13:15; 17:5-6; 18:6; 19:8; 22:61). Therefore, Luke clearly does not understand Peter to mean that Jesus receives these titles for the first time at his resurrection and exaltation to the right hand of the Father. Evidently, by “God made him both Lord and Christ” Luke understands Peter to mean that in his resurrection and exaltation, Jesus was vindicated or publicly presented or officially declared to the world as both Lord and Christ (cf. Rom. 1:4).

When we take Acts 2:36 against this background and in the context of the application to Jesus of the reference in Joel 2:28-32 to the LORD pouring forth from his Spirit on those who call on his name for salvation, the best conclusion is that Acts 2 is affirming that Jesus is indeed the LORD God.

Romans 8:9-11

“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

Paul here refers to the Holy Spirit as (a) the Spirit, (b) the Spirit of God, (c) the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead (=the Spirit of the Father), and (d) the Spirit of Christ. The fact that the Spirit can be described in the same context as both “the Spirit of God” and “the Spirit of Christ” proves that “Spirit of God” does not mean the energy or power that belongs to and emanates from God’s being and that Christ supposedly “uses” as God gives it to him. Rather, the Holy Spirit can be called both the Spirit of God (the Father) and the Spirit of Christ (the Son) because he is the Spirit whose role it is in redemption to unite us to the Father and the Son. In Paul’s theology, one can say that the Spirit of the Father dwells in us, that Christ (or the Spirit of Christ) dwells in us, and that the Spirit (of God) dwells in us. All three are true statements. The Father and the Son both dwell in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and this is a real indwelling by the Father and the Son because the three persons are one indivisible divine being—one God.

Romans 8:26-27, 33-34

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God…. Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”

Here Paul speaks of two divine persons who intercede for us: the Spirit, and Christ Jesus. That these are two distinct yet complementary acts or types of intercession is clear from how Paul describes each. The Spirit intercedes for us from within us, “with groaning too deep for words.” The Son, Christ Jesus, intercedes for us from “the right hand of God.”

1 Corinthians 12:4-6

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.
And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.
There are varieties of activities, but the same God who works all things in all.”

The deliberate parallelism of these three lines practically speaks for itself. If a Jew unfamiliar with Christianity read these lines alone, he would certainly understand “the same Spirit,” “the same Lord,” and “the same God” to be three synonymous expressions for the same Creator. We know from the immediate context that the one whom Paul identifies here as “the same Lord” is Jesus (v. 3). Paul clearly attributes personhood to the Spirit, whose work of gifting believers Paul details in verses 7-10, concluding in verse 11, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things [panta tauta energei], distributing to each one individually just as he wills.” Paul here in verse 11 uses the same language for the Spirit’s working that he used in verse 6 for God’s working (“who works all things in all,” ho energōn ta panta en pasin). Thus, Paul can speak interchangeably about what the Spirit, the Lord, and God do in relation to spiritual gifts, while still distinguishing the three from one another. We have here at the very least an implicit Trinitarianism.

2 Corinthians 13:14

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”

Here the three names “the Lord Jesus Christ,” “God,” and “the Holy Spirit” appear in coordinated fashion, each in the genitive following a noun describing a spiritual blessing. The proper exegetical presumption is that all three genitives have the same grammatical function and nuance. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” can really only mean something like the grace that comes from the Lord Jesus Christ” or “the grace that the Lord Jesus Christ bestows” (what grammarians often call a subjective genitive). “The love of God” here as elsewhere in Paul means, not people’s love for God (that would be an objective genitive), but rather the love that God shows toward his people (e.g., Rom. 5:5; 8:39). Thus the first two genitives are both subjective genitives. This leads me to conclude that “the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” also is a subjective genitive, meaning the spiritual blessing of fellowship that comes from the Holy Spirit or that the Holy Spirit bestows. This statement, which functions as a benediction ending the epistle, is in effect a prayer that the Lord Jesus Christ would continue to be gracious to the Corinthians, that God would continue to show his love for them, and that the Holy Spirit would continue to bless them with fellowship. Here again is a statement that arguably expresses an implicit Trinitarianism.

Galatians 4:4-6

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”

The most natural way of understanding this passage is that God’s Son existed before becoming a human being. Four elements converge to express this idea: (1) the statement that “God sent forth his Son”; (2) the description of this Son as “born of a woman”; (3) the contrast between Jesus as God’s (apparently natural) “Son” and believers as those who have received “adoption as sons”; and (4) the parallel statement that “God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son.”

Attempts to circumvent this evidence inevitably fail to consider how these elements function cumulatively. God sent his Son from heaven to redeem his people, and then he sent the Spirit of his Son from heaven to dwell within them (see further Putting Jesus in His Place, 89 and the notes there). The parallel between the sending forth of the Son and the sending forth of the Spirit, in turn, supports the conclusion that the Spirit is a person. Thus, this short passage in Galatians treats the Father, Son, and Spirit as three distinct preexistent persons, each of whom is integrally involved in our “adoption as sons.”

Ephesians 2:18-22

“…for through him [Christ] we both [Jews and Gentiles] have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”

Christ is the central figure in this passage, as he is throughout the epistle (Paul mentions him explicitly in 58 of the 155 verses of Ephesians, as compared to 38 verses for God the Father and 14 for the Spirit), but he is closely flanked by both the Father and the Spirit. In verse 18 Paul states that through Christ both Jews and Gentiles have “access in one Spirit to the Father.” The language distinguishes the three from one another and attributes distinct but essential roles to each. Paul names the three again in close association in verse 22: “a holy temple in the Lord…a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” Paul describes the dwelling place (the temple) as being both “in the Lord” and “in the Spirit.” The phrase “in the Lord” is a favorite of Paul, who consistently uses it in reference to the Lord Jesus (about 51 times; it occurs only once elsewhere in the NT, Rev. 14:13). Yet this phrase in the Greek OT refers uniformly to YHWH (about 24 times).

Ephesians 4:4-6

“One body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”

If we had only this passage we might be forgiven for not seeing a triadic pattern in this passage, since the text has seven occurrences of the word “one.” However, three exegetical considerations prove that this text does exhibit a triadic pattern within the sevenfold statement of Christian unity. (1) This passage repeats, in reverse order, the triad from an earlier Pauline passage, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (Spirit, Lord, God), with the word “one” modifying each name instead of the word “same.” (2) Both passages in context introduce the subject of spiritual gifts (cf. 1 Cor. 12-14 with Eph. 4:1-16, especially 4:7-11). This thematic connection makes the recurrence of the three names Spirit, Lord, and God all the more likely to be significant. (3) The structure of the sevenfold statement actually places the three names at specific junctures in that statement. Thus, the affirmations of “one Spirit” and “one Lord” are interrupted by a whole clause “just as also you were called in one hope of your calling” (instead of simply “one hope”), and “one God and Father of all” comes at the climax with the threefold flourish “who is over all and through all and in all.” This analysis supports the conclusion that “one Spirit,” “one Lord,” and “one God and Father of all” are references to deity, as distinguished from the other four terms in the sevenfold statement.

Ephesians 5:18-21

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to the God and Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”

As I explained in the previous round, NT language about being “filled with the Spirit” does not imply that the Spirit is not a divine person. Paul in this same epistle speaks of both Christ (Eph. 1:23; 4:10) and God (Eph. 3:19) “filling” the church and its members. Thus, the whole epistle in a sense presents a kind of “triadic” or implicitly “trinitarian” view of divine filling, since Father, Christ, and Spirit all fill God’s people.

Paul says three things in this short passage that exalt Jesus above all creatures. The first is that believers are to sing spiritual songs “to the Lord.” For Jews steeped in the faith of the OT, to “sing to the Lord” meant to sing to Yahweh, the LORD (Ex. 15:21; Judg. 5:3; 1 Chron. 16:23; Ps. 7:17; 9:11; 92:1; 95:1; 96:2; 104:33; Is. 42:10). Yet in context, Paul is speaking of singing to the Lord Jesus. We know this because of the typical Pauline triad “Spirit-Lord-God” that we have already seen more than once, and also because Paul in the same breath refers to him as “our Lord Jesus Christ.” Thus, Paul directs Christians to sing hymns to Jesus as if he were Jehovah.

Second, Paul tells the Ephesians to thank God the Father “in the name [en onomati] of our Lord Jesus Christ.” While Paul distinguishes the Father and Christ here, he does not distinguish them as sharply as one might suppose. “The name” of the Lord Jesus has a place unimaginable in Judaism for any man. The Jews would never dream of giving God thanks in the name of Moses or even in Michael’s name. Furthermore, Paul’s language here actually echoes the words of the Psalmist who spoke about thanking God in his name: “In God we will make our boast the whole day, and in your name [en tō onomati sou] give thanks forever” (Ps. 44:8).

Third, Paul instructs the Ephesian believers to behave “in the fear of Christ.” The KJV and NKJV (which generally follows the textual tradition of the KJV) say “in the fear of God” here, but modern translations follow the better textual evidence that supports “in the fear of Christ” (ESV, HCSB, NAB, NASB, NET, NIV, NJB, NRSV, etc.). In the parallel passage in Colossians (the two epistles closely parallel one another), Paul directs servants to obey their masters, “fearing the Lord…. You serve the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:22, 24). Paul, then, teaches Christians to “fear the Lord,” that is, to fear Christ (see also 2 Cor. 5:10-11; Eph. 6:7-8). Of course, to “fear the Lord” in a Jewish context means to fear the LORD Jehovah (Deut. 6:13; 10:20; Prov. 1:7; 2:5; 9:10; etc.; Is. 8:12-13).

The epistle of Paul to the Ephesians presents one of the most concentrated series of triadic passages that in various ways reflect what must be called at the very least an implicit or incipient trinitarianism. Paul not only repeatedly refers to God, the Lord, and the Spirit in statements that coordinate them in complementary roles in cosmic history and the Christian life of the believer, but he articulates a Christocentric faith in which Jesus Christ is identified as the divine Lord and is the object of confession, the singing of hymns, and the holy fear of the LORD.

1 Peter 1:2

“…elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.”

Anti-Trinitarians often raise an objection to the doctrine of the Trinity on the basis that the salutations of the epistles do not mention the Holy Spirit. The objection rests on a fallacious argument from silence, but it also misses this salutation, which does mention the Holy Spirit. As with the benediction in 2 Corinthians 13:14, this salutation features names of the three, each in the genitive case associated with specific divine blessings. The exiled believers in the diaspora, Peter says, are “elect” or chosen in relation to the blessings that come from God the Father, the Spirit, and Jesus Christ. The “foreknowledge of God the Father” refers to the divine blessing of God foreknowing his chosen ones. The “sanctification of the Spirit” refers to the divine blessing of the Spirit sanctifying those chosen ones. The “obedience and sprinkling of the blood” refers to the divine blessing of Jesus Christ bringing us into a new covenant relationship with God in which we are redeemed and freed to live as his obedient children (1 Peter 1:14-19). Here again, then, a NT author describes the Father, the Spirit, and Christ as each acting, performing divine functions of salvation that are coordinated and complementary to each other.

Conclusion

The NT repeatedly speaks of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (sometimes with these specific designations, sometimes with others) in triadic statements that attribute divine functions to each of the three. There is nothing arbitrary about the Trinitarian claim of a threefoldness in Scripture’s revelation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—as if, for example, one might just as easily speak of a quaternary of Father, Son, Michael, and Gabriel, or of God, Jesus, Peter, and Paul, or perhaps a fivefold revelation of the Father, Adam, Christ, Power, and Truth. No, this threefoldness of Father—Son—Holy Spirit or God—Lord—Spirit is found throughout the NT in the Synoptics, John, Acts, the Pauline epistles, the Petrine epistles, and elsewhere that space prevents me from documenting with any detail.

Dave and I agree that the Father is God. We agree that the Holy Spirit is at least an aspect of God (Dave thinks the Holy Spirit is God’s power, I think the Holy Spirit is God). Thus, we agree that two of the three referents in this common NT triad refer to God or an aspect of God. There is some force to the argument, then, that the third referent in this triad is also God. I have argued in rounds two and three of this debate that the Son is in fact God and in round four that the Holy Spirit is a divine person. I have further shown in this round that the triadic passages in the NT often provide additional confirmation of the essential deity of the Son or of the personhood of the Holy Spirit or both. These passages therefore provide substantial support, within the larger context of the biblical teaching already examined, for the doctrine of the Trinity.

In the final round of this debate next week, Dave and I will give our closing statements and invite your questions and comments. In my closing statement, I will draw the threads of the arguments together and offer a comparison of the Biblical Unitarian and Trinitarian theological positions.

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C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    142 replies to "The Great Trinity Debate, Part 5: Bowman on the Trinity"

    • Richard Worden Wilson

      Hi Rob,
      You start off by saying:

      In the preceding three rounds of this debate, I have argued that the person of Jesus Christ existed as God prior to the creation of the world and that the Holy Spirit is also a divine person. If my argument up to this point has been successful, I have … established two key elements of the doctrine of the Trinity.

      Isn’t the doctrine of the Trinity based not merely on the idea that “Christ existed as God prior to the creation of the world,” but rather from all eternity, which was argued in the trinitarian debates by claiming that “there was not a time in which he was not.” It seems to me that it would be necessary to demonstrate clearly that the Bible states that Christ existed as (in essence) God prior to any creation and not just before the creation of the world, eliminating the possibility that he was created at the beginning of creation as God (god?) by God. I’m sure you have referred to the arguments about The Son being of the same essence as the Father earlier, but not mentioning it here as if it weren’t necessary to successfully argue for the doctrine seems like avoiding something.The doctrine of the Trinity as developed following Nicea says some things about The Son that you are not including here. Is there a reason you are avoiding the historical distinctives of the doctrine?

      Also, though I can imagine that you are by now thinking I am being perhaps too fussy about terminology on this also (but isn’t that the point of all these arguments about words?), when you hope to have argued successfully “that the Holy Spirit is also a divine person,” this is similarly short of being what the doctrine as creedally stated says about the Holy Spirit. That is, as I recall, that the Holy Spirit is co-equal and equally worshiped along with the Father and the Son. This is, in my mind, no small matter given that there is no depiction of the Holy Spirit being worshiped in the scriptures (that the Holy Spirit is not prayed…

    • John Brien

      In discussing Matther 28.19 you argue that the Holy Spirit has been given a name… but being ‘baptised in the name of the Holy Spirit” does not mean that the latter is a person!
      We talk about “In the name of the Law” to signify the importance of the Law – but it still not a person!

      If God is a Trinity your analysis of 2 Corinthians 13:14 is puzzling
      – are the words Lord Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit not made ‘redundant’ – if the verse is given a TRinitarian interpretation.?

      You comment on Acts 2,18 and say” yet Peter says that the Lord Jesus Christ is the one who does the pouring forth” – linking this verse to Joel 2:28
      One just has to read a little further to verse 33 to get the truth
      we read-“He received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father-and poured it forth as we shall see later…”
      So, Christ appears yet again as a sort of ‘agent’ of God.

      Friends who experience ‘being in the Spirit” tell me that they feel ‘in tune with the Father” and the only analogy they can give one, is of a ‘radio-wave’ which fills the Creation and blesses those who are ‘in tune’ with it.

      Trinitarians seem to be performing tremendous mental ‘gymnastics’ to TRY to explain this thing which they say is ‘strongly implied”

      Why not accept the TRUTH – which is simple.?
      There is only ONE SUPREME GOD and Christ is his SON the MESSIAH

      Best Wishes

    • Helez

      Are the designations “Father” and “Son” *names*?

      And what about “holy spirit”? Example:

      “In the name of good reason I beg you to stop using such unsound arguments.”
      Does this explicitly say that “good reason” is a name and very good evidence that it is a person?

      “In the name of the government…”
      Does this explicitly say that the “government” is a name and very good evidence that it is a person?

      The expression “in the name of” simply means “in recognition of.”

    • AD

      Mr. Bowman, with all due respect, do YOU even have confidence in your semantic game?

    • DSA

      Thanks MrBowman (and of course MrBurke) for the debate 🙂

    • Andrew

      Richard Wilson’s comment is very thought-provoking. Assuming Christ existed eternally before the first creation, not being made by God, it seems very unnatural that
      A) he should be the ‘son’ of God in any way, shape or form, as they are co-existent and both of the same age (ageless)
      B) he should not be exactly equal with God in power or status- either in his bodily manifestation or his place ‘slightly beneath God’ in the trinitarian hierarchy

    • Ron Houben

      In the name of Logic, Common sense and Reason does any of the above ring true? Rob the second sentence of your introduction is the most shaky premise and the biggest “if” of the debate thus far. As to the reasoning behind the triad of ‘the name” somehow proving your Christology – well…..no comment. What of Matt 10v40-41….does this triad of the name of.. a prophet, a righteous man and a disciple make them the same identity. I think not!

    • Marke

      As Rob’s and Dave’s rebuttals have only got as far as week 3 so far, would it not make sense to postpone week 6 until they have had a chance to catch up. It would be easier to follow.

    • […] Great Trinity Debate over at Parchment & Pen. For Rob Bowman’s fifth installment, click here. For David Burke’s fifth installment, click […]

    • ScottL

      I have also noticed that Scot McKnight has been running some blog articles related to the Trinity, where he is posting thoughts from Ron Highfield’s book, Great Is the Lord: Theology for the Praise of God. You can see all 6 posts here, and there is more to come.

    • John Brien

      I lose all hope for humanity when I read what I see in Ron Highfields latest book.!!!!
      Do words and logic have no meaning?
      Is ‘reason’ a meaningless concept?
      Do human beings HAVE TO go on millenium after millenium ‘digging a deeper hole’ to avoid facing up to the truth- and telling their brethern that they are ‘heretics’ if they can’t understand THEIR confusion.!
      The writer asks ” Does something have to be implcit for it be accepted?
      The answer is probably ‘yes’ if salvation depends on belief in it, and non-belief is judged to be heresy.
      For years I accepted the standard Trinitarian ‘line’ that the Apostles ‘knew’ that Jesus was God ‘by living with Him.’
      His ‘divinity’ in terms of mission, status etc yes!, but his ‘deity’ most certainly not.!
      What brought me to my senses was the thought that-if Jesus was God this would have been the most earth-shattering event in history and the gospels would not have been written as they were.
      I don’t need to go into it- so many verses would have become ‘redundant’ in an instant. and our theology changed forever.
      As it is, my pastor friends tell me that the Doctrine of the Trinity is essential to make full sense of the Doctrine the Atonement etc. The wonderful ‘interlicking doctrines’ they have built over the years would become vulnerable – and horror of horrors, what would they have to preach about ? (THEIR words)
      Young people tell me that they can’t accept Christianity because of doctrines which are incomprehensible and the ‘venom’ with which they are preached.!! What a shame! Why not tell them that there is ONE SUPREME GOD and his Son Jesus Christ the Messiah!
      Best Wishes
      [email protected]

    • ScottL

      John Brien –

      Does Highfield take part in what you say here?

      Do human beings HAVE TO go on millenium after millenium ‘digging a deeper hole’ to avoid facing up to the truth- and telling their brethern that they are ‘heretics’ if they can’t understand THEIR confusion.!

      I think Highfield was willing to recognise the difficulties that Trinitarian belief presents, as most studied Trinitarians would also be willing to do today.

    • […] In round 5, Bowman aims to show that the “threefoldness” of God is implied by the Bible. At issue is how to explain “triadic” mentions of Father, Son, and Spirit (Or God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, etc.). Bowman mentions his list of fifty such passages. Here he focuses on a dozen passages. But first, his recap of where he thinks the debate is so far: In the preceding three rounds of this debate, I have argued that the person of Jesus Christ existed as God prior to the creation of the world and that the Holy Spirit is also a divine person. If my argument up to this point has been successful, I have thoroughly refuted the Biblical Unitarian position and established two key elements of the doctrine of the Trinity. Add to these two points the premises that there is only one God who existed before creation and that the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Father is not the Holy Spirit, and the only theological position in the marketplace of ideas that is left is the doctrine of the Trinity. Since these are all premises that Biblical Unitarianism accepts, I have not defended them here. (emphases added) […]

    • John Brien

      HiScott
      Absolutely not!
      I’m afraid that my intolerance was triggered off by the sight if the “i” word (implied)
      John

    • Jason Dulle

      Now that Dave and Rob have ceased interacting with one another’s presentations in the comments section, this has ceased to be a debate and has become a presentation of essays. If I wanted to read essays on Trinitarianism, and essays on Christadelphianism, I could do so anywhere. The reason I have been following this debate is because I want to see how each side responds to the other’s arguments.

      I understand that this process is very time consuming, but I do hope both of you will begin to do some serious interaction with each other’s essays as you did at the beginning of this debate. Without it, I fear many people will walk away from this debate quite confused about what to believe because both sides present persuasive essays.

    • sam shamoun

      Jason, go back and reread all of the previous sections since Bowman has posted TONS of rebuttals to Burke’s claims. It is evidence in light of Bowman’s replies that Burke is now officially history and should have never accepted to face Bowman since Bowman is just too much for Burke. Bowman has also done a masterful job of exposing Burke’s deliberate mishandling of both the Bible and the scholarly sources which Burke has been (mis)quoting. When you read Bowman’s replies you will see what I mean.

    • Nick Norelli

      Jason: To echo Sam, you should go back to the comments of previous rounds. Bowman recently posted 9 comments in response to Burke starting here on round 3; another 7 comments starting here on round 4; and yet another 4 comments starting here on round 5. These have all been direct responses to Dave’s posts and comments and they’ve been devastating. Regardless of whether or not you agree with Bowman on the Trinity I think you’ll come away thinking that he’s the superior debater and exegete.

    • mbaker

      There has certainly been a lot written here, and other blogs following this debate, as to how we should ‘score it”. As if how WE ‘score it ” means anything to the Lord, who is sovereign. Scores may mean a lot in ball games etc:, but just what do they really mean in relation to what the Bible says about God? Is is one for us or zero for God? Our eternal salvation may not depend upon the outcome of this debate, but what we do have to consider is how much importance we have put upon our own often fallible interpretation. Me, I’d much rather rather trust God’s. He can save me, David Burke’s take on Jesus can’t. Pretty simple for me, for me at least.

    • trinities

      SCORING THE BURKE – BOWMAN DEBATE – ROUND 5 – BOWMAN – PART 3 (DALE)…

      As I explained in the previous installment, in round 5 Bowman is trying to show that not only does the Bible imply that all three Persons are divine, but also that they in some sense are the one God. In other words, he wants to show how the NT brings t…

    • Fortigurn

      Jason, for an informed commentary on the debate by an actual professional Trinitarian scholar who is both published and recognized in the relvant peer reviewed literature, see Dr Dale Tuggy’s site:

      * Opening comments: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1694

      * Burke 1: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1704
      * Bowman 1: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1715
      * Burke 2: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1723
      * Bowman 2: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1733
      * Bowman 3: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1773
      * Burke 3: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1786
      * Bowman & Burke 4: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1823
      * Bowman 4: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1842
      * Burke 4: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1857
      * Burke 3 re-assessed: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1894
      * Bowman 5 (part 1): http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1907
      * Bowman 5 (part 2): http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1929
      * Bowman 5 (part 3): http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1936

      Tuggy currently scores the debate thus:

      Revised score up through round 4:

      Bowman: 0
      Burke: 3
      draw: 1

    • Fortigurn

      Jason, for an informed commentary on the debate by an actual professional scholar of the Trinity who is both published and recognized in the relevant peer reviewed literature, see Dr Dale Tuggy’s site:

      * Opening comments: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1694

      * Burke 1: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1704
      * Bowman 1: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1715
      * Burke 2: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1723
      * Bowman 2: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1733
      * Bowman 3: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1773
      * Burke 3: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1786
      * Bowman & Burke 4: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1823
      * Bowman 4: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1842
      * Burke 4: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1857
      * Burke 3 re-assessed: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1894
      * Bowman 5 (part 1): http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1907
      * Bowman 5 (part 2): http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1929
      * Bowman 5 (part 3): http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1936

      Tuggy currently scores the debate thus:

      Revised score up through round 4:

      Bowman: 0
      Burke: 3
      draw: 1

    • sam shamoun

      Fortigurn it would have been good for you to have noted that, although a “professional,” that doesn’t make him any less biased than the others. In fact, his unitarian bias clearly sticks out throughout his “review.” most of his objections have nothing to do with the exegesis that Bowman offered but with the alleged philosophical problems that Trinitarianism faces with its belief in one God and three Divine Persons. It will become obvious to anyone reading his “review” that Dale bends over backwards for Burke whereas he is dead set against anything Bowman has to say concerning the Biblical evidence for the Trinity. Very “professional” and unbiased indeed.

      There are others who are also commenting on their blogs that actually think that Bowman clearly won by a landslide. However, would it affect your opinion of their views if I had said that they are Trinitarians like Bowman?

    • Fortigurn

      @Sam #22:

      1. I agree that Tuggy being a professional doesn’t make him less biased than others. What demonstrates he is less biased is his willingness to concede ground to several of Bowman’s arguments, and the fact that key conclusions he draws are recognized as valid in standard Trinitarian scholarly literature. You can’t dismiss Tuggy as simply biased when he can cite support for his arguments from Trinitarian academics.

      2. I haven’t see Tuggy bend over backwards for Burke. On the contrary, he has held Burke to the same standard as Bowman, and has pointed out more than once instances in which he believes Burke’s case is merely plausible, rather than conclusive.

      3. My opinion of the views of those who think Bowman ‘clearly won by a landslide’ would be affected by their qualifications, their familiarity with the relevant scholarly literature, their academic status, and the extent to which they agree with the scholarly consensus. Their religious beliefs are irrelevant to me.

    • Nick Norelli

      Fortigurn: Your point #3 is problematic for a few reasons.

      (1) What “qualifications” are you looking for? You obviously think Dale Tuggy is “qualified,” but as I mentioned to you in the other comment thread, he’s a philosopher by training. He’s not a theologian. All of his degrees and areas of teaching competency are in philosophy; not theology.

      (2) What is the “relevant scholarly literature” to which you keep referring? And just how familiar does one have to be with it? What does familiarity entail?

      (3) This appears to border on a genetic fallacy since it appears that you write off non-academics based on their lack of “academic status.” I might be reading you wrong here so please correct me if I am. But what of arguments? Can non-specialists and people without formal training put forth compelling arguments? And if so then should their arguments be evaluated in their own merit?

      (4) Scholarly consensus is a myth, but assuming there were such a thing, how is this not an argumentum ad populum? Something is not true just because it’s popular or believed by a large group of people. Unitarianism depends on this fact since Trinitarianism is by far the more widely held belief!

    • Fortigurn

      @Nick #24:

      1. I’m looking for formal qualifications relevant to an examination of the doctrine of the Trinity, and informal qualifications including recognition in the relevant scholarly literature and familiarity with that literature. This does not require formal theological qualifications. The topic covers a range of issues, including philosophy, history, and theology. Jewish studies are relevant. Early Christian studies are relevant. Historical studies are relevant. Tuggy’s qualifications are relevant, for example, which is precisely why he is recognized in the relevant scholarly literature.

      2. I have explained previously what i mean by ‘relevant scholarly literature’. The term ‘relevant literature’ is a general term meaning ‘the recognized academic literature which is relevant to the topic under discussion’. I assume you’re able to discern exactly which works belong to that body of literature with regard to this subject. Familiarity is demonstrated by peer recognition, through published works and citations of one’s corpus.

      3. There is no genetic fallacy. I am simply saying that academic qualifications are one of the criteria which influence my opinion of the views of others. This is not a genetic fallacy, it’s standard academic practice. Subject matter experts are more reliable sources than laymen, or than people who have no formal training or recognize expertise in the field. When your plumber offers to fix the electrical wiring in your house, it is not a genetic fallacy to inform him that you place a higher value on the opinion of a qualified electrician.

      4. Scholarly consensus is not a myth. Please tell me you do actually understand the difference between scholarly consensus and arguemntum ad populum (otherwise I can walk you through it). I agree that somehting is not true just because it’s popular or believed by a large group of people. Are you aware of exactly what a scholarly consensus is, and how it is formed?

    • Nick Norelli

      Fortigurn: (1) Tuggy’s qualifications qualify him to speak about the Trinity from the perspective of a philosopher, which is how he does speak about the doctrine (I’ve actually read his publications; have you?), but he’s not an historical theologian; a systematic theologian; a patristic scholar; a biblical scholar; or a church historian. Based on his lack of qualification in these areas should I be dismissive if he speaks about them? Or should I evaluate his arguments based on the arguments themselves?

      (2) My problem is your continued vagueness. I’m aware of the relevant scholarly literature in the field because I read broadly (books; journals; unpublished dissertations; academic conference presentations; etc.) but at this point I’m not sure that you’re familiar with what’s relevant. On your understanding of qualifications and peer review I wonder how you would evaluate Dave Burke’s qualifications. In all of my reading I’ve not come across any books on the subject that he’s written nor have I seen him publish anything in any academic journals.

      (3) You seem to be reasoning from the general to the particular. Simply because scholars are generally more reliable than non-scholars doesn’t mean that this applies in all particular cases. This is why it’s important to evaluate arguments qua arguments. Some scholars make horrible arguments (see e.g., either of Kevin Giles’ books on the Trinity). Some non-scholars make great arguments (see e.g., Sam Shamoun’s voluminous writings on the Trinity and Christology on his Answering Islam website).

      To be continued…

    • Nick Norelli

      …comment continued:

      (4) I’ll ignore the condescension once more (you have a penchant for that, huh?). Scholarly consensus is a myth; sorry to have to be the one to break it to you. For example; what is the scholarly consensus amongst philosophical theologians of the analytic tradition concerning the Trinity? It’s a trick question; there isn’t any. There are proponents for Social Trinitarianism (of varying formulations); Relative Trinitarianism (of varying formulations); and Latin Trinitarianism. No one view has won the day and it doesn’t appear that this is going to change any time soon. Sit three scholars down in a room together and you’ll quickly get 6 opinions on any given subject.

    • Fortigurn

      @Nick #26-27:

      1. So we’re agreed that Tuggy is qualified to speak on the Trinity in the way he speaks on the Trinity. Great!

      2. I’m sorry, I didn’t see you ask previously for a list of what I consider the relevant literature. That’s a misunderstanding of the peer review process. I don’t get to determine what constitutes the relevant literature. I’m sure you were taught at university the process of determining the relevant literature on a given subject, so you don’t need me to walk you through it.

      Dave has no formal qualifications on this subject, which is precisely why I do not consider him an authority on this subject. It is also why he appeals to recognized scholarship on this subject.

      3. I agree that because scholars are generally (we should say ‘typically’), more reliable than non-scholars doesn’t mean that this applies in all particular cases. This doesn’t change what I wrote. Your assessment of your buddy’s ‘voluminous writings on the Trinity’ as ‘great arguments’ does not impress me any more than my assessment of Tuggy’s writings on the Trinity would impress you. What I think about Tuggy’s writings is irrelevant. What you think of Shamoun’s writings is irrelevant. Let’s see who is recognized in the testing ground of peer reviewed scholarship.

      4. I don’t know why you keep talking about ‘condescension’. I haven’t said anything condescending. I know that scholarly consensus is not a myth, so you repeating your claim that it is, means nothing to me. The fact that there isn’t a scholarly consensus on every subject discussed in academia does not change the fact that there is such a thing as ‘scholarly consensus’. Previously you intimated that you do not understand the difference between scholarly consensus and argumentum ad populum. Are you now clear on that?

    • Nick Norelli

      Fortigurn: (1) So could I take from our agreement on Tuggy’s competence as a philosopher, which is due to his training as a philosopher, that he’s incompetent to address other matters in which he has no training? I’m still fuzzy on that.

      (2) At this point I think I can safely conclude that you do not know exactly what is “relevant” since you seem either unwilling or incapable of telling me exactly what you have in mind. I’d ask if you’ve actually read anything that’s relevant but I fear my simple question will be met with more evasion.

      (3) Hows about we engage actual arguments rather than worrying about what letters are appended to someone’s name or where they’ve presented them.

      (4) People rarely recognize when they’re being douchebags. That’s just a general statement. Take it for what it’s worth. I’ve provided an example of scholarly consensus being a myth. I can provide more examples if you need them. You’ve simply restated your claim. I’m gonna have to go with me on this one.

    • Fortigurn

      @Nick #29:

      1. You can take it from our agreement that Tuggy is qualified to speak about the Trinity the way he’s speaking about the Trinity. If you change your mind on that, do let me know.

      2. Are you saying you do need me to walk you through the process of determining the relevant literature on a given subject? If necessary, I can do that. I can also tell you how to find out what constitutes the relevant scholarly literature on the subject. Do you want me to do that as well?

      3. I’m perfectly happy engaging actual arguments. I’m equally happy pointing out that Shamoun will be worth reading over McGrath, Dunn, and NT Wright, when he’s published in the relevant peer reviewed scholarly literature, and recognized as such.

      4. You haven’t provided an example of scholarly consensus being a myth. You’ve provided an example of a subject on which there is no scholarly consensus. This does not prove that there is no scholarly consensus on any other subject. For example, there’s a scholarly consensus on climate change. There’s a scholarly consensus on Newtonian physics. There’s a scholarly consensus on post-inflation cosmology. That’s three examples of the existence of scholarly consensus right there. Yet you claim they don’t exist. Do you actually know what a scholarly consensus is? Previously you said you were unable to differentiate between a scholarly consensus and argumentum ad populum. Then you seemed to figure that out. Now it seems you’re not so sure again. I can provide you with a few links to read on the subject if Google is proving tricky.

    • Nick Norelli

      Fortigurn: So in the same manner that you wouldn’t look to a plumber to do electrical work in your home, you wouldn’t look to a philosopher to do theological work, right?

      (2) I stand vindicated. You clearly do not know or are simply unwilling to articulate what is relevant. There’s no need to belabor this point.

      (3) You’re not happy to engage arguments; you’re happy to engage (although you haven’t actually done so) authors with degrees. BTW, have you actually read Dunn, McGrath, or Wright?

      (4) Interesting how in a discussion about the field of Trinitarian theology you find it necessary to take my statement concerning “scholarly consensus” as universal and applying to all fields. You do recognize that there is a distinction between the humanities and hard sciences, right? Now, back to the point, in what facet of Trinitarian theology are you aware of any scholarly consensus? And your recounting of the events leaves something to be desired.

      I suspect that this will be my last response to you because I’ve already had to repeat myself more than I ever should have. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you.

    • Fortigurn

      @Nick #31:

      1. I would look to a philosopher who is qualified in theology, and specializes in the philosophy of religion.

      2. I asked you several times if you’re asking me to give you a list of what constitutes the relevant scholarship, according to the standard method of determining it. You haven’t answered this question yet, and say you ‘stand vindicated’? What has been ‘vindicated’? You never made an argument.

      3. I’m happy to engage arguments. But I won’t treat as equivalent to scholarly commentary, arguments written by someone with a Bachelor of Homeopathy, nor take seriously an unqualified lay commentator who insists that that specific peer reviewed scholarship is in error or dismisses leading academics unless their arguments have withstood professional peer review.

      I have half a dozen books each by Dunn and Wright, another several by McGrath, not to mention many journal articles and papers from all of them (over 15 of Wright’s papers alone), and consult them frequently.

      4. Your statement regarding scholarly consensus was declared in universal terms. Because of this, I pointed out ‘The fact that there isn’t a scholarly consensus on every subject discussed in academia does not change the fact that there is such a thing as ’scholarly consensus’’. That was your chance to say you just meant to say that there’s no scholarly consensus on anything to do with the Trinity (which is also wrong). Instead you repeated your absolute and universal generalization.

      You ask ‘in what facet of Trinitarian theology are you aware of any scholarly consensus?’, which is extraordinary since you have previously given me one yourself.

      If all you mean to say is that the Christian doctrine of God has developed over time then who would argue with that?

      Who would argue with that indeed? Maybe Nick, who says ‘scholarly consensus is a myth’, and who asks in which facet of Trinitarian theology there is…

    • Fortigurn

      …a scholarly consensus?

    • Dave Burke

      Fortigurn,

      In defence of Nick, it must be remembered that he is not an exegete. He’s a book reviewer, with limited exposure to academic material.

    • Fortigurn

      @ Dave #34:

      Noted, thanks. That explains a lot, such as his uncertainty over what constitutes the relevant scholarly literature, and his belief that there is no scholarly consensus on any issue about the Trinity, even though he said there was (I believe he is genuinely confused over this).

    • Dave Burke

      The “Threefoldness” of God
      Rob,

      In your introduction you say:

      A possible objection to my argument so far is that it does not show that the “threefoldness” of God that the doctrine of the Trinity affirms has any clear support in the Bible. I will therefore now address this aspect of the doctrine directly.

      I need to raise two points before we go any further.

      Firstly, you refer to the “‘threefoldness’ of God” without telling us what you mean by it. We could make a few guesses, but why should we do this when it’s your responsibility to define your own terms of reference? You should confirm what you mean by “threefoldness”, explain why it is relevant, demonstrate that it is central to Trinitarianism, and provide the criteria for identifying it in Scripture. Without a clear definition of what you’re intending to prove and some means of verifying the proof, how will we know if you’ve succeeded?

      Your introduction goes on to mention “triads” and “triadic patterns”; is this what you mean by “threefoldness”? You don’t explain. You seem to think that they are very important, but why? You don’t explain. Apparently you believe that they help to substantiate Trinitarianism, but how? You don’t explain.

      This vagueness of language and process has been a consistent feature of your exegesis. In some cases you seem to employ it deliberately, to obscure a point and allow yourself some room for exegetical variation if your initial argument is challenged. In other cases your intention is less clear, and seems to reflect indecision or uncertainty. Occasionally you assert a specific definition without substantiating it from an authoritative source (e.g. Biblical lexica), resulting in some unfortunate errors, as we saw from your treatment of morphē in Philippians 2 and aion in Hebrews 1.

      Secondly, let’s be specific about what I am actually requesting:

      1. Biblical proof that Jesus is God and the Holy Spirit is God
      2. Biblical proof that God consists of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; three persons in one being (“three hypostases in one ousia”, for those who prefer the classical formula)
      3. Biblical proof of the co-eternity, co-equality and consubstantiality of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

      That’s what I’m expecting to see from your Week 5 argument. I have not merely requested evidence of an undefined “threefoldness.” Biblical Unitarians can point to verses which state that the Father is the only true God, so Scripture’s definition of God clearly supports my position. But can you show me verses which state that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit comprise the only true God? If not, why not? Is this another weakness of your as-yet-undefined “implicit Trinitarianism”?

      A literary triad does not equate to an ontological triunity. If you believe it does, the burden of evidence lies upon you to prove it.

    • Dave Burke

      Matthew 28:19 (I)
      Rob,

      This verse is undoubtedly a genuine part of Scripture, and all attempts to dismiss it (including some by Trinitarians; most notably F. C. Conybeare) have failed.

      In cases where interpolation occurs, it is often possible to detect the fraud by reference to alternative texts in a different region or branch of the early Christian community, since interpolations tended to be localised rather than widespread. Yet the threefold clause (“in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”) appears again and again across a broad spectrum of Christian communities, with almost no variation whatsoever. We find it in the Didache (1st Century) and the writings of Ignatius (2nd Century), Tertullian (3rd Century), Hippolytus (2nd-3rd Century), Cyprian (3rd Century) and Gregory Thaumaturgus (3rd Century) to name just a few. This compares favourably with some other passages of Scripture which we know to be valid, but for which less extra-Biblical evidence is extant.

      The regular appearance of this text in so diverse a range of writings and so consistent a form is strong evidence against interpolation. While some argue that the baptismal formula of Acts (“in the name of Jesus Christ”) contradicts that of Matthew, it seems more likely to me that Acts merely provides a “shorthand” version which had become commonplace by that time. If the Matthean formula was a Christological formula, intended to describe ontological relationships within the Trinity, we would find it repeated elsewhere throughout the NT; and yet, we do not.

      Despite this, some non-Trinitarians still feel uncomfortable with Matthew 28:19, particularly if they have come to Biblical Unitarianism from a mainstream church, where the Trinity is routinely presupposed and read into the text without reference to evidence or context. Yet their concern is misplaced since this verse suggests nothing uniquely Trinitarian, whether explicitly or implicitly. Even J. P. Holding (Is Matthew 28:19 an Interpolation?) does not consider it useful for Christological purposes, despite being a staunch Trinitarian himself:

      I would begin by noting that our own study of the Trinity makes absolutely no use of Matthew 28:19. This verse is not particularly useful for Trinitarian defense as it theoretically could support any view — modalism, even tritheism, could be permitted from this verse, for it only lists the members of the Triune Godhead with absolutely no explanation as to their exact relationship.

      Verse 18 would indicate that the Father is in a functionally superior relationship to the Son, but that says nothing about an ontological relationship; though one may justly argue that it is very unlikely (but not impossible) that all three would be named together if there were not an ontological equality, lest God’s glory somehow be compromised.

      So in a real sense, arguments about the authenticity of Matthew 28:19 don’t serve much of a purpose in this context. However, we have been asked to look at these arguments and offer comment, so we will do so.

      Arguments against the authenticity of this clause represent a minority position within Biblical Unitarianism, which has no relevance to our debate. As I mentioned in Week 1, the Matthean formula is central to the Christadelphian baptismal liturgy and I myself was baptised under it.

    • Dave Burke

      Matthew 28:19 (II)
      Rob,

      In the next phase of your argument you refer to “two of the three names in Matthew 28:19.” I presume you mean “referents”, since “God” isn’t a name; “Son” isn’t a name, and “Holy Spirit” isn’t either (despite your unsubstantiated claim to the contrary). You then paraphrase the verse to “express explicitly how the Trinitarian and Biblical Unitarian theologies understand its meaning”, with interesting results:

      Trinitarian: “Baptize disciples in the name of God the Father, the name of God the Son, and the name of God the Holy Spirit.”
      Biblical Unitarian: “Baptize disciples in the name of God, the name of the exalted virgin-born man Jesus, and the name of the power of God.”

      The first thing to notice is your tacit admission that this is yet another passage Trinitarians cannot take at face value. As usual, the text must be adapted to match your Christology because it doesn’t say what you want it to say. Didn’t Matthew know how to write the phrases “God the Son” and “God the Holy Spirit”? I think we can both conclude that he did. So why didn’t he? The most efficient explanation is that he wrote in a way that best reflected his beliefs, which did not include the deity of the Son and Holy Spirit. Biblical Unitarians have no need to speculate on the meaning of his words, or change them to suit ourselves, as you do.

      You say:

      Criticizing the Trinitarian interpretation based on arguments from silence ignores the fact that the Biblical Unitarian interpretation cannot simply repeat the words of the text without explanatory comment. Both views offer an interpretation of the text.

      This falls short of the mark, for two reasons:

      1. I do not employ the alleged arguments from silence you have listed in your analysis, so this objection is irrelevant to me
      2. Biblical Unitarians do offer an explanation of the verse, but not in the form of the gloss you’ve attributed to us; we don’t read Matthew 28:19 in the way that you’ve portrayed, but simply accept it as it is written

      Unlike Trinitarians, Biblical Unitarians have no need to interpret the verse because it is already consistent with our theology and says everything we need it to say.

      Matthew refers to the Father (God), the Son of God (whom we know to be Jesus) and the Holy Spirit (“the power of the Most High”, as Luke calls it). We that “Son of God” means “someone who is God’s son”, whether figuratively or literally (see Luke 1:35, 3:38; 20:36, Romans 8:14; Galatians 3:26). We also know that it was a title of the Messiah (John 1:49, “Nathanael answered him, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel!'”) and that the Jewish leaders correctly understood it this way (Matthew 26:63, “The high priest said to him, ‘I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God'”).

      What interpretation is required here? None at all — unless you’re a Trinitarian! So why not accept what Matthew is saying at face value, as I do? At Christadelphian baptisms the formula is used without explanatory gloss, because there’s no need to look for deeper Christological significance. We don’t read ontology into the verse. We just take it as it’s written, as its original audience would have done.

      You claim that “Holy Spirit” is “a name, like “Father” and “Son.” On what basis? You’ve given us no reason to believe this; you’ve merely asserted it. The Father and Son both have specific names (“Yahweh” and “Jesus”), and the Biblical use of “Father” and “Son” demonstrates that these are titles, not proper names. If “Holy Spirit” was a name, why doesn’t Scripture treat it as one? We regularly read constructions like “the Holy Spirit”, which if your theory is true, would be equivalent to saying “the Matthew”, or “the Jesus.” It doesn’t make any sense. Your entire exegesis leans far too heavily upon the word “name”, to the extent that you are effectively interpreting the English instead of the Greek.

      Scripture’s normative use of the phrase “in the name of…” occurs as a reference to action within the context of delegated authority, regardless of whether or not that authority is literally identified by name. This is a typical Hebrew idiom, carried over from OT to NT. For example:

      • Deuteronomy 18:20, “‘But if any prophet presumes to speak anything in my name that I have not authorized him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die'”
      • I Chronicles 21:19, “So David went up as Gad instructed him to do in the name of the LORD”
      • Esther 3:12, “In the name of King Ahasuerus it was written and sealed with the king’s signet ring”
      • Jeremiah 2:8, “‘Your prophets prophesied in the name of the god Baal'”
      • Matthew 10:41-42, “‘Whoever receives a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, I tell you the truth, he will never lose his reward'”
      • II Thessalonians 3:6, “But we command you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”

      The Matthew 10 reference is particularly useful, since it provides a test case for your claim that “Holy Spirit” is a literal name. Would you say that “prophet” and “disciple” are also literal names? After all, the same construction is used here as in Matthew 28:19. No, I think you would deny that “prophet” and “disciple” are literal names, whilst claiming the exact opposite for the Great Commission. Yet this results in the fallacy of special pleading, which is untenable. You say that the Holy Spirit must be a person because it has a name; but how is this evidence of literal personhood? The Taj Mahal has a name, yet it is not a person.

      Why not just take Matthew at face value? Doesn’t it make better sense to accept that he means nothing more than Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:41-42, Paul’s words in II Thessalonians 3:6, or any of the OT verses we’ve looked at? Interestingly, you make no mention of the difference between the baptismal formulae of Matthew and Acts. Surely the difference in “name” (“Father, Son and Holy Spirit” as opposed to “Jesus Christ”) requires some explanation from the perspective of your interpretation?

    • Dave Burke

      Matthew 28:19 (III)
      Rob,

      You say:

      Also recall the evidence I presented in the previous round that in biblical usage the term “spirit” (pneuma) commonly designates an incorporeal, invisible person, being, or entity. This means that the presumptive conclusion with regard to Matthew 28:19 must be that the Holy Spirit is also a divine person.

      Correction: you showed that in Biblical usage “spirit” can designate “an incorporeal, invisible person, being, or entity” (with which I agreed) but you did not prove that it commonly does so. Pneuma occurs ~378 times in the NT, and more than 220 of those occurrences refer to the Holy Spirit. In a further ~82 places pneuma refers to a frame of mind, a disposition, an inclination, an attitude, etc. or human life (e.g. . There are perhaps ~47 places where it refers to a spirit entity of some sort (including evil spirits and angels).

      We are under no obligation to accept your “presumptive conclusion.” At the very most it may be an option, but it is not one we “must” accept. You have given us no reason to believe that pneuma is being used in the sense of “an incorporeal, invisible person, being, or entity” in Matthew 28:19. Furthermore, as I demonstrated in my rebuttal to your Week 4 argument, this use of pneuma is not what Trinitarianism requires, since you believe the Holy Spirit to be a person within the Godhead, not a separate personal being.

      The NT contains no examples of pneuma being used in the way that Trinitarianism teaches. As in Week 4, you have merely proved that the NT usage of “spirit” as a supernatural being is not suitable for Trinitarian metaphysics. Even if I allowed that pneuma was being used this way in Matthew 28:19, you would only have an additional being alongside God; you would not have an additional person within the Godhead.

    • Dave Burke

      Matthew 28:19 (IV)
      Rob,

      Matthew 28:19 is consistent with the other “authority delegation” verses I have listed. Jesus’ disciples were told to baptise in the name of the Father (the source of authority), the Son (who gave them this authority), and the Holy Spirit, which enabled them to prove their authority by miraculous works (cf. 2Co 12:12, “Indeed, the signs of an apostle were performed among you with great perseverance by signs and wonders and powerful deeds”).

      The apostles were to baptise with the authority of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; they had no inherent authority of their own. After receiving the Holy Spirit they would become a body of believers, sharing the “fellowship of the Holy Spirit” (II Corinthians 13:13). Their possession of the Spirit, demonstrated by the gifts of the Spirit, constituted their own authority to baptise. An individual apostle or future believer would therefore baptise in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Spirit, which sanctified the church and its leaders.

      Thus there is a threefold authority here. The Father is the source, the Son is the delegate, and the Holy Spirit is the confirmation. Without the Father there can be no authority; without the Son there is no divinely appointed agent to pass on the authority; without the Holy Spirit the authority cannot be demonstrated. All three are necessarily included in the baptismal formula. The context is not an ontological one, as even Trinitarian scholars have agreed.

      R. H. Mounce (New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991, p.268):

      Questions regarding the divine essence and the relationships between the members of the Godhead belong to the later theological development of the church. That Jesus should gather together into summary form his own references to “the Father” (11:27; 24:36), to himself as “the Son” (11:27; 16:27), and to “the Spirit” (12:28) in his final charge to the disciples seems quite natural.

      Though we are not dealing with an advanced trinitarian formulation, we certainly have more than the concept of God as going beyond the intellectual to include “the instant experience of love” and “also the assurance of future love” (Schweizer, p. 534).

      Also J. Nolland (The Gospel of Matthew: A commentary on the Greek text, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2005, p.1269):

      The choice of language is well rooted in earlier Matthean language. So it seems natural to think of Matthew as taking up important strands of the story he has been telling. In 1:1 Matthew summarised in a triad of names the genealogy to follow, by means of which he defined Jesus in relation to the history of God’s prior dealings with his people.

      Now at the end Matthew sums up his own narrative and identifies in briefest compass the significance of his chief protagonist by speaking of Jesus as the Son in relation to the Father and as closely linked with the Holy Spirit. Matthew’s story has been about the action of the Father through the Son and by means of the Holy Spirit. And that is what the baptised are joined to.

      Finally B. M. Newman & P. C. Stine (A Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew, New York: United Bible Societies, 1992, p.886), who refer to this verse as a “Trinitarian formula” but nevertheless conclude:

      In the name of means “by the authority of”; most translations retain the literal form, perhaps under the influence of church tradition. In some cases the phrase will have to be used with all three authorities, as in “in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Spirit.”

      For the rest of your argument you simply list passages of Scripture where the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are mentioned. The net result is to demonstrate that we can always find a place in Scripture where the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are mentioned together — provided that we draw a large enough circle. In your exegesis, the personhood of the Spirit is always assumed (never proven from the text), as is the deity of Christ. This is a classic example of eisegesis.

    • Dave Burke

      John 14:26
      Rob,

      I addressed the relationship between Jesus and the Paraclete in Week 4, so I’ll just repeat the explanation I gave there. Note that although I focus on slightly different verses, my exegesis applies equally well to John 14:26.

      • John 14:16-17, “‘Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you.'”
      • John 15:26 “‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send you from the Father — the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father — he will testify about me.'”

      Jesus’ use of personal language can be read as a typological recall of Exodus 23: 20-21, signifying that he would send the Holy Spirit to act in the same capacity as the “angel of the presence.” Note, however, that Jesus’ language only goes so far: it presents nothing stronger than the personification language we have already seen in Proverbs, it does not ascribe any divine names or titles to the Holy Spirit, and it does not ascribe any uniquely divine properties, privileges or attributes to the Holy Spirit.

      Why doesn’t Jesus refer to the Holy Spirit as “God”, or even “Lord”? Why doesn’t he prepare his disciples for the earth-shattering revelation that the power of God they have witnessed and experienced for the past three and a half years, is in fact yet another person of God Himself? Even at Pentecost this concept is still not “revealed.” What could be the reason?

      Max Turner recognises the theological poverty of these verses as Trinitarian proof texts:

      The fact remains that the clearest presentation of the personal being of the Spirit in the New Testament comes in John 14-16, where John presents the Spirit-Paraclete as a figure set in parallel to Jesus, mediating the Father and the Son to the disciples as Jesus had mediated the Father during his ministry (Jn 14.6-11).

      But even in these circumstances there is no suggestion made by John that Christians (after Jesus’ glorification) will consciously receive the Spirit, and experience him, as a divine Person. Jesus as mediator of the Father revealed himself; but the Spirit precisely does not do so (16.13), revealing only Christ and the Father. Appropriately, Smail entitled his chapter on the person of the Spirit, ‘The Person without a Face’.

      (Power from On High: The Spirit in Israel’s Restoration and Witness in Luke-Acts, p.44-5).

      You ask:

      one imagine Elijah, or Michael the archangel, making such a statement?

      Of course not. Jesus is far superior to the prophets and angels (see Hebrews 1).

    • Dave Burke

      Acts 2:33
      Rob,

      You say:

      Biblical Unitarians interpret Psalm 110:1 to mean that the LORD YHWH exalted a mere man to be the Messianic lord, and so they understand Acts 2:36 to mean that Jesus’ designation as “lord” refers to a status that he acquired for the first time in his exaltation.

      Wrong. This is a misrepresentation. In previous weeks I have repeatedly demonstrated that I believe Jesus was Messiah and Lord before his death, resurrection and exaltation. I showed that Jesus claimed these titles throughout his ministry. I have never said that Jesus only became “Lord” for the first time at his resurrection and exaltation. That is not my position.

      Having created this straw man argument you proceed to attack it vigorously, yet to what purpose? You go on to show from Luke that Jesus was indeed Lord and Messiah before his resurrection; but you should know from previous weeks that I agree with all this, so what’s your point?

      Finally you resurrect the Romans 10/Joel 2/Acts 2 connection, which I addressed in my Week 3 rebuttal (click here for the relevant section). Ironically, throughout your entire exegesis of Acts 2:33 you never explain what you believe Peter to mean when he says that God has made Jesus “Lord and Christ.” The closest you get is this:

      Evidently, by “God made him both Lord and Christ” Luke understands Peter to mean that in his resurrection and exaltation, Jesus was vindicated or publicly presented or officially declared to the world as both Lord and Christ (cf. Rom. 1:4).

      Rob, the Greek word for “made” in Acts 2:33 is poieō and does not mean “vindicated and or publicly presented or officially declared.” It means ” make, produce”; “create, bring into existence”; “bring about, cause”; “put in a certain place or condition” (see the Liddell-Scott-James definition and full semantic range here). However we understand this, we must accept it means God was responsible for the fact that Jesus is Lord and Christ.

      To Biblical Unitarians, it is easily comprehended by the fact that God brought him into existence and granted him the authority required for his mission. But what does it mean for a Trinitarian? You’ve claimed “vindicated or publicly presented or officially declared to the world”, yet this is not supported by the Greek. At most you could argue for “appointed” or “constituted” (Albert Barnes is one Trinitarian commentator who took this view) but since you believe that “Lord” here means “Yahweh”, this still leaves you with the problem of Jesus being “made” Yahweh, which Trinitarianism cannot accept.

      It’s just another of those awkward Trinitarian self-contradictions.

    • Dave Burke

      Romans 8:9-11, 26-27, 33-34
      Rob,

      This passage refers to the operation of the Holy Spirit within believers who have received it and seek to be guided by its influence. Verse 11 refers to “the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead.” This helps to establish the context by telling us that the “Spirit” here is something God possesses. In other words, the “Spirit” which intercedes for us is God’s Spirit; not “God the Spirit.” Consider the same construction in other contexts:

      • John 14:17, “the spirit of truth”
      • Acts 16:7, “the spirit of Jesus”
      • Romans 8:15, “the spirit of slavery… the spirit of adoption”
      • Romans 11:8, “a spirit of stupor”
      • I Corinthians 2:12, “the spirit of the world”
      • I Corinthians 4:21, “a spirit of gentleness”
      • II Corinthians 4:13, “the same spirit of faith”
      • Ephesians 4:23, “the spirit of your mind”
      • Hebrews 10:29, “the spirit of grace”
      • I Peter 4:14, “the spirit of glory”
      • I John 4:6, “the spirit of deceit”
      • Revelation 19:10, “the spirit of prophecy”

      Are these “spirits” all “persons”? No, they are aspects; attributes; inclinations; dispositions; reflections of the mind.

      Note that the grammatical gender of pneuma in Romans 9:16 is neutral, so there is no justification for translating it “The Spirit himself bears witness…” A more accurate rendering is “The Spirit itself bears witness…”, which removes the false impression that the Spirit is a person (or even personified).

      The Spirit can “bear witness” without actually being a person, as can the conscience (Romans 2:15, “They show that the work of the law is written in their hearts, as their conscience bears witness”), miraculous signs (Hebrews 2:4, “while God confirmed their witness with signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit”), and the faded glory of hoarded riches (James 5:3, “Your gold and silver have rusted and their rust will be a witness against you.”)

      The NET Bible translates verse 26 as “And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes on behalf of the saints according to God’s will.” The “he” is clearly God, but the second reference to “the Spirit” is a translator’s gloss, as confirmed by a footnote:

      “he,” or “it”; the referent (the Spirit) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

      Thus the NET translators agree that this second reference to the Holy Spirit could be translated “he” or “it”; the personal pronoun is not a foregone conclusion. You have shown us nothing in this entire section of Romans 8 which requires or even suggests that the Holy Spirit is a person, let alone that it is God.

    • Dave Burke

      I Corinthians 12:4-6
      Rob,

      All of a sudden parallelisms are fashionable again (quelle surprise!) But you misapply the rule here, and fail to show any parallelisms in this passage. Scripture contains five different types of parallelism (“synonymous”, “antithetical”, “constructive”, “chiastic”, and “stairlike”) and none of them are found in this passage.

      As I demonstrated in my Week 4 rebuttal, a true synonymous parallelism presents a candidate for epexegesis via the presence of a conjunction, juxtaposing the first referent against the second to imply an equivalence. Thus:

      • Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to walk by, and a light to illumine my path”
      • Matthew 11:30, “For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry”

      This construction does not occur in I Corinthians 12:4-6. All you’ve done is present three verses which mention “Spirit”, “Lord” and “God” are mentioned in close proximity. You have not proved that the Spirit is a person, nor have you proved that the Spirit, Christ and God are ontologically consubstantial.

      It is important to bear in mind the context of this chapter. Paul is emphasising that the operation of the Holy Spirit is the same wherever it is found, since the Holy Spirit comes from God (verse 11, “it is one and the same Spirit, distributing as he decides to each person, who produces all these things”). There is no difference between the Spirit at work in the Corinthian church and the Spirit at work in the Ephesian church. It is the same Spirit from the same God, testifying to the same Lord.

      Paul goes on to use this as a basis for his appeal to unity in a series of extended metaphors relating to the body of Christ. There is no mention of the “triune God.”

    • Dave Burke

      II Corinthians 13:14
      Rob,

      As with I Corinthians 12, there is no suggestion of ontological consubstantiality here. We don’t even have any evidence that the Holy Spirit is a person; this is something you must bring to the text.

    • Dave Burke

      Galatians 4:4-6
      Rob,

      Your interpretation of this passage seems to equate the Son with the Spirit of God’s Son, which results in Modalism. As with I Corinthians 12, there is no parallelism here, no evidence that the Holy Spirit is a person, and no suggestion of ontological consubstantiality. Please refer to this article for an explanation of parallelism and the way it is applied in Scripture. You are still getting it wrong.

    • Dave Burke

      Ephesians 2:18-22
      Rob,

      Quite apart from your arbitrary translation of “Lord” as “Yahweh” (a problematic eisegesis, for reasons I explained in my Week 3 rebuttal), it is difficult to see how you’re trying to achieve the necessary result from this passage. Once again we have the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all mentioned (in separate verses… saying different things…) but what is there to suggest that they are all deity and ontologically consubstantial?

      Your comments on this passage don’t actually prove anything; they merely provide a commentary on your own personal views.

    • Dave Burke

      Ephesians 4:4-6
      Rob,

      Here we have one of the earliest Christian creeds: one body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is our Father. The significance of this creed is found in the repetition of “one”; every element of the creed is individual and distinguished from the others. The body is the church (I Corinthians 10:16; Ephesians 4:12); the Spirit is the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16; Luke 2:27); the Lord is Jesus (Mark 16:19; Acts 1:21); the faith is the Christian message (Acts 6:7; Colossians 1:23); the baptism is immersion by water (Matthew 3:5-6; Acts 8:38); God is the Father (John 17:3; I Corinthians 8:6). That last point seals the deal: God is defined exclusively as the Father.

      Ontological consubstantiality is notable by absence. Your attempts to suggest otherwise amount to nothing more than a false dilemma and a non sequitur (the conclusion does not necessarily follow from the premise).

    • Dave Burke

      Ephesians 5:18-21 & I Peter 2:1
      Rob,

      My comments on Ephesians 4:4-6 apply equally here. All you’re doing is presenting conclusions and asking us to agree with them. You haven’t demonstrated that these conclusions are valid, nor even how the evidence supports them.

    • Dave Burke

      Conclusion
      Rob,

      As we saw in Week 1, the Trinity consists of two essential components: a trinity of persons and a triunity of persons. I know that you agree with this, since you argued for the individual deity of the Son and Holy Spirit in Weeks 2-4, and the triunity in Week 5. In an online article (The Biblical Basis of the Doctrine of the Trinity) you define the Trinity this way:

      The uniqueness of God (cf. III above) should prepare us for the possibility that the one divine Being exists uniquely as a plurality of persons

      “One divine being as a plurality of persons.” That is precisely the definition I have been working with since Week 1. Now the debate is wrapping up, it’s good to see we’re both still on the same page, sharing the same Trinitarian definitions. There can be no accusation that I have either failed to understand the Trinity or misrepresented it.

      While reading your Week 5 argument I was struck by the absence of Biblical typology. If the Trinity is a legitimate doctrine, we would expect to find it reflected in Scriptural symbolism. Even if Trinitarianism is merely “implicit” in Scripture (whatever you want that word to mean), and even if it only emerged as part of a “progressive revelation”, the building blocks should already be established in the OT, as they are for every key aspect of the Christian message (e.g. the atonement, the identity of the Messiah, the Second Advent, the Kingdom of God and the extension of the Abrahamic promises to the Gentiles).

      If there is only one place in the whole of the OT where Trinitarianism should be prefigured, it is the Law of Moses, where the identity of God is clearly spelled out and the Christian atonement is consistently taught through symbolic representation. At the very least we would need to see the deity of Christ represented somehow in the Mosaic rituals (particularly the sacrifices). So why can’t we find it there? In short: what is the place of Trinitarianism in Biblical theology? Current evidence suggests it has no place at all. It is a redundant doctrine in search of relevance.

      You have already admitted that you cannot show any place in Scripture where “God” refers to the Trinity as a whole (ie. as the triunity of persons in one being). This fact alone should give you pause for thought. Yet you cannot infer this idea from the evidence of Scripture, since there is nothing in the Bible which suggests that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are ontologically consubstantial. Even your primary Trinitarian formula (the Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God) does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the three comprise a triunity of persons within a single being. You need to prove the second (God is the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit) independently of it.

      Thus we see that your conception of a triune God is not derived from Scripture — even indirectly — nor from logic or reason. It is necessarily extrapolated from post-Biblical theological tradition. If you were a Catholic, Anglican or Orthodox, this would not be a problem. But as an evangelical you have no such option, for the Westminster Confession of Faith (which you presented as a touchstone of orthodoxy in Week 1) expressly forbids this.

      Throughout your argument you have claimed the NT presents a “triad” of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This implies that an established formula, yet we find nothing of the sort. While the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are mentioned often, they are not listed in any consistent order, formula, name order, or linking statements. So where is this “triad”? Even the Matthean formula appears only once, and never again. As I said earlier, the net result of your argument is to demonstrate that we can always find a place in Scripture where the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are mentioned together — provided we draw a large enough circle! This strikes me as blatantly contrived.

      I found it interesting that some of your “triads” were mixed with other terms and even divided by entire verses, thus weakening the alleged connection for which you are arguing. Many of them use the word “God” instead of Father, which is surely problematic for your case, since you need to show that “God” is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Verses which refer to “God”, “Jesus” and “the Holy Spirit” necessarily imply an ontological distinction between the three, not the essential unity that your theology requires. If you wish to claim that “God” means “Father” in these verses, I can only say that this proves my point exactly; the apostles just didn’t think of God as a triunity. When they thought “God”, they thought “the Father.” That was their default definition of “God.”

      I also noticed that you filtered out the many times that God is mentioned on His own (whether as “the Father” or simply “God”), along with verses referring only to the Father and Son. This carefully selective process reflects the weakness of your position, which lacks a consistent thread of evidence. If I were to collate all your proof texts I could probably make a better case for the “duality” of God, as opposed to the triunity.

      Your attempted use of parallelism to strengthen your case (an interesting flip-flop, given your previous rejection of this principle) was undermined by the fact that you don’t appear to understand it, and consequently misapplied it. Again I refer you to this article for an explanation of parallelism and the way it is applied in Scripture.

      The coming of Jesus and his subsequent exaltation necessarily resulted in a twofold first-century Christian experience of God and Christ which had been absent from the Jewish experience. The bestowal of the Holy Spirit brought a third dimension, but it is a mistake to turn this spiritual experience of the faithful into an ontological trinity. Throughout Scripture the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are consistently distinguished from each other; never bundled together into an ontological relationship of eternal coeternity and consubstantiality.

      We often find them mentioned within the same context (albeit sometimes several verses apart) but this is precisely what we would expect to find, considering the spiritual connection they share. Significantly, we always find the Son described as subordinate to the Father, and the Holy Spirit never mentioned in terms of rank at all. Nor do we ever find the Holy Spirit “speaking” in the same way as the Father and Son, with persistent self-references, and conversations with other persons. Crucially, we never find them described in the language of consubstantiality, coeternity and coequality.

      Biblical Unitarians confess the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as central elements of Christianity. Some BUs believe that the Holy Spirit is still available today, along with its miraculous gifts. We recognise the Father as God of Gods, the source of all things; the Son as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, second only to God; the Holy Spirit as the power and personal presence of God, working in the lives of believers throughout history, providing guidance, comfort and divine authority. We are baptised under the Matthean formula of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We praise God and Christ with songs in which the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all mentioned together. A hymn commonly sung throughout the Christadelphian community has this refrain:

      Glory to the Father be,
      By the Son’s supremacy,
      In the Spirit’s mystery,
      Hallelujah; yea, Amen!

      Biblical Unitarians do not shy away from a trifold Christian experience; we simply believe that it must be understood through Biblical eyes, not through the lens of Chalcedonian formulations and Hellenic philosophical concepts. Jesus himself criticised those who failed to recognise him, insisting that everything about his identity and mission had been taught in the Law and prophets; even Nicodemus was berated for failing to understand the meaning of being “born again”!

      Christ did not excuse anyone on the basis of “progressive revelation”, but repeatedly emphasised the essential role of the OT as the foundation of Christian theology. Later, the apostles preached and articulated their Christology using only the language of Scripture, repeatedly demonstrating that it was drawn directly from the OT.

      The most accurate understanding of the Biblical God is the one that adheres more closely to these divinely inspired examples.

    • Ady Miles

      Whilst I disagree in the concept/theory of a Trinity per se, I believe we must be careful not to effectively separate God, Christ and their Holy Spirit. These three are One in Spirit and Purpose.However, where Christadelphians and most non-Trinitarians/Biblical Unitarians/Unitarians disagree is that God is One Person (LORD) made up of Three LORDS. Also, God’s Spirit is spoken of as Himself quite a few times in Scriptures (the account of Ananias and Sapphira for just one example) and God’s Spirit can be “grieved.” Christadelphian belief has always accepted that God and His Spirit are One, just not that there are both distinct personalities (separate Lords.) I believe the confusion mainly lies in the fact that there are three Lords, God, the Father, Christ, His Son and the Holy Spirit of God. However, only the LORD God, the Father is God Himself. His Spirit comes from Him and it part of Him, not a distinct separate personality, being, entity or Lord

      Hope this helps!

    • cherylu

      Dave,

      I don’t remember these two verses being discussed in this debate. I am wondering how you as a Unitarian understand them?

      Zecariah 12:10 “”I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”

      John 19:37 “And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced”.

      In Zechariah 12, it is the LORD speaking and He speaks of Himself as being the one that is pierced. In John, this is referred to as a prophecy that was fulfilled in Jesus death. How could the LORD refer to Himself as being the one pierced here if Jesus was not also that LORD? This seems to be way more then agency at work here to me.

    • sam shamoun

      My comments on Ephesians 4:4-6 apply equally here. All you’re doing is presenting conclusions and asking us to agree with them. You haven’t demonstrated that these conclusions are valid, nor even how the evidence supports them.

      Dave, you must be talking about another debate with someone else since it is clear to us that Bowman has not only presented solid evidence to back up his case but he has actually schooled you along the way documenting your gross exegetical and logical fallacies. All you are doing at this point is projecting since it is you who have made dozens of assertions hoping that not only we agree with them but that we also fail to see that you haven’t provided a scintilla of evidence to back up your eisegesis.

      Dave, time to face reality. You lost this debate BADLY and you were simply outmatched by Bowman. I pray that the Lord will use this to bring you out of your false sect and into his glorious truth which Bowman presented by the grace of the risen Lord.

    • Rob Bowman

      THE “THREEFOLDNESS” OF GOD

      Dave,

      This is in response to comment #33 above.

      When you’re not busy misrepresenting the doctrines of the Incarnation and the Trinity and arrogantly claiming to know what these doctrines mean better than Trinitarian Christian theologians do, you’re claiming you have no idea what we mean and criticizing me for not defining all my terms. Why bother, when you’re going to dispute my definitions and claim you know better than I what we mean by our theological language?

      I think you know very well that by “threefoldness of God” I mean the aspect of orthodox Christian doctrine that affirms that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three, and the only three, distinct persons who are God. In other words, the point is not only that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but that these three, and these three only, are God. These are not just three of God’s many names or roles; there is no fourth member; these three specifically and they alone are each God. I explain this point in the conclusion of my Part 5 post when I write:

      “There is nothing arbitrary about the Trinitarian claim of a threefoldness in Scripture’s revelation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—as if, for example, one might just as easily speak of a quaternary of Father, Son, Michael, and Gabriel, or of God, Jesus, Peter, and Paul, or perhaps a fivefold revelation of the Father, Adam, Christ, Power, and Truth. No, this threefoldness of Father—Son—Holy Spirit or God—Lord—Spirit is found throughout the NT in the Synoptics, John, Acts, the Pauline epistles, the Petrine epistles, and elsewhere that space prevents me from documenting with any detail.”

      As anyone can see, I explain quite clearly what I mean by “threefoldness.”

      You also criticized me for supposedly not explaining the significance of the triads in the NT that I discussed in the post:

      “Your introduction goes on to mention ‘triads’ and ‘triadic patterns’; is this what you mean by ‘threefoldness’? You don’t explain. You seem to think that they are very important, but why? You don’t explain. Apparently you believe that they help to substantiate Trinitarianism, but how? You don’t explain.”

      However, in my discussion of each of the triads, I explained their significance in term of their individual contribution in substantiating Trinitarian theology. At the end of the post, I summarized the significance of the triadic texts collectively:

      “Dave and I agree that the Father is God. We agree that the Holy Spirit is at least an aspect of God (Dave thinks the Holy Spirit is God’s power, I think the Holy Spirit is God). Thus, we agree that two of the three referents in this common NT triad refer to God or an aspect of God. There is some force to the argument, then, that the third referent in this triad is also God. I have argued in rounds two and three of this debate that the Son is in fact God and in round four that the Holy Spirit is a divine person. I have further shown in this round that the triadic passages in the NT often provide additional confirmation of the essential deity of the Son or of the personhood of the Holy Spirit or both. These passages therefore provide substantial support, within the larger context of the biblical teaching already examined, for the doctrine of the Trinity.”

      Again, I clearly explained the significance of the triads to my case for the Trinity, contrary to your claim that I didn’t explain their relevance.

      Perhaps you should have read the entire post before you started composing your reply.

    • Rob Bowman

      “SOME UNFORTUNATE ERRORS”

      Dave,

      The following paragraph, also from comment #33 above, contained claims that shocked me, even after all of the other strange and off-the-wall claims you have made throughout this debate:

      “This vagueness of language and process has been a consistent feature of your exegesis. In some cases you seem to employ it deliberately, to obscure a point and allow yourself some room for exegetical variation if your initial argument is challenged. In other cases your intention is less clear, and seems to reflect indecision or uncertainty. Occasionally you assert a specific definition without substantiating it from an authoritative source (e.g. Biblical lexica), resulting in some unfortunate errors, as we saw from your treatment of morphē in Philippians 2 and aion in Hebrews 1.”

      Responding to this sort of criticism has really become tiresome. Nevertheless, I feel obliged to make the effort, because some extremely important points need to be made.

      First, your suggestion that I sometimes was deliberately vague “to obscure a point and allow yourself some room for exegetical variation if your initial argument is challenged” is essentially a charge of dishonesty. Dave, this is baloney, and you know it. As for exhibiting “indecision or uncertainty,” well, a scholar sometimes admits some uncertainty, because in real life, even in exegesis, sometimes things are uncertain. The polemicist who is unremittingly dogmatic about everything he says has forfeited any claim to scholarship. When I’m sure about something, I’m not shy about stating the truth as I see it confidently, but when I’m not sure about something, I am careful not to overstate matters.

      You don’t give specific examples of either my allegedly deliberate vagueness or my indecision, but I am guessing you are referring with one or the other of these criticisms to my discussion of Philippians 2:6-7. I presented an interpretation of that passage that did not depend on settling the hotly debated questions about the precise meanings of morphē and especially harpagmon. Far from trying to obscure the issue, I was arguing that fixating on these two words had obscured the relative clarity of the passage as a whole. I was quite clear on that point. I am fairly confident (but not one hundred per cent sure) as to the meaning of morphē but much less so regarding harpagmon, even though the current dominant view of harpagmon is especially agreeable to a Trinitarian reading of the passage. (As a scholar, I don’t seize on a view simply because it happens to be convenient support for my position.) As for my initial argument being challenged, no worries there—as I carefully documented, your multi-part series of comments supposedly critiquing my treatment of Philippians 2 almost entirely ignored what I wrote and made no attempt to engage “my initial argument” at all.

      Second, your criticism that I failed to substantiate my understanding of morphē or aiōn “from an authoritative source (e.g. Biblical lexica)” and that this resulted in “some unfortunate errors” is both vague (something you criticize in others, if you’ll recall) and perhaps one of your boldest distortions of the facts in this debate.

      With regard to morphē, I specifically agreed with the scholars whom you cited on its meaning. This is what I said: “I actually tend to agree with Strimple, Decker, and other recent exegetes who conclude that the meaning of morphē is ‘appearance.’” Ironically, several lexicons favor “nature” as the meaning of morphē, some specifically citing Philippians 2:6-7 as an example (e.g., Friberg, UBS, Louw-Nida). Again, this shows that your dogmatism about the meaning of the word is unjustified, but in any case I agreed with the scholars you cited and with their understanding of the word’s meaning.

      As for aiōn, or more precisely aiōnes, in Hebrews 1:2, you quoted selectively from three reference works (that is, you quoted only part of what they said) in order to support your claim that the word does not mean “world.” One of these, for which you (unwisely, as it turns out) provided a link, was the Liddell-Scott lexicon as revised by Jones (not James, as you incorrectly stated more than once). That lexicon’s entry on aiōn includes the definition “space of time clearly defined and marked out, epoch, age, ho aiōn houtos this present world”! You quoted only three words from the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT), “space of time,” which I could tell immediately was not an accurate representation of what TDNT says. That is one definition of the singular aiōn, but it is not what any of these reference works say about the plural in Hebrews 1:2 and similar texts. Here is what it says about Hebrews 1:2 specifically: “Hence the aiōnes of Hb. 1:2…and 11:3…are to be understood spatially as ‘worlds’ or ‘spheres’” (Greek text omitted as shown by ellipses). BDAG (the 2000 Denker revision of the Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich lexicon) favors the same “spatial” understanding of Hebrews 1:2. As I pointed out in my rebuttal, the only scholarly comment specifically on Hebrews 1:2 that you quoted (Marvin Vincent) also disagreed with you! I also quoted four additional lexical reference works (Friberg, Louw-Nida, UBS, and Thayer) that also all disagreed with you.

      I’m sorry to have to say it, but you are the one who is obscuring the issues. I realize that some of your supporters find your dogmatic pronouncements on everything from lexicography to historical theology to their liking because they, like you, are dogmatically opposed to the Trinity. They don’t mind at all your distortions of the facts, your overstatements, and your overconfident assertions about things you don’t really understand (see 1 Tim. 1:7); after all, they don’t understand them either. I probably can’t help them. However, I am hoping that some of them care enough about truth that they will be genuinely disturbed by your cavalier abuse of biblical scholarship. That is why, although I am personally weary of the debate and feel that I have already done more than enough to support my position, I am still responding.

    • Fortigurn

      Rob, to be clear about your ‘threefoldness’ argument, seem to be saying this:

      1. The Father is God.
      2. The Holy Spirit is God or at least an aspect of God.
      3. Therefore, a verse contains a reference to the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit (in any context), it proves Jesus must also be God, and the Father, son and Holy Spirit all constitute three person of the Trinity.

      To put it another way, your argument seems to be:

      1. A is an X.
      2. B is an X or at least an aspect of X.
      3. Therefore, a reference to A, B, and C in the same verse means not only is C an X, but X is ABC.

      You have a huge leap of logic between your second premise and your conclusion.

    • Fortigurn

      Rob, with regard to Philippians 2:6-7, I believe Dave was observing that your back and forth over key word meanings in the text was counter-intuitive to your dogmatism over its meaning. You ‘tend to agree’ with those who say ‘morphe’ means ‘appearance’, but as Dave pointed out you don’t actually interpret the verse as if ‘morphe’ means ‘appearance’. This equivocation and indecision over lexical meanings important to your argument does not build confidence in your exposition.

      You cite a ‘UBS’ lexicon. What is this? Is it Newman? You refer to ‘Friberg, Louw-Nida, UBS, and Thayer’ in agreement with you, but your selection of lexicons is curious. Thayer has no scholarly standing these days (his lexicon was obsolete less than 10 years after it was printed), Louw/Nida is a translator’s help (a derivative work, not a lexical authority), and Friberg (ANLEX), is good but does not include analysis of extra-Biblical sources, rendering its glosses somewhat circular. None of these are standard lexical authorities. One of them is obsolete (Thayer), and at least one of them is a derivative work which glosses words defined in lexical authorities (Louw/Nida). If Newman’s is what you’re referring to as ‘UBS’, it’s in the same category.

      So why did you leave BDAG, EDNT, LSJ, Spicq, and TDNT out of your list? Is it because they are dogmatic over the word which you say we can’t be dogmatic over?

      I need to review Dave’s argument for aion, but did he actually claim that ‘world’ is not within the lexical range of the word aion? That’s what you’re objecting to, but I would be surprised if he had made such a claim.

    • Fortigurn

      Rob, here’s an application of your argument from the ‘triads’.

      1. Water is a liquid.
      2. Blood is a liquid.
      3. Therefore, in 1 John 5:8, where the Spirit and the water and the blood are referred to in a triadic formula, ‘Spirit’ is also a liquid, and a liquid comprises Spirit, water, and blood.

      I’m jus not convinced this is logically coherent.

    • sam shamoun

      Fortigurn, maybe you didn’t understand or didn’t read what Bowman had posted both in issuing his challenge and in the introduction to the debate series. Let me repost the relevant parts:

      3. The individual must agree (as I will) that for the purposes of the debate, everything THE BIBLE SAYS pertaining to God, and specifically pertaining to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is true and authoritative, and that the purpose of the debate is to determine which of our two doctrines is most faithful TO THE TEACHINGS OF THE BIBLICAL AUTHORS AS A WHOLE. The Bible is stipulated here to be the 66 books of the Protestant canon of Scripture. My opponent and I may cite any published translation of the Bible or refer to the Hebrew and Greek texts; if the translation of a particular passage is disputed for some reason, each of us will be free to offer whatever justification we think best in support of our view. I don’t mind if my opponent gets his or her doctrinal ideas from some other source, but the debate must be focused exclusively on which doctrine best reflects or represents THE TEACHINGS OF THE BIBLE.

      For the purposes of this debate, we will be focusing exclusively on defending our respective theologies BIBLICALLY. This means that in our debate we are not supposed to address concerns about the development of each other’s theology in church history. We are also not supposed to discuss philosophical arguments for or against each other’s theological model. These historical and philosophical issues may be worthy of attention in their own right, but they are not germane to this debate.

      So can you stop with your smoke and mirrors and actually stay on topic by dealing with the Biblical evidence that Bowman, something I know you can’t do which is why you are trying to divert attention away from the Biblical data. The only thing you can do is arrogantly rant about and hide behind so-called scholarship and who is published in journals and who isn’t.

    • sam shamoun

      Fortigurn, now please shock me and prove me wrong by actually engaging Bowman’s Biblical evidence. However, I won’t be holding my breath since even Dave Burke couldn’t adequately deal with Bowman’s evidence or devastating replies to Burke’s attempt at rebutting him.

    • Fortigurn

      Sam,

      Fortigurn, maybe you didn’t understand or didn’t read what Bowman had posted both in issuing his challenge and in the introduction to the debate series.

      Yes, I did. That has nothing to do with what I’m doing here.

      With regard to the lexicons to which Bowman has appealed (a subject you will note Bowman raised, to which you had no objection), I have asked Bowman which lexicon he means by ‘UBS’, and I have asked him why he didn’t use certain other lexicons. Surely you’re not saying that the debate guidelines you quote from Bowman prevent either debater appealing to lexicons?

      With regard to the ‘triads’ of particular words, I am not disputing that ‘triads’ appear in the Biblical text. I agree they appear in the Biblical text. I’m testing the logical coherence of Bowman’s argument concerning what they mean. So far it’s not looking good. If you can make it work, do show me.

      When you’re ready you can address what I wrote.

    • sam shamoun

      fortigurn, you are correct you’re arguments are not working since your comments come back to haunt Burke. Here is what Burke has used for his lexical information:

      We find the same word in Mark 16:12 (“After this [Jesus] appeared in a different form [morphē] to two of them while they were on their way to the country”) and the only other occurrence is in Philippians 2:7. In all three verses the meaning clearly denotes outwards appearance, not “nature”, “substance” or “the essential attributes as shown in the form.” Rob, I invite you to consult such standard lexicons as BDAG, LSJ, EDNT, TDNT, ANLEX, LEHLXX, Louw/Nida and Spicq, for any consensus supporting the Trinitarian interpretation of morphē as “nature.” (http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2010/04/the-great-trinity-debate-part-3-rob-bowman-on-jesus-christ-continued/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ParchmentAndPen+%28Parchment+and+Pen%29#comment-31094)

      I see Burke also using ANLEX and Louw/Nida. So can you now go to that comments section and take Burke to task for sourcing some of the same lexicons that Bowman also referenced, primarily because Burke used them and brought them. And no one really cares or is interested in knowing what lexicons you prefer since you are not the one debating now are you? Burke doesn’t complain so why should you?

      But hey, thanks for throwing your guy under the bus with your comments.

      So now can you actually start addressing the Biblical evidence that Bowman presented by doing something which I know you can’t do, namely exegeting the passages he mentioned and/or demonstrating on exegetical grounds why his arguments are unsound?

      Again, I won’t be holding my breath.

    • Fortigurn

      Sam,

      I see Burke also using ANLEX and Louw/Nida. So can you now go to that comments section and take Burke to task for sourcing some of the same lexicons that Bowman also referenced, primarily because Burke used them and brought them.

      Why should I? If you read what I wrote, you’ll find that I objected to Bowman failing to balance his use of those lexicons, with the others to which I referred. Burke didn’t make that mistake, as you’ve helpfully pointed out. I wouldn’t have minded Bowman presenting definitions from all of the lexicons I listed, and identifying which supported him and which didn’t. What I wanted to know is why he cited only those which supported him, and claimed on the basis of these (rather than the authoritative lexicons), that it wasn’t possible to be dogmatic about the meaning of the word under discussion. Burke didn’t make that mistake either.

      And no one really cares or is interested in knowing what lexicons you prefer…

      This isn’t about what I prefer. It’s about why Bowman has been selective in his quoting from lexicons. I would like to know. That’s a question only he can answer, so why not let him answer it?

      Don’t worry, I also want to know why Burke has been selective in his quoting of lexicons with regard to the meaning of ‘aion’, and I’m going to bother him about that later. I doubt you’ll have any objections?

    • sam shamoun

      Fortigurn, let me also address your false comparison. Appealing to lexicons to establish meaning of the words that are found in the Bible is part and parcel of doing something which you know little of, namely exegesis, which is what this debate is supposed to be about. However, trying to use logic to undermine the Biblical case made for a given position IS NOT! The most you have proven by your appeal to logic is not that Bowman’s exegesis is mistaken but that that the beliefs of the Bible writers are incompatible with logic since, as Bowman has clearly proven, they taught all of the truths which underlie the doctrine of the Trinity.

      Thus, this appeal to logic is a nice trick on your part but it doesn’t work since this is nothing more than an attempt at evasion. Your comments only proves that you know your guy Burke pretty much got decimated in this debate since the Biblical evidence and exegesis that Bowman was just too much and overwhelming for either Burke or yourself to handle or refute. This is why you resort to these smoke and mirrors tactics.

      So thank you for attacking the Bible and proving that it contains illogical teachings! Keep it up, you’re doing great of discrediting your guy and the book you claim to believe in and follow!

    • Fortigurn

      Sam,

      So now can you actually start addressing the Biblical evidence that Bowman presented…

      As I have pointed out, the evidence isn’t in dispute. It’s Rob’s interpretation of the evidence which is in dispute. I’ve even given a demonstration of why his argument about the ‘triads’ is logically incoherent. If you can show it isn’t, please go ahead.

    • Fortigurn

      Sam,

      Appealing to lexicons to establish meaning of the words that are found in the Bible is part and parcel of doing something which you know little of, namely exegesis, which is what this debate is supposed to be about.

      Great, so now you’re suddenly all smiles about using lexicons. We agree on this.

      However, trying to use logic to undermine the Biblical case made for a given position IS NOT!

      You’re assuming the case is Biblical (fallacy of beging the question).

      The most you have proven by your appeal to logic is not that Bowman’s exegesis is mistaken but that that the beliefs of the Bible writers are incompatible with logic since, as Bowman has clearly proven, they taught all of the truths which underlie the doctrine of the Trinity.

      No that’s not what I’ve done. I am testing the logical coherence of Bowman’s interpretation of the ‘triads’. There is nothing illogical about the ‘triads’ themselves. This is not about attacking the Bible, since the Bible contains no statements about the ‘triads’ at all, let alone what Bowman has claimed about them. I am testing the logical coherence of the claims Bowman is making about them.

      Can you show me that his argument is logically coherent? I have already used an analogy to demonstrate that it is unreliable.

    • sam shamoun

      Fortigurn, we are not buying your smoke and mirror tactics. Bowman is debating Burke, NOT YOU. Burke hasn’t objected to the lexical sources that Bowman has appeled to so who cares whether you object or not.

      But I am going to call your bluff. Please provide the lexical information from your preferred lexical sources for the words that Bowman and Burke mentioned, namely aion, morphe, harpagmon, and show us how they define these words in Philippians 2:6 and Hebrews 1:3.

      Like I said, nice debate tricks but we ain’t fallin for it.

      You do have one thing going for you. Even though you have shown that you can’t do Biblical exegesis you have proven that, like Burke, you are a master logical fallacies, i.e. ad hominem, genetic fallacy, appeal to authority etc.

    • Fortigurn

      Sam,

      Is there a reason why you don’t want other people asking Bowman questions? Burke is being asked plenty of questions by other people, and he doesn’t object.

      Please provide the lexical information from your preferred lexical sources for the words that Bowman and Burke mentioned, namely aion, morphe, harpagmon, and show us how they define these words in Philippians 2:6 and Hebrews 1:3.

      Sure, I’m perfectly happy to do that for you (you don’t own any of these lexicons yourself, right?). I’ll even post them in your favorite color. Which would that be? I can’t post them here because there’s no room. I’ll post them on the Christadelphian forum, and paste a link here later. Whatever made you think I would object to this? What makes you think using a lexicon is a ‘debating trick’? You didn’t object to Bowman using lexicons.

    • sam shamoun

      Fortigurn, this is my final post to you since I am getting tired with your games.

      You can deny all you want that the Bible doesn’t contain this or that. However, until you can prove your case by doing something which you know very little of, namely presenting and exegeting specific biblical texts to support your position, the only thing you are doing at this point is proving that you cannot engage the evidence presented by Bowman which is why you divert attention away from the Biblical data into another, unrelated issue.

      So until you actually start demonstrating why Bowman’s arguments are BIBLICALLY UNSOUND you have nothing to stand on, except your logical fallacies.

      So instead of asking me whether Bowman’s points are logically valid can you prove me wrong and show that you can demonstrate that his arguments are unsound by providing a sound exegesis of those same Biblical texts?

      We both know you can’t which is why you do everything but provide an exegesis of the passages to show that Bowman’s case is unbiblical.

      Like I said before, i won’t be holding my breath waiting for you to refute Bowman by demonstrating that his claims are Biblically unsound. If Burke couldn’t do it why should we expect that you can.

    • sam shamoun

      Please post them in blue since I am going to use them against you to expose your smoke and mirrors. Now run along and get your list ready for all of us to see.

    • sam shamoun

      Fortigurn, I think you do have a hard time comprehending what you read.

      As I have pointed out, the evidence isn’t in dispute. It’s Rob’s interpretation of the evidence which is in dispute. I’ve even given a demonstration of why his argument about the ‘triads’ is logically incoherent. If you can show it isn’t, please go ahead.

      Let me make this more simple so that you can understand the point. Can you provide an “interpretation” of those Biblical texts which is based on sound Biblical exegesis to prove that Rob’s interpretation is unsound and unfaithful to what those texts are communicating? Appealing to logic doesn’t do it.

      Hopefully you now got the point and won’t come up with more evasion tactics.

    • Fortigurn

      Sam,

      So instead of asking me whether Bowman’s points are logically valid can you prove me wrong and show that you can demonstrate that his arguments are unsound by providing a sound exegesis of those same Biblical texts?

      If his argument is not logically coherent, then his conclusion about the meaning of the texts does not follow. This means his exegesis is flawed. Why are you trying to avoid proving his argument is logically coherent?

      I have already tested his argument using annother passage of Scripture. If his argument is valid, then it would have produced a logically coherent result with 1 John 5:8. Do you agree with the conclusion I posted about 1 John 5:8? I came to that conclusion using Bowman’s own method of argumentation.

      Are you trying to say that sound exegesis follows from logically incoherent arguments?

      Please post them in blue since I am going to use them against you to expose your smoke and mirrors.

      You can’t use them against me, because I haven’t made any claims regarding the words in question.

    • Fortigurn

      Sam,

      Can you provide an “interpretation” of those Biblical texts which is based on sound Biblical exegesis to prove that Rob’s interpretation is unsound and unfaithful to what those texts are communicating?

      You’re trying to change the subject from Bowman’s exegeis to mine. That won’t work. As Bowman himself has argued more than once, it’s not necessary to provide an alternative exegesis of a text in order to prove that someone else’s is wrong. All that is necessary is to demonstrate a flaw in their argumentation. If you don’t like that, go talk to Bowman about it and explain to him why you think he’s wrong.

      Once again, can you falsify my argument regarding the logical incoherence of Bowman’s claim?

    • Rob Bowman

      Fortigurn,

      You claimed that I argued as follows:

      “1. The Father is God.
      2. The Holy Spirit is God or at least an aspect of God.
      3. Therefore, a verse contains a reference to the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit (in any context), it proves Jesus must also be God, and the Father, son and Holy Spirit all constitute three person of the Trinity.

      To put it another way, your argument seems to be:

      1. A is an X.
      2. B is an X or at least an aspect of X.
      3. Therefore, a reference to A, B, and C in the same verse means not only is C an X, but X is ABC.”

      Are you even trying to understand the argument, or are you caricaturing it on purpose?

      First of all, Dave and I agree that there is only one true God. Thus, if the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three divine persons (i.e., persons each of whom are God), then there are three divine persons yet only one God.

      Second, I have already provided biblical evidence, independent of the triadic texts, that the Holy Spirit is a divine person. Since he is a divine person, and since Unitarians agree that the Holy Spirit is not something other than God, we can conclude that the Holy Spirit is a divine person who is himself God.

      Third, I have also provided independent biblical evidence that the Son is God.

      Ignoring the above three points is a large part of the error of your misrepresentation of my argument. I do not interpret the triadic texts apart from the above evidence.

      Now we turn to the triadic passages of the NT. We find numerous texts in which Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not simply mentioned in the same verse (as you caricatured me as arguing) but are coordinated in some significant way. Thus, all three are coordinated as named objects of confession in baptism, as sources of soteriological blessings, as sources of spiritual gifts, etc. These triads coordinating the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit provide, as I said, “additional confirmation of the essential deity of the Son or of the personhood of the Holy Spirit or both,” depending on the specific wording of each text. The repeated pattern found across the NT canon demonstrates that the Trinitarian systematic theological formulation is not a mistaken inference from unrelated texts.

      Thus, your representation of my argument as a simple deduction from any text in which all three are mentioned to the conclusion that all three are one God is simply a misrepresentation of the argument.

    • Ady Miles

      Christ was given the Name above every other name, the Name of God. If He was God Himself, He would not need to be given this Name

      Christ was a man who overcome the temptations of His human nature. If He were God, this would be a meaningless accomplishment

      Christ was born of God and man, which made Him both human and Divine. We are also born of God, and that also makes us Divine to some extent, but it does not make us God. Neither did it Christ

    • Rob Bowman

      Fortigurn,

      You wrote:

      “You cite a ‘UBS’ lexicon. What is this? Is it Newman?”

      Apparently you do know what UBS is, so I am not sure what your problem is. I am referring, of course, to Barclay M. Newman Jr., A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament (Stuttgart and New York: United Bible Societies [UBS], 1993).

      You wrote, with regard to my citation of lexicons on the meaning of aiōnes:

      “You refer to ‘Friberg, Louw-Nida, UBS, and Thayer’ in agreement with you, but your selection of lexicons is curious. Thayer has no scholarly standing these days (his lexicon was obsolete less than 10 years after it was printed), Louw/Nida is a translator’s help (a derivative work, not a lexical authority), and Friberg (ANLEX), is good but does not include analysis of extra-Biblical sources, rendering its glosses somewhat circular. None of these are standard lexical authorities. One of them is obsolete (Thayer), and at least one of them is a derivative work which glosses words defined in lexical authorities (Louw/Nida). If Newman’s is what you’re referring to as ‘UBS’, it’s in the same category.”

      I agree that Thayer’s lexicon is dated, and I would never rest an argument on Thayer’s alone. However, where he agrees with more recent lexicons, I see nothing wrong with citing him as an additional reference.

      Timothy and Barbara Friberg’s Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000) is a standard lexical reference work. The fact that its citations are limited to NT texts gives it more focus, but it does not invalidate it as a useful reference.

      J. P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, 2nd ed. (New York: United Bible Societies, 1988), is also a standard reference work, one that takes an approach that many scholars consider superior to the approach that BDAG represents. Nida is a renowned authority on NT translation.

      The fact is that every lexical reference work is “derivative” in the sense that all such works in current use today derive from much older works that have been revised and revised again, adapted, or simply used as the starting point for a lexicographer’s own work.

      You wrote:

      “So why did you leave BDAG, EDNT, LSJ, Spicq, and TDNT out of your list? Is it because they are dogmatic over the word which you say we can’t be dogmatic over?”

      Apparently, your zeal to find fault is interfering with your ability to read. The very paragraph from which you quoted cites three of these five reference works (BDAG, LSJ, and TDNT)!

      I’m sorry, but I have limited time, so I am reluctant to spend any more of it answering you unless you can show that you have the ability to follow what I am saying at some level.

    • Rob Bowman

      Fortigurn,

      You wrote:

      “I need to review Dave’s argument for aion, but did he actually claim that ‘world’ is not within the lexical range of the word aion? That’s what you’re objecting to, but I would be surprised if he had made such a claim.”

      Why are you critiquing my response to Dave before finding out what Dave said? Here, I will quote it for you:

      “Rob, I think it’s important to tell our readers that the Greek word translated ‘world’ here is ‘aion.’ We saw earlier that this word does not mean ‘world’ or ‘universe’; it means ‘age, generation’ (Liddell-Scott-James), ‘space of time’ (TDNT), ‘a long period of time, without reference to beginning or end’ (BDAG).”

      Go do your homework before criticizing, please.

    • Fortigurn

      Rob, I didn’t criticize you in the least. I asked you a civil question, and mentioned the fact that I had to go and check Dave’s post.

      With regard to the ‘triad’ argument, please review what you wrote:

      Thus, we agree that two of the three referents in this common NT triad refer to God or an aspect of God. [b]There is some force to the argument, then, that the third referent in this triad IS ALSO GOD[/b].

      That is what you wrote. You argued that two out the three referents refer to God or an aspect of God (premise), so [b]therefore[/b] (conclusion), there is some force to the argument that the third referent is also God.

      As we can see, this form of argumentation is exactly what I described. You are using the identity of two referents to draw a conclusion about the third. Yet now you say you aren’t arguing that at all. If that’s not what you’re arguing, why did you write it?

      With regard to the lexicons:

      You wrote, with regard to my citation of lexicons on the meaning of aiōnes:

      No Rob, I was talking about what you wrote with regard to ‘morphe’. Please read what I wrote. When you’ve done that you’ll be in a position to comment accurately.

    • Rob Bowman

      Fortigurn,

      You only quoted part of what I wrote about the triads. You took that one part out of context and ignored the rest, thereby distorting the point I was making.

      You claim that you were talking about what I had written concerning morphē, not aiōnes, when you criticized my selection of lexical reference works. But here is what you wrote: “You refer to ‘Friberg, Louw-Nida, UBS, and Thayer’ in agreement with you, but your selection of lexicons is curious.” Your quotation of “Friberg, Louw-Nida, UBS, and Thayer” can only come from one place in what I wrote: “As I pointed out in my rebuttal, the only scholarly comment specifically on Hebrews 1:2 that you quoted (Marvin Vincent) also disagreed with you! I also quoted four additional lexical reference works (Friberg, Louw-Nida, UBS, and Thayer) that also all disagreed with you.” As you can see, the words you quoted came from my discussion of aiōnes in Hebrews 1:2, not morphē in Philippians 2:6-7.

      As for why I cited the lexicons I did on morphē in Philippians 2:6-7, the answer is right there in what I wrote:

      “With regard to morphē, I specifically agreed with the scholars whom you cited on its meaning. This is what I said: ‘I actually tend to agree with Strimple, Decker, and other recent exegetes who conclude that the meaning of morphē is “appearance.”’ Ironically, several lexicons favor ‘nature’ as the meaning of morphē, some specifically citing Philippians 2:6-7 as an example (e.g., Friberg, UBS, Louw-Nida). Again, this shows that your dogmatism about the meaning of the word is unjustified, but in any case I agreed with the scholars you cited and with their understanding of the word’s meaning.”

      Note that in the above paragraph I cited only three of the four reference works mentioned in your quotation from me, showing that this was not the paragraph you were quoting.

      I happened to have those three lexicons easily at hand at the time, so I cited them as quick examples. By saying “several” rather than “all” lexicons, I was clearly allowing for the fact that some lexicons do not favor the meaning “appearance.” My point was a modest one: the lexicographical reference works do not all line up neatly on one side of the issue, so Dave’s dogmatism on the matter was unjustified.

      Now, let’s have some straight talk from you. I have documented for you that Dave erroneously claimed that “world” was a mistranslation in Hebrews 1:2. Do you agree that he was incorrect on this point? I have documented that his criticisms that I made errors concerning the meaning of morphē and aiōnes and that I failed to cite reference works were incorrect. Do you agree that these criticisms Dave made were inaccurate and unfair?

    • Fortigurn

      Rob,

      You only quoted part of what I wrote about the triads. You took that one part out of context and ignored the rest, thereby distorting the point I was making.

      Sorry Rob, that was your argument. Read it for yourself. You claim that the third of the referents is God on the basis that the others are also, not on the basis that you had previously proved the third referent was God. You’re making your own argument entirely redundant.

      Your quotation of “Friberg, Louw-Nida, UBS, and Thayer” can only come from one place in what I wrote…

      Yes that’s right, I grabbed the wrong quote, sorry. You can see however from the context of what I wrote that I was talking about ‘morphe’. Look at what I wrote. You clearly went straight for the quote and ignored the context (ironically).

      My point was a modest one: the lexicographical reference works do not all line up neatly on one side of the issue, so Dave’s dogmatism on the matter was unjustified.

      If you want to make a point like that, you need to actually make it, instead of saying ‘One translator’s handbook, one out of date lexicon, a derivative work, and an NT focused lexicon, disagree with the authoritative professional lexicons’. Which is what you should have said if that’s the point you were trying to make. Dogmatism on the definition of this word is justified, as you can discover very easily by spending some time on B-Greek and B-Trans (it comes up about once a year).

      I have documented for you that Dave erroneously claimed that “world” was a mistranslation in Hebrews 1:2. Do you agree that he was incorrect on this point?

      First I need to read what he wrote, in context. I’ve already told Sam I’ll be bothering Dave about what I perceive to be errors in his handling of the lexical sources, and if I find that your criticisms are legitimate I’ll certainly be…

    • Fortigurn

      Rob, I had to guess what you meant by ‘UBS’ because I am used to hearing it referred to as ‘Newman’, due to the fact that UBS also publish Louw/Nida’s lexicon and a range of other products under the ‘UBS’ title.

      I am not criticizing ANLEX as a lexicon qua lexicon. I am simply identifying its limitations. ANLEX provides lexical glosses on NT word usage. These glosses are chosen by the editors. Its function is to provide generally reliable NT lexical glosses for those who do not have access to the authoritative and exhaustive historical lexical works (BDAG, EDNT, LSJ, TDNT, Spicq), but not to identify lexical definitions through historical research. It is a student lexicon, with a range of simplified meanings. Where its gloss differs from the definition in one of the professional works, it should not be relied on.

      Its gloss on Philippians 2:7 exhibits more theology than lexicography:

      μορφή, ῆς, ἡ (1) form, external appearance; generally, as can be discerned through the natural senses (MK 16.12); (2) of the nature of something, used of Christ’s contrasting modes of being in his preexistent and human states form, nature (PH 2.6, 7)

      I have a lot of respect for ANLEX, but it is a supplement and I use it as such. Much of what I wrote above also applies to Louw/Nida. It’s an excellent work which I use regularly, but it’s a translator’s handbook with a range of glosses, not a historical lexical analysis.

      The problem is that when we look at BDAG, EDNT, LSJ, TDNT, and Spicq, we don’t find ‘nature’ listed in the semantic range of ‘morphe’. This is significant, because they all cite extensively from the relevant Greek literature and because they are all dogmatic on the point on which you say we shouldn’t be.

      I need hardly note the inconsistency of ANLEX, Louw/Nida and Newman in glossing ‘morphe’ with one meaning in Philippians 2:6-7, and a completely different meaning in Mark 16:12. The…

    • sam shamoun

      Rob, you are beginning to see the problem with dealing with Fortigurn. He can’t interact with your exegesis of the texts and can’t accurately represent the statements of those whom he interacts with. Not only has he misrepresented you, but he also misrepresented what I said and what Nick Norelli said. That is why Nick stopped wasting time with him since he saw that he is not serious and doesn’t care to represent people’s beliefs or statements accurately.

      To top it off he goes on these arrogant rants about scholarship and being published in peer reviewed journals even though he himself is not a scholar. This means that per his own criterion we should ignore him and not take anything he says seriously since he is an amateur. Don’t waste your time with him Rob you have better things to do.

    • Fortigurn

      Sam, you’re giving the impression I promote my own ‘scholarship’, and that I claim I am published in the peer reviewed literature. I have never made any such claim, and I have specifically eschewed any such claim.

      If you think that citing relevant scholarship is arrogant, or that I’m arrogant because I prefer to take seriously a relevant peer reviewed journal article over someone with a Bachelor of Homeopathy, you’re entitled to. Just don’t take that attitude to university.

    • cherylu

      Fortugurn,

      Here is an entire paragraph out of Rob’s article from his conclusion that speaks about this whole issue of triads:

      “Dave and I agree that the Father is God. We agree that the Holy Spirit is at least an aspect of God (Dave thinks the Holy Spirit is God’s power, I think the Holy Spirit is God). Thus, we agree that two of the three referents in this common NT triad refer to God or an aspect of God. There is some force to the argument, then, that the third referent in this triad is also God. I have argued in rounds two and three of this debate that the Son is in fact God and in round four that the Holy Spirit is a divine person. I have further shown in this round that the triadic passages in the NT often provide additional confirmation of the essential deity of the Son or of the personhood of the Holy Spirit or both. These passages therefore provide substantial support, within the larger context of the biblical teaching already examined, for the doctrine of the Trinity.”

      If you read the whole paragraph, it is obvious that he is saying that, “within the larger context of the biblical teaching already examined,” these passages “provide substantial support” for the Trinity. Notice he says, “there is some force to the argument, then, that the third referent in this triad is also God.” And he then goes on to speak of how he has already shown that the Son is God and that the Spirit is a divine person.

      I agree with Rob. As far as I can see, you took what he said out of context. I didn’t reread the whole article so I don’t remember if you could have gotten the impression you did in it elsewhere, but that is certainly the case that you have taken him out of context if you are looking at his concluding comments.

    • Fortigurn

      cheryl, read what he wrote in the paragraph you quoted:

      I have further shown in this round that the triadic passages in the NT often provide additional confirmation of the essential deity of the Son or of the personhood of the Holy Spirit or both.

      He is not saying ‘I use the passages which speak of the son and Holy Spirit as God to interpret the triadic passages as references to the son and Holy Spirit as God’, he is saying that the triadic passages are additional confirmation of the conclusion he reaches in other passages.

      That means that he has to have an independent method of determining that these triadic passages refer to Jesus and the Holy Spirit as God. How does he do that? In precisely the way I’ve quoted.

      If Bowman was really saying ‘I approach the triadic passages with the preconception that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are God, and thus have no need to exegete the texts to this purpose’, then not only would he be begging the question but there would be absolutely no point in him constructing a logical argument that the passages in and of themselves identify Jesus as God.

      The fact is that Bowman made the argument that because he assumes 2 out of the 3 are God, then he has a very good reason for claiming the 3rd is also God. That is what he wrote.

    • sam shamoun

      Thanks Fortigurn for proving my point by your recent “response.” Here is some friendly advice. Make sure you take the time to actually read what is before you before commenting since this will (hopefully) prevent you from blatantly distorting and misrepresenting what people write.

      And thanks for also proving why Bowman shouldn’t waste time on you.

    • sam shamoun

      Cherylu, don’t waste time on Fortigurn since he can’t help but misread and distort the statements of others. This is typical of those who are involved in cults and sects since you will notice that even Burke was guilty of the same thing. Do what Nick Norelli did and which I am going to do from now, ignore him.

    • Fortigurn

      Oh come now Sam, after I’ve gone to all this work preparing those lexical definitions for which you asked? Do you still want them? I have the document here, over 100 pages of reading for you.

      And I seriously doubt you’re going to ignore that link I just gave Bowman. Read that and then tell me I’m misrepresenting Bowman.

    • sam shamoun

      Yep, I still want them since I am going to use it against you and Burke. I will use them against you to prove that your complaint against Bowman regarding the lexical sources he referred to was nothing more than a smokescreen. So please send that file my way!

    • cherylu

      Fortigurn,

      But what you are forgetting from that quote of Rob’s are these two statements: “There is some force to the argument, then, that the third referent in this triad is also God.” And this one, “These passages therefore provide substantial support, within the larger context of the biblical teaching already examined, for the doctrine of the Trinity.”

      You are forgetting the “some force to the argument” and the, “within the larger context,” statements he made. They do quailfy the one you quoted.

    • Fortigurn

      cheryl, that doesn’t affect in any way the point I made. You’ve completely cut that first sentence right out of the argument in which Bowman placed it. That was his conclusion at the end of his premises. Read the sentence before it. He says that since 2 of the 3 referents are God, then there’s a good case to be made that the third is also God. It’s an invalid argument from statistics, there’s no exegesis here.

      You’re still not dealing with the fact that Bowman made an independent logical argument for identifying Jesus as God on the basis that two of the other three referents in the triad were God. That was the argument, and he said that gave additional support to his other arguments.

      Sam, it’s clear you still haven’t decided exactly what argument you’re going to make, but that’s ok I can wait. Meanwhile you can go here:

      http://www.thechristadelphians.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=15185

    • sam shamoun

      Foritgurn, your arrogance is repulsive and is simply a symptom of your cult and the origin of your faith (cf. John 8:44). You titled the section where your file appears Because Sam Shamoun Doesn’t Have A Lexicon, which only confirms what I have been saying about you being a master of logically fallacies. This is simply your way of covering up your ineptness of doing Biblical exegesis.

      I didn’t ask for your lexical sources because I don’t have any but because I wanted to use your own sources to embarrass you and to show that your criticism of Bowman was nothing more than a cover up.

      Moreover, your comment about me not deicding what argument I wanted to make only further confirms that you either can’t read proeprly or are being deceptive and that you have no shame to twist the words of virtually everyone that you dialogue with.

      Again, thanks for proving my point time and time again and for demonstrating where your religion ultimately steps from (cf. John 8:44).

      Now that I got these smokescreens out of the way time for me to expose you by quoting from your file.

    • Rob Bowman

      Fortigurn,

      I have explained my reasoning concerning the triadic statements in the NT and how they relate to my overall argument. Your attempt to characterize me as using the triadic statements in an independent deductive proof of the Trinity simply is wrong. You have not succeeded in showing that I stated my own argument badly, and I consider myself the world’s foremost authority on what I meant. So with all due respect, I have no interest in hitting this particular ball back and forth across the net with you any longer.

      I’m glad you see the problem with Dave’s handling of aiōnes in Hebrews 1:2. Thanks for addressing this point.

      You wrote:

      “Yes that’s right, I grabbed the wrong quote, sorry. You can see however from the context of what I wrote that I was talking about ‘morphe’. Look at what I wrote. You clearly went straight for the quote and ignored the context (ironically).”

      This doesn’t help you. Assuming you meant to talk about morphē, what you said in the “context” of that quote was also incorrect. Once again, what you wrote was the following:

      “You refer to ‘Friberg, Louw-Nida, UBS, and Thayer’ in agreement with you, but your selection of lexicons is curious.”

      Now, ignoring that you “grabbed the wrong quote,” to what end did I cite Friberg, UBS, and Louw-Nida? Was it because they were “in agreement with” me on the meaning of morphē? No; exactly the opposite is the case. Those lexicons disagree with my understanding of the meaning of morphē! I explained this very clearly and repeated it for you. Here it is again:

      “With regard to morphē, I specifically agreed with the scholars whom you cited on its meaning. This is what I said: ‘I actually tend to agree with Strimple, Decker, and other recent exegetes who conclude that the meaning of morphē is “appearance.”’ Ironically, several lexicons favor ‘nature’ as the meaning of morphē, some specifically citing Philippians 2:6-7 as an example (e.g., Friberg, UBS, Louw-Nida). Again, this shows that your dogmatism about the meaning of the word is unjustified, but in any case I agreed with the scholars you cited and with their understanding of the word’s meaning.”

      As you can see, I explicitly disagreed with these lexicons. Thus, your statement, “You refer to ‘Friberg, Louw-Nida, UBS, and Thayer’ in agreement with you,” is incorrect, not only in having “grabbed the wrong quote,” but in your assertion that these lexicons agreed with me.

      Fortigurn, you’re obviously someone who has spent some time with biblical scholarly resources, if nothing else. You’re clearly intelligent and seem fairly knowledgeable. Why hide behind a pseudonym?

    • sam shamoun

      Fortigurn, in the file you produced here is one of the definitions given for aion by the first lexical source you used:

      3. the world as a spatial concept, the world.

      And here are some of the verses listed which bear this meaning:

      Created by God THROUGH THE SON HB 1:2; through God’s word 11:3.

      Now let us see what the next lexicon on your list. On p. 36 we find:

      2. aion as World.

      And guess what it lists on p. 37? Yep, you guessed it, Hebrews 1:2!

      The plural aiones shares the change of meaning. Hence the aiones of Hb. 1:2 (di hou kai epoiesen tou aionas) and 11:3 (katertisthai tous aionas rhemati theou) are to be understood spatially as “worlds” or “spheres.”

      Your third source on p. 49 says:

      5. It is possible that the perception of the world’s time as being filled with the history of this world led to aion having the meaning world (as it did in the case of ‘olam; cf. Sasse , TDNT I, 203f.; E. Jenni, ZAW 65 [1953] 29-35)… According to Hebrews God created the aiones (in 1:2 through the Son, in 11:3 by means of God’s word)…

    • sam shamoun

      So far the very sources you compiled confirm Bowman’s point while refuting your buddy Burke.

      This means that your complaint against Bowman for using what you pretty much claimed your defective or outdated lexicons was nothing more than a smokescreen SINCE EVEN YOUR OWN LEXICONS CONFIRM HIS POSITION!!!

      Anyway, I will have more quotes to list from your own file t further expose your smoke and mirrors tactics.

    • Fortigurn

      Sam, you clearly haven’t read the post to which I linked. I already pointed out that Burke’s argument with regard to ‘aion’ in Hebrews 1:2 was invalid, citing the very lexicons I provided you with. Not only that, but I gave you a link to that post. Not only that, but Bowman has already acknowledged this, and thanked me for it. Ironically you didn’t realise that I had already done exactly what you have just done, only I beat you to it.

      It’s further clear that you didn’t read my objection to Bowman’s reference to the lexicons, since I was objecting to his citing certain lexicons for the word ‘morphe’, not ‘aion’. I never objected to his citations of lexicons for the word ‘aion’. You haven’t even touched what I wrote about ‘morphe’, and Bowman has already acknowledged that Thayer is out of date.

      So you have the wrong word, the wrong argument, I already beat you to correcting Burke, and Bowman has already thanked me for it. If you had read my posts, you wouldn’t be in this mess.

    • Fortigurn

      Sam,

      I didn’t ask for your lexical sources because I don’t have any…

      Then why, when I asked you if you didn’t have them, did you not answer? It’s clear you just don’t have them, or you could have quoted them yourself. Instead I went to all the trouble to look up all those words in half a dozen lexicons, paste them into Word, convert it to a PDF, upload it, and give you a link. Then instead of thanking me you say I’m arrogant for having first offered you information you didn’t have, and secondly for doing all the work for you gratis.

      As an information management consultant I’m used to receiving plenty of information requests, but usually people at least thank me for them. You’re lucky I didn’t charge you my usual rate.

    • Fortigurn

      Rob, talk me through this.

      Premise: Thus, we agree that two of the three referents in this common NT triad refer to God or an aspect of God.

      Conclusion: There is some force to the argument, then, that the third referent in this triad is also God.

      Now you’re trying tell me that this is not an inductive argument? So what was it supposed to be? Rephrase it algebraically, as I did, and let’s look at what you were trying to do here. Of course we know what you were trying to do here, because you told us. This was ‘additional confirmation of the essential deity of the Son or of the personhood of the Holy Spirit or both’.

      When you’re ready, you can tackle my application of your argument to 1 John 5:8. Thus far you’ve been unable to apply your argument successfully to any other passages, despite my request, so I’m interested to see what you can do with 1 John 5:8 using this argument.

    • sam shamoun

      Now let us look at what your lexical sources say concerning the meaning of morphe. On p. 54 we read:

      2. generally, form, fashion, appearance…; outward form, opp. eidos, hekatero to eideos pollai… m. theon X.Mem.4.3.13, cf. Ep.Phil.2.6

      So morphe in Phil. 2:6 means outward form which corresponds to Bowman’s belief that it means appearance.

      Here is what your other lexical source says beginning at p. 59:

      4. The antithetical use of morphe theou and morphe doulou in Phil 2:6f. is crucial for understanding the hymn as a whole. In contrast to the traditional Lutheran interpretation, which relates both expressions to the logos ensarkos, it is generally accepted today that 2:6 refers to the preexistent Son of God, and 2:7 to the Son of God become a man. Any additional interpretation of the pair must be based on the parallelism of 2:6 and 7. The change from morphe theou to mprophe doulou is neither a change of appearance, leaving the nature unchanged (contra J. Schneider, TDNT V, 197: “The earthly morphe is also the husk which encloses His unchanging essential existence”), nor a change in the Son’s nature (Kasemann 72: “The heavenly nature was laid aside; the earthly was put on”). To contrast “appearance” and “substance” ignores the wording of the hymn itself (Schweizer; Hofius 57), which we cannot characterize as a reflection on substance, nor does it anticipate the doctrine of the two natures or deal with a change of “mode of existence”…

      Continued in next post.

    • sam shamoun

      Continued…

      Morphe rarely refers to the external appearance as opposed to the essence (thus, e.g., in tomb inscriptions in the antithesis between morphe and psyche)… The understanding of morphe as essential being (Kasemann 65ff.) possibly points to Gnosticism, where morphe and eikon are synonyms (Jervell 228). But Gnosticism had as little influence on Phil 2:6-11 (contra Jervell 229) as did the Greek magical papyrii. Morphe in Phil 2:6f. refers not to any changeable form but to a specific form on which identiyt and status depend. Morphe doulou is thus to be understood with Cremer/Kogel 736 as “the form proper to a slave, as an expression of his state,” and morphe theou likewise as “the expression of the divine state.” Basic understanding to the understanding of morphe in Phil 2:6-11, therefore, is not mutability but precisely the immutability of morphe theou and morphe doulou.

      Thus, even though this source says that morphe rarely means appearance as opposed to essence it pretty much confirms Bowman’s exegesis that Phil. affirms that Jesus’ prehuman Divine existence.

      Frankly I am getting embarrassed for both you and Burke.

      So much for your dubious appeal to scholars and lexicons, but more to come.

    • sam shamoun

      In response to Fortigurn post # 97, this is nothing more than more of your smoke and mirrors tactics at work and a further illustration that you simply can’t understand what you read.

      First, you only posted that comment AFTER Bowman corrected you and showed you that had misread him.

      Second, for the UMPTEENTH time the reason why I am quoting these lexicons is to EXPOSE that your tirade against Bowman for citing outdated or defective lexicons for what it truly is, a smokescreen intended to cover over your inabili8ty to actually engage the issues on an exegetical level.

      Once I show that even THE VERY LEXICAL SOURCES that you yourself use agree with the range of meanings listed by Bowman’s lexicons and confirm Bowman’s exegesis not just for morphe but for all the rest of the words then this will completely expose your cheap debate tactic for what it truly.

      Did you finally get it now or do I need to repeat myself another fifty times? It seems I need to start charging you for impugning on my time.

    • sam shamoun

      Fortigurn,

      Here is more from your own document on the meaning of morphe. Beginning at p. 64 the lexicon seems to define morphe in Phil. 2:6 as appearance, again agreeing with Bowman, and even speaks of incarnation!

      It is clear from all these examples that the use of morphe in the hymn in Phil 2 is entirely to be expected in a context of metamorphosis or incarnation, but that it would be risky to give it a precise theological meaning. p. 66.

      Your next source says the following:

      … In the sequence of Phil. 2:5-11it is also the opposite of the morphe theou which He had before, and of the position of the kyrios … which He will receive at His exaltation (w. 9ff.). The renunciation of the pre-existent Lord… finds expression in a morphe which is the absolute antithesis to His prior morphe.

      Thus the phrase morphe theou, which Paul coins in obvious antithesis to morphe doulou, can be understood in the light of this context. The APPEARANCE assumed by the INCARNATE Lord, the image of humiliation and obedient submission, stands in the sharpest conceivable contrast to His former APPEARANCE, THE IMAGE OF SOVEREIGN DIVINE MAJESTY, whose restoration in a new and even more glorious form is depicted for the exalted kyrios at the conclusion of the hymn, v. 10f. The specific outward sign of the humanity of Jesus is the morphe doulou, and of His ESSENTIAL divine likeness (to einai isa theo…) the morphe theou. The lofty terminology of the hymn can venture to speak of the form or VISIBLE APPEARANCE OF GOD in this antithesis on the theological basis of the doxa concept of the Greek Bible, which is also that of Paul, and according to which the majesty of God is visibly expressed in the radiance of of heavenly light… The morphe theou in which the pre-existent Christ was is simply the divine theou; Paul’s en morphe theou hyperchon corrsponds exactly to Jn. 17:5: te doxes eichon pro tou ton kosmon einai para soi. pp. 87-89

      Continued…

    • sam shamoun

      Continued,

      Wow, another leixcon that agrees with Bowman! And in fn. 48, p. 87, it states:

      That the pre-existent Christ is meant may be seen from the structure of the hymn, which traces the whole path of the Redeemer from its beginning in heaven by way of the status exinanitionis to the goal of exaltation and glorification. The reference to the historical Jesus… IS UNABLE TO EXPLAIN the en morphe theou hyperchon SATISFACTORILY. Because of the pre-existent Christology there is no cause to reject Pauline authorship of Phil 2:6f…

      All I can say to both you and Burke is… OUCH!!!!

      Lord Jesus willing, more to come.

    • sam shamoun

      Oops, I forgot to add the rest of the quote:

      The wealth of the christological content of Phil. 2:6f. rests on the fact that Paul does not regard the incomparable measure of the self-denial displayed by the PRE-EXISTENT Christ in His INCARNATION merely as the opposite of the egotistic exploitation of what He possessed… or as the surrender of His own will, nor is he concerned merely to emphasise the contrast between His eternal and temporal existence, His deity and humanity, but he brings out in clear-cut contrast the absolute distinction between the modes of being. Christ came down from the height of power and splendour to the abyss of weakness and lowliness proper to a slave, and herein is revealed for the apostle the inner nature of the Redeemer who is both above history and yet also in history. He did not consider Himself; He set before the eyes of those who believe in Him the example of forgetfulness of His own ego.

      It may thus be seen that there is no trace of a Hellenistic philosophical understanding of morphe in this passage, and certainly not of any supposed philosophical concept of morphe theou = ousia or phusis… Similarly what Paul understands by morphe theou and morphe doulou is remote from the epiphany ideas of myth or legend. Christ did not play the role of a god in human form. Again, there can be no thought of a metamorphosis … in the sense of Hellenistic belief or superstition. Paul does not speak of the exchanging of one’s own form for another; in 1 C. 2:8 the man Jesus is kyrious tes doxes. Materially, if not linguistically, the apostle’s paradoxical phrase morphe theou is wholly in the sphere of the biblical view of God. eikon theou cannot be equated with morphe theou (2 C. 4:4; Col. 1:15…). The image of God is Christ, while the morphe theou is the garment by which His divine nature may be known. Pp. 89-90

      Again… OUCH!!!!

      Now Fortigurn, what was that about scholars and lexicons?

    • sam shamoun

      Now for the final quote on morphe taken from pp. 95-96 of your document:
      … Of appearances in visions etc., similar to persons… morphe doulou labon he took on the form of a slave=expression of servility Phil 2:7… This is in contrast to expression of divinity in the PREEXISTENT Christ: en m. theou hyperchon although he was in the form of God… [Phil 2:7] becomes the supporting framework for Christ’s servility and therefore of his kenosis…

      This source not only speaks of the preexistent Divine Christ but also defines morphe in Phil. 2:6-7 as appearance, WHICH AGAIN AGREES WITH BOWMAN!

      Now Fortigurn, I can go on to quote all the lexical sources you provided for harpagmos to prove that they all agree with Bowman that the word in the context of Phil. 2:6 means exploit, i.e. Christ did not consider equality with God something to be EXPLOITED, or you can simply admit this to be the case. That way I won’t have to waste time quoting them.

      Do you admit this or no? I will wait for your reply.

    • Ady Miles

      This thread is becoming a bit of a joke to be honest

      Keep it simple and stop arguing and debating about semantics and grammar!

      All commentators are biased to some extent or other by their own beliefs and indoctrinations

    • sam shamoun

      Ady Miles, please tell that to Fortigurn.

    • Rob Bowman

      Fortigurn,

      I wrote:

      “Your attempt to characterize me as using the triadic statements in an independent deductive proof of the Trinity simply is wrong.”

      You replied:

      “Now you’re trying tell me that this is not an inductive argument?”

      You’re responding so quickly and so often that you still are making careless mistakes.

    • sammy

      Rob, if I were you I would wash my hands of Fortigurn. Not worth wasting time on a gent who shows no hesitation to distort the words of people.

    • Rob Bowman

      MATTHEW 28:19

      Dave,

      You wrote:

      “If the Matthean formula was a Christological formula, intended to describe ontological relationships within the Trinity, we would find it repeated elsewhere throughout the NT; and yet, we do not.”

      How you figure that is beyond me.

      J. P. Holding is at least partially correct: if all we had was Matthew 28:19, we could not confidently eliminate modalism or tritheism. However, since we can confidently and easily eliminate both of those options on other grounds, the remaining most likely understanding of the verse is Trinitarianism. Even Holding agrees that the wording most likely implies an ontological equality of the three.

      You wrote:

      “In the next phase of your argument you refer to ‘two of the three names in Matthew 28:19.’ I presume you mean ‘referents’, since ‘God’ isn’t a name; ‘Son’ isn’t a name, and ‘Holy Spirit’ isn’t either (despite your unsubstantiated claim to the contrary).”

      Apparently your mind was wandering here, as the term “God” does not appear in Matthew 28:19. So anxious were you to defend the position that only the Father is God that you even wrote “God” in place of “Father”!

      I had some material in the first draft of my post answering the objection that the terms “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit” are not names, but our length restriction forced me to cut that material. The NT writers can use the Greek word onoma (“name”) to refer to both proper names (like Jesus or Peter) and titles (like Father and Son). There are explicit examples of the word “name” referring to the designations Father (Matt. 6:9; Luke 11:2; John 17:1, 5, 11, 21, 24, 25), Son (Heb. 1:4-5), Christ (Matt. 24:5; 1 Peter 4:14, 16), Jew (Rom. 2:17), Lord (Phil. 2:9-11), Word of God (Rev. 19:13), and King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16).

      You claim that you accept Matthew 28:19 “as it is written” but supposedly we Trinitarians do not. You miss the point. We accept the text as written also. My point was that Unitarians and Trinitarians both interpret the verse in ways that go beyond simply parroting its words. Your claim that Unitarians “have no need to interpret the verse” is balderdash. After claiming that you don’t need to interpret it, you offer an interpretation! The fact that you claim it is not an interpretation is at best naïveté on your part. Here, I will help you to see the point, if you don’t already. You wrote:

      “Matthew refers to the Father (God), the Son of God (whom we know to be Jesus) and the Holy Spirit (‘the power of the Most High’, as Luke calls it).”

      By glossing “Holy Spirit” with the words “the power of the Most High,” you are doing exactly what you claim not to do, offering a “gloss” to interpret what the verse means. Your selection of those words from Luke 1:35 reflects your own theological agenda, just as much as if I had written “and the Holy Spirit (who is ‘God’ according to Acts 5:3-4).”

      I run into this all the time. Anti-Trinitarians claim they don’t interpret the Bible; they just take it as it is. If that’s so, why are there Unitarian, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, and Oneness Pentecostal theologies, and why do they differ from one another so much?

      To show that being baptized “in the name…of the Holy Spirit” does not mean that “Holy Spirit” is literally a name, you cite several texts in which acting “in the name of” expresses acting on someone’s authority. Some of these texts, as you point out, do not give a specific proper name (you especially emphasized Matt. 10:41-42). This argument proceeds from the false premise that the Greek word onoma means a proper name. As I documented above, it can refer to what we call a title. Of course, what your argument overlooked was that in all of these texts the one on whose authority the action is done is a person (God, Deut. 18:20; 1 Chron. 21:19; other gods, Deut. 18:20; King Ahasuerus, Esther 3:12; the god Baal, Jer. 2:8; a prophet or a disciple, Matt. 10:41-42; our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Thess. 3:6).

      Worse still, you apparently did not bother to check the Hebrew or Greek of these verses, or even other translations. For example, Jeremiah 2:8 does not have any form of the word “name” in either the Hebrew or Greek version. It looks like you were simply looking up verses in the NET Bible and going by the English. This is funny, since you had just gotten through falsely alleging that I was “effectively interpreting the English instead of the Greek.”

      Your statistics on the use of pneuma are faulty, but it doesn’t matter much. If pneuma frequently does denote a spirit person of whatever kind (God, Christ, angels, departed humans, demons), and if the term is coordinated in a triad with two indisputable terms for persons (Father, Son), then the burden of proof is on the interpreter who would claim that pneuma in such a context is not a person. I don’t claim, and I don’t need to claim some deductive or incorrigible certainty for my exegesis; all I claim is that my position has the weight of the evidence on your side and that your interpretation (and that’s what it is!) bears the burden of proof.

      In a separate comment, I have already responded to your objection that pneuma nowhere else denotes a Trinitarian person.

      Finally, I found nothing in your quotations from Mounce, Nolland, or Newman with which to disagree. I don’t claim that Matthew 28:19 presents a formal treatment of the ontological status and ad intra relations of the three persons of the Trinity. I do claim that the text has some Trinitarian implications. You haven’t presented any evidence to discount the arguments I have presented to support those implications.

    • Fortigurn

      Rob, I was posting between 3 and 4 in the morning, which is a good reason for me to make mistakes. But you still can’t explain your own argument, and you are still not reading my posts, and you weren’t posting between 3 and 4 in the morning. The point I made about your use of lexicons with regard to ‘morphe’ was that you were using them to claim that it was not possible to be dogmatic about the meaning of the word. You cited those lexicons in support of you. I said this three times:

      * ‘they are dogmatic over the word which you say we can’t be dogmatic over?’

      * ‘claimed on the basis of these (rather than the authoritative lexicons), that it wasn’t possible to be dogmatic about the meaning of the word under discussion’

      * ‘they are all dogmatic on the point on which you say we shouldn’t be’

      How could you miss it? I already demonstrated that it was wrong to do so because none of those lexicons are sufficient to make your case. One is out of date, as you acknowledged. One is a student’s lexicon, one is a translator’s help, two of them provide English glosses on New Testament vocabulary rather than defining Greek words with historical lexical data. None of them cite any lexical evidence whatever to support their definitions, which is problematic to say the least.

      As Sam has helpfully shown, the major historical lexicons do not even gloss ‘morphe’ with ‘nature’, and are dogmatic about its meaning. Sam quoted the major lexicons repeatedly. Every time he did, he was forced to admit again and yet again that they supported Dave’s understanding of the word. He ran frantically from one lexicon to the next, but to his horror they all supported Dave.

      You cannot claim that it’s not possible to be dogmatic about the meaning of this word when the major historical lexicons are all dogmatic about it.

    • Fortigurn

      Sam,

      Now Fortigurn, what was that about scholars and lexicons?

      What I said was that all the major historical lexicons support Dave’s understanding of ‘mophe’. You have helpfully confirmed this. Thanks, but we knew it already. You will note that even Bowman has admitted that he tends to agree with the same understanding of ‘morphe’ as Dave. Yet here you are quoting the very lexicons which support him, and claim that they don’t.

      I don’t think you’re reading them very closely. All you’re doing is reading the theological commentary, and ignoring the word definitions. The theological commentary is irrelevant. The word definitions are not.

      First, you only posted that comment AFTER Bowman corrected you and showed you that had misread him.

      No Sam, I posted that comment after I had examined Dave’s argument for myself, as I said I would. I saw that Dave’s argument was deficient, and I immediately posted a counter to it. I then posted a link to my counter, for you and Bowman. Bowman read it, you didn’t.

      You then proceeded to make yourself look foolish by making the same case against Dave which I had already made, and claiming that you were correcting me in the process. In reality you had no idea that I had already made the same case against Dave before you. All you did was repeat what I had already said, only a lot less efficiently.

      Once I show that even THE VERY LEXICAL SOURCES that you yourself use agree with the range of meanings listed by Bowman’s lexicons and confirm Bowman’s exegesis not just for morphe but for all the rest of the words then this will completely expose your cheap debate tactic for what it truly.

      But Sam, you still don’t realise that Bowman and Dave agree on the meaning of the word ‘morphe’. Bowman just says we can’t be dogmatic about it.

    • Fortigurn

      By the way, here’s a free lexicon for you, so you finally have one:

      http://www.archive.org/details/greekenglishlexi00grimuoft

    • Fortigurn

      Rob,

      Fortigurn, you’re obviously someone who has spent some time with biblical scholarly resources, if nothing else. You’re clearly intelligent and seem fairly knowledgeable. Why hide behind a pseudonym?

      That’s a pejorative description of my preference for anonymity (the same preference as the overwhelming majority of Internet users). Why phrase it that way?

    • Fortigurn

      ἁρπαγμός

      * ANLEX: ‘literally something seized and held, plunder’ (Philippians 2L6 is glossed as ‘figuratively in PH 2.6 of Jesus’ equality with God οὐχ ἁρπαγμόν”)

      * LSJ9: ‘ἁρπαγμός, ὁ, robbery, rape, Plu.2.12a; ἁ. ὁ γάμος ἔσται Vett.Val.122.1. 2. concrete, prize to be grasped, Ep.Phil.2.6; cf. ἅρπαγμα 2.’

      * Louw/Nida: ‘ that which is to be held on to forcibly—‘something to hold by force, something to be forcibly retained.’’ (Philippians 2:6 is glossed as ‘he always had the nature of God and did not consider that remaining equal with God was something to be held on to forcibly’)

      * Newman: ‘ἁρπαγμός , οῦ m something to grasp after; something to hold onto’

      * BDAG: ‘a violent seizure of property, robbery’, ‘ As equal to ἅρπαγμα, someth. to which one can claim or assert title by gripping or grasping, someth. claimed’ (the gloss on Philippians 2:6 is ‘ the state of being equal w. God cannot be equated w. the act of robbery’, which helpfully shows that the meaning of the word is incompatible with the idea that Jesus is God in Philippians 2:6)

      * EDNT: this exegetical lexicon gives ‘robbery’ as the definition, and then blatantly admits that it cannot accept this definition in Philippians 2:6 for theological reasons (‘The meaning which predominates in secular Greek, robbery, is out of the question for Phil 2:6’)

      * TDNT: ‘In common with other subst. formed with -μός, ἁρπαγμός first means a. the activity of ἁρπάζειν.1 In non-Christian writings it is found only in this sense‘, ‘he word then took on the sense of the more common ἅρπαγμα and came to mean b, “what is seized,” esp. plunder or booty’, ‘to take up an attitude to something as one does to what presents itself as a prey to be grasped, a chance discovery, or a gift of fate, i.e., appropriating and using it, treating it as something desired…

    • Rob Bowman

      Fortigurn,

      I didn’t say that it isn’t possible to be dogmatic about the meaning of morphē. I said it was unjustified. If you wish to insist dogmatically that it is justified to be dogmatic about its meaning, go ahead.

      How fun: the anti-Trinitarians are the dogmatists! Who would have thought?

      For those who want to go beyond dogmatic assertions and read a thoughtful, nuanced discussion of the issue, I recommend Moises Silva’s commentary Philippians, 2d ed., Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), 100-102. For those unfamiliar with Silva, he is a renowned expert on NT Greek linguistics and hermeneutics and is the author of Biblical Words and Their Meanings: An Introduction to Lexical Semantics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995). Of course, many good treatments of the meaning of the word are out there. An even more recent commentary that takes an approach similar to Silva’s is G. Walter Hansen, The Letter to the Philippians, Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 133-42. Hansen shows why simply repeating what the standard lexicons say about morphē does not settle the matter of its precise meaning or connotation in the context of Philippians 2:6-7.

    • sam shamoun

      Fortigurn, I know you are up to your tricks and deception again and that in your arrogance you can’t admit that you were being simply silly for chiding Bowman for not citing your choice of lexicons.

      Not only did the lexicons you preferred add nothing new to the ones which Bowman cited or agreed with but they also destroyed your belief system since THEY ALL AGREED THAT JESUS PREEXISTED IN A DIVINE STATE, AS GOD. This means the lexicons actually confirmed one of Bowman’s 6 points, while decimating Burke’s case.

      Rob, are you surprised that Fortigurn AGAIN distorted your words? He can’t help it. Anyway, I have a few more things to say to Fortigurn and I am through with his games and debate tricks.

    • Fortigurn

      Rob,

      If you wish to insist dogmatically that it is justified to be dogmatic about its meaning, go ahead.

      As I’ve pointed out many times Rob, it’s not me saying it. The standard historical lexicons are dogmatic about the meaning of this word. That being the case, the insistence from a non-professional that we shouldn’t be dogmatic about it fails to convince. I don’t ask you to take my opinion over that of professional lexicographers, or Bible translators, or even your local electrician. You shouldn’t do it either.

      How fun: the anti-Trinitarians are the dogmatists! Who would have thought?

      That’s a misrepresentation, since in this case as I have pointed out there are plenty of Trinitarians being dogmatic.

      Silva is great, but he’s not a lexicographer. Don’t you just love how he says this passage was ‘not written for the purpose of presenting an ontological description of Christ’ (pp. 101-102), though Trinitarians typically use it that way, and how about where he downplays the meaning ‘visible appearance’ (pp 100-101), despite its clear attestation in the Greek literature?

      Hansen is like other Trinitarians who have realised that Philppians 2:6 is a problem for the Trinity, and is wrestling with how to explain to the laity that the key word under question doesn’t actually mean what they’ve always been taught it does mean. That’s why the definition in the standard lexicons doesn’t work for him, because it’s very difficult to reconcile with his theology.

      If it was a Unitarian trying that argument, you’d be all over him. What if Dave tried that on with ‘aion’? If the word ‘morphe’ actually meant ‘divine nature’, Hansen wouldn’t be saying that repeating the lexicon meaning isn’t the way to settle what it means here.

    • Fortigurn

      Sam,

      Not only did the lexicons you preferred add nothing new to the ones which Bowman cited or agreed with but they also destroyed your belief system since THEY ALL AGREED THAT JESUS PREEXISTED IN A DIVINE STATE, AS GOD. This means the lexicons actually confirmed one of Bowman’s 6 points, while decimating Burke’s case.

      This is proof that you don’t own a lexicon, you don’t understand the difference between a lexical definition and a theological gloss. All of the standard lexicons agreed with Dave on the meaning of ‘morphe’, which Bowman is actually saying is the same meaning to which he leans (you still seem to think he disagrees with Dave on this point!).

      Their theological claims about Christ being pre-existent as God are irrelevant to this fact. Trinitarians say Jesus is God? How surprising!

      Do yourself a favour, get on B-Trans and B-Greek, and lurk while the professionals talk for a month or so. You’ll pick up a lot of useful information about how lexicons should and shouldn’t be used. You’ll even get a few suggestions about which should be your first lexicon.

      http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/

      http://bible-translation.110mb.com/list/index.html

    • sam shamoun

      Notice what Fortigurn did when his own lexical sources ended up working against him and establishing Bowman’s case. Much like what Burke did, he throws them under the bus and calls into question their definitions and explanations due to their theology!

      Let me expose your tricks and deception once again. You write:

      I don’t think you’re reading them very closely. All you’re doing is reading the theological commentary, and ignoring the word definitions. The theological commentary is irrelevant. The word definitions are not.

      This is why I keep saying that people shouldn’t waste time on Fortigurn and should simply ignore him.

      Fortigurn, your comments either show you have no clue how lexicons work or that you are again being deceptive. Which is it?

      Although word definitions are important they do not tell us what specific definition of a word best fits a given context. That is why the lexicons you chose provided “theological commentary.” The explanation or so called theological commentary helps us understand and explain the reasons why a particular word bears a specific meaning in a particular context.

      Moreover, the “theological commentary” of the lexical sources you chose are based upon and derived from the exegesis of the texts in question. In light of this, isn’t it amazing that your lexical sources came to the same conclusion and understanding that Bowman did? It must really hurt you that your lexicons of choice do not interpret passages such as Philippians 2:6 they way you or Burke do? Too bad, so sad!

      So now Fortigurn let me repeat my question to you. Do I need to quote from your document to prove that the lexicons you chose agree with Bowman concerning the meaning of harpagmos? Or are you willing to admit that they do?

      Anyway, depends on how you answer this may be my final post to you. You have been a waste of my time to be honest.

    • sam shamoun

      I have to laugh at you at this point:

      This is proof that you don’t own a lexicon, you don’t understand the difference between a lexical definition and a theological gloss. All of the standard lexicons agreed with Dave on the meaning of ‘morphe’, which Bowman is actually saying is the same meaning to which he leans (you still seem to think he disagrees with Dave on this point!).

      What this proves is that you are good at committing logical fallacies and that you are willing to throw your sources under the bus when they are used to expose your lies and distortions. I already explained why we find “theolgoical glosses” in the lexicons you chose.

      And you can rant and rave all you want, but your arrogant chatter doesn’t refute the fact that you are now trying to save face after exposing you for what you are.

      So keep ranting, maybe somebody will take you seriously.

      My advice, learn to spend more time reading your own sources carefully and also try being honest since this will prevent you from being put in embarrassing situations where you are constantly getting humiliated. I know its hard for you be honest and humble seeing where your beliefs originate from (cf. John 8:44; 2 Peter 3:15-16)

    • sam shamoun

      Anyway, I am done with Fortigurn. Rob, if you want to continue dialoguing with a person who distorts people’s words, lies, and arrognatly boasts about what he knows (when in reality he doesn’t know much) then more power to you.

      Nick was right to avoid him since Fortigurn shows that he cannot comprehend what he reads or represent what certain sources or even his opponents say accurately.

    • Fortigurn

      Sam, you’re not getting it. You keep on changing your own tune. First you admitted that the lexicons define ‘morphe’ the way Dave understands it. Then you claimed that despite this they are still against Dave because the theological gloss says that Jesus pre-existed as God. I pointed out that this does not change the fact that the lexicons qua lexicons actually support Dave’s understanding of the word, which is precisely what lexicons are there to settle.

      Now you claim that I throw them under a bus? Nonsense. I’m entirely happy using these lexicons to settle the meaning of ‘morphe’. As you were forced to admit, they all supported Dave’s understanding of the word.

      Although word definitions are important they do not tell us what specific definition of a word best fits a given context. That is why the lexicons you chose provided “theological commentary.” The explanation or so called theological commentary helps us understand and explain the reasons why a particular word bears a specific meaning in a particular context.

      What you don’t yet understand Sam is that this is not where lexicons are authoritative. No lexicon is an authoritative theological commentary. That is not what lexicons are for. Anyone is entirely at liberty to ignore a theological commentary in a lexicon. Fortunately purely historical lexicons such as LSJ9 do not contain theological commentary.

      So now Fortigurn let me repeat my question to you. Do I need to quote from your document to prove that the lexicons you chose agree with Bowman concerning the meaning of harpagmos? Or are you willing to admit that they do?

      I already cited them all (the post is probably still in the moderation queue). They are consistent in saying the word means ‘a robbery’ or ‘something to be seized’, and several of them acknowledge that this meaning is theologically impossible to apply to the instance of ‘morphe’ in Philppians 2:6.

    • Fortigurn

      Sam,

      Anyway, I am done with Fortigurn.

      No you’re not. You’ve said this several times, and it hasn’t yet been true. You’ll come back.

    • Charles

      Trinitarians are notorious for taking a word and its defined meaning then applying commentary, not to explain the word in context, but to change the words meaning entirely.

    • Fortigurn

      Charles, even though some Trinitarians do that, plenty of non-Trinitarians are also guilty. And sure, Trinitarians have been responsible for all the textual corruptions of the Bible which were written in specifically to try and prop up their doctrine. But they don’t do that anymore.

    • Charles

      Trinitarians are still defending doctrines in which they believe has given them liberty to change the meaning of words. Doctrine ought not give anyone the right to do that.

      If a word has meanings then I am not at liberty to change those meanings to suit my claim. And no one else should either, because if they do, then they turn what was meant into a lie.

    • Charles

      Begotten son means begotten son. Now, where in all of Scripture or in any language at all does begotten son mean anything else than begotten son.

      Why have people been given liberty to change the meaning? Why have people allowed them to do it?

      How can anyone be fooled into believing a certain groups doctrines are true when they have taken it upon themselves to change the meanings of words, even though those meanings have never changed even to this very day?

    • Rob Bowman

      Fortigurn,

      Further debate about whether dogmatism about the meaning of morphē is justified seems otiose, when everyone here agrees that the word means appearance.

      How about addressing some issues of substance? For example, I explained to Dave that his Unitarian interpretation of Philippians 2:6-7 really does not fit the definition of morphē as “appearance.” Here is what I said:

      By contrast, interpreting morphē consistently to mean “appearance” will not fit the Unitarian interpretation. Christ “existed in the appearance of God…but emptied himself, taking the appearance of a servant.” How does this fit Unitarian Christology? You don’t think it does, either, which is why, after all the argument to show that morphē means “appearance,” you assert that what this really means is “image” (citing Cullmann, whose views on what this means in context you do not mention and certainly do not accept). Well, then, if you want to take this view, then you must be consistent: Christ “existed in the image of God…but emptied himself, taking the image of a servant.” This would appear to mean that Christ exchanged the image of God for the image of a servant. So, did Christ stop existing in God’s image? When did he do that?

      Offering thoughtful answers to problems like these would be a genuine contribution to the discussion.

    • Charles

      Here’s my 2cents worth.

      “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,”

      Though he visibly appeared as God, did not himself count being equal with God as something to be grasped (unlike Adam, who did grasp at equality with God). Instead he humbled himself and became as a servant.

      Christ visibly appearing as God, or in the form of God, would consist of more than just being in the physical image of God as all men are, but he could actually say that if you had seen him you had seen the Father. He demonstrated not only a reflective image or resemblance but the very character of the Father.

      That is why Paul could say that as we bore the image of the earthly (Adam) we shall also bare the image of the heavenly (Adam). It’s not just the physical appearance that we will share, but the character and immortal nature also.

    • Rob Bowman

      ACTS 2:33-36

      Dave,

      I had written:

      “Biblical Unitarians interpret Psalm 110:1 to mean that the LORD YHWH exalted a mere man to be the Messianic lord, and so they understand Acts 2:36 to mean that Jesus’ designation as ‘lord’ refers to a status that he acquired for the first time in his exaltation.”

      You replied:

      Wrong. This is a misrepresentation. In previous weeks I have repeatedly demonstrated that I believe Jesus was Messiah and Lord before his death, resurrection and exaltation. I showed that Jesus claimed these titles throughout his ministry. I have never said that Jesus only became ‘Lord’ for the first time at his resurrection and exaltation. That is not my position.”

      Dave, I’m happy for you to clarify your position or to correct any misunderstanding I might have of what you believe. However, I have searched through every thread of this debate twice and was not able to find a single statement from you affirming that prior to his death and resurrection Jesus was already the “Lord” of Psalm 110:1, or even affirming that Jesus was already “Lord.” The closest you came was in your Part 2 post, where you listed several titles of Jesus, including “Lord” in John 13:13, but without any comment as to its significance. That is, you did not cite this verse to make the point that Jesus was already Lord before his death and resurrection. Furthermore, I think this is the only instance in all of your posts and comments where you even mentioned a text in which Jesus is called Lord prior to his death. So it simply is not true that you “repeatedly demonstrated that [you] believe Jesus was Messiah and Lord before his death, resurrection and exaltation.” I agree that you affirmed that Jesus was Messiah before his death, but not Lord, except indirectly in your citation of John 13:13. Since you offered no explanation for John 13:13, it seemed plausible that you understood the term in that context to mean something less than in Acts 2:36. Elsewhere, in your comment responding to my exegesis of Romans 10:9-13 (my post in Part 3, comment #4), you used the title “Jesus Christ: The Cornerstone who Became Lord,” and in that comment you emphasized Acts 2:36.

      In any case, you cannot have your cake and eat it too. If you are going to argue that Acts 2:36 means that God changed Jesus’ status to that of Messiah and Lord, then he must not have been Messiah and Lord prior to God making that change. Furthermore, in the context of Acts 2:36, if a change in status is indicated, it would seem to come at Jesus’ resurrection and exaltation. Therefore, given your insistence that Acts 2:36 means that Jesus acquired a status he did not previously have, it makes sense for me to conclude that in your view Jesus became Lord at his resurrection and exaltation. I cannot agree, then, that I had “created” a “straw man argument,” as you went on to complain.

      Now, you can define your position any way you like. If you say that you think Jesus was already “Messiah and Lord” in the sense meant in Acts 2:36 throughout Jesus’ ministry prior to his death, I take you at your word. However, you will then have to explain why Peter makes the statement he does in the context he does, given your insistence that it means that Jesus obtained a status he did not previously have.

      I would like to quote a text from the Jewish Apocrypha that may shed some light on the usage of epoiēsen (“made”) in Acts 2:36. I don’t claim it is an exact parallel, but it seems close enough to be instructive. The passage has to do with the action of the king Ptolemais toward the Jewish high priest Jonathan:

      “Although certain renegades of his nation kept making complaints against him [Jonathan], the king treated [epoiēsen] him as his predecessors had treated [epoiēsen] him; he exalted [hupsōsen] him in the presence of all his Friends. He confirmed him in the high priesthood and in as many other honors as he had formerly had, and caused [epoiēsen] him to be reckoned among his chief Friends” (1 Macc. 11:25-27 NRSV).

      This passage illustrates the fact that there is sometimes a difference between the lexical definition of a word and the sense that the word conveys in a particular context. We could woodenly translate verse 26 “the king made him as his predecessors made him,” but this doesn’t convey the meaning in good idiomatic English. The NRSV gets the sense right in good English by using the word “treated” instead of “made.” Now, you can argue that epoiēsen does not mean “treated,” and you’d be right; but translation is not always about substituting an English word lexical equivalent for each Greek word. That “concordant” approach to Bible translation is simply outmoded; translation scholars and theorists of the past generation or more have thoroughly discredited that approach.

      In the passage in 1 Maccabees 11, the king “exalted” (hupsōsen) Jonathan by restoring to him the office and honors he had previously; he “made” (epoiēsen) Jonathan what he had been before. The high priesthood had been Jonathan’s before and was already his office by right; the king simply recognized and confirmed publicly that Jonathan was the rightful high priest. Similarly, God the Father had “exalted” (hupsōtheis) Jesus (Acts 2:33) and “made” (epoiēsen) him both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36), even though, as you say you agree, Jesus had already been both Lord and Christ prior to his death (e.g., Luke 2:11). Thus, it does appear that the sense of the statement in Acts 2:36 is that God the Father treated or publicly confirmed Jesus in his status as Lord and Christ. This is a perfectly legitimate interpretation and one that seems to have some precedent linguistically in 1 Maccabees 11:25-27.

    • Fortigurn

      Rob, I note you changed Peter’s ‘God’ to the Trinitarian ‘God the Father’. It’s this repeated replacement of apostolic terms which exposes the Trinitarian bias. You keep saying that the Trinity was only ‘implicit’ in the New Testament (whatever that is supposed to mean), but you still want Peter to talk like a modern Trinitarian. You can’t have it both ways.

      If you acknowledge the Trinity is only ‘implicit’ in the New Testatment, then you acknowledge (with mainstream theologians), that the concept is a post-Biblical development of which the 1st century church knew nothing. You keep flipping between the two. This seems to be for the benefit of your punters, since the average layman still thinks the apostles believed in a fully fledged Trinity which was believed and taught just as their pastors teach it today. But you know this isn’t true, and you know the scholarly consensus holds that it isn’t true. However, you seem to avoid wanting to make that explicit, so you make Peter talk like a Trinitarian using theological distinctions which weren’t invented until over 150 years later.

      For Peter, as for Paul, God was one person, ‘the Father’. For the Trinitarian, ‘God’ is an barely definable concept (not a person), which describes three divine ‘pseudo-persons’ (because they’re not definable using the standard English meaning of ‘person’) united in a mysterious and unknowable way. This is why Trinitarians don’t preach what Peter preached in Acts 2 before baptizing people with that knowledge. Unitarians preach what Peter preached in Acts 2, and then baptize people with that knowledge. For this, Trinitarians call us heretics.

    • Rob Bowman

      Fortigurn,

      You wrote:

      “Rob, I note you changed Peter’s ‘God’ to the Trinitarian ‘God the Father’. It’s this repeated replacement of apostolic terms which exposes the Trinitarian bias.”

      But then you also wrote:

      “For Peter, as for Paul, God was one person, ‘the Father’.”

      So, if God is the Father, or if the Father is God, is there anything wrong with using the term “God the Father”?

      Does not Peter say, “Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing” (Acts 2:33)? Does this not tell us that in this context Peter uses the titles “God” and “Father” for the same person, so that the compound form “God the Father” is faithful to what Peter himself says?

      And does not Peter himself use this very form, “God the Father,” in his epistles (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:17), as does Paul 11 times, John once, and Jude once? How can you say that using “God the Father” is a “replacement of apostolic terms” when it is an apostolic term? How can you claim that I am making Peter “talk like a modern Trinitarian” when Peter himself talked in exactly the same way?

      May I not reasonably claim that you have inadvertently conceded that the compound form “God the Father,” which four of the NT writers use a combined total of 15 times, is “Trinitarian” language? Have you not in effect intercepted the ball and run toward the wrong end of the field on my behalf?

      Did you think about any of this before making your criticism?

      Out of everything I said in that comment, was this the most substantive issue you could find to attack?

      The rest of your post runs with the ball in the same direction and requires no further comment. Thanks for the assist.

    • Rob Bowman

      THE HOLY SPIRIT IN ROMANS 8

      Dave,

      You argue (comment #43 above) that the Spirit is “something God possesses” because he is the Spirit of God or the Spirit of the Father (in Romans 8:11, “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead”). Elsewhere you appear to assume that these references to God’s Spirit are analogous to references to the spirit of a human being; “my spirit” means the spirit that I possess, the spirit that belongs to me, and God’s Spirit is likewise the spirit that he possesses. In both cases, you appear to argue, the “spirit” is an attribute or aspect of that person, something that belongs to the person or characterizes that person.

      If this argument by analogy is correct, how can God give his spirit (or even some of his spirit) to others? How can, as you have argued, God pour out his spirit on people, send his spirit into the world to dwell in people, and so forth? We can’t do these things with our spirits. My spirit stays with me or I’m dead, and I can’t pour out my spirit on other people. The only response I think you could give to this question is that God can do things with his spirit that we can’t do with ours. I don’t deny that this is possible, but then it seems the analogy between God’s spirit and ours breaks down.

      Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is not only the Spirit of God; he is also the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Acts 16:6-7; Rom. 8:9-11; Phil. 1:19; 1 Peter 1:11-12). Here again, the analogy between a human being’s spirit and God’s Spirit breaks down. The problem is acute for the Unitarian position: if this is God’s personal spirit that he possesses (analogous to my personal spirit that I possess, that gives me life), how can it also be Christ’s spirit? Clearly, it cannot really be Christ’s spirit, yet Luke, Paul, and Peter all speak of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Jesus Christ. I stand by what I wrote above: The fact that the Spirit can be described in the same context as both “the Spirit of God” and “the Spirit of Christ” proves that “Spirit of God” does not mean the energy or power that belongs to and emanates from God’s being and that Christ supposedly “uses” as God gives it to him. Rather, the Holy Spirit can be called both the Spirit of God (the Father) and the Spirit of Christ (the Son) because he is the Spirit whose role it is in redemption to unite us to the Father and the Son.

      You also cite a number of places where “spirit” is followed by various genitives (“of truth,” “of slavery,” “of faith,” etc.) concluding that in these occurrences the word “spirit” denotes “aspects; attributes; inclinations; dispositions; reflections of the mind.”

      The Bible uses similar language, however, using the term “God.” Here are some examples of such parallel expressions:

      • The Spirit of truth (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13; 1 John 4:6); the God of truth (Ps. 31:5; Isa. 65:16)
      • The Spirit of knowledge (Isa. 11:2); a God of knowledge (1 Sam. 2:3)
      • The Spirit of grace (Zech. 12:10; Heb. 10:29); the God of all grace (1 Peter 5:10)
      • The Spirit of glory (1 Peter 4:14); the God of glory (Ps. 29:3; Acts 7:2)

      A similar parallel can be drawn with regard to the use of “spirit” for a source of evil:

      • The spirit of the world (1 Cor. 2:12); the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4)

      For those of us who accept the biblical teaching that Satan is a real being, we have no problem recognizing “the spirit of the world” to refer not just to an impersonal or abstract Zeitgeist but to the evil spirit that dominates the world in its anti-God attitudes and values.

      The grammatical gender of the pronouns used for the Holy Spirit is unimportant and irrelevant; my argument concerning this passage has nothing to do with whether we translate pronouns referring to the Spirit as “him” or “it.” Oddly, you brought up Romans 8:16 (you accidentally wrote 9:16), which I did not even mention. Meanwhile, you ignored the point I made regarding Romans 8:26-27 and 8:33-34, which was that Paul speaks in the same context of the Holy Spirit “interceding” from within us and of the Son, Jesus Christ, interceding for us from heaven. I wrote: That these are two distinct yet complementary acts or types of intercession is clear from how Paul describes each. The Spirit intercedes for us from within us, “with groaning too deep for words.” The Son, Christ Jesus, intercedes for us from “the right hand of God.” You completely ignored this point.

    • Rob Bowman

      TRIADIC STATEMENTS IN PAUL AND 1 PETER

      Dave,

      You posted a flurry of six brief comments (#44 through #489 above) on the rest of the triadic texts that I discussed in my post. None of these comments engaged my arguments one bit!

      Your only objection to my treatment of 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 was the embarrassingly irrelevant objection that the passage is not an instance of Hebrew parallelism. I referred to “the deliberate parallelism of these three lines,” and you criticized this statement on the mistaken assumption that I was referring to Hebrew poetic parallelism. I could have said “the deliberately similar wording of these three lines” and my argument would have been the same. Thus, your criticism is completely off target. You ignored the entirety of the argument I presented, instead picking at this one word in a way that has nothing to do with the argument itself.

      You didn’t even pretend to address my argument concerning 2 Corinthians 13:14. Anyone reading my careful exegetical treatment of the text and then reading your careless dismissal will see that immediately.

      Your superficial comment on Galatians 4:4-6 likewise totally failed to engage the argument. Once again, you confused my reference to a “parallel” between what Paul says about the Son and the Spirit with Hebrew poetic parallelism.

      Ephesians 2:18-22 received an equally superficial comment from you. You made no attempt to engage the arguments I presented on this text, either. It is hardly arbitrary to point out that Paul uses an expression with reference to Christ (“in the Lord”) that the LXX uses uniformly with reference to Yahweh. Consistent with your comments in this part of the debate, you didn’t even acknowledge that specific argument, merely repeating your objection in general to identifying Jesus as Yahweh.

      I gave three specific exegetical arguments for my interpretation of Ephesians 4:4-6. You addressed none of those arguments. I gave three specific exegetical reasons for understanding Ephesians 5:18-21 to be treating Jesus Christ as the LORD Yahweh. You addressed none of those arguments, either. You had nothing of substance to say on these texts or on 1 Peter 1:2 (not 2:1, as you wrote) that in any way dealt with the argument I presented.

      The purpose of a rebuttal is to rebut the other debater’s specific arguments. You utterly failed to do so in these six comments.

    • Fortigurn

      Rob, what your quote from Acts 2:33 shows is that for Peter ‘the Father’ and ‘God’ are synonymous. That is not what Trinitarians believe. You believe that the Father is God, but you believe God is ‘the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit’.

      The issue I took with your placing the phrase ‘God the Father’ in the mouth of Peter was that he never uses this phrase. The reason why you used it was becuase Trinitarian theology requires you to make this qualification.

      The compound ‘God the Father’ is not faithful to what Peter himself says, because the compound ‘God the Father’ is a Trinitarian device invented specifically to identify the Father as the first person of the Trinity. You are equivocating badly here, because you know you read this term ‘God-the-Father’. I am sure you would be among the first to acknowledge that Peter had no such conception of God.

      Peter does not use the compound term ‘God the Father’. He will say ‘God, the Father’, but he does not use the Trinitarian compound, which is not an apostolic term. You are equivocating badly when you claim that Peter’s use of ‘God, the Father’ means the same as the Trinitarian ‘God the Father’. You are explic

      The very fact that you replaced his words with your own in Acts shows that you know he didn’t use use that term, and that you needed him to.

      The point you are avoiding, which Trinitarian scholarship agrees on, is that for Peter ‘God’ was ‘the Father’. God was not ‘the Father, the son, and the Holy Spirit’. For Peter, there was one God, the Father. For Peter, God was one person, the Father.

      For you, God is ‘the Father, the son, and the Holy Spirit’. That’s precisely why you cannot accept Peter’s description of God, that’s why when Unitarians use this description you object to it, and that’s why when Unitarians preach what Peter preached before baptizing people you say we are wrong.

    • Rob Bowman

      Fortigurn,

      You haven’t extricated yourself from the problem you created for your own position.

      Astonishingly, you claim that what Peter says in his epistles (and I assume you would have to say the same thing for Paul, John, and Jude) is not “God the Father” but “God, the Father,” as if this makes some big difference. Does this clear anything up? Not really. I do not know of a single translation of the Bible that ever renders the expression in this way (with the comma). Do you? And it really doesn’t make any difference. I am just as comfortable with “God, the Father” as with “God the Father.” It doesn’t matter to me.

      As I explained to Dave, the issue is not words but the substance, the ideas, those words express. Yes, the NT authors, when they spoke of “God” without qualification, normally were referring to the person of the Father. Likewise, when they spoke of “the Lord” without qualification, normally they were referring to the person of the Son. I have provided exegetical evidence supporting the conclusion that many, many NT scholars have reached that the NT frequently calls Jesus “Lord” in contexts where this term stands for the divine name YHWH. You can’t get around this evidence by appealing to the Bible’s routine use of “God” for the Father.

      Furthermore, I have shown that the NT does occasionally refer to Jesus Christ as “God” in contexts where this term must have its full sense of the God who created the world and is the sole proper object of religious devotion and service (notably in John 1:1 and 20:28). Peter does this himself in 2 Peter 1:1 (a text we did not get a chance to discuss in this debate).

      You still haven’t touched the substance of my argument in comment #132 above, to which you were supposedly responding. Until you do, I will consider your line of argument concerning “God, the Father” (!) an attempt to distract attention from the argument I presented.

    • Fortigurn

      Rob,

      Yes, the NT authors, when they spoke of “God” without qualification, normally were referring to the person of the Father.

      Thank you, that was my point precisely. You replaced Peter’s ‘God’ the Trinitarian compound phrase ‘God-the-Father’. The Trinitarian compound phrase ‘God-the-Father’ was not used by the apostles. If it had been, you wouldn’t be forced to say that the Trinity is only implicit in the New Testament.

      Astonishingly, you claim that what Peter says in his epistles (and I assume you would have to say the same thing for Paul, John, and Jude) is not “God the Father” but “God, the Father,” as if this makes some big difference.

      It does make a difference Rob, and you know it does. You cannot say that God is the Father. I can.

      Theologically it is correct to say that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. But these statements cannot be reversed.

      We cannot say God is the Father, because that would omit the Son and the Holy Spirit.’

      Fish, John H III, ‘God the Son’, Emmaus Journal Volume 12. 2003 (1) (34). Dubuque, IA: Emmaus Bible College.

      You should realize of course that I have no problem with divine titles being ascribed to a divine agent, so I have no problem with Jesus carrying the name ‘Yahweh’ just as the angel of the presence carried it, and just as Christ said he would write his Father’s name on his faithful followers (Revelation 3:12).

      You still haven’t touched the substance of my argument in comment #132 above, to which you were supposedly responding.

      To what else am I supposed to be responding? I certainly believe that God treated or publicly confirmed Jesus in his status as Lord and Christ. I took issue with you rephrasing Peter’s ‘God’ as ‘God the Father’.

      Did Peter believe God was the Father, or ‘the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’?

    • Fortigurn

      * 1 Corinthians 8:6 (KJV), ‘But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

      I’m fairly sure we all know that this is the standard translation of modern English Bibles. Do you really think that comma makes no difference? Is this really saying the same as ‘But to us there is but one God the Father’?

      Compare this:

      The one true God consists of three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

      Emmaus Journal Volume 12. 2003. Dubuque, IA: Emmaus Bible College

      With this:

      John 17:
      3 Now this is eternal life – that they know you, [one person, the Father] the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you [one person, the Father] sent.

    • Able

      @ Rob

      You state that “I mean the aspect of orthodox Christian doctrine that affirms that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three, and the only three, distinct persons who are God.”

      How does this statement fit with your idea of a “progressive revelation” of the identity of God?

      If God didn’t reveal his triunity until the New Testament then what is to stop us from contemplating the possiblity that he will in the future progressively reveal that he is in fact a quadunity or an octunity?

    • Dave Basford

      Right at the beginning you stated Rob

      “Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Father is not the Holy Spirit, and the only theological position in the marketplace of ideas that is left is the doctrine of the Trinity.”

      As a programmer for a living we’ll see what you did in simpler terms
      F != S ( != means ‘is not equal to )
      S != HS
      F != S
      I’ll also a given
      F = G (for God) as we all agree with that statement

      therefore you state that it MUST be true that
      F = G
      S = G
      HS = G

      Stating that things that are not equal does not lead to all things being equal to something else just because one of them is.

      Both the statement and your apparent belief it is a natural and logical next step are neither logical, natural or factual.

      I’ve seen one or two points you made that stod up well against scrutiny but in summing up you’ve destroyed your credability totally with what you say is a statement of logic which is just the reverse.

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