Dale Tuggy

Dale Tuggy is Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where he teaches courses in analytic theology, philosophy of religion, religious studies, and the history of philosophy.

31 Comments

  1. Rivers
    December 19, 2014 @ 8:18 am

    Sean,

    Thank you for the clarifications about “sense” and “meaning”, as well as your understanding of Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1-2.

  2. Rivers
    December 19, 2014 @ 8:14 am

    Hi John,

    I agree. The word G/god certainly had a wider semantic range in scripture than simply being applicable to YHWH himself. Just like our word “president” doesn’t always mean President of the United States.

    When I’m interacting with Trinitiarians or folks who think that Jesus was “a god” because he supposedly existed in that form before his birth, I just try to focus on the evidence showing the semantic range of G/god in both biblical Hebrew and Greek and let it speak for itself.

    If someone can’t discern that words like G/god and P/president have different implications of authority in different contexts, then a more complicated “divine agency” argument probably isn’t going to help either. Thus, I usually try to avoid going there.

  3. Sean Garrigan
    December 19, 2014 @ 6:51 am

    John,

    “If I was being ‘provocative’ I apologise unreservedly….I have no problem with Christ being referred to as ‘god’…Moses was not referred to as ‘god’ because he was The Lord God Almighty…He was referred to as ‘god’ because he was Gods divine agent.I’m not as well versed on these matters as you and Rivers , but as I understand things ‘theos’ can mean anything from YHWH to a priest or a judge…Capitalisation of the word ‘God’ is in many cases knowingly deceitful.”

    No problem, I was more surprised than anything. Capitalization is an English convention, and if the agent is so called because he’s standing in for YHWH, then it’s appropriate to capitalize, IMO, because the agent is “as though he were God” not “as though he were god”. Also, remember not to confuse sense with reference; angels, judges, and kings can be referred to as QEOS, but QEOS probably doesn’t *mean* angel, judge, or king.

    BTW, just to clarify, I don’t argue that Jesus is called God at Titus 2:13 or 2 Peter 1:1; I merely accept the possibility that QEOS is applied to him there and elsewhere for the reasons stated. As I previously asked: In light of the flexible use of this appellation for agents of God in the biblical period, why not?

    ~Sean

  4. john
    December 19, 2014 @ 12:08 am

    Sean,
    If I was being ‘provocative’ I apologise unreservedly.

    I have no problem with Christ being referred to as ‘god’.

    Moses was not referred to as ‘god’ because he was The Lord God Almighty.
    He was referred to as ‘god’ because he was Gods divine agent.

    I’m not as well versed on these matters as you and Rivers , but as I understand things ‘theos’ can mean anything from YHWH to a priest or a judge.

    Capitalisation of the word ‘God’ is in many cases knowingly deceitful.

    Blessings
    John

  5. Rivers
    December 18, 2014 @ 9:42 pm

    Sean,

    No problem. I agree with you that “agency” is a part of the ministry of Jesus Christ. I just think we differ on the significance of it. I typically don’t appeal to it when I’m debating Trinitarians, but I know that others find it helpful.

  6. Sean Garrigan
    December 18, 2014 @ 8:55 pm

    Rivers,

    As I said, you’re welcome to believe as you will, but there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind, or in the minds of others who have studied Jewish agency vis a vis the biblical development of Christ, that agency is at the very heart of the biblical development of Christ role in relation to God and us. If you can read German then you might what to start with the pioneering work of Jan A. Buhner (Der Gesandte Und Sein Weg Im 4), as his work was highly influential in this regard.

    BTW, yes it was unfair for me to include you in my response to John as one with an agenda, and I apologize for it. John questioned my motives, and I should have left that issue between him and me.

    ~Sean

  7. Rivers
    December 18, 2014 @ 8:39 pm

    Sean,

    For clarification, my understanding is that Jesus Christ was not exalted above other men or the angelic host until he was resurrected and ascended into heaven (Hebrews 1:3-6). The Gospels and the apostolic letters were written after those events had taken place.

    I don’t think the “divine agency” idea is problematic, I just don’t think it’s necessary to explain the occasional divine titles that were given to Jesus Christ and I don’t think it is a central motif in the the apostolic testimony about his identity as “the Christ, and the son of God.”

    Let me try to illustrate something. If my father owned a company, and gave me the title of CEO, there wouldn’t be any need for me to defend my “managerial” functions in the company (since they would make me no different than any of the other “managers”). Likewise, defending the “divine agency” of Jesus Christ is inconsequential to his identity.

    In the analogy, it is my relationship to my “father” that gives me the right to inherit his company, and my position as the CEO is unique and superior to all other officers and managers in his company. Likewise, overemphasizing his role as a “divine agent” doesn’t really distinguish him as the Christ or the son of God (who is entitled to inherit all things from his own Father). 🙂

  8. Sean Garrigan
    December 18, 2014 @ 8:21 pm

    “such as the one called “O God” at Ps. 45:7”

    Sorry, I meant Ps. 45:6.

  9. Sean Garrigan
    December 18, 2014 @ 8:20 pm

    Rivers,

    “…For myself, I just think the “divine agent” idea is overemphasized and not critical to understanding why divine titles were applied to Jesus Christ.”

    You’re welcome to think as you please, but the agency paradigm is central to the NT’s development of Christ.

    “The purpose of the apostolic testimony was not to prove that Jesus was “a divine agent.” It was to testify that he was “the Christ, and the son of God” (Matthew 16:16; Mark 1:1; Luke 4:41; John 20:31; Romans 1:3-4).”

    I’ve already responded to this and pointed out that “Son of God” and “Messiah” are synonymous, and the Messiah WAS an agent of God, just as other “anointed” kings were, such as the one called “O God” at Ps. 45:7.

    “There may have been some “agency” activity involved in the ministry of Jesus, but that was not what the apostles emphasized when they proclaimed the gospel. Merely functioning as a “divine agent” wouldn’t make Jesus any different from an angel or an ordinary prophet.”

    Yet you and John seek to make Jesus less than an angel by denying that he is as worthy as they to be given divine titles.

    ~Sean

  10. Rivers
    December 18, 2014 @ 8:10 pm

    Sean,

    I don’t think it’s fair to suggest the John or I have a “theological agenda” because we are unitarians just like you are. For myself, I just think the “divine agent” idea is overemphasized and not critical to understanding why divine titles were applied to Jesus Christ.

    The purpose of the apostolic testimony was not to prove that Jesus was “a divine agent.” It was to testify that he was “the Christ, and the son of God” (Matthew 16:16; Mark 1:1; Luke 4:41; John 20:31; Romans 1:3-4). There may have been some “agency” activity involved in the ministry of Jesus, but that was not what the apostles emphasized when they proclaimed the gospel. Merely functioning as a “divine agent” wouldn’t make Jesus any different from an angel or an ordinary prophet.

  11. Sean Garrigan
    December 18, 2014 @ 7:53 pm

    John,

    “Sean, I am totally unconvinced!…(i) If you have 11 salutations which clearly distinguish between ‘our God and Father’…and ‘the Lord Jesus Christ’ – and then you have a twelfth which has a couple of words missing…the answer has got to be obvious.”

    Why work so hard to deny the application of divine titles to God’s son when you know that such titles were applied to lesser agents of God in the Hebrew Bible, DSS, Philo, and other literature of the time?

    “In fact we have Rivers explanation – AND a common sense observation that verse 2 which follows shows that God and Christ are two different entities ” may grace and peace be yours in abundance through knowledge of God AND OF Jesus our Lord ” (NAB)”

    Granting that Jesus may be called “God” no more calls into question that two entities are in view at 2 Peter 1:1 than God’s calling Moses “God” calls into question that two entities are in view in Ex. 7:1.

    “(ii) The agent has no power save that which a principal gives him…Honour is due to Christ as to an agent of God – but not as one would give to the Lord God Almighty…I’m surprised that you hold your stated view since you are so coherent on other matters.”

    Allowing that Jesus may be referred to as “God” at 2 Peter 1:1 is no more a breach of propriety than allowing that God called Moses “God” was a breach of propriety at Ex. 7:1.

    “Is there a theological agenda that I am unaware of?”

    I would say yes, you and Rivers obviously have some theological agenda that prevents you from allowing that Jesus just might possibly be given the same divine title in the two subject texts that was granted to other agents of God. Apparently you don’t realize how unfortunate your attitude is on this matter. So God can refer to Moses as “God” (Ex. 7:1), and a monotheistic Jew, Philo, could even call him “god and king of the whole nation” (On the Life of Moses*), but Peter and Paul dare not utter such words? How do you justify that view?

    ~Sean

    *http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/yonge/book24.html

  12. Rivers
    December 18, 2014 @ 3:42 pm

    John,

    Although I agree with most of Sean’s “biblical unitarian” perspective myself, I’ve never been a fan of the “divine agency” angle either. I don’t think it’s really necessary.

    In most cases, I think it’s easier just to consider that the context of most of these “Jesus is called God” passages don’t require a punctuated reading that suggests the title applied to Jesus himself (e.g. 2 Peter 1:1-2, Romans 9:5), or the use of the word “God” is repeated in such a way that there is someone else with the same title who is greater that the other (e.g. Hebrews 1:9).

  13. john
    December 18, 2014 @ 3:10 pm

    Rivers,
    Thanks for that!
    That’s plain clear thinking!

    Sean,
    I am totally unconvinced !
    (i) If you have 11 salutations which clearly distinguish between ‘our God and Father’
    and ‘the Lord Jesus Christ’ – and then you have a twelfth which has a couple of words missing
    the answer has got to be obvious.
    In fact we have Rivers explanation – AND a common sense observation that verse 2 which follows shows that God and Christ are two different entities ” may grace and peace be yours in abundance through knowledge of God AND OF Jesus our Lord ” (NAB)

    (ii) The agent has no power save that which a principal gives him.
    Honour is due to Christ as to an agent of God – but not as one would give to the Lord God Almighty..
    I’m surprised that you hold your stated view since you are so coherent on other matters.
    Is there a theological agenda that I am unaware of?
    Blessings
    John

  14. Sean Garrigan
    December 18, 2014 @ 12:46 pm

    John,

    I’m happy to grant that 2 Peter 1:1 may refer to Jesus as God. Why not?

    I’ll re-quote myself one more time (from my blog):

    “This should not be taken to suggest that I believe the early Christians were polytheists. Rather, I’m merely observing the historical fact that divine titles could be applied to agents of God in pretty much all forms of Jewish literature that existed at the time the New Testament was written. One often finds a strange disconnect in the writings of so many scholars and religious commentators in that while they often discuss the uncontroversial application of divine titles to agents of God in the Bible and in the literature of the period, they fail to recognize that it is precisely because Jesus is God’s agent — his living, breathing power-of-attorney — that we find divine titles applied to him. Once we recognize (a) the flexible use of such divine titles in the biblical period among monotheistic Jews, and (b) the contexts in which such applications were considered appropriate, then we come to realize something we might not have expected: Not only is it not surprising to find divine titles applied to Jesus in the New Testament, but it in light of his unique status as God’s agent par excellence, it would be downright shocking to find that such titles were not applied to him!”

    Found here: http://kazesland.blogspot.com/2013/09/those-who-are-familiar-with-work-of.html#comment-form

    ~Sean

  15. Rivers
    December 18, 2014 @ 11:01 am

    John,

    Oops … lots of typos in my previous comment. Here it is again:

    I don’t think it’s even necessary to get into a textual argument in the context of 2 Peter 1:1-2 either.

    In 2 Peter 1:2, there is the distinction between “God” and “Jesus, our Lord” such that 2 Peter 1:1 could also be resolved by a matter of punctuation (as in Romans 9:5).

  16. Rivers
    December 18, 2014 @ 10:59 am

    John,

    I don’t think it’s even necessary to get into a textual argument in the context of 2 Peter 1:1-2 either.

    First, in 1 Peter 1:2, there is the distinction between “God” and “Jesus, our Lord” is established such that 2 Peter 1:2 can also be resolved by a matter of punctuation (as in Romans 9:5).

    Thanks my take … 🙂

  17. john
    December 18, 2014 @ 9:37 am

    Sean , Rivers
    While on the subject of ‘proof verses’ , 2 Peter 1v1 is often mentioned. as another ‘proof’ that Chriost = God.

    What is interesting is that ALL of Pauls letters open with a salutation which begins with words (to the effect that)
    “Grace unto you and peace from God our Father AND the Lord Jesus Christ”
    Romans 1 v 7 , ! Cor 1 v 3 1 Thes 1 v 1 2 Thes 1 v 2 etc.

    2 Peter 1 v 1 is slightly different in that it talks about ” our God and savior Jesus Christ”
    in other words ‘the Father’ or ‘our Father’ are missing

    I have been scorned for suggesting a ‘slip of the pen’ !

    There is of course a textual variation here

    TR ‘ tou theo hemon kai soteros hemon Christou Iesou

    Westcott-Hort ‘ tou theo hemon kai soteros Christou Iesou.

    What think you?

    Blessings
    John

  18. Rivers
    December 18, 2014 @ 8:55 am

    Sean,

    I’m glad that you are “pretty open to legitimate grammatical possibilities” in controversial texts like John 1:1 and John 8:58. I think we all need to be open like that, because it is always necessary for us to interpret both the grammar and the translation. All we can do is try to determine the most plausible reading.

    Even though it may seem that some of us are “stacking up” the arguments in favor of a particular reading of the text, I think it’s necessary to do that because we all have to rely upon the evidence that is brought forward to substantiate the plausibility (or even possibility) of the different perspectives that are offered. Since we probably cannot be certain that any particular explanation is the correct one, it’s probably best to favor the interpretation that is supported by the most evidence.

  19. Rivers
    December 18, 2014 @ 8:47 am

    John,

    I would agree with you.

    I think Romans 9:5 is just a matter of punctuation when translating into English. Thus, I think “God blessed forever” is a separate statement. There are many times that God the Father is specifically referred to this way in the apostolic letters (Romans 1:25; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 1:3; 1 Timothy 1:1; 1 Peter 1:3).

    Good point about the context of Titus 2:10-13 as well. I don’t see any need to think that “savior” would be referring to anyone other than God the Father in Titus 2:13 either.

    I’ve often thought over the years that, if there were those who deliberately manipulated the biblical text in order to suggest post-apostolic doctrines like the Trinity, the incarnation, and the deity of Christ … they really didn’t do a very thorough job. 🙂

  20. Sean Garrigan
    December 18, 2014 @ 7:09 am

    I had said:

    “It is, IMO, really rather pathetic, and the only thing more surprising then the flawed theologically motivated arguments offered is the prevalence of gullible people willing to embrace them with alacrity, paucity of qualified authorities who are willing to properly vet such fancies.”

    Please insert “and the” between “alacrity,” and “paucity”.

  21. Sean Garrigan
    December 18, 2014 @ 7:06 am

    Hi John,

    Yes, I was merely pointing out that I’m typically pretty open to legitimate grammatical possibilities, even those that others might believe are contrary to my Christological view. I contrast this with those who seem absolutely determined to disallow any interpretation of John 8:58 or John 1:1 (for example) that they find problematic, so much so that they’ll torture language itself to avoid an unwanted understanding, or in an effort to stack the deck in their interpretative favor. Examples I’ve offered are (a) the ridiculous un-vetted though widely embraced arguments that attempt to make “a god” at John 1:1c seem “statistically improbable”, such as Harner’s unproven assertion that a different word order would have been used if “a god” were intended, or Dixon’s unproven assertion that “qualitative” is a third, exclusive category of count noun, along with his other assertion (even more absurd) that there is only one solitary indefinite noun in all of John’s gospel! This isn’t scholarship, nor is it even sound apologetics. It is, IMO, really rather pathetic, and the only thing more surprising then the flawed theologically motivated arguments offered is the prevalence of gullible people willing to embrace them with alacrity, paucity of qualified authorities who are willing to properly vet such fancies.

  22. john
    December 18, 2014 @ 3:25 am

    Sean
    You said
    ” I accept that Jesus may be referred to as’god over all’ in Romans 9 v 5 or ‘the great God’ in Titus 2 v 13″

    Have you considered –
    (i) Regarding Romans 9 v 5 -there are translational problems but the Catholic NAB Bible translates the verse as “……according to the flesh is the Messiah. God who is over all be blessed forever. Amen”

    (ii) Regarding Titus 2 v 13 – again there are textual problems but ask youself the questions
    -Who is our Saviour ? The succeeding verse (v10) tells us that GOD is our Saviour

    – Who is the glory of our Great God and Saviour ? CHRIST is the glory of our great God and Saviour
    as many scriptures such as Matthew 16 v 27 attest

    Every Blessing
    John

  23. Sean Garrigan
    December 1, 2014 @ 3:59 pm

    “I’m sorry to hear that. I think we all should be careful to consider different possibilities (especially when dealing with a controversial passages like John 8:51-58. I’m just offering you some additional information to think about. Every one should consider the evidence for himself and make up his own mind.”

    Agreed, though I think that the controversy over John 8:58 is largely theologically self-inflicted. I tend to be pretty open to alternate understandings of Christologically significant texts when grammar and context allow them. For example, I accept either “the Word was God” (definite QEOS) or “the Word was a god” (indefinite/”qualitative” QEOS) at John 1:1c. I accept that Jesus may be referred to as “god over all” at Romans 9:5, or “the great God” at Titus 2:13, or as “my god” at John 20:28. I accept that either “faith in” Christ or “the faithfulness of” Christ may be in view in certain texts. But when I see people playing twister to avoid the natural reading of a text, as so many do with John 8:58, and as the NEB does with John 1:1c, then I feel it’s appropriate to state my objections.

  24. Rivers
    December 1, 2014 @ 3:12 pm

    Sean,

    I’m sorry to hear that. I think we all should be careful to consider different possibilities (especially when dealing with a controversial passages like John 8:51-58. I’m just offering you some additional information to think about. Every one should consider the evidence for himself and make up his own mind.

  25. Sean Garrigan
    December 1, 2014 @ 2:51 pm

    @Rivers:

    I’m sorry to say that what you’ve offered vis a vis John 8:58 is precisely the sort of think I was lamenting. Oh, well…

  26. Mario
    December 1, 2014 @ 12:32 pm

    “I can’t help but be reminded of the way some Trinitarians have attempted to escape the two valid renderings of John 1:1c.”

    With the above premise, NEITHER OF these “two valid renderings” should be Cappadocian-Trinitarian. NOR, presumably, are they Socinian-Unitarian. We know that Sean favors this “reading”:

    … and the Word was a god. (John 1:1c)

    I wonder what the other “valid rendering” could be … 🙁

  27. Rivers
    December 1, 2014 @ 11:55 am

    Sean,

    Good point.

    Even though I would be considered a “biblical unitarian”, I don’t find the typical Socinian explanations of John 8:58b persuasive either. There is too much evidence that EGW EIMI was nothing more than a simple expression of “I am [the someone, or the something]” at the present time.

    My concern with the debate over the most plausible interpretation of John 8:58 is that most scholars continue to make the assumption that the first clause “before Abraham becomes” (PRIN ABRAAM GENESThAI) is to be taken as an historical reference to the birth of Abraham.

    Perhaps we should consider that the use of the Aorist Middle Infinitive in John 8:58a could just as well be referring to the resurrection (future) of Abraham, who was already dead (John 8:53). Thus, we could read the text this way … “before Abraham becomes [alive again], I am [the one who’s day he rejoiced to see].”

    If that is the case, then there would no reason to construe the “I am” (EGW EIMI) as anything other than a reference to the present identity of Jesus as the one “sent by the Father” (John 8:18), who the children of Abraham need to “believe” (John 8:24), and who speaks the words of God (John 8:28).

  28. Sean Garrigan
    December 1, 2014 @ 10:45 am

    “I think this is one area where Unitarians do the same thing Trinitarians do: ignore the text, or explain it away, when it contradicts their theology.”

    I have the same reaction when I hear Socinian interpretations of John 8:58. I can’t help but be reminded of the way some Trinitarians have attempted to escape the two valid renderings of John 1:1c. For example, the NEB renders the clause this way:

    “… and what God was, the Word was”

    Can you imagine how orthodox apologists would excoriate Unitarians if they offered such a twisted rendering of such a straightforward Greek clause?

  29. Mario
    December 1, 2014 @ 10:28 am

    @ Douglas

    “I’m well aware that Jesus at times used parable to teach, and as a method of abstraction (“raise this temple”, etc), but Jesus also was, when he wanted to be, clear and direct in his message. He sounds pretty clear and direct about existing before this world, just as he’s pretty clear about being the son and servant of God, and not God himself.”

    It is very interesting that you cite John 2:19 (“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.”) as an example of Jesus’ highly figurative speech, because it shows not only how he could be misunderstood, but also how, in this specific case, Jesus may appear (through the figure of “raising the temple up again”) as though he is claiming that he will raise himself from death out of his own power, in contrast to all non-Johannine text (Matthew, Mark, Luke, Paul’s Epistles, and Acts of the Apostles) where he is clearly “raised from the dead” NOT under his own power, BUT by God.

    For a detailed exam of this question, see Miguel de Servet’s Journal post at Beliefnet Community, “Did Jesus ‘rise’ or did God, the Father ‘raise him from the dead’? (community.beliefnet.com/miguel_de_servet/blog/2011/01/30/did_jesus_rise_or_did_god,_the_father_raise_him_from_the_dead).

    Let’s look at the relevant verses of John 8, once again:

    56 Your father Abraham was overjoyed to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57 Then the Judeans replied, “You are not yet fifty years old! Have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the solemn truth, before Abraham was, I am!” (John 8:56-58)

    The critical phrase is [Greek] prin abraam genesthai egô eimi and, even more specifically, the phrase prin abraam genesthai.

    Now, genesthai is the Second Aorist – Middle Deponent – Infinitive form of gi[g]nomai, which has a very broad spectrum of meanings (see Liddel-Scott-Jones Greek Lexicon), the most fundamental of which is “to become” and, only derivatively, “to be [born]” (absolute sense). Normally, in the sense of “to become”, genesthai is followed by a predicate, which is apparently not the case in John 8:58, so, the Greek phrase prin abraam genesthai is usually understood as though genesthai was actually used in the absolute sense, and consequently translated with something like “before Abraham was [born]”.
    But, as I have already written in a comment at “podcast episode 63 – Thomas Belsham and other scholars on John 8:58”, one of the arguments raised by Belsham ( A Calm Inquiry Into the Scripture Doctrine Concerning the Person of Christ, § 3, pp. 53-55) is that of double ellipsis.

    If, instead of interpreting genesthai as absolute (“to be [born]”), we suppose that genesthai means “to become” (in an elliptical sense to be determined), the key phrase at John 8:58 becomes:

    [Lit. Eng.] before Abraham become [ellipsis], I am [ellipsis]

    Neither “become”, nor “I am” are, reasonably, used in an absolute sense. So, there may be an ellipsis associated with each verb.

    Unpacking the [double ellipsis], we may have:

    “Before Abraham become [father of a multitude (viz. of nations) – Gen 17:5] I am [the Messiah]”

    Less obscurely, what Jesus is saying to “the Jews” may be something like this:

    “And verily I say, that the time for the accomplishment of what he foresaw is not yet arrived: for before Abram shall be Abraham, i. e. become the father of many nations, according to the import of his name, I am the Christ your Messiah.” (Interpretation and paraphrase of John 8:58 provided at the Theological Repository vol. iv. p. 351, as quoted by Thomas Belsham in A Calm Inquiry Into the Scripture Doctrine Concerning the Person of Christ, p. 54)

    Let’s also consider that Paul interprets the repeated promise of God to Abraham (“and to his seed”, Hbr zera’, Grk sperma – Gen 12:7; 13:15; 17:7; 24:7) not generically applied to his descendants, but to a very specific “seed”: the Messiah. See here:

    Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say, “and to the seeds”, referring to many, but “and to your seed” referring to one, who is Christ. (Galatians 3:16)

    To end with, Belsham records that this interpretation of John 8:58 was first proposed by the Polish Socinians (presumably, the Polish Brethren, a non-trinitarian Protestant church that existed in Poland from 1565 to 1658).

  30. Rivers
    December 1, 2014 @ 9:21 am

    Douglas,

    I think something to consider here is that the writer of the 4th Gospel seems to have understood that Jesus didn’t “come into the world” until John the baptizer announced his identity to the Israelites when Jesus was baptized (John 1:6-10; John 1:30-31). This may be why John spoke of Jesus as “the one coming AFTER me” (John 1:15, 27, 30). John also testified that he was “sent AHEAD of Jesus” (John 3:28).

    Thus, perhaps we are to understand that, when Jesus spoke of being the one “sanctified and sent into the world” (John 10:36) and “coming forth from the Father and coming into the world” (John 16:28), it may simply be referring to the beginning of his public ministry.

    Jesus also seemed to distinguish between the time of his birth and when he later “came into the world” (John 18:37).

  31. Douglas
    December 1, 2014 @ 1:29 am

    Couldn’t disagree more with Dr. Smith on the issue of Jesus doing what clearly sounds like explaining his pre-existence, and, at the risk of sounding like I want to start a fight, I think this is one area where Unitarians do the same thing Trinitarians do: ignore the text, or explain it away, when it contradicts their theology. I’m well aware that Jesus at times used parable to teach, and as a method of abstraction (“raise this temple”, etc), but Jesus also was, when he wanted to be, clear and direct in his message. He sounds pretty clear and direct about existing before this world, just as he’s pretty clear about being the son and servant of God, and not God himself.