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.

109 Comments

  1. trinities - SCORING THE BURKE – BOWMAN DEBATE – ROUND 3 Re-evaluated (DALE)
    May 16, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

    […] previously called round 3 a draw. But my call was premature; Burke kept punching, in a long set of comments (#4-15), which […]

  2. Helez
    May 11, 2010 @ 10:13 am

    Dave, thanks for your response.

    Justin didn’t refer to Jesus as being theos in a Binitarian sense (and you seem to agree as you call him an “ontological subordinationist”), as he clearly believed that the true God was only one person, i.e. the Father of Jesus. I also think “Arian” is definitely an inappropriate term for anyone believing that the Messiah pre-existed as the Son of God in heaven, was created, distinct from and subordinate to God while being God’s agent in creating the world. Justin’s christology was just as much “Arian” as yours is “Socinian.”

    In regard of Ignatius’ epistle to the Ephesians, you sometimes regard the shorter Greek version to be the authentic one, but when it’s more to your liking, you disregard that shorter version in favor of the longer version. Sometimes you reject *both* versions, based on theological bias.
    Anyway, Jesus is undeniably referred to as theos by Ignatius in both versions.

    I agree that Clement of Alexandria goes beyond what the Bible says about Jesus.

  3. Dave Burke
    May 11, 2010 @ 7:46 am

    Helez:

    You write: “It is not until Justin Martyr (mid-second century) that we find a Christian calling Jesus God.”

    This is not true.

    1) Justin calls Jesus theos, but even the Bible refers to Jesus as theos. Unitarians usually have no problem with Jesus being theos. However, as you well know, this doesn’t imply him to be “the only true God,” God Almighty.

    Yes, I should have phrased that more carefully; I meant that before Justin Martyr, nobody calls Jesus “God” in an Arian or Binitarian sense.

    I agree with your analysis of Justin; he was an ontological subordinationist.

    I mentioned the Shepherd of Hermas in one of my Week 2 rebuttals to Bowman; its Christology is essentially the same as Justin’s.

    You’ve quoted from Ignatius’ Epistle to the Ephesians, so I’ll direct you to my article on the Ignatian Epistles (here). The passage that you quote is a later interpolation.

    Clement of Alexandria was a celebrated Christian Platonist, so it is not surprising that his Christology is also heretical. Clement later became the teacher of Origen, who was ditheistic.

    You quote Robert M. Grant: “Before Nicaea, Christian theology was almost universally subordinationist.” I totally agree with this.

  4. Helez
    May 11, 2010 @ 7:17 am

    Dave,
    You write: “It is not until Justin Martyr (mid-second century) that we find a Christian calling Jesus God.”

    This is not true.

    1) Justin calls Jesus theos, but even the Bible refers to Jesus as theos. Unitarians usually have no problem with Jesus being theos. However, as you well know, this doesn’t imply him to be “the only true God,” God Almighty.

    Justin was an outspoken subordinationist, he believed the prehuman Jesus was brought into existence by God.

    Justin: “The Jews, accordingly, being throughout of opinion that it was the Father of the universe who spake to Moses, though He who spake to him was indeed the Son of God, who is called both Angel and Apostle, are justly charged, both by the Spirit of prophecy and by Christ Himself, with knowing neither the Father nor the Son. For they who affirm that the Son is the Father, are proved neither to have become acquainted with the Father, nor to know that the Father of the universe has a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God. And of old He appeared in the shape of fire and in the likeness of an angel to Moses and to the other prophets; but now in the times of your reign, having, as we before said, become Man by a virgin, according to the counsel of the Father, for the salvation of those who believe on Him.” (“The Ante-Nicene Fathers,” edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Volume I, page 184.)

    “You perceive, my hearers, if you bestow attention, that the Scripture has declared that this Offspring was begotten by the Father before all things created; and that which is begotten is numerically distinct from that which begets, any one will admit.” (Ibid., page 264.)

    Any one will admit…? 🙂

    2) Also, in his writings that are considered to be authentic, Ignatius calls Jesus theos way before Justin did.
    From his epistle to the Ephesians, chapter VII:
    “But our Physician is the only true God, the unbegotten and unapproachable, the Lord of all, the Father and Begetter of the only-begotten Son. We have also as a Physician the Lord our God, Jesus the Christ, the only-begotten Son and Word before the ages but who afterwards became also man, of Mary the virgin. For “the Word was made flesh.” (“The Ante-Nicene Fathers,” Volume I, page 52.)

    3) In harmony with this also “The Shepherd of Hermas” (first half 2nd century) clarifies: “The Son of God is older than all His creatures, so that He was a fellow-councillor with the Father in His work of creation.” (Book Third, Similitude Ninth, Chap. XII.)

    Also Clement of Alexandria calls Jesus theos in a secondary sense. He clearly represents God’s Son as being distinct from God Almighty, as he writes:
    “And having been called “good,” and taking the starting note from this first expression, He commences His teaching with this, turning the pupil to God, the good, and first and only dispenser of eternal life, which the Son, who received it of Him, gives to us.” (“The Ante-Nicene Fathers,” Volume II, page 593.) The original Giver of eternal life is clearly depicted superior to the one who passes it along.

    And: “But the nature of the Son, which is nearest to Him who is alone the Almighty One, is the most perfect, and most holy, and most potent, and most princely, and most kingly, and most beneficent.” (Ibid., page 524.)

    Again, as Robert M. Grant states in his book “Gods and the One God”: “Before Nicaea, Christian theology was almost universally subordinationist.” (page 160)

  5. Helez
    May 11, 2010 @ 7:01 am

    cherylu,
    Burke does not represent “the” unitarians. True, many unitarians, like Dave and Dale, do not believe in the prehuman existence of the Messiah. However, most unitarians do (though not as Almighty God, but as the first member of creation). There are many more differences between various unitarians. You just can’t sweep them all in one pile.

  6. Dave Burke
    May 11, 2010 @ 2:05 am

    cherylu:

    And for the record, I am protestant.

    OK, so you belong to a church which didn’t even exist until the 16th Century. Bearing in mind that the Catholic Church is 500 years older than yours, what makes you think that your church managed to get the Christian message right? Why shouldn’t we believe the Catholics? Do you believe they got it wrong for five centuries?

    So I take it you have proof that every one of those statments by Ignatius, (and the others that I haven’t quoted) were never made by him at all? Every single one? That is a lot of forgery!

    It is a lot of forgery, and commentators agree that it is a lot of forgery. I have written a basic analysis of the Ignatian epistles, which you can read by clicking here.

    It is now very obvious that you’ve never studied early church history yourself. I studied it at university, and I continue to study it in my own time. If you wish to argue about the beliefs of the early church fathers, you will need to learn more about the subject.

  7. Fortigurn
    May 11, 2010 @ 1:43 am

    cheryl,

    No Fortigurn, I can’t prove that every single one of them are genuine.

    This is a good place to start if you want to assert them as evidence to prove your case.

    But I bet you can’t prove that every single one of them is a forgery either.

    I don’t need to. I only have to refer you to the commentaries which address them.

    And I haven’t seen all of these commentators that agree that they are all forgeries either.

    Yes, it’s clear you haven’t. I suggest you read more about the Ignatian epistles from the relevant scholarly literature.

    And how many commentators are they that agree to this? Does every single commentator out there agree?

    There’s a broad scholarly consensus on the forgeries and interpolations in the Ignatian corpus. A consensus does not mean unanimity, but it is equivalent in authority.

    There are two main collections of the letters of Ignatius (leaving aside the disputed ‘Syrian recension’). One is called the ‘short recension’, the other is the ‘long recension’. The ‘long recension’ is recognized as full of forgeries and interpolations. This quote is from Kirslopp-Lake’s introduction to his translation of Ignatius:

    It was early seen that the long recension contained several letters which were clearly not genuine, and that those which had the most claim to acceptance, as having been mentioned by Eusebius, were greatly corrupted by obvious interpolations.

    This is from a standard modern commentary, the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary:

    By the same token, (b) the so-called “long recension” is usually regarded as a 4th-century (perhaps Neo-Arrian) revision (Hagerdorn 1973: xxxvii-lii) consisting of interpolations into the original letters and the addition of 6 spurious letters.

    Your quotes are from the ‘long recension’.

    I guess at this point I am simply not convinced at all that no church father believed Jesus is God. You have to do a lot more then what you have so far to prove it.

    I am not claiming that no church father believed Jesus is God.

    And frankly, I am at the point where I am calling this whole conversation quits. Don’t have the time or energy any more for trying to discuss an issue with folks that are coming from such a totally different mind set that absolutely nothing anyone says seems to make any impression in the slightest. I feel like we come from two different planets or something!

    Have you read the Old Roman Symbol and the Didache yet?

  8. cherylu
    May 11, 2010 @ 1:30 am

    No Fortigurn, I can’t prove that every single one of them are genuine. But I bet you can’t prove that every single one of them is a forgery either.

    And I haven’t seen all of these commentators that agree that they are all forgeries either. And how many commentators are they that agree to this? Does every single commentator out there agree?

    I guess at this point I am simply not convinced at all that no church father believed Jesus is God. You have to do a lot more then what you have so far to prove it.

    And frankly, I am at the point where I am calling this whole conversation quits. Don’t have the time or energy any more for trying to discuss an issue with folks that are coming from such a totally different mind set that absolutely nothing anyone says seems to make any impression in the slightest. I feel like we come from two different planets or something!

  9. Fortigurn
    May 11, 2010 @ 12:40 am

    cheryl,

    So I take it you have proof that every one of those statments by Ignatius, (and the others that I haven’t quoted) were never made by him at all? Every single one? That is a lot of forgery!

    What I am doing is asking you if you have proof that every one of those statements made by Ignatius is genuine. I take it you haven’t checked yet?

    I haven’t said anything about the other quotes, except for the quote from Polycarp. Have you read the Old Roman Symbol and the Didache yet?

  10. cherylu
    May 11, 2010 @ 12:38 am

    Fortigurn,

    So I take it you have proof that every one of those statments by Ignatius, (and the others that I haven’t quoted) were never made by him at all? Every single one? That is a lot of forgery!

  11. Fortigurn
    May 11, 2010 @ 12:30 am

    cheryl, try reading the ‘Old Roman Symbol’ and the ‘Didache’. These are the two earliest known Christian creedal statements, both dating to the 1st century.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Roman_Symbol

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didache

    These predate the authors you’ve quoted. What evidence is there that either of these documents contain the belief that Jesus is God?

  12. Fortigurn
    May 11, 2010 @ 12:24 am

    cheryl,

    So, what about all of the ones by Ignatius? I have others by him saying the same thing from another source too.

    Remove the quotes which come from the fake letters of Ignatius, remove the quotes which contain additions by later writers trying to make Ignatius look ‘orthodox’, and get back to me with what you have left.

  13. cherylu
    May 11, 2010 @ 12:22 am

    Fortigurn,

    So, what about all of the ones by Ignatius? I have others by him saying the same thing from another source too.

  14. Fortigurn
    May 10, 2010 @ 11:57 pm

    cheryl, I suggest you check your sources with greater care. The site to which you just linked provides a single quote from Polycarp in which he appears to call Jesus God.

    Near the end of his short epistle, Polycarp prays, “. . . may He (God the Father) grant unto you a lot with and portion among His saints, and to us with you, and to all that are under heaven, who shall believe on our Lord and GOD Jesus Christ and on His Father that raised Him from the dead (12:2: Lightfoot, p. 181).

    What the site does not tell you (most likely because they just don’t know), is that many manuscripts of Polycarp’s letter do not contain the words ‘and God’. The sentence would then read ‘who shall believe on our Lord Jesus Christ and on his Father that raised him from the dead’.

    Claiming that Polycarp believed Jesus is God on the basis of a single sentence with a dubious reading, with many manuscripts against it, is not a strong argument.

  15. cherylu
    May 10, 2010 @ 11:13 pm

    Dave,

    Here is another web site with quotes from church fathers. Several of the men you said above did not believe Jesus was God are quoted here as stating that they definitely believed just that. By the way, I know nothing else about this web site. I just found it by doing a Google search. The same is true of the other one that I took quotes from. And for the record, I am protestant.

    http://www.dtl.org/trinity/article/who-said.htm

  16. Fortigurn
    May 10, 2010 @ 10:50 pm

    cheryl,

    ‘How in the world do you take the verses in Acts that use the word “Lord” as referring to God and not specifically to Jesus?’

    I take them as referring to God.

    ‘I absolutely know of no other way to read them in these cases then that “Lord” here means “God”.’

    No, ‘refers to God’, not ‘means God’. If I use ‘Mr’ to refer to Dave Burke, that does not mean that ‘Mr’ means ‘Dave Burke’. If New Testament writers use ‘Lord’ to refer to God, that does not mean that ‘Lord’ actually means ‘God’. We know that ‘Lord’ does not mean ‘God’, because it is also used to refer to men.

    ‘If it used so often of God–and not Jesus in this way–is it not purely speculation to say that every time Jesus is called “Lord” He is not being called God? That becomes “special pleading” does it not?’

    What you are doing is special pleading, yes. The fact that ‘Lord’ is used of God does not mean that when it is used of Jesus it means Jesus is God. That is illogical.

    ‘And if He is referred to as “Lord” repeatedly in the Book of Acts in the same way God is referred to as “Lord”, then this is the teaching that the apostles did before baptism, is it not?’

    What do you mean ‘in the same way God is referred to as “Lord”‘?

    ‘I thought context was a large share of the determining factor in knowing how a word was used.’

    It is.

    ‘And in Acts, the word is used repeatedly referring to God.’

    So what? You are committing the prescriptive fallacy. Just because a word is used repeatedly of one referent does not mean that it is always used of that referent.

    So back to the key issue. Please show me, anyone, where in Acts the apostles taught that Jesus is God before the baptized people. Instead we find that Jesus is ‘a man’, ‘a man appointed by God’, ‘a man through whom God worked’, ‘whom God raised’.

  17. Dave Burke
    May 10, 2010 @ 9:12 pm

    cherylu:

    Multiple quotes from the earliest church fathers show beyond doubt that they believed Jesus to be God. They were the ones that lived closest to Jesus actual teachings, the teachings of the Apostles, and were surely the most familiar with the Greek used in that day.

    So were they all l00% wrong on this subject? It seems to me that is more then a little bit presumptuous to think!

    Which church fathers are you talking about, cherylu? The earliest church fathers were men like Papias, Polycarp and Clement of Rome. None of them believed Jesus to be God. You will not find this in any of their writings.

    Ignatius lived around the same time, and he did not believe Jesus was God either. Commentators now agree that his letters were corrupted by later writers, who added statements that he never wrote.

    It is not until Justin Martyr (mid-second century) that we find a Christian calling Jesus God. But even Justin Martyr was not a Trinitarian; he believed Jesus was a separate being from the Father, as did many other Christians in his era.

    Later church fathers (like Irenaeus) had mixed ideas about Jesus, but still believed him to be inferior to the Father. Tertullian openly stated that Jesus is a separate being from the Father. Even Origen (3rd Century) said that he believed Jesus’ deity was derived from the Father, and that he was not God inherently.

    You really need to do some research and learn more about what the early church fathers actually taught. Nobody believed in the modern version of Trinitarianism until the 5th Century, when the Chalcedonian formula was created. Until then, there was a wide range of beliefs.

    By the way, are you Catholic or Protestant?

  18. cherylu
    May 10, 2010 @ 5:42 pm

    Helez,

    The Unitarians of today as I understand it from what Burke and others have said, do not believe in the prexistence of the Son as God before His birth on this earth as Jesus. That is what I am seeing come out in the quotes made above–that and the fact that they didn’t seem to be subordinationists in the quotes that I listed above.

  19. Helez
    May 10, 2010 @ 5:29 pm

    cherylu, most unitarians today are subordinationists, so I’m not sure what you mean by “the” Unitarians…

  20. cherylu
    May 10, 2010 @ 3:18 pm

    Good grief, I knew I was in a hurry when I posted that last comment this a.m.–had an appt. I had to get to. But I didn’t realize I wrote “Universalists” instead of “Unitarians”–twice even! Hope I didn’t leave any one shaking their head and wondering what I was talking about. I apologize for my error and guess I had better slow down a bit! I also apologize for the other typos I made there.

  21. cherylu
    May 10, 2010 @ 10:49 am

    Helez,

    Some of these statements certainy do not sound subordinationist in any way. If these folks made such statements elsewhere, it is certainly not evident here. And even if they did, they do not in any way believe as the Universalists of today do. Which is the point I was trying to make–that those closest to Jesus and His apostles did not understand them to have taught at all what the Universalists are insisting they taught.

    By the way, it seems that Trinitarianism is distinctly mentioned in at least one quote here. And it is the earliest dated one.

    “[Christians] are they who, above every people of the earth, have found the truth, for they acknowledge God, the Creator and maker of all things, in the only-begotten Son and in the Holy Spirit”

    “[Christians] are they who, above every people of the earth, have found the truth, for they acknowledge God, the Creator and maker of all things, in the only-begotten Son and in the Holy Spirit” Aristedes

    “although he was the true God existing before the ages” Melito of Sardis

    ” in order that to Jesus Christ our Lord and God and Savior and King,” Irenaeus

    “Although he was God, he took flesh; and having been made man, he remained what he was: God” Origen

    “”For Christ is the God over all, who has arranged to wash away sin from mankind, rendering the old man new” Hippolytus of Rome

    “”If Christ was only man, why did he lay down for us such a rule of believing as that in which he said, ‘And this is life eternal, that they should know you, the only and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent?’ [John 17:3]. Had he not wished that he also should be understood to be God, why did he add, ‘And Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent,’ except because he wished to be received as God also? Because if he had not wished to be understood to be God, he would have added, ‘And the man Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent;’ but, in fact, he neither added this, nor did Christ deliver himself to us as man only, but associated himself with God, as he wished to be understood by this conjunction to be God also, as he is. We must therefore believe, according to the rule prescribed, on the Lord, the one true God, and consequently on him whom he has sent, Jesus Christ, who by no means, as we have said, would have linked himself to the Father had he not wished to be understood to be God also. For he would have separated himself from him had he not wished to be understood to be God” Novatian

  22. Helez
    May 10, 2010 @ 6:57 am

    cherylu,

    Yes, I am aware of how some quotes from the early church fathers at first glance may “appear” (in the view of present Trinitarians) as if they believed Jesus was God, and such quotes are eagerly used by some to “prove” the early church believed Jesus was God. This is quite misleading though, because with being a bit more accurately informed about their writings, you will find that about all of them still seem to have been subordinationists, like the first-century Christians. The teaching of the apostolic fathers is *fairly* consistent with the teaching of the Bible in the matter of God’s supremacy and his relationship with Jesus. All of them speak of God as a separate, eternal, almighty, all-knowing Being. And they speak of the Son of God as a separate, lesser, subordinate spirit creature whom God created to serve Him in accomplishing His will. And the holy spirit is nowhere included as an equal of God. Also the later apologists were subordinationists.

    I cannot address the complete list op people you refer to in your link, but as an example I will just pick the first one to demonstrate my point; Ignatius of Antioch. Have a look at some other quotes attributed to him:

    “But our Physician is the only true God, the unbegotten and unapproachable, the Lord of all, the Father and Begetter of the only-begotten Son. We have also as a Physician the Lord our God, Jesus the Christ, the only-begotten Son and Word…” (“The Ante-Nicene Fathers,” Volume I, page 52.) Note the distinction between “the only true God” and His Son. Using the word “God” for the Son does not mean equality with Almighty God. Also, Ignatius consistently speaks of “God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” in his epistles to the Ephesians, Philadelphians, Trallians, and to Polycarp. And he says that “there is one God, the Almighty, who has manifested Himself by Jesus Christ His Son”. (Ibid, p. 62)

    Ignatius has the Son saying: “The Lord created Me, the beginning of His ways, for His ways, for His works. Before the world did He found Me, and before all the hills did He beget Me.” (Ibid, p. 108)

    And: “There is one God of the universe, the Father of Christ, ‘of whom are all things;’ and one Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord, ‘by whom are all things.'” (Ibid, p. 116)

    In Ignatius writings the Son is always presented as lesser than God and subordinate to him.

    Robert M. Grant states in his book “Gods and the One God” that “the Christology of the apologies, like that of the New Testament, is essentially subordinationist. The Son is always subordinate to the Father, who is the one God of the Old Testament,” and “Before Nicaea, Christian theology was almost universally subordinationist.” (p. 109, 160)

  23. cherylu
    May 9, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

    Fortugurn,

    How in the world do you take the verses in Acts that use the word “Lord” as referring to God and not specifically to Jesus?

    I absolutely know of no other way to read them in these cases then that “Lord” here means “God”. If it used so often of God–and not Jesus in this way–is it not purely speculation to say that every time Jesus is called “Lord” He is not being called God? That becomes “special pleading” does it not?

    I am not saying that this by itself 100% proves Jesus is God. However, there is lots of other evidence to convince me that He is too.

    And if He is referred to as “Lord” repeatedly in the Book of Acts in the same way God is referred to as “Lord”, then this is the teaching that the apostles did before baptism, is it not? Or do you expect them to stop everytime they refer to “God” as “Lord” and say, “Now in this instance the use of the word Lord actually means God”? And then when they use it of Jesus, they must stop and say, “But of course you must understand, when we use the term “Lord” as referring to Jesus, it in no way means he is God”?

    I thought context was a large share of the determining factor in knowing how a word was used. And in Acts, the word is used repeatedly referring to God.

  24. cherylu
    May 9, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

    Helez,

    From these quotes in this article, and ones I have read elsewhere, it seems to me that the church father’s recognized Jesus as God. Not a secondary created being.

    http://www.catholic.com/library/Divinity_of_Christ.asp

  25. Fortigurn
    May 9, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

    cheryl,

    ‘And my point about the early church father’s was that they certainly interpreted the teachings of the apostles and Jesus Himself to mean that He was God. And they certainly were a whole lot more likely to understand the Greek of the day correctly then any of us now are. Therefore, my point stands.’

    There are several problems with this. One is that you haven’t actually addressed what the apostles taught before they baptized people. Another is that you haven’t actually addressed the earliest Christian creedal statements, which predate the early Fathers. A third problem is that professional translators do actually understand the Greek far better than 2nd and 3rd century writers. More importantly, they understand far better what 1st century Jews meant when they used certain Greek words. When you claim that a 1st century Jew just meant ‘God’ when he used the word ‘Lord’, it’s just not credible, because there’s overwhelming evidence that 1st century Jews used the word ‘Lord’ of men as well as of God.

  26. Fortigurn
    May 9, 2010 @ 6:47 pm

    cheryl, you haven’t proved that ‘Lord’ actually means ‘God’. You have simply showed that God is sometimes called ‘Lord’. That isn’t under dispute. What you need to do is show that the word ‘Lord’ really means ‘God’. Unless you can do that, then you can’t claim that Jesus being called ‘Lord’ actually meas that he is God.

  27. cherylu
    May 9, 2010 @ 6:03 pm

    Dave,

    How about 7:49, and 17:26 if you don’t like 1:24? In all of these places God is referred to as Lord. And what about the others I listed?

    These do not specifically refer to Jesus, any of them as far as I can tell. The ones in chapter 7 are OT quotes calling God “Lord”.

    These are all places that call God “Lord”. I think it is you that missed the point! And by the way, I did read your post you linked above, twice now in fact.

  28. Helez
    May 9, 2010 @ 4:40 pm

    cherylu,
    The earliest church fathers still were subordinationists, they believed the pre-existent Jesus was theos in a secondary sense, created, distinct from and subordinate to Almighty God.

  29. Dave Burke
    May 9, 2010 @ 4:32 pm

    cherylu:

    Acts 1:24, 3:22, 4:26, and 4:29 just for starters are places in Acts where “Lord” is used by itself referring obviously to God but not while using a term like “Lord God”. In these verses, “Lord” obviously means God.

    And this is just in the first few chapters of Acts. I didn’t check the rest of it for the same usage.

    That’s not what I asked. I said “Since when did ‘Lord’ mean ‘God’?” Seems to me that you’ve just conceded “Lord” doesn’t mean God. By the way, most Trinitarians argue that Jesus is the “Lord” who was prayed to in Acts 1:24, and the title “Lord God” doesn’t prove that “Lord” = “God.” I think you’ve missed my point.

    Why then is the same word “Lord” when used for Jesus always taken by you to mean something else then it does when referring to God?

    Because the OT shows that Jesus is called “Lord” in a different sense to God, and the NT continues this practice. I explain this in my rebuttal to Bowman, here. Please read it.

  30. cherylu
    May 9, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

    Dave,

    Acts 1:24, 3:22, 4:26, and 4:29 just for starters are places in Acts where “Lord” is used by itself referring obviously to God but not while using a term like “Lord God”. In these verses, “Lord” obviously means God. And this is just in the first few chapters of Acts. I didn’t check the rest of it for the same usage. Why then is the same word “Lord” when used for Jesus always taken by you to mean something else then it does when referring to God?

  31. Dave Burke
    May 9, 2010 @ 3:24 pm

    cherylu:

    For those of us who see the multiple times the word “Lord” is used to speak interchangeably of Jesus or as a general reference to God in the book of Acts, the fact that He is not referred to as God in so many words is really not a problem.

    Since when did “Lord” mean “God”?

  32. cherylu
    May 9, 2010 @ 2:02 pm

    For those of us who see the multiple times the word “Lord” is used to speak interchangeably of Jesus or as a general reference to God in the book of Acts, the fact that He is not referred to as God in so many words is really not a problem. You can argue all you want that “Lord” when referring to Jesus does not mean He is God. It is not at all convincing however when the same word is used repeatedly referring to God. The only way you can say it doesn’t mean He is God then is to have an a priori committment to that belief and therefore say that it means one thing when it speaks of God and something totally different when it refers to Jesus. Therefore to us, the book of Acts refers to Jesus as God a multitude of times although not using those precise words.

    And my point about the early church father’s was that they certainly interpreted the teachings of the apostles and Jesus Himself to mean that He was God. And they certainly were a whole lot more likely to understand the Greek of the day correctly then any of us now are. Therefore, my point stands.

  33. Fortigurn
    May 9, 2010 @ 1:35 pm

    cheryl,

    ‘And as far as the argument that Acts refers to Jesus as a man–which again Trinitarians also believe He was–and not as God proves that He wasn’t God, that is merely an argument from silence. Acts never speaks of God’s love either. Does that therefore prove that God doesn’t love people? It must, according to your argument!’

    I am not making an argument from silence. An argument from silence would be ‘It isn’t mentioned therefore it isn’t true’. I am not saying that. Nor am I saying ‘It isn’t mentioned therefore they didn’t believe it’.

    I am saying that the speeches in Acts provide evidence that the apostles baptized people with the knowledge that Jesus is a man. They do not provide evidence that the apostles baptized people with the knowledge that Jesus is God, or ‘God-man’. This is significant because it means that we have a record of the apostles preaching a Christology which is entirely Unitarian, but we have no record of the apostles preaching a Christology which is Trinitarian, or which teaches that Jesus is God.

    For the Unitarian, the Acts is a wealth of Unitarian-worded preaching speeches. For those who believe Jesus is God, the Acts is an embarrassment requiring explanation. I await your explanation.

  34. cherylu
    May 9, 2010 @ 1:12 pm

    “Remember, a vast majority of the earliest church fathers were insistent on the soul going to heaven or hell after death.”

    A great many people still believe that. After all Paul, spoke of being “absent from the body and present with the Lord.”

    And as far as the argument that Acts refers to Jesus as a man–which again Trinitarians also believe He was–and not as God proves that He wasn’t God, that is merely an argument from silence. Acts never speaks of God’s love either. Does that therefore prove that God doesn’t love people? It must, according to your argument!

  35. Fortigurn
    May 9, 2010 @ 1:01 pm

    cheryl, try reading the ‘Old Roman Symbol’ and the ‘Didache’. These are the two earliest known Christian creedal statements, both dating to the 1st century.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Roman_Symbol

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didache

    What evidence is there that either of these documents contain the belief that Jesus is God?

  36. Fortigurn
    May 9, 2010 @ 12:56 pm

    cheryl,

    ‘Multiple quotes from the earliest church fathers show beyond doubt that they believed Jesus to be God.’

    That’s fine, but we have the writings of the apostles to go on and they’re more authoritative. Remember, a vast majority of the earliest church fathers were insistent on the soul going to heaven or hell after death.

    ‘They were the ones that lived closest to Jesus actual teachings, the teachings of the Apostles, and were surely the most familiar with the Greek used in that day.’

    Actually Jesus and the apostles are even closer. Just read the preaching speeches in Acts. Show me the arguments which the apostles used to teach people that Jesus is God before baptizing them. What did they say?

  37. cherylu
    May 9, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

    Dave,

    Multiple quotes from the earliest church fathers show beyond doubt that they believed Jesus to be God. They were the ones that lived closest to Jesus actual teachings, the teachings of the Apostles, and were surely the most familiar with the Greek used in that day.

    So were they all l00% wrong on this subject? It seems to me that is more then a little bit presumptuous to think!

  38. Dave Burke
    May 9, 2010 @ 10:36 am

  39. Fortigurn
    May 9, 2010 @ 9:54 am

    Scott,

    ‘I feel like you know the Trinitarian position, but as normal, it is argued that our stance doesn’t ‘add up’, ‘make sense’, ’sound logical’, ’sound reasonable’.’

    I didn’t actually use any of those statements in my reply. I just asked you to explain simply ow person X can be the descendant of person Y, who didn’t even exist until thousands of years after person X. Can you do that?

    ‘I am quite comfortable with NT Wright’s thoughts on Jesus and what it meant for Him to be human. It prompted me to write this article.’

    I’m always interested to see Trinitarians come to conclusions which Unitarians have been repeating for the last 300 years. I admire your intellectual honesty in that article. However, you need to follow it to its logical conclusion:

    ‘I believe Christ, in his human incarnation, laid aside his omniscience, his omnipresence and his omnipotence. All of it!’

    That means he wasn’t God. So what you have ended up with is a Jesus who looks just like the Unitarian Jesus. The reason for this is that the Bible only teaches the Unitarian Jesus.

  40. Dale
    May 7, 2010 @ 7:58 am

    Will do… thanks for the note.

  41. ParkerW
    May 6, 2010 @ 11:01 pm

    Round 4 is up, do you mind scoring it?

  42. ScottL
    May 6, 2010 @ 9:21 am

    F –

    I am quite comfortable with NT Wright’s thoughts on Jesus and what it meant for Him to be human. It prompted me to write this article.

    Hopefully I can stay up on the scholarship and not just be one of those in the pews. 🙂

  43. ScottL
    May 6, 2010 @ 9:18 am

    F –

    I agree that Jesus challenges the idea that he is ‘merely the Son of David’. This isn’t in dispute. I agree that Jesus ‘applied Lordship prior to His resurrection/ascension’. This isn’t in dispute either. I want to know how person X can be the descendant of person Y, who didn’t even exist until thousands of years after person X.

    All you’re telling me is that you believe Jesus has always existed and never had a beginning, but that Jesus gave birth to a ‘man suit’ which did have a beginning.

    I feel like you know the Trinitarian position, but as normal, it is argued that our stance doesn’t ‘add up’, ‘make sense’, ‘sound logical’, ‘sound reasonable’.

    I’m not using that as an excuse, but I believe it to be completely in the realm of the great divine Yahweh whom we serve to have the divine Christ with Him from the beginning, but send the divine Christ ‘from heaven’, as the gospels attest, and be birthed as a human being, and thus, in his humanity, Jesus was the the son of Abraham and David.

    I don’t know if I can explain it any clearer, lest I repeat myself and I know you don’t like me repeating myself. 🙂

  44. Fortigurn
    May 5, 2010 @ 11:44 am

    Scott,

    ‘But someone like an NT Wright is one of the greatest experts on second temple Judaism, and I suppose people like he and others seem to think these texts purport the divinity of Christ.’

    I hate to break it to you, but this still doesn’t address the issue under discussion. The fact is that you don’t take those passages in their socio-religious Second Temple context. Citing Wright doesn’t change this fact.

    You have also been made aware that significant Trinitarian scholars including heavyweights like Dunn agree that this language does not necessarily mean Jesus literally pre-existed, and that the language in its Second Temple context is best understood as figurative (Murphy-O’Connor, Robinson, Stowers, Macquarrie). The fact is that Trinitarian laymen are way behind Trinitarian scholarship. What is believed in the pews is a far remove from what is taught in the seminaries. A number of serious issues have already been conceded with regard to the immortal soul, the doctrine of the Trinity, and the identity of ‘satan’. This is seen plainly in the layman’s arguments used by Bowman and yourself.

    But since you’ve cited Wright, let’s see if you’re really as happy with him as you think. You may not be aware that NT Wright does not believe that Jesus actually knew for certain he was God. He says Jesus believed that he was doing things which which only Scripture and Yahweh himself could do.

    He says Jesus held this belief ‘with passionate and firm conviction’. But he also says that Jesus held this belief ‘with the knowledge that HE COULD BE MAKING A TERRIBLE, LUNATIC, MISTAKE’. [1]

    That’s the NT Wright you’re talking about, who never says that Jesus actually knew as a definite fact that he was God, in the way we can know if we are tall or short, hungry or thirsty.

    [1] Wright, ‘Jesus’ Self-Understanding’, in Davis & Kendall (eds.), The Incarnation’, pp. 47–61 (2002)

  45. Fortigurn
    May 5, 2010 @ 11:29 am

    Scott, I need you to explain how you be descended from someone who doesn’t even exist until several thousand years after you. Saying Because the genealogies are clear that Jesus is descended from both Abraham and David’ doesn’t explain this.

    I agree that Jesus challenges the idea that he is ‘merely the Son of David’. This isn’t in dispute. I agree that Jesus ‘applied Lordship prior to His resurrection/ascension’. This isn’t in dispute either. I want to know how person X can be the descendant of person Y, who didn’t even exist until thousands of years after person X.

    All you’re telling me is that you believe Jesus has always existed and never had a beginning, but that Jesus gave birth to a ‘man suit’ which did have a beginning.

  46. ScottL
    May 5, 2010 @ 5:47 am

    Fortigurn –

    But you don’t take those passages in their socio-religious Second Temple context. I understand the range of uses of ‘theos’ (Jesus himself even instructs us on the point), so when I read Jesus is called ‘theos’ I don’t assume it means he’s God. If I read language which appears to suggest pre-existence, I interpret it according to its socio-religious Second Temple context, in which I find abundant examples of such language used in a figurative way.

    But someone like an NT Wright is one of the greatest experts on second temple Judaism, and I suppose people like he and others seem to think these texts purport the divinity of Christ.

    As for presuppositions, I avoid them.

    This is an important goal, one we can truly move towards. But, unfortunately, you and I (and Burke and Bowman) have them. Again, such needs to be challenged at times to either deconstruct or strengthen them. But we have them.

  47. ScottL
    May 5, 2010 @ 5:45 am

    Fortigurn –

    Thanks for letting me know you aren’t stirring.

    How can you be descended from someone who doesn’t even exist until several thousand years after you?

    Because the genealogies are clear that Jesus is descended from both Abraham and David. Now, at the same time, Jesus challenges the idea that he is merely the Son of David (Mark 12:35-37). He still is, but He challenges that He is merely.

    I know a Unitarian would claim that, yes, Jesus is more than the Son of David (Messiah). But interesting Jesus applied Lordship prior to His resurrection/ascension. Here is Kyrios of kyrios’s now, before He finished His sinless life and rose from the dead the vindicated Messiah.

    In the end, we have no problem with the eternal Son-second person of the Trinity existing but having a human start through the actual conception in Mary.

  48. Dave Burke
    May 4, 2010 @ 8:50 pm

    Scott:

    Come on, now. Of course we believe Jesus descended from Abraham and David, as Scripture teaches it. He was a literal descendant of them.

    In what way was he a literal descendant of them?

    But he also not only came from Adam, Abraham and David, He came from God, was with God in the beginning, and was God in the beginning in all the glory of God. I know you disagree with this, but we believe Jesus literally descended from Abe and Dave, as that was a pointer to His Messianic nature.

    But you believe Jesus has always existed, so how did he “come from God”? What does “come from God” mean to you? And how can Jesus be literally descended from men whose existence he predated?

  49. Dave Burke
    May 4, 2010 @ 8:42 pm

    Scott:

    Thanks for reading my article. I hope I didn’t offend as to keep you from interacting over at my blog.

    As to the two points (a and b) that you brought up in comment #31:

    I will admit I am not able to walk down that path of great knowledge on the Jewish literature. I have not studied it, so you have the advantage. But what I will say is that I am still convinced that every passage you referenced about Christ and applied predestination principle, that application did not ‘fit the bill’, examples being John 1:14; 3:13; 6:62; 8:58; 17:5; Col 1:15-17; etc.

    I understand the Jewish principle you have put forth, but again, I don’t believe those passages above, and others, fit into mere predestination or speaking about something as if it had existed though it had not. I believe we actually have pointers to Christ’s pre-existence before the ‘incarnation’.

    I wasn’t offended, though I do take issue with some of your criticisms and conclusions. Obviously the pre-existence of Christ is not something we’re going to agree on overnight, so I’ll leave it alone for the moment. But please do consider the material I’ve presented. It really is so important to read first-century Christian literature in a Second Temple Judaism context.

    If I manage to find time for a rebuttal to Bowman’s Week 3 argument, would you be interested to read my analysis of Philippians 2? 🙂

  50. Fortigurn
    May 4, 2010 @ 8:19 pm

    Scott,

    ‘Yes, you are right. But, for Dave or myself (or you) to believe that the Bible is God-breathed leads us to ‘naturally’ accept its teaching as truth. It’s ok to work from presuppositions, right?’

    It’s not ok to work from presuppositions about what the text means. How can we possibly find out what it really means, if we’re approaching the text having already decided what it means?

    ‘From my perspective, it is ‘plain’ that passages like John 1, Col 1, Heb 1, Phil 2, John 8, John 10, etc, etc point to Christ’s divinity. So I work from that presupposition when reading passages like John 17:5, not to mention John 3:13; 6:62; etc. Dave (and you) work from another presupposition when coming to those verses.’

    But you don’t take those passages in their socio-religious Second Temple context. I understand the range of uses of ‘theos’ (Jesus himself even instructs us on the point), so when I read Jesus is called ‘theos’ I don’t assume it means he’s God. If I read language which appears to suggest pre-existence, I interpret it according to its socio-religious Second Temple context, in which I find abundant examples of such language used in a figurative way.

    What I’ve noticed from Bowman (and from you), is that you don’t actually read the New Testament in its Second Temple context. I don’t understand the reason for this, since it is standard investigative technique for determining meaning in a text from which we are separated chronologically, geographically, an culturally, and it’s insisted on by standard scholarship in the field.

    As for presuppositions, I avoid them. I read that the apostles taught Jesus is a man sent by God, a man appointed by God, a man through whom God worked, and then they baptized people. Rather than assume they were wrong, or that they really meant ‘God-man’ every time they said ‘man’, I choose to believe them. This way I avoid approaching the text with presuppositions. It’s just that simple.

  51. Fortigurn
    May 4, 2010 @ 8:10 pm

    Scott,

    ‘I know you disagree with this, but we believe Jesus literally descended from Abe and Dave, as that was a pointer to His Messianic nature.’

    How can you be descended from someone who doesn’t even exist until several thousand years after you?

    I’m not trying to stir by the way, I’m trying to understand why you read ‘born of a woman’ as meaning ‘existing as a soul before you are born, and then entering an empty body’. Checking the relevant lexicons, I do not find that this is the meaning of the Greek.

  52. Helez
    May 4, 2010 @ 5:16 pm

    Hi Matt,

    You are right about being limited in time.

    About all of the the early church fathers of the first centuries still seem to have been subordinationists, while I am not aware of any ancient writings expressing a proper “ideal” pre-existence Christology. Don’t you agree that is at least of some significance?

    Why I understand the specific concept of predestination required for upholding an “ideal” pre-existent Jesus to be unbiblical, is partly explained on this blog in this comment: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1704#comment-92054

    Peace,
    H.

  53. Dale
    May 4, 2010 @ 4:09 pm

    “thnetopsychism”?

    I had to get confirmation that this is an actual word.

    Scrabble players take note.

    🙂

  54. ScottL
    May 4, 2010 @ 2:18 pm

    Fortigurn –

    Wait, is Scott a Mormon? It would make sense of his idea that people exist before they are born.

    I’m not sure if you are trying to stir? Forgive me if I have read you wrong, but some comments have not seemed respectful.

    I never said ‘people exist before they are born’. But I will say that Christ existed before his physical birth through the virgin, Mary.

  55. ScottL
    May 4, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

    Fortigurn –

    If you start with the preconception that John 17:5 speaks of a pre-existent Christ, then naturally you’ll intepret other verses to fit.

    Yes, you are right. But, for Dave or myself (or you) to believe that the Bible is God-breathed leads us to ‘naturally’ accept its teaching as truth. It’s ok to work from presuppositions, right?

    Now, of course our presuppositions will go challenged, either being strengthened or changed. Dave (and you) are challenging such and it is good stuff to think through. But my point is that we all have presuppositions we are working with, even non-Trinitarians who seem to be reading the ‘plain’ teaching of Scripture from the passages about Jesus.

    From my perspective, it is ‘plain’ that passages like John 1, Col 1, Heb 1, Phil 2, John 8, John 10, etc, etc point to Christ’s divinity. So I work from that presupposition when reading passages like John 17:5, not to mention John 3:13; 6:62; etc. Dave (and you) work from another presupposition when coming to those verses.

    It happens. We need to be challenged, keep thinking them through, etc. But I am not sure that I should be so scolded from having the presupposition belief that Jesus is divine and then reading John 17:5 through that lens. It is part of the discipline of systematic theology.

  56. ScottL
    May 4, 2010 @ 2:05 pm

    Dave –

    Thanks for reading my article. I hope I didn’t offend as to keep you from interacting over at my blog.

    As to the two points (a and b) that you brought up in comment #31:

    I will admit I am not able to walk down that path of great knowledge on the Jewish literature. I have not studied it, so you have the advantage. But what I will say is that I am still convinced that every passage you referenced about Christ and applied predestination principle, that application did not ‘fit the bill’, examples being John 1:14; 3:13; 6:62; 8:58; 17:5; Col 1:15-17; etc.

    I understand the Jewish principle you have put forth, but again, I don’t believe those passages above, and others, fit into mere predestination or speaking about something as if it had existed though it had not. I believe we actually have pointers to Christ’s pre-existence before the ‘incarnation’.

  57. ScottL
    May 4, 2010 @ 1:57 pm

    Dave –

    From comment #1:

    I believe that Jesus is literally the Son of God in the same way that Adam was: because God created him. Neither man pre-existed; both were literally created by God, and are described as “son of God” for this reason. Is this really such a radical conclusion? I can’t see why it would be.

    I, too, believe Jesus was absolutely human. But, of course, it does not fall in line with what you would hope one would believe about Jesus, since we believe He was also divine.

    Of course Jesus wasn’t “created” by Abraham and David; the point being made is that he descended from them as a literal human being. The Trinitarian Jesus did not, since he existed before Abraham and David.

    Come on, now. Of course we believe Jesus descended from Abraham and David, as Scripture teaches it. He was a literal descendant of them. But he also not only came from Adam, Abraham and David, He came from God, was with God in the beginning, and was God in the beginning in all the glory of God. I know you disagree with this, but we believe Jesus literally descended from Abe and Dave, as that was a pointer to His Messianic nature.

  58. Dave Burke
    May 4, 2010 @ 1:23 pm

    Dale:

    I’m still trying to figure out your view. Evidently you reject soul sleep because you reject souls, right? But the question is: when your death is complete, do you thereby cease to exist (temporarily)? Yea or Nay?

    Of course there are material “leftovers” – the corpse that used to be alive. But that is a side point.

    I cease to exist. The living body comprised everything that was “me”, and now that it is dead, the “me” has utterly ceased. There is only the dead body. This is why the Bible places such tremendous emphasis on bodily resurrection.

    By the way, one of my colleagues has just told me that the Christadelphian position on death is best defined as “monistic thnetopsychism.” I like this because it is accurate, but also because it contains a long, complicated, impressve-sounding word that is difficult to spell.

    😀

  59. Dale
    May 4, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

    On an unrelated note, I’ve always been puzzled by the term “annihilationist.” This implies destruction, but I don’t actually believe that anything is destroyed at death; I believe it merely ceases to live.

    When a plant dies, do we say it has been “annihilated”? No, we say it has died. So why “annihilationist” for people who reject immortal soulism? A more accurate term would be “materialist.”

    I’m still trying to figure out your view. Evidently you reject soul sleep because you reject souls, right? But the question is: when your death is complete, do you thereby cease to exist (temporarily)? Yea or Nay?

    Of course there are material “leftovers” – the corpse that used to be alive. But that is a side point.

  60. Matt
    May 4, 2010 @ 11:29 am

    Oops, last bit should have read:
    PS: The notion of predestination itself being a scriptural concept is surely beyond doubt (e.g. Eph 1:1-5)?

  61. Matt
    May 4, 2010 @ 11:25 am

    Helez,

    In fairness to Fortigurn, you’re not exactly making it easy to understand your position / argument – either for him to effectively oppose it or for other readers (like me) to understand / appreciate it.

    As far as I can tell, Burke presented a pretty plausible position on predestination language. However you believe it’s inadequate or invalid. This could be an important point so I’m keen to understand your argument.

    However all I have from you so far are your three assertions: the language, character & context of the relevant verses don’t fit with the predestination theory; the ancient Jewish / non-Jewish writings; and that Jesus “ideal” pre-existence cannot be harmonized with the Bible as a whole.

    So, the three points you’d like to make are clear. However I can’t find anywhere you’ve actually made the substance of those points. Forgive me if I’ve missed something; but whenever I follow links you make to previous statements I find only that: the statements without the substance.

    For example, above you make a reference to another place where you say you *can* pull up Jewish writings on the subject in view. As a reader this is rather frustrating – I’d like to see the writings, which aren’t familiar to me, rather than see that you’ve made such a claim before..! Following the link was for me a waste of time, then.

    I realise we’re all busy, but then if you’re not willing / able to actually provide the substance of your arguments, we’re all wasting our time.

    Apologies if this sounds aggressive – it’s not that, it’s frustration because i see you & Fortigurn arguing at crossed purposes, and I think that’s partly because you haven’t properly presented your position.

    I’d love to hear it.

    Thanks,

    Matt

    The notion of predestination is surely beyond doubt (e.g.)

  62. Fortigurn
    May 4, 2010 @ 10:37 am

    Wait, is Scott a Mormon? It would make sense of his idea that people exist before they are born.

    Helez:

    ‘Fortigurn, I’m simply not impressed by your “I am right because my scholar says so – first rebut my scholar in print”-line of argumentation,’

    I didn’t ever say that.

  63. Helez
    May 4, 2010 @ 10:36 am

    Fortigurn, I’m simply not impressed by your “I am right because my scholar says so – first rebut my scholar in print”-line of argumentation, and you subsequently making bold statements to a unitarian like me that “Literal pre-existence means Jesus was never born, and God was never a father,” only shows you don’t understand, nor want to understand, what you are arguing against. That’s fine with me though.

    Have a nice day!
    🙂

  64. Fortigurn
    May 4, 2010 @ 10:09 am

    Ok Helez, I guess that settles it.

  65. Helez
    May 4, 2010 @ 9:35 am

    Nonsense.

  66. Fortigurn
    May 4, 2010 @ 9:06 am

    ‘Jesus “ideal” pre-existence cannot be harmonized with the Bible as a whole.’

    Of course it can. See the scholarship quoted by Dave. Literal pre-existence means Jesus was never born, and God was never a father. That’s a lot more difficult to reconcile with the Bible as a whole.

  67. Fortigurn
    May 4, 2010 @ 9:05 am

    Helez,

    ‘Yes, we *are* speaking of a proper understanding of the Christian Greek Scriptures in regard of Jesus’ prehuman existence.’

    I wasn’t disputing that. Please read my post.

    ‘I am talking of people in the first and second century. And specifically in regard of the prehuman existence of Christ.’

    Ah, so what you mean is non-Jews of the late 1st century (and probably texts the date of which are disputed), and the mid- to late 2nd century. And no sight of Jews I see. So you’re not talking about the same thing.

    By the way, I have never said that ‘the historical argument’ doesn’t matter.

  68. Helez
    May 4, 2010 @ 8:58 am

    Fortigurn,

    Yes, we *are* speaking of a proper understanding of the Christian Greek Scriptures in regard of Jesus’ prehuman existence. 🙂

    You say: “It doesn’t matter to me that you can find people centuries after Christ who interpreted the Christian Greek Scriptures the way you think they ought to be interpreted,” but that is a misrepresentation of a part of my argument.
    I am talking of people in the first and second century. And specifically in regard of the prehuman existence of Christ. I will agree that the “historical argument” in itself should not be regarded as conclusive, but it *is* on my side, and to say it just doesn’t matter is a little too easy.

  69. Helez
    May 4, 2010 @ 8:38 am

    Dave,

    My argument presented on this blog against the denial of Jesus’ prehuman existence contains:

    1) language, character and context of the verses that vividly speak of Jesus prehuman existence as a whole do not resemble the language employed in legitimate examples of the limited concept of “ideal” pre-existence

    2) ancient Jewish and non-Jewish writings of the first centuries show that the Christian Greek Scriptures were understood by early Christians as speaking of Jesus’ literal prehuman existence, while similar ancient writings expressing an “ideal” pre-existence Christology seem to be significantly absent

    3) Jesus “ideal” pre-existence cannot be harmonized with the Bible as a whole. (For example, it would require an unbiblical concept of predestination that is in sharp conflict with what the Bible conveys about God)

    Peace,
    H.

  70. Fortigurn
    May 4, 2010 @ 8:37 am

    Helez,

    ‘Well, actually, I feel that Dave hasn’t even come close to convincingly demonstrating that “this kind of language” as used in the verses that vividly express Jesus’ prehuman existence as a whole, resemble the language used in legitimate examples of the limited concept of “ideal” pre-existence.’

    What he has demonstrated is that it is well accepted by the scholarly consensus that such language was used by Jews in the 1st century in the way he understands it.

    That’s all he has to demonstrate. You need to understand that your argument is not with him, your argument is with the relevant scholarly literature. I’ll look forward to seeing you rebut someone like James Dunn in print.

  71. Fortigurn
    May 4, 2010 @ 8:36 am

    Helez,

    ‘And as noted before (http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1704#comment-92038), I can refer to ancient writings of Jewish audience who understood the Christian Greek Scriptures as speaking of Jesus’ literal prehuman existence.’

    But we’re not talking about the Christian Greek Scriptures here, and we’re certainly not talking about how they were interpreted by people living a long time after the 1st century. It doesn’t matter to me that you can find people centuries after Christ who interpreted the Christian Greek Scriptures the way you think they ought to be interpreted.

    I’m looking for evidence that such language when spoken in the 1st century, would have been understood by 1st century Jews to refer to literal pre-existence.

  72. Dave Burke
    May 4, 2010 @ 7:35 am

    Helez, as Fortigurn has pointed out, I’m not claiming that I have a permit to “explain away” these passages. I am simply demonstrating that my interpretation is consistent with the beliefs of John’s Jewish readers and is most likely to have been understood in that way.

    BTW, I’ve presented evidence for my position but I haven’t seen any for yours.

  73. Dave Burke
    May 4, 2010 @ 7:31 am

    Helez:

    Dave, because a limited concept of “ideal” pre-existence in itself is legitimate, doesn’t give you a permit to “explain away” all the texts that vividly express Jesus prehuman existence. Sorry.

    Yeah OK mate, the short version is that you disagree with me. I get it. 🙂

  74. Helez
    May 4, 2010 @ 7:26 am

    Fortigurn,
    And as noted before (http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1704#comment-92038), I can refer to ancient writings of Jewish audience who understood the Christian Greek Scriptures as speaking of Jesus’ literal prehuman existence. Can you show me evidence in ancient writings for your claim that the original Jewish audience read the Christian Greek Scriptures as speaking of “ideal” pre-existence? Burke regards that what he has shown to be good enough for him. I do not.

  75. Helez
    May 4, 2010 @ 7:15 am

    Fortigurn,
    Well, actually, I feel that Dave hasn’t even come close to convincingly demonstrating that “this kind of language” as used in the verses that vividly express Jesus’ prehuman existence as a whole, resemble the language used in legitimate examples of the limited concept of “ideal” pre-existence. Burke though, thinks he has, seemingly you do too.
    🙂

    Shalom.

  76. Fortigurn
    May 4, 2010 @ 7:07 am

    ‘Dave, because a limited concept of “ideal” pre-existence in itself is legitimate, doesn’t give you a permit to “explain away” all the texts that vividly express Jesus prehuman existence. Sorry.’

    No it doesn’t but that’s not what Dave is doing. He is pointing out that since the Jews clearly understood this kind of language, it’s a lot harder for those who assume that such verses are speaking of a literal pre-existence to prove that these verses would have been understood the way a 21st century Trinitarian reads them, not a 1st century Jew.

  77. Fortigurn
    May 4, 2010 @ 7:02 am

    Scott, I don’t believe Dave made the argument ‘What does it mean for the first Adam to be the son of God? He was created by God. Thus, for Jesus Christ, this also means He was created by God’.

    You say ‘the Trinitarian conclusion that John 17:5 speaks of Christ’s pre-existence, along with considering other verses with this one passage, I believe allows for such a pre-existent belief’. Well of course it does. If you start with the preconception that John 17:5 speaks of a pre-existent Christ, then naturally you’ll intepret other verses to fit.

    What’s most important, as always, is that the Trinitarian interpretation is ad hoc. It requires us to ‘read in’ what the text somehow ‘left out’.

    This becomes particularly acute when we start to read Acts. The apostles say ‘man’, and we’re supposed to read ‘God-man’, the apostles say ‘appointed by God’, and we’re supposed to read ‘appointed by God-the-Father’, the apostles say ‘whom God raised from the dead’, and we’re supposed to read ‘whose fleshly body God raised from the dead’. Every step along the way, we have to assume the Trinitarian interpretation before reading the verse.

  78. Helez
    May 4, 2010 @ 6:58 am

    Dave, because a limited concept of “ideal” pre-existence in itself is legitimate, doesn’t give you a permit to “explain away” all the texts that vividly express Jesus prehuman existence. Sorry.

  79. Dave Burke
    May 4, 2010 @ 6:45 am

    Scott:

    In my own article I show how I don’t believe Burke’s ‘predestination’ explanation of certain verses about Christ fits the bill.

    I read your article, and noticed two problems:

    (a) you did not address the traditional Jewish literature pertaining to this subject, which demonstrates that their understanding of predestination and “ideal” pre-existence (as opposed to literal pre-existence) corresponds to my interpretation.

    (b) you did not address the academic literature on this subject, which draws upon Jewish traditional literature to make the very same argument that I presented.

    Consequently, your article is seriously undermined. You can’t ignore the Jewish historical evidence; you have to face it head on and explain why you either reject it or interpret it another way. By the same token, you have to engage with the academic authorities and explain why you believe they are wrong.

  80. Dave Burke
    May 4, 2010 @ 6:33 am

    Scott:

    Why do we have to presume that what was exactly true of Adam was exactly true of Christ?

    Did I say that? I don’t recall using those words. There’s certainly a fundamental difference between Adam and Jesus: Adam was created from the dust of the earth as a fully functional human man, while Jesus was miraculously conceived in the womb of Mary. So in that regard, what was exactly true of Adam is not exactly true of Jesus.

    But with regard to their nature and genuine humanity – yes, we must believe that what is exactly true of Adam is exactly true of Jesus. We don’t need to “presuppose” it, because Scripture tells us clearly.

    It is essential that they are both absolutely human because if they’re not, then (a) Jesus is not the second Adam, (b) Jesus cannot be our saviour, (c) Jesus was not tempted in every way that we are, and (d) Jesus was not made like his brethren in every way – to name just a few reasons.

    What does it mean to be the son of Abraham and the son of David, as Christ was also ’sons’ of these two? Does it mean that he was created by them, or was of specific descendant lineage, which were two pointers that He was the true Messiah?

    Two Gospel records spend a couple of dozen verses to make this very point and you’re asking me about it? Of course Jesus wasn’t “created” by Abraham and David; the point being made is that he descended from them as a literal human being. The Trinitarian Jesus did not, since he existed before Abraham and David.

    So, it’s not as easy as saying, ‘What does it mean for the first Adam to be the son of God? He was created by God. Thus, for Jesus Christ, this also means He was created by God.’ There is a little more data to consider about this.

    Sure, there’s a little more data to consider. But it all points in one direction: Jesus Christ was conceived and born as a genuine human being.

  81. Helez
    May 4, 2010 @ 6:22 am

    ScottL,
    Not only Trinitarians, but also most unitarians (by far) believe in the prehuman existence of Jesus.
    🙂

  82. Helez
    May 4, 2010 @ 6:16 am

    Dale,

    Since actual conception took place, it appears that God caused an ovum in Mary’s womb to become fertile (canceling out any imperfection existent in Mary’s ovum), accomplishing this by the transferal of the life of his firstborn Son from the spirit realm to earth. (Ga 4:4) Jesus was subsequently born a helpless human infant. As Hebrews 10:5 states, God ‘prepared a body for him,’ and from conception onward Jesus was truly “separated from sinners.” (Heb 7:26)

    You ask: “the restoration of Jesus’ memory at his baptism – that interpretation is new to me. Is that really derivable from the text?”

    Well, the outpouring of holy spirit at the time of Jesus’ baptism marked the time of his becoming in actual fact the Messiah. God’s spirit poured out upon Jesus doubtless must have illuminated his mind on many points. His own expressions thereafter, and particularly the intimate prayer to his Father on Passover night, show that Jesus recalled his prehuman existence and the things he had heard from his Father and the things he had seen his Father do, and yes, the glory that he himself had enjoyed in the heavens. (Joh 6:46; 7:28, 29; 8:26, 28, 38; 14:2; 17:5) So, I believe that it may well have been that the memory of these things was fully restored to him at the time of his baptism and anointing.

    What the Bible and Jesus himself says about his prehuman heavenly life must be literally true, not only by the character and context of these remarks, but also because no other reading can be harmonized with the Bible as a whole. One clarification of this is conveyed by me in this comment: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/1704#comment-92054

    Shalom,
    H

  83. ScottL
    May 4, 2010 @ 6:13 am

    Dale –

    Hey ScottL – I agree that the verse is consistent with the return-to-glory reading. But my point was that it doesn’t require it.

    Thanks. I do agree that we can arrive at different conclusions, as Bowman and Burke have on this verse. But the Trinitarian conclusion that John 17:5 speaks of Christ’s pre-existence, along with considering other verses with this one passage, I believe allows for such a pre-existent belief.

    In my own article I show how I don’t believe Burke’s ‘predestination’ explanation of certain verses about Christ fits the bill.

  84. ScottL
    May 4, 2010 @ 6:10 am

    Dave –

    In your first comment above, you said: I believe that Jesus is literally the Son of God in the same way that Adam was: because God created him. Neither man pre-existed; both were literally created by God, and are described as “son of God” for this reason. Is this really such a radical conclusion? I can’t see why it would be.

    Why do we have to presume that what was exactly true of Adam was exactly true of Christ? What does it mean to be the son of Abraham and the son of David, as Christ was also ‘sons’ of these two? Does it mean that he was created by them, or was of specific descendant lineage, which were two pointers that He was the true Messiah?

    So, it’s not as easy as saying, ‘What does it mean for the first Adam to be the son of God? He was created by God. Thus, for Jesus Christ, this also means He was created by God.’ There is a little more data to consider about this.

  85. Helez
    May 4, 2010 @ 4:49 am

    Dale, obviously I’m aware there is a lot of confusion and disagreement about the matter of the soul. Greek philosophy and ancient pagan concepts have had a major influence on the thinking of many. Still, I believe the Bible is quite unambiguous in regard of this. According to Scripture a soul is a living creature, human or animal. (Though it is true that in the Bible the word soul can also refer to life as an intelligent person. Mt 10:28 conveys that while men can kill the body, they cannot kill the person for all time, inasmuch as he lives in God’s purpose, compare Lu 20:37, 38, and God can and will restore faithful ones to life by means of a resurrection. For God’s servants, the loss of their “soul,” or life as a creature, is only temporary, not permanent. Compare Re 12:11.)

    In accordance with this Ge 2:7 (Darby) says:
    “And Jehovah Elohim formed Man, dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and Man *became* a living soul [nephesh].”

    I agree with Burke that “death = the cessation of life.” Death is the opposite of life. Not even one part of us survives the death of the body. The Scriptural hope for the dead is not based on an immortal soul, but on God’s promise of a resurrection.

  86. Dave Burke
    May 4, 2010 @ 3:54 am

    On an unrelated note, I’ve always been puzzled by the term “annihilationist.” This implies destruction, but I don’t actually believe that anything is destroyed at death; I believe it merely ceases to live.

    When a plant dies, do we say it has been “annihilated”? No, we say it has died. So why “annihilationist” for people who reject immortal soulism? A more accurate term would be “materialist.”

  87. Fortigurn
    May 4, 2010 @ 3:49 am

    Returning to the issue of fatherhood, I don’t think that dualism/physicalism really makes any difference here.

    The real question is how anyone can be said to have ‘fathered’, in any literal sense, a person who already exists. To the Trinitarian, God did not ‘father’ the son in any literal sense. At best God just created an empty shell into which the Second Person of the Trinity could insert themselves so as to appear human.

    This means that God created a man-suit, but did not actually ‘father’ a person in any literal sense. No ‘person’ was generated, instead an empty vessel of flesh was formed. To stretch a point it could be said metaphorically that God the Father ‘fathered the empty human body which Jesus used in the incarnation’, but that’s nothing like literal fatherhood. Certainly Jesus is not a ‘son’ in any real sense in this case.

  88. Dave Burke
    May 3, 2010 @ 9:49 pm

    Dale,

    Thanks for the exchange. Fortigurn has amply clarified my point about Jesus’ birth and correctly described me as an annihilationist (I reject “soul sleep”).

    The key issue for Jesus’ humanity is conception. He didn’t just appear in Mary’s womb overnight, but was the genuine product of a conception process (whatever the mechanics) via miraculous means.

    Thus Mary was not a surrogate; Jesus did not exist before his conception and was conceived in the womb of his mother. He shared a genetic link with her in the way that every other normal human child does, and for exactly the same reason. This makes him truly, purely human.

    On McGrath: as I see it, his reason is found in his analysis of Jesus’ answer. The nature of Jesus’ reply presupposes that function is at issue, not ontology:

    The response repeats and negates the two key words used in the accusation: the Greek verb poiein means both “to do “and “to make”, and thus the reply amounts to an emphatic denial: Jesus does not do/make himself anything. Conversely, Jesus is equally emphatically said to be God’s obedient Son and agent.

    Why would Jesus respond to an accusation about ontological equality with a defence of functional equality?

  89. Fortigurn
    May 3, 2010 @ 8:21 pm

    Dale, on the question of what Jesus meant by ‘I and my Father are one’, it would be useful to consider how such ‘unity’ phrases were used in Second Temple Judaism. Hove, ‘Equality in Christ? Galatians 3:28 and the Gender Dispute’, p. 108 (1999), examines such language from the perspective of the egalitarian/complementarian dispute:

    ‘Again, the expression “we are one” is an expression that denotes what different people, with different gifts, have in common—one body in Christ. The pattern is the same with the Father and Son (John 10:30) and the husband and wife (Mark 10:8).

    In both cases the expression “you are one highlights an element that diverse objects share in common.’

    Hove, though a Trinitarian, sees Christ’s statement in relational rather than ontological terms. Why? Because the context, and the consistent use of the phrase, gives us every reason to do so. Hove also identifies analogous usage in Philo, who used the same ‘unity’ language in a relational sense. What evidence is there that this phrase was ever used ontologically?

    In any case, how would we differentiate an ontological use from a relational use? Given that Trinitarians see a relational use of this phrase everywhere else, how can they avoid the charge of special pleading when they choose to read it ontologically here?

  90. Fortigurn
    May 3, 2010 @ 8:11 pm

    Dale, I’m not sure how you arrive at the conclusion that Dave believes Jesus was not the literal descendant of Mary. Dave believes that Jesus was conceived miraculously in the womb of Jesus, just as Isaac was conceived miraculously in the womb of Sarah. Dave’s point is that Jesus was actually conceived, just as we all are.

    I’m sure Bowman believes Jesus human nature came from David (somehow), but Scripture doesn’t say that Mary gave birth to Jesus’ human nature, it says she conceived and bore a child, Jesus. If this were any other person, the Trinitarian would not dispute that this was a normal human being. But because it’s Jesus, the Trinitarian resorts to special pleading.

    I believe Dave’s point about literal fatherhood is that to be a father you have to bring a child into being. Dave’s God did that, the Trinitarian God did not. Dave didn’t make any argument about ‘something being biologically derived from Adam’.

    You will find that Dave believes in annihilation, not soul sleep.

  91. Dale
    May 3, 2010 @ 8:08 pm

    On Hebrews 2

    he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for[f]the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted

    I agree that this is a problem passage for Bowman. It is not really obvious what the “in every way” requires (e.g. it doesn’t require being a big ole sinner). The traditional spin would be that it requires no more or less than having a “complete human nature”. But v. 18 suggests that it should include being tempted, and it is not clear that Bowman has given a decent answer here. There are some traditional answers, but in my view they are unappealing.

    Looking back, I think I should have awarded you points for a solid body blow here:

    Rob has not yet discussed the temptation. Was Jesus genuinely tempted? Was he capable of sin? Trinitarianism is hopelessly divided on this issue. Jonathan Edwards, Wayne Grudem, William G. T. Shedd and others have all argued that Jesus was capable of sin. E. F. Harrison, Charles Hodge, John W. McCormick and others have all argued that Jesus was incapable of sin. Mike Oppenheimer tries to have it both ways by claiming that Jesus “had the choice to sin”, but “he did not have the ability.” Who’s right?

    It is worrying when your side is scattered across the field, and this is more than a rhetorical point. We all await Bowman’s reply to this.

    Re: begging the question, when I look at the McGrath quote, I don’t see that it gives a reason. Certainly, he reads Jesus in John as not claiming (ontological) divinity, but why?

  92. Dale
    May 3, 2010 @ 7:55 pm

    Hey Dave,

    Thanks for the dialog.

    I was trying to figure out your point re: “literal” fatherhood of Jesus by God. Hence, my speculations about your views on the sperm and egg. But it seems that on your view, Jesus was not literally the descendant of David at all. He was specially created by God, and he had a sort of surrogate mother who was a descendant of David. It seems to me that you’d have to say he was metaphorically a descendant of David, and this is a real cost of your theory. At least Bowman can say that his human nature came from David (setting aside the considerable problems of the two-natures claim).

    There’s a related problem. IF a human must be something deriving biologically from the line of Adam, then Jesus is not a human. This is a controversial requirement on being a genuine human though.

    Your “immortal soulism” aka substance dualism plus the thesis of the essential immortality of the soul – is wildly unpopular among Christian philosophers, but because of the second part. Plato’s argument for it (based on simplicity) is weak. In contrast, dualism is fairly popular, and for good reasons. Long story, those.

    “The Trinitarian Jesus continued to live after his crucifixion; ergo he did not die.” Dave – by “die” here do you mean (1) cessation of existence (aka annihilation) or (2) continuance of existence but cessation of conscious activity? I’m guessing that you mean (2). This is view of death that the old Socinians called “soul sleep”.

    You say:
    “Immortal soulists are inconsistent on this issue, subscribing to two opposing definitions of “death” simultaneously. To them, death of a human merely constitutes the transmigration of the soul rather than the cessation of life. Yet they will agree that death of a non-human living entitity literally involves the cessation of life (because it has no immortal soul).”

    I don’t see any inconsistency here for dualists. Lay aside the implausible essential immortality thesis (that necessarily, no soul ceases to exist). They hold that at death, soul separates from body. Some hold that the soul can be conscious and function without using a brain and body. (Analogy – while in a car, you can only locomote by pushing pedals, turning wheel, etc. But when out of car, you move by other means.) It is hard to rule this out, once you grant that we are, or essentially have souls. If you’re going to claim a contradiction here, what is it exactly?

    ” if we cannot proof-text our way through this dispute, how would you attempt to resolve it?”

    Admit that something can be said for both (and other) theories. This’ll lessen the harshness one is tempted to take towards the other side. Admit that you’re dealing with theories about what is in the Bible, and then weigh them against one another to see if one is significantly better than the other (scope of explanation, simplicity, less arbitrary, etc.). This’ll enable you to always keep in mind how the other guys – guys as smart as those on your side – read the same texts. It’ll also open your eyes to the fact that there are difficult texts for both sides.

  93. Dale
    May 3, 2010 @ 7:12 pm

    Fortigurn – thanks. I need to look at that bock – I mean book.

  94. Dale
    May 3, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

    Helez, there’s much disagreement about whether or not the Bible requires substance dualism about human beings. I believe that the NT does, although I don’t think it is really obvious. It may interest you to know that among Christian philosophers, who have benefited from a lot of recent work in the last 50 years on the “mind body problem”, many are dualists, and yet a good number are physicalists/materialists about human beings as well. I’m not sure what the % would be. But IF there are strong non-biblical reasons to believe dualism, then we would have reason to believe it, even if there were no biblical reasons.

    There are NT uses of “soul” in which it is not the whole living being, but is arguably a non-physical component to a normal living person, e.g. Mt 10:28 – “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” On the face of it, this is consistent with dualism. It is not so clearly consistent with physicalism. But I reject physicalism mainly because IMHO it has some desperate philosophical problems.

    Re: the restoration of Jesus’ memory at his baptism – that interpretation is new to me. Is that really derivable from the text?

  95. Dale
    May 3, 2010 @ 7:01 pm

    Hey ScottL – I agree that the verse is consistent with the return-to-glory reading. But my point was that it doesn’t require it.

  96. Helez
    May 3, 2010 @ 5:02 pm

    Dale, I object to your separation of soul and physical body (in the Platonic sense) in the representation you put forward. That’s not biblical. That “ancient soul”-thing you suggest cannot be harmonized with the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words for soul as used by the inspired Bible writers. A man does not have a soul, he is a soul, including his body.
    By the way, evidently it wasn’t until his baptism and anointing, when “the heavens were opened to him,” that the memory of Jesus’ prehuman existence was fully restored to him.

  97. ScottL
    May 3, 2010 @ 3:02 pm

    Dale –

    In John 17:5, do you not suppose that there could be a ‘return’ of glory from the phrase I had with you before the world began.

    And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

    I know that Unitarians will argue that this is not necessarily talking about a returning of glory to the Son who had pre-existed. But it is very plausible to argue that this does refer to the glory He had with the Father before creation.

  98. Fortigurn
    May 3, 2010 @ 12:44 pm

    Dale, Bock’s extensive monograph argues that blasphemy in Second Temple Judaism had a far broader definition than is typically supposed, and included a range of acts seen to challenge God’s authority.

  99. Fortigurn
    May 3, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

    Dale, Bock says that it ‘*would have been seen as* a self-claim that was an affront to God’s presence’.

    A few pertinent quotes from Bock:

    * ‘In fact, the blasphemy question by the high priest in the scene is not Jewish, nor is Jesus’ reply believable as blasphemy. Had Jesus spoken in this way, it would have been detested as senseless fantasy and as pernicious superstition, but not as blasphemy’ (p. 8)

    * ‘The examination is likely to have started with the temple charge, but it ends up dropped. No basis exists for a blasphemy charge in the trial scene’ (p. 17)

    * He quotes Sanders, ‘Further, as it widely recognized, neither phrase [Messiah’ and ‘son of God’] points towards blasphemy’, and ‘Subsequent would-be Messiahs were not charged with blasphemy, and ‘son of God’ might mean almost anything’ (p. 17)

    * Bock sees one claim by Jesus as potentially blasphemous in the eyes of the Jews, but he does not describe it as a claim to deity, ‘the claim by a contemporary to sit by God in heaven would be seen as blasphemous, because it was worse than claiming that he would walk into the Holy of Holies and sit by the Shekinah’ (p. 24)

    * After surveying the relevant rabbinical material, Block notes ‘The official rabbinic position is that use of the divine Name constitutes the only clear case of capital blasphemy’, though adds later ‘Yet beyond utterances of blasphemy involving the Name, there is also a whole category of acts of blasphemy’ (p. 111); still, transgression of the Name is the only clear case of *capital* blasphemy in the rabbinical texts

  100. Dale
    May 3, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

    Re: Jn 17:5 – “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” Helez, where do you get the idea that actual glory is being *returned*?

  101. Dale
    May 3, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

    Anyone who has read it – does Bock’s book, on the whole, support Burke’s point here?

  102. Dale
    May 3, 2010 @ 12:06 pm

    “the pre-existing logos *becomes* the human soul” – that’s what I meant. It isn’t in their view like the natural human soul gets kicked out. 😉

  103. Dale
    May 3, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

    Re: “immaculate conception” – right! Corrected.

  104. Helez
    May 3, 2010 @ 11:30 am

    Dale, you write:

    Take a subordinationist christology where the pre-existing logos takes the place of the human soul in Jesus.

    I suggest: take a subordinationist christology where the pre-existing logos *becomes* the human soul Jesus.

    Shalom,
    H.

  105. Helez
    May 3, 2010 @ 11:28 am

    Dale, you ask:
    There’s a suggestion of “blasphemy” but it is unclear to me what the contemporary Jewish concept of that was. Some insist that it must be a response to claims to divinity, while others hold it to be much broader, and could be raised at anyone as it were treading on God’s territory. Bowman assumes the first view, Burke the second. Myself, I see no easy way forward; what do scholars of NT era Judaism say about this?

    In his book “Blasphemy and Exaltation in Judaism: The Charge Against Jesus in Mark 14:53-65,” Darrell L. Bock
    argues that this was blasphemy as “a self-claim that was an affront to God’s presence.” (p. 236)

    As Jesus expressly subordinated himself to the Father, why would the Jews really have thought Jesus to have been claiming to be the Father or to be ontologically equal with him? However, it is suggested that to the Jews Jesus was taking for himself a position of authority and a unity with God that he did not possess, i.e. blasphemy.

  106. Helez
    May 3, 2010 @ 11:26 am

    Dale,

    Eph 2:6 isn’t necessarily “a vivid example from Paul of talking about a future event as present” at all. The expression “in the heavenly places” (ESV) here can denote their exalted spiritual position resulting from their being “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” (Eph 1:13-14) Actually, if we examine the context that might be a better understanding. (Eph 1:3, 11, 18-20; 2:4-7, 22) While yet on earth, they have been exalted by their assignment.

    Some of Burke’s other examples from Scripture are debatable as well.

    In regard of John 17:5 both you and Burke still have failed to answer the question: If Jesus is asking for the glory of ‘the idea about him’ to be returned to him – why then didn’t the actual Jesus have the glory he still had as an idea in the mind of God? When and how did he lose that glory? By becoming real?

  107. Fortigurn
    May 3, 2010 @ 11:17 am

    Dale, you seem to have used the phrase ‘immaculate conception’ to describe the virgin birth. In fact, the immaculate conception is the dogma that Mary was born without original sin.

  108. Dave Burke
    May 3, 2010 @ 10:05 am

    Two more points:

    (1) In the context of my discussion about Jesus needing to be human and not divine, I raised Hebrews 2:17. This cannot be waved aside by an appeal to Chalcedonian Christology, since the Chalcedonian formula deliberately asserts the opposite: that Jesus was not made like his brethren in every way. It’s a valid point that needs pressing, and I think you should have given it some airtime.

    I ask Bowman for his interpretation of the titles “Son of Man” and “Son of God” because I honestly want to know. “Son of Man” seems utterly meaningless in a Trinitarian context because Jesus isn’t genuinely human (he merely inhabits a human body), but “Son of God” doesn’t work either because Trinitarians confess an uncreate Christ.

    (2) Re. denying equality with God:

    Flag: begging the question. We need a reason for thinking that ontology is not an issue here, not a mere assertion.

    I gave a reason and illustrated it with my quotations from McGrath. Even the context of Jesus’ exchange itself demonstrates that function, not ontology, is in view.

  109. Dave Burke
    May 3, 2010 @ 9:46 am

    Thanks Dale, that’s a fair assessement. I’ll clarify a few points you’ve raised:

    Burke insists that on his view, Jesus was “literally” the Son of God, but not on Bowman’s traditional (small “c”) catholic christology. Why? If I understand him – Burke doesn’t clearly say why – it is because fathering is being part of the cause for a thing’s coming into existence.

    I believe that Jesus is literally the Son of God in the same way that Adam was: because God created him. Neither man pre-existed; both were literally created by God, and are described as “son of God” for this reason. Is this really such a radical conclusion? I can’t see why it would be.

    Trinitarians deny that Jesus is literally the Son of God; they believe him to be uncreate and his Sonship merely titular, with no reference to his origins. Bowman himself claims that Jesus’ sonship is “eternal” (though he’s never explained what this means or how he arrives at it).

    In the first week of this debate I provided a hotlink to my personal statement of faith (here: http://tinyurl.com/6fbfhc) where I explain that I do not believe in immortal soulism. To me, death = the cessation of life. I think you’ll find that biology is with me on that one.

    The Trinitarian Jesus continued to live after his crucifixion; ergo he did not die. It is not enough to say that his body died, because the body itself was not Jesus qua Jesus. Again, I see nothing difficult or controversial about this line of reasoning. It is logically and rationally consistent. It is, in fact, the normative definition of the word “death.”

    Immortal soulists are inconsistent on this issue, subscribing to two opposing definitions of “death” simultaneously. To them, death of a human merely constitutes the transmigration of the soul rather than the cessation of life. Yet they will agree that death of a non-human living entitity literally involves the cessation of life (because it has no immortal soul).

    I think you would agree with me that P cannot be simultaneously P and not-P. This is how we refute the “God-man” hypothesis. But the same principle applies to immortal soulism. Is it possible to be simultaneously dead and not-dead? Surely you cannot entertain that hypothesis.

    Finally, a methodological point from my last post. Burke falls into the same trap as Bowman – of thinking that we can proof-text our way through this dispute. We cannot.

    This is an epistemological issue which will continue to haunt your analysis of the debate, since Bowman and I broadly share an epistemology which you personally reject. There’s nothing we can do about that. But it does beg the question: if we cannot proof-text our way through this dispute, how would you attempt to resolve it?