how to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference

Add new comment

John Tancock,

I am of course willing to discuss the viability of a Christological construct compared to the available biblical, cultural and historical evidence. But then there has to be sound logic and a coherent development of arguments without the ad hominem, ad populum, ad antiquitam, judgmental language, etc., so prevalent in your comments above.

I’ve had numerous engagements with truly sincere and informed Trinitarians who have advanced impressive arguments for their position. But then I’ve also encountered individuals who sound like you: in-group/out-group language, labeling the other as either orthodox or unorthodox, Arian, ignorant, KJV-Onlyist, etc.; talking down from a position of aloofness, “We’ve always had it right, you impostors should leave and start your own little group”-kind of rhetoric. You insult those hold these un-“Orthodox” positions by calling them “uneducated,” “divided,” and “simple folk who haven’t fully understood biblical teaching.” This type of communication, complete with “sighs” and everything else is NOT conducive to any kind of positive exchange. These are expressions by someone who has a serious grandiosity issue, utterly blind to his own insults while daring to rebuke another for doing it. If you want to correct another person, at least set the example.

To someone who is so concerned about preserving the Tradition; who only ascribes to Sola Scriptura as far as Scripture confirms these cherished and sentimentalized doctrinal fabrications, my being part of a Reformed Church will inevitably be an issue. But I’m afraid it will stay that way; it has been the course Jesus of Nazareth, the apostle Paul, Martin Luther and others followed, who brought about major necessary adjustments among their associates. So, “painful” is not the accurate description of my experience – “excitement” is instead.

From my side I was rash in thinking you were disinterested in considering the arguments for the opposite, based on your “not having time.” That was indeed a faulty conclusion from very limited evidence. My apologies for that.

“There is only one True God not two or three or more. In some remarkable way Jesus is included in that Oneness and because he is ‘God’ as John tells us in Jn 1v1 then I can and will say he is my Lord and my God, he is YHWH Php 2v11 Rom 10v9. When I baptise I use the words of Matthew 28v19 which is not a later interpolation . I’m happy to trust those biblical words my friend.”

Yes, there is only one True God. According to Jesus, Luke and Paul, the Father is that True God and the Father alone (Joh. 17:3; Ac. 2:22; 1 Cor. 8:6, 11:3; Eph. 4:6; Php 2:11). As such, no one else can be identified as God Almighty in Himself. There can be emissaries, agents, representatives, emulators, etc. of that one God, YHWH, the Father and ancient Judaism had all the cultural/theological tools within which Jesus and his saving ministry could be integrated. Functional identity was the norm, NOT ontological identity. “Divine identity,” as philosophically vague and unrefined as it is (as also pointed out by McGrath), still violates the functionality of the ancient norm and assumes ontology too easily.

John 1.1 evokes Philonic logos-theology which does not assume fully hypostatized personality; the Name Jesus received does not prove ontological identity with YHWH either, since God Almighty is YHWH by identity, not by imposed authority. Jesus functions in YHWH’s stead, fully in line with the ancient shelichut principle (cp. Ex. 23:21; Rev. 14:1; also Isa. 40:3, Joh. 1:23). The purposive clause in v. 11 precludes the possibility that Jesus is ontologically equal/identical to YHWH, the Father.

None of the texts you cite default to the Nicean formulation of God (they hadn’t figured out the role of the holy spirit, by the way…). In terms of ontology and epistemology, the Nicean formulation mis-fits the biblical data, culture, history and theology.