Thinking Biblically, Part 3, by John W. Robbins

John W. Robbins

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Editor’s Note: This Reviewis taken from Dr. Robbins’ lecture “The Definition of God,” Lecture 4 of Thinking Biblically, specifically from the second section – The Source of Thinking. The lecture has been transcribed and edited for print.

 

The word God is as meaningless a word as there is in the language unless it is defined. The Dutch philosopher Spinoza talked about God all the time. In fact, he talked about God so much he was called “The God-intoxicated Man.” However, what he meant by God is quite different from what the Bible means by God. Thomas Aquinas talked and wrote about God. Immanuel Kant wrote about God. Yet these three men have three different views of God, three different definitions of the word God. In addition to that, there are all sorts of pagan religions, such as tribal religions in Africa, Asia, and in the Americas, all of which talk about God. Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism all deny the definition of God given in Scripture. If this term is so vague and meaningless, the question arises, Can the term Godbe defined?Several theologians made statements on this issue.

 

Kaufman, Brunner, Stace , and Van Til

Gordon Kaufman in his book, God the Problem, says, “God is ultimately profound Mystery and utterly escapes our every effort to grasp or comprehend him. Our concepts are at best metaphors and symbols of his being, not literally applicable.”[1]

 

A more familiar theologian, Cornelius Van Til wrote, “If we take the highest being of which we can think in the sense of have a concept of and attribute to it actual existence, we do not have the Biblical notion of God. Man cannot think an absolute self-contained being. God is infinitely higher than the highest being that man can form a concept.”[2]

 

That is essentially the same thing that Gordon Kaufman wrote. God is beyond conceptualization. As the Neo-orthodox theologian Emil Brunner put it, “If you are thinking God, you are not thinking God.”[3]

 

In his lecture “Mysticism and Human Reason,”W.T. Stace stated, “God is utterly and forever beyond the reach of the logical intellect or of any intellectual comprehension and that in consequence when we try to comprehend his nature intellectually, contradiction appears in our thinking.”[4]

 

Again, VanTil says,

 

All teaching of Scripture is apparently contradictory.[5]

 

Since God is not fully comprehensible to us, we are bound to come into what seems to be contradiction in all our knowledge. Our knowledge is analogical and therefore paradoxical.[6]

 

While we shun as poison the idea of the really contradictory, we embrace with passion the idea of the apparently contradictory.[7]

 

Shall we follow Karl Barth in saying contradictions in Scripture do not matter in the least because what takes place in the Gospel takes place in a realm above ordinary history? Or shall we with Gordon Clark say that the contradiction that we think we see is no real contradiction at all. We cannot follow any of these ways.[8]

 

Dr. VanTil says we embrace the apparently contradictory, we shun the really contradictory, but we also deny that the statement “there is no real contradiction”is false. That view is very common, not just in Neo-orthodox churches, not just in liberal churches, but in many Reformed churches. This is an attack at the root of thinking. We cannot think God. If we try to think God, we run into contradiction, and therefore it is useless to pursue this by intellectual or logical processes.

 

TheWestminster Confession and Catechisms

What do the Westminster Confession and Catechisms say about these things? Question 4 of the Shorter Catechism is, “What is God?”The question is asking for a definition of God. The answer is, of course, “God is mysterious, ineffable, unknowable, totally other, and beyond the reach of human conceptions.” Is this the answer from Catechism? That God is beyond the reach of the human intellect is not what the Bible teaches, and it is not what the Catechism says. It is what Neo-orthodoxy teaches. Quoting the Shorter Catechism, “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.” The Catechism gives a sentence in which various attributes are listed and, like the Bible itself, expects us to learn what those terms mean. The Catechism and the Bible do not say that God is mysterious, ineffable, unknowable, totally other, and beyond the reach of human conceptions. It gives several human conceptions which are revealed in Scripture and define the term God.

 

The men who wrote the Westminster Confession and the Catechisms understood that if a term is not defined, one does not know what he is talking about. A good portion of the Westminster Catechisms consists of definitions such as these fifteen from the Shorter Catechism: What is God? What are the decrees of God? What is the work of creation? What are God’s works of providence? What is sin? What is effectual calling? What is justification? What is adoption? What is sanctification? What is faith in Jesus Christ? What is repentance unto life? What is a sacrament? What is baptism? What is the Lord’s Supper? and What is prayer?

 

The goal of the writers of the Catechism is to give concise definitions, usually consisting of a single sentence that can be memorized so one can have in mind the meanings of these terms. There is no anti-intellectual nonsense about the terms being undefinable or beyond the reach of human conception, and this includes the definition of God.

 

The Westminster Confession itself expands on the definition of God given in the Shorter Catechism. Chapter 2, Of God and the Holy Trinity, Section 1 states:

 

There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, longsuffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and withal, most just, and terrible in his judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.

 

Section 2 continues and expands the definition even further:

 

God hath all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself; and is alone in and unto himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which he hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting his own glory in, by, unto, and upon them. He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things; and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever himself pleaseth. In his sight all things are open and manifest, his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to him contingent, or uncertain. He is most holy in all his counsels, in all his works, and in all his commands. To him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience he is pleased to require of them.

 

Nowhere does the Confession suggest that understanding God is beyond the reach of human intellect. However, that does not mean that we find out God on our own power. That is impossible. God must reveal himself to us. But once he reveals himself, we understand. That is the meaning of revelation. If revelation is given and it is not understood, then it is not revelation. It is obscurantism, or it is riddling, but it does not constitute revelation. The concept of revelation itself implies, not only that God gives us information, but that the information is meant be understood and can be understood. Otherwise, there is no revelation.

 

The Johannine Logos

Before looking at John 1 to see what Scripture says regarding the doctrine of God, consider this: We say that God is living. What is meant by that statement? Does it mean that he is breathing? Does it mean that he has a pulse? Does it mean that he has brain waves? No. It means that God is thinking. It is a metaphor. It means that He is a thinking God. Now to John 1:1-9:

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

 

This is the description that John gives of the Word of God. This is the way he begins his Gospel. The Gospel of John is a very profound and a very simple book. When people read it they sometimes skip over this introduction because while it is very profound, it seems very simple. In skipping over this, they are skipping over what John thought most important. This is how he begins his Gospel. This is how he begins his explanation of Jesus Christ. He ties it by his language back to the Word of God who appears throughout the Old Testament and speaks to and through the prophets: “Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying…” (1 Samuel 15:10), and the prophets understand who is speaking to them.

 

The idea here in Johnʼs Gospel is that the Logos is God. What does that Greek word λογος mean? The King James Version and the New King James Version translate it as “Word,” which is a perfectly fine translation. The Liddell and Scott Lexicon lists many meanings for the word λογος. Some of them are: computation, reckoning, account, measure, esteem, proportion, ratio, explanation, pretext, plea, argument, discourse, rule, principle, law, hypothesis, reason, formula, definition, debate, narrative, description, speech, oracle, phrase, wisdom, sentence, and the last definition they list is word, and that is the meaning found in virtually all English translations.

 

What is common among all of those possible definitions? The common thread is that they all pertain to thinking. To compute, reckon, account, measure, esteem, explain, argue, discourse, rule, hypothesize, reason, formulate, define, debate, narrate, or describe are all intellectual acts. From this Greek word λογος, we get our English word logic. Etymologically, it is also the root of our words that end with l-o-g-y such as theology—the study or understanding of God, and biology—the study or science of living things. These words are intellectual through and through. This is contained in what John is saying.

 

This word had been used in Greek philosophy for centuries before John wrote his Gospel, but John is not adopting some meaning given to it by the philosopher Heraclitus. John is using a perfectly good Greek word in a Christian context. Translating the passage “In the beginning was the Wisdom” instead of “In the beginning was the Word” might make it more intelligible to you because then you could relate Johnʼs Logos to the word wisdom found in the book of Proverbs.

 

“In the beginning was the Reason, and the Reason was with God, and the Reason was God” is another legitimate translation. Sometimes when people hear this they say, “You are making ReasonGod.” However, I am not making Reason God: Johnʼs Gospel says “…the Logos was God.”

 

This is intellectual through and through and in stark contrast with the theory of evolution which puts non-living matter first, then some living beings, and finally in the last few hundred thousand years something that might be called man—something with the characteristic of logic or reason—homo sapiens. That evolutionary view makes logic or reason a latecomer on Earth and in the universe as well. The Bible does not. John 1:4 says, “in this Logos was life; and that this life was the light of men.” Rather than life being deeper than logic, the Logos is prior. This is the complete opposite of the Darwinian or evolutionary worldview.

 

Now before looking at John and other verses look at Proverbs, a book that is replete with information about knowledge and understanding and wisdom. Proverbs 3:19, 20 say, “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding he established the heavens. By his knowledge the depths were broken up, and clouds drop down the dew.”

 

Jeremiah 51:15, 16 state, “He has made the earth by his power; He has established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding. When he utters his voice—There is a multitude of waters in the heavens: ‘He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; he makes lightnings for the rain; he brings the wind out of his treasuries.’”

 

Recall in Genesis 1 how God created. He speaks. “And God said, Let there be light…. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters…. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together…. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass….” God speaks and the Word creates the universe. The Word is prior to and superior to the creation. Life is not deeper than logic. If we are talking about the Divine Life, it is the same as logic. If we are talking about human Life, human life is not as deep as logic; far from what the Romantics and the Darwinians would have us believe.

 

Here is an excerpt from Goetheʼs poem Tragedy of Faust, where Faust is translating John 1:1:

 

ʻTis writ, “In the beginning was the Word!”

I pause, perplexʼd! Who now will help afford?

I cannot the mere Word so highly prize;

I must translate it otherwise,

If by the spirit guided as I read.

“In the beginning was the Sense!” Take heed,

The import of this primal sentence weigh,

Lest thy too hasty pen be led astray!

Is force creative then of Sense the dower?

“In the beginning was the Power!”

Thus should it stand: yet, while the line I trace,

A something warns me, once more to efface.

The spirit aids! from anxious scruples freed,

I write, “In the beginning was the Deed!”[9]

 

The Romantics cannot believe that God is the Word, and on the other hand the Jehovahʼs Witnesses cannot believe that the Word is God. Also, the spirit that is mentioned in that passage as guiding the translation is not the Holy Spirit.

 

Returning to John 1, The Logos is eternal (verses 1, 2). The Logos is the Creator, (3). The Logos is the true light, the light-giver who lights every man coming into the world (9). John is not speaking here of the saving knowledge of Christ. Not every man is lit by the saving knowledge of Christ. John is speaking of the image of God.

 

God is Truth

The Father is truth. Psalm 31:5: “Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” But some will object, “But God is love. We are told in the Scripture that God is love.”Yes. God is love. But God would not be love, if God were not truth. The only reason we can think that God is love is because prior to that, God is truth. The attribute of truth makes the attribute of love possible.

 

The Son is truth. John 14:6: “Jesus said to him, ʻI am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” When Jesus makes this statement, he is speaking literally. He is not using a metaphor when he talks about the truth here. He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” In chapter 1, John says that Jesus is the life. In chapter 1, he also says that Jesus is the truth. The only possible metaphor here is the way, in the sense of a path. In John 1:14 Jesus is described as full of grace and truth: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

 

The Holy Spirit is truth. John 15:26: “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will testify of me:”

 

Here are a few more verses about God and truth. Psalm 43:3: “O send out your light and your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to your holy hill and to your tabernacle.” Psalm 36:9: “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.”

 

Throughout Scripture, light is a metaphor for truth. Jesus says, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). Peter talks about the light that shines in the darkness (2 Peter 1:19). Light is a metaphor for truth.

 

God is Omniscient

The doctrine of God includes the idea of omniscience—God knows everything. Omniscience is simply the idea of the sovereignty of God applied to knowledge and thought. God knows all there is to be known.

 

God is Logical

Logic, to use a metaphor, is the architecture of Godʼs mind. Logic is the way God thinks. Logic is not created. “In the beginning was the Logos….” The universe is created, man is created, but logic is not created. However, this view is contrary to what is taught by some Reformed theologians. For example, Morton Smith writes,

 

Non-Christians maintain that man reasons univocally, that is with one meaning per word. Christians on the other hand maintain that all human reason is analogical. For the non-Christian, the law of contradiction is a principle that stands above God and man alike. God and man are under the same system of logic which is higher than both, and exists independent of both. For the Christian, on the other hand, God exists before time and the laws of logic. The law of contradiction is part of the created temporal world. It is the expression of the internal coherence of Godʼs nature but is not above God. The law of contradiction operates only under God and not above Him. The Christian does not use it to say what can or cannot be true about God Himself.[10]

 

That is a very common view among some Reformed theologians. He said, “For the non-Christian…God and man are under the same system of logic which is higher than both, and exists independent of both. For the Christian, on the other hand, God exists before time and the laws of logic.”Certainly God exists before time, because time is created. But doesGod exist before the laws of logic? That would make God illogical. The author goes on though and inconsistently says, “The law of contradiction is…the expression of the internal coherence of Godʼs nature….” But how does one judge the internal coherence of Godʼs nature if the laws of logic do not apply to God?

 

The author has committed the very common error of setting up a false dichotomy. Either you have to accept the idea that logic is created, or you have to accept the idea that logic is superior to God, and God is subject to logic. Neither view is the Scriptural view. The Scriptural view is that logic is not created, and logic is not superior to God because John says that Logic is God. It is not some standard external to God that he has to obey. It is simply the way God thinks.

 

If we think that David was king of Israel, and that Absalom was the son of David, and we conclude that Absalom was the son of a king of Israel; God reaches the same conclusion. God does not have some different logic by which if he thinks that David was king of Israel, and that Absalom was the son of David, therefore Absalom was the nephew of the prime minister of Babylon. That would be a different logic. That would show that God was not subject to the laws of logic.

 

God and Arithmetic

Godʼs logic is the same as our logic just as Godʼs arithmetic is the same as our arithmetic. For more on the Scriptural foundation of mathematics, see the excellent article by J.C. Keister, “Math and the Bible,” the September, October 1982 issue of The Trinity Review.[11] The author refers to a few of the many instances of calculations being done in Scripture and derives from those calculations the principles of arithmetic. This is revealed information. Non-Christian mathematicians debate over the philosophical status of arithmetic. Scripture reveals arithmetic that says “two plus two is four.” It is four for God, and it is four for man. Arithmetic and logic themselves are not affected by sin. However, sin does cause us to make mistakes in our thinking—in our adding and subtracting and multiplying and dividing. That is one of the effects of sin on the mind, but sin does not affect the logic or the arithmetic themselves. Two plus two is four. That is revealed in Scripture.

 

This sort of thinking that offers the false dichotomy, Either logic is superior to God, or logic is created, is very misleading. Logic is simply the way God thinks.

 

 

New Lectures Now Available

 

We have added three new lectures and a Question and Answer session to Collection 13 in our MP3 Lectures. The Lectures are all by John W. Robbins and were given at a Reformation Day Conference in 2004. The titles are “Forgotten Principles of the Reformation,” “The Reformation Betrayed,” “The Current Justification Controversy,” and a “Question and Answer Session.” Special thanks to Paul Elliott for uncovering these lectures.

 

Descent into Debauchery, Depravity, and Insanity Continues

This article and the whole series of lectures by Dr. Robbins on Thinking Biblically is even more apropos for our current time than when they were first delivered over 15 years ago. One does not have to look at society to witness the descent into immorality and insanity; the church, even the Evangelical and Reformed offer plenty of examples. The church needs to repent and conform her thinking to the Bible, God’s infallible Word. Here are some Scriptures that speak to our time today that should challenge us in the church to repent and be transformed by the renewing of our minds:

 

A false balance is an abomination to Yahweh: but a just weight is his delight. When pride cometh, then cometh shame; but with the lowly is wisdom. The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them. Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death. The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness. The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness. When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of the unjust men perisheth. The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead. An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbor: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered. When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting. By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked. He that is devoid of wisdom despiseth his neighbor: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace. (Proverbs 11:1-12)

 

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! (Isaiah 5:20, 21)

 

Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness. We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men. We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; In transgressing and lying against Yahweh, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: And Yahweh saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment.

And He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. (Isaiah 59:9-16)

 

A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof? (Jeremiah 5:30, 31)

 

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest to all men, as theirs also was. But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou has known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith [belief] which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God [God-breathed], and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

I charge thee therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. (2 Timothy 3:1-4:5)

 

We the church need to take to heart these Scriptures, repent, and take every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ. It is no wonder that our society continues its immoral descent and contempt for God and his Word, but what about the church?

Examples from the Evangelical and Reformed will demonstrate the problem. In the Reformed church an OPC pastor was tried by his presbytery for not having his chronically ill wife in worship, obviously she was not in worship due to her chronic illness.[1]  Or more recently in the Neo-Calvinist movement, there has been controversy over some speakers at this years’ Together for the Gospel (T4G) conference, specifically speakers from the former Sovereign Grace Ministries now Sovereign Grace Churches (CJ Mahaney – one of the founders of T4G, and two other pastors) over concerns of covering up child sex abuse, which has even been covered in mainstream news publications.[2] Then there is Megachurch Pastor, Steven Furtick of Elevation Church (a church in the Southern Baptist Convention) in Charlotte, North Carolina who claimed that God broke his own law for love to save sinners.[3]

Is it any wonder then that Georgia Governor Nathan Deal vetoed[4] a bill[5] to protect religious liberty (a right enshrined in our Bill of Rights). Explaining his decision to veto HB 757, Deal made the following arguments:

 

HB 757 enumerates certain actions that religious leaders, faith-based organizations and people of faith shall not be required to take or perform. These include solemnizing a marriage, attending such marriages, hiring church personnel or renting church property when such acts would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs. While most people would agree that government should not force such actions, there has been not a single instance of such taking place in Georgia. If there has been any case of this type in our state it has not been called to my attention. …

Therefore, as I have examined the protections this bill seeks to provide to religious organizations and people of faith I can find no examples that any of the things this bill seeks to protect us against have ever occurred in Georgia. It is also apparent that the cases being cited from other states occurred because those states had passed statutes that specifically protected their citizens from adverse actions based on their sexual orientation. Georgia has no such statutes.[6]


[1] Gordon D. Kaufman, God the Problem, Harvard University Press, 1972, 95.

[2] Cornelius Van Til, Introduction to Systematic Theology, 1971, 206 (Presbyterian & Reformed, 1997, 328).

[3] Emil Brunner, The Divine-Human Encounter, Greenwood Press, 1943; quoted in Gordon Clark, In Defense of Theology, [1984], 2000, 16.

[4] Walter T. Stace, “Mysticism and Human Reason,” Howison Lectures in Philosophy, University of California at Berkley, 1954, published in 1955 by the University of Arizona Press.

[5] Cornelius Van Til, Common Grace and the Gospel, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1972, 142.

[6] Cornelius Van Til, Defense of the Faith, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, [1955] 1967, 44.

[7] Cornelius Van Til, Common Grace and the Gospel, 9.

[8] Cornelius Van Til, “Toward a Reformed Apologetics,” self-published, 1972, 4.

[9] Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Tragedy Of Faust: Faust Meets With Mephistopheles, <http://goethe.classicauthors. net/TragedyOfFaust/TragedyOfFaust6.html>.

[10] Morton H. Smith, Systematic Theology, Volume I, Greenville Seminary Press, 1994, 25.

[11] J. C. Keister, “Math and the Bible,” The Trinity Review, September, October 1982, <http://www.trinityfoundation.org/ journal.php?id=55>.

_____________________________________________________________________

[1] See Valerie Hobbs, “Women on Trial: One Observer’s View,” February 12, 2015, The Aquila Report, http://theaquilareport.com/women-on-trial-one-observers-view/, April 12, 2016.

[2] See Survivors Network of those Abused by Priersts (SNAP) “KT—Victims to Protest Huge Protestant Conference,” April 11, 2016, http://www.snapnetwork.org/ky_victims_to_protest_huge_protestant_conference, April 12, 2016. See also, Tiffany Stanley, The Washingtonian, “The Sex-Abuse Scandal That Devastated a Suburban Megachurch: Inside the Rise and Fall of Sovereign Grace Ministries,” February 14, 2016, http://www.washingtonian.com/2016/02/14/the-sex-abuse-scandal-that-devastated-a-suburban-megachurch-sovereign-grace-ministries/, April 12, 2014. See also, Elizabeth Dias, “Inside the Investigation into Child Sexual Abuse at Sovereign Grace Ministries,” Time, February 16, 2016, http://time.com/4226444/child-sex-abuse-evangelical-church/, April 12, 2016.

[3] “It Works Both Ways,” July 26, 2015, http://elevationchurch.org/sermons/it-works-both-ways/, April 12, 2016. See also Todd Pruitt, “Is God a Law-Breaker?” April 6, 2016, http://www.alliancenet.org/mos/1517/is-god-a-law-breaker#.VxAgWavdPdk, April 12, 2016.

[4] “Deal to Veto HB 757,” March 28, 2016, https://gov.georgia.gov/press-releases/2016-03-28/deal-veto-hb-757, April 12, 2016.

[6] “Transcript: Deal HB 757 Remarks,” March 28, 2016, https://gov.georgia.gov/sites/gov.georgia.gov/files/related_files/press_release/HB%20757%20%20Veto%20Letter%20and%20Msg%20-%2003.28.16.pdf, April 12, 2016.

The Deals are members of First Baptist Church of Gainesville (“Biography of First Lady Deal,” April 12, 2016, https://gov.georgia.gov/biography-1), which is part of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which ordains women as pastors, and proclaims to “honor historic Baptist principles, are ecumenical in nature, and community-minded in practice,” (“First Baptist Church of Gainesville,” homepage, April 12, 2016, http://www.fbcgainesville.org).

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Islam’s War on Freedom of Thought in Bangladesh


Hacked to death by Religion of Peace activists in the last two years:

Niloy Neel – Secular Blogger
Oyasiqur Rhaman – Atheist Critic of Religion
Hussein Ali Sarkar – Convert to Christianity

Shafiul Islam – Professor and Secularism Advocate
Jogeshwar Dasa Dhikari – Hindu Priest
Nazimuddin Samad – Liberal Blogger

Ananta Bijoy Das – Science and Logic Blogger
Xulhaz Mannan – Gay Rights Magazine Editor
Faisal Arefin Dipan – Secular Book Publisher

Tanay Majumder – Theater Actor and Accused Homosexual
Rezaul Karim Siddique – Professor and Music Promotor
Avijit Roy – Atheist and Author

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The rights of Muslim men over female prisoners of war according to Islam QA

20085: Intercourse with female prisoners of war


At the present time, is it Halal to have a sexual intercourse with your Loundi (a female prisoner of war) without getting married to her?.

Published Date: 2004-05-30
Praise be to Allaah.  It is not permissible for a man to have intercourse with anyone except his wife or his female slave (concubine). A wife becomes permissible after shar’i marriage and a concubine becomes permissible to the man who owns her. She may originally be a prisoner of war, and a Muslim may obtain a concubine from the ruler or commander if he took part in fighting in jihad, or if he buys her from her owner. She becomes permissible for him by virtue of his ownership after it is established that she is not pregnant by waiting for one menstrual cycle, or until she has given birth if she is pregnant.

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And those who guard their chastity (i.e. private parts, from illegal sexual acts)

6. Except from their wives or (the slaves) that their right hands possess, ـــ for then, they are free from blame”

[al-Mu’minoon 23:5-6]

It was narrated that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, concerning the prisoners of Awtaas: “Do not have intercourse with a pregnant woman until she gives birth, or with one who is not pregnant until she has menstruated once.” Narrated by Abu Dawood, 2157. This hadeeth was classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel, 187.

In the answer to question no. 10382 we have stated that Islam permits a man to have intercourse with his slave woman whether he has one or more wives or he is not married.

In the answers to questions no. 5707 and 12562 it states that female prisoners of war may be distributed by the commander in jihad, because he has the choice of either distributing them, or ransoming them or setting them free.

5707: The difference between slaves and prostitutes


I’ve heard that it is allowed for men to have intercourse with their slaves. Does that stand for women too, & if men can have intercourse with their slaves (the ones they have bought) then why is it so much ill thought of the prostitutes…they too are, kind of bought at others will, for shorter time period perhaps. Can you make all this clear & why is it so that Islam did not stop slavery….they are humans as well, & are against their will kept in captivity & against their will may be forced into intercourse?

Published Date: 2000-01-27

Praise be to Allaah.

Slavery in Islam was originally prescribed because of Kufr. If there is jihaad between the Muslims and the kuffaar, and a number of kuffaar are taken prisoner, the commander is given the choice of sharing them out, doing them a favour (by releasing them) or paying their ransom. If they are shared out as part of the booty, they become slaves, subject to the laws governing products which may be sold. But at the same time, Islam urges the freeing of slaves and makes doing so an act of expiation for numerous sins. In principle, slavery is not something that is desirable; what is encouraged in Islam is the freeing of slaves. If a woman is enslaved according to sharee’ah, it is permissible for her master to have intercourse with her. This is unlike prostitution or zinaa, which Islam has forbidden as a precaution against mixing lineages and other reasons for which it is forbidden. There is no comparison between the two, because if a slave woman becomes pregnant, the child belongs to the master and she becomes free when he dies, because she has become the mother of the master’s child (umm walad), and is subject to the same rulings as a wife. And Allaah knows best.

12562: What is a “right hand servant”? Does the owner of a “right hand servant” have to be married?


What is a right hand servant? Do you have to be married to have one? How can you finalize it and get one and state this person as your right hand servant?.

Published Date: 2002-09-12
Praise be to Allaah.  Firstly:

If Allaah enables the Muslim mujahideen to defeat kaafir enemies in war, then the men may be killed, ransomed, set free without ransom or enslaved. The choice between these four options is to be made by the ruler, according to what he thinks is the best course.

With regard to the women, they become slaves and “those whom one’s right hand possesses” (described as a “right hand servant” in the question). Male children also become slaves. The ruler shares out these slaves among the mujaahideen.

Shaykh al-Shanqeeti (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The reason why a person may be taken as a slave is his being a kaafir and waging war against Allaah and His Messenger. If Allaah enables the Muslims who are striving and sacrificing their lives and their wealth and all that Allaah has given them to make the word of Allaah supreme over the kaafirs, then He allows them to enslave the kuffaar when they capture them, unless the ruler chooses to free them or to ransom them, if that serves the interests of the Muslims.

Adwa’ al-Bayaan, 3/387

Islam limited the sources of slaves which existed before the mission of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to just one source, namely slavery resulting from capturing prisoners from among the kuffaar.

Islam treated female slaves more kindly in their enslavement than other cultures did. Their honour was not considered to be permissible to anyone by way of prostitution, which was the fate of female prisoners of war in most cases. Rather Islam made them the property of their masters alone, and forbade anyone else to also have intercourse with them, even if that was his son. Islam made it their right to become free through a contract of manumission; it encouraged setting them free and promised reward for that. Islam made setting slaves free an obligation in the case of some kinds of expiation (kafaarah), such as the expiation for accidental killing, zihaar (a jaahili form of divorce in which a man said to his wife, “You are to me as my mother’s back”), and breaking oaths. They received the best treatment from their masters, as was enjoined by the pure sharee’ah.

Secondly:

A mujaahid does not have to be married in order to gain possession of a “slave whom one’s right hand possesses.” None of the scholars expressed such a view.

Thirdly:

If a mujaahid takes possession of a female slave or male slave, it is permissible for him to sell them. In either case – whether one acquires a slave through battle or through purchase – it is not permissible for a man to have intercourse with a female slave until she has had a period from which it may be ascertained that she is not pregnant. If she is pregnant then he must wait until she gives birth.

It was narrated that Ruwayfi’ ibn Thaabit al-Ansaari said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say on the day of Hunayn: “It is not permissible for any man who believes in Allaah and the Last Day to irrigate the crop of another else – meaning to have intercourse with a woman who is pregnant. And it is not permissible for a man who believes in Allaah and the Last Day to have intercourse with a captured woman until he has established that she is not pregnant. And it is not permissible for a man who believes in Allaah and the Last Day to sell any booty until it has been shared out.”

Narrated by Abu Dawood, 2158; classed as hasan by Shaykh al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 1890.

For many reasons, including the fact that the Muslims have long since given up jihad, slavery is now very rare. This means that the Muslims must be extra cautious by examining any case in which it is claimed that someone is a slave, whether male or female.

For more information see question no. 26067

And Allaah knows best.

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Steve Bruecker’s able defense of the trinity at trinities.org

Dale I didn’t see a definition of the Trinity in your challenge. I will provide one to help in solving this issue. One God subsists in 3 persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; co-equal and co-eternal. In support of this definition the Bible teaches 3 key points:

1. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separate and distinct persons

2. Each person is God

3. There is only 1 God

I can support all these premises with scriptures but it is getting late. If the above is true then something is wrong with your premises.

Premise #1 says God and Jesus differ. Are you talking about the Father and Jesus differ? Yes they do differ but not in their divinity. They only differ in their personhood. Your first premise needs to make the distinction how the Father and Jesus differ. They are two different persons of the one God. As far as I can tell, none of your premises address the fact that God subsists in 3 persons.

What is your definition of the Trinity? Where in your premises do you allude to the persons of the Trinity? When you use the term God, which of the premises are you talking about the Father?

If the Bible supports my 3 key points (which I can support tomorrow) then the Trinity is a Biblical doctrine and your Jesus is God challenge fails.

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    Hi Steve. Thanks for the comment. I know that what you gave passes as a definition of “the Trinity” in some apologetics circles. But the first two claims are extremely ambiguous – so much so, that until one clears up what they mean, there is no point in hunting around for scriptures which allegedly support the claims – whatever they are! Here’s a place to start, regarding your 2: http://trinities.org/blog/10-s…

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    Steve,

    Simply “defining” your understanding of the Trinity is not sufficient to prove it.

    For example, you claim that “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct persons.” However, not all Christians believe that “holy spirit” refers to a “person.” Biblical Unitarians recognize that “holy spirit” is associated with “persons”, but that it is not a “distinct person” or “being”
    and they can support it with many scriptures.

    You also claim that “each person is God”, but not all Christians think that the title of “God” can only be applied to one particular supreme being. Many Biblical Unitarians find no occasion in scripture where the title of “God” is specifically applied to Jesus Christ. Most Biblical Unitarians would also point out that your metaphysical assumption that “multiple persons = one being” is unwarranted by any evidence.

    When you claim there “is only 1 God”, most Christians would agree. However, there is no need to include Jesus Christ in a belief in “one God.” Biblical Unitarians have no difficulty believing in “one God” (as one unique being/person) without including Jesus Christ or an holy spirit “person.”

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      Rivers,

      I will support my Trinity claims with scriptures. All you’ve demonstrated is there are many heretical views of the Trinity. I have spent many hours with both Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses defending the doctrine of the Trinity.

      In order to prove the Trinity true 3 important facts have to be established by the scriptures.

      1. There is only one God

      2. The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit are distinct persons.

      3. Each person is fully God.

      If all 3 can be shown to be scriptural then the only conclusion is the Bible teaches the Trinity.

      1. The Bible teaches only one God.

      This is actually very easy because of the many verses. I have included just a few of the scriptures that teach that God is one. Let’s just look at two of them:

      Deuteronomy 6:4, Hear (Shema) O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

      Isaiah 45:5a, I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.

      Clearly, the Bible teaches there is only 1 God. (Additional verses that teach only one God: Deut. 4:35, 4:39, Is. 45:14, 45:21, 45:22, 46:9, Joel 2:27, James 2:19, John 17:3). This is not controversial for most groups that believe the Bible.

      2. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separate and distinct persons.

      It is easy to establish the personhood of the Father and the Son in the Bible. It is a little harder to show the Holy Spirit as a person but it can be done.

      In John we see Jesus speaking to the disciples during the last supper. John 14:25-26, “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

      Only a person can speak, teach, and remind others. These verses clearly teach the Holy Spirit is a person. In chapters 14-16, of the book of John, we see the actions of 3 persons being performed by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

      Acts 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

      Here the Holy Spirit speaks and commands Barnabas and Saul to be set apart for the work He, the Holy Spirit, has called them. Speaking, commanding, and setting forth a plan can only be done by a person.

      3. Each person is God

      Father is God

      Gal. 1:1 Paul, an apostle–sent not from men nor by men, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.

      Holy Spirit is God

      The Holy Spirit is God can be shown with the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. They tried to deceive the Apostles, acting as if they gave all the money they received for the land they sold.

      Acts 5:3, 4 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” We see in verse 3 Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit and then in verse 4 Peter says you lied to God; establishing the fact that the Holy Spirit is God.

      In addition a powerful case for the deity of the Holy Spirit can be made by listing His Godlike powers, abilities, and actions. In Acts 13:2, where the Holy Spirit gives ministry commands to Barnabas and Paul that would only be given by God. The name “Holy” Spirit indicates He is God. Only God is holy.

      Jesus is God

      Many passages teach Jesus is God. I will begin my case by showing the Apostles believed Jesus was God. I start with…

      • Matthew believed Jesus was God: Matthew affirms Jesus is God when he writes about the birth of Jesus, Matt. 1:23 “. . . and they will call him Immanuel” — which means, “God with us.”

      • John believed Jesus was God: John 1:1, 14 The Apostle John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” v14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

      • Thomas believed Jesus was God: The week before, we see Thomas doubting the resurrection of Jesus but now we see in John 20:28 “Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” Thomas actually says, “Lord of me and the God of me.” Saying “the God” in the Greek, ho theos, there is no question he is calling Jesus God. Plus in the verses that follow Jesus commends him.

      • Paul believed Jesus was God: Titus 2:13 The Apostle Paul writes to Titus, “. . . the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” No doubt Jesus is God and savior.

      • Jewish people believed Jesus claimed to be God: John 10:30-33 (NIV) [Jesus speaking] “I and the Father are one.” 31 Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” 33 “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” Even the enemies of Jesus knew he claimed to be God!

      The 3 key points: 1) only 1 God, 2) The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separate and distinct persons, and 3) Each person is God establishes the Bible teaches the doctrine of the Trinity.

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        Steve,

        Not all Christians agree with the conclusions that you draw from the scriptures you are citing in your defense of the Trinity doctrine. Let me give a couple of examples from your reply:

        1. You claim that “Thomas believed Jesus was God” because of the statement he made to Jesus in John 20:28. However, other Christians recognize that the context indicates that Thomas was probably referring to two different beings who were in different locations.

        We see in John 20:13 that “my lord” was used by Mary to refer specifically to Jesus Christ, who was with her on Earth, and that Jesus used “my God” to refer specifically to “the Father” who was in heaven (John 20:17).

        Since there’s no indication that the disciples ever used “my God” (or “the God”) to refer to Jesus Christ when they were with him, it’s reasonable to think that the writer intended us to understand that Thomas was following the usage of “my God” by Jesus earlier in the context (where it specifically refers to “the Father” who is in a different place).

        2. You also claim that the name “Immanuel” applied to Jesus Christ indicates that “Jesus is God” because the name means “God is with us.” However, other Christians recognize that this is nonsensical for a number of reasons.

        First, the name “Immanuel” originally referred to one of Isaiah’s own human sons (Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 8:3-8). It’s also evident in Isaiah 8:3 that Isaiah’s son had a different name (MHRSLLHSBZ) and in Matthew 1:25 that Mary’s son had a different name (Jesus). Thus, it’s likely that the reference to the name “Immanuel” was symbolic in both contexts (since God was giving His people a sign of imminent salvation in both places).

        Second, there are many other ancient Hebrew names in the Bible that mean “God (something)” Just about any Hebrew name that ends with the suffixes -AH or -EL alludes to “God.” Thus, it isn’t reasonable to isolate the name “Immanuel” and conclude that it requires some special implication of an Incarnation or “divine nature.”

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          Rivers,

          1. First I must emphasize these Jewish disciples that followed Jesus, were monotheists. The Bible clearly teaches there is only one God (I can provide 28 verses that directly teach there is only one God). All other gods mentioned in the Bible are false gods whether referring to Satan, his demons, humans, or idols. There is only one Triune God. So Thomas when he met the risen Christ was a strict monotheist. Religious historical books name Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as monotheistic religions.

          John 20:28 “Thomas said to him [Jesus], “My Lord and my God!” Clearly Thomas is calling Jesus his Lord and his God. You are trying to say he was referring to two gods, which is a similar case Jehovah’s Witnesses do and fail. The verse itself tells it all: “Thomas said to him…” a singular pronoun. If you were right the verse should have read “Thomas said to them…” Thus he couldn’t have been referring to both the Father and the Son as separate beings (gods). The singular pronoun referred to Jesus. In addition if Jesus was not God, he should have rebuked Thomas for blasphemy. Instead we see him commending him for what he said.

          Thomas used the strongest expression possible in calling Jesus God. The Greek text actually says, “The Lord of me and the God of me.” [All interlinears I have seen supports this including the Watchtower’s own Kingdom Interlinear]. In calling Jesus God, Thomas is using “ho theos” = the God. A Jehovah Witness cannot add the article “a” here (a god) because in the Greek there already is the article “the.” Therefore, Jesus cannot be a second or lesser god. He is almighty God, second person of the Trinity. Thomas, the monotheist, called Jesus God and he was commended. Thomas believed Jesus was God.

          2. Here we must read the larger context of the passages in Isaiah from 7:1-9:7. By the time one reaches Isa 9:6, the prophet is speaking of a child, naturally taken as still referring to Immanuel, who is the “Mighty God.” Isaiah 9:6 (NASB) “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” In no sense can this prophecy be taken as less than messianic or as fulfilled in a merely human figure (like the son of Ahaz only). So when we look at Isaiah 7:1-9:7, it is best to see a partial fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in his time, with the complete and more glorious fulfillment in Jesus’ own birth.

          Plus we have confirmation of this child reaching complete fulfillment in Jesus by Matthew who announces this Christ child by pointing back to the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14. Matthew writes: Matthew 1:21-23 (NASB) “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.”

          Jesus is given the title Immanuel which means God is with us. You said, “Second, there are many other ancient Hebrew names in the Bible that mean “God (something)” Just about any Hebrew name that ends with the suffixes -AH or -EL alludes to “God.” Thus, it isn’t reasonable to isolate the name “Immanuel” and conclude that it requires some special implication of an Incarnation or “divine nature.” I am guessing you are referring to prophets such as Jeremiah or Daniel. The name Jesus doesn’t have the suffixes you are referring to. However, Matthew gives him the title of Immanuel, God is with us. Please show me where individuals with their names ending in –AH or –EL are given a divine title such as Immanuel. Where are these individuals, with the divine endings to their names, ever called “Mighty God?” If you cannot show this, then my point still stands. Matthew believed Jesus was God.

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            Steve,

            Thanks for the detailed reply. Here are my thoughts (in the order of your points).

            1. I don’t think it’s accurate to say that all those called “gods” in scripture (besides YHWH) are “false gods.” For example, the “judges” who are called “gods” (ALHYM) in Exodus 22:9 were not “false.” Rather, a text likes this shows that the term ALHYM could be applied to others (besides YHWH himself). I could cite a number of other examples of this.

            2. I wasn’t inferring that Thomas was speaking of “two gods” in John 20:28. I was pointing out that the term “my Lord” was used by the disciples to refer specifically to Jesus Christ earlier in the context (John 20:13) and “my God” was used by Jesus to specifically refer to God the Father, who is in heaven, in the same context (John 20:17). Thus, I think it’s more likely that Thomas was following that precedent and using those two terms to refer to two different beings who were in different locations (i.e. my Lord [Jesus], my God [the Father]).

            3. I see that Thomas used O QEOS (“the God”) in John 20:28. However, I don’t find any other uses of this term that ever apply specifically to Jesus Christ. Thus, I don’t think isolating John 20:28 and insisting that it must be a title given to Jesus is at all consistent with the apostolic usage. Based upon the evidence in the immediate context (that I cited in the previous paragraph), I think it’s more likely that Thomas is using “the God of me” to refer specifically to God the Father (as O QEOS is used every other time it occurs in the apostolic writings, except Philippians 3:19 where it is part of a figure of speech).

            4. I don’t agree with you that “Immanuel” is a “divine title.” It is just an Hebrew name that is interpreted to mean “God with us.” Likewise, I would argue that other ancient Hebrew names (e.g. Jeremiah, Daniel) could also be interpreted as alluding to something about “God” (if taken literally). Hebrew God-names do not require any inference of “divine” nature or substance.

            5. In Isaiah 9:6, what do you do with Jesus being called “eternal father”? Do you think that this suggests Jesus is the same person as God the Father? In what sense was Jesus a “father”?

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              Rivers,

              1. Were the judges human by nature or did they have a divine nature? The Bible teaches there is only one God by nature. If you don’t like “false gods,” how about “Persons or things that are not God by nature?” Humans, Satan, demons, and idols are not God by nature. Do you want me to send you the 28 verses that say there is only one God (by nature)?

              2. If you say the text teaches Thomas was addressing two beings, then why didn’t it record Thomas said the “them.” The text specifically says he said to HIM! It is obvious by the context Thomas spoke only to Jesus and called him Lord and God. You cannot agree to the fact the text used a singular pronoun because you presuppose Jesus is not God. You have to force your view on a rather obvious text of Scripture. Instead of doing exegesis, you are doing eisogesis (reading in your view). You don’t believe Jesus is God, so therefore Thomas couldn’t have called him God. However, the truth is Thomas agrees with the John who said, “And the word [Jesus] was God.” Thomas believed Jesus was God. If you don’t believe Jesus is God, then what is he?

              3. Simply because no apostle used the strongest expression in calling Jesus God doesn’t mean Thomas didn’t use it. We have to go with what Thomas said, not what you want him to say. As a monotheistic Jew, he was making the strongest statement possible in calling Jesus “The God.” We know he wasn’t speaking of the Father because he made this statement “to him.” Again you are reading your views into the passage and trying to make Thomas agree with you.

              4. Even for argument sake, if Immanuel is simply a Hebrew name (I don’t agree), it announces the fact that upon the birth of Jesus, he will be called “God is with us.” Again you have to presuppose Jesus is not God to avoid the fact Matthew believed he was. Matthew aligns with Paul who said this about Jesus: Titus 2:13 (NASB) “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” Matthew believed Jesus was God and so did the Apostle Paul.

              5. The word Father is seldom used in the OT; whereas, it is used often in the NT. Jesus and the Father, as spoken of in the NT, are two separate and distinct persons of the one God. Keil and Delitzsch write, “The title Eternal Father designates Him, however, not only as the possessor of eternity, but as the tender, faithful, and wise trainer, guardian, and provider for His people even in eternity (Isaiah 22:21). He is eternal Father, as the eternal, loving King, according to the description in Ps 72.” [Commentary on the Old Testament – Volume 7: Isaiah.] Eternal father can also be expressed as a genitive phrase, “father of eternity.” Why is this prophesied child in Isaiah, that Matthew writes refers to Jesus, called “mighty God” (Isa. 9:6)?

              Steve

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                Steve,

                Thanks for taking the time to continue the friendly dialogue. Here’s a brief response to your latest points.

                1. I don’t think ALHYM (“God/s”) was a term used for “nature.” I think it was a title used of YHWH, angels, and human beings on account of their position of authority (regardless of “nature”). The biblical evidence doesn’t suggest that this Hebrew term was used exclusively for heavenly beings.

                2. I agree with you that John 20:28 says that Jesus spoke to “him” (i.e. Jesus). However, this doesn’t preclude that “my God” could be referring to someone else. The “him” is satisfied by the term “my Lord” (which was referring to Jesus to whom Thomas was speaking). Thomas would not have said “them” because God was not in the same location when he was speaking to Jesus (cf. John 20:17).

                3. I agree that Thomas “could” have been using “my God” to refer specifically to Jesus Christ. However, all the other occurrences of “my God” in the apostolic writings refer specifically to God the Father. Jesus used it to refer specifically to God the Father in John 20:17 and five other times in Revelation 3:2-12 and Paul used it three times in his letters to refer to God the Father (Philippians 1:3, 4:19; Philemon 1:4). This makes it highly unlikely that your attempt to isolate the usage by Thomas in John 20:28 and insist that it must be referring to Jesus is the right approach.

                4. I don’t agree with your punctuation of Titus 2:13. I think it’s likely that Paul was referring to two different beings in that context (i.e. “our great God” and “savior Jesus Christ”) in the same way that Thomas did in John 20:28. Unlike, “my God”, there is plenty of evidence that “savior” is a title the apostles frequently used for both God the Father and the human Jesus. Thus, it isn’t reasonable to insist that both titles must be referring to Jesus Christ in any particular passage.

                5. Good point about the infrequent usage of “Father” to refer to God in the Hebrew scriptures. I think the reason that Father became much more frequent in the apostolic writings is because the human Jesus was “claiming that God was his own Father” (John 5:18) and the apostles understood that he received the “authority over all flesh” (John 17:2) in order to be able to give “those who received him the right to become the children of God” (John 1:12).

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    Your argument has issues with definitions. Here are two of the problems:

    1. You are mixing up the “Is” of identity and the “Is” of predication. Good articles can be found dealing with this issue at:

    http://sententias.org/2013/01/…

    http://pleaseconvinceme.com/20…

    2. The Greek word for God “Theos” can represent the Triune God or a member of the Trinity or the Father. Wayne Grudem writes in his book Systematic Theology: “When we realize that the New Testament authors generally use the name ‘God’ (Gk. theos) to refer to God the Father and the name ‘Lord’ (Gk. kyrios) to refer to God the Son, then it is clear that there is another Trinitarian expression in 1 Corinthians 12:4–6: ‘Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one.’ Similarly, the last verse of 2 Corinthians is Trinitarian in its expression: ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all’ (2 Cor. 13:14) .’ In addition we see the three persons mentioned separately in Ephesians 4:4–6; 1 Peter 1:2, and Jude 20–21.”

    Steve

    • Avatar

      Hi Steve,

      1. No, sorry, but I’m not confusing those. If you’re going to object that, you’ll need to explain how you think I am. But I can tell you that I’m well aware of that difference, and that the argument doesn’t confuse those two senses of “is.”

      2. I don’t see how any of this is relevant to the argument. Whether “God” refers to the Trinity, or (as almost always in the NT) to the Father, I urge that we have a sound argument. Please see this follow up post: http://trinities.org/blog/god-… About Dr. Grudem finding “trinitarian” passages in the NT, I suggest that he is failing to make this important distinction: http://trinities.org/blog/10-s…

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Latreuo must be in the gospel of Jesus the Son of God or it is not Latreuo

King James Bible Romans 1 v 9:

Paul’s Desire to Visit Rome

(1 Thessalonians 2:17-20)

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve ( Latreuo ) with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;

Greek:

3144 [e] martys μάρτυς witness N-NMS
1063 [e] gar γάρ indeed Conj
1473 [e] mou μού my PPro-G1S
1510 [e] estin ἐστιν is V-PIA-3S
3588 [e] ho Art-NMS
2316 [e] Theos Θεός, God, N-NMS
3739 [e] whom RelPro-DMS
3000 [e] latreuō λατρεύω I serve V-PIA-1S
1722 [e] en ἐν in Prep
3588 [e] τῷ the Art-DNS
4151 [e] pneumati πνεύματί spirit N-DNS
1473 [e] mou μου of me PPro-G1S
1722 [e] en ἐν in Prep
3588 [e] τῷ the Art-DNS
2098 [e] euangeliō εὐαγγελίῳ gospel N-DNS
3588 [e] tou τοῦ of the Art-GMS
5207 [e] Huiou Υἱοῦ Son N-GMS
846 [e] autou αὐτοῦ, of him, PPro-GM3S
5613 [e] hōs ὡς how Adv
89 [e] adialeiptōs ἀδιαλείπτως unceasingly Adv
3417 [e] mneian μνείαν mention N-AFS
4771 [e] hymōn ὑμῶν of you PPro-G2P
4160 [e] poioumai ποιοῦμαι I make, V-PIM-1S

A Muslim on this blog thinks that he is giving Latreuo to God because he prays 5 times a day. I am sorry to disappoint him but he is deceiving himself. If he had written this verse it would go something like this:

9 For Allah is my witness, whom I worship with my spirit by praying to him 5 times a day acknowledging that Mohammed is his prophet.

Unfortunately for all Muslims this is false worship to a false non-existent god. It is not service given to God in the gospel of his Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Fact-checking Reza Aslan, love your neighbour as yourself, from David Wood

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James White Dividing Line on Paul Williams at speakers corner. Halfway in for PW comments

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Islam has a hard time explaining the purpose of the burnt offerings offered prior to Abraham

After Abraham sacrifice becomes a memorial to Abraham. The other justification for sacrifice is to give surplus food in the form of animals to the poor. The offerer is sacrificing his wealth to help the poor and at the same time offering up the merit of his pious good deed to Allah.

Neither of these reasons justify or explain the purpose behind Abel’s offering of the firstlings of his flock to God:

Genesis 4 v 3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.

At this point in time there is no poverty in the earth because the earth is fruitful and there is only a small population. Also humans did not begin to eat meat until after the flood. Another problem with the burnt offering, if you are a Muslim, is that there is nothing left over for the offerer or anyone else. It is completely consumed by fire on the altar, after the blood is drained off. There is no way make to this a social act of doing good. It is all for God. A lot of problems for our supremacist friends to explain away I think.

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Does John 3 v 16 imply subordination of the Son to the Father?

For God So Loved

(Genesis 22:1-10; Romans 5:6-11)

John 3 v 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Calling Christians claims that this is the case. Many Muslims agree with him. Does this verse prove this? I am obviously biased but I do not think that this is self-evident from the text itself. This seems to be what many Muslims argue. If the Son is sent he must be subordinate because he has no choice in the matter. If the Father says go he has to go, end of story. He is simply an object, or a slave as personal object, over which the Father has lordship and can dispose of as he will.  On the surface this could be an option but must the text be interpreted in this way? No, certainly not. This is just arguing from silence and begging the question because of the inherent bias of Muslim thinkers who have to follow the Quran.

Why are two different words used for the “movement” of the Son from the heavenly to the earthly sphere? The word give and the word sent are both used in this verse. My understanding would be that the giving of the Son takes place before the incarnation. This is a voluntary agreement on the part of the Father and the Son between themselves. Only the giving on the part of the Father is mentioned in this verse but this does not preclude the existence of a complementary act on the part of the Son who gives himself to the Father to dedicate himself to the purpose which the Father has conceived in his heart.

The sending takes place after the incarnation and applies to the human Jesus who is made under the law; the same Jesus who acknowledges that he has received a commandment from the Father:

John 10 v 17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

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The temple and the priesthood mediates between man and God in the Old Testament or Covenant of Moses

One of Paul Williams favorite claims is that there is no mediator between God and man in Islam. Then he tries to prove that this is the same teaching of the bible by citing the following passage:

The Pharisee and Tax Collector

Luke 18 v 9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Williams concludes that man is justified by simply calling upon God for mercy.

The reason why I believe that Williams is wrong is that both these men are Jews living under the covenant of Moses. One is a publican and the other is a Pharisee. However they are both Jews living under the Mosaic covenant. That means that they both approach God through Moses as their mediator and the priesthood which Moses established according to the laws that God gave him at Mt. Sinai.

The mercy which the publican entreats from God is a mercy which is channeled through the temple and the priesthood, to which the context clearly alludes; a mercy which God could not otherwise bestow, having ordained these things as necessary for salvation, being themselves the signs of the perfect Great High Priest Jesus Christ and his blood sacrifice.

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