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.
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…
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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”?
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)?
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).
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:
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.”
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…