Back To The Past

I have had a thought in my mind lately on where our nation is heading. I am quite concerned with the future, but I believe the place to begin is not with looking at the future. The place to begin is not even where we are at. The place to begin is quite simply, at the beginning, and we must do so by learning our past.

I was talking to someone today about the movie 300. I never saw this movie, but he was with some others and he was saying, “It was a good movie, but I didn’t like the ending.” Of course, I told him that they had no way of changing the ending. After all, we have no right to rewrite history.”

At that point, a lady that was with him said, “You mean that happened?” This is one of the moments where I get disgusted. I remember having read about the battle before the movie ever came to the theaters and thinking, “Yeah. I read about that taking place.” Unfortunately, while it disgusts me, I can sadly easily understand it.

We live in a day and an age where history is not known. I have with me copies of Plutarch, Josephus, and Tacitus. I have read works on church history and of course, there are the Scriptures which are the history of the Jewish people. However, our culture today does not know about most of these sources. We know about who is dating who in Hollywood and what’s going on in our favorite soap operas, but we are ignorant of what happened in the past.

It has been said that our culture today knows more about the past 60 hours than the past 60 centuries. We will frequently watch the news or read the newspapers and know everything about the present time, but we have no connection with the time in the past today. Is it any shock that the past consists of people with ancient worldviews who were superstitious?

This is one downfall of our modern world. We are cutting off the past and trying to form our own identity apart from our heritage. Tradition is an accursed word. That means we get rid of the moral ideas and the religious ideas as well. Now naturally, some ideas do need to change. However, this is not because they are old ideas. This is because they are false ones. We do not reject geocentricism because it is older. We reject it because it is false.

The great danger is that our culture has no root and thus, we will simply not survive. Without knowing the past, we are unprepared to face the challenges of today. If you want to understand what is happening in the Middle East, you have to understand what has happened in the history of Muslims and Jews. People who want to handle this situation while divorcing it from its past will only fail.

What is the solution? We need to study history. We need to know about the great cultures of the past and what they did and how they have shaped us. It makes a difference to know why a war was fought and what the thinking was behind X movement. It is essential that we simply not disregard something because it is ancient or what we so naively call “superstitious.”

Unfortunately, our school system doesn’t really do it for us. We must do it ourselves. Go to the bookstore. Buy books on ancient history. If you have another area of interest, study it in history. You can study the history of philosophy or the history of science or economics or politics for instance.

Be assured though that you know about your time in relation to the past. We are not people floating on an island in the sea of time. We have a heritage and we need to learn from it.

The Way of Wisdom

I’ve been thinking still about that sermon last night. There is something beneficial in a sermon I don’t agree with in that it inspires me to look closer at an issue so I can say why I don’t. Of course, if I turn out to be wrong, I will change my mind, but in this case, that hasn’t happened yet.

I was discussing this with some friends after writing the blog last night. I bemoan the fact that our churches just don’t really spend enough time on biblical exegesis. When this sermon was going on, I went through the Bible and did some minor exegesis of the text. Granted, my resources were limited as I had to rely on my memory and I had no portable concordance or Strong’s with me. Still, there is some simple exegesis anyone can do.

I find that whenever I do such things, I enjoy them. It makes me reopen my eyes again to what Scripture really is. It’s a gold mine of information and truth. The texts that are written can often be seen as arguments to state a position and lead someone to believe something. Go read the NT and find where they quote the OT. There’s a reason they did that. It supports an argument.

One aspect of studying that will be to become familiar with the context of the ancients. For instance, at the request of a friend, I am now reading the Brothers Karamazov. Can I understand the basic concepts behind the story and enjoy it? Yes I can. However, my enjoyment would no doubt be increased if I studied Russian culture and knew the names better and the events and the currency and customs of the time period.

The same applies for Scripture. The modern concept of hearing the voice of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit as taught today I just do not find in Scripture. It has become too easy for us to take our modern views and read them back into the Scripture. This has led us down the path of individualism though where each of us become islands unto ourselves. We neglect the way of wisdom when we somehow think it’s biblical for God to do our thinking for us.

What is the way of wisdom then? It is the path laid down in Proverbs that begins with the Fear of the Lord. Wisdom thus begins in just not knowing stuff but living stuff. The truly wise person will also be a moral person. Woe to our intellectuals today who may know a lot of things, but do not know how to live. Read Socrates. This was his main area of interest. He wanted to discuss ethics and living the right life.

This will mean studying the ideas and how we are to live them. In our age of individualism though, I believe we neglect a great source of wisdom as well. Other people. When do we sit down with others and discuss ideas? Proverbs 27:17 tells us that as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

Do we do that? Do we sit down and discuss with each other and bounce our ideas off? Maybe some conclusions will be wrong, but at least we’ll be learning more about how to think. Of course, if we believe God is telling us what the text means, then we won’t study it. If we believe that the preacher is saying what God put on his heart, then we will treat it as infallable.

No. We need to go back to the text. We need to get away from subjective experiences. Experiences are fine and great, but they are not interpreters of Scripture. We should use Scripture to understand our experiences and interpret them. We should not use experiences to understand and interpret Scripture.

I make the call then. Return to the way of wisdom. Return to seeking truth with all your heart. Realize your feelings are temporary and ebb and flow, but truth is eternal. Fear God and keep his commandments. Follow that seeking and it will lead you to Christ who is the wisdom of God and to be more conformed to his image.

Proverbs 3:5-6

I heard a message tonight on this passage. The theme of the sermon was “Always trust God for direction.” The sermon text wasn’t in the bulletin, but instinctively, I figured it would be this passage. Indeed, I was correct. I listened though and found so much that I disagreed with that I decided I would write on how I see the passage tonight.

The view given first off compared the trust to being blindfolded, put in a city one hasn’t been to, had a stranger take you by the hand, and being told that this person would be your guide. It also stated that we need to follow where God is leading us and how we should not have things we want to do and trust God to bring them about but rather wait and see what he wants us to do.

In short, modern pop Christianity stuff.

I have a real problem with the way we try to sound spiritual in the church when we talk about this. “Well, this is the message God has laid on my heart.” How serious a claim is! If God put a message on your heart, then we should accept that message as infallable! If he did not though, then we are claiming to speak when God did not.

Let’s also deal with that idea of trust first off. This is the book of Proverbs written within the thought of Judaism of the time. The Jews had more than enough reason to trust God. There was this event they knew about in the past called Exodus. Based on the Exodus, God had shown himself to be capable in their eyes and he had called them to be his own people and obey the rules of his covenant.

Trust is never meant to be blind. In fact, when we get to the book of Acts, we find that the Bereans are praised because they checked the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul was saying was true. I have no problem with someone wanting to check up on what I say and see if it’s true. In fact, I wish everyone would.

Let’s really look at this passage though. We have interpreted it in the idea of modern individual guidance. Our churches today have ideas about how God is leading people (Who in here ever looks up the term “led by the Spirit” to see what it really means?) and how God is talking to each one of us today. (Do you really see that as normative in Scripture?) To an ancient Jew though, this would seem quite bizarre. Proverbial writings would be no exception. Let’s begin and start with a look at what is going on in Proverbs beforehand.

Proverbs is a part of the Bible referred to as Wisdom literature. Wisdom was highly esteemed in ancient times and if I could sum up the message of Proverbs as quickly as possible, I would simply say “Seek wisdom.” Of course, this must be within the biblical context. What does it say? The book says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. (Proverbs 1:7)

Wisdom has already been shown to be valuable by the time we get to chapter 3. The passages come in couplets consisting of two verses. Let’s look at the first.

1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you prosperity.

What is this teaching that the son is not to forget? It is the way of wisdom that will be shown throughout this book. The son will not read this book and say “What was the teaching I was to follow?” He will know it. If that path is followed, the son will be rewarded. (For the record, Solomon’s son did not follow such wisdom. A professor of mine once referred to his son as “bonehead Rehoboam” and for good reason.)

3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.

Along with wisdom, the son is to have love and faithfulness. Again, this will give him success. What is he to love? He is to love the Lord his God as he would know from the Shema. (Deut. 6:4-5.) He is to be living a life of faithfulness in following the commandments of the Lord.

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;

6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

This is where it gets different. People take these two verses and wrench them out of the context that they are in. The context is in faithfulness to YHWH in seeking wisdom. What is the son being told then? We have been told the other view long enough that we might be surprised by what I believe is the true view.

To trust in the Lord means to follow in the path of wisdom for there is no wisdom apart from God. Leaning on your own understanding then would not be “making decisions for yourself.” It would be making decisions that are not in accordance with the way of wisdom. If there is no wisdom apart from God after all, then it is foolishness to live a life in any way outside of the path of wisdom.

In all your ways then, you are to acknowledge him. In all your ways, you are to live life according to wisdom and God will make your paths straight. Now I know the Hebrew word there can mean that he will direct your paths, but I don’t think that’s the best interpretation. Proverbs is talking about wisdom and how it leads to righteousness. Making paths straight then means that in following the way of wisdom, you will lead a righteous life.

Now what does this say about the idea that we can make plans and trust our plans to God? It seems we don’t have any problem! Proverbs 16:3 tells us to commit to the Lord whatever we do and our plans will succeed! Of course though, this is assuming one is living in faithfulness to the covenant. You do not commit to the Lord your plans to murder your neighbor and steal his money and expect God to help you succeed for instance.

Thus, we don’t have anything in the text about God giving us individual guidance in our lives. That is a modern concept read back into the text. Instead, we have a general principle that applies to everyone that we are to follow. Seek wisdom. We have a whole book here on how to make wise decisions. (In light of that, why would we think God would really be saying “Or just listen to me and I’ll always tell you what decisions to make.”?)

However, the section does not end there. It goes on for a few more verses.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.

And this is the same thing said in a different way. Do not be wise in your own eyes. It doesn’t mean you should go around thinking you’re an idiot. It means do not think that you know better than God. When God has shown the way of wisdom, walk in it. That includes to fear him and shun evil. Do so, and you will be blessed for it.

9 Honor the LORD with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;

10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.

And this brings us back then to the faithfulness aspect. If we love God, we will be faithful in the way of Wisdom which will honor God. In doing so, we will be blessed beyond measure.

I fear that with the modern view, we are robbing ourselves of so much and presenting a Christianity that isn’t there. God is calling us to the path of wisdom and how we are to live. It is not a day-to-day thing where we get guidance when needed. It is a lifetime path. It is where we live each day seeking more wisdom. We could take this further and see that Christ is the wisdom of God. We are then to seek to walk in the path of Christ and as John says, if anyone loves God, he must walk as Jesus did. (1 John 2:6)

The modern view is easy and it can make us feel really spiritual, but it just isn’t true. The ancient view did not rest on feelings. In fact, it would rely more on self-control where you control your feelings instead of controlling you. It is a life of discipline that is not easy. I suppose then I can understand why we have so often moved to an easier view.

It may be easier, but it is not true. Let us walk in the truth and do as the text really tells us to do. Live our lives according to Wisdom. It will not be easy, but it will be a blessing.

Tim Spiess’s anti-Trinitarianism

(Be warned, tonight’s entry is looooooooooooooong)

I have read had numerous discussions with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I have talked to Arians in various other places in various other forms. I have read a number of arguments against the Trinity. I do not think I have seen anything as profoundly ignorant, and I honestly mean that, as Tim Spiess of on the Trinity.

The above is a link to the article on the website. The website was brought to my attention by a new member on the theology forum that I belong to. Now when I first read some of the writer’s stuff, I thought he was just crazy. However, I then read this article. I take the Trinity quite seriously and I must remember not to eat and drink while reading such stuff again for I thought I would choke a few times. The arguments were that bad. Spiess shows no understanding whatsoever of the Trinity. He does not address Trinitarian arguments and he does not show Trinitarian sources. Let’s start with this line he uses.

“Clearly one of Jesus’ main missions on his first coming was to reveal his Father as well as himself as the Messiah. If this be so, how can confusion and contradiction remain regarding knowing who Jesus is and who his Father is? We are not talking about an infinite aspect of God’s nature, but rather the issue of who God is. In the above sayings of Jesus, he CLEARLY distinguishes between his Father and himself.”

Bad news Tim. Trinitarians agree! Jesus is not the Father! He has fallen into the first major error that it seems all anti-Trinitarians make. They tend to always assume unipersonalism. By that, I mean that they assume that if God exists, he must be one person so that if you have one person referring to another as God, then the Trinity is refuted, or if Jesus distinguishes himself from the Father, which he does, then the Trinity is refuted.

This is simply begging the question. It cannot be held as an argument against Trinitarianism that more than one person is called God when Trinitarians agree. It cannot be called an argument against Trinitarianism when Jesus distinguishes himself from the Father. Trinitarians agree. Tim goes on though:

The most common version of the trinity doctrine states that “God is three separate persons yet is one Person; there is one God, yet this God is manifest in three Persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.” Here is Dallas Theological Seminary’s definition of the trinity, “We believe that the Godhead eternally exists in three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—and that these three are one God, having precisely the same nature, attributes, and perfections, and worthy of precisely the same homage, confidence, and obedience (Matt. 28:18–19; Mark 12:29; John 1:14; Acts 5:3–4; 2 Cor. 13:14; Heb. 1:1–3; Rev. 1:4–6).”

I don’t know which version of the Trinity he’s reading, but it’s not one that I’ve heard of. I do not know any Trinitarian who knows what they’re talking about (I hate to say that for the church has lacked embracing the doctrine of the Trinity and many churchgoers are unaware of the proper idea of the doctrine and if pressed, would probably hold a more modalist view.) who would use that definition. He then brings up the DTS statement, which I would agree with. How can he say the contradictory view is the common view then? It is just horrendous to think that he says that we think three persons are one person. He continues this nonsense further.

Obviously the phrase “that these three [persons] are one God” is contradictory, in terms of reasoning and logic – 1 is 1, not 3. How can God be three Persons and those three persons also be one Person? A mild equivocation on this would be, “God is three persons yet one God”. Well, does God have the attributes of a Person e.g. communicates in a rational language; can reason, knows right from wrong, etc.? If the answer is “yes”, then you are right back at a pure contradiction instead of a guised contradiction. If you don’t like the term “person”, it does not change the basic contradiction, for it remains in statements like, “God is three, and yet these three beings are one being”; or, “God is three, yet He is also one.” No matter how you state it, what is being said is that three equals one.

“I am willing to believe that which I cannot see,

but I am not willing to believe that one equals three.”

I would that if Tim were going to write against us, he would just take one obvious idea. We are not equals. Arius was wrong, but he was educated and I do not think we could say he was an idiot. Most JWs I meet are intelligent people. They’ve just been duped into believing something false. However, it’s not contradictory. Just wrong. (It does contradict Scripture of course though.)

Trinitarians do not say 1 = 3. For Tim to say the Trinity is an obvious contradiction is not for Tim to reveal the Trinity doctrine as much as it is for him to reveal himself. We say that there are three persons and one being. We do not say three persons and one person or three beings and one being. Tim should at least check his sources. Does he not think anyone in church history ever stood up and said “Hey guys! I’ve just come to a conclusion! 1 is not equal to 3!” He would have been laughed at for his misunderstanding. Tim continues with a light idea of Trinitarian texting that shows that he most likely has not read any real book on the Trinity. (Pick up a copy of Robert Morey’s “The Trinity: Evidence and Issues.”)

Ask a Trinitarian for all the verses that plainly and clearly support the Trinitarian view. At the most, you will get maybe ten verses, and in fact there is not one verse in the entire bible that plainly states that God is three yet One [unless you point to 1 John 5:7, which is not found in ANY Greek manuscript before 1,000 AD…shouldn’t this fact cause one to ponder a bit?]. If you take away the 5 or so inferential verses, then there are about 3 or 4 verses that are used to establish the Trinitarian doctrine. Yet how many verses clearly contradict the Trinitarian view? There are hundreds. This is not a matter of a few verses clarifying or modifying a scriptural precept. Rather, it is a matter of hundreds of verses contradicting less than half a dozen. The burning question that needs to be answered is why do people cling to the half dozen or so, and reject the hundreds?

Tim needs to read church history some and realize how exegetical the Fathers were. They would have been amazed at the idea that there were hundreds of verses against the Trinity. I find the mention of 1 John 5:7 amazing. (Hardly any of us are surprised to hear that it’s most likely an add-on by a later author. Someone who doesn’t realize we study textual criticism though will jump up and down like they’ve found our achilles’ heel.)

God is either One, or not – this is a very simple and clear proposition. Should we rely on non-scriptural philosophies and psychological theories about the divided nature of God? When the Son says, “‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?‘” (Matt. 27:46), why can’t we receive the plain meaning? Why must we instead run to strange psycho-philosophical, “dual nature” explanations? Perhaps because we are hanging onto a tradition of men?

Sorry Tim. While multiple persons share the nature of God, they are not divided so that one person is 33.3% God any more than human nature is “divided” whenever anyone is born. I can also take the Scripture plainly as it is. When read plainly, it does not contradict Trinitarianism. Jesus calls the Father God and refers to him as his God. No joke! Jesus was a servant. Was he supposed to serve another besides YHWH?!

Please consider the following three syllogisms:

1. The trinity doctrine is contradictory, and if we believe it, we accept contradictions in the scripture about who God is. If we can accept contradictions in the scripture about who God is – a seemingly very important matter – then we should be able to accept contradictions about “lesser” doctrine.

For the record, this is not a syllogism in anyway that I can see. A syllogism has three propositions and only three terms that are each used twice. Tim is simply arguing from his mistaken assumption that his attempt to back was miserable.

2. God is infinite, thus we cannot really understand Him. Yet, we can know at some level, that He is infinite because we have language to express and communicate this truth – if this were not so, you could not comprehend what I just wrote. If we have language to have some understanding about even His infinite characteristics, should we not also be able to understand His revelation to us in His Son about Himself, and who He is?

If this is true, then His revealing of Himself should not contain contradictions, just like any other “major” doctrine in the scriptures.

While this is true, he has yet to show the view is contradictory.

3. The trinity doctrine is inherently contradictory e.g. God is Three yet One; and causes many scriptural contradictions. If the scripture teaches the trinity doctrine, then the scripture has contradictions about the most basic of things, who God is. Thus, either the trinity doctrine is wrong, or the scripture has contradictions about who God is.

Believing the trinity doctrine causes the person sincerely seeking truth to either accede that the scripture has contradictions regarding a self-professed “major” doctrine regarding God’s Person; or to conclude that the trinity doctrine is error; or both.

If this was true, he’d have a point, but the Trinity does not contradict itself or Scripture.

Now let’s turn to his use of Scripture.

The Trinitarian view is that while they (the Father and the Son) are separate persons, yet they are the same God. This view is irrational and contradictory and there are many hundreds of verses that plainly state that Jesus and his Father are not the same person. These verses, when using one step of deduction, contradict the trinity. In addition to these hundreds of verses, there are dozens of verses that without deduction plainly and positively contradict the Trinitarian concept of Jesus being the Most High God.

Does Tim even read what he says? He said earlier that the Trinitarian view is that God is three persons and one and he is now saying that the view says that Jesus and the Father are separate persons. He then says there are many verses that state Jesus and his Father are not the same person! Of course there are! That’s what we argue against! It’s modalism! I really find it saddening when someone rejects a doctrine and they’re just clueless on it, especially one that their soul rests on like the Trinity.

So what verses does he use?

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit up into the wilderness, to be tempted by the Devil.” (Matthew 4:1)

James 1:13, says in part, “for God cannot be tempted by evil”. Jesus was tempted by the devil to do evil, so Jesus cannot be God the Most High.

Check the wording on this one. The word for tempted refers to temptations from within. Jesus was tempted from without. Five minutes with a Vine’s would have cleared this up.

“Jesus said to them, “

You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” (Matthew 20:23)

So Jesus, being God, has not the authority to grant places of honor for his servants? Doesn’t it seem fairly obvious that this “Father”, that Jesus speaks of is “greater than” Jesus? And if Jesus is the Most High God, how could that be?

It’s quite simple. Jesus is the servant and while he is equal in essence, he does subject himself to the authority of the Father. Yet 1 Cor. 15:28 says there will be a time when the Son himself will be subject. (Which means he isn’t subject now. How does Tim explain that?)

Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God“. (Mark 10:18)

Jesus, sinless, yet in his humility, flatly denied that he was the Most High God. As always, he honored his Father above himself.

He did not deny it. He asked the man to see his own assumptions. He’s calling Jesus good and saying “That’s the title for God. Are you willing to give me that devotion?” Furthermore, if Jesus isn’t God, then he isn’t good. If he isn’t good, why trust him with my salvation?

Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:36).

It is possible for the One Perfect God’s will to be divided?

The Trinitarian view is that Christ had a human nature and that nature was not looking forward to the cross, but it did willingly submit. Without a human will, he would not be fully human. If this is what Trinitarianism teaches, it cannot be an argument against it.

“‘My God, My God, why have your forsaken Me?‘” (Matt. 27:46)

God the Most High, has a God? The Most High God can forsake Himself?

Assumption of unipersonalism again. One person who is God talked with another person who is. This is what Trinitarianism teaches again, so it cannot be an argument against it.

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father“. (Mark 13:32)

Jesus is the Most High God, but does not know something that his Father knows? A Trinitarian will cite verses to try and prove that Jesus is omniscient, yet how does the truth in this verse fit into that belief?

I will grant that this one I could understand someone having a hard time with. However, based on Philippians 2, we understand that Jesus being the servant forsook divine prerogative to use his attributes. He would not be privy to such knowledge as a human. Note though that if there are verses that say Jesus knows all things, which there are, then Tim needs to explain those.

“And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God‘” (Luke 4:12)

Jesus resisted Satan’s temptation by saying that it would be sinful for him to tempt his Father. God can tempt Himself?

Again, Tim has the assumption of unipersonalism. Jesus came as a servant and he lived as a servant.

“Now it came to pass in those days that He (Jesus) went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12).

The Most High God prays to Himself? The verse does not say, ‘Jesus talked with his Father’, but rather that he prayed to his God.

Which Trinitarians agree with. Jesus prayed to the Father because he is not the Father.

“Jesus asked him, saying, ‘What is your name?‘ And he said, ‘Legion,’ because many demons had entered him.” (Luke 8:30)

God can ask questions to elicit confessions from sinful men (“Adam, where are you?”) But what is the purpose of God asking a demon his name if he cannot repent of anything? In this instance, Jesus did not know his name, and yet the Most High God knows all things.

This one is just inane. What was the purpose of God asking Job questions if he could not answer them?

And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as my Father bestowed one upon me“. (Luke 22:29)

The Most High God bestowed a kingdom upon Himself? Didn’t God already have control over all Kingdoms?

Nope. Jesus came as the servant and by living as a servant earned the right to be called Lord as Acts 2:36 declares. Again, the assumption of unipersonalism is intense.

“And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, he said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit‘”. Having said this, he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:46)

God is spirit. The Holy Spirit is God’s spirit. Whose spirit was committed into the hands of the Father? If it was Jesus’, then there is division even in the spirit of God?

This is speaking of Jesus as a human. He was offering himself up to the Father as a perfect sacrifice and trusting himself to him.

“No one has seen God at any time.” (John 1:18 & 1 John 4:12)

What more can be said?

Isaiah 6, Exodus 24: 9-11, The Angel of the Lord passages, etc. There are numerous times in the Scripture that someone saw God. I would suggest he look at Spiros Zodhiates in “Was Christ God?” I’d also recommend a good commentary. (That follows on all of these verses)

God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)

Jesus teaches that, “God is spirit”, not that God is flesh, and thus the truth that “No one has seen God at any time”.

Trintiarians say that Jesus is God. They do not say that the body of Jesus is God.

If you loved me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father’, for my Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28)

If Jesus is truly the Most High God, equal with his Father, than how can his Father be “greater” than he, in any respect? This is especially true in this context, as the context speaks nothing about physical things or his physical nature.

This greater is in function and not in nature. It’s the same way a husband is greater than his wife. In fact, there has to be some idea of comparison in mind even for the need to be said. Why do I need to say the Father is greater than I? It’s obvious. Jesus has shown great similarities just now though such as John 14:1 and John 14:9.

“But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break his legs.” (John 19:33)

The Almighty God, God the Most High, the Eternal One, died?

Yes. Death does not mean the cessation of existence. (If it does, Tim needs to explain Col. 1:17 and Hebrews 1:2.) The soul of Jesus was separated from the body of Jesus. What’s the problem?

I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.” (John 20:17)

Jesus is ascending to his “God”. How can the Most High God have a God?

Assumption of unipersonalism again.

“Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor. 15:28)

Jesus will be made subject to God in the final consummation. How can the Most High God be made subject to Himself?

Will be. How does Tim explain that he is not now. Again, this assumes unipersonalism also.

“But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:55-56)

How is it that the Most High God is either seated or standing next to Himself?

Can we all say it together now? Assumption of unipersonalism.

“…having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” (Heb. 1:4)

What does the Most High God need to inherit? Doesn’t He already own all things? The Most High God needed to obtain a more excellent name than the angels?

Jesus showed his right to be rule on this Earth by living the perfect life in submission to the Father. He has not just flaunted himself for all eternity as it were. His divine life and teaching show that he can rightly sit on the throne of David.

“Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” (Heb. 1:9)

Again, God the Most High has a God? Would it not be more reasonable to say that there is the Most High God, the Father, and His God-like Son?

No it wouldn’t. Notice also before this that the Son IS called God. There is a logos doctrine implicit throughout Hebrews. (The same doctrine in the Johannine prologue)

“…though He was a Son, yet he learned obedience by the things which he suffered. And having been perfected…” (Heb. 5:8-9)

The Most High God needed to learn obedience? To whom? The Most High God needed to be perfected?

As a man, Jesus fully lived the human experience. Jesus never needed to experience obedience in Heaven as he did on Earth or learn in Heaven as he did on Earth.

“Then he (Jesus, the Lamb OF God) came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him (God the Father) who sat on the throne.” (Rev. 5:7)

The Most High God is taking a scroll from the Most High God?

All together now. We can all say it. (Note also that in Rev. 5:13-14, all creation worships him who sits on the throne and the lamb. The lamb is not included in the creation.)

Tim is done with Scripture so he then concludes:

This author has had quite a few people respond to this article who try to defend the trinity doctrine. Their main argument is that I can’t see that Jesus is both man and God, and if I would just see this ‘truth’, then I could see the trinity doctrine. My first response is that I was a trinitarian for 10 years and I had accepted that belief without questioning it.

Not only without questioning it, but without thinking about it. All of these are basic arguments really. Tim has not done any real study on the subject and he’s revealed that greatly.

The philosophy-teachings of the dual nature works quite well in defending the trinity doctrine, for one just switches back and forth between Jesus being man and God, depending upon the scripture passage being looked at. Unfortunately for the trinitarian, Jesus does NOT teach the dual nature concept. For the above citations of scripture, the trinitarian says that those passages refer to Jesus as man, not as God. The trinitarian just assumes the dual nature teaching and then fits the scripture into this teaching. Again, the problem with this is that the dual nature teaching/philosophy is not only NOT taught by Jesus, but in fact has no scriptural basis, but rather has contemporary psychological philosophy as its roots. Jesus nowhere says that he and his Father are the same person, and in fact, Jesus repeatedly – hundreds of times – distinguishes between himself and his Father as two separate people. As Jesus taught in John 4:24, God is spirit, and he no where qualified this to say that God as some point would also be flesh. John taught that Jesus manifest the Father, NOT THAT JESUS WAS THE FATHER. “God is spirit” is Jesus’ teaching regarding the nature of his Father, the Most High God. Only men wanting to justify their pet doctrines and nullify that truth say, ‘no, God is not just spirit, he is also flesh for he has a dual nature’.

Contemporary psychological philosophy? Where does he get this? This has been going on since the start of Christianity. It’s hardly anything contemporary. Again, Tim wants to stress that Jesus is not the Father. WE AGREE! (People. Someone who wants to say he’s making a case against the Trinity when he is clearly ignorant of it needs to be ashamed at this point.)

After much other nonsense that is the same-old, same-old, Tim makes this plea:

This author will fellowship with those who believe the Trinitarian view, and will not look at it as a high priority to convince them otherwise. Does this attitude extend the other way? In other words, will those who hold to the Trinitarian belief accept this author as a brother in the Lord when they find out that this author rejects the Trinitarian view? If they will not accept this author, but rather condemn him as a heretic or some other nasty label – and this in spite of the fact that this author has hundreds of scripture verses that support his belief – then what does that say about the Trinitarian belief and those who hold it so tightly?

Tim. I would be a friend, but I would NOT worship with you. Why? It’s simple. You do not worship the same Jesus I do. You do not worship the same God I do. I say Jesus is my Lord and God and you do not. How can there be any point of contact between us? You have zero verses to support your belief and it’s a shame.

Are you a heretic? Yes. You are. I make no bones about it. Why? Because Jesus came and said who he was and you deny him. Thus, you make the Son out to be a liar. What does it say about people like myself who hold that belief so tightly? It says that we value the Son and who he is and will do all we can in support of that.

Treating Sin Seriously

I was pondering last night a news item. Now I know this isn’t a political blog, but I’m going to have to get political for a moment. I am a strong conservative. I do not deny that. I was listening a bit yesterday to a story about attorney general Gonzalez and how he’s being accused by the liberals or perjury.

My mind flashed back to the 90’s and how back then, Bill Clinton was caught lying about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. It was simply amazing that back then, that was just “everybody lies.” Today though, it was a different story. This guy is lying and he needs to be gone. Now I’m not sure if he is or not, but as a conservative, I will say if he’s lying, we do need to deal with him.

Some conservatives, might be surprised I said that. Some liberals are probably just as surprised. Why should you be though no matter what side you’re on. You know why I take that stance. I don’t because I’m a conservative. I would take the same stance if I was a liberal. I take that stance because I’m a Christian and as a Christian, I do believe that while it could be that “everybody lies”, it’s still wrong.

I believe that the highest offices in our land should be held by men and women that are beacons of morality. We should grow up wanting to be like them. They should be people that even if we don’t agree with them, we know that if they say they will do something, they will do their best at it.

It’s not about political parties. It’s about sin. It’s about how seriously we’re going to treat it. I don’t care whose party someone is in. You do not disgrace the highest office in the land by lying in it. Perchance the reason some of us lose sight of that is because we hold our party affiliation first and our religious stance second, and I am speaking to conservatives and liberals both.

We have said love the sinner and hate the sin. Indeed, we should. However, that does not mean we treat the sinner lightly. Sin is not some abstract concept floating in space doing its own thing. It’s a reality, but it does not act on its own. It requires that some creature that possesses personhood act. Moral actions don’t just happen. Persons perform them.

In fact, to deal with the sin the proper way and the person the proper way is to love the sinner. Punishment is a form of love. If we let the sinner avoid the consequences every time of their actions, then that would not be love. Don’t get me wrong on this. The eternal consequences of our sins are forgiven in Christ, but that doesn’t mean we’re set free from the earthly court.

Yes. Jesus can and does forgive, but if we say that to everyone, then we might as well eliminate the court system and the jail system. Forgiveness does not mean zero consequences. Take someone who is sexually promiscuous and gets an STD for instance. That person confesses and is forgiven. That does not mean their disease is cured. Of course, it could be, but there is no obligation.

Our day is a day and age that does not treat sin seriously, be it in ourselves or someone else. The other side though is that when we take sin seriously, it will allow us to take grace even more seriously. When we think our sins a trifle, then we do not have a high view of grace. When we see what our sins are though and who we have wronged and the consequences thereof, we can recognize how truly awesome the pardon is.

Finally, this will have us living in reality. If we treat sin as less than it is, then we are not living in the world God created. If we treat it as more than it is, we are also not living in the world as it is. We need to treat sin as sin and accept the consequences whether we like them or not.

My Multi-Response Theory

Readers of my blog know that I am preparing for a move to Seminary. They also know that I have been honest and have said that I am frightened. Now what better place is there to worry usually than home in bed at night. However, my mind thought to the apology of Socrates where he chides the audience for fearing death.

Socrates has great logic there. He says that it is either something neutral like non-existence, or that it will be something good, or that you will suffer. The odds then are against suffering and in light of Socrates’s views of the good life, such suffering would be unlikely in the next life. (Remember, this was a pre-Christ thinker without the aid of Scripture.)

This has got me to thinking about something that I call the Multi-Response theory. I see multi because although we normally think of two responses, I realize that in some cases, there could be more. However, we normally think of just two. Consider our idea that adrenaline prepares one for fight or flight.

Thus, my idea is that the events in our lives do not control us. It is how we respond to them that has the most effect on us. We will internalize some message at every event. It will either spur us to Christ or spur us away. We will either give a response in accordance with the truth or a response that isn’t.

Which means we simply should be looking at what messages we are telling ourselves in response to life. Are they true? Then let us listen to them. Are they false? Then let us ignore them. Unfortunately, we are more prone to believe lies than truth. We find it easier to trust the father of lies in our world than the God of all truth.

Let us suppose for instance, that someone wants to undertake a venture that will cost a great deal of money. (I have already heard about being prepared for Seminary costs so I can relate.) They can say “I don’t have that much! How will I make it?!” or they can say “My Father has wealth beyond measure and he is capable of providing for me. I will do my work and trust in him.” (I will state this is not prosperity gospel. The Proverbs instruct us on ways to handle money properly and there is no wrong with making money.)

One can see this event then as something that cannot be handled (Which goes against Scripture) or a challenge. It can be seen as something to spur us on to the path that we desire to follow. If it is seen in that light, it will become an exciting adventure and God is surely the God of adventures.

Let us suppose we receive some criticism and it is true. We do not like it, but we have to accept that it is true. What do we do? We can say “I see that this criticism is true. I suppose that puts an end to that idea.” My suggestion though is instead to say “By the grace of God, I see that I am off from the image at this point and I shall pray for God to change me and work on changing myself.” Again, this leads to adventure.

Thus, all of these little inconveniences and hazards do not spoil the adventure. On the contrary, they make the adventure. This means that anything in our lives can be used to bring about adventure and what greater adventure can there be then trusting God and wandering into the unknown?

It has been said to choose this day who you will serve. That can be shown by choosing this day which response you will take to life. Fight or flight?

A Problem With Miracles?

I have someone I work with who said that while he agrees with my views on orthodox Christianity, he has a problem with so many miracles. The problem is that if God heals this person, what is the reason then for him not healing this one over here? The best solution he thinks is to simply limit miracles. Of course, I am paraphrasing, but that is what his view seems to boil down to.

What are we to say to this? On an emotional level, many of us can understand this. I remember my first death that really affected me. My grandfather died when I was 2, but that’s not old enough to remember. My Sunday School teacher in 7th grade was the one I remember. I kept wanting to see him be raised from the dead and hoping this would be a joke. One could say, “It happened for Lazarus. Why not?”

However, I think that if we keep it at that level, we reside in error. If we believe the Scripture, we have to confess that some people were healed miraculously. On the other hand, if we believe the Scripture, we have to confess that a lot of people were not healed miraculously.

Imagine being at the tomb of Lazarus for instance. Even if you’re a skeptic, let’s hypothetically assume the Christian worldview for the moment. The tomb is open and this man Lazarus is called out and is risen from the dead. Is it legitimate to say “I do not believe he has been raised because there are still dead people around here.”?

Such an argument would not make sense. It does not go against one miracle the fact that several people might not have received the same miracle. We might as well say the incarnation did not happen in the land of Judea because it did not happen in the land of China also.

Consider our search for extra-terrestrial life also. Let us suppose, as I predict, that we don’t find it anywhere else. What are we to conclude? That God did not create life on this planet? Not at all. We accept that God does some things in some places for some reasons of which we know not.

That’s something else we have to confess. It’s okay to not know why God does and doesn’t do some things. I hardly know why I do and don’t do the things that I do. How am I to explain for God? I think this is also valid for the problem of evil. It is the skeptic who says there is no good reason for something who has the burden. If he proves you don’t know the mind of God, well congratulations, we already knew that. How can he prove there is no good reason? He honestly can’t.

What’s the first thing to look for then? Look and see if the claim that a miracle has taken place is true. At this point, I think the whole argument breaks down. If it has happened, it has happened, and the lack of it happening elsewhere or to other people does not disprove that it happened here or to this person or these persons.

Remember everyone. You don’t have to know the reasons. You simply must trust. As said in Matrix Reloaded “Comprehension is not a prerequisite for compliance.”

The Bias Argument

I got this one today on the forum I debate on and I’m sure many other people have got this one as well. “You can’t trust the gospels. After all, the writers were biased.” (Note that the writer of such a statement never considers that he must be biased against documents that he considers biased.)

Let’s be clear. First off, the question of bias doesn’t necessarily matter. What? That’s right. It doesn’t necessarily matter. The first question you ask about any document is “Is the claim true?” Now if you have to go beyond that and look at the credibility of the author, then you do so. However, the first place to start is the truth of the statement itself.

However, there could often come a time to check the credibility of the author. This will many times involve checking to see if the author, if he is a modern one, is credentialed in the area he is writing in. (You obviously can’t check to see if Plutarch has a PH.D. in history for instance.) Is there a reason that we should trust him as an authority?

Then, we can check data within the document itself. Does the document remain true to itself? Even if the whole thing is wrong, is it consistent within itself? Consistency is not a test for truth, but inconsistency can show an untruth in the position stated. It does not mean the whole idea is false, but that one aspect of it is.

We can then check outside information. Was it written fairly close to the event? If it is a modern account, does he use sources that are close to the event? How about archaeological findings? Are there any that back these documents? (For the NT writings, these are abundant and the sources are very close.)

We should also note that everyone has a bias. This doesn’t mean that everyone has a bias in every subject, but if you hold any stance on any subject, then you have a bias for it. If you write your opinion anywhere on any topic, then you have a bias towards that opinion. This is neither good nor bad in itself. It is good to hold a stance, but it is bad to hold it if you are unwilling to examine outside views.

Now we get to the main point. Can bias affect an argument? Indeed! However, it can affect the argument in a good way or a bad way. Suppose I want to really prove something to you. I am biased that my view is correct. However, if I want to make a convincing case, would it be best if I do my research and writing sloppily, or if I take my time and examine the information closely and write out my thoughts in a coherent matter?

When it comes to the NT, we see the writers doing this. Luke especially says that he thoroughly examined everything to be sure of what he wrote. The writers of the NT also had nothing to gain from their writings other than shame and being outcasts from the community at large and persecution at the hand of Nero. Those are hardly compelling reasons to write unless you believe what you write is true and important!

Someone might ask why there are no non-Christian sources to the resurrection. The answer is simple though! If someone who wrote did believe in the resurrection, then they would be Christians! You might as well ask why strong theists don’t write books in favor of atheism!

Overall, the bias argument is simply a red herring. It accomplishes nothing except ignore what really matters, the truth about the topic under discussion.

Why Aren’t We Unified?

I have finally finished the last HP book. I won’t tell anything about the ending rest assured, as I know that my readers who are fans of the series will not want me to spoil anything. However, as I was listening last night to my book on audio, I was struck with some ideas on the way the church is doing today.

Readers hopefully at least know that the story involves Harry Potter fighting the dark wizard Voldemort and in the final book, it all comes to a culmination as the battle will be decided in this one. I thought though as I listened that it seemed like everyone on the side of the good was there and ready.

One part involved one person normally seen as a jokester standing up and taking a cause. I immediately thought of a friend of mine who simply delights in making people laugh. (He’s an awesome friend too.) I thought, “If I was in Harry’s shoes, I’d also like to know that a guy like that was out there supporting me.”

Everyone is eager to help out. It doesn’t matter if they are young or if they are old. Their educational level doesn’t matter. On the other side, the ones for the darkness are also ready. As seriously as the good take their side, the evil ones in the series are just as serious and are willing to do anything in their cause.

Why would they do such things? Why do the stories have people on the side of the good willing to risk their very lives? Why are they so ready to die on the cause of what they believe to be good? What is it that propels these people to move to such actions on what seems to be a regular basis?

The answer is obvious. They know that there’s a war going on. Rowling has said that herself. This is a war and in the HP series, there are casualties. Real life has them as well. People do die in the cause. People do suffer in the cause. The good guys win, but it is unrealistic to say they do so without suffering.

Are we in any less of a war though? On the contrary, we are in more of a war. We are in one where not only physical lives are at stake, but eternal destinies. If only we could learn from the heroes of HP though and have our causes band together! If only we could realize that we all need to work together and do all that we can to win this battle.

Imagine what we could do if we would just be united. Oh there are differences as there are in the HP stories. Not everyone sees everything the same way. However, we all do see one thing the same way. We see that there is evil in the world and that we are to be salt and light and that is not to be taken lightly.

I am bothered by seeing many Christians who I wonder will have their contributions in Heaven be that they thoroughly argued against Calvinism/Arminianism or Preterism/Futurism or Old-Earth Creationism/Young-Earth Creationism. I have nothing against holding discussions on such topics, but they are not our focus and for too many people, they are.

What do we want a crown for in Heaven? Winning people away from Arminianism or winning people away from Islam? Convincing people that the Earth is old, or convincing people that Jesus is the risen Lord? Doing all that we can for the cause of Futurism, or doing all that we can for the cause of Christ?

The way we are going to do this is if we are united. While the books may have Harry Potter in the title, it would be a fool unfamiliar with the series who thought that Harry Potter actually fights alone. He never does. He fights with his friends by his side and they encourage and build each other up. While there are a number of main friends, there are a large number of people in the background cheering them on and standing up and saying “We are here and we are with you.”

Indeed, this is one time I do think real life needs to be like fantasy.

Where’s Our Excitement?

As we all know, and as this blog writer definitely knows, Pottermania has hit again. I have heard people everywhere talking about the last book. (Which I hope to finish tomorrow sometime) If you go to any public place and mention it nearly, you will most likely hear someone else talking about how much they love it.

I can go and talk to a co-worker and we’ll spend so much time just bouncing theories back and forth. Instant excitement is there and as excited as I was about the series beforehand, I get even more excited when I talk to someone else who is excited. That excitement is contagious!

Compare this though with our faith.

Our preacher this morning used the verse of “I was glad when they said unto me let us go to the House of the Lord.” Let’s be honest. How many of us are glad? How many of us usually just can’t wait to go into the doors of the church and enter into worship? How many of us talk theology within the church?

In fact, once we arrive, we are usually talking about anything else besides biblical topics. Now I don’t have any problem with discussing non-biblical topics. However, I find it sad that we can’t discuss them with as much zeal as we do any other topic that we could discuss?

I ponder if it could be our idea of holiness. We think that to treat the text seriously, we have to be in this somber mode where we are praying perchance and waiting for the heavens to open and just flood us with knowledge in some mystical experience that will open the text to us. Anything else just isn’t treating the text seriously.

I consider discussing though with my friends who have Pottermania as we look at events and lines in the text and try to draw out the meaning in them and how they relate to each other. We do so lightly and joke around as we toss around idea after idea and see what fits, but can there be any denial that we aren’t taking that text seriously?

Why can’t we treat the Scripture with as much excitement? Notice the idea is not to decrease our zeal for other things. I think we should have zeal for all that is good and enjoyable and we shouldn’t punish ourselves for enjoying something. The idea is not to bring other things down. That would be an insult to Scripture really as we have to bring things down to the level of Scripture. We need to raise the Scriptures up in our eyes so that we see them for the treasure troves they are.

Maybe we could even do it without so much silly debate that turns people against each other. I love debate, but a lot of it is ridiculous. It amazes me what people will divide over. When I discuss theories on the Potter books with friends, we never divide into separate groups and go our own way. Each idea is there and open for consideration. We say some we can accept, some are just speculation but have some merit, and some we can see as wrong.

Why don’t we? Why don’t we work on seeing God as exciting? Why don’t we have times where we sit around and discuss the great truths of our faith? Pity us if we can do so with a human literary work, but we can’t do so with the Scriptures.