Does the church really believe in the Trinity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
This chapter is asking if everyone believes in the Trinity? Well, no. I can’t think of a single statement that you would find EVERYONE agrees with or believes. There are always differences. However, let’s look at the “arguments” Buzzard puts forward this time.
One statement he makes is about your average churchgoer who he says believes that:
1) “Jesus Christ is God”; 2) “God is our Heavenly Father”; 3) “Jesus Christ is not our Heavenly Father”;4) “There are not two Gods.” Yet he has never considered how to reconcile these four separate opinions of his together; it probably has not occurred to him that they are inconsistent with one another…The average Englishman has not troubled himself with the matter.
Unfortunately, he’s correct in that the average church member hasn’t thought about this and will get flummoxed by it, which makes sense. Unfortunately, this is again something I consider dishonest on Buzzard’s part for he should know that no one believes this and if you think a simple set of statements can make a position look absurd, you’re probably wrong. So what is the answer?
Saying “Jesus is God” is theological shorthand. It does not mean that Jesus is the entirety of the Godhead. It means Jesus fully possesses all the attributes of deity. When we then say that God is our Heavenly Father, that’s because we normally think of God as the source of deity who begets the Father and the Son and the Spirit are subsumed under Him in the divine identity while still maintaining being their own persons. Difficult to think about? Yep. Still, it resolves the problem and again, Buzzard should know this.
Buzzard goes on to say that some famous New Testament scholars grant that the Trinity is not a New Testament doctrine by quoting one saying:
No responsible New Testament scholar would claim that the doctrine of the Trinity was taught by Jesus, or preached by the earliest Christians, or consciously held by any writer in the New Testament.”
But this is NOT saying the Trinity is not a New Testament doctrine. It’s saying that for the first part, Jesus was not walking around Palestine talking about the doctrine of the Trinity. Correct. The early Christians were not going around quoting the Chalcedonian Creed. Right. The writers of the New Testament did not have fully laid out in front of them the Trinity. Yes. All the seeds were there and the view is being formed in the New Testament. Again, statements like this are just dishonest on Buzzard’s part.
He does go to the question of the rich young ruler saying Jesus differentiated between Himself and God and saying that only God is absolutely good.
Well, there you have it.
For Buzzard, Jesus is NOT absolutely good.
I cannot see any way around that. If Buzzard wants to have that differentiation, he has to have all of it. To defend Unitarianism, he not only has to deny the deity of Jesus, but He has to say this sinless man who lived a perfect life among men is NOT absolutely good.
Yep. This position sure is honoring the savior.
He also looks at Genesis 1:26 and Isaiah 6:8 where God uses the “us” language. Now some people have said that this is a hint at the Trinity. All Buzzard says is that the address is obviously to attendant angelic beings.
He doesn’t have an endnote to make his case. He just says it’s obvious and moves on. When he thinks a Trinitarian in interpreting a passage is throwing his ideas onto the text, that’s bad! Buzzard gets a free pass though!
Keep in mind, I’m not saying he’s wrong in his interpretation. I’m saying that he doesn’t get to just say what it is and move on. He needs to make a case. There are a number of positions one could take.
It could be the Trinity.
It could be the Divine Council as someone like Michael Heiser argued.
It could be the royal we.
It could be angels.
There could even be possible other interpretations. These are the ones I know. If there are at least four, you should make the case.
Imagine if we read the Olivet Discourse and in arguing for my position of orthodox Preterism I just said “The text is obviously referring to events within the first century.”
I would hope my fellow Preterists would call me out on that if I did that. I need to make an argument for it. The same applies here.
He says also to see veiled signs of the Trinity in the Old Testament is to go beyond the intent of the sacred writers. Does the same apply to any idea of Jesus in the Old Testament. 1 Peter 1 tells us that the prophets themselves didn’t understand what they were necessarily referring to.
If so, then therefore, to read Jesus into Old Testament prophecy is to go beyond the intent of the sacred writers. Right? Again, Buzzard cannot have it both ways.
He returns to John 1 saying that in verses 3-4, many translations say “through him all things were made” when it should be through it. Buzzard really is going against the largest number of translators on all sides. Technically, the word from my reading could be translated masculine or neuter. Why does Buzzard assume it has to be the neuter without an argument? Again, rules for thee, but not for me.
He also quotes someone saying that “a person is created by his relationships with other people and especially by his interaction with his parents and family.” First off, this is going by a modern idea of personhood. Even going past that, there is a much bigger problem here.
What makes God the Father a person?
If Unitarianism is true, it was just God alone at the beginning and no one else so thus, no relationships and definitely no parents or family. Was God not a person then? If God had to create to have a relationship, then in some way, God is dependent on His creation to be a person.
If these are the rules Buzzard wants to live with, he gets to pay the price.
Not only that, we could ask about angels. Do angels have parents and family? Angels don’t reproduce and metaphysically, it can be argued that each angel is his own species. How does this work?
Buzzard doesn’t tell us.
He goes back to Ehrman reminding us to see Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet of the new millennium. I have responded to that book here. No word on Ehrman’s position is given. Buzzard knows it, but he doesn’t care to share it. He also references Tom Harpur again later on, nowhere letting the reader know the even more bizarre stances that Harpur holds.
Well, we’re almost done with this book. Thank the Trinity for that!
(And I affirm the virgin birth)