Book Plunge: Jesus Was Not A Trinitarian Chapter 4

Is it hard to find the Trinity in the Bible? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So at the start, Buzzard has a howler here with saying that the best Trinitarian apologetics can do is find a handful of verses in John and a few in Paul, but no place where God is used to refer to the triune God. I wish I was joking, but I am not. Reading most any Christology would disabuse someone of that notion. Buzzard still has a mindset of Western Consumerism that says something needs to be explicitly stated to be believed.

There is also the idea that the pagan notion of Logos was brought into the Gospel of John. It’s much more rooted in the concept of Wisdom in the Old Testament and the Memra of God, which was also His word, in the Jewish targums, which was a sort of paraphrase of their writings. It’s not a shock to see Buzzard jump to heathenism though.

Next a look at some quotes from Alister McGrath:

The casual reader of Scripture will discern a mere two verses in the entire Bible which seem, at first glance, to be capable of a trinitarian interpretation: Matthew 28:19 and 2 Corinthians 13:14 . Both these verses have become deeply rooted in the Christian consciousness… Yet these two verses, taken together or in isolation, can hardly be thought of as constituting a doctrine of the Trinity.

“This is a significant admission.”

The line about an admission is Buzzard’s, but it’s not significant. It’s stating that the whole statement is not found explicitly. That’s the same for many doctrines of Scripture.

The doctrine of the Trinity can be regarded as the outcome of a process of sustained and critical reflection on the pattern of divine activity revealed in Scripture, and continued in Christian experience. This is not to say that Scripture contains a doctrine of the Trinity; rather, Scripture bears witness to a God who demands to be understood in a trinitarian manner. We shall explore the evolution of the doctrine and its distinctive vocabulary in what follows.

To which Buzzard says

There is no doctrine of the Trinity in the Bible, he admits, and yet in its pages, God demands belief in the Trinity.

Make your pick. He’s either being dishonest or ignorant. All McGrath is saying is that the Trinity is not explicitly in Scripture. That is far from saying that it is not in Scripture. Unfortunately, Buzzard doesn’t show any of McGrath’s arguments. I wonder why…..

I find it even more amusing when Tom Harpur is cited later on. Harpur is one who thinks everything is borrowed from paganism and is a journalist. Why is Buzzard using this person as a source?

There is some mention of Murray Harris with his excellent work¬†Jesus as God, but you won’t find in-depth interaction with Harris’s arguments. He also speaks about James White and just says White’s attempts to find the Trinity in the Bible are unconvincing. Again, we are not told what these attempts are so excuse me if this dismissal is, well, unconvincing.

He argues that Hebrews 1: 8 doesn’t work since it would mean God has a God, not explaining how this is a difficulty in Trinitarianism. He doesn’t interact with the last part of that section where the Son is made the agent of creation. He says the Logos in John 1 is not identified with the Son saying the Son only began existing when He appeared in the flesh in John 1:14.

There is also the claim in John 10:33-38 that Jesus refuses the claim He is making Himself equal to God. What Jesus does is a qal wahomer argument in Jewish thinking. We would call it A fortiori. In this, Jesus takes a lesser point and uses it to make a greater point.

Psalm 82 which Jesus references has God saying to wicked people “You are gods.” God then sarcastically says they will die like mere men. Jesus then says “If these wicked people can be called this, how much more can I be called the Son of God?” He doesn’t deny the claim. He intensifies it.

At any rate, this chapter is short because again, Buzzard isn’t giving us more. It’s hard to say a lot when you just say the same thing over and over again.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: The Good Shepherd

What do I think of Ken Bailey’s latest. Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

thegoodshepherd

Ken Bailey has been one of my favorite NT scholars ever since I read Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes and this latest book from IVP is no exception. Bailey writes from the perspective of someone who has lived in the Middle East teaching and knows the way life is there and recognizes many of the similarities that take place with the Biblical text. He also interacts with ancient and medieval writers many of us would have overlooked to bring us the best insights on the text.

The Good Shepherd is no exception. In this one, Bailey starts off with looking at Psalm 23 and goes from there throughout the Old Testament and into the New Testament to see how the account in Psalm 23 plays itself out later, including in the story of Jesus in the New Testament, who is the personification of the good shepherd that had been hoped for in the 23rd Psalm.

Bailey’s insights into life in the Middle East are invaluable as he has interacted with numerous shepherds and knows the lay of the land well and how shepherding works with the climate. He is not just writing about the behavior of sheep and shepherds in the abstract. He is speaking from the perspective of someone who knows shepherds well and someone who knows from them how sheep behave.

Bailey’s reading will open you up to new ways of reading the text that you had never considered. He is especially good at showing the ring composition that takes place in the writing of the account. The book is also written in a format that is easy to understand and yet also has the scholarly references throughout for those who are wanting to get that kind of approach as well.

When it comes to the New Testament view of the good shepherd, I found most fascinating to be the look in Mark 6. Most would not see this as a good shepherd passage, but Bailey brings out that it indeed is one. He paints a contrast between the banquet that King Herod throws early on that turns out to be a banquet of death where John the Baptist dies, and the banquet of life where Jesus provides a meal for over 5,000. It’s clear to Bailey that Herod would have had his spies in the area to see what Jesus would have to say as a popular leader about the death of his cousin.

I find once again that Bailey has given an excellent piece of work for all of us to consider. If you want to know about the life of Jesus as the good shepherd and especially how this relates to the grace of God found in Jesus Christ then it is absolutely essential that you read this book. Scholarship is blessed to have someone like Ken Bailey writing for us and I hope that the future works that he produces will be of excellent service to the church as well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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