Debate Rounds (3)
Since there are so many questions raised and issues discussed concerning people"s basic assumptions about life, about their philosophy, about their religious beliefs, indeed, about their very approach to reality and the way their society goes about organizing things, it seemed like a useful exercise, useful at least to me and hopefully to some others at this site, to say a few things about: My Position and Beliefs: My Religion.
Religion, in the sense that I am using it here, is the set of values, beliefs and attitudes each of us has as we go about our daily life at a particular moment in time, in this case, at the time of my writing of this post on the internet and in the case of the person reading this post, at the time of the response of that reader. I hope this opening note of some 1700 words provides a general, a useful, a helpful context for any continuing discussion you and I may have. If the note I strike is too long, I advise readers to just click me off, a simple enough exercise of the hand and the mind.-Ron Price in Australia.
Apologetics is a branch of systematic theology, although some experience its thrust in religious studies or philosophy of religion courses. Some encounter it on the internet for the first time in a more populist and usually much less academic form. As I see it, apologetics is primarily concerned with the protection of a position, the refutation of the issues raised by that position's assailants and, in the larger sense, the exploration of that position in the context of prevailing philosophies and standards in a secular society, a religious society, indeed, any society past or present.
All of us defend our positions whatever these positions are: atheistic, theistic, agnostic, humanistic, skeptic, cynic, realist, pragmatist and any one of a multitude of religions, denominations, sects, cults, isms and wasms. In a Bah"" perspective, exclusivist ideas, the idea that my religion is the only true one, or that my view of reality is better than yours, and you need to adopt my view, today raises walls of separation and conflict in an age when the earth has literally become one homeland and human beings must learn to see themselves as its citizens.
Apologetics, to put it slightly differently, is concerned with answering both general and critical inquiries from others. In the main, though, apologetics deals with criticism of a position and dealing with that criticism in as rational a manner as possible. Apologetics can help explore the teachings of a religion or of a philosophy in the context of the prevailing religions and philosophies of the day as well as in the context of the common laws and standards of a secular society. Although the capacity to engage in critical self-reflection on the fundamentals of some position is a prerequisite of the task of engaging in apologetics, apologetics derives much of its impetus from a commitment to a position.
Given the role of apologetics in religious and philosophical history and in the development of the texts and ideas that are part and parcel of that history, it is surprising that contemporary communities generally undervalue its importance and often are not even aware of the existence of this sub-discipline of philosophy. Authors, writers, editors of journals and leaders known for defending points in arguments, for engaging in conflicts or for taking up certain positions that receive great popular scrutiny and/or are minority views engage in what today are essentially forms of secular apologetics.
Naturally in life, we all take positions on all sorts of topics, subjects, religions and philosophies. Often that position is inarticulate and poorly thought out if given any thought at all. With that said, though, the apologetics I engage in here is a never-ending exercise with time out for the necessary and inevitable quotidian tasks of life: eating, sleeping, drinking and a wide range of leisure activities. The apologetics that concerns me is not so much Christian or Islamic apologetics or any one of a variety of those secular apologetics I referred to above, but Baha'i apologetics.
There are many points of comparison and contrast between any form of apologetics which I won't go into here. Readers here might like to check out Wikipedia for a birds-eye-view of the subject. Christians and Muslims will have the opportunity to defend their respective religions by the use of apologetics as will members of the other major religions in the world; secular humanists can also argue their cases if they so desire here. I in turn will defend the Baha'i Faith by the use of apologetics. In the process each of us will, hopefully, learn something about our respective Faiths, our religions and our philosophies, our various and our multitudinous positions, some of which we hold to our hearts dearly and some of which are of little interest to us or others.
At the outset, then, in this my first posting, my intention is simply to make this start, to state what you might call "my apologetics position." This brief statement indicates, in broad outline, where I am coming from in the weeks and months ahead. -Ron Price with thanks to Udo Schaefer, "Baha'i Apologetics?" Baha'i Studies Review, Vol. 10, 2001/02.
The defensive, the apologetic, mode originated in the law courts and political assemblies of fifth century Greece (BCE). Its model text is Plato"s Apology of Socrates" defence before the Athenian assembly. Since then, defence and advocacy have become the twin functions of apologia. Although apologetics was for centuries one of the recognized disciplines in theology, with the progressive secularization of contemporary society, this engaged, faith-driven approach has fallen out of favour. This is not the case in confessional colleges and universities.
It has been rejected for its polemical, dogmatic, and authoritarian motives, and has been replaced with so-called "objective," value-neutral, historical-social-scientific treatments of religion. Despite its being contrary to academic fashion, the apologetic voice can be clearly heard in the words of many writers. The defensive mode takes basically two forms: (1) theoretical: as the advocacy, defence or explanation of a doctrinal point, and (2) actual: as "defender of the Faith." In my case I see myself as a defender both of the Bah"" communities, and the Bah"" Faith itself. I defend it from attacks and advocate strategies for countering the assaults that come its way.
Aristotle argued against the mixing of strong emotion with reason when engaged in apologetics. Such a mixing, he saw, was something which weakened an argument. Pure logic he deemed to be closer to truth. The distrust of emotion can be traced back to Plato"s Phaedrus in which he depicted the soul as a charioteer who is drawn up to heaven by the white-winged divine horse of reason, Pegasus. That soul was then drawn back down to earth again by the black horse of the emotions/passion. Plato"s figure, his analysis, regrettably succeeded in dichotomizing reason and emotion.
Rhetorical theory has, since Plato, legitimized what has long been known, namely, that emotions have a legitimate and necessary place in discourse. Even within science, sociologists G. Nigel Gilbert and Michael Mulkay argue that emotion has a valid place. In their Opening Pandora"s Box: A Sociological Analysis of Scientists" Discourse (1984), Gilbert and Mulkay found that emotions are part and parcel of the process of the scientific method and they are latently present in scientific statements, even if the emotional experience of the scientist is not explicitly acknowledged in scientific formulations.
I would like my opponent to present his argument against the Godhood of Jesus Christ in Trinitarianism.
I would argue for the Godhood of Jesus Christ in the Trinitarian position. There's no other debate topic within Christendom that is so popular than the relationship of God the Father to the Messiah because since the inception of the Christian church up to the present time debate concerning Jesus' godhood is prime.Hence, the debate challenge concerning the Godhood of Christ Jesus is chosen. I would like my opponent to present his argument against the Godhood of Jesus Christ in Trinitarianism.
My argument against the concept of the Godhead of Jesus Christ within Trinitarianism is has been one that has been around for over a 1000 years. In 2015 the argument might go as follows:
1. between trinitarians themselves there is some debate as to whether or not the early Church Fathers even believed in the Trinity. Some of the evidence used to support an early belief in the Trinity are what you might call triadic statements, that is, statements referring to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit from the New Testament and the Church Fathers. The view that the Son was 'of the essence of the Father, God of God...very God of very God' was formally ratified at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD/CE.
2. The Holy Spirit was included at the First Council of Constantinople (381 CE), where the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one substance (ousia) and three co-equal persons (hypostaseis) was formally ratified. For more detail I would recommend my opponent go to several internet sites for a more comprehensive presentation of this position:
(b) Nontrinitarianism, or antitrinitarianism refers to monotheistic belief systems, primarily within Christianity, which reject the mainstream Christian doctrine of the Trinity, namely, the teaching that God is three distinct hypostases or persons who are co-eternal, co-equal, and indivisibly united in one being or ousia. I recommend this site for more detail: http://en.wikipedia.org...
This is just a star. I look forward to your response.-Ron Price, Australia
I thank my opponent for this wonderful opportunity of debate concerning the doctrine of the Trinity.
THE TRINITY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Monotheism is the teaching that God is one. As to what sort of oneness God has depends on the context of its affirmation.
God is one and His name is Yahweh. He alone is God and there is no other ( Isaiah 45:1). There is no God formed before or after Him ( Isaiah 43:10). His Word, Wisdom, Glory, Spirit and the Angel of His Face are all His revelation and communication of himself to the world (Exodus 3:2, Psalm 33:6, Proverbs 8:22-30).
God is one in nature and three in person. God has His own Son and Spirit who are both equally share in His complete godhood (Compare Exodus 3:14 to Matthew 28:19; Compare Deuteronomy 32:39 to John 10:28-30).
Old Testament Partial Revelation on God's Plurality and Unity
These four Old Testament passages reveal that by using plural pronouns, God is shown to have fellow or fellows.
It means that God is not a solitary being. Although God is one, yet He is not alone. This shows that whoever these fellows are, they are considered to be uniquely in unity with the one and only God. We can say that "they" are co-equally and co-eternally existing in some sort of unity and that this sort of unity makes "them" separate to all other gods. As to what makes them united, it is for the New Testament to tell us so.
The Old Testament reveals that God is not alone. He has a fellow or rather, fellows. The number of persons is yet to be revealed in the New Testament.
There is a hint of some sort of complex unity due to the exclusivity of the only God against the false gods.
New Testament Complete Revelation on God's Plurality and Unity
In the New Testament, it was revealed by the Messiah himself that God's fellows are the Son and the Holy Spirit.
There exists a Trinity of persons in one nature. The oneness that exists in these three persons is a oneness in nature.In other words, God is Triune (i.e. Three in Unity).
Jesus came in order to reveal God in all His fullness ( John 1:18, Colossians 1:19). He revealed that God is Triune (Matthew 28:19).
The Father's one and only name is Yahweh ( Exodus 6:4). Both the Son and the Holy Spirit have the name of the Father. These three are one in name ( Matthew 28:19).
The name of God is expressive of His eternal nature ( Exodus 3:14). Therefore, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are of same eternal nature because they are of same name.
I thank my opponent for his detailed response to my initial argument against the concept of the Godhood of Jesus Christ in Trinitarianism. As my opponent has stated in his argument for the Godhood of Jesus Christ in the Trinitarian position: "there's no other debate topic within Christendom that is so popular than the relationship of God the Father to the Messiah because since the inception of the Christian church up to the present time debate concerning Jesus' godhood is prime. My opponent wants me to "present my argument against the Godhood of Jesus Christ in Trinitarianism."
As I put it in my initial argument against the concept of the Godhead of Jesus Christ within Trinitarianism this doctrine has has been one that has been around for over a 1000 years, indeed, one could say, nearly 2000 years.
INITIAL ARGUMENT PUT FORWARD BY ME:
As I stated "in 2015 the argument against Trintarianism might go as follows:
1. between trinitarians themselves there is some debate as to whether or not the early Church Fathers even believed in the Trinity. Some of the evidence used to support an early belief in the Trinity are what you might call triadic statements, that is, statements referring to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit from the New Testament and the Church Fathers. The view that the Son was 'of the essence of the Father, God of God...very God of very God'. This position was formally ratified at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD/CE.
2. The Holy Spirit was included at the First Council of Constantinople (381 CE). It was not present at Nicea in 325. The relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one substance (ousia) and three co-equal persons (hypostaseis) was formally ratified. As I recommended to my opponent he might consider going to several internet sites for a more comprehensive presentation of this position. One of those websites discussed the nontrinitarian position, or antitrinitarianism. This position refers to monotheistic belief systems, primarily within Christianity, systems which reject the mainstream Christian doctrine of the Trinity. They reject the teaching that God is three distinct hypostases or persons who are co-eternal, co-equal, and indivisibly united in one being or ousia. I recommended this site for more detail: http://en.wikipedia.org... was just a start to my own exposition of antitrinitarianism
CONTINUATION OF MY ANTI-TRINITARIANISM POSITION:
I now want to deal with the arguments put forward by my opponent in his most recent response to my anti-trinitarian position. As he puts it, in the initial statement of his response to my anti-trinitarianism, "the early church fathers are early Christian writers who recorded Christianity in their contemporary time. The early church fathers are the Pre-Nicene Christian writers who witnessed some of the apostles ( latter part of first century ) and those who were part of the second and third century before the Council of Nicea occurred."
Since my opponent places such an emphasis on these "early church fathers", it is important for us to agree on just who these people were. The following paragraphs provide a brief description of these fathers of the church.
(i) The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church are ancient and generally influential Christian theologians, some of whom were eminent teachers and great bishops. The term is used of writers or teachers of the Church not necessarily ordained, and not necessarily "saints".
(ii) Origen, Adamantius and Tertullian are often considered Church Fathers but are not saints owing to their views later deemed heretical, although most are honored as saints in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran churches, and other churches and groups. While western churches regard only early teachers of Christianity as Fathers, the Orthodox Church honors as "Fathers" many saints far beyond the early centuries of church history, even to the present day.
(iii) The earliest Church Fathers, (within two generations of the Twelve Apostles of Christ) are usually called the Apostolic Fathers since tradition describes them as having been taught by the twelve. Important Apostolic Fathers include Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna. In addition, the Didache and Shepherd of Hermas are usually placed among the writings of the Apostolic Fathers although their authors are unknown; like the works of Clement, Ignatius and Polycarp, they were first written in Koine Greek. Go to this link for more on the church fathers: http://en.wikipedia.org...
This whole debate is, in some ways, an old debate between Ariansim and Orthodoxy in western christendom.
A. These church fathers were actively involved in the early church councils. Subsequent to the First Council of Nicea Arianism, an anti-trinitarian position, did not simply disappear. The semi-Arians taught that the Son is of like substance with the Father (homoiousios), as against the outright Arians who taught that the Son was unlike the Father (heterousian). So the Son was held to be like the Father but not of the same essence as the Father. The Cappadocians worked to bring these semi-Arians back to the Orthodox/trinitarian cause. In their writings they made extensive use of the formula "three substances (hypostases) in one essence (homoousia)", and thus explicitly acknowledged a distinction between the Father and the Son (a distinction that Nicea had been accused of blurring) but at the same time insisting on their essential unity.
B. Some councils later than that of Nicaea but earlier than that of Constantinople in 381, such as the Council of Rimini (359), which has been described as "the crowning victory of Arianism", disagreed with the Trinitarian formula of the Council of Nicaea. Nontrinitarians disagree with the findings of the Trinitarian Councils for various reasons, including the belief that the writings of the Bible take precedence over creeds (a view shared by the mainline Protestant churches, which on the contrary uphold the doctrine of the Trinity) or that there was a Great Apostasy prior to the Council. Church and State in Europe and the Middle East suppressed nontrinitarian belief as heresy from the 4th to 18th century, notably with regard to Arianism, Catharism, and the teaching of Michael Servetus. Today nontrinitarians represent a minority of professed Christians.
C. Nontrinitarian views differ widely on the nature of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Various nontrinitarian views, such as Adoptionism, Monarchianism, and Subordinationism existed prior to the formal definition of the Trinity doctrine in A.D. 325, 360, and 431, at the Councils of Nicaea, Constantinople, and Ephesus.] Nontrinitarianism was later renewed in the Gnosticism of the Cathars in the 11th through 13th centuries, in the Age of Enlightenment of the 18th century, and in some groups arising during the Second Great Awakening of the 19th century.
D. Modern nontrinitarian Christian groups or denominations include Christadelphians, Christian Scientists, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dawn Bible Students, Friends General Conference, Iglesia ni Cristo, Jehovah's Witnesses, Living Church of God, Oneness Pentecostals,Members Church of God International, Unitarian Universalist Christians, The Way International, The Church of God International and the United Church of God. It is clear from the above that there is a deep rift between trinitarianism and anti-trinitarianism, and that rift is at least 1700 years old. All my opponent and I are going to do in this debate is circulate old stuff, old arguments in a debate that cannot be resolved. It can only be continued. For more on the anti-trinitarian position go to: http://en.wikipedia.org...
Section 2(to come in next post)
I have shown in the previous round that the belief confessed in the Nice Council was the same belief confessed by early Christians throughout all the centuries before the said council occurred. The church is always Trinitarian but new teachings also would always arise.What this means is that heresies like Adoptionism, Monarchianism, and Subordinationism are always new teachings. The Trinity teaching precedes these heretical teachings. The Trinity teaching is always there even from the beginning of the church.On the other hand, it is clear from church history that non-Trinitarianism is always new.
Modern nontrinitarian Christian groups or denominations include Christadelphians, Christian Scientists, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dawn Bible Students, Friends General Conference, Iglesia ni Cristo, Jehovah's Witnesses, Living Church of God, Oneness Pentecostals,Members Church of God International, Unitarian Universalist Christians, The Way International, The Church of God International and the United Church of God.All of these modern non-Trinitarians are all new groups with new theology.They might have christological similarities with the ancient Unitarians but this would only prove that they still adhere to a christology not original to the early church including first century Christendom.
FIRST CENTURY BIBLICAL PROOF OF THE TRINITARIAN TEACHING
Definition of the Trinity
The English word "Trinity" came from the Greek word " Trias" which means "three."
The Trinity is the teaching that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three persons in unity or united in one divine nature.
The Person of God
A "Person" is a rational individual who has the following: mind(intellect), volition ( will) and passion ( emotion).
The Father has a mind ( Isaiah 40:13).
The Son has a mind ( 1 Corinthians 2:6).
The Holy Spirit has a mind ( Romans 8:27).
The Father has a will (Matthew 6:10).
The Son has a will ( Ephesians 5:17).
The Holy Spirit has a will ( 1 Corinthians 12:11).
The Father loves (John 16:27).
The Son loves ( John 15:9).
The Holy Spirit loves (Romans 15:30).
The Nature of God
A "nature" is something inherently belongs to someone.
The Divine Nature, in the context of the true God, is the nature of God himself.
Nature means "set of attributes."
In the Holy Scriptures, the word for this is many and they are the following:
THEOS in qualitative sense ( as in John 1:1).
THEIAS - divine nature ( God-like nature when used to creatures). 2 Peter 1:3, 4
THEIOS -divine nature ( Acts 17:29).
THEIOTES -divine nature ( Romans 1:20).
THEOTETOS - (dual meaning) divine nature plus divine identity. Colossians 2:9
The following are God's attributes:
God is eternal ( without beginning or ending of life) and hence, his attributes are all eternal.
Psalm 90:2, Romans 1:20
God is ( eternally) love:
1 John 4:8
God is (eternally) wise:
God is (eternally) good:
God is (eternally) omnipotent
God is (eternally) omnipresent
Psalm 46:1, Psam 139:11-12
God is (eternally) omniscient
1 John 3:20
God is (eternally) immutable
Malachi 3:6, James 1:17
God's nature is eternally one ( Exodus 3:14, Romans 1:20) and it only exists in the three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit ( Matthew 28:19).Others , like Zeus, Hermes and Athena, are all "not gods by nature"( Galatians 4:8).
The Three are not equal in the following aspects:
The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not equally the same person. They are three distinct persons.The Father is not the Son vise versa ( Hebrews 1:5). The Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son (John 14:16).
Immanent Trinity - Role/function in the Triune God.
The Father is over the Son( Matthew 28:18, 1 Corinthians 11:3). The Father is greater than the Son ( John 13:16, Galatians 4:4).
The Son is over the Holy Spirit (John 16:14-15). The Son is greater than the Holy Spirit ( John 13:16, 15:26)
The Father is the first person ( Matthew 28:19). He is the source of all including His two fellows. He is the Primus Inter Pares ( First among equals).
The Son is the second person. He is the only begotten from the Father ( John 1:14).
The Holy Spirit is the third person. He is the Spirit of both the the Father and the Son (Romans 8:11).
Economic Trinity - Role/function of the Triune God in the world.
The Father is greater than all ( John 10:29).
The Son is God over all (Romans 9:5) and Lord over all (Acts 10:36).
The Holy Spirit is the giver of life ( 2 Corinthians 3:6).
The Three persons are equal in the following activity:
Indwelling of believers
The Father dwells in the believer ( John 14:23).
The Son dwells in the believer ( John 14:23).
The Holy Spirit in the believer ( John 14:16-17).
In John 10:28-30, the Father and the Son are O52;`3;_6;^9;_7; in terms of having the same abilities to give life and preserve life by a powerful hand [_4;O36;^7;P60; ^8;^3;^8;`9;_6;_3; ^5;P16;`4;_9;Q50;`2; _0;`9;P52;_7; ^5;O84;a4;_7;_3;_9;_7;...`7;^9;_3;`1;a2;`2; _6;_9;`5;...`7;^9;_3;`1;P56;`2; `4;_9;Q66; `0;^5;`4;`1;a2;`2; ].In the Old Testament, only God has these abilities ( Deuteronomy 32:39).The Jews correctly understood this but they won't believe (v. 33-38).
In Christ dwells all the `0;_5;^2;`1;`9;_6;^5; of \0;^9;a2;`4;_1;`4;_9;`2; bodily ( Colossians 2:9). He is God himself in the flesh.
This is why Jesus is called \0;^9;P56;`2; ( John 1:1,18,20:28;Titus 2:13;Hebrews 1:8;2 Peter 1:1; Acts 20:28).
What this shows that first century followers of Jesus belived the same faith that was confessed at Nicea ( about 200 years prior).
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