The Instigator
DrewM
Pro (for)
Losing
33 Points
The Contender
Tatarize
Con (against)
Winning
37 Points

Biblical proof-texts for the Trinity are not proof-texts at all.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/2/2008 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,987 times Debate No: 2375
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (16)

 

DrewM

Pro

John 10:30

"I and my Father are one."

This verse does not say that they are "same being." This text does not say how they are one at all. Fortunately for us, John later records Jesus' teaching on how He and his Father are one. "And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as (kathos) we are...Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as (kathos) thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as (kathos) we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me" (John 17:11, 20-23).

Jesus here makes clear that his disciples can be one even as (kathos) He and his Father are one. The Greek kathos means just as or how (See Strong's). In other words, Jesus prayed that they may be one just as He and his Father are one. If Jesus and his Father are one being manifest in two persons, for Jesus' prayer to be fulfilled his disciples must loose their identity and become absorbed into the Trinity! Assuming that a Billion or more will be saved (just for fun)--what will that make? A "Billinity"?

So how are Jesus and his Father one, according to Jesus? The key is in verse 22: "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that(hina) they may be one, even as we are one." The Greek word hina translated "that" literally means in order that (See Strong's). Jesus and his Father share the same glory and are thus one. Jesus prayed that his disciples may receive Their glory in order that they may be one with Them.

There is no other passage of scripture in the Bible that defines how Jesus and his Father are one. The later post-Biblical doctrine that define the Trinity as one being in three persons is not derived from the Bible but is added to it.

John 14:10-11

"Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake."

As seen above, Jesus prayed that his disciples "all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee," but one need not go to a different sermon of Jesus to find this. He refers to this very concept in the same sermon. In verse 20 he said, "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you" (John 14:20). If Jesus meant for us to interpret "the Father [...] dwelleth in me" and "I am in the Father, and the Father in me" as "My Father and I are the same Being," did He also intend for us to interpret "I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you" that we, He, and His Father are all one ontological being? This, of course, is absurd.

To complicate the issue further, Jesus concludes his sermon by saying "my Father is greater than I" (John 14:28). Such talk is nonsense if He and His Father are the same being.

Colossians 2:9

"For in [Christ] dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."

Some have interpreted this scripture as meaning that all of the Trinity somehow dwelt in the person of Jesus in an ontological union of being as defined in the post-Biblical creeds. We'll now investigate that.

First, one must understand that "Godhead" in 16th century English means "deity" or "godhood." The Greek word is theotes which means "divinity." This passage would better be rendered for our modern readers as "For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily" (ESV). The scripture, therefore, is not stating that all of the members of the Trinity dwelt in Christ, but that Christ was fully and completely divine.

Something else the critics overlook is the following verse. "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power." The word translated as "complete" is the adjective form of the noun translated as "fullness" in the previous verse. For this reason, it is better translated "And you have a fullness in him..." This verse, understood this way, teaches that the fullness of divinity that was in Jesus can also be in us. This fullness was not reserved for Jesus only, but for all. Therefore, this scripture cannot be rightly interpreted to support the idea that God is three persons yet one being.

The doctrine of the saints receiving a fullness of God is reflected in another scripture authored by Paul. "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." (Ephesians 3:14-19).

1 John 5:7

"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."

This one is the most fascinating. Why? Because it is almost universally recognized as being an interpolation (addition) to scripture that wasn't actually written by the original author (See Metzger, Bruce. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 647-649).

Even if the text were authentic, which it probably is not, it does not define how the Father, Word, and Holy Ghost are one. For such a definition one must turn to John 17 which clearly shows they are not ontologically one being, but one in glory.
Tatarize

Con

The proof texts for the trinity within the Bible are specifically confirming the the trinity. The passages you mentioned are fantastic examples of this specifically noting that "Jesus is God" or that "Jesus is the Father" or that "Jesus is responsible for the actions attributed to God".

There are remarkably good counter examples which rather clearly suggest that Jesus isn't God. These exist most likely because Trinitarianism was a later suggestion and the proof-texts were added later. This is why we see so many trinity suggestion in John (the latest gospel) and nearly none in Mark (the earliest). There is an organized campaign to provide justification for Trinitarianism against Arianism from the time of the Council of Nicaea onward as the religion evolved. Arianism is the early church heresy (not a pejorative) that Jesus was an independent creation of God, above the angels but below and distinct from God. Christ the Messiah given to Earth as the sacrifice of the sins of man. Who died, was resurrected, and ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of God. These are all things which make perfect sense as an Arian interpretation, but seem a bit confused under the Trinitarianism.

These different schisms within the Early Church are quite evidently present within the canon and the select versions of those books of canon selected. The Gospels and much of the Bible shows editing well into the 4th century. I would highly recommend Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman in this respect.

Why have I bothered to point out these early heresies within the church and the marks they left on the scriptures? I have done this to give readers a broad understanding of how proof tests for Trinitarianism can exist alongside statements which would only make sense under an Arian interpretation. However, this debate does not concern itself with whether one can successfully establish that the New Testament confirms an Arianist interpretation. Rather the sole concern of this debate is whether those texts within the Bible concerning the Trinity are, in fact, confirming the Trinity. This is rather trivial to establish: they were more than likely added to the the Gospels specifically to attest to the Trinity. Trinitarianism was the established religious view while the Bible, and the books which were later established as the Biblical canon, were being heavily edited. The approval of which text would become canon and which version of which texts were done by individuals specially supporting Trinitarianism. Though, you certainly cannot whitewash the Gospels and remove every reference to the earlier more acceptable interpretations it does not allow for the denial that the texts which suggest the trinity do not suggest the trinity.

The proof-texts in the Bible were added to lend weight to Trinitarianism, lend weight to Trinitarianism. As such, the case for Con is simple, establish that material added to the Gospels to suggest the oneness of the Godhead and a triune Christian God do exactly that.

John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
John 1:14 "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."

Clearly, the Word was God and the Word was made Flesh.

John 8:58
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

John 10:30-31
I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.

John 10:38-39
The Father is in me, and I in him. Therefore they sought again to take him.

John 20:28
And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.

Colossians 1:16
For by him [Jesus] were all things created.

Colossians 2:9
For in him [Jesus] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

1 Timothy 3:16
God was made manifest in the flesh.

Titus 2:13
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Revelation 1:17
Fear not; I am the first and the last.

Revelation 22:13
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

--------------------

My opponent points to these lines from the Bible and concludes that when taken in conjunction with other lines seem to be patently absurd unless those lines are tweaked in this way, and we ignore that, and understand that the Father and Son are one in some "other" way.

Pro argues that "The later post-Biblical doctrine that define the Trinity as one being in three persons is not derived from the Bible but is added to it." -- To the contrary, the Trinity was settled more than fifty years before the Biblical canon was established. This is why the trinity references are in the Bible at all. This is why we don't see the well established versions of Mark being laced with suggestions that the Father is the Son, whereas John is teeming with them. The trinity references were added to the Bible. As such, they are actually trinity references.

The most clear and obvious example of this is:

1 John 5:7
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

That is clearly and obviously attesting to the Trinity. It is part of the Bible. Is is acceptable as a proof text.

The suggestion that this is "almost universally recognized as being an interpolation (addition) to scripture" doesn't matter. The fact that it attests to the trinity is almost certainly a slam dunk for my my side. If you are going to suggest that you cannot draw proof-text from later interpolations, where does it stop? Can you not cite the "he who is without sin" story? How about the virgin birth? The first couple chapters of Luke? The letters of Paul we're rather certain are fake?

I contend that subtle tweaks to combine the Father and Son, to make the Son the "Word made Flesh" are all probably later additions and suggestions as we can tell by their prevalence in John but infrequency in the other gospels as well as this 1 John "slam dunk", are all acceptable as proof text.

"Prooftexting is the practice of using decontextualised quotations from a document (often, but not always, a book of the Bible) to establish a proposition rhetorically through an appeal to authority. Critics of the technique note that often the document, when read as a whole, may not in fact support the proposition."

-- The very existence of these passages to suggest, even weakly, that the trinity is established by the Bible shows that they are, in fact, proof-texts. Perhaps you might argue successfully that Trinitarianism was not properly established by the early scriptures and those closest to the originals, and I would not disagree. However, the existence of these proof-texts proves they are proof-texts.

A proof text is a line yanked out of the Bible to support some position, often rhetorically and often out of context. Your argument is that the position is not supported within context and without obvious interpolation. That's not proof-text though, nor is it a requirement for proof text.

------

The Trinity is is supported by the Bible. Here's my proof-text:

1 John 5:7
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

You can say it's a later additional all you want. It's in the Bible and it confirms the Trinity. And I just used it as a proof text. Perhaps a better topic would be in order, but as it stands now: I have a good argument against your main thesis, and I have a flawless argument, correct by definition, against the topic as given.

Q.E.D.
Debate Round No. 1
DrewM

Pro

Congrats to my friend, he clearly won as the topic was defined. However, I think we can both agree that the Trinitarian concepts as found in the later creeds are not clearly found in the Biblical canon, especially in the writings as they were penned by the original authors
Tatarize

Con

Thank you. Well done yourself.

I have no objections to the idea that Trinitarianism was invented whole cloth rather late in the Early Church. That is supported by the evidence after all.
Debate Round No. 2
DrewM

Pro

DrewM forfeited this round.
Tatarize

Con

This round was forfeited because the debater did not post their argument within the allotted time.

Or did he?
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Kleptin 8 years ago
Kleptin
I need another person for this one, but I did my part XD
Posted by Tatarize 9 years ago
Tatarize
My opponent resigned very civilly. I must clearly be voted down.

*smirk*
Posted by DrewM 9 years ago
DrewM
Thanks. I appreciate your insights. I obviously should have refined my title to make it more clear as to what I was trying to debate. Technically, you won. :) However, if I were to ask does the Biblical text support the notion of the trinity as define in the 3rd and 4th century creeds, I think we would be hard pressed to say it does even with the changes that have been made to the text.

Anyway, thanks.

Check out my blog sometime: http://strongreasons.blogspot.com...
Posted by Tatarize 9 years ago
Tatarize
I'm actually quite impressed by your scholarship here. I was wondering what religion you could be based on your position. I'm embarrassed to note that Mormon didn't occur to me (not for lack of understanding the position) just slipped my mind.

I don't think you can make the argument "if a scripture found in the canon doesn't belong there" is itself a coherent notion. This supposes there's some subset of scripture which is itself real. This is pretty much what the canon was created to be. As such, the argument that because a bit of text was clearly added in the third century by some scribe doesn't negate it being part of the canon. Also, prooftext is a pretty wishy-washy practice and frankly even the total crap some people suggest is still prooftext.

An argument that the earlier versions of the Gospels as well as Pauline Christology (I'm not sure there was any relationship between the two early on) were not Trinitarian is pretty easy to support on the evidence. The topic as described is pretty easy to rebut.

I wouldn't consider Asherah a wife, she was a consort with most of the deities. In Canaan myth she was a consort with the Canaan god, in Babylon she was a consort with the Babylonian god. A consort of the El and or being the mother of the Elohim, wouldn't be out of the question. There are a number of references to her poles being even inside the temple and fairly common worship through the area at the time.

I did look up the saint reference of "fullness of God" and scrapped my statement from the argument when it became profoundly apparent that you were right about it when I looked at the original Greek.

Prooftext is prooftext. I'd be hard pressed to win the narrower more refined topic you note here.
Posted by DrewM 9 years ago
DrewM
The "con's" argument, if I understand correctly, is that even if a scripture found in the canon doesn't belong there that somehow seems to support the trinity, the Bible still teaches the trinity. I guess I should have defined in my first "Bible" as "what the original authors probably wrote." I didn't do so, so I must concede the point.

Either way, even if 1 John 5:7 were authentic or even if we had to consider it's meaning, it does not clearly teach that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one BEING any more than John 17. It simply says they are one. I would suggest that the context doesn't allow for them to be one being. Consider the verse that immediately follows verse 7:

"And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one."

The author compares the unity of the Trinity to the unity of spirit, water, and blood. These three things are each completely separate bodies yet are one because of the relationship they possess. Likewise, the Biblical record suggests that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one by the relationship they possess, not one being.

The "con" also suggests that any scripture that says Jesus is God must therefore be teaching that he and his Father are one being. Why? John was careful to always distinguish between the two. For example, John 1:1 (as cited by "con"), reads in the Greek: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with ho theos, and the Word was theos." In other words, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with THE God, and the Word was God/divine. By using the article in the fist instance and not in the second, the author was making clear that they were not the SAME God, but that they shared the same attributes of godliness. In other words, we're dealing with two gods. This, of course, fits with modern scholarship's understanding of ancient Israel worshiping The Most High God, possibly a wife"Asherah," & his son Yahweh ("I am").
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