Is The Trinity Biblical?
As always, I would like to thank my opponent kasmic for accepting this challenge. This is a topic that is very near and dear to me and I am excited to have the opportunity to defend it's truthfulness in this debate. My aim is to be as clear and as straightforward as possible with the hopes that the truth prevails and God is glorified.
The thesis of this debate: Is the Trinity Biblical? I would like to take just a small space to tell you what this debate is not about. This is not about what the early church believed. Although I believe that the early church held to the doctrine of the trinity, the debate here will focus on what the bible says alone. Any argument based on post apostolic church history, will probably go unanswered. So keep that in mind as you read this debate.
To properly discuss the trinity, it is important to define what we mean by it. In light of this, allow me to provide a short succinct definition of what we refer to as 'The Trinity'.
Within the one BEING that is God, there exist three co-equal and co-eternal PERSONS, namely the Father,the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Notice the all caps on the words being and persons. This is vital to understand moving forward. We are not saying that there is three beings that are one being or three persons that are one person. Such would be a contradiction. We make the distinction between being and person every day and to understand the trinity, you must do so here as well.
Virtually everything around us has being. A being is merely something or someone that has the state or quality of existence. Rocks, trees, cars, windows.... All of these would be classified as beings because they have the state or quality of existence. They are not all LIVING beings, but they are all beings none the less.
But not everything around us has personhood. This is something that, in creation, is strictly exclusive to human beings. To be a person means to be able to have emotion, will and intellect. To be able to identify yourself amongst others. This is something rocks and trees can't do. An easy way to put it is like this. I am a human being. My nature is human. But my person is Chris L. My being is what I am, my person is who I am. So to sum it up, as Dr. James White put it, God is one 'what' and three 'who's'.
Before I move on to my biblical presentation, there is one last thing I must stress. The doctrine of the trinity is not found in any one passage or group of passages in scripture. In all the genre's the book's of the bible came in, a theology book was not one of them. So we should not expect to find the trinity presented in a formalized creek-like manner. The doctrine is pan-canonical. That's is to say, it is a doctrine of necessity. Only when you take in ALL of what the bible says and ONLY what the bible says, can you arrive at the conclusion of the trinity. To reject it would mean you have rejected other, more clear and established, biblical teachings. The only question left would be, which one(s)?
With the rest of my space I will briefly present three biblical teachings. (1)Monotheism, (2)The existence of three eternally divine persons, and (3)the co-equality of these three persons. To accept all these doctrine is to accept the trinity. Affirming them would lead to the belief in the trinity as a natural ramification. To reject any, would be to reject the trinity wholesale and that point or points would be where the debate here lies. Lets take a look at the first.
The doctrine of monotheism is the belief that there is only one true God. No other God exist but YHWH. This is brought out clearly in the book of Isaiah.
""You are My witnesses," declares the LORD, "And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me". (Isaiah 43:10)
Notice the end of the verse. ..."before me there was no God formed, And there will be none after me." Here the LORD is emphasizing a simple point. At no point in time were there ever any other gods. He is the only God.
The LORD emphatically states this in the very next chapter.
""Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: 'I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me." (Isaiah 44:6)
Once again, the point is made clear. No other god's. There are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of passages just like this all throughout the old and New Testament. To reject monotheism would cause a conundrum in biblical interpretation. At least for one who wants to hold to the orthodox view of biblical inerrancy. Where my opponent stands on that, I don't know. We will see soon enough though.
Quickly, I want to make something clear. The mere mention of other "God's" does not legitimize them ontologically. When someone repeatedly emphasizes monotheism, there would be no reason for them to qualify the non existence of a particular god they are referring to every time. The mentioning of a "god" can easily be referring to other god's, not as existent beings, but as concepts or idea's. Nothing more. It is also important to note that every author that mentioned other "gods" all affirmed monotheism. It is irresponsible for the interpreter to set an author against himself when there is a perfectly plausible way for their words to be harmonized.
(2)Three eternally divine persons
I don't think we'll see this as being a point of disagreement between me and my opponent, so I'll be brief. This doctrine emphasizes the eternal distinction between the three persons. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Father, and the Father is not the Spirit. Although they all share the same divine nature simultaneously, they are distinguished from one another. Lets take a quick look at John 1:1.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Here we have two persons. The Word, which is identified as Jesus in vs 14 and God, which is identified as the father in vs 18. Verses 1 and 18 serve as bookends to John's prologue.
Notice that both of these persons eternally exist. The word translated "was" comes from the Greek term "en" meaning active in the past. So before the beginning, they Word existed. In the 2nd clause, we see that the word, was with God. In other Words, Jesus was with the father. Pls note, this is not God with God. This is the Father with the Son. Both share the divine nature of YHWH, but the are still distinct in personhood. Another place to look would be John 17:5, but due to space, I'll move on.
(3) The co-equality of the three divine persons.
This last doctrine may be a point of contention here. The focus of this doctrine is in the ontological equality of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Notice I wrote "ontological" equality. In redemptive history, the bible clearly reveals each person taking different roles. Some roles are subordinate to others, such as the role of the Son to the Father (John 14:28). But the position each takes in redemption does not make either of them any more or less God. They still share in same nature. This is crucial to understand. Any text showing Jesus being subordinate to the Father or the Spirit being subject to Jesus does not negate this doctrine. Showing an inequality in function does not demonstrate an inequality in nature. So keep your eye on this as we move forward.
To demonstrate this, I want to show where the Son and the Spirit are attributed with the name, words, and actions of the Old Testament God YHWH. YHWH is the God of Israel's name as he revealed Himself to them. The Father, Son, and Spirit are a greater revelation of the same God of the old covenant. No one ever really argues that the Father is the God of the Old Testament so we will leave that alone.
In Psalm 102:25-27 a prayer to YHWH is recorded. In these verse we see an emphasis on the immutability and eternality of YHWH.
In the New Testament these very same words are applied to Jesus in the first chapter of Hebrews. Lets read it.
But of the Son He says, "YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM. "YOU HAVE LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATED LAWLESSNESS; THEREFORE GOD, YOUR GOD, HAS ANOINTED YOU W ITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS ABOVE YOUR COMPANIONS." And, "YOU, LORD, IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH, AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS; THEY WILL PERISH, BUT YOU REMAIN; AND THEY ALL WILL BECOME OLD LIKE A GARMENT, AND LIKE A MANTLE YOU WILL ROLL THEM UP; LIKE A GARMENT THEY WILL ALSO BE CHANGED. BUT YOU ARE THE SAME, AND YOUR YEARS WILL NOT COME TO AN END." (Hebrews 1:8-12)
So we see here, the inspired NT writer identifying Jesus as the God of Psalms 102:25-27. But what about the Spirit? For that lets take a look at Hebrews 10:15-17.
And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, "THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM," He then says, "AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE." (Hebrews 10:15-17)
According to the NT writer, the one who said these words was the Holy Spirit. Interestingly though, these are direct quotations of Jer 31:33-34, spoken by YHWH Himself. It's easy to see, the Holy Spirit is being identified as YHWH.
So there are the three fundamental doctrines that undergird the trinity. As I mentioned above, if none of these three doctrines can be refuted, it then follows that the trinity is not refuted and hence, the debate is over. Any biblical rejection of the trinity will come at the expense of at least one of these key doctrines. As I am prepared to defend each one from the text, I await my opponent's opening remarks. Thank you.
The topic of which we are debating; "Is the Trinity Biblical?" This is an important question as many who profess to believe in the teachings of the Bible also proclaim a belief in the Trinity. My hope is that as we take a thorough look at the text of the Bible, the truth will be revealed that the Trinity is not in harmony with the teachings of the bible and does not come from its texts.
A:What is the Trinity?
I understand the Trinity to be "the threefold personality of the one Divine Being."(1) The following is text taken from the Athanasian Creed:
"5. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.
6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.
7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.
8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.
9. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.
11. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.
12. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible."(2)
The trinity therefore is "Three personalities in one incomprehensible defined being."
B: "All Scripture is given" for doctrine"
As we examine God"s words in the Bible, remember that" " All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" 2 Timothy 4:16
B1: What does the Bible say?
When studying the Bible you will not find the trinity enunciated anywhere. It is not laid out in scripture. You will not find such a verse because it does not exist. Those who believe in the doctrine of the trinity often deduce such doctrine from a collocation of verses.
As such, below are verses of scripture that clearly teach that the Father and the Son are not the same person but are rather separate and distinct beings. In these examples Jesus Christ communicates with and interacts with God. This would be unnecessary if the doctrine of the trinity were true and certainly do not make sense if the doctrine were true. After each I will ask questions that eliminate how absurd the belief of the trinity would be.
1: Mathew 3:16-17
" 16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
Why does God have to tell himself that he is well pleased with himself?
2: Mark 10:18 (see also Mathew 19: 16-17 and Luke 18-19)
"And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God."
How can God be good excluding Jesus if they are one?
3:Mathew 24:36 (see also mark 13:32)
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone."
How can the Father know something the Son does not if they are one?
4: John 17: 20-22
"20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as 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.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:"
If the believers of the apostles words are to become one in the same way that God and Jesus Christ are one, does this mean that the apostles and believers are one person?
5: Luke 22: 41-42
"41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone"s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."
If God the Father and Jesus are one, why would Jesus have to ask anything? How can Jesus set aside his will for the Father"s if they have the same will?
6: Mathew 27:46
" And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
If they are one, why would Jesus ask God why he has been forsaken?
These verses of scripture present an issue for the doctrine of the trinity, as the doctrine of the trinity does not make sense when applied to these verses.
B2: An incomprehensible God is an unknowable God.
incomprehensible: "impossible to understand or comprehend; unintelligible."(3)
"With such a confusing definition of God being imposed upon the church, little wonder that a fourth-century monk cried out, "Woe is me! They have taken my God away from me, " and I know not whom to adore or to address."(4)
" And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." John 17:3
"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" Romans 8:16
The message the Bible presents on this topic is simple, we the children of God strive for eternal life, which is to Know God, and Jesus Christ.
C: The historicity of the trinity
The Doctrine of the trinity was not common in Christian theology until the 4th century.
"The formulation 'one God in three Persons' was not solidly established ... into Christian life ... prior to the 4th century.... Among the Apostolic Fathers, there has been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality or perspective."(5)
"Indeed no less a source than the stalwart harper"s Bible Dictionary records that "the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries in not to be found in the New testament." (4)
To those who belive in the trinity I ask the question, If the doctrine of the trinity is biblical, why was it not commonly taught until hundreds of years after the life of Christ?
D: The words of Paul
I echo the words of Paul, as I share the truth that God the Father and Jesus Christ are separate and distinct beings.
"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ."
The Doctrine of the Trinity teaches three personalities in one incomprehensible defined being. Such a being is unknowable. The Bible teaches that we are the Children of God and eternal life is to know God. The doctrine of the Trinity is not enunciated anywhere in the Bible. The doctrine was also not commonly taught until hundreds of years after Christ. Ergo, the only conclusion to be made is that the trinity is not biblical.
I humbly invite all to acknowledge that the trinity is not a biblical teaching and invite you to Believe in the true God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent. Be not removed from the truth that God the Father and his son are separate and distinct beings.
Well if I heard it once I heard it a thousand times. We just read from my opponent...
"When studying the Bible you will not find the trinity enunciated anywhere."
Well, what does he mean by that? Kasmic doesn't tell us. But as I said in my opening statement, you will not find the trinity revealed in a formalized creed-like manner. It seems to me that Kasmic, along with others who make this accusation, want the trinity to be taught in scripture in a particular way. They do not allot to God the freedom to reveal this doctrine in any other way other then the way they believe it should be taught. I laid out my argument in the opening statement that the trinity is a doctrine of necessity. It must be true, in light of the truthfulness of other explicitly enunciated doctrines. This is how trinitarians believe the truth of the trinity is taught in scriptures. It will be interesting to see if Kasmic will allow for the word of God to reveal the trinity in this way and not some way he feels is appropriate. That's something to look for as we come up on his first rebuttal.
As is almost always the case, the person who rejects the trinity doesn't fully understand the doctrine they are seeking to refute. My opponent demonstrates this a little in the early portion of his presentation. He stated,
"As such, below are verses of scripture that clearly teach that the Father and the Son are not the same person but are rather separate and distinct beings."
Notice the switch. He writes, ..."the Father and Son are not the same PERSON". He then continues by saying they are "... Rather separate and distinct BEINGS".
Obviously Kasmic is a Mormon and hence believes that the Father and Son are separate beings. But who ever said they were the same person? No trinitarian has ever said that. The Father and the Son are seperate and distinct person. This has always been the church's position, but Kasmic doesn't seem to be aware of it. This is made glaringly obvious when he used Matt 3:16-17 as an example of a verse that can't make sense in light of the trinity. He poses the question concerning the voice from heaven at Jesus's baptism,
"Why does God have to tell himself that he is well pleased with himself?"
This is a question that can only be asked by someone who does not understand the distinction between each person of the trinity. But the Father and Son are not the same person. The share the same divine essence, but they are separate persons.Jesus was not telling himself. Rather, the Father was telling Jesus. Communication between members of the Godhead in no way contradicts the trinity.
Since I started with my opponents list of verses, I might as well address the rest of the ones he presented.
In mark 10:18 we have the account of the young rich Rulers's encounter with Jesus. He address Jesus as "good teacher". Jesus replied with the question, " why do you call me good?" He goes further to say, "no one is good except God alone".
Of the above verse Kasmic asks, "How can God be good excluding Jesus if they are one?
I am amazed at how many people assume that Jesus is denying being good in these verses. On what contextual basis can someone make that claim? Until someone can show me where Jesus says he is not good, these verses are not saying enough to refute his's deity.
Kasmic brings up Matt 24:36 where Jesus says no one knows the day or hour of His return. Kasmic asks,
"How can the Father know something the Son does not if they are one?"
This text, along with the verse he appeals to in Luke 22:41-42 of Jesus in the garden , are perfectly consistent with the incarnation. Phil 2:6-8 teaches that Jesus set aside his divine privileges and took on the true form of a bond servant. Jesus having limited human knowledge or reacting to certain circumstances as a human do not negate his deity. They only illuminate his humanity. There is certainly more to be said on these verses, but it would require going into detail on the hypostatic union and such would be beyond the scope of this discussion.
John 17:20-22 was also raised. This is in Jesus's high priestly prayer where he is making intercession for all who will believe through the message of the apostles. The mistake made by Kasmic is he assumes that Jesus is speaking of an ontological oneness. He asks,
"If the believers of the apostles words are to become one in the same way that God and Jesus Christ are one, does this mean that the apostles and believers are one person"?
But the context clearly is speaking of unity in purpose. Indeed the very next verse specifically states this.
I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. (R37;JohnR36; R37;17R36;:R37;23R36;).
So these verses have no problem being harmonized with the trinity.
Lastly, but certainly not least, my opponent points to Matt 27:46. These are Jesus's words from the cross where he says,
"...My God, My God why have you forsaken me?"
Kasmic asks, "If they are one, why would Jesus ask God why he has been forsaken"?
Well for starters, I won't deny that Jesus does refer to the Father as His God. He does this in John 20:17 as well. Such does no harm to the trinity since Jesus was incarnate. As a real man He had to address the Father in this way. But in Matt 27:46 Jesus is not directing his words to the Father. He is directing them to the crowd.
The words Jesus uttered were the words of Psalm 22:1. This is one of the most profound messianic prophecies in all of the Old Testament. If you read the entire psalm you will see elements of what was taking place at the very moment Jesus cited those words. It mentions the mockery of people saying the very same things people were saying to Jesus as he hung on the cross. It also mentions his thirst, the piercing of His hands and feet, and the divining of His clothes and the casting lots for them. The Psalm ends with the vindication of the afflicted one(vs24).
The point of Jesus citing this passage was to grab the attention of those in the audience who were familiar with scripture. Because of the oral tradition of the day, the Jews that were present would have know what He was referring to as soon as he uttered the words. He was conveying to them that he is not forsaken by God. That was the point of Psalm 22. So once again, this verse does no harm the the trinity doctrine.
Kasmic made a point regarding God being incomprehensible. He seemingly was referring to its usage in the Athanasian creed. His point was that if God is incomprehensible, then He is unknowable. And this concept would conflict with other places in scripture such as John 17:3.
If you take incomprehensible to mean unknowable than, yes, he would be correct. But the way incomprehensible was being used in the creed was more along the lines of God being inexhaustible. We can certainly know things about God, but we will never know all that there is to know about Him. In this sense he is incomprehensible. But God is only going to hold us accountable to what He has revealed to us about himself in scripture. If for us to have exhaustive knowledge of God was necessary, He certainly would have revealed it to us.
My opponent claims that the trinity was not common to Christian Theology until the early 4th century. He then goes on to site something that I see Muslims citing all the time. It's a citation from the New Catholic Encyclopedia. They never cite it from the original source but always from a second hand source. A fuller context can be found here.
The New Catholic Encyclopedia clearly states they are talking about the formulation of "one God and three Persons". Not the doctrine itself.
The same can be said of his citation of Harpers Bible Dictionary. He quotes the first sentence of the last paragraph. But lets read the rest of the paragraph, shall we?...
"Nevertheless, the discussion above and especially the presence of trinitarian formulas in 2 Cor. 13:14 (which is strikingly early) and Matt. 28:19 indicate that the origin of this mode of thought may be found very early in Christian history."
For future references it would be good for my opponent to read the original source of a citation before presenting it in a debate as grounds for an argument. The sources he got his from was clearly biased and dishonest in the way they used those citations.
As I turn things back over to my opponent, allow me to draw your attention back to where I believe this debate really lies. Remember our thesis. "Is The Trinity Biblical?". What needs to be brought out is, if the bible does teach the trinity, how does it do so. I, of course, believe it does teach it and I believe it does so pan-canonically. Not in isolated verses, not in a biblical creed, but when every major truth concerning God's nature is taken into account, the only conclusion that follows is the Trinity. In order to avoid talking past each other, we need to know how Kasmic expects the trinity to be enunciated in scripture, and on what basis does he demand that it be enunciated in this way over-against the pan-canonical way.
I look forward to my opponents answer to this as well as my opening remarks. Thx.
Pro says "This is not about what the early church believed" the debate here will focus on what the bible says alone." What the early church believed is highly relevant to this debate, due to being just after the time of Christ, have a decent grasp of who he is. It is clear by the evidence that I provided that the doctrine of the trinity was not widely believed by those who lived in this time period.
Pro says "The doctrine of the trinity is not found in any one passage or group of passages in scripture. In all the genre's the book's of the bible came in, a theology book was not one of them." "Only when you take in ALL of what the bible says and ONLY what the bible says, can you arrive at the conclusion of the trinity." The Bible is scripture, and as such is "profitable for doctrine"" Doctrine: "a set of ideas or beliefs that are taught or believed to be true." (1) Sounds like theology to me. When studying the Bible you will not find the trinity enunciated anywhere. It is not laid out in scripture. You will not find such a verse because it does not exist. Those who believe in the doctrine of the trinity often deduce such doctrine from a collocation of verses.
Pro says "To reject it (the trinity) would mean you have rejected other, more clear and established, biblical teachings. The only question left would be, which one(s)?" "With the rest of my space I will briefly present three biblical teachings. (1)Monotheism, (2)The existence of three eternally divine persons, and (3)the co-equality of these three persons. To accept all these doctrine is to accept the trinity." It again should be noted that as there do not exists verses in scripture to support the idea of the trinity, my opponent instead turns to the idea that proving 3 other points implies that the trinity must be true. I will address the arguments that pro has presented. However, reemphasize the reason for this round about justification that pro is taking towards the trinity lies in the fact that there is no direct support in the bible of this doctrine.
A:Pro defines monotheism as "The doctrine of monotheism is the belief that there is only one true God." This is not an accurate definition. The dictionaries define it as "the belief that there is only one God"(2) "the doctrine or belief that there is only one God."(3) Pro"s definition seems inflated to include a "true" God as opposed to just one God.
B:Does the Bible teach monotheism?
With Isaiah 43:10 pro concludes "Here the LORD is emphasizing a simple point. At no point in time were there ever any other gods. He is the only God." Than Pro applies Isaiah 44:6 and says "Once again, the point is made clear. No other god's. There are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of passages just like this all throughout the old and New Testament."
Let us look at some verses in the Bible:
Genesis 1:26 "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:" Notice that it does not say and I God will make man in my image, and after my likeness.
John 10:34 "3 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?" There you have it out of the mouth of Jesus Christ himself saying gods, as in plural.
This leads to the conclusion that despite "Christians" believing in monotheism. The Bible teaches the idea of Henotheism. Henotheism: "the worship of a particular god, as by a family or tribe, without disbelieving in the existence of others."(4)
C: Do Biblical Scholars believe the bible to teach monotheism?
In an article entitled "Hebrew Henotheism" Dr. Nicholas F. Gier who is as well qualified as one can be in this field(5) says " A divine pluralism can also be seen in the Hebrew word for deity," There are some scholars who argue that 'eloh"m in reference to Yahweh must be a grammatical plurality only. For them 'eloh"m is an abstract plural with a singular meaning. Such a grammatical form would emphasize the majesty of the Almighty. In his study of the "Great Isaiah Scroll" at Qumran, William Brownlee of Claremont has shown the radical extent of the use of this "plural of majesty": even Yahweh's quiver (Is. 49:2) and a single hand are in the plural."(6) He even concludes that "Moses was a henotheist, i.e., he believed that Yahweh was the greatest among the gods, the king of gods."(6)
D: Elohim. God; gods. The plural form of El, meaning "Strong One." The Name Elohim occurs 2,570 times in the Tanakh. See Isa. 54:5; Jer. 32:27; Gen. 1:1; Isa. 45:18; Deut. 5:23; etc. (7)
"Elohim (אֱלֹהִים) is a grammatically singular or plural noun for "god" or "gods" in both modern and ancient Hebrew language."(8)
The Bible does not teach monotheism.
"To reject monotheism would cause a conundrum in biblical interpretation. At least for one who wants to hold to the orthodox view of biblical inerrancy." It is clear that monotheism is not just well contested, it is not the "orthodox view" of biblical inerrancy.
2: John 1:14 is a great example of Jesus and God being separate and distinct.
3. We are discussing whether the doctrine of the trinity is Biblical, referring to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and equal does not support nor refute the doctrine of the trinity.
Pro says "So there are the three fundamental doctrines that undergird the trinity. As I mentioned above, if none of these three doctrines can be refuted, it then follows that the trinity is not refuted and hence, the debate is over." Again I will state that this is a roundabout way to defend the trinity. This is necessary for my opponents argument to have any chance at credence because there is no direct support of the trinity to be found in the bible.
Responding to my opponent"s rebuttal.
In response to me saying that the Trinity is not enunciated in the Bible Pro responds "It seems to me that Kasmic, along with others who make this accusation, want the trinity to be taught in scripture in a particular way. They do not allot to God the freedom to reveal this doctrine in any other way other then the way they believe it should be taught." I reject flatly that I "do not allot God freedom to reveal his doctrine"" Rather, that any crazy can read the bible and come up with crazy conclusions. My opponent"s statement could be said on both sides and as such carries no weight. Could not I say "ChrisL, along with others who believe in the trinity, want us to accept their private interpretation of the bible, and accept a doctrine clearly not taught within."
Pro says "As is almost always the case, the person who rejects the trinity doesn't fully understand the doctrine they are seeking to refute." "But who ever said they were the same person? No trinitarian has ever said that. The Father and the Son are separate and distinct person." Ironically I think it is my opponent who does not understand the trinity, as the definition as I provided in my opening statement from the dictionary is "the threefold personality of the one Divine Being."
Pro says "The share the same divine essence, but they are separate persons. Jesus was not telling himself. Rather, the Father was telling Jesus. Communication between members of the Godhead in no way contradicts the trinity." A threefold personality of one Divine Being communicating with itself is absurd.
Mark 10: My opponent says "I am amazed at how many people assume that Jesus is denying being good in these verses." I submit he clearly does" He poses the question "why callest thou me good?" Then concludes "there is none good but one, that is, God"
Luke 22: My opponent does not really refute my interpretation rather he concludes "but it would require going into detail on the hypostatic union and such would be beyond the scope of this discussion."
John 17: Pro says "The mistake made by Kasmic is he assumes that Jesus is speaking of an ontological oneness." The phrasing that Christ uses in these verses includes "as thou," this implies in the same way. It does mean as pro concluded "clearly is speaking of unity in purpose," Which is exactly how the Father and the Son are one". In unity.
Mathew 27: The text is clearly being said to God as it says "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" He identifies that he is talking to God, and then asks him a question. This verse is as clear as day, and yet my opponent denies its purity.
Pro then says "The point of Jesus citing this passage was to grab the attention of those in the audience who were familiar with scripture." I agree that Jesus does indeed grab the attention of those who read this verse, as it clearly shows the trinity false.
I submit the synonyms page for the word incomprehensible.(9) " inexhaustible" is not found.
Amusingly pro says "If for us to have exhaustive knowledge of God was necessary, He certainly would have revealed it to us." Again I will show how a previous statement made by pro is frivolous. As pro stated you "do not allot God freedom to reveal his doctrine""I will also counter with "If the Trinity were a necessary doctrine, he certainly would have clearly revealed it to us."
Pro says "The New Catholic Encyclopedia clearly states they are talking about the formulation of "one God and three Persons". Not the doctrine itself." Again, I provide the definition of trinity "the threefold personality of the one Divine Being." As well as pro said "The share the same divine essence, but they are separate persons." It seems clear that the "New Catholic Encyclopedia" is referring to the trinity.
In the beginning of my last rebuttal, I said that I would be interested to see if my opponent would allow God to reveal the trinity in a pan-canonical way? Well, I think we all got to see where he stands on that.
But before I get to that , allow me to address a couple of other key points that have arose in this debate.
Kasmic seems to feel that my definition of monotheism is inflated because I add the word "true" before the word 'God'.
I really don't see how adding the word 'true' makes my definition any different from the one he proposes. Even if we go with his definition, henotheism can't be true. So he would have to reject them both. I don't see the point Kasmic is trying to make. He'd have to elaborate a little more, if he feels it worth the character space.
He mentions John 10:34 where Jesus cites Psalm 82:6. According to Kasmic, this proves that Jesus believed in a multiplicity of gods. But did Jesus believe that the rulers in the psalm 82 were gods ontologically, or in function, specifically as judges? What does psalm 82:7 say?
"Nevertheless you will die like men And fall like any one of the princes." (R37;PsalmsR36; R37;82R36;:R37;7R36;)
What kind of deity dies like men? Clearly these men could not be deity or they would not die. And if a god is subject to death in my opponents paradigm, then we are working on completely different understandings of what constitutes a real ontological god. Furthermore, if these other gods my opponent is pleading for can contrast that drastically from YHWH, how can he determine weather or not they are real gods? What mechanism is he using to determine that these are real gods ontologically? If YHWH is not the standard of a god, who or what is? It seems like kasmic just assumes that if something or someone is called a "god" in scripture, it must be a real ontological deity. Nevertheless, Kasmic's interpretation of John 10:34 seems to cause more problems than it solves for him.
I don't believe my opponent is taking seriously, the impossibility of biblical interpretation his position ramifies. Either that or he doesn't care. But for Christians, we cannot interpret scripture in a way that sets it up against itself. It is God breathed. It cannot contradict itself. Monotheism is clearly enunciated and the mere mention of "gods" doesn't negate that. It only means that we need to interpret "gods" in a way that can be harmonized with the explicit affirmations of monotheism we find scattered all throughout the bible.
I truly believe that the issue of monotheism is settle in the words of YHWH in many passages. But in particular, Isaiah 43:10. Lets read it again.
"...Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me. (R37;IsaiahR36; R37;43R36;:R37;10R36;)
My opponent wants us to believe that the idea of henotheism is true. He defines henotheism as,
"the worship of a particular god, as by a family or tribe,WITHOUT DISBELIEVING IN THE EXISTENCE OF OTHER GODS."(all caps added by me)
Whatever you want to conclude from reading YHWH's words in Isaiah 43, one thing you can conclude is that YHWH is not a henotheist. And if he isn't one, we shouldn't be either.
Moving on..., in my opening I made a statement that of all the GENRES the books of the bible came in, a theology book was not one of them. I said this while making the point that the trinity is not revealed in a formalized creed-like manner. In theology books, that is exactly how doctrine is articulated.
Kasmic try's to argue that since the bible states it is profitable for doctrine, what I said is flawed. But I never said it wasn't profitable for doctrine. A theology book has a primary purpose to articulate theological concepts. No book in the bible sets out to do that. That's not even disputable. What 2Tim 3:16 is saying is that scripture is "profitable" for doctrine. In other words, when properly exegeting scripture, you can derive the truth from it to formulate theological statements. Kasmic seems to have missed my point, but I stand by my statement.
About the New Catholic Encyclopedia citation. It starts by saying, "The formulation "one god in three persons". Once again, this is not speaking about the doctrine itself, just the above stated formulation. It seems pretty clear to me. I'll just leave it for the readers to decide.
My opponent attempted to address my rebuttal to an argument he based on Matt 27:46. But in reading it, you would think he never even read what I wrote. He doesn't mention anything about what I said regarding Psalm 22. To him, I suppose Jesus saying the exact words of Psalm 22:1 "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani" is a mere coincidence. Considering all the prophecies mentioned in this Psalm concerning the crucifixion, I don't know how he can feel comfortable saying that.
As my space dwindles, there are two other points I need to address.
In Kasmic's opening statement he provides a definition for the Trinity. As I read his rebuttals I realized I missed a very key error in it. He wrote,
"I understand the Trinity to be "the threefold personality of the one Divine Being."
Notice the word "personality". This word implies a singularity in the personhood of God which would fly in the face of how Trinitarians have always defined God. Indeed, a 'threefold personality' is non-sensical. I'd stand beside my opponent to refute such a concept. The definition he provides is flat out wrong. There is just no other way of putting it. Hence,every point he made based off this definition is founded on an error and needs to be reconsidered.
A better, more accurate definition would be like the one I laid out in my opening.
"Within the one BEING that is God, there exist three co-equal and co-eternal PERSONS, namely the Father,the Son, and the Holy Spirit."
This is more consistent with how Trinitarians who have wrote extensively on this subject, such as B.B. Warfeild and James White, understand the trinity to be. In fact, this definition is almost verbatim, if not exact, to what James White states in his book "The Forgotten Trinity".
With the rest of my space, I want to drag everyone back to what is now, clearly the heart of the debate.
All throughout Kasmic's last statement he threw dirt on my biblical presentation of the trinity. Twice he called it a "roundabout"
way of defending the trinity. He claims that it is due to having no "direct support" in the bible, that I have to resort to this form of defense.
The first thing I want to note is that Kasmic did not tell us why the revelation of the trinity cannot be pan-canonical. He presents no argument against it. But that simply won't do for any serious reader following this debate. Kasmic needs to tell us why , if each one of the 3 doctrines I presented are true, why does that not prove the trinity. He never tells us this. He can mock and blow off this "roundabout" presentation all he wants. Until he can prove it to be wrong, I see no reason why it shouldn't stand.
Also, in all his rejection of my presentation, he never tells us how he expects the trinity to be revealed. Does he want it in a single verse? A paragraph? A creed? What would be acceptable? Once he answers that, he needs to tell us why God is obligated to reveal it in that way rather than the way I presented.
It seems obvious to me that what I said in my first rebuttal is true. My opponent does not allot to God the freedom to reveal the trinity in this way. If this is the way God chose to reveal his nature, Kasmic would not accept it. That is emphatically clear. In his last rebuttal he asked,
"If the Trinity were a necessary doctrine, he certainly would have clearly revealed it to us."
But when I tell him He has, but He has revealed it pan-canonically, the essence of Kasmic's response is basically,
"That's a roundabout justification. I won't tell you why I don't accept it, but it's roundabout. And you have no direct support in the bible. I won't tell what I mean by 'direct support', but you don't have it.
Up to this point in the debate my opponent has rejected my presentation simply because he doesn't like it, and has demanded of me something he has not even attempted to articulate.
I will seek to use the Q & A section to give my opponent a chance to directly address these two points. But this is something we all need to be looking for. I know kasmic's rejection of monotheism is key as well. But his answer to these questions will tell us if his problem is that he doesn't believe the trinity is biblical, or if he doesn't believe it is biblical enough. So keep your eyes pealed for that.Thank you.
1. In Phil 3:19, Paul tells us that for the enemies of the cross, their god is their stomach. Would you or would you not consider their stomach to be a true ontological deity and why?
2. In Matt 27:46, do you believe that there was any connection between Jesus's words and psalm 22? In other words, did Jesus's words just happen to be the exact same words as Psalm 22:1, or did he say those words to purposely draw attention to the psalm?
3. You spent a little space in your previous rebuttal documenting the pluralistic nature of the Hebrew term 'Elohim'. But you didn't tell us how it supports henotheism. Why does the pluralistic nature of 'Elohim' have to support an ontological plurality. Why couldn't it be eluding to a plurality of of persons?
4. Can you give us an example of how the doctrine of the trinity could have been revealed in scripture that would be sufficient for you?
5. On what basis do you reject my biblical argument that the doctrine of the trinity is revealed pan-canonically? In other words, What is it that you look to, to determine weather or not a pan-canonical revelation is acceptable or just, in your words, a roundabout way to defend?
Thank you ChrisL, for your rebuttal.
Pro says “kasmic seems to feel that my definition of monotheism is inflated because I add the word "true" before the word 'God'.”
To add true into the definition of monotheism actually would more closely resemble the definition of henotheism than monotheism. As true could mean real, genuine, authentic, sincere, loyal, steadfast, among many other things. Thus, adding the word “true” to monotheism does not eliminate the possibilities for other Gods, which is the antithesis of monotheism. My point is that your own definition of monotheism could imply the existence of other Gods.
Pro says in regard to John 10:34 “did Jesus believe that the rulers in the psalm 82 were gods ontologically, or in function, specifically as judges? To this I reply is not God a judge. Pro then relays psalm 82:7, asking the question “What kind of deity dies like men?” My opponent is so caught up in proving monotheism that he is now contradicting his own beliefs. Is not Christ a deity? Did he not “die like men.”
Pro then strawmans my position by saying “If YHWH is not the standard of a god, who or what is?” My argument in no way argues that YHWH is or is not the “standard of a God.”
Pro says “It seems like kasmic just assumes that if something or someone is called a "god" in scripture, it must be a real ontological deity.”
I generally do. Why use the word “god” if not meaning “god.” Especially because the Hebrew language has words for judge, man, and so on. I believe the word “god” is used intentionally rather than misleadingly by God throughout scripture.
Pro says “I don't believe my opponent is taking seriously, the impossibility of biblical interpretation his position ramifies.” That is because one does not exist. He goes on to say “we cannot interpret scripture in a way that sets it up against itself. It is God breathed. It cannot contradict itself.” Ironically it is the doctrine of the trinity that is contradictory to the word of God as shown in my arguments.
Pro says “Monotheism is clearly enunciated,” Except for the fact that it is not. The mention of “gods” does negate that, especially when applied with the insights of biblical scholars that I sited in my last argument.
Pro says “Whatever you want to conclude from reading YHWH's words in Isaiah 43, one thing you can conclude is that YHWH is not a henotheist.” Except for the fact that YHWH says gods and henotheism is throughout the bible. Even scholars agree with my argument. My opponent’s argument falls flat.
Pro again incorrectly says that the bible is not a theological book. I submit the definition of theological “based upon the nature and will of God as revealed to humans.”(1) As pro put it the bible “is God Breathed.” Again my opponents argument falls flat.
Pro stawmans again as he says of me “To him, I suppose Jesus saying the exact words of Psalm 22:1 "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani" is a mere coincidence. Considering all the prophecies mentioned in this Psalm concerning the crucifixion, I don't know how he can feel comfortable saying that.”
Clearly I never said it was “a mere coincidence” and no I would not “feel comfortable saying that.” Psalm 22 is a prophecy of Christ. I do not believe that prophecies were fulfilled for the sake of prophecy. Psalm 22 foretells events in Christ’s life and that he would say to God those words. To sum this up, it is as if pro is saying (correct me if I am wrong) Christ said those words because of Psalms… I am saying that Psalms says it because Christ would say it. Ergo “prophecy.”
Pro says “. Indeed, a 'threefold personality' is non-sensical. I'd stand beside my opponent to refute such a concept. The definition he provides is flat out wrong. There is just no other way of putting it. Hence, every point he made based off this definition is founded on an error and needs to be reconsidered.”
As I defined the Trinity, I sited the Athen Asian creed and the dictionary. Pro’s definition lacks any source whatsoever. He does say of his definition “This is more consistent with how Trinitarians who have wrote extensively on this subject, such as B.B. Warfeild and James White, understand the trinity to be.” It would behoove my opponent to provide a link to his source.
Pro says “The first thing I want to note is that Kasmic did not tell us why the revelation of the trinity cannot be pan-canonical.”
Pro is amazingly consistent at the stawman. I never said that revelation of the trinity cannot be pan-canonical. I do believe that revelation can be pan-canonical, however, I do not think my opponent realizes the danger in this method of “revelation.”
First lets look at the Bible as a canon. For example, “Of the entire corpus of 5,366 known Greek New Testament manuscripts, only 35 contain the whole New Testament as we now know it, and 34 of those were compiled after A.D. 1000."(2) So, 1000 years after Christ, men compile the New Testament as we know it excluding many “new testament manuscripts.” Today, as a result, there are many different Bibles, and many different translations. So, when you say “pan-canonical” I think which Bible, which translation, and which verses. I am sure both you and I have encountered people who try to claim that the Bible teaches “immoral” things. Often these people will “prove” there point “pan-canoically” taking seemingly every verse out of context. This method of study is used to promote false doctrine all the time. That stated, I do not reject the approach entirely, but I certainly view with suspicion the concepts presented. In the case of the Trinity, it is clear that the Bible does not, at the very least, teach Cleary or as I am arguing, at all.
Pro says “Also, in all his rejection of my presentation, he never tells us how he expects the trinity to be revealed. Does he want it in a single verse? A paragraph? A creed? What would be acceptable? Once he answers that, he needs to tell us why God is obligated to reveal it in that way rather than the way I presented.”
I would address this now, but it is one of your 5 questions, so I will defer to the structure of the debate and fully address this in round four per the format of this debate.
Pro says “It seems obvious to me that what I said in my first rebuttal is true. My opponent does not allot to God the freedom to reveal the trinity in this way.”
This phrase, as I pointed out with other statements by pro carry no weight as I can say opposite thing with as much candor. “It seems obvious to me that my opponent does not allot to God the freedom to deny the trinity as he has in scripture.” These statements are personal attacks with no bearing on the topic, and I encourage my opponent to stop using these types of phrases that carry no weight.
Again with a strawman as pro puts these words in my mouth "That's a roundabout justification. I won't tell you why I don't accept it, but it's roundabout. And you have no direct support in the bible. I won't tell what I mean by 'direct support', but you don't have it.”
I did say it is a roundabout justification, I have told you why I don’t accept it. (it does not fit the text of the bible as I have shown) I did say there is no direct support in the bible. I never said that I would not tell you what I meant by direct support… In fact I have clearly stated by direct support that the trinity is not enunciated anywhere in the bible.
Pro says “Up to this point in the debate my opponent has rejected my presentation simply because he doesn't like it, and has demanded of me something he has not even attempted to articulate.”
Strawman: I never said I did not like the “trinity” doctrine. I said it is not biblical, I have provided plenty of arguments to support this stance. Perhaps pro “doesn’t like” my presentation….
Concluding statement about pro’s rebuttal:
Strawman anyone? I advise pro to stick to what is said in the debate and ask that he stop putting words in my mouth.
Questions for round 4:
1: If the Trinity Doctrine is a Bible teaching then why do many encyclopedias, dictionaries and other sources (including Sir Isaac Newton) agree that the "Trinity was a pagan corruption imposed on Christianity in the fourth century by Athanasius"?
2: If the Trinity Doctrine is a Bible teaching then why is there not even one scripture where God is described using the word "three…" if the doctrine of the Trinity is so fundamental to Christianity, as Trinitarians claim, why is there a complete failure on the part of Jesus or his apostles to articulate it anywhere?
3: What do you honestly think the New Testament would look like if today's Trinitarians wrote these books? Would it look any different? Would they say some things the apostles did not say?
4: Do you believe that it is requisite that Christians believe in the Trinity in order to be saved?
5: Was Jesus a Trinitarian? If not, why are you? If so, are you actually claiming that his one and only God was a three person being?
1. I truly don't know why anybody believes that to be honest with you. The idea of Athanasius imposing the trinity on the Christian church is simply laughable considering that he was on the run from the Arians a large portion of his Christian life. Anyone who knows anything about the life of Athanasius would not make such an outrageous claim.
As for the idea of the trinity being a pagan corruption, I would say I have yet to see a presentation of a pagan deity that resembles the trinity, let alone be the grounding for it. B.B. Warfield said it best in his essay 'The Biblical Doctrine of the Trinity'
"The Christian doctrine of the Trinity embodies much more than the notion of "threeness," and beyond their "threeness" these triads have nothing in common with it."
But as I'm sure your well aware of, you can find people who are on the opposite side of every truth claim. I'm sure you experience this alot in regards to your LDS beliefs. So I don't know why some people espouse the above stated view, but what's important is not that they believe it, but wether or not what they are saying is true. I don't see a possibility of what these sources are saying to be true.
2. This question is a snapshot of your arguments against my presentation up to this point in the debate. You seem to approach the text with a standard of how the trinity should be revealed and than assume that if it is not revealed in the way you expect, it must not be biblical. Why is God never described using the word "three"? I don't know. Does that prove that he is not three(in person)? No. If God decided to revealed himself as tri personal in the way I have presented in my opening statement, than he doesn't need to be described with the word 'three'. He would only require you to accept what he has revealed in the way he has revealed it. Your idea of how the trinity "should" be revealed, precludes
my entire presentation. That is the wall we keep running into this far.
3. It would look exactly the same. The words we have in the New Testament are God breathed. They originate from God. As much as I know you don't believe it, the trinity is something trinitarians derive from the scripture. We believe God's word is sufficient to reveal it. So no, it wouldn't look any different.
4. My short answer is yes, absolutely. Because of the fact that the trinity is the revelation of God's nature, any deviation from it would result in a completely different god. Hence,if one rejects the trinity, it would be impossible to avoid the great sin of idolatry.
That isn't to say that if someone doesn't understand the trinity, or know how to articulate it properly, that that person can't be saved. No one will enter glory with a complete understanding of every Christian doctrine. Whatever understanding one may lack in this teaching, they may they may have to a greater degree in another. This leaves the believer the opportunity to rely of the LORD and also learn from and teach others in the context of the church. But even at a very basic level, these folks would except that the trinity is revealed in scripture. Their struggle would be in understanding it.
5. If what you mean by that is-did Jesus believe that the one and only God that exist was tri personal?- than yes. Of course he had to know if he represents one if those three persons. But that is not to say that every time Jesus referred to the "Father"this way, he was saying that the "Father" was a three person being. In his incarnate state, Jesus prayed to God in the same way any other man would pray to God. Hence, using the kind of language he used in say...John 17:3 needs to be interpreted in light of the incarnate state that Jesus prayed from.
As the space dwindles, I will be forced to leave some points raised in my opponents last statement unanswered. I will try to hit what I feel is most relevant up to this point.
Kasmic admitted to assuming that if the word "god" is applied to something or someone they must be considered a real ontological god. He wrote,
"Pro says "It seems like kasmic just assumes that if something or someone is called a "god" in scripture, it must be a real ontological deity."
I generally do. Why use the word "god" if not meaning "god." Especially because the Hebrew language has words for judge, man, and so on. I believe the word "god" is used intentionally rather than misleadingly by God throughout scripture."
With all due respect I don't know how anyone can have that kind of an approach to scripture and accept for someone else to take it seriously. Is my opponent saying that he believes the stomach of the enemies of the cross in Phil 3:19 were real ontological deities? It seems he would have to.
There is a huge difference between being called a god, because you occupy the same kind of office as YHWH but on a smaller scale, and being an actual ontological deity. This is something that should go without saying.
Kasmic asked for a source for my definition of the trinity. The definition came from James White's book called the forgotten trinity. I don't have the book with me to give the exact page number, but below I provided a web address to an artical written by the same author giving a definition of the trinity.
Nevertheless, Kasmic's definition is far from accurate. It's not just off in wording, it works against the central aspects if the doctrine of the trinity. Every definition of the trinity given by Trinitarians will mention the existence of three personS. Kasmic's definition makes the plurality of persons singular, creating a contradiction within it. I think Kasmic should be looking to see how Trinitarian scholars define the trinity. Not dictionaries.
Kasmic asserts that there is no impossibility of biblical interpretation that stems from henotheism. Unfortunately, he never gave a henotheistic interpretation of the preof texts I provided for monotheism. This is his response to Isaiah 43:10,
Pro says "Whatever you want to conclude from reading YHWH's words in Isaiah 43, one thing you can conclude is that YHWH is not a henotheist." Except for the fact that YHWH says gods and henotheism is throughout the bible. Even scholars agree with my argument. My opponent"s argument falls flat.
If I follow my opponent correctly, what he is saying is that Isaiah 43:10 is not teaching monotheism because YHWH uses the word 'god(s)' in other places of scripture. But even if YHWH meant real ontological gods when he used that term in those other places, it does nothing to answer to the clear monotheism that is being enunciated in His words in Isaiah 43:10. How can those words be harmonized with henotheism? And if they can't, then that would be an example of henotheism setting scripture up against scripture.
Now I'm sorry if my opponent feels I straw manned his position but I have made an asserted effort to get him to tell us exactly why my presentation was "roundabout" and we, up until this point, have not gotten a clear response to that question. My spacific words were,
"if each one of the 3 doctrines I presented are true, why does that not prove the trinity?"
Even when he made an attempt to embrace the pan-canonical presentation, he didn't tell us specifically why my presentation would "be viewed with suspicion". He writes,
This method of study is used to promote false doctrine all the time. That stated, I do not reject the approach entirely, but I certainly view with suspicion the concepts presented. In the case of the Trinity, it is clear that the Bible does not, at the very least, teach Cleary or as I am arguing, at all.
Does anyone read a refutation to my presentation in there? I don't see it.
Furthermore, I disagree with the notion that people use pan-canonical revelation to promote false doctrine. I would say that people are more prone to use proof-texting to promote false doctrine. Ironically proof-texting seems to be how my opponent would like the trinity revealed.
In all of this debate I've been stressing two major points in Response to Kasmic's arguments.
Firstly, since it conflicts directly with my presentation, I have argued for the truth of biblical monotheism. I have asserted that only YHWH is a deity ontologically. My opponent wants to grant ontological deity to any and everything that is called a god in scripture. I've argued that it causes problems for biblical interpretation and is hard to take seriously in many texts.
Lastly, I have challenged my opponent to tell me why he found my presentation as roundabout. And if it was roundabout, how did he expect the trinity to be revealed? In the last round, he seemed to say he was fine with a pan-canonical revelation, but didn't tell us what was wrong with the presentation of the trinity as pan-canonical.
So as we move toward the end of this debate what I feel we need is clear answers. Specific answers. I hope we can get that in the proceeding space. Thank you.
Answers to questions:
1. Phil 3:19 No their stomach is not being referred to as an ontological deity. As I said last round about the use of the word God meaning ontological, “I generally do. Why use the word “god” if not meaning “god.” Especially because the Hebrew language has words for judge, man, and so on. I believe the word “god” is used intentionally rather than misleadingly by God throughout scripture.” By generally I mean in most cases, this is a case where it is very obvious the message of the verse, and is not at all misleading. However Psalm 22 is clearly talking about ontological beings.
2. This question is a False Dichotomy… you give me two options either coincidence or your interpretation. Neither answer is correct. I already gave my answer to this in my last round.
“Psalm 22 is a prophecy of Christ. I do not believe that prophecies were fulfilled for the sake of prophecy. Psalm 22 foretells events in Christ’s life and that he would say to God those words. To sum this up, it is as if pro is saying (correct me if I am wrong) Christ said those words because of Psalms… I am saying that Psalms says it because Christ would say it. Ergo “prophecy.”
3. Your question contains the answer within itself. Elohim is pluralistic in nature. Elohim means Gods, as in plural. Ergo, not monotheistic. I covered this thoroughly in round 2.
4. This is a loaded question, what would be sufficient for me personally is irrelevant. The fact remains that scholars, and the text of the bible agree, it does not teach the trinity.
5. The issues with Pan-canonical revelation have already been mentioned last round.
To sum up briefly… There are several “bibles”. (1) So the question is which one “pan-canonically” reveals your doctrine. Which translation, and which verses. Also interesting to note is that you have not presented a case for the trinity “pan-canonically” you have merely stated that it is “pan-canonical.”
Your answers to my question were deflective but more or less not constructive. To my first question you just say it is laughable, though you do not deny that it is true that many encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other sources do attribute the trinity doctrine to pagan beliefs. You just conclude that “I don't see a possibility of what these sources are saying to be true.” I leave it to the voters, do you trust the consensus of scholars or ChrisL’s private “pan-canonical” translation.
To my second question you say “If God decided to revealed himself as tri personal in the way I have presented in my opening statement, than he doesn't need to be described with the word 'three'. He would only require you to accept what he has revealed in the way he has revealed it. Your idea of how the trinity "should" be revealed, precludes my entire presentation. That is the wall we keep running into this far.”
Again, it should be noted that you have not presented a “pan-canonical” justification for the trinity, merely stating that it is.
Perhaps the most interesting response to my questions is the fourth one. I asked if you believe that it is requisite that Christians believe in the Trinity in order to be saved? You say “. My short answer is yes, absolutely. Because of the fact that the trinity is the revelation of God's nature, any deviation from it would result in a completely different god.”
Again, I leave it to the voters, if the trinity was a true and necessary doctrine, it assuredly would be more clearly presented in God’s word. As it is not, to hold such a view is to believe that God is unclear and must not want his children to be saved.
You say “I think Kasmic should be looking to see how Trinitarian scholars define the trinity. Not dictionaries.” It is clear when reading the athean-asian creed that it is at odds with your source. As Trinitarians have tried for centuries to justify their doctrine, it has evolved and changed…
You say “If I follow my opponent correctly, what he is saying is that Isaiah 43:10 is not teaching monotheism because YHWH uses the word 'god(s)' in other places of scripture.” It should be noted that it is stated repeatedly throughout scripture, and yes that is what I am saying.
Isaiah 43:10 is teaching that he is the “true” God.
You say. “. But even if YHWH meant real ontological gods when he used that term in those other places, it does nothing to answer to the clear monotheism that is being enunciated in His words in Isaiah 43:10.” The issue with this argument is again, like much of the phraseology my opponent has used that I could just as easily say “But even if YHWH did not mean real ontological gods in Phil 3:19 it does nothing to answer to the clear henotheism that is being enunciated in his words in Psalms and throughout the Bible.”
I will clarify as clearly as I can. By roundabout I mean indirectly. The reason for this round about justification that pro is taking towards the trinity lies in the fact that there is no direct support in the bible of this doctrine. There is no direct support, as in nowhere is the doctrine articulated, or stated, as well as you have not show where it is “pan-canonically.”
Again a strawman, as you say “My opponent wants to grant ontological deity to any and everything that is called a god in scripture.” My words were “I generally do. Why use the word “god” if not meaning “god.” Especially because the Hebrew language has words for judge, man, and so on. I believe the word “god” is used intentionally rather than misleadingly by God throughout scripture.”
Concluding Final rebuttal:
With loaded questions, false dichotomy’s, and strawmans my opponent has tried to push the burden to me somehow proving that the trinity is not in the Bible. I can no more do this than it can be proved that there is not a tea cup orbiting pluto. He has the positive side of a positive claim, his burden to show that the trinity is biblical. That stated I have shown that the doctrine of the trinity is not compatible with the text of the Bible. I have shown that Biblical Scholars agree that the trinity is not contained there in. My opponent has not shown either direct or indirect support in the Bible for the trinity. He has only merely stated that it is “pan-canonical” and that if the Bible teaches 3 other doctrines, that somehow fills the burden of proof that the Bible teaches the trinity. This is not so. My opponent cannot show that the trinity is biblical because of one simple truth. It is not Biblical.
With that being said I have to point out that apart from two objections, my opening presentation has not been touch.
My opponent rejected monotheism and in place offered his position of henotheism. He admits that he generally assumes when something or someone is called a god in the bible, they must be ontological deities. He was consistent with that position to the point that he places the judges of Psalm 82 in the category of ontological deities. By the way, Jesus died like a man because he was a man. And he was a man because he was incarnate. He added to himself that human nature specifically so that he can die. Is my opponent going to assume that the judges of Psalm 82 were incarnate was well? I'm afraid to see a response to that question. But if Kasmic's answer to that question is no, than we are left scratching our heads as to how we know that these judges are real gods in nature. What standard is Kasmic using to determine that the stomach in Phil 3:19 is not a real god and the judges of Psalm 82 are. Both are called god... . Sure it's obvious that a stomach can't be a real god, but is it not just as obvious that wood and rocks and human beings, all who are apart of the created order, can't be real gods either. This was YHWH's whole point in Isaiah 44:6-19. Yet when the latter are called god in scripture, in at least some if those cases, Kasmic understands them to be ontological deities.
You see, the moment you remove the uniqueness of deity by placing alongside YHWH, other gods, you loose the only standard of a god that exist. Namely, YHWH's own nature. You are than only left with the option of accepting everything called 'god' as a god, or arbitrarily picking and choosing which ones you will accept as deity and which ones you won't.
The only way to promote an idea like henotheism is to ignore every positive claim to monotheism found in the cannon of scripture. I only presented two prooftext and my opponent demonstrated that he can't even interact with those. The only response we got to Isaiah 43:10 was basically, YHWH mentions other gods all throughout the bible and that Isaiah 43:10 is only teaching that YHWH is the "true" god. It is amazing to me that this is Kasmic's only take way from these verses. What is so clear to almost anyone who reads it, is missed by my opponent.
Notice the contrast...
YHWH says in His own words "NO gods before me...NO gods after me". Kasmic says there was/is gods after YHWH.
YHWH says, "apart from Me there is NO god". Kasmic says apart from YHWH there is other gods.
YWHW mocks the idea of idols being real gods(Isaiah 44:6-19), yet Kasmic generally assumes that if something or someone is merely called a god, it must be a real deity. It is clear that Kasmic is a henotheist, but it is also very clear that YHWH unequivocally disagrees with him. Yet Kasmic wants all of us to believe that what he is saying is true.
This is why I said that the idea of henotheism sets scripture up against scripture. In the case of monotheism we can harmonize the mentioning of other gods. A good example would be to look at Isaiah 44:6-19. YHWH clearly does not believe that these idols are real gods. So in other places where He calls them god, we can conclude that he doesn't mean they are authentic ontological deities. But that same harmonization cannot be done on the other side. There is noooooooo way that the words of YHWH in Isaiah 43:10 & 44:6 and numerous other passages as well, noooooo way they can be harmonized with henotheism.
There is so much more that could be said about this but, I believe its been demonstrates that the position of henotheism is simply untenable. In fact, I leave a standing challenge to my opponent that if he wants to defend his position of henotheism in debate, I will be more than glad to take him on. We'll just have to set up the date.
So as far as my opening argument goes, none of my three points were moved.
The other objection had to do more with the validity of the type of argument I presented. I eluded to three basic biblical doctrines. I mentioned that if all of these doctrines were biblical then it would follow by necessity that the trinity is biblical.
Kasmic called this approach a "roundabout justification..." and claimed there was no "direct support" in scripture. Thankfully after multiple pleads, he finally qualified what he meant by both terms in his last statement. He wrote,
By roundabout I mean indirectly. The reason for this round about justification that pro is taking towards the trinity lies in the fact that there is no direct support in the bible of this doctrine. There is no direct support, as in nowhere is the doctrine articulated, or stated, as well as you have not show where it is "pan-canonically."
Now apart from the last part of the last sentence, I really don't have a problem with what Kasmic said. If by indirectly and not articulated or stated, he means that there is no place in scripture that is specifically teaching the trinity for the purpose of teaching the trinity, then what he says is true. But I would simply point out that if this is a criticism of my presentation of the trinity being biblical (and it clearly is), Kasmic has to apply this same criticism toward his doctrine of henotheism. His presentation of it is indirect and it is not articulated or stated. The problem is that Kasmic assumes that there is something wrong with a doctrine that is indirectly revealed and is not "specifically" articulated. And this is what I've been trying to draw out the entire debate. Wether the doctrine is directly or indirectly revealed is irreverent. What's important is that it is revealed, period. And if each of the three doctrines I presented in my opening remarks are biblical, it necessarily follows....the trinity is biblical.
So, once again I submit, the problem for Kasmic is not that the trinity is not biblical, it is that it's not revealed in a way that is biblical to him. But God's method of revelation is not subject to our approval. We are to take Him at His word. All of His word and only His word.
Now before I wrap this up I want to quickly respond to some of the last paragraph Kasmic posted. It reads,
"... my opponent has tried to push the burden to me somehow proving that the trinity is not in the Bible".
This is not true. I've only been trying to get him to tell me what was specifically wrong with my argument.
...He has the positive side of a positive claim, his burden to show that the trinity is biblical.
And I did. I demonstrated that Monotheism, the existence of three divine persons, and the equality did these three persons are biblical teachings. I submitted that if they are all biblical, than the trinity must be biblical since they are the teachings that undergird the trinity. Trying to get my opponent to tell us why this is not a legit argument has been like pulling teeth. I asked him twice and I have gotten no response to this question. I will ask one last time.
"If each one of the 3 doctrines I presented are true, why does that not prove the trinity?"
I have shown that Biblical Scholars agree that the trinity is not contained there in.
What he has shown is that some scholars agree with him. This really is not much of a point. There are scholars who take the position that the apostle Paul was an oppressed homosexual. How moved do you think Kasmic is by this? Probably none. And could I not easily say the same thing. So it really isn't anything that should be overly concerned about. There are scholars on both sides of every theological dispute. Which ones are being consistent is the more important question.
My opponent has not shown either direct or indirect support in the Bible for the trinity. He has only merely stated that it is "pan-canonical" and that if the Bible teaches 3 other doctrines, that somehow fills the burden of proof that the Bible teaches the trinity.
It really seems like Kasmic does not see the connection between those three doctrines and the trinity. These three doctrines are the foundation upon which the trinity is built upon. The doctrine of the trinity ramifies from these key biblical teachings.
This is not so. My opponent cannot show that the trinity is biblical because of one simple truth. It is not Biblical".
Of course once again I did show the trinity to be biblical. The problem is my opponent won't expect it.
The bottom line is this. There is so much at stake and hinged on the truth if this important doctrine. I have often said, if the trinity is not true, you may as well abandon your bible. It will become nothing more than a collection of hopeless contradiction. We seen in this debate what happens when just one of these pillars of the trinity are removed. Mere men are places in the category of deity. Idols made of rock and stone are acknowledged as actual gods. So much more is impacted when you deviate from the trinity. As I eluded to in a response to a question from Kasmic, this is a matter of salvation. To reject the trinity is to reject the very nature of God as he has revealed Himself in scripture. It leads to a false pneumatology. It leads to a false Christology. It leads to a false gospel. It is ultimately the road to idolatry. No one will be saved by trusting in a mere idol.
So, does the bible teach the trinity? Well the bible teaches that God is one being (monotheism). The bible also teaches there exist 3 divine person. And it also states that they are all equal. So yes, the trinity is biblical. And my hope is that in light of it you fall in even deeper love with the God of scripture, and sing the beautiful words of the timeless hymn
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity
Thank you and God bless.
My opponent argues that if a deity is not unique the standard of God is lost. This is foolishness, is there not a standard as to what constitutes a person? Is there not uniqueness from person to another person? Are some people not greater than others? The obvious answer to all of these questions is yes. Likewise, I never argued that God is not unique, of course he is. However, he is not the only God as if evident from scripture.
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