Friday, December 23, 2005

Defending the Triunity of God

I met with Devin, the Jehovah’s Witness tonight. After work I headed straight to Bucks to once again review the issues pertaining to the Trinity. Even after all my preparation and study, I felt uber nervous. When I had gone through my notes three times I realized I was hungry so I went next door to Fatburger to grab some food. While I was waiting for my order, in walks Devin! Devin placed an order and we chatted for a bit. He is a friendly guy lemme tell ya. Very kind. Our burgers disappeared in record time, which inevitably drew us back towards Starbucks.

We found a table in the back, chatted for a few minutes, and then began discussing the Trinity. I asked Devin to explain his understanding of the Trinity, so he opened up his copy of Reasoning from the Scriptures for a definition. I made a few corrections to the listed definition and went on to explain the doctrine: “Within the one Being that is God, there eternally exists three coequal, and coeternal persons; namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

I explained that there are three “foundations” to the doctrine of the Trinity, which I set out to prove: (1) Monotheism – the belief that there is only one true God; (2) there are three divine persons within the one Being of God; (3) the three persons are coequal and coeternal.

Devin and I both agreed that there is only one true God: Yahweh, or as he calls Him, Jehovah. We agreed that the Father is Yahweh. Obviously, our next area of discussion was whether the Son is also Yahweh.

Two texts that I brought to his attention: Hebrews 1:10-12 and John 12:37-41.

Hebrews 1:10-12, 10 And, "YOU, LORD, IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH, AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS; 11 THEY WILL PERISH, BUT YOU REMAIN; AND THEY ALL WILL BECOME OLD LIKE A GARMENT, 12 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."

The writer of the epistle of Hebrews is describing the Son by citing and applying Psalm 102:25-27 to Him. Interestingly enough, Psalm 102 is talking about Yahweh, the Lord. The connection is unmistakable: Psalm 102, a passage about Yahweh is here describing Jesus Christ. As a Trinitarian, I have no problem understanding this text. Jesus is Yahweh, just as the Father and the Holy Spirit are Yahweh. Each of the divine persons shares the one being of Yahweh. On the other hand, the Unitarian faces great difficulty when approaching this passage. For if Yahweh is the Father only, no other person can be called Yahweh.

Next we went to John 12:37-41 …

John 12:37-41, 37 But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: "LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?" 39 For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 "HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM." 41 These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him.

I asked Devin who is the “Him” to which Isaiah refers in verse 41? … First, let’s back up. In verse 38, John quotes from Isaiah 53:1, then in verse 40 quotes from Isaiah 6, where we read:

Isaiah 6:1-5, In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory." 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."

In this vision, Isaiah sees Yahweh sitting upon His throne surrounded by angels. He sees the glory of the Lord and is sent to take God’s message to the people …

Isaiah 6:6-11, 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven." 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!" 9 He said, "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.' 10 "Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed." 11 Then I said, "Lord, how long?" And He answered, "Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people And the land is utterly desolate

Now back to John 12. John cites this message of judgment (John 12:40 / Isaiah 6:10) given to Isaiah because the Jews would not believe even after Christ performed miracles. Then John says, “41 These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him” (John 12:41). John has cited two passages from Isaiah, but the immediate context refers to Isaiah 6. The reason for this is because John speaks of “seeing” “glory.” In Isaiah 6:1, the term for “seeing” the Lord is used, and the term “glory” is used in Isaiah 6:3.

Whose glory did Isaiah see? The glory that Isaiah saw was the glory of Yahweh. But John writes that Isaiah saw the glory of Christ. So if you asked John, “Whose glory did Isaiah see?” He would answer: “Jesus’.” Therefore, to John, Jesus is Yahweh.

This makes perfect sense since Trinitarians believe that no one has seen the Father at any time. In fact, it is only because of the Son that we have knowledge of the Father:

John 1:18, 18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

We also discussed Colossians 1, but it’s getting late, and I have to be up for work in the morning =). I’ll post more on that later when I get a chance.

Devin hadn’t before seen the connection between Jesus being called Yahweh in these texts, so we decided to end there and meet next week sometime. And you know what, I respect him more for that. At least he didn’t try to come up with an answer on the spot just for the sake of giving an answer.

I was blessed to defend the Triune God of Scripture. I love the Trinity. I look forward to my next meeting with Devin. Pray for him and for myself =)

Defending the Triunity of God,
Rusty

5 Comments:

At 7:47 AM, Blogger TJ said...

Hi Casey,

I'm glad your discussion went well, and that my brother was kind.

For what it's worth, Jehovah's Witnesses don't have any problem with these texts. In fact, to me, their approach to them is more in line with the rest of scripture.

But we can discuss all of this when we have our discussion. :)

TJ

 
At 9:21 AM, Blogger Rusty said...

tj,

I'm freed up as of now. Feel free to send me an email: rusty@rustypth.com and we can get started =).

Perhaps we could start where Devin and I began: defining the Trinity. Provide me with your understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity, and we can go from there.

Casey

 
At 11:53 AM, Blogger Katie said...

Casey,
You amaze me. You are a blessed communicator and God really uses you. It's good for me as a christian to see you helping our brothers and sister along in their faith. You rock!

Mucho <3!
Katie :)

 
At 1:08 PM, Blogger H. C. said...

good job...keep on keeping on, bro.

 
At 12:31 AM, Blogger Brent Klontz said...

Encouraged!

 

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