That's a good point. But, as we read in St, John 10:34, "Jesus answered them, Is it not writtenin your law, I said, Ye are gods?" Jesus is telling us we are gods. And again, in the First Epistle of John 3:2, "Beloved, now we are sons of God, and it doth notyet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear , we shall be like him; fo we shall see him as he is."Two very clear accounts telling us that we are entitled to godhood. Which means there are gods. My church believes there are gods. We do not worship more than one, as it were. One quick question: How is it that churches that believe in the trinity, (as I believe you do, I cannot quite recollect, though), call themselves Christians. They do not believe in Christ. They believe in one being that has a role as God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. If they were Christian, would they not believe in Christ, not someone who takes his name, along with two other names? For one to believe in Christ, and call themselves true Christians, would one not have to believe that there is an individual being Christ?I look forward to your response! -Danny
You said, "That's a good point."
So you agree that Isaiah 43:10 cannot teach both that there is only one true god (monotheism) and many true gods (polytheism)? If so, does the text defend monotheism or polytheism?
You then raised John 10:34 and John 3:2 as examples of passages that you believe teach us there are many true gods - specifically that men can become gods. What purpose did you have in citing these texts? ... are you trying to prove that Scripture is at odds with itself, as though Scripture would contradict itself by defending monotheism in one place and polytheism in another place?
I believe that since the Holy Ghost inspired the text of Scripture, the message is consistent with itself. God will not contradict Himself. So then John 10:34 and John 3:2 must agree with Isaiah 43:10.
Regarding John 10:34 you said, "But, as we read in St, John 10:34, "Jesus answered them, Is it not writtenin your law, I said, Ye are gods?" Jesus is telling us we are gods."
First off, notice the context of this passage, verses 22-42. Jesus asserts a number of things about his role in salvation.
"24The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, "How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly." 25Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father's name, these testify of Me. 26"But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. 27"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29"My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30"I and the Father are one."" (John 10:24-30).
Quick recap: The Jews ask Jesus to tell them plainly if he is the Christ. But Jesus has already plainly told them that he is. The works that Jesus does in His Father's name testify of him. The Jews do not believe because they are not Jesus' sheep. His sheep hear his voice; he knows them and they follow him. He gives eternal life to them, and they will never perish. In fact, no one will snatch them out of his hand. The Father gave them to Christ, and no one is able to snatch them out of his Father's hand. Jesus and the Father are one with regards to the work of salvation.
At this statement, the Jews pick up stones to stone Christ (vs 31). Jesus asks for the work they are choosing to stone him for (vs 32). Pay close attention to the Jews' reply: "The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God."" The Jews were stoning Christ for claiming to be God! (by the way, I will provide a lengthy explanation of the Trinity and what I believe about God at the end of this email =) ).
It is at this point that Christ cites Psalm 82:6 and applies it to the Jews. Why did Jesus apply Psalm 82:6 to the Jews? Well let's look at the preceding five verses of the Psalm: "A Psalm of Asaph. God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers. 2 How long will you judge unjustly And show partiality to the wicked? Selah. 3 Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute. 4 Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked. 5 They do not know nor do they understand; They walk about in darkness; All the foundations of the earth are shaken."
Psalm 82 describes unjust judges who were ruling in Israel. These judges were partial to the wicked. They did not defend the weak and fatherless. They did injustice to the afflicted and the destitute. They do not know or understand, and walk in darkness. THEN we get to the verse Jesus cited: "6 I said, "You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High."" God is mocking these unjust judges by calling them gods! Did you catch that the present tense is used to describe these unjust judges? God calls them gods in the present tense, not in a future tense! Obviously God was not calling them true gods, but was mocking them. In fact, look at verse 7: "7 "Nevertheless you will die like men And fall like any one of the princes."" These "gods" will die like men, and will fall like one of the princes.
So when Christ cited this verse he was accusing the Jews of unjustly judging. In no way was Jesus declaring the Jews to be true gods. He was certainly mocking these unjust Jews who were falsely accusing Christ of blasphemy!
You said, "And again, in the First Epistle of John 3:2, "Beloved, now we are sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.""
So you understand "we shall be like him" to mean: "we shall become eternal gods just as Jesus Christ is an eternal god"? If so, what in the text leads you to this conclusion?
I believe that 1 John 3:2 is talking about the Christian's hope in the resurrection when Christ returns to earth. 1 John 2:18, 28 provide a discussion about Christ's coming before we even get to 3:2, and clearly has this in mind.
I understand that you believe that you worship one god. But if you believe in the existence of other true gods - gods before God; gods after God - then you cannot believe in the god that I worship, because my god is the only true god that has or ever will exist. This is why our discussion is of such great importance =).
To adequately answer your question about what I believe about God and the Trinity, here is a lengthy, but clear answer. Please read the whole thing as it will greatly benefit our discussion.
The historic definition of the Trinity can be summed up with one sentence: Within the one Being that is God, there eternally exists three coequal and coeternal persons; namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
There is obviously a lot of information packed into this summary statement. At its core is the belief in monotheism - that there is only one true God. In Isaiah 43:10 we read: "10 "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." Yahweh ("LORD") declares that there were no Gods before Him, and there will be none after Him. Indeed, as Isaiah 44:6 tells us, Yahweh is the first and the last, apart from Yahweh there is no God. This is Biblical monotheism: Yahweh, the only true God.
Before I continue, I need to define two terms that are crucial when talking about the Trinity. The terms are "being" and "person." Let me use an example to help with my explanation ... Here I have in my hand my cell phone. My cell phone has being. This is to say that my cell phone exists. But my cell phone has no personality. I can talk to my cell phone all day long and it will never once understand what I am saying. It cannot think. It does not have the ability to speak of itself as "I" or "Me."
I, on the other hand, also have being. I exist. Though unlike my cell phone, I have personality. I have personhood. I can communicate, think, and reason. I can use personal pronouns of myself. Obviously then, being can exist without personality (like the cell phone), or being can exist with personality (as is the case with human beings).
Unfortunately, the term "person" many times carries with it a lot of baggage. This is because in our experience as human beings, each human being has one personality within his/her being.
Now we are ready for the next part of our definition ...
There are three divine persons within the one being of God. These three persons are coequal, as to their divine nature. Though the persons have differing roles, this in no way makes one person greater than another as to their nature. Another way of saying this is that difference in function does not mean inferiority in nature.
The three persons are also coeternal. This simply means that each of the persons have eternally existed. There was never a time when the Father was not, the Son was not, or the Holy Spirit was not. They have eternally had fellowship, and a loving relationship towards each other. One was not before the other. Each of the persons is eternal. By "eternal" I do not mean the LDS understanding of "eternal" matter. Since God is spirit (John 4:24), He is not physical, and therefore has existed before the creation of matter and the universe.
Yahweh's being is undivided and indivisible. This means that God's being cannot be "divided up." Obviously then, the Trinity does not teach that God's being is "split" into thirds: the Father making up one third, the Son another third, and the Holy Spirit the remaining third. Rather, each of the divine persons fully share God's being as they are each fully God. For the sake of this discussion I will also add that each of the persons shares the being of Yahweh. Therefore, the Father is Yahweh, the Son is Yahweh, and the Holy Spirit is Yahweh. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit fully share Yahweh's being. (Repetitive, I know. But I want to be clear).
As a side note, it would be innapropriate to say that the Trinity teaches "Three Beings are one Being," or "Three Persons are one Person." Rather, the Trinity teaches that there are three persons within the one being of God. Again, the difference between "being" and "person" must be distinguished in our discussion.
One last side note, Trinitarians do not believe that the Father is the Son, or that the Son is the Holy Spirit, or that the Father is the Holy Spirit ... or any way you want to put it =). We recognize the distinction between the three persons. Yet these three divine persons share the one being of God.
I believe in the doctrine of the Trinity because the Bible teaches it. I do not believe the Trinity because of church councils, creeds or confessions. I believe the Bible teaches the triunity of God. In fact, I believe the gospel is Trinitarian - in that each of the persons is involved in the salvation of God's elect people.
There are three "foundations" to the doctrine of the Trinity: (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.
There you have it - a brief summation of the doctrine of the Trinity. Many fine works have been written on the subject, but this should suffice for our discussion.
Danny, at this point we have now discussed three passages in the Bible: Isaiah 43:10, John 10:34 and 1 John 3:2. I have demonstrated how each of these passages teaches absolute monotheism - the belief in only one true god. Therefore there cannot be a plurality of gods - polytheism. I hope to hear your exegesis and interaction with these texts. I would also like to hear your response to my exegesis and interaction with these texts. Before we move on to other topics, please only interact with these three texts.
I look forward to your response =)