I already asked a question regarding “a created devil” on another thread here–but for those who believe that God created The Son of His Love, I have another question.
If God could create a perfect moral image of Himself (who already knew His heart, understood the difference between good and evil, and loved Him perfectly–without sinning, suffering, or being forgiven), why didn’t He create all of us that way?
He was talking to someone when He said “Behold, the man has become as one of Us, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:22.)
Whoever God was talking to (here at the beginning of human history) already had the knowledge of good and evil (without the trees, the tempter, or being cast out of Eden), so (without freewill) why is any of this necessary?
And please, If it was to reveal His heart–exactly how does the infliction of unecessary pain (on man, and on His Son at Calvary) do that?
What leads you to think that some things that take place are “unnecessary?” If it’s a part of God’s plan, I’d say it’s necessary. So is it your belief that some things which happen are outside of God’s plan? And if so, then is it really true that God “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph 1:11)?
“Remember this and stand firm,
recall it to mind, you transgressors,
remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, 'My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,'
calling a bird of prey from the east,
the man of my counsel from a far country.
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it” (Isaiah 46:8-11).
Chapter 9 of John’s gospel records an occasion when the disciples, upon seeing a blind man, asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” In this response, Jesus not only invalidated the erroneous assumption inherent in his disciple’s question, he gave them the ultimate reason for why this man had, for so long, suffered as he did: it was so that “the works of God might be displayed in him.”
Christ’s response to his disciples should raise the following questions: Is the healing of this blind man - and the reason for which he was healed - meant to be understood as one isolated instance in human history? Should we understand this passage to mean that, of all the countless suffering people in the world, only one man’s suffering was for the higher purpose of giving God the opportunity to display his works in him? Or, is it possible that Christ is providing us with a profound insight into the very reason why a good God ordains suffering in this world at all?
I submit that this man whom Jesus healed of blindness is not to be understood as an exception to all suffering people in the world, but is rather to be understood as representative of all suffering people. That is, Jesus is teaching that all who have had to experience some degree of pain and loss during their lifetime (which includes all people!) have suffered so that one day God’s healing works might be displayed in all of them. If this is indeed the case, then Christ is here teaching us that God has actually ordained every experience of human suffering for the very purpose of giving himself the opportunity to display his redemptive power on behalf of those who have suffered, and thereby bestow upon them the joy of salvation from their suffering. If that’s the case, then it would seem that salvation from evil is a greater good than any good that might be experienced apart from a prior experience of evil.
Moreover, we are creatures of contrast. We don’t know light except for darkness, comfort except for distress, health except for sickness, truth without error, etc. Thus, a world in which evil and suffering exists is a necessary part of God’s bringing into existence beings such as ourselves, who rely on contrast in order to understand reality and be truly happy. Only an imperfect, “fallen world” such as this one could provide such a contrast for creatures who cannot understand life without death, perfection without imperfection, happiness without suffering, clarity without ambiguity, etc. We could never understand and appreciate goodness, virtue and love without knowledge of evil, selfishness and indifference. Nor could we experience the joy of salvation if there was never anything from which we needed to be saved.
But what about the suffering that is caused by sin? In Genesis 50:20, Jacob tells his brothers: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Here Jacob reveals that even the evil motives of his brothers were a part of God’s redemptive plan. What they meant for evil, God meant it for good. And if this sinful action was embraced by God’s sovereign plan and fit into his benevolent purpose, why not all sin? Is it possible that whatever man intends for evil, God intends for good? If God is in fact love and is working all things according to the counsel of his will, then this is more than possible; it’s a guarantee.
So the answer to the question, “To what end is the evil that God wills a means?” is, “The ultimate and lasting happiness of all who experience it.” “Freewill” is not the solution to the problem of evil. It’s not even a biblical concept.
Sure it is, Michael. As Christ developed in wisdom and knowledge he gained an understanding of goodness, virtue and love from his experience in a fallen world and through the temptations he experienced. It wasn’t necessary that Christ be sinful to experience the contrast that is necessary for the future happiness of all created, rational beings; it was, however, necessary that he grow up in a fallen world and be exposed to sin and evil.
Not true; they’re necessary to the greater happiness of rational beings.
No; the reason God wants to display his power in creatures whom he places in need of salvation is to promote and increase their happiness, because God is love and that’s what love wills.
The fact that Scripture teaches we have a will and can do what we want (i.e., voluntarily) is not evidence that it teaches the idea of “freewill.” But perhaps it would be helpful for you to define what you mean by “freewill”; I was simply assuming you meant by this what is known as “libertarian free will.” But if you understand it to merely mean the freedom to do what we want, then I’d agree with you that all rational beings have this capacity.
And Elohim said; Belold, the man has become as one of us–knowing good and evil (Gen. 3:22.)
In his humanity, Jesus may have “learned obedience through the things that He suffered”–but as God, He had God’s complete knowledge of things such as good and evil.
The point of this thread is that if He were just an angel (“the chief messenger,” a created being–as some believe), he would appear to have been created with this knowledge (which is also what some believe–and if that’s possible, the experience you speak of wasn’t necessary at all.)
BTW: Do you believe in the pre-existence of Christ?
If you don’t, what do you think He meant when He said “Before Abraham was, I AM”"?
That’s pretty bad grammar (in both English and Greek), unless He was trying to make a point about who He was (i.e. Moses asking God His name, and God saying “I AM.”)
And even if you ignore the grammar, how can you ignore the implication that He existed before Abraham did?
Why did Paul say “All things were created through Him",” and John say “without Him nothing was made that was made”?
Actually, we don’t always have the freedom to do what we want.
Freedom of will is not freedom of body, or motion, or action (which is why someone once said that “stone walls and iron bars do not a prison make.”)
Freedom of will has more to do with thinking, and setting your mind to do whatever you think you want to do.
Now perhaps it would be helpful if you explained what you see as the difference between freedom of the will, and the power of volition?
How the angels attained a knowledge of good and evil is not revealed in Scripture; all we know is that, by the time man was created, they possessed this knowledge.
“In his humanity?” If Jesus was human, then it’s logically impossible for him to have been God, for to be “human” and “God” are mutually exclusive states of being. If they’re not, then the words “humanity” and “divinity” are emptied of meaning.
I believe Jesus was a man, just as Scripture teaches (Matt 4:4; 8:20; Acts 2:22; 13:23, 38; 17:31; Rom 5:15, 17, 19; 1Cor 15:21; 1Tim 2:5; etc.). Being a man, he increased in wisdom and learned obedience. YHWH doesn’t do either. And human beings require contrast to understand and appreciate good. Jesus gained this understanding and appreciation by being born into a sinful world, and seeing first-hand the evil of sin, its consequences, and the damage it does to people’s lives.
You said it would be unnecessary for God to create all people except Jesus in a fallen state if he could bring them into existence in a sinless state. But I believe that God’s purpose has always been to manifest his grace and redemptive power to his human creatures. But this would not have been possible apart from bringing the majority of mankind into existence in a fallen state. Mankind would never know the joy of being saved without first being in need of salvation. God could have never provided us with a Savior without first making a Savior necessary. Do you disagree with this? Do you think Jesus’ coming into the world to save mankind from sin and death was God’s “plan B?”
Also, do you think there is any experience of evil/pain that will not ultimately prove to be for the benefit of the one who experiences it? That is, do you think there is any evil (both moral and amoral) that God has not intended for good, and which will not eventually be made to increase the happiness of those who have experienced it?
Jesus’ words, “I am” (Greek: ego eimi) are in no way a claim to be YHWH, the Most High God. This very same Greek expression is used in the next chapter by the man Jesus healed of blindness. There, we read that this man kept telling the people, “I am the man” (ego eimi), in response to their questioning him (John 9:9). Although this man’s words could just as legitimately be translated “I am” as Jesus’ words in chapter 8, no one thinks this man was claiming to be YHWH. The Greek phrase translated in John 8:58 as “I am” occurs many other times in the New Testament, and is often translated as “I am he” or some equivalent (“I am he” - Mark 13:6; Luke 21:8; John 13:19; 18:5, 6 and 8. “It is I” - Matt. 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20. “I am the one I claim to be” - John 8:24 and 28.). The expression “ego eimi” was simply a common way of designating oneself; it did not mean one was claiming to be God.
So who was Jesus claiming to be in this verse, if not YHWH, the one God of Israel? Answer: the context must determine what is meant. Jesus was claiming to be the promised Messiah-Savior who was foretold by God even before Abraham existed (Gen 3:15), which would thus make him greater than Abraham (a fact which was inconceivable to the unbelieving Jews, since they did not believe he was who he claimed to be - v. 53). And though Jesus was (and is) superior to Abraham, we have no more reason to think that Jesus *literally * existed before the patriarch was born than we have reason to believe that Abraham literally “saw” the Messiah’s “day” nearly 2,000 years before Jesus was born (John 8:56). The only sense in which Jesus “existed” prior to his conception in Mary’s womb was in God’s foreknowledge and plan.
I believe just what I understand is being taught in these verses, Michael. But I deny that either teaches that Jesus is YHWH, the Most High God. Scripture teaches that Jesus is the Son of God, not “God the Son.” A good explanation of Colossians 1:16 from a Unitarian perspective can be found here:
Perhaps you’d like to start another thread on this verse.
As far as John 1:3, I deny that the logos, prior to becoming flesh (v. 14), refers to Jesus, the Son of God. The logos is just that - the spoken word of God by which God brought everything into existence (Ps. 33:6, 9; 107:20; 147:15, 18-19; Isa. 55:10-11; see especially 2 Peter 3:5). As such, God’s logos is the expression of his wisdom, plan and character. It was this that “became flesh” when Jesus was conceived. Literally speaking, it’s no more a personal being than “wisdom” is in Proverbs 8. The word logos is used throughout John’s Gospel to denote a spoken word, and I submit it means the same thing in John’s poetic prologue.
If you haven’t already, I’d suggest checking out the Unitarian/Trinitarian debate that’s going on right now at the Parchment and Pen blog. David Burke, the Unitarian, has given a pretty good summary of the Unitarian understanding of John 1 here: reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2 … us-christ/
Since you seem to think the logos in John 1:1-3 is to be equated with Jesus in his pre-incarnate state, what do you think the word theos (“God”) refers to in these verses? Does the word denote a person (as it seems to do throughout John’s Gospel - e.g., John 3:16; 3:34; 4:24; 6:46; 11:22; see especially John 14:1 and 17:3) or does it denote multiple persons? Or does it refer to something else entirely? What do you think?
My understanding of man’s will is that it is bound by his desire for happiness: Law of the Will?
In that sense, the will is not “free.” Do you agree or disagree?
It’s also a fairly common way of designating oneself in English (at least in answer to a question.)
If you were to ask me if I’m English, and I said “I am,” it would be a perfectly ordinary self designation.
But if you were to point out my age, and ask me if I had been in King Arthur’s court, and I were to say “before Arthur was, I AM,” you would probably judge me guilty of blasphemy (and/or question my sanity.)
The Jews (except maybe for the Sadducees) were expecting a promised Messiah, and they picked up stones to stone Jesus because they understood what He was saying (and they clearly understood Him to be saying that He was more than some mere man they were expecting.)
So it turns out that you’ve entirely ignored the immediate and larger context of this passage.
In the immediate context, the Jews had asked Jesus “you’re not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”
In the larger context–this Gospel opens by telling us that the Logos became flesh, dwelt among men, was with God from the begginning, was God, was He through whom all things were made, and He without Whom nothing was made that was made.
You’ve also ignored the unusual grammatical structure of the sentence.
And scholars (going back to the first centuries of the Church) have noted that it’s grammaticallly incorrect to say “before Abraham was, I AM.”
Being a particle, and being a wave might also appear to be “mutually exclussive states of being.”
No, it’s my view that Moses probably had no idea who Elohim was talking to here.
…you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21.)
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (1 Peter 1:10-12.)
My remarks were primarily intended for those who accept His pre-existence, and believe that He was created as the perfect moral image of the Father (before the creation of men and angels.)
That’s the classic Arian position, and I’m primarily speaking to those who hold that view today.
I believe I’ve made a valid point to them (and I don’t see anything you’ve said here as particularly relevant.)
Do you mean “if” God could have made us all perfect to begin with?
Then the answer is “yes”–** if that’s true it’s all unecessary**.
**P.S.**I know this clarification probably isn’t necessary, but I meant that the English equivalent of “ego eimi” (“I am”) is a fairly common way of designating oneself in our language (especially in answer to a question.)
Well first, Jesus didn’t call himself “I AM.” In order for this to be true, he would need to have said “I am I AM”, or “I am the I AM.” But he didn’t. He simply said “Before Abraham was, I am.” The expression “I AM” occurring in both Exodus 3:14 and John 8:48 is an error of English translation. The Greek speaking Jews and early Christians used different words in these verses. The Septuagint translation of Exodus 3:14 (Lexham LXX Interlinear) reads as follows:
καὶ εἶπεν ὁ θεὸς πρὸς Μωυσῆν Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν,
— said — God to Moses, I am the (One) (who) exists.",
καὶ εἶπεν Οὕτως ἐρεῖς τοῖς υἱοῖς Ισραηλ
And (then) he said, "Thus you will say to the sons of Israel,
Ὁ ὢν ἀπέσταλκέν με πρὸς ὑμᾶς.
`The (One) (who) exists has sent me to you.’".
So Greek speakers used ho ōn (ὁ ὤν) for God’s title rather than egō eimi:
And God said to Moses, “I am (ego eimi) THE BEING (ho on).” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘THE BEING (ho on) has sent me to you’” (Ex 3:14, LXX). But in John 8:58 (ESV), Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you: before Abraham was, I am (ego eimi).”
Moreover, we can clearly see that the Jews didn’t consider “I am” to be the name of God because they weren’t bothered by Jesus using it earlier in the chapter (John 8:24, 28). It definitely wasn’t a reaction to Jesus saying “ego eimi” or else they would have stoned him at verse 24. It was the fact that, in claiming to be (in some sense) “before Abraham was,” Jesus was affirming his preeminence over Abraham in God’s redemptive plan - i.e., that he is the one about whom the Scriptures had prophesied before Abraham was born. Again, this verse no more teaches that Christ literally pre-existed than v. 26 is teaching that Abraham literally saw the “day” of the Messiah. Abraham saw it in anticipation, by faith. And Jesus existed only in the foreknowledge of God (1Pet 1:20), as the promised Messiah.
Jesus doesn’t have to be YHWH in order for him to be “more than some mere man.” The unbelieving Jews understood him to be claiming to be the promised Messiah (not YHWH incarnate) and it was this that infuriated them. And when they asked Jesus “you’re not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham,” it is yet another example of them misunderstanding what he was in fact saying (just like Jesus’ words were misunderstood when he said, “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you,” and “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”). They understood him to be speaking literally, when in fact he was speaking of his pre-eminence over Abraham in the redemptive plan of God, as the promised and foreknown Messiah.
If you don’t mind, please respond to what I wrote concerning John 1.
Well if it is “grammatically incorrect,” it remains so even if you understand Jesus to be claiming to be YHWH. But as I’ve shown above, Jesus was making no such claim (no more so than the blind man). While the grammatical structure may be “unusual,” this fact does not lend support to your argument.
In other words, “logic doesn’t apply if it threatens my theology.” Seriously though, here’s something from the article you linked: “Thus, objects (light, electrons, bowling balls, …) can at times appear to us as waves, and at other times as particles. In this sense they are neither particles nor waves, in an absolute sense, but only exhibit wave or particle properties, depending on the experiment being performed.”
Nothing “illogical” about that, Michael. Perplexing perhaps, but not illogical. What IS illogical (and which you cannot dispute is the case) is the claim that Jesus is both “fully God and fully man.” Unless the words “God” and “man” are divested of meaning, that’s a flat-out contradiction. But perhaps you’d rather say (to reflect the theory being presented in the science article) that Jesus is “neither fully God nor fully man, in an absolute sense, but only exhibits divine and human qualities.” While still perplexing, that would certainly be more coherent of a statement.
The verses you quote from First and Second Peter don’t support your assertion that Moses “probably had no idea who Elohim was talking to here.” But when do you think the Jewish people began to have an idea as to who Elohim was talking to? Who was the first Jew to begin to believe that Elohim was talking to another co-equal member of a multi-personal God? Just curious.
Well unless Arians start showing up and making their views known on forum, I think my position is as relevant to your arguments as you’re going to get. But if you want, I’ll just stop responding to your posts on this thread and we can wait for an Arian to show up.
It would only be unnecessary if it would have been more beneficial (loving) to start us off in a perfect condition instead of in an imperfect, “fallen” state. That is, it would only be unnecessary to start us off in an imperfect state if there was no greater benefit to be gained from it. But I submit that it was more beneficial to humanity to start us off in a fallen condition than to have made us perfect to begin with. The same degree of future happiness (i.e., in the resurrection state) could not have been achieved had God created us all in a sinless, perfect state to begin with, with no contrast provided and nothing from which to be saved.
Moreover,I believe there are no real tragedies or “pointless” evils; every evil that we experience is embraced by God’s sovereign and benevolent plan, and will ultimately prove to have been ordained for our ultimate happiness. Do you agree or disagree with this?
Would you like to conduct a poll of how many forum members are Trinitarian, how many believe Jesus was created long before His incarnation, and how many share your view?
If you do, I think you’ll find that your in the minority here.
(And I wouldn’t be suprised if we both are.)
I do mind, because there is so much difference between our views that it would take more time than I can afford.
That would be quite alright with me Aaron.
I’d be happy to discuss that under another topic heading if you like, but it’s off topic here.
My point is not that these things are pointless, that God created us with freewill, or even that Christ is uncreated.
The only point I’m trying to make here is that it’s logically inconsistent for a classic Arian (who believes that Jesus is God’s first, perfect, sinless creation) to maintain that sin, suffering, and evil are necessary means to an end (if they deny freewill.)
Given their presuppostions (not yours or mine), it would all be unnecessary (because perfect creatures can be instaneously created.)
So whereas before the doctrine of the dual nature of Christ was something human logic evidently couldn’t explain, it seems you’re now trying to show that it’s not really illogical after all. Well I’m glad you’ve at least changed your strategy, because (as I’m sure you’re aware) logic’s pretty essential!
Now, I don’t recall saying that “being God and Man are opposites.” I said they were mutually exclusive states of being. Last time I checked, that doesn’t necessarily mean “opposite.” That is, it doesn’t mean “A” is the opposite of “B,” but it does mean that “A” cannot at the same time be “B.” So being God and being man are mutually exclusive states of being, though not opposite states of being. By definition, that which is “man” cannot at the same time fall into the category of “God.” Again, to quote Charles Morgridge:
If you don’t feel the force of his argument, then I’d be glad to spend more time on it (in another thread).
No, that’s not true. As the second Unitarian I quote (Andrews Norton) says, “A being of complex constitution like man is not a being of a double nature. The very term double nature, when one professes to use it in a strict, philosophical sense, implies an absurdity. The nature of a being is all which constitutes it what it is; and when one speaks of a double nature, it is the same sort of language as if we were to speak of a double individuality.”
To say that Jesus is “fully God and fully man” is not like saying that an object in two dimensions is both “fully round and fully green.” It would be like saying an object in two dimensions is “fully round and fully triangular.” Being round and being triangular are not “opposites,” but they are mutually exclusive shapes. And a being cannot be both fully uncreated (i.e., God) and fully created (e.g., man) at the same time (not to mention all the other incompatible, mutually exclusive qualities that make “God” a different category of being from “man”).
First, Peter’s talking about the salvation that would be enjoyed by believers after the advent of Christ, not the identity of the ones to whom Elohim spoke in the opening chapters of Genesis. Second, we’re not talking about utter ignorance, but lack of full clarity. They knew enough not to be completely in the dark. But you’re suggesting that Moses had no idea whatsoever what he meant when he represented Elohim as talking to other persons. But it’s not necessary to believe this at all, unless it is believed that Moses had no belief in the existence of created heavenly beings who served God. Is that what you believe? If not, do you think it’s simply impossible that God could have been referring to such beings?
Why should we assume that he didn’t?
Sure, but “egō eimi” in itself is not only NOT the divine name of God in Greek, it’s not even the shortened version of the name (which, again, is “ho ōn”). Do you disagree with this?
Again, “ego eimi” in itself is neither the divine name of God nor the shortened form of the name. So the fact that Jesus referred to himself in this way is not evidence that he is “fully God.” I agree that Christ’s statement to the Jews conveys the idea that he is more than a “mere man,” but it is not in any way a claim to be YHWH.
Well of course Jesus was saying something that neither Michael nor Gabriel could say, because neither Michael nor Gabriel are the Messiah. But no, he was not claiming that his existence is “timeless.” What I think you’re failing to understand is that the exact meaning of what is being said when someone declares “ego eimi” is not necessarily inherent in the expression, but may need to be supplied by the listener (or reader). That is, when someone used the expression “ego eimi,” the listener (or reader) might have to “fill in the blank” to understand the claim that’s being made. This is evident from verses 24-25, where Jesus used the same expression (ego eimi), to which the Jews asked in response, “Who are you?” (and again, notice that they didn’t pick up stones and attempt to kill him in response to what Jesus said!). Yes, Jesus was making a claim concerning his self-identity, but “eigo eimi” did not in itself convey that which the unbeliever Jews should have already known (i.e., that he was the Messiah of which their own Scriptures had long prophesied and borne witness to). So what Jesus meant in v. 58 was, “I am the Messiah about whom the Scriptures prophesied before Abraham came into existence.” And while they rightfully understood Jesus to be making a Messianic claim (that’s why they sought to kill him at this time, and is also the basis of the charges that would later be brought against him during his trial), they mistook his words to be a claim to be literally older than Abraham (though not a claim to be “timeless,” as you assert). But again, Jesus was no more claiming to be older than Abraham than he was claiming that Abraham literally saw his “day” thousands of years before he was born. He was purposefully using figurative, semi-ambiguous language, just as he does several times in the Gospels.
In John 5:18, we read that Jesus was “calling God his own father, making himself equal with God.” First, it should be noted that, even if Jesus was claiming “equality” with God, in could only be with regards to his God-given authority to act on behalf of God during his earthly ministry. Consequently, it would constitute a representational and functional (and not an ontological) equality. The following excerpt is from the book One God and One Lord (pp. 477-8):
But let’s assume that the Jews believed Jesus was claiming something more than this. Even if that were the case, it wouldn’t mean that they were necessarily correct. John could simply be stating the misunderstanding of the unbelieving Jews at that time, and not intending to sanction their erroneous views. Notice that these men also thought that Jesus was “breaking the Sabbath” because he was healing people on this day. But Jesus was in no way breaking the Sabbath by performing miracles (and to suggest that he was is to accuse Jesus of breaking the Ten Commandments, which he most certainly did not do). While John states that Jesus was “breaking the Sabbath,” it is evident that he is merely stating the false accusation of the Jews (who were mistaken). But just as their understanding of the Sabbath - and what it meant for Jesus to heal people on this day - was in error, so it is possible that their understanding of what it meant for Jesus to call God his Father was erroneous.
Well, I can understand that! We’ll save it for another time.
Ouch! I’ll let this be my last response on this thread then.
That’s up to you, but (now that I’m home, and have a little more time) I’ll answer some of your points.
Yes I disagree.
The first person form of this phrase is used by God (as His name) in the very quote you provided from the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures.
Moses asks God His name, and God replies "egō eimi."
Do you deny this?
I understand that perfectly.
What I think you fail to understand (which the Greek speaking Fathers of the Church did understand btw) is that if Jesus was using this as a simple self designation, He would have used the past tense (as proper grammar required), not the first person, singular, present tense (which stands in glaring contrast to what He said of Abraham.)
He did not say “before Abraham was, I was.”
He said “Before Abraham was I AM” (the first person singular present tense of the verb “to be,” used by God as His divine name in the Greek Old Testament–do you deny this?)
Peter is saying that the prophets who were inspired to write the Old Testament sometimes didn’t understand the meaning of the words they were inspired to write (and sorry about the typo in my last post–I meant to say “they wrote,” but was in a bit of a hurry.)
If there’s no reason to assume that Moses didn’t know who Elohim was speaking to in Genesis, there’s also no reason to assume that he did.
A (19th century?) unitarian can’t dictate the sense in which the Greek speaking Fathers of the 4th century must use the term commonly translated “nature.”
I was a little tired last night, and I’d like to re-post (and correct) two of the replies I made in my last post.
First, the opinions of a 19th (or 20th) century unitarian still don’t determine what the Greek speeking Fathers of the 4th century meant by the theological terms they used (as when they said Christ had two natures (duo physis) united in one person (hypostasis.)
That may be true of the English word “nature” (as used by 19th and 20th century philosophers), but…
Just so you know, I’m enjoying this discussion. I hope you responded to my last post because you want to keep it going. If not, let me know!
Yes I deny it, because that’s not actually what God said to Moses in response. It would instead qualify as a “half-truth,” which isn’t really true at all. You’re leaving out two additional (and essential) words. Whether you’re doing so purposefully or it’s merely an oversight, I’m not sure. But when Moses asked, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God then says to Moses in response, “Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν” (egō eimi ho ōn), not merely “egō eimi.” There’s a big difference between saying egō eimi and egō eimi ho ōn.
Moreover, as I’ve pointed out, God goes on to say in the same verse, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘ho ōn (NOT “egō eimi”!) has sent me to you.’” “Egō eimi” in itself did not denote the personal name of God, and to my knowledge God never used this expression alone as a means of self-designation. “Ho ōn,” either by itself or immediately following egō eimi, was how God identified himself. These are just facts, Michael. So based on these facts, you’re mistaken for thinking that Jesus’ use of egō eimi can be legitimately translated as “I AM” in John 8:48 as if it’s the same Greek expression that is translated “I AM” in Exodus 3:14, when God tells Moses to tell the people, “I AM (ho ōn) has sent me to you.”
Yes, I deny that God used “egō eimi” as his divine name in the LXX, because (as shown above) that’s simply not the case. You’re misrepresenting the facts (see above).
Now, you argue that Jesus would have used the past tense in John 8:58 if he had been using “egō eimi” as “a simple self-designation.” What’s ironic about that assertion is that, had Jesus spoken of himself using the past tense instead of the present tense (i.e., “Before Abraham was, I was”) it would be possible to understand him to have been making a claim that no mortal human (Messiah or not) could make! That is, it would be possible to understand Jesus’ use of the past tense as a claim to some sort of “pre-existence.” The very fact that he didn’t use the past tense supports the view that he was not making such a claim; he was speaking of himself in the present in reference to something that pertains to him in the past.
You agreed with me that “the exact meaning of what is being said when someone declares “egō eimi” is not necessarily inherent in the expression, but may need to be supplied by the listener (or reader),” and that “when someone used the expression egō eimi, the listener (or reader) might have to ‘fill in the blank’ to understand the claim that’s being made.” In other words, there is something being implied that Jesus does not directly state when he declared “egō eimi” in v. 58. The exact claim Jesus is making in v. 58 (“Before Abraham was, I am he”) must be inferred by the listener/reader - and this is done by taking into account his words in verse 56. There, Jesus tells the unbelieving Jews, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day. He saw it and was glad.”
How did Abraham “see” the day of the Messiah? Answer: He didn’t see it as a fulfilled reality (see Heb 11:8-19, 39), but by faith in the promise concerning his “seed” in whom all the nations/families of the earth would be blessed. God foretold of the Messiah when speaking to Abraham, and Abraham believed God’s words and rejoiced in the prophetic promise; in that sense, he “saw” the Messiah’s day, when all nations would be blessed. In light of this verse (which Jesus is clearly building off of in v. 58), I submit that the implication in Jesus’ words in v. 58 is the Messianic claim to be the one who had been prophetically spoken of by God before Abraham was born (e.g., in Gen 3:15). Hence, his words in v. 58 should be understood as follows: “Before Abraham was born, I am he of whom God foretold.” This makes Jesus’ claim one of pre-eminence and not literal pre-existence (keep in mind that, just a few verses before, the Jews had said to Jesus, “Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died?”). At the same time (and as I noted earlier), there is a sense in which Jesus “pre-existed” before Abraham. But it’s not a literal sense; Jesus existed in the mind of God, as the center of his redemptive plan for Adam’s fallen race. As Peter says, Jesus is the one who was “foreknown by God before the foundation of the world” (1Pet 1:20).
Further support for this understanding of Jesus’ words in v. 58 is the fact that, earlier in the chapter, Jesus used the same expression when he told the unbelieving Jews, “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he (egō eimi) you will die in your sins.” In response to this the Jews ask, “Who are you?” Jesus then says, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning.” And what had he been telling them? Answer: that he was the one sent from God, and the one to whom the Scriptures bore witness. He was “the logos made flesh” (i.e., Jesus was and is the human embodiment of the spoken word of God which makes known and brings about God’s plan and purpose). In chapter 5, Christ told the Jews, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have age-during life; and it is they that bear witness about me…” (v. 39). Christ goes on to say later in chapter 5 (vv. 46-47), “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” Again, the very first Messianic prophecy found in the Scriptures (Gen 3:15) was recorded by Moses, and was given before Abraham was born. This means that Jesus was at the center of God’s redemptive plan for mankind long before Abraham came into existence, and is consequently “greater than Abraham” and “before Abraham.”
Well if it’s impossible for anyone to know for sure whether or not Moses knew what he meant when he wrote of Elohim speaking to others, then I have just as much reason (I would say more) to believe that angels are in view as you have to believe it was some unknown member of a “multi-personal God” of whom Moses was completely ignorant, and said nothing about. It’s more likely that Moses had the angels in mind as opposed to a completely unknown entity (or entities), since we know he already believed in the existence of created heavenly beings, and there is nothing that precludes Moses’ having had such beings in view here. Moreover, in Genesis 3 when Elohim says, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil…” we read just two verses later that he then places “cherubim” at the east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life, which may suggest that it was these such beings (the hosts of heaven) to whom Elohim was speaking.
Well first, the word that more accurately corresponds to the English “nature” (as in “human nature”) is not hypostasis, but phusis (see Rom 1:26; 2:14, 27; 11:24; 1Cor 11:14; Gal 4:8; Eph 2:3; James 3:7; 1Pet 1:4). This is how the word was used by 19th century unitarians, and is how the word is used today. Second, I understand hupostasis in Heb 1:3 to denote the “subsistence” of God’s nature, or his foundational moral attribute (which, according to John, is “love”). And that which is the “express image” or “impress” (charaktēr) of something else cannot at the same time be the original. As Paul says, Christ is “the image of the invisible God.” He is not himself the invisible God (YHWH), but he does perfectly reflect God’s inherent moral nature (just as God is said to be “light” in whom “there is no darkness,” so Jesus is “the light of the world”) as well as exercise God’s divine authority, which God gave him after his resurrection. So while Christ is not the self-existent Being (YHWH), he does perfectly manifest God’s hupostasis, since (like God) Jesus is both sinless and has “all authority in heaven and on earth” to accomplish God’s will and purpose. So, contra Athanasius during the Arian controversy, this verse is no proof of Christ’s deity (although it does present him as more than a “mere man!”).
And I never said otherwise. However one wishes to define what a “house” is, that which is essential to its being a house (and without which it would cease to be a house) is necessarily included in its “nature.” Similarly, that which is essential to what it means to be “man” or “God” (and without which a being would cease to be either “man” or “God”) is necessarily included in the nature of man or God. But there are several essential attributes or qualities that make God who and what he is, and several essential attributes or qualities that make man who and what he is, which are mutually exclusive. That is, there are some qualities or attributes that can only be possessed by God; were they possessed by man, he would no longer fall into the category of “man” but would be God (and vice-versa). So like I said, by definition that which is “man” cannot at the same time fall into the category of “God.”
In 1 Timothy 6:16 Paul states that God “alone has immortality.” Did Paul mean by this that God is the only immortal being in existence? No, for even Trinitarians will admit that there were non-God beings in existence when Paul wrote this who are also immortal (e.g., the angels in heaven). Paul can only mean that God alone is inherently immortal - i.e., his immortality is not derived but essential to his self-existent nature. Man, on the other hand, is not - for man’s nature was defined when he was created (and the first man clearly wasn’t created immortal, because he died 930 years later). But to say that Jesus is “fully God and fully man” is to say that he, as a person, is both inherently immortal and not inherently immortal - which is both a contradiction and unscriptural. Jesus did not become immortal until he was raised from the dead. Moreover, the name “Jesus” embraces the entirety of his personhood, and since Jesus died, it can only mean that the person which the name “Jesus” refers to, died. That is, it was Jesus who died, not some “part” of him. And if that’s true, then there could be no aspect of his personhood which was in any way immortal (which is an incoherent idea anyway, since a person can only be mortal or immortal, not both at the same time).
There is nothing in Scripture which teaches the idea that there was ever a “hypostatic union” between God and a man. This is nothing more than a theological fiction that adds only needless philosophical confusion to a truth that is so simple a child can understand it. As Dave Burke points out in his debate with Rob Bowman, we are told that the logos of God (the spoken word of God that manifests and accomplishes God’s plan and purpose) “became flesh.” It did not form a “hypostatic union” with flesh so that a single person became constituted by “two natures” that were inseparably “fused” together while somehow remaining distinct, with neither cancelling the other out. Jesus is one person with one nature and one will.