The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Does Julie think Jesus is God? How will Evangelicals react?

While I haven’t read the particular rabbi’s book you’re talking about, I am in fact familiar with the Hebrew perspective you’re talking about, including why they went that route from their scriptural testimonies. The position is so close to binitarian theism that there is practically no distinction, except that they don’t think the El Shaddai aspect of God (which they treat as being practically a second person of the one and only one God) has incarnated as the Messiah (although they do think He has routinely acted as the visible YHWH in many famous and even obscure Biblical incidents. While occasionally interacting in personal distinction with the invisible YHWH.)

I don’t recall if they think God eternally self-generates Himself this way, but many trinitarians wouldn’t say that either (although I do. In technical terms it’s the difference between privative and positive aseity: God simply statically exists, or God actively eternally self-generates Himself.)

When I talk about the subordination of God the Son, and the self-sacrifice of the 2nd Person even at the level of God’s own existence, and how the 2nd Person specially relates to the creation of not-God natural systems and of derivative persons in such systems, and why manifestations of God within such systems would be that 2nd Person of God (not the 1st Person), and why we should expect an Incarnation of God (beyond a mere manifestation of God), and why the Incarnation of the Son would be a pouring out and raising back up (in several various ways) thus becoming perfect with us while in other ways already being perfect, yadda yadda yadda etc. etc. {inhale} :mrgreen:

…I’m really only detailing in technical thought what the rabbinic tradition you’re talking about preferred to speak of in poetic thought, and in relation to much the same scriptural testimony.

But they had their own metaphysical disputes on such things, too, precisely because they took seriously the injunction not to religiously worship lesser lords or gods, nor to affirm multiple Most Highs, while also taking seriously scriptural testimony indicating there were multiple persons they were supposed to be religiously worshiping as (and identifying as) YHWH. (Thus, other rabbis contest that El Shaddai, the Angel of the Presence, the visible ADNY, is really YHWH.)

In short, the tradition you’re talking about directly implies that there are (at least) two Persons of one YHWH, in a real (not merely modalistic) personal relationship where one Person is in authority over the other Person, the Person in authority giving all things to the subordinate Person, and the subordinate Person receiving all things from the one in authority, both Persons serving each other in different ways, in what philosophers would call an agent/patient masculine/feminine relationship (even though both Persons would be masculine compared to anything in creation): not two YHWHs, nor a created person pretending to be YHWH as a idol for us to worship. We worship El Shaddai personally, El-elyon na Adonai, but we don’t worship anyone less or other than YHWH Most High in doing so. On the contrary, we are grateful to YHWH, the same El Shaddai from age to age, for giving Himself in sacrifice for our sake.

So you’re not actually referencing anything against trinitarian Christianity there, but actually something far more in favor of it than otherwise. :slight_smile: (Although the kabbalah material can get pretty extreme–which is why orthodox Jews are careful about using it, if they use it at all. It often goes beyond the boundaries emphasized in the scriptures: boundaries which turn out to have logical rationales, too, for not going beyond.)

Maybe he’s quoting Rline? “Surely even 1 Cor 8:6 is enough to give everyone pause to at least seriously look into what that might mean.”


Jason, now I’m confused. Bob’s first post in this thread agreed, or at least sympathised with what I (and Julie) was saying. Then I confess I didn’t understand his 2nd post. :blush: Now I think you’re saying that he was making the point that many EUs, who themselves want others to question certain scriptures on God’s salvation of all, now won’t question other scriptures that don’t fit with their current beliefs. Do I have that right? Or will I need even more :blush: next time?

“I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can, even if there isn’t any Narnia.”

No, it’s okay. I was counter-ironically observing (against his ironic observation) that trinitarians aren’t the only ones who suggest opponents aren’t taking certain scriptural testimonies seriously enough.

When he wrote what he did, I’m pretty sure he was aiming at me, even though I hadn’t used that phraseology in this thread yet. (I did shortly after his post, although I did so in a context that included anti-binitarian orthodox Jews being that way for taking the scriptures seriously, just like effectively binitarian orthodox Jews. The reason there are disputes is because the sides take scriptures seriously.)

But just to check I did a search for the term “serious”, and turned up that quote from you, implying that trinitarians don’t yet “seriously” look into what 1 Cor 8:6 might mean.

Frankly, Julie said some similar things, too, along the way. I thought it ironic than in his zeal to point out the irony of trinitarian universalists suggesting non-trinitarians aren’t taking various scriptural testimony seriously enough, when universalists often are charged with not taking other scriptural testimony seriously enough, Bob didn’t notice that non-trinitarians also suggest trinitarians don’t take scriptural testimony seriously enough yet.

A wryly counter-ironic joke was quicker than answering that I am entirely capable of analyzing 1 Cor 8:6 and its contexts in detail; that I routinely draw exegetical conclusions based on how the NT authors (and Jesus by report) use standard language tropes to communicate when they’re talking about YHWH compared to any lesser theos or kyrios; that I wasn’t replying to unitarians in the thread with metaphysical discussion instead of scriptural testimony, but to fellow trinitarians, one of whom asked me a clarifying question concerning a point of doctrine; and that in my experience I can do scriptural exegesis in detail all day but it won’t mean a fig when someone rejects my conclusions as untrue because they seem logically impossible (as Aaron recently did in our discussion over 1 Cor 10:1-14).

Sooner or later it comes down to the metaphysics. And that’s fine. I said I respected when people have metaphysical difficulties with ortho-trin and think it’s rationally nonsensical as a result, including when they play that card against an exegetical argument of mine. Logical (including theological) incoherency is an important way of identifying when a mistake has been made and a proposal should be rejected as untrue, and I have never once suggested (much less required) that someone accept something I believe that they regard, so far, as logically incoherent. I wouldn’t either if I was them.

But I reserve the same right to complain when I perceive metaphysical difficulties with a proposed alternative, especially when the alternative is proposed as being rationally superior in coherency to ortho-trin. Because just like them, when I find what I think are logical incoherencies, then I think a mistake has been made, and I refuse to accept the result as true.

I am monotonously consistent about respecting other people’s rational rights and obligations to reject something I believe where they find difficulties they think are insurmountable–which doesn’t stop me from doing my best to promote and defend what I believe (although a lack of time and energy may stop me. :wink: ) But I am going to occasionally exercise the same right in regard to problems I currently perceive. I would be acting irresponsibly if I did not.

Sorry I was obscure in agreeing with the irony that rline & Julie mentioned. I intended my 2nd entry to reinforce my 1st. The ‘quote’ was not intending to be anyone’s specific citation. It was meant to reflect my own perception as to the tone I sense in several writers, who tho non-orthodox evangelicals themselves, seem patronizing to me when they label & assert certitude about orthodoxy to one who questions another traditional view. My bias: we should emphasize clarification as to why we think the Bible aligns with our interpretation, and do less on what we’re sure orthodox logic demands.

In case you were thinking of me, at face value, as far as I can tell, Julie’s comments

do sound similar to Arianism

"]If the Father begat the Son, he that was begotten had a beginning of existence: and from this it is evident, that there was a time when the Son was not. It therefore necessarily follows, that he had his substance from nothing(I realise labels aren’t ideal, however, I wasn’t trying to use it to write her off but trying to locate the discussion in a broader historical context)

To clarify my “concern” & “worry” wasn’t concerning her salvation (obviously given I think everyone will be saved), but about thinking she might’ve been misguided (only as far as I could tell from that one post, & admitting I might be the one misguided) & that her position could make it even harder for others to listen to the helpful arguments she presents for Christian Universalism. Which is why I wanted to discuss the issue further with Julie…

I’m keenly aware of how much I still don’t know or understand correctly (e.g. I’m still very unsure about a lot in the OT - especially how the sacrificial system relates to Christ). I also acknowledge, as most Universalists do, that I have held believes that have turned out to be false, and that the only thing I can be certain about, is that I’m mistaken about other things.

As far as I know, I’m simply going along with Robin in saying that EU is orthodox in regards to the creeds/councils of the first 500 years. Again, that is of secondary importance to whether it’s Biblical or not, however, I still hold that we should at least look at how the early Church viewed these issues.

Superb post Lefein.

I’ve read the entire thread.

My brain now hurts.

I’ll just try to word some thoughts, for whatever they are worth:

  1. There is something amazing and profound in the concept that God experienced humanity (in all it’s fullness), so that humanity might experience God (in all His Fullness).

  2. Having escaped the box of ECT and having already been labelled a heretic, I am conscious that there can be a ‘pride’ in having discovered some truth which few others have learned, and consequently I must guard myself against the attraction of finding/creating yet more ‘truths’ to establish my identity or feed my ego (not that any of us would consciously do so).

To Jason: Commenting on the post you put up after mine - I like your thought process, Jason. :slight_smile: Like I said to Julie, I’m open to either side at this point, since I’m in flux, reevaluating much of what I believe.
I will say that whatever the case may be, the couple of things I said that are important to me, namely that Jesus is our Savior and King, and that God shares intimately in our experience, if these are true, either way, I’m open…
I’ll also add that I believe it’s pretty obvious that worshipping Jesus isn’t idolatry. :slight_smile:
When people worshipped Jesus in the New Testament, like Thomas for example when Jesus appeared to him, Jesus didn’t stop them from doing so like the angels would stop people from doing so.
So whatever view one holds, they can’t get around that, and I don’t believe any Christian should feel weird about worshipping Jesus, or even praying to Jesus, because it’s pretty obvious, at least to me, that God doesn’t feel weird about it. :slight_smile:
Like I mentioned in passing though, I’m wondering, what is the Holy Spirit’s place in all of this? :neutral_face:
And just to say Jason, I may be more of a poet and you may be more of an intellectual, but God has a place and a purpose for everyone. And both poets and intellectuals are equally loved by God. :slight_smile:

To AllanS: Yes, that’s the one, brother. :slight_smile:

To Pilgrim: Amen :slight_smile:


Your interaction on this has been humbly gracious, and your sincere effort at a label may apply. I little grasp Arian views.

Yet I took Dr. Larry Hurtado, professedly expert and orthodox, to insist that “the God” is in fact not Biblically used for Jesus. And doesn’t even traditional language say the Son “proceeds from” (= Julies ‘out of’?) the Father? I have no idea if Julie agrees that the Father cannot precede Jesus, which may in my ignorance indeed be the essence of avoiding ‘Arianism.’ But as you’d know from detailed interactions on Trinity and creeds, I don’t find such ontological issues to be so much the crux issue for faith as most evangelicals do. All who who see Jesus as the ultimate trustworthy revelation of what God is actually like feel like brothers and sisters in a faith whose priorities rest on a similar page as mine.

First off - I had a great chat with Melchizedek about this subject last evening at my house (over a couple of beers). He’s here in the UK to take an examination (I’ll drop him off at the university early Saturday morning - so prayers please that he passes). He also kindly brought me 2 books to read ‘The Shack’ and ‘Hope Beyond Hell’.


I found the following article by Stephen Jones of God’s Kingdom Ministries (he’s not everyone’s cup of tea) interesting in the context of this debate…

But understand that not even a sparrow falls without the Father experiencing it. God shares directly in our experiences in and through us. We don’t have to be personally fully God for that to happen. I understand the attraction of the trinity doctrine but I also believe that Jesus symbolizes all humanity: crown of thorns = mental anguish, pierced heart = broken hearts, pierced hands = our messed up deeds, pierced feet = our hellish journeys etc etc.

Wanting to project our personal pain onto and external/perfect God-man is understandable. Yet - I don’t agree with having to turn it into an incomprehensible "three persons, each fully ‘God’ " doctrine. Especially since when we try and go that high we really have no clue what we are talking about anyway. So at best, it is all interesting speculation although (especially with the time and genius some here make their cases with) I see no reason to belittle the discussion itself. I just don’t see it as being all important, even though it would be really nice to know and understand for sure what the case actually is.


To firstborn888: Scroll up and check out my response to Julie. The one that starts off with ‘Hey Julie :slight_smile:
After reading that, you’ll probably notice that I’m keeping an open mind. :slight_smile:
Thank you for your encouragement. :slight_smile: I especially appreciate the symbolism you see in the cross.
That’s poetic and beautiful and rings true. Thank you for sharing that. :slight_smile:
And I agree, when it comes to matters like this, who really knows for sure? And maybe we shouldn’t hurt our heads too much by trying to figure out all the deeper mysteries of God. :slight_smile:
We’re all on a journey, and we all have more to learn and more room to grow. And that’s okay. :slight_smile:

Blessings to you brother


I want to welcome Julie to the forum with open arms. Julie thanks for coming to the forum and taking the little precious time you have. While I too am a trinitarian believer, I open to being wrong. One thing we should note, is that if Julie is right and we simply shut her out and are pre-convinced that there is no possible way she can be right, then we doom ourselves (if she’s right). If she’s wrong, then isn’t it our lovingly responsibility to engage her and bring her the truth.

I would hope the same is true of you Julie. We understand you studied this and are no longer convinced (at least in the sense as you were prior to studying). But when you state “Western-minded Christians are quick to choose an either/or stance.”, isn’t that everyone? Critical thinking is an important part for every culture and western minded christians are not the only ones who lack. Are you opened to beliving that the trinity is simultaneouosly true and false? Are you that open minded? Or is it a yes or no thing? We’re all like this to a degree - how we frame our questions, how we present ideas, how we interpret things. I appreciate you stating you could be wrong. For me that’s the most critical notion of learning, but that does not mean we could be wrong on anything or everything. The difficulty remains no matter whether you’re raised in a western culture or not. I just see it all the time, people emanicipate themselves from an idea and then declare their openness only later to demonstrate how closed they really are - it’s something we all struggle with.

I think I mentioned something about the Spirit being the gift of God by God to persons, as the first action of God beyond what is necessary to self-exist.

I quite agree. :slight_smile:

Hey Auggybendoggy (love the username!),

I totally didn’t mean to stereotype individuals but indeed I was generalizing. However, I think you’re right. It’s human nature and I know I still do it. However, it is generally understood by religionists and sociologists that Eastern cultures apply a more creative view to spiritual things and do not need to pin down complexities and mysteries as much as Western cultures do.

For the record YES, I am very open to being wrong if presented with convincing evidence. I’m open to being wrong on anything. The more I learn, the more I realize I was wrong on most things. And all that makes me realize I could still be wrong. :open_mouth: I think that we do learn in layers. When I first learned the Bible, I took everything on the surface (and then applied the lenses of the person teaching me). But as you know, the more you study, you begin to realize there are deeper layers that alter the way you perceive the meaning of what you once read on the surface.

There is a delicate balance between being open to being wrong, and at the same time being convinced in our own minds (Stephen Jones’ reminder) as we piece things together. I sincerely hope that I am always open to the possibility of being wrong.

Thanks for the gracious and warm welcome. I look forward to more dialog in the future.

There is something quite awkward, isn’t there, about this entire topic of Christ’s divinity. All Julie does is tap into that awkwardness in my view.

And it is quite interesting how allies and allegiances and alignments so quickly form. As Universalists, we surely know what it’s like to be frowned upon by the rest of the community who processes otherwise. Perhaps it’s as simple as us being so hungry for acceptance by the “main group” (since we’ve NOT been accepted for so long because of UR) that we are prone to gang up (bad terminology I admit…) on one who diverges from “our orthodoxy” (most here are Trinitarians I think…) just as we’ve been “ganged up on” by those who eschew Universalism… Just a thought…

I’ve long asked the question, If God is saying the same things to each of us, why is it we’re hearing things so differently?

The story we tell (of God, and creation, and falling away, and restoration and redemption and so on) works far, far better when we read it as Jesus being God. Actual, divine, eternal; God. If it’s baffled Jews, and Islam, how that actually “works”, it’s little wonder that some of that bafflement lends over into Christianity. My personal suspicion is that Christianity has for so long placed God and Jesus in tension because of the penal substitution model of Atonement that this tension inevitably leaks out as Jesus not really being God. Arianism then as the detritus of pitting Jesus in opposition to God at the Cross. (ie Jesus paying to God the penalty for our sins; Jesus effecting God to change His mind about us; Jesus dying to assuage God’s wrath that would otherwise have been upon us… And so on…)

That hell is not eternal, that God punishes to effect redemption, that God is Totally Victorious in His intent to seek and save the lost; that is what should bind us to our Arian Universalist compadres. (Does Julie F describe herself as an Arian Universalist? or did I just make that term up???) HOW it all works together to the glory of God is what captivates us all.

I must say that, should I discover that God wins through a revelation of Himself (Christ) that wasn’t divine, that will be a far harder thing to swallow than the “discovery” that hell or annihilation never were the answers. Am simply unable to fathom what question is answered, what “problem” is solved, by Jesus NOT being God.

As I see things now, Universalism is THE “big tent” of the Gospel under which ALL of us should be able to unite. Focus less on our correctness per se (of course I’m right – and you’re less so…) and more on the Father who welcomes us home with arms WIDE open.


Wow! I did try to read the whole thing, but my brain winked out somewhere a little past the half-way mark. I am completely convinced that Jesus is God the Son and fully divine and fully as divine as God the Father. That doesn’t mean at all that I don’t love those with whom I disagree, but I have looked into this at some length and this is my conclusion.

I came at it from the other direction, having held a rather lesser Christology previously – not because it was what I had been taught, but rather what I had caught from those around me. They didn’t consciously hold the view of Jesus being less than God, but they did demonstrate it via attitude and depiction. I saw Him as gentle Jesus meek and mild, you know – which is true as far as it goes, but so far from the fullness and greatness of His might. I don’t mean to offend Julie or those who agree with her. This is my own experience and I respect theirs. God will set us all straight in His good time regarding any error any of us may embrace.

My somewhat touchy feely method of exegesis is to read everything I can find in scripture regarding the subject, read commentaries, read Greek definitions and word studies and so on, compile a list of the scriptures, maybe memorize things I don’t understand and meditate on them, and in this rich soup of scripture, allow my heart to come to conclusions as it will. Not nearly as scientific as either Jason or Julie, but it’s who I am, and at this point I’m absolutely not open to the possibility that Jesus is anything less than fully divine. If God wants me to believe otherwise, He can manage that, as I’m always open to Him.

Meanwhile, I certainly accept my brothers and sisters who disagree with me, but I won’t pretend to consider a position that I can’t seriously entertain. It would be dishonest of me and I’d feel guilty about presenting myself to be open-minded in an area in which I truly am not.

So yeah, I just kinda wanted to say that. :wink:

Blessings to all of you,