The Evangelical Universalist Forum

How Many Gods Are There?

(1Ti 2:5) For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

If the Son of God were part of a Trinity the above statement would not make sense. Clearly, in this verse, the “one God” is the Father alone.

Jesus prayed the following to the Father:

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

How could Jesus have regarded His Father as “the only true God” if God is a Trinity of three divine Persons?

Is each ‘Person’ omniscient - do they each know everything? That would mean that all knowledge and wisdom is complete in each person. There would be NO difference in knowledge. The same with omniscience. The same with omnipresence. The same with omnipotence.

It’s not like we would add the 3 together to get one god, right? If each knows everything, can do anything, is everywhere - you might ask - why 3? Why ‘talk’ to One another? Not to share information, or insight etc. - none of the 3 needs anything from the ‘others’. In fact, if they are each gods, do we call the group of them ‘God’? Or is the term ‘God’ meant to mean three exactly the same ‘persons’?

I would argue that Thomas exclaimed "My Lord and my God" because he recognized irrefutable evidence of Jesus being God (the Son) --both by virtue of seeing Jesus alive again with his own eyes, and thus seeing the authority of Jesus over death; and by seeing Jesus walk into the room through closed doors. Thomas’s reaction was in the vein of Nathanael’s epiphany:

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! you are the king of Israel!” John 1:48-49.

No, I would argue Jesus is God because he is uncreated, eternal, and co-equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit:

John 1:1,2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word WAS God; this one [“Jesus,” the Second Person of the Trinity] was in the beginning with God; YLT.

Perhaps Jesus’ subordinate Sonship began in his subsequent rôle as a human being, after he had been “begotten” by the Father, through the Holy Spirit’s work in the womb of his obedient servant, Mary (Luke 1:35), foretold in Scripture (Isaiah 7:14).

No, the Scriptures themselves had already pointed to a God comprised of Three Persons, e.g.,

  • Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;"
  • Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,"
  • 2 Cor. 13:14 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.”

And, of course,

Matthew 3:16-17
"As soon as JESUS was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw THE SPIRIT of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a VOICE FROM HEAVEN SAID, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased”

vis-à-vis

John 5:18
Because of this, then, were the Jews seeking the more to kill him [JESUS], because not only was he breaking the sabbath, but he also called God his own Father, MAKING HIMSELF EQUAL TO GOD.

and

John 8:58-59
Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

“Trinitarianism” was formally ratified in the 4th century, but it cannot be said that that is when it originated.

If I confused the divine name with the name of the Lord Jesus, seems like the author of Romans did the same. Sure, YHWH changed to LORD (small caps), but the referent is still the same–the divine Name. Verses referring to YHWH are quoted in the NT referring to Jesus.

Romans 10:13 (to Joel 2:32), Hebrews 1:8-9 (Psalm 45:6), Hebrews 1:13 (Psalm 110:1), et al.

8 But of the Son he says,

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

and

13 And to which of the angels has he ever said,

“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?

By implication, a doctrine of the trinity comes to the fore to reconcile the simultaneous assertion of monotheism with the inclusion of Jesus as fully divine alongside the Father (mutatis mutandis for the Spirit).

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But, in defence of your position that Jesus is not the one and only true God you said:

If that isn’t relevancy, then I don’t know what is.
The idea that the modifier ‘my’, in the context given, relegates Thomas’ declaration to something less than Jesus being the one and only true God just doesn’t hold water IMO.

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Dave, good points. It seems that whoever came up with the doctrine of the Trinity didn’t think it through very well. They also failed to include wisdom which would make it 4 persons as she was there with God as well. Revelation mentions the seven Spirits of God. Shouldn’t they be included too?

Perhaps! But ONLY if they aren’t zombies from Z-Hell (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)…

Perhaps we also need a song, to reinforce folks theme of “one God”? Much like faiths like Judaism, Sikhism, the Bahia faith and Islam - talks about!

Was Thomas REALLY saying that 'You are not only my Lord, but also the Second Person of the Trinity? That You are equal to but different than Yahweh, the almighty Father, who You called the only true God?"
No, that is not what Thomas was saying. There is absolutely no thing in that or any gospel that would have led Thomas to say that. He was talking to man that was dead and was now alive, not to a god who had disguised himself as human.

I agree that Thomas was not thinking about the Trinity but neither do I find it likely that Thomas was just taking God’s name in vain. So what are we left with, remembering that we are considering a culture that was deeply monotheistic and Thomas refers to Jesus as his God?

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I really don’t think the apostles and early folks hanging around Christ…had a CLEAR idea regarding the Trinity. It really came a bit later…as a result of creed formulation, counsel meetings, etc.

The early apostles and folks around Christ - including Paul, were probably singing this song!

I don’t know about “adding together” but classic Trinitarian teaching is that the three divine Persons constitute ONE God. So when they utter the word “God” in their conversation they mean “The Trinity,”
This doesn’t agree with the writers of the New Testament. When they used the word “God” they almost always referred to the Father alone.

Here are the three sentences in the New Testament in which the phrase “one God” occurs. Notice that in each sentence the “one God” denotes the Father, and not a “Trinity”.

1Co 8:6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

Eph 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

Yes, I wrote that, but only because I had observed it to be true. I didn’t write it in an attempt to prove that Jesus was never in any sense called “God” by the NT writers.

I think we should be wary of any doctrine that suggests man IS God as well as any man who claims to be God. Men may THINK they are God, but they are sadly mistaken. Men can be like God and they can be gods (rulers/leaders) under the power and authority of God, but man is certainly NOT God.

But God …if he or she - or whatever - wanted to become man…for whatever reason…is this something that is impossible, for God to do? Similarly, if God wanted to perform miracles through man, can God not do so? Whether through Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox saints, Tibetan lamas, Pentecostal members, Sufi Saints, Native American holy and medicine people, Indian yogis, etc.?

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Along with quite a few other students, my impression is that the synoptics suggest Jesus is Messiah and use several other titles used of an expected God-sent human deliverer, but emphasize Jesus’ role of pointing others to a proper faith in God the Father.

Whereas John’s account puts much more emphasis on believing things about Jesus’ unique identity. Thus Thomas’ words, placed at the climax of his narrative, appear to be a confession of Thomas’ faith concerning Jesus’ identity, and the main choices are that he is recognizing Jesus’ divinity, or exclaiming in shock about Jesus being alive, “O my God,” toward the Father in heaven. But the former option appears to fit that Gospel’s wider context much better.

The other much less widely supported option is that Thomas is addressing Jesus, and referring to him as deity in some sense, but not in the elevated sense that the Father is divine. The reason that few exegetes advocate that may be that it appears an obscure effort by non-trinitarians to avoid its’ bold language.

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HF, If God wants to perform miracles, why would He need to become a man to do so?

Bob, I think many tend to see Jesus as some kind of superman who was sent to save the world. I don’t agree with this. Any thoughts on the matter?

That was NOT my question. I had two questions.

  • Question 1: But God …if he or she - or whatever - wanted to become man…for whatever reason…is this something that is impossible, for God to do? In other words, is it possible for God to become man? End of question, period.

  • Question 2: Similarly, if God wanted to perform miracles through man, can God not do so? Then I went on, to list possible human sources: Whether through Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox saints, Tibetan lamas, Pentecostal members, Sufi Saints, Native American holy and medicine people, Indian yogis, etc.?

Jesus is whatever folks view him as. For the traditional Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant faith traditions, there is a certain perspective. Similarly, folks here …as well as traditions like Islam, Judaism, Mormonism, Hinduism, and Buddhism - have their own perspectives on Jesus.

Now I’ll say something RADICAL, in accordance with the Holy Fool tradition. If Jesus is like Superman, then he also wants us to become like the Flash, Green Lantern, Spiderman, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, or Batman. Something that the Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Catholics, and mystics of all traditions (as exemplified by RC Fr. Richard Rohr at CAC) - keep telling us!

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Then we can all attend, the eternal superhero party! But it starts right here…in the here and now, with a change of consciousness.

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Just make sure the Incredible Hulk, didn’t use the bathroom before you! :wink:

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Perhaps this is what happens here, on the forum sometimes. Folks are looking for the right bathroom…but end up finding, the one the Incredible Hulk just exited from. :rofl:

Well, my tradition saw him as superman in the sense of seeing him as possessing a unique divinity that allowed him to satisfy God the Father’s need to proportionately pummel sinners and pay the price for exempting humans from their sin’s consequence. And the implication of my response you quote from is that I sense, despite the synoptic’s sense that Jesus better fits OT expectation of a God-sent human who in some sense offers the way of deliverance, other texts, especially John, appear to recognize Jesus as super human and divine. And I think that makes the fairly rapid development of later Trinitarian theories plausible.

But I personally, as a non-fundamentalist on the Bible, tend to see Jesus as bringing us salvation and wholeness, not in doing a super-human one time transaction, but in God providing in him a model of what we are called to be like, and a down to earth demonstration of what God is like. I.e. for me, what is salient about the claim that Jesus was more than human, is not that he was deity, but that he is the clearest revelation of God’s character available to us.

(I also choose to bet that his faithful display of love was validated by God raising him from the dead, to thus bolster our hope that following God’s way of love will ultimately be completely vindicated.)

I agree that Jesus existing before Abraham wouldn’t necessarily mean Jesus was God, but him claiming to be I AM does. IMO to say that Jesus wasn’t claiming to be God with that statement is tantamount to saying Jesus spoke extremely carelessly. There should be no ambiguity when it comes to determining who is God and who is not.

I’ve never seen a translation that says “the Word was with the God”. What Greek word for “with” is used there?