The Evangelical Universalist Forum

In response to non-trinitarian thread

Hi Jason,

Thanks for the comments. I think one problem with your theory is that when Paul speaks of “the rock” in 1 Cor 10:8 there’s no indication that he’s alluding to anything other than the literal rock at Horeb that Moses struck with his staff (Ex 17:6; Num 20:8-11). It was this literal rock (which is said to be “spiritual” in the same sense that the manna that fell from heaven and the water which flowed from the rock are said to be “spiritual” - vv. 3-4) that was thought to typify Christ, and is thus (by a figure of speech) said to have been Christ. You’re assuming that, because the Most High God, YHWH, is also called a “Rock,” Paul is referring both to the literal rock at Horeb as well as to YHWH himself. But that’s a conclusion that I don’t think anyone would infer from Paul’s words here unless they already believed (or were already inclined to believe) that the man, Jesus Christ, is YHWH!

Or, when Paul says, “the Rock is Christ,” he means the rock at Horeb from which water miraculously flowed and saved the Israelites from dying from thirst typifies Christ. :slight_smile: There is a huge difference - an infinite difference, in fact! - between saying that a literal rock from which water miraculously flowed is, in a figurative sense, Christ (because it typifies him) and saying that YHWH and Christ are ontologically identical. The former is the simplest and least problematic interpretation of Paul’s words and can be accepted by both Unitarians and Trinitarians (for who can deny that Paul is referring to the literal rock at Horeb which Moses struck, and from which water miraculously flowed?), while the latter is an interpretation based on an assumption that the text itself does not demand (i.e., that when Paul spoke of the “rock” from which the Israelites drank he had in mind not only the literal rock referred to in Ex 17:6 and Num 20:8-11 but also YHWH himself, since YHWH figuratively refers to himself as a “Rock”).

Moreover, when you say that “YHWH…led and followed them throughout the desert wanderings as a pillar of smoke and fire” (emphasis mine) you seem to be referring to the following verses:

“And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night” (Ex 13:21).

“They have heard that you, O LORD, are in the midst of this people. For you, O LORD, are seen face to face, and your cloud stands over them and you go before them, in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night” (Num 14:14).

“By a pillar of cloud you led them in the day, and by a pillar of fire in the night to light for them the way in which they should go… you in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go” (Neh 9:12, 19).

Now, as you can see from the above verses, this pillar of cloud and fire is always said to have led the Israelites, but I’m not aware of any verses in which this pillar is said to have led “and followed” them throughout their desert wanderings. If I’ve overlooked them I’m sure you’ll bring them to my attention. The only verse of which I’m aware when this pillar is not presented as being before them is Exodus 14:19-20: “Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel.” But of course, this takes place after the Israelites had ceased moving and were encamped by the Red Sea (Ex 14:2). So to say this pillar both “led and followed” them seems a bit misleading, and more like an attempt to give your interpretation greater support than it has.

But more importantly, I wanted to mention Ex 14:2 because there we find that it was the “angel of God” - not God himself - who was “going before the host of Israel.” When this angel moved and went behind the encamped Israelites, the pillar moved and stood behind them (which probably means the pillar was being supernaturally produced by the angel). It was not YHWH personally who was leading them, but his angel - i.e., the angel later referred to in Ex 23:20-24: “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him. But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out, you shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do as they do, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces.”

This, then, is the sense in which YHWH God was present with and leading the Israelites as they wondered through the desert - through the agency of an angelic being to whom YHWH had given a great degree of authority (“my name is in him”). By obeying the voice of this angel, they were obeying YHWH, since this angel was given the authority to represent YHWH to the Israelites. And then later in Isaiah 63, we read of Israel asking for YHWH to be present with them in the same or similar miraculous sense in which he was present with them during their desert wanderings - i.e., through the “angel” referred to in Ex 23. This angelic being is referred to as the “angel of his presence” because YHWH had invested this angel with divine authority to act and speak on his behalf, and to have this supernatural being in their midst was like speaking to God “face to face.” And as I argue on the “OT and the Trinity” thread, the “love and pity” in which the children of Israel were “redeemed” during this time was the love and pity of YHWH manifested through the agency of the angel who functioned as YHWH’s representative at that time, and by which YHWH could be said to be present with his people while still remaining in his “dwelling place” in heaven (1Kings 8:39; 2Chron 6:39).

Far from “easily explaining” anything, I think that identifying Christ with YHWH actually complicates things beyond all rational comprehension and turns an otherwise simple figurative and typological comparison into a claim that would make Paul into either a Modalist or, at minimum, a ditheist. If the Father’s divine name is YHWH (which both Unitarians and Trinitarians agree to be true) and Christ is a person distinct from the Father who possesses all of the divine attributes of the Father (and may thus also be identified as “YHWH,” the Eternal or Self-existent One) then “YHWH” is the divine name of two Gods, not one God.

The fact that there are NT manuscripts which have “Christ” in this verse rather than “Lord” doesn’t, of course, mean Paul actually wrote “Christ” here. And apparently, there are a number of translators who don’t think “Christ” is original here (such as those involved with the NIV, NASB, ISV, ASV, ERV and CLV). … hians-10-9

And even if Paul wrote “Christ” instead of “Lord,” it doesn’t mean he believed that the pre-existent Christ was YHWH, for again, it was through the agency of an angelic being (i.e., a being that the human Jesus was made “a little lower than” prior to his becoming superior to angels and inheriting a name that is more excellent than theirs - Heb 1:4) that YHWH was obeyed or disobeyed at the time in Israel’s history to which Paul is referring. So even if Paul believed that Christ actually did pre-exist his conception as the personal being spoken of in Ex 23:20-24, I believe this being is spoken of by YHWH as a being distinct from, and inferior to, YHWH himself. But I think a radical theory such as this (which is even less radical than the idea that Jesus is YHWH himself) would require much, much than a few variant texts (which may or may not be original) from which to derive any real strength.

Or perhaps your theory goes beyond the appropriate context Paul had in mind and attempts to draw support from verses to which the apostle was not actually referring. :slight_smile:

I think it would be more accurate to say that it is “ditheism at least.” Two distinct persons sharing the same essential divine nature or essence - and who thus each possess all of the necessary divine attributes by which one person may be categorized as a single “God” - makes two Gods, not one.

I think my comments on 1 Cor 10:9 (and the comments on the website to which I linked) apply here as well. There is no scholarly consensus on which reading is original, and there are several English translations which reflect the views of those scholars who don’t think “Jesus” is original here. I know of no “knockdown” argument proving that those manuscripts which read “Jesus” (or some other variant) rather than “Lord” reflect the original reading. “Jesus” may be considered a “more difficult reading” (in some sense, at least) but as the editors of The UBS Greek New Testament put it, I’d say it’s “difficult to the point of impossibility.” When we take the theological context, the historical context and the textual evidence into account, I think by far the strongest support is for “Lord” (which may then refer to Jesus’ Lord, the Father) rather than “Jesus.”

Here are just some opinions I found in which “Lord” is seen as the more probable reading in Jude 5:

I think Bauckham makes a good point; “Jesus” (and I would include the other variant readings as well - i.e., “God” and “God Christ”) is more likely an attempt by a scribe to “resolve the ambiguity” of “Lord.”

As far as the number of manuscripts with each variant, perhaps you or someone else could help me out here. Based on, this is what someone got for the number of manuscripts with each variant:

“Jesus”: 11

“Lord”: 12

“God”: 2

“God Christ”: 1

The dates (in centuries) of the mss are as follows:

“Jesus”: 1241 = XII; 1739 = X; 1881 = XIV; one lat cop = ? // A = V; B = IV; 33 = IX; 81 = XI; three lat vg = none given

“Lord”: S = IV; Psi = VII/IX; C* = V; 630 = XIV; 2495 = XIV/XV; syr(h) = VII // K = IX; L = VIII/IX; 104 = XI; 945 = XI; Byz Lect = none given

“God”: one lat syr(ph) = none given // C2 = VI

“God Christ”: p72 = III/IV

Based on the above data it was concluded that the earliest “Jesus” and “Lord” mss are both in the 4th century; the second earliest ms for both reading is in the 5th century; the third earliest witnesses for both readings are in the 9th century, with the difference being that the “Lord” reading has four 9th century (or perhaps earlier) mss to the “Jesus” reading’s one ms. The “Jesus” reading then has one ms in the 10th century, followed by one in the 11th: the one in the 11th century is matched and bettered by two 11th century “Lord” mss. The “Jesus” reading then has a ms in the 12th century, followed by one in the 14th: the 14th century ms is matched by a “Lord” mss. Then, finally, the “Lord” reading has a ms in the 15th century.

So from the above it would seem that the mss evidence may not be quite as strongly in favor of the “Jesus” variant as one might think.

Another point that I think lends support to the reading “Lord” is that, of all the known NT variants that are overwhelmingly rejected as textual corruptions from the original, many seem to reflect a Trinitarian bias. It just seems to me that, given two variants where one obviously favours the orthodoxy of the day while the other does not so obviously favour it (while still perhaps being consistent with it!), the former is more likely the corruption. I’m inclined to believe that the same theological bias which led some copyists to alter a text such as 1 Timothy 3:16 or (at a later time - the 1500’s - when the Trinitarian position was beginning to be challenged by a Unitarian revival) add to 1 John 5:7-8 to favor the orthodoxy of the day perhaps led like-minded copyists to change “Lord” to “Jesus” in Jude 5 and “Lord” to “Christ” in 1 Cor 10:9.

I think a better interpretation is that Isaiah’s prophecy in 8:13-15 simply had a dual application: In the days of king Ahaz (Isa 7:1), the “rock of stumbling” was YHWH of hosts, the “one God” of Israel (who is Jesus’ “Lord God”). In the days of Paul and Peter, however, the “stone” that YHWH said he was going to lay “as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation” (Isa 28:16) also became a “rock of stumbling” to the Jewish people. This “stone” laid by YHWH is his anointed, the Son of the Most High (i.e., Jesus). Thus, what was true of God in the days of Ahaz became true of God’s Son in the days of Paul and Peter, and thus that prophecy in which Israel’s God (Jesus’ God) is said to be a stone of stumbling is appropriately applied also to Jesus. It was, of course, on Jesus that God bestowed “the name that is above every name,” so that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord made “both Lord and Christ” - Acts 2:36] may be saved” (Rom 10:9-13).

Hi redhotmagma,

As I noted in my response to Jason (see also … hians-10-9), other manuscripts read “the Lord” in 1 Cor 10:9 rather than “Christ.” I think this reading is not only more consistent with the rest of Scripture, but it’s more consistent with the immediate context. In 1 Cor 10:4 Paul had just said that the rock from which the Israelites drank (i.e., the rock at Horeb that Moses struck with his staff - Ex 17:6; Num 20:8-11) “is Christ.” But Paul is obviously using a figure of speech here; he’s not saying the rock that Moses struck is literally Christ. Rather, his meaning is that this rock from which water miraculously flowed typified Christ. But this typological allusion to the story of the water flowing from the rock in the desert strongly suggests that Christ (God’s Anointed One) wasn’t actually around yet; rather, Christ was foreshadowed and typified by this rock (as well as by many other things, events and people of which we read in the OT), which point us to the human Christ of history - i.e., the virgin-born man from Nazareth who was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit, and who now sits at God’s right hand as Lord of all (and who once said, “…whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever,” and “whoever believes in me shall never thirst”).

God’s throne was “in appearance like sapphire” (ESV), which probably refers to the colour of this gemstone. I seriously doubt that the divine throne Ezekiel beheld in this vision looked anything like the kind of rock that Moses struck with his staff, and think it’s a bit of a stretch to try and associate this rock with the appearance of God’s throne in Ezekiel’s vision. :slight_smile:

First, I’m pretty sure that in Ezekiel’s vision he doesn’t refer to God as “a son of man.” Rather, he says (vv. 26, 28), “and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance…such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of YHWH” (ESV).

Second, this was clearly a vision given to Ezekiel (1:1), and need not be understood as an objective appearance of YHWH to Ezekiel (who is referred to repeatedly by YHWH as “son of man” because, like Christ, Ezekiel is a human being descended from Adam, and not an uncreated or angelic being).

Third, in another vision of God given to Daniel, the unipersonal Being who is seen sitting on a throne is also described as having the appearance of a man (Dan 7:9-10), and yet even the Trinitarian would have to admit that this was a vision of the Father, not of Jesus. In vv. 13-14, the Being sitting on a throne (the “Ancient of Days”) is clearly distinguished from “one like a son of man” (the Messiah) who is “presented before him.”

This unipersonal being seen by Ezekiel in a vision is sitting where God would sit because he is God. He is the “Ancient of Days” and the “Most High” of whom Daniel wrote, the “only true God” of whom Christ spoke, and the “one God” of whom Paul wrote (i.e., the Father).

Yes, the literal rock which Moses struck in the desert typifies Christ (and is “spiritual” in the same sense that the literal water that flowed from it is “spiritual”), but Christ is not literally that rock. It’s a figure of speech. Moreover, in Rev 22:1, the “Lamb” is Jesus, and the unipersonal Being at whose right hand Jesus is sitting (the being who is simply called “God”) is Jesus’ God (Rev 1:6; 3:2, 12) - i.e., YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Most High, the Ancient of Days, the Father, etc.

Who are you referring to by the personal title “Lord” in the expression “the Word of the Lord,” above?

Again, although it was certainly miraculous, Ezekiel’s experience was not, I don’t think, an objective experience; rather, it was a vision. And when Scripture talks about no mortal being able to see YHWH and live, it’s probably referring to the Father as he appears in heaven, in the full manifestation of his glory. As the Father appears in heaven, no mortal could see him and live; apparently, the “unapproachable light” in which the Father dwells in heaven would not only render him invisible to mortal eyes (1 Tim 6:16) but the glory radiating from him would be so overwhelming that it would prove lethal to those who have not been made fit for heaven (e.g., Jesus Christ and the angels). Hence, Moses is only allowed to see a small glimpse of the Father in his glory (Ex 33:18-23); anything more would’ve killed him. But does this mean the Father has never appeared to mortals in a less glorious form or state (i.e., a state in which the fullness of his glory is “toned down” to a degree that would not be lethal for mortals to behold)? Well, based on verses such as the following, some believe that the Father has done just this (Gen. 3:8; 12:7; 15:1; 17:1; 18:1; 28:13; Ex. 24:9-11). At one point (almost 2 years ago, in fact: The OT and the Trinity) I was inclined to view verses like this solely as examples of representative agency (the Jewish law of agency is expressed in the dictum, “A person’s agent is regarded as the person himself”). While I still believe an understanding of this principle is helpful to understanding a number of passages in Scripture (e.g., Ex 23:20-24), I’m more of the opinion now that the verses referenced above are in fact examples of the Father (YHWH) actually appearing to mortals in a less glorious form than he appears before those who are able to behold him in heaven. But these personal appearances of YHWH to mortals in the OT should almost certainly be understood as the exceptions, for it does not seem that YHWH typically left his throne in heaven to speak to people “face to face” on earth (especially after Moses). Most of the time, it seems as if he spoke to and interacted with human beings through angels to whom he’d given the authority to represent him and speak on his behalf. He also appeared in visions (such as Ezekiel’s and Daniel’s) and dreams (e.g., 1 Kings 3:5; 9:2; 11:9).

Χριστόν (Criston, “Christ”) is attested in the majority of mss, including many important witnesses of the Alexandrian (Ì46 1739 1881) and Western (D F G) texttypes, and other mss and versions (Ψ latt sy co). On the other hand, some of the important Alexandrian witnesses have κύριον (kurion, “Lord”; א B C P 33 104 1175 al). A few mss (A 81 pc) have θεόν (qeon, “God”). The nomina sacra for these readings are quite similar (cMn, kMn, and qMn respectively), so one might be able to account for the different readings by way of confusion. On closer examination, the variants appear to be intentional changes. Alexandrian scribes replaced the highly specific term “Christ” with the less specific terms “Lord” and “God” because in the context it seems to be anachronistic to speak of the exodus generation putting Christ to the test. If the original had been “Lord,” it seems unlikely that a scribe would have willingly created a difficulty by substituting the more specific “Christ.” Moreover, even if not motivated by a tendency to overcorrect, a scribe might be likely to assimilate the word “Christ” to “Lord” in conformity with Deut 6:16 or other passages. The evidence from the early church regarding the reading of this verse is rather compelling in favor of “Christ.” Marcion, a second-century, anti-Jewish heretic, would naturally have opposed any reference to Christ in historical involvement with Israel, because he thought of the Creator God of the OT as inherently evil. In spite of this strong prejudice, though, {Marcion} read a text with “Christ.” Other early church writers attest to the presence of the word “Christ,” including {Clement of Alexandria} and Origen. What is more, the synod of Antioch in a.d. 268 used the reading “Christ” as evidence of the preexistence of Christ when it condemned Paul of Samosata. (See G. Zuntz, The Text of the Epistles, 126-27; TCGNT 494; C. D. Osburn, “The Text of 1 Corinthians 10:9,” New Testament Textual Criticism: Its Significance for Exegesis, 201-11; contra A. Robertson and A. Plummer, First Corinthians [ICC], 205-6.) Since “Christ” is the more difficult reading on all accounts, it is almost certainly original. In addition, “Christ” is consistent with Paul’s style in this passage (cf. 10:4, a text in which {Marcion} also reads “Christ”). This text is also christologically significant, since the reading “Christ” makes an explicit claim to the preexistence of Christ. (The textual critic faces a similar dilemma in Jude 5. In a similar exodus context, some of the more important Alexandrian mss [A B 33 81 pc] and the Vulgate read “Jesus” in place of “Lord.” Two of those mss [A 81] are the same mss that have “Christ” instead of “God” in 1 Cor 10:9. See the tc notes on Jude 5 for more information.) In sum, “Christ” has all the earmarks of authenticity here and should be considered the original reading.
–NET Bible notes

“Expressed only in itself?” Didn’t you mean “himself?” :slight_smile:

I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying here. Why, as a Panentheist, do you believe God must be multi-personal in order to be in all things? Are you saying you don’t believe that the Father (whose existence is unipersonal) cannot exist in persons such as yourself “in any meaningful form?” Does the Father have to be multi-personal in order for him to exist in you in any meaningful form? What is your understanding of Paul’s words in Eph 4:6, where the apostle writes, “There is…one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all”? See also Acts 17:24-28.

Would you consider Jesus’ God (the divine personal being beside whom Christ is presently sitting) to be “permanently distant, detached, and singular unto his own being” such that separation from him is “default, inevitable, and eternal?” Do you think he seems this way to the angelic beings who, in heaven, “see his face?” We’re also told that YHWH has, on occasion, appeared in human form and spoken to mortal humans face to face (such as when he appeared to Abraham and Moses). Assuming this personal being is unipersonal (for he certainly appeared and spoke as if he were unipersonal), would you consider this being “permanently distant, detached, and singular unto his own being?”

I’m sorry if you’ve already addressed this Aaron but:

The ESV may say in appearance like sapphire, but the Hebrew has the word eben 068;rock, along with the word for sapphire, and above that stone is the throne, this I am saying is the rock the water flows from.

How is it that you account for the spiritual rock following them is the rock moses struck? That rock was never said to provide them with water for their entire journey but a one time event. It seems you’re making the assumption that it is the rock in question. But if in Revelation we see the river of life flowing from the throne, and we know the throne is found in the cloud as seen in Ezekiel. That same cloud is seen in:

Exo 40:34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
Deut 31:14 The Lord appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud that stood above the door of the tent.

So the throne of God is in the cloud and out of that throne flows the river of life, which is the fulfillment of the type that took place in the wilderness. There wouldn’t be much water out there and they wandered for 40 years, so they had to get water somehow, which likely was provided supernaturally from the cloud.

You asked about the likeness of man upon the throne (you’re right I was incorrect in saying like a son of man): And above the expanse that is over their head, as an appearance of a sapphire stone, is the likeness of a throne, and on the likeness of the throne a likeness, as the appearance of man upon it from above.

Mentally I have a difficult time even conceiving of the Unitarian version of God being capable of having gender, so on occasion my mental concept shines through, where I forget to translate and use “he” terms.

A Freudian slip, as it were.

The Unitarian God (One Person Alone) I believe (based on what the Unitarian God is supposed to be like in his nature) is incapable of manifesting in any form other than itself (himself) existentially. For the Unitarian God to be panentheistic, would require that existentially that very God must be capable of existing, or expressing himself in a multiplicity of persons (such as myself, “God in me”, and certainly such as Jesus, “God Incarnate”), realities (or facets of Reality, such as our Universe and the processes and laws which govern it), and otherwise; which would be a defeater for the Unitarian concept of “One Person Alone” or “Existentially Singular, existing only so far as an Individual Entity unto itself/himself/herself”.

In the Unitarian sense, he is incapable of it entirely, since he can only exist unto himself - and only as his own individual entity of self. He cannot have connection to Creation, only to Himself as Himself; a singular person, a singular entity. Otherwise he’d cease to be Unitarian.

The Father, in being a person of God, is capable of existing in the panentheistic sense; due to the fact (according to my belief at any rate) that God is capable of existing in unanimous multiplicity.

If God is incapable of existing transpersonally, and multipersonally, or in any sort of unanimous multiplicity; in other words if he is only capable of existing uni-personally as a single entity or person, and that single entity or person alone as his sole, eternal identity unto himself - then he is simply not capable of existing intimately as one with my person, or any person, and actually, he could not even have existed as one with Christ’s person.

It would be impossible for Jesus and Father to be “One”, just as it would be impossible for Me and Father to be “One”, he’d be only capable of being “One” with himself, and nothing else. The Unitarian God is only “One” with Himself, and no other. Otherwise He exists multi-personally, and that defeats uni-personality, and that is before even dealing with the panentheistic nature of God as it deals with his existence related to Reality.

I would firstly, consider Jesus to be God also, not just sitting beside his God.

I consider Jesus’ God to be God of whom he (Jesus) is a person of.

If Jesus’ God is Unitarian however, Jesus’ God is just as thoroughly separate from him, as he is from me. They are not “One”.

I consider the very ability of God to appear in human form to be a defeater for Unitarianism, and especially if Yahweh, which I assume you are referring to the Father here, as being capable of it. That very ability to simultaneously appear as a form, a being, while maintaining his eternal omniessential nature, his omnipresence especially, tells me that God is capable of multiplicity which necessitates, I believe, that he is not Unitarian.

Yahweh in human form, and Yahweh the everlasting, omnipresent deity - existing simultaneously, is to me rather revealing. Especially if God is capable of appearing as a full human being while maintaining his omniessential self, appearing as a full human being; born of a virgin, going to the temple at twelve years of age, ministering at around thirty years old, and then dying on a cross and resurrecting.


Just to say thanks for the links above I’m looking forward to reading them.

Hi redhotmagma,

While I usually find the NET Bible notes very helpful and use them often in my study of Scripture, I think their Trinitarian bias shows through pretty strongly in their note on 1 Cor 10:9. The following are my thoughts on their reasoning behind choosing “Christ” as the correct reading rather than “Lord.” And keep in mind that there are other modern translations that have “Lord” rather than “Christ” here (such as the ASV, NASB, Amplified Bible, God’s Word Translation, Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible, CLV, and NIV 1984/UK). And even some which have “Christ” still make sure to mention in a footnote, "Some manuscripts the Lord (ESV) or “Some manuscripts test the Lord” (NIV).

Notice the word “appear” above. Why does the second numerous variant reading (“Lord”) “appear” to them to have been an “intentional change?” Their reasoning is given below:

Here we have why it “appears” to some that the alternative reading (“Lord”) was an “intentional change”: “…in the context it seems to be anachronistic to speak of the exodus generation putting Christ to the test. If the original had been “Lord,” it seems unlikely that a scribe would have willingly created a difficulty by substituting the more specific “Christ.”” This reasoning seems to presuppose that the scribes/copyists they believe changed Paul’s words from “Christ” to “Lord” (or “God”) were uncomfortable with the idea of a pre-existent Christ who was with the Israelites in the desert, and thus attempted to “correct” what they saw as a “difficulty.” But is this the most likely explanation for why there is a variant? Did some scribes think it “anachronistic” for Paul to speak of the exodus generation as putting a pre-existent Christ to the test? Ironically, those who argue that the scribes who changed this text were concerned that it seemed “anachronistic” for Paul to speak of a pre-existent Christ in the desert with the Israelites may themselves be guilty of “anachronistic” thinking (for this seems to be more of a concern of modern textual critics than it was for ancient scribes). And based on what we know of the Christology that very quickly prevailed against heresy as the orthodox opinion among post-apostolic Christians, would a scribe’s substituting “Christ” for “Lord” have been considered a “difficulty” or “anachronistic?” It seems instead that, for those post-apostolic Christians who succeeded in defining “orthodoxy,” a text that read “Christ” instead of merely “Lord” in 1 Cor 10:9 would’ve been considered quite attractive indeed, especially in light of the earliest Christological heresies of Ebionitism/Adoptionism, which denied the pre-existence of Christ. For those orthodox (or “proto-orthodox”) scribes who believed in the pre-existence and deity of Christ, 1 Cor 10 certainly provides a favorable context in which to insert Christ into Israel’s history without taking too many liberties with the text. After all, Paul had already used “Christ” in v. 4, even going so far as to say that the “rock” from which the Israelites drank was Christ (although, as argued previously, I believe he’s speaking figuratively here). So had certain scribes been so inclined to “clarify” Paul’s meaning in v. 9, it would’ve been quite easy from them to simply borrow “Christ” from verse 4 and insert him into v. 9, thus “resolving” the greater ambiguity of “the Lord.”

We know that in a minority of manuscripts, the original word was replaced with “God” which also would’ve resolved the possible ambiguity of “Lord” (for “God” in Paul’s epistles would have been an obvious reference to the Father). But by far, it was “Christ” which was, I think, used by scribes to replace the more ambiguous “Lord” in this verse. And not only does “Christ” resolve the possible ambiguity of “Lord,” it was clearly the most attractive choice for theological and contextual reasons. As Bart Ehrman says in The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture (p. 276), “The way the scribes answered [Christological questions] affected the way they transcribed their texts, and the way they transcribed their texts has affected, to some degree, the way modern exegetes and theologians have answered these questions.” By changing “Lord” to “Christ,” the “proto-orthodox” scribes were simply making the text say what they (and other like-minded Christians who would’ve undoubtedly been concerned about certain heretical movements and trends in which Christ’s pre-existence was being denied) already “knew” the text meant. In changing “Lord” to “Christ” (or “Lord” to “God”) the scribes were simply attempting to “clarify” what Paul meant for others.

In chapter 8 of The Reliability of the New Testament: Bart Ehrman and Daniel Wallace in Dialogue, Sylvie Raquel writes, “Prompted by a reverence for religious writings that they inherited from their Jewish precursors and the exactitude of the Alexandrian bookmakers, they showed some conservative copying practices although exactness was not the dominating trend.” And then quoting renowned NT scholar Gordan Fee, she adds (emphasis mine), “Scribes ‘were more interested in making the message of the sacred text clear than in transmitting errorless [manuscripts].’” Telling words indeed! Apparently, scribes in general had no problem making slight alterations to the text in a way that they thought would bring greater clarity to the reader. And when resolving the ambiguity of a text had also the added advantage of promoting the orthodox (or “proto-orthodox”) view of Christ that was being challenged by certain heretical groups, doing so would’ve been a no-brainer.

As argued above, I think the greater motivation would’ve been to clarify a text and resolve any possible ambiguity, and when the orthodox (or “proto-orthodox”) Christological view was that Christ pre-existed (as either YHWH or the angel of YHWH), there would’ve been little to no perceived “difficulty” in changing “Lord” to “Christ.”

What the above tells me is that if the textual change was in fact from the more ambiguous “Lord” to the more specific “Christ,” then it was a relatively early textual change. But the fact that the earliest heresies which challenged the proto-orthodoxy of post-apostolic Christians denied the pre-existence of Christ further supports my view that a “clarifying” change was made by scribes to Paul’s words in 1 Cor 10:9. Moreover, while likely mistaken in his belief that it was the heretic Marcion who changed the text from “Lord” to “Christ,” it was still believed by Epiphanius of Salamis (c. 315-403), that Paul’s original words in 1 Cor 10:9 had, in fact, been altered.

It has been objected that even if “Lord” (rather than “Christ”) is original, Paul should still be understood to have had “Christ” in mind rather than “God,” since in 1 Corinthians Paul almost categorically equates “Lord” with Jesus Christ, whom he distinguishes from “God” (for example, B. J. Oropeza makes this argument in his work Paul and Apostasy). While it’s true that “Lord” was Paul’s preferred way to refer to Jesus in all of his epistles, it remains the case that Paul still refers to God as “Lord” in his epistles, primarily when quoting from the OT (Rom 4:8; 10:16; 11:3, 34; 12:19; 1 Cor 1:31; 2:16; 3:20; 10:26; 14:21). For Paul to say (referring to God/YHWH) “we must not put the Lord to the test” in 1 Cor 10:9 would’ve been highly appropriate and consistent for Paul. So while the NET Bible thinks it’s perhaps more likely that a scribe may have changed “Christ” to “Lord” “in conformity with Deut 6:16 or other passages” (if, as they say, the scribe was not “motivated by a tendency to overcorrect”) I think it’s more likely that Paul had this very verse in mind (cf. Isaiah 7:12) and thus used “Lord” to refer to God just as he used “Lord” to refer to God elsewhere when quoting or alluding to an OT verse. At the same time, the use of “Lord” here would have created some possible ambiguity that might prompt a scribe to use the more clarifying “Christ” (which would’ve been consistent with orthodox/proto-orthodox Christological views at the time the change was made) or even “God.”

Thanks for all your responses Aaron, I don’t have any fish to fry here so to speak, just trying to work it out. I really get lost in textual criticism, so I will not be commenting much on it. I do agree with the notion of NET bias(and really all translators bias), as they use the Spurgeons note on all, pas, to throw out the overall usage of all meaning all.

next up:

Genesis 18:1, 19:24

Hi redhotmagma,

As you’d agree, Paul is clearly referring to the desert wanderings of the Israelites after the exodus. The “spiritual food” that they all ate is, I think, the manna from heaven that was miraculously provided for them. Corresponding to this “spiritual” (although completely tangible) food is the “spiritual drink” that the Israelites drank from a certain “rock,” which (to me at least) seems like a very obvious reference to the water that miraculously flowed from the rock at Horeb that Moses struck on two separate occasions (Ex 17:6; Num 20:8-11). As for this rock providing them with water for their entire journey, Paul doesn’t actually say it did. While he does say it “followed them,” I don’t think this necessarily has to be understood to mean it followed them for their entire journey. But regardless of whether it did or not, in what sense could it be said to “follow” them at all?

Again, Adam Clarke noted:

Clarke goes on to say:

So I would say that either God caused streams of water from the rock to miraculously follow the Israelites in the desert, or else water from the rock “followed” (in the sense of accompanied) them during their wanderings in skin-bottles or some other vessels used by ancient near eastern people in that day.

Aside from the fact that we aren’t told that water ever came from the cloud that covered the tent of meeting (nor is this supernatural cloud ever associated with rain), what you’re proposing above just sounds a little too complicated. You seem to be arguing that the rock from which the wandering Israelites drank is not the rock in the desert that Moses struck but rather is the sapphire-coloured throne on which YHWH was seen to sit in Ezekiel’s vision, which was within a “great cloud with fire flashing forth.” And this cloud (according to your proposed view) is the same cloud that covered the tent of meeting referred to in Ex 40:34, Deut 31:14 and elsewhere, and was the source of the Israelite’s water. I’m just not sure I see this as a more plausible interpretation of Paul’s words in 1 Cor 10:4 than the ones I’ve provided. That doens’t mean it isn’t correct, of course. Perhaps others would like to weigh in on this view.


Aaron, thanks for the replies. I understand what you’re saying that my view seems complicated, so I’ll try to expand.

First in 1 Co 10, they were baptized into Moses in the cloud and the sea. I see the cloud as the main point here. It was the representation of YHWH to the wandering Israelites. It also “carried” the Lord into the tabernacle, as seen when it comes into the tabernacle then Moses speaks to YHWH face to face. I see this same cloud as the one seen in Ezekiels vision, and also in Revelation. As the symbols used throughout the bible are more or less unified , I see no reason to assume they aren’t the same thing. So in Revelation when we see the river of life coming from the throne of God and the lamb, I really don’t know what other spiritual drink there is to be referring to. Jesus said He is the manna from heaven, and He gives the living water.

I will admit that Jesus pointing to the living water might strengthen your argument, but I see the Father as the fountain head, the origin of all including the son.

Joel 3:18 “And it shall come to pass in the day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the House of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim.”

Zechariah 14:8,9 “It shall be in that day, that living water shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea [the Dead Sea], and half of them toward the hinder sea [the Mediterranean]: in summer and in the winter shall it be. And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one.”

here we see again water flowing from the throne[room] of God.

Hi Lefein,

You wrote:

I see. But it just seems to me that if it’s not too difficult for you to conceive of Jesus’ God (the Father) as “being capable of having gender” then it shouldn’t be difficult for you to conceive of the “Unitarian version of God” as “being capable of having gender,” since Jesus’ God and the “Unitarian version of God” are one and the same Being. And I’m not sure how believing in multiple persons who each possess all the necessary divine attributes makes it any easier to conceive of them as “being capable of having gender.”

Whether God could or would manifest or express himself in some other form than he appears in Scripture (which is in the form of a man or angel) really has nothing to do with how many persons God is. Whether God might choose to manifest or express himself in a different form (such as the form of a tree, an ant, a bird, a cloud, fire, or a some alien creature) is a different question entirely than how many persons God is. Similarly, the question of whether or not God is able to be personally present everywhere, be “in” everything and permeate all existence also has nothing to do with how many persons God is. If being “in all things” is something the Supreme Being can and does do, then one divine Person could, I think, do it just as well as two or three (or more) divine Persons. Similarly, if all things can be “in God,” then I’m not sure how this would be any less possible for one divine Person than it would be for two or more. What the Unitarian denies is simply that there are multiple, distinct persons who each possess all of the necessary divine attributes, since this (we believe) would make multiple Gods.

I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying here. Are you saying that God can not only appear as a created being or thing (without actually being or existing as a created thing), or be everywhere present in his creation (both of which are, again, perfectly consistent with traditional Unitarianism), but can actually be/exist as a created being or thing? That God can existentially be both created and uncreated simultaneously, or that God can cease to be an uncreated being or reality and become a created being or reality?

The Father is nowhere in Scripture said to be “a person of God.” The Father is God. So do you think Jesus’ God - the Father - is capable of existing as a multi-personal being?

What do you mean by “one with my person?”

Again, what do you mean when you say “…just as it would be impossible for Me and Father to be ‘One’?”

Jesus’ God is the Father. Are you saying that Jesus is “a person of the Father?” If so, what exactly does this mean to you?

When YHWH and two angels visited Abraham, YHWH appeared to Abraham in a human form (i.e., a form that looked and even felt human), but he wasn’t actually human. He did not, I don’t think, become (even temporarily) a descendent of Adam. There is, to me, a huge difference between saying God looks like a human (or an angel) and God is (or became) a human (or an angel). The former is, I believe, logically possible, while the latter is not.

But if you believe Jesus was and is a human being and fully human in nature, then, for you, Yahweh didn’t merely “appear” as a human. The idea that Jesus merely appeared as a human being without actually being a human is of course, Docetism ( No, what you believe is that Yahweh - the Self-existent Creator of human beings - actually became a human being (i.e., the Creator became what he himself created). Again, there’s a big difference (to me) between saying that God appears in a form that looks human and his actually being a human.

I don’t consider “Father” to be the only representing person of God, or God’s gender.

It has everything to do with his capacity and personage. To exist simultaneously as both a “finite” form, a person if you will, and an infinite being; an infinite person if you will, demands that he be existing simultaneously as at least two persons of one God, one Being.

All of those examples, by logical reason, demand the capacity of existing in multiple, simultaneous, personal (and possibly impersonal, or natural - like a rock or tree) forms.

Unitarianism, by its very definition, must deny Panentheism as much as it denies Trinitarianism; God can only exist as himself alone, and nothing else. To manifest as an ant, a tree, a fire, an angel, a man, while maintaining his eternal, infinite, omnipresent, omniessential being simultenously is by definition God existing as a simultaneous multiplicity of expressions of his being - which directly goes against the core grain of Unitarianism.

If God is only “appearing” to be something, I question his honesty.

However, so far as God existing as both uncreated and created simultaneously - He’s God, I feel it is quite possible for him to express himself in his creations, through his creations, and as part of his creations, or even as the very fabric of the reality of his creations.

As far as “ceasing”, I don’t really believe anything ceases in Reality as far as God is concerned; it continues to exist in his “mind” or his “memory” (or even in his being). I’m an Idealist, after all. I believe that only that which is apart from him (like sin, death, and evil) cease to exist, and they cease to exist because God forgets them.

And so far as the whole idea of God existing in a “created” form; “The Creator came as one created that he might, by incarnation, redeem that very same Creation” - Jesus is quite a good example, I believe, of God doing just that. Being Creator and also existing incarnate in Creation, and/or in a created form. I believe God manifests himself in Creation constantly.

I think it is “possible”. Has he not existed before simultaneously as a finite person (such as that appearance of a man you have been citing), as well as an infinite person - simultaneously?

One with God, God one with Me. Union without barriers, my individual being in union with his Being. God existing in me, as part of me, as me, and I existing in him, and his Being, being the fabric of my existence.

Jesus is a person of God. Father is a person of God. The Holy Spirit is a person of God. God is God.

All of God, is One because all of God exists as God. God is as much the pillar of fire, as he is the Angel of the Lord. And they each are God - they are not said to be “The Father”, yet they are still said to be God.

So God was merely faking being something that he wasn’t?

Or else, perhaps, God is perfectly capable of manifesting himself in a human form, that is real, with a real human body, and real human hands, while maintaining his infinite being?

I would say the latter is not only the most honest, but certainly the most plausible given his omnipotence.

I am quite convinced that God, in any of his persons, is perfectly capable of appearing in a real human form, or any real form, while simultaneously maintaining his infinite, omniessential being. I believe Jesus is such an example of God becoming Human, of Word becoming Flesh, not merely “looking” as though he did.

I am given only two options so far as God’s appearances go, he either actually “did” or he was more or less “pretending” or “faking” his visitations.

Was God actually visiting as he was in his visitations? Or, was the pillar of fire just an illusion, the appearance of God surrounded by the Cherubim a mere mirage, is God constantly faking his visitations? Is God the God of Reality, or is God the god of counterfeits? It all comes down to that simple question. Is that visitation, manifestation, or what have you; of God real and genuine? Or is it merely a very convincing, but still fake, mirage?

These are the questions that are present. If God did indeed become human in any or some sort of visitation, then I am more inclined to believe in that. If he only “appeared” to have, but actually “didn’t” but only “seemed” to have (in that he never visits in the actual, but only ever visits in the seemingly); I unfortunately am left with the idea that he is a deity who dabbles in fakes and faking.

<edits made to the above, just letting responders know ahead of time>

I’m not sure what you mean when you say, “a 'finite form, a person if you will.” Perhaps we need to “flesh out” what it means to say God is “infinite,” and what exactly a “person” is. If (as you seem to be suggesting) being a “person” necessarily means existing in a “finite” form, and God is unipersonal, then it would mean (to me) that God exists in one “finite form.” But if God is multi-personal (i.e., two or more persons), then it would mean to me that God exists in multiple “finite forms.” So if being a “person” necessarily means existing in a “finite” form, then I think the only way one could say that God does not exist in a finite form would be if God was not essentially personal in nature (i.e., necessarily existing as either one or more persons). Is this your view of God? That he/they is not essentially personal in nature (in which case God would be neither a “he” nor a “they,” but rather an “it”)? Do you consider the only infinite aspect of God’s existence to be impersonal?

Also, I don’t see a problem with believing that a unipersonal, infinite Being can manifest himself to finite beings in some sort of perceivable form such that he appears to be localized or spatially extended, but is not actually so. Simply appearing to finite beings in this way in no way entails that God has to actual become a finite being, and has to exist (even temporarily) as a finite being. I’m really not sure why you disagree with this (if you do).

I don’t think they do. I’m talking about one divine person (the Father) manifesting himself to finite beings in some kind of perceivable form (i.e., the form of a man or angel, such that he has the appearance of a man or angel but is not actually a man or angel). I see no reason why a unipersonal divine being cannot manifest himself to finite beings in some kind of perceived form that gives him a localized, spatially-extended appearance if he so chooses, without actually becoming a finite being himself.

Do you think God could manifest himself (or themselves) in the perceived form of a dog or a tree without actually ceasing to be God or losing his (or their) identity as God?

I’m not sure that I would consider myself a “Panentheist” (at least, in the same sense that you may be), but I also don’t see it as inconsistent with Unitarianism. I see no reason why a unipersonal being who is omnipresent could not manifest himself in a contingent form that, from the perspective of finite, spatially extended beings, appears spatially extended. Again, he wouldn’t actually be becoming (and experiencing himself) as a finite being; he would simply be manifesting himself to finite beings in a perceivable way, without actually becoming finite. I don’t see how God would have to be multiple persons (or have to “split off” into multiple persons) to simply manifest himself in a way that would give the appearance of being spatially extended (whether in the perceived form of a man or some other creature). He would still be one “self” with one self-awareness, mind and will, and would experience himself as being distinct from all other persons and created reality.

Well first, there are a number of times in which God did things that I think could be misinterpreted by someone as being “dishonest” if they misunderstood his intent in doing it. For example, God’s questions to Adam and Eve after they sinned (Gen 3:8-13) might make it seem as if he was ignorant. But in reality, he was condescending to Adam and Eve as a parent sometimes does with their children. He did not have an evil motive in feigning ignorance. Similarly, we may understand that God appeared to Abraham in a way that Abraham could understand and relate to and and not be scared silly.

Second, to believe that Abraham would’ve thought that Yahweh was being dishonest if Yahweh wasn’t actually fully, 100% human and a genuine member of the human race when he appeared to Abraham in the form that he did seems a little absurd to me - especially when we consider the fact that the way he appeared to Abraham may simply be a “toned down” (and less lethal to mortals!) version of the form he “naturally” assumes in heaven before the angels.

Third, God defined what a human being or “man” is when he created Adam (or whoever you think the first human being was). A human being is (among other things) a created, finite being with genuine limitations. I don’t think it’s even logically possible for God to become a genuine human being and experience reality as a genuine human being (since I see the nature of God and the nature of man as mutually exclusive). But even if he can, is it really your view that Yahweh did this when he appeared to Abraham? That is, is it your view that Jesus Christ was not the first human “incarnation” of Yahweh in this world, and was not the first time that Yahweh became a genuine human being? If so, I find it astounding that Scripture doesn’t have anything to say about this.

So you think that God can and does exist as a genuinely created being and experience himself as a genuinely created being. Is that correct?

What is the above quote from? And how is it possible for the Creator of all created beings to become and exist as an actual and genuinely created being himself? Rather than “profound” the idea seems quite illogical and unintelligible to me.


If by “one” you meant perfect relational harmony, or sharing the same purpose, or willing the same thing, I would better understand what you’re talking about. But it seems to me that the kind of “oneness” (or “union without barriers”) of which you speak (such that God would exist “as you”) would mean that all personal and existential distinction between you and God has ceased. It would mean that either your personal identity has been absorbed into God’s, or God’s personal identity has been absorbed into yours, such that one of you has ceased to exist as a distinct personal being. But if you mean something less than this, then I’m not sure how a unipersonal divine being couldn’t be “one” with you just as fully as a multi-personal divine being could be “one” with you.

First, you said previously, “I consider Jesus’ God to be God of whom he (Jesus) is a person of.” I pointed out that Jesus’ God is the divine person referred to in Scripture as “the Father.” Jesus’ God is the divine person beside whom Christ is sitting and reigning. If Jesus’ God = “God of whom Jesus is a person,” then Jesus is “a person of the Father.”

Second, when you say “God” above, are you talking about a personal being with self-awareness, a mind and a will?

Well there must have been something that “gave away” the fact that Abraham was actually being visited by God and not to some delusional human being who thought he could perform a miracle, so no, I don’t think God was “merely faking being something that he wasn’t” when he appeared to Abraham with the two angels. I don’t think Yahweh appeared in the form that he did so that Abraham would go back to his tent later thinking that he’d been hanging out with a person just as human as he was. And as I said before, the form in which Yahweh appeared to Abraham was probably the same or similar form he assumes in heaven (minus the radiant and blinding glory, of course).

Again, is it your view that God was a 100% genuine human being and descendent of Adam when he appeared to Abraham? Because if so, I guess I didn’t realize genuine humans (i.e., the kind of being that came into existence when God created Adam) were “infinite beings.” But of course, human beings aren’t “infinite beings.” Only God is an infinite being. Thus, God wasn’t actually a human being when he appeared to Abraham, no matter how closely he may have resembled a human (or angelic) being in his appearance.

You must think God is capable of being both existent and non-existent at the same time if you think he can simultaneously be both a created being and an uncreated being, because they both make as much logical sense.

I also believe God is the “God of Reality.” When God visited Abraham, I believe it was really God, and that God was really there. God’s presence wasn’t an illusion or a mirage. But I don’t think God had become a human being, and I don’t think Abraham thought God was a liar or less real when he realized it was God he was being visited by and not an actual member of Adam’s race. I just believe that the God who was really there visited Abraham in a form that Abraham could most easily relate to and not be overwhelmed by (and I think Abraham probably realized this later, if not when he realized the “man” was God) and that this form was most likely a modification of the more glorious form that he assumes in heaven.

To put it simply, finite form vs. infinite form is as to one another as a white dot is to an infinite expanse of the colour white.

I don’t believe, nor suggest that personage necessitates a finite form. Only that God’s appearances in finite form (visible visitation and manifestation; “theophany”) while maintaining his infinite being simultaneously demands multiplicity of expression, which I believe to be incompatible with Unitarianism. Which if I understand it correctly demands that the unchanging God be only capable of being an individual person unto himself, being unipersonal and unipersonal alone, incapable of that multiplicity which I have been espousing.

Not so, as personage does not demand finite form, rather finite form demands personage, or at the very least hints at it through simultaneous multiplicity.

I do not consider the infinite aspect of God to be impersonal. Rather God who is by his identity that infinite, supreme being; is capable of manifesting (eternally) his nature through a multiplicity of persons, which are capable of expressing themselves in theophanies and taking on real forms.

The Unitarian God’s insistence on only ever “appearing” (what I would call “faking”) visitations, or theophanies seems to me rather dishonest, and a rather odd form of hestitation given his omnipotent power to appear in genuine forms.

Why merely “appear” to be something, when you can just “be” it, manifesting your person in a real form, not just a hallucinative form; even temporarily?

I disagree with the idea of God merely “pretending” to be a person, or a man, or an angel, or a pillar of fire, when he could genuinely express his being in that form, as reality, even temporarily. Why should God appear as a feelable, interactable hallucination, when he could just express himself in a viable, actual form; when he being perfect is perfectly capable of perfect honesty? And in all practical respects, how is a feelable, interactable “apperance” any different from a genuine visitation in a real form?

The problem is, I feel it makes God’s visitations fake. If Abraham were to have hugged the visitation of God, he would not be hugging God, he would only be hugging an illusion appearing to be God, but not God himself; if he were even capable of hugging the visitation. Yet, if he is feelable, interactable, huggable - I can only wonder…how is he not what he has appeared to be? (Even while simultaneously maintaining his infinite being)

I don’t see how the “apperance” of God as an angel, for example, is much different from God “becoming” that angel for the theophany. In the same way, it is a little bit like saying that the fire on the burning bush wasn’t actually there…it merely “appeared” to be there, as if it were, but in fact it was not; and it wasn’t God taking on the form of a fire upon the bush, it was but an ethereal illusion of presence. It all sounds simply…dishonest, and dishonest without good purpose. This isn’t God being rhetorical for a purpose, but simply refusing to appear in a genuine, real form, to those whom he is appearing as if he were in fact appearing in a genuine, real form. An appearance which, being capable of being felt, touched, heard, and interacted with…quite frankly for all intents and purposes, and practical reasons may as well just be the real form, where God “became” what he is manifesting himself as.

I’m having difficulty seeing how, to quote the old statement; something that looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, feels like a duck, has duck DNA, flies like a duck, and does duckish things…isn’t actually a duck, but is only “appearing” to be a duck, despite having all the qualities of being a duck. Even if that hypothetical duck should happen to be a “divine being” manifesting as a duck in this case, a divine being capable of being infinite, and being/appearing as a duck at the same time.

Perceived form, or actual form? I’ll assume “actual” form; yes. I believe it is possible, because God is still maintaining his infinitude simultaneously along with his expression of being in a real form.

Where as, I don’t see why he can’t genuinely appear as that real form, while simultaneously maintaining his infinite reality.

I don’t think you understand the nature of what I consider God’s unanimous, simultaneous multiplicity of persons as One God; that one identity of the supreme being, or The Being.

It isn’t a “splitting off”, but The Being (God) expressing God’s self in a simultaneous, unanimous in nature and identity, multiplicty of expressions of self. Multiplicities which I believe are capable of genuine visitation in real forms.

The reason I insist that simultaneous, multiple appearances (which I believe to be appearances in real form) demands that God is capable of multiplicity. If it is just “a mere illusory appearance” my only question would be “Why?” why when he is capable of doing so much more, and being so much more, does he choose not to provide abundantly his genuine presence?

Rhetorical questions on the part of God, are not on par with theophanies that are disingenuous appearances vs. theophanies that are genuinely appearing in real form.

To which, I would believe, God should have appeared genuinely in reality, not merely pretend.

I am not so entirely concerned as to whether he was “human” as you put it, only that he was genuinely appearing in a real form, not merely pretending to be something he “actually isn’t”. It is a matter of whether or not God fakes his visitations or actually commits himself to be genuinely present in reality. If it is toned down, so be it, but it best be real. If he was expressing himself via a human “real form” that he had manifested for the occasion, then twice fold be the applause.

I do not see the nature of God, and the nature of man as mutally exclusive. I believe that line of thought is destructive to the truth that Man is made in the image of God, and is the child of God.

Cats don’t give birth to cucumbers.

As for incarnations, the person of The Son, and the person of The Father may have had different appearances in real form at various times. As for Scripture though, it doesn’t take account of everything so far as God’s doings, one must not forget that. Yet, if The Son has indeed incarnated multiply before, then so be it. There are a few theological ideas concerning the mysterious King of Salem, one Melchizedek, and there are many accounts of the Angel of The Lord, who is called God on multiple occasions.

I believe God is capable of expressing himself creatively. It depends on what you mean by God existing as a genuinely created being. You and I view the “created being” very differently, after all I consider the creation to be the “embodiment” or “expression” (or to use a more accurate, but more eastern term) the “avatar” of an idea or in the case of a human, a living idea; ideas whose source is God. I believe that God’s ideas concerning himself are likewise capable of being expressed in genuine, real form, and certainly through creation, or created embodiments, or created entities which express his being.

As far as my definitions go, yes I believe he can exist as a genuinely created being, and experience himself as a genuinely created being, while he also maintains his infinite being - due to unanimous, simultaneous multiplicity of expression of Being. As far as your definitions go, I can’t quite say, I probably wouldn’t use your definitions to begin with due to their significant difference of worldview from mine.

Here is what I mean for someone to be “One” with God, it isn’t the dissolving of the individual, or the destruction of the individual, but the total existential union of being to Being, and the perfection of the individual while simultaneously unifying them to the Perfecter, existentially, and essentially. Like a metaphorical drop returning to the infinite ocean, only the drop maintains its individuality as a drop, but is still seamlessly unified to that infinite ocean. Or like the white dot in the infinite expanse of the colour white, the dot maintains its individual white-dottiness, but is still unified, and one with the white expanse.

The Unipersonal being cannot be existentially connected to me, he is only capable of existing unto his own invisible, unapproachable self. Or else, he can only manifest in mere appearances that aren’t genuinely real forms, only cunning illusions. Only in being capable of manifesting simultaneously in real forms, as reality/realities, is he capable of extending beyond merely existing unto his own unipersonal individual identity, which you believe to be mutually exclusive from the human being.

Jesus’s God is God that he refers to, and that he rightfully calls God Father is still perfectly compatible with the Father being a person of God, of whom I believe Jesus is also a person of God. God is our Father, but God is also our Saviour, and God is also the Rock of our Salvation.

God; Father and Son, are One. Jesus is not a person of “The Father”, The Father is a person of God and Jesus is a person of God, and both are One with God and so both are One with each other.

Close enough, God has a mind, will, and being; God is The Being. Personal, yes, though not perhaps in the sense of being “unipersonal”, if I can try to predict your idea in mind here.

Persons of the Personal God…Yes he is personal.

If he wasn’t merely faking his apperance, then he had to have been appearing in some sort of real form, and certainly possibly a less gloriously magnificent version of his real form in Heaven.

It is either that, or Abraham may as well have went back to his tent later thinking he’d hallucinated the whole affair.

Yet, you believe God can maintain simultaneously his infinite, invisible, transcendent presence, and a visible, interactable, touchable, experiencable “appearance” (hologram?). If mine is illogical, so is yours, mine only takes that one extra step of saying that hologram or appearance is “actually real”. The only thing you seem to exclude is that it is “actually real”.

I believe that God is capable of expressing himself via a unanimous, simultaneous multiplicity of expressions, wherein God is capable of simultaneously being the transcendent, infinite creator, as infinite persons, and also as immanent expressions, real forms, incarnation/incarnations, realities, etc. If God is capable of maintaining a simultaneous existence as the transcendent, infinite creator, and as “appearances” which interact with people and nature, then it isn’t much of a difficult logical step further to believe those appearances are also appearances as real forms, and that those real forms aren’t just capable of interacting with people and nature, but also with the transcendent, infinite creator of whom those forms express the being of.

If all of what you stated is true (barring your statement concerning God not appearing in the form of an actual human being, or an actual form of his divine image) then God appeared in a real form. Otherwise it was literally an illusion. And aside from that, I believe God is quite capable of manifesting himself as in a real form that is a human being, whether or not that “human being” is an Adamite in real form, is to me, a non-issue. If the divine image of God should take a human shape, that is perfectly fine with me. But I would not think that shape would be somehow some sort of mere mask which isn’t actually an expression of the being of God in real form.

That is the argument, whether or not the appearances of God are manifestations in real form, or as actualities. If they aren’t real forms, or actualities; then the only other option is that they are convincing mirages that aren’t actually God but merely stand-ins, or else they are illusions altogether.

Part II

And, another thought comes to mind.

A thing that I don’t understand, is that given your theological stance (which I assume to be some sort of Naturalistic Theism, and am certain at the very least is a Materialistic position, from what we’ve discussed in previous threads such as the Soulsleep ones) Why should God be so ethereal, and illusory in his appearances, rather than actually expressing himself in a physical form to (as you believe) “physically constituted beings”?

I believe God is capable of expressing his being through “ideal forms” (though I can’t entirely expound on that concept for now as that which would require another thread to talk about). But your beliefs, so far as what I’ve gathered, notes that matter is the reality of things (excluding possibly the immaterial God; though you’ve expressed hypothetically before that God might be the highest form of matter) where is the matter wherein he makes himself seen, felt, and heard in his appearances? Which leads me to my continued thought:

These appearances, they’re visible, interactable, touchable, etc. That tells me two things;

Either God is expressing his being, showing up as an “actual being” and not an illusion. Or else God is expressing himself, his being, through matter; like light, and energy, atoms, tissue, etc; created substance. To put it simply, either God is expressing his being as an actual being while simultaneously maintaining his infinite being (which is what I have been terming unanimous, simultaneous, multiplicity) or else he is incarnating his being in created substance, and created form.

If it isn’t God expressing his being through matter, and he is merely making some sort of stand-in material hologram; then it isn’t actually God.

If it isn’t an “actual being” then what is he using to be so visible? If it isn’t matter that he is using, then how can you maintain your materialistic stance? If it is matter that he is using, then God is capable of incarnation while simultaneously maintaining his infinitude. If it is an “actual being” wherein he expresses his being, then he is capable of that very same multiplicity that I am stating is possible. If it isn’t as an “actual being” or through “matter” wherein he is making himself known? It must be asked “what then is it that he is using?”

[size=85]<edit, fixed a few spelling errors, and typos, and tried to clarify a few things that I missed, things that happen I suppose when one goes through multiple quotes rather late in the evening>[/size]

Oh right, I read VOL 1 + 2 and presumed they were treatises. I find the second unitarian view of Colossians highly problematic (especially for a universalist), well, superficially at least. Anyway, thanks for your thoughts. I’ll get around to reading them all eventually.

Good stuff, Lefein :slight_smile:

I’ve long been of the view that a Unitarian God would be unworthy of our love. God cannot understand, share and finally redeem our suffering unless he too becomes a man. A real man, not in appearance only. What sort of miserable king is unwilling to do himself those things which he demands of others?

But what do you think it means to say we are analogous to coloured “dots” and God is analogous to an “infinite expanse” of this colour? In what sense(s) do you think God can be called “infinite” and we can be called “finite?”

Also, it would be helpful if you provided a definition of “person,” as you use the term. My understanding is that a “person” is, at minimum, a being with a unique self-awareness, first person perspective and will (or at least an inherent capacity for this), which makes the being distinct from other persons.

But I haven’t been arguing that God at any time becomes finite; that’s not my position. Assuming that God, by virtue of his own necessary existence, isn’t a localized or spatially extended being, I think he would be fully capable of manifesting himself so as to appear to us to be localized or spatially extended or “finite” without actually being so. But I don’t think God (in part or in whole) has to cease to be infinite in order to do this. Nor do I see any reason to believe a unipersonal God could not maintain a single self-awareness and first-person perspective while manifesting himself to finite beings so as to appear to be localized or “finite” as we are. Why would an infinite God have to have multiple centres of consciousness/self-awareness or have multiple first person perspectives just to manifest himself to finite beings in some sort of form that appears finite? If God is infinite then his experience as an infinite being wouldn’t change merely because he chose to manifest himself to finite beings in a certain way, because by virtue of being infinite he would always be experiencing reality (or not-God reality) in every possible way it could be experienced, and his experience as a infinite being would remain the same.

Ok, then we are in agreement that God’s being a “person” does not necessarily mean he exists in a finite form.

If, as I believe, the human/angelic-like form in which God appeared to Abraham is the same or similar form he has always contingently assumed in his relationship to finite personal beings since the beginning of creation (which would include both the angelic beings of heaven as well as the first humans), then God wasn’t “faking” anything when he visited Abraham. He was simply appearing to a finite being on earth in the personal form that he has always chosen to appear to finite personal beings. If you object that this means God has been “faking” his personal appearance since the beginning of creation, then it need only be said in response that God may have had to pick some sort of finite-looking form in which to manifest himself to the finite personal beings of his creation (because otherwise he would be completely invisible and undetectable not only to those who aren’t yet fit for the ideal state of existence, but to those who are fit for the ideal state of existence as well). So I believe God simply chose a form in which to appear that was similar in appearance to the finite persons he brought into existence (which seems reasonable to me).

I think God is manifesting himself to finite persons in a “real form.” It’s a real, perceivable form that looks like a human or angel. But I deny that God has to actually “be” a human or angel (which are both finite, created beings) in order to manifest himself in a form that looks like a human or angel, and your insistence that he must (if he is not to be considered dishonest or a “faker”) strikes me as strange.

I do believe God has and is manifesting himself to tangible beings in a tangible (or as you say, “feelable, interactable, huggable”) way, because I think that is the form he has chosen to assume in his relationship to this creation. But just because he looks and feels like a finite being (i.e., a human or angel) doesn’t mean he has to actually be and exist as one. Again, there is (to me) a big difference.

So I think that if Abraham had hugged God when God visited him, he would’ve hugged God in the form in which God has chosen to manifest himself to the finite beings of this creation. I think God can and does make himself look and feel as human as you or I without actually being and existing as a human (with all of the necessary limitations that humans possess by virtue of being human and not God).

See above. Also, I think there is an infinite difference between God’s manifesting himself in a form that looks and feels like a human or angel, and his actually being a human or angel. Humans and angels are, by virtue of their created existence, finite being with genuine limitations, and can never be or exist as self-existent, uncreated, infinite beings. To speak of God as actually becoming a human or angel while remaining God is, to me, like speaking of God as becoming non-existent while remaining existent.

Again, I don’t think God could ever have all the qualities of a finite being (whether it be a duck or a human or an angel). The very idea is absurd and illogical to me.

I hope you can at least appreciate why I’m having a hard time understanding your position. You seem to be saying that God can be and exist as a tree or a dog. But a dog and a tree are, by virtue of their existence, finite, created things/beings. A tree and a dog are, by necessity, not God. Neither “dog” nor “tree” = “Supreme Being.” God is an uncreated, self-existent, necessary Being. A tree and a dog are created, dependent and contingent beings/things. So to say that God can be and exist as a tree or a dog is, to me, to say that God can be and exist as not-God, which is a logical impossibility.

(To be continued when I have more time! :slight_smile: )

In other words, God cannot experience what it’s like to be a not-God being unless he ceases to be God and becomes a not-God being. A real not-God being, “not in appearance only.”

So tell me, Allan: how does God become a not-God being, and how does a not-God being become God again? Or is this just an incomprehensible mystery that I must accept if I am to believe what Scripture teaches (kind of like how God can be love and also eternally damn people)? :confused: