The Evangelical Universalist Forum

In response to non-trinitarian thread

God is omnipresent, we are present. God is capable of both simultaneously. By default he is omnipresent, and so he is also by default, present.

Your definition seems fine enough. Though in God’s case I would bring in a touch of his omniscience into the matter. I would think that the persons of God would share a perspective link with one another, “science” within the “omniscience”, and linked in such a fashion.

I’m not arguing that he ever ceases to be infinite. Only that he is perfectly capable of appearing in a real form, that is “spacially localised” (what I’ve been terming finite, regarding its size in the universe) as well as maintain his infinite being, both simultaneously.

You seem to be arguing that he only ever pretends to appear as anything, but never actually does so.


If he isn’t “actually” those forms, he’s faking it. Because those forms aren’t “actually” him.

If God is manifesting himself in a “real form” and it is actually him (as you’ve said), then God is not merely “appearing” but is actually that “appearance” and God is indeed expressing himself in a simultaneous multiplicity. Otherwise, if he isn’t “actually” those appearances, then those appearances aren’t “actually” him, and that is why I use the phrase “faking it” to describe what is going on.

He either is, or isn’t, those appearances. If he is those appearances, he is in fact “being” those appearances while “being” the infinite, ineffable God simultaneously.

If he isn’t, well, you know the phrase by now. :slight_smile:

Then he is infact, manifesting himself as a simultaneous multiplicity. He is actually manifesting as those forms, his being is being actually expressed through those tangible forms that are “Him” (if they aren’t “Him” then God isn’t actually appearing, and those forms are not God in any fashion) then he is “being” those real forms, not merely “appearing”.

The fact that those forms are real, and the fact that those forms are God, expressing God’s being; means that God is being those forms, and existing as/through/expressed by, those real, existing, actual, tangible forms, and those forms are Him. If they aren’t Him, then Abraham didn’t in fact, meet God.

I don’t see that humans by necessity have necessary limitations. That aside; if those real forms are indeed real, then they are human forms, angelic forms, etc. I see no reason why God could not appear as a “human” and actually “be that appearance” through which he is appearing.

It is more a limitation of God, than it is a limitation of humans, to demand that the real form of a human - of which God is hypothetically wearing, should not be an actual human pattern; if it has bones, flesh, a face, and eyes…Does the Bible say it is but a hollow shell of thin matter that merely takes on some sort of human hologramic shape? Is God incapable of manifesting the form with further detail than that?

If the form is human, God is appearing as a human in real form. God is being a “Human”, limitations or not.

I have difficulty seeing your insistence on “limitations”. God is God, should he choose to appear as a created form (which is just as easy as appearing via the odd holograms you’ve been insisting upon, and I would demand such holograms should fall under the same issue of limitations, if you will be consistent) then I see no reason why he should be limited, being God, he is still maintaining his omnipresence, his infinite being, while appearing in those real forms; and I believe being those real forms (which I believe are the only way those real forms, those appearances, could actually be Him; in which if they aren’t him then God isn’t actually appearing, and the Bible is giving a false account).

God is still maintaining his omnipresence, while simultaneously expressing himself via a presence.

As for your remark concerning simultaneous non-existence/existence, my position is less like that than your insistence that God is actually appearing in a real form that is tangible, but not actually being that form. Your position is more on par with being equally illogical, to your remark against mine; simultaneous non-existence/existence.

The position that God is appearing in a real tangible form, and that form is Him, but He isn’t actually that form, isn’t “being” that form…to me is just as absurd as you think my position to be. Your position literally seems to be this;

a = b, but b ≠ a

Which, is a logical impossibility.

I believe God is the very fabric of Reality, I see no reason why God, being the very fabric of reality of which dogs, trees, fire, angels, me, humans, and cats are made up of, and express God’s ideas of; should not be capable of expressing himself through the very fabric which he also is.

I shall be waiting. :slight_smile: Certainly a brain-sharpening discussion! At the very least it gives me a chance to refine the way I express and clarify my beliefs, and the terminology.


I feel the same way. I want a God who is truthfully present, and truthfully, existentially connected to me. Not merely imputed to be, when he is actually mutually exclusive to himself, and himself only; omnipresent though he may be.

Hi Lefein,

You wrote:

It may very well be the case that I don’t understand the nature of what you consider “God’s unanimous, simultaneous multiplicity of persons as One God” and “that one identity of the supreme being, or The Being.” But I’m also not entirely sure that you understand it yourself! :slight_smile: You speak of God’s “self,” but if you think God is expressing Godself in multiple persons, then I don’t think God wouldn’t actually be a “self.” Rather, God would be multiple “selves.” If you disagree, then please explain. But you said that God is expressing Godself “in a simultaneous, unanimous in nature and identity, multiplicity of expressions of self.” So is this singular God in whom you believe a single divine person or multiple divine persons? If this God is multiple divine persons, then wouldn’t this mean that multiple divine persons are expressing themselves as a “multiplicity of persons” (which would seem to imply multiple divine persons being expressed in addition to the multiple persons that God already is).

Ok, so are you now saying that you’re okay with the fact that God might not have been a genuine human being when he appeared to Abraham? Or am I misunderstanding you here?

“Fakes” is your word, not mine. :wink: It’s not my position that God was trying to “fake” Abraham out when he appeared to Abraham as he did; I believe he was genuinely present in reality.

“Nature” (as I am using the term) denotes the inherent and essential attributes that make something what it actually is. For a being to have the nature of God is for the being to inherently possess all of the essential attributes by which a being may be categorized as “God.” Similarly, to have the nature of a “man” is to inherently possess all of essential attributes by which a being may be categorized as “man” or “human.” And to have the nature of a “cat” is to inherently possess all of the essential attributes by which a being may be categorized as a “cat.” Now, for a being to be made in the image of God does not, I don’t think, mean they inherently possess all of the essential attributes by which a being may be categorized as “God.” Rather, I believe it simply means they have the capacity to be like God and represent God in some unique way.

I think the analogies you give of the “white dot in the infinite expanse of the colour white” or the "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) prove my point that there is a necessary loss of identity in the “oneness” of which you speak. It’s like speaking of an empty space in an infinite expanse of nothing. In your analogies the identity of the thing (whether the “white dot” or the drop of water returning to the infinite ocean) is necessarily being lost, and yet you simply assert that there’s no loss of identity taking place. You’re trying to “have your cake and eat it too” (or perhaps more accurately, “eat your cake and have it too”: But based on what you’re actually saying (before you assert otherwise), there is a loss of identity taking place, and simply asserting that there’s not doesn’t make it so.

How many persons do you think God has to be in order to be existentially connected to you and every other finite person in existence?

I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying above. You say Jesus’ God “is God” and that he “rightfully calls God Father.” But you also seem to affirm that the Father is a person distinct from the person of Jesus. But if (1) Jesus’ God is the “God of whom Jesus is a person,” (2) Jesus’ God is “the Father” and (3) “the Father” is a person distinct from the person of Jesus, then it logically follows that (4) Jesus is a person of the Father.

But then you assert that “Jesus is not a person of ‘the Father’” (emphasis mine), but rather that “the Father is a person of God and Jesus is a person of God.” So who or what is the “God” of whom both Jesus and the Father are “persons?” Is this “God” (of whom both Jesus and the Father are persons) a person himself, or not?

So the God of whom both Jesus and the Father are persons “has a mind” and a “will,” and is “personal.” If the God of whom both Jesus and the Father are persons has a mind and a will, then this God must be a person. But then you seem to deny that this God is unipersonal. But if this God (of whom Jesus and the Father are persons) is not unipersonal, then this God must be multi-personal. So would you say that the God of whom both Jesus and the Father are persons is a multi-personal being?

As long as God is manifesting himself in what you call “a visible, interactable, touchable, experiencable ‘appearance’” I suppose it would mean he has ceased to be fully or wholly invisible and intangible. But in manifesting himself in this way to finite beings, I don’t think it would mean he would have to have ceased to be infinite or transcendent. What I think Abraham was able to see and touch and interact with was, I believe, really and truly God in a personal and “qualitative” sense, but what he could see and touch and interact with was not all that God is and all that God experiences himself as. I think we would have to be infinite and fully transcendent beings ourselves in order to experience and interact with God in his infinitude and full transcendence. But since we’re not, it’s an impossibility. We can only see and touch God insofar as God is manifesting some aspect of his infinite “fullness” in a visible and tangible form. But God is not, I don’t think, limiting himself/becoming finite in order to manifest himself to us; he remains infinite in his being. Nor do I think an infinite being has to be multi-personal in order for him to manifest himself in a visible and tangible way to finite beings. To manifest part of his infinite fullness to finite beings in a visible and tangible form would not require that he possess multiple self-awarenesses, first-person perspectives, minds, wills, etc.

I don’t think so. To assert that a being can be both created and uncreated at the same time or infinite and finite at the same time is, I think, illogical. But to assert that an infinite and transcendent unipersonal being can make himself known to finite beings in a form that is visible and tangible (while maintaining his infinitude and transcendence) seems logical. You’ve probably read or heard of the novella Flatland by Edwin Abbott. What I’m arguing for would be analogous to a three-dimensional being making itself known to two-dimensional beings such that what they see and interact with is indeed the being himself, but not the being in all his existential fullness (which the two-dimensional beings could not experience without being three-dimensional themselves).

First, I don’t actually consider myself a “materialist” (let alone a “naturalist!”) in the popular sense of the word. I don’t think God consists of the same kind or quality of matter of which this finite universe consists. While I do believe that man’s conscious existence as a living being depends on a particular organization and arrangement of the “stuff” of the created universe, I don’t believe God’s conscious existence as a living being depends on that which he created. Whatever makes God “something” rather than “nothing” is not, I don’t think, what makes us “something” rather than “nothing” (but I should also add that I don’t think the word “spirit” describes the material or trans-material “stuff” of which God consists, and which makes him something rather than nothing).

Second, I do believe the perceivable and tangible form in which God is manifesting himself to finite beings is enough like the matter of which finite beings exist for us to see and interact with him. But I don’t think God’s existence is defined by the same physical laws that presently define our existence, and thus I don’t think God is material and “physical” in the same sense that we are. The superior kind of “substance” or “matter” of which I have speculated God consists would be a matter unique to himself, and would allow God to manifest himself in such a way that he can be seen and touched by finite beings without himself becoming a finite being.

I believe God is making himself known to finite beings in a visible, tangible form while simultaneously maintaining his infinite being, and deny that God becomes or experiences himself as a finite being when manifesting himself to finite beings in a visible, tangible form. I also deny that God’s making himself known in this way requires that God exist as multiple persons.

I believe God is using whatever it is that makes him something rather than nothing (what I have speculated may be the highest kind or quality of matter) to manifest himself in a visible, tangible form so as to personally interact with finite beings, but I deny that God must be or become multiple persons in order to do so. I believe God exists as a unipersonal being with a single self-awareness, first person perspective, mind, will (etc.) no matter what he is doing, and no matter how he is choosing to manifest himself to his creatures.

God becoming one of us, one with us, giving himself to us and for us, sharing and redeeming our suffering is consistent with my idea of the Good. How God manages to pull off this impossibility is his affair. (Since I neither know what God is, or what Man is, who am I to say God cannot become Man?) Similarly, I believe in universal restoration because it is consistent with my idea of the Good.

An example to describe it might be; every atom is a part of universe, and expresses the universe; and are one with the universe (existentially), and the universe is one with each individual atom.

Every expression of God is part of God, and expresses God; and are one with God. In the case of God; God is likewise those expressions which expresses him; those selves are expressions of God’s self.

Perhaps our differences of understanding are that I see things (or attempt to) in a holistic manner, rather than reductionistically. I don’t see God’s Being, in being multiple persons, as reductions of God, but rather God’s Being, and God’s persons as holistically One Entity in multiple, eternal expressions, capable of taking real form.

God’s self, in being expressed via selves of God’s self, I don’t feel necessitates that those selves are the sum of his parts, or his “pieces”, but rather they are unique, co-interactive, eternal “dimensions” (for lack of a better word, it is after all, God, who is difficult to describe and words simply fail to grasp the full nature, being but poor symbols compared) of One; of God.

I can only assume three things given the nature of the visitation;

a. It was either a Human, or a Divine Image similar to a Human, or something else.

b. What ever the visitation was, the form must be genuine.

c. If it isn’t Human, then it isn’t recorded as being otherwise. The visitors are seen as “men” and I can only assume they were in Human form. But the forms must have been genuine, as I already insisted, no matter what they were.

Then God was being that real form via which he was making his appearance.

I believe they would have to possess all the essential attributes to some degree at least, at minimum, to even be considered made in the image of God. They may not possess them to the degree as God does, but they must; like children possessing the attributes of their parents, possess those attributes, even if they are small and immature in their stature.

There is no loss of identity, if the atoms of the drop remain coherent, there is no loss of identity if the dot still exists despite existing in the expanse, there is no loss of identity if the identity of the being is maintained by God while being One with the being of God.

A pattern within an infinite pattern still retains its pattern even if it is embedded and unified with that infinite pattern.

The specific number is irrelevant, but he must be capable of existing as more than merely his own (if he be Unipersonal) solipsistic, mutually exclusive, existentially closed off self.

He may well be.

There may well be this option; they’re all persons of each other. My issue concerning Jesus being considered a person of the Father, is that I don’t believe “the Father” to be the sole person of God. I feel your question is loaded, which is why I make the distinction.

I consider the Father to be a person of God, a person of Yahweh; the I AM. Or else there is an identity of God that is beyond that, which has not been fully revealed. Yet I must consider that Jesus referring to the Father, is a reference for our sake relationally, rather than for God’s sake.

If Jesus is a person of the Father, then as The Son, he must be capable of simultaneously being present, while the Father is also present; eternally. I disagree with Modalism.

I would say he is multipersonal. The persons of God, his appearances certainly, are capable of co-interaction, and interaction with the infinite being of God, and capable of uniqueness.

Then God is capable of existing as a simultaneous multiplicity of expressions of Himself which are capable of co-interaction, and interaction with, and experiencing the infinite God-self of whom they are expressing.

I never said he ceases to be infinite in his being, only that he is perfectly capable of simultaneously being infinite and being a real form, which is spatially, and locally finite; and that because he is capable of his it is established that he exists, or is capable of existing, as a simultaneous multiplicity of expressions of his being, which are capable of unique experience; because they do have unique experience, not being “infinite in size”, or being tangible, for example.

That, I would be rather certain, means that God in existing as a multiplicity of expressions; each with a unique perspective and unique experience; is existing as multiple persons.

You assert that God is actually present via the real forms he is appearing as, but isn’t actually those appearances and those appearances aren’t actually him; because he isn’t actually “being” those appearances.

That God, who I believe is the fabric of Reality, the fabric with which he creates and expresses his ideas into being, is perfectly capable of expressing his own being through that fabric of reality, via created forms. Which is perfectly logical, where as I believe your position is more or less that a = b but b ≠ a.

These proposals seem to be, more or less, just a sort of “High Materialism”. “God is constituted, or is, matter…just higher matter.” It is still Materialism. Though I am sure there is more to your concept which is difficult to put down on text, so I’ll let this be, out of respectfulness.

I feel that God, being omniscient, is perfectly capable of simultaneously experiencing infinite experience, and finite experience; infinite, and finite perspectives.

If the appearances are tangible, and experience things such as eating and drinking (which the account in Genesis concerning Abraham does state the men [God included] do eat), experiences which the invisible, intangible, infinite God does not directly experience apart from those appearances; tells me that those appearances are experiencing a unique experience and therefore God is existing in a simultaneous multiplicity, and as multiple persons, because these appearances are having unique experiences, and therefore unique perspectives along with the infinite God, but certainly they are having them for themselves as well.

Hi Lefein,

You wrote:

I’m not sure your distinction between God’s being “omnipresent” and his being “present” is meaningful. When most people speak of God as being omnipresent, what they mean is that God is not “present” in the same limited sense that finite beings are “present.” That is, the sense in which God is “present” is an unlimited sense, not a limited sense. His presence is not limited to one place at one time (as is the case for “finite” beings); rather, he is at every moment present in all places. In contrast, a being who is not omnipresent is limited to one place at one time. So to say that God is “both” omnipresent and “present” is, I think, really a meaningless distinction. It would be like saying God is “both” all-knowing and “knowing.” Yes, God is “knowing” but not in the same limited sense that finite beings are. If God is both all-present and all-knowing, then God is neither “present” nor “knowing” in the same limited sense that finite beings are. While finite beings certainly have knowledge and are thus “knowing,” our knowledge is limited. God’s is not. And by virtue of being omnipresent, God could not be present in the same limited sense that a being who is not omnipresent is (i.e., limited to one place at one time). He could not be merely “present” in the same limited sense that finite beings are. So whatever you mean by “simultaneous multiplicity,” it cannot mean that God is simultaneously omnipresent as well as present in the same limited sense that finite beings are.

Moreover, as I believe I’ve stated before in another discussion, I have strong doubts concerning the idea that if God can in fact be omnipresent he is actually realizing this potential insofar as he relates to this or any other creation. I’m not sure Scripture teaches that God is omnipresent in the sense of being personally present everywhere, and do not think this would allow for the kind of personal and existential distinction that I believe is necessary for not-God to exist, and for God to relate to not-God as such. If God were actually personally and existentially present everywhere then it would seem to lead to pantheism - that all that exists is really God, and that there is no personal identity apart from God. If there is nowhere that God’s being, mind and self-awareness is not, then there would be no existential “room” for not-God to be and exist. Everything would simply be an extension of God’s own being and self. So I’m not sure I can affirm God’s omnipresence, or at least in the sense of a realized potential for him to be omnipresent. Rather, I’m inclined to believe that if God has the potential to be omnipresent, he is not actually realizing this potential. One may argue that this would be a denial of God’s “infinitude,” but I don’t think it would be anymore than saying God is “infinite” or unlimited in power but not actually exercising the fullness of his power in the simultaneous doing of everything that can be done. As long as God has the capacity to do all that can be done simultaneously, he’s not limiting himself (or becoming finite) merely by choosing not to realize this capacity.

Thus, I’m inclined to believe that God, insofar as he exists with, and relates to, a creation, exists in a localized form (and is thus not “infinite” in this sense). Assuming God would be omnipresent apart from creation, I think God’s decision to bring not-God into existence and exist with not-God was/is itself a decision not to realize his capacity to be omnipresent.

Well I’m glad we’re in agreement on what it means to be a “person.” But as far as your distinction between God’s being “knowing” and God’s being “all-knowing,” see above. To say that God is “both” all-knowing and “knowing” is really, I think, a meaningless distinction.

To become localized in presence is to cease to be infinite in presence. God may maintain his capacity to be infinite in presence (and in this sense may be called “infinite” or “unlimited”), but still, for God to become “present” in the sense of being limited to one place at one time as finite beings are “present” is for him to cease to be omnipresent. For a God who has become “present” in the sense that finite beings are present would mean he is not “present” in the sense of being present everywhere simultaneously, and thus he would not be existing in two distinct states of being simultaneously.

But I do believe he is “actually” the localized form in which he assumes in relation to creation. He is actually manifesting himself in an actual localized form that has the likeness of a human or angelic appearance. But I simply deny that in so doing God must actually become and exist as a not-God being with all of its necessary and inherent limitations. I deny that in manifesting himself in the form that as he does God must and does experience every limitation that humans and angels necessarily experience by virtue of being not-God beings. And if you agree, then I think you’d have to agree that God is not existing as a genuine human or angel, which are both (by virtue of their created existence) not-God beings.


  1. Come into sight; become visible or noticeable, typically without visible agent or apparent cause: “smoke appeared on the horizon”.
  2. Come into existence or use: “the major life forms appeared on earth”. … ss&ie=&oe=


  1. The way that someone or something looks.
  2. An impression given by someone or something, although this may be misleading: “she read it with every appearance of interest”. … 71&bih=809

When I say that God “appears” to finite beings in a certain form I simply mean he is making himself and his presence known to us in a visible and personally relatable way. The form that God assumes for the sake of not-God beings is, I think, a real form. It’s just not a real human form.

If what I’m talking about is what you mean by “simultaneous multiplicity,” then I’m afraid that “simultaneous multiplicity” has nothing to do with God’s being multiple persons, his being simultaneously unlimited and limited in presence, or his simultaneously existing as both uncreated and created.

Based on what you say above, I’m not sure we have the same understanding of what it means to be genuinely human, and to possess a nature that defines us as genuinely human. Humans, I believe, are created, dependent and limited beings, and, as such, are necessarily “not-God” beings. While I believe God is assuming a visible and tangible form that that has the likeness of a human/angelic appearance (and may include visible and tangible features that are at least indistinguishable from “bones, flesh, a face, and eyes”), I don’t believe this form would mean God was actually a human or an angel. Nor do I think God has to assume a fully human form if he is to be considered honest rather than a “faker.” Assuming the human-like form in which God appeared to Abraham and appears in heaven is not his eternal, self-existent form, I think the only reason God is assuming any kind of visible and tangible form at all is simply for the sake of finite beings (i.e., so that he can have a personal relationship with us, as he created us to have with each other). God doesn’t have to be or become a genuine human or angelic being in order to have the kind of personal relationship with us that he created us to have with each other. I think God manifests himself tangibly and visibly only to the extent that the kind of personal relationship he wants to have with finite beings requires, but I don’t think the personal relationship he wants to have with us requires that he become a not-God being, and be an actual human or angelic being. God, in manifesting himself to us in a way that looks and feels like a human would look and feel, would still, I think, necessarily possess all of the essential divine attributes by which he would be able to remain uniquely and distinctly “God” (rather than a “not-God” being, such as a human or angel).

I don’t think the “form is human” in the sense that it would make God a human being. Rather, I believe the form resembles a human/angel - it has the likeness of a human/angel appearance - to the extent required by the kind of personal relationship that God wants to have with humans/angels.

If by expressing himself via a “presence” you mean a limited presence, then no, God would not be maintaining his omnipresence if he was expressing himself in this way. But if by “presence” you don’t mean “limited presence,” then the distinction you’re trying to make is, I think, meaningless.

Again, it’s not my position that God isn’t actually the form in which he is appearing to not-God beings. Because the form is not a form that limits God in the sense that I believe humans and angels are limited (but which God could not be limited without ceasing to be God), God can remain God even while manifesting himself in the form in which I think he is manifesting himself.

Because you aren’t understanding what I mean by Omnipresent and Present, in much the same way you aren’t understanding what I mean by God being infinite, and finite at the same time. You’re trying to look at all of it through filters of “limitation”, I’m looking at them through the filter of expression, and the manner of its scope and unique existential artistry.

God is being omnipresent by virtue of his being omnipresent, when his omnipresent being/persons of being make an appearance, he is appearing in manner which is specifically present, via a specific presence. A “Manifest Presence of God” is such an example, it is a specifically “present presence” that isn’t “omnipresent” - the glory of God descending down on the Tabernacle, or the specific presence of God in/on the Ark of the Covenant was specifically present, but the glory wasn’t “everywhere” (though God is still omnipresent) and people didn’t die when they walked to the bazaar in ancient China, where as people did die if they touched the Ark, because God’s specific presence was manifest presently, but it wasn’t omnipresent (though God is omnipresent).

This is not the line of thought I am presenting, so I will skip through to the relevant parts further in.

It can under my definition, though I simply refuse to invoke the word “limited” - God in his persons, in his appearances, isn’t disconnected from God of whom the persons and appearances are and are expressive of. There is too much detachment in your envisioning, which I believe is leading to misunderstandings.

If he lacks that omnipresence, then the definition of God changes, and your concepts of limitations are even further weakened from before; as God himself would have eternal limitations in his scope.

Who says there has to be a “not-God” in order for something to have a unique, personal, free-willed, identity?

Something which I believe, and affirm to be the truth.

In a funny sort of way, I kinda get the feeling that in order to avoid God actually being his “finite” (which I say in scope, you say in limitation) appearances, he essentially has to become even more detached and even less infinite than then God I am espousing to hold.

I don’t see why God should be omnipresent apart from Creation, rather I am inclined to believe that he has essentially made Creation out of his very essence, out of the “nothing” (whether it is actually “no-thing-void” or not is questionable) in which he is present, be brought forth things that “be” as he “Be(s)”.

“Let there be light”

I am inclined that the idea of light already present in God, in the mind and imagination of God, was expressed into being via God at his command, through/by The Word.

And as I said regarding my actual line of thought concerning omnipresence and presence, it is about specific, unique expressions. Not about limitations. What you call a meaningless distinction, I consider to be a matter of detail within the grander narrative.

He seems to do it well enough as a hologram, why not do it well enough as an actual real form with eyes, a face, and toenails that are actually eyes, a face, and toenails? And I can properly assume the appearance of God had a stomach (or something functional of the sort), given that Abraham gave him food and he actually ate it.

I believe that if God is perfectly capable of being present in all places while being specifically present, as the Bible does attest as having occurred multiple times, then he is perfectly capable of existing in “two or more states of being” in scope, I will remind you that it is you alone who seem to insist on limitations.

I don’t believe God becomes a “not-God”, I believe God can “be” that real form of an angel, essentially incarnating himself, or a person of himself, via that real form while still being God.

In all honesty, as my spirituality and understanding have grown, I am becoming less and less attached to the idea that anything that has actual, real, God-maintained, God-idealed existence is a “not-God”.

I don’t see how God appearing in a real form that in this case is a human form, isn’t God appearing in a real human form.

I’m glad it does have much to do with it. If God is simultaneously existing in two states of being, each with their own unique experiences; as they would indeed have, while still being GOd, and while God still maintains his infinite being as he is existing in this state (eternal or otherwise) of simultaneous multiplicity, then I believe he is existing via expressions which are at minimum, I believe, multiple persons.

I would probably even extend the proposal that God’s persons are infinite, that they are God’s ideas of himself, ideas which are eternal as he is eternal - ideas which he expresses through the fabric of reality, via real form appearances, or as I would consider; incarnation, in the case of Jesus Christ.

Where as I do not believe genuine humanity has to have such limitations, but rather I believe that humanity in its fullest genuineness, its fullest perfection, is not so detached from God existentially.

I believe human beings are embodied ideas, expressed ideas, of God’s children. And I might be inclined to think that these ideas are necessarily drawn from God’s own reflection of his own being, and that in this; humans are the image of God, beings that reflect his being. Beings that may even be part of his being, having unique perspective, experience, and individuality; but not being necessarily detached from God, and it is certainly not necessarily that they be existentially detached from God.

I don’t see why it shouldn’t be, since I don’t see why God should somehow cease to be God in actually being the real form through/by which he is appearing. He’s capable of being the likeness, it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to think he is capable of “being” the likeness, which is a real form of that likeness; which I would say is hence, a real form that is that likeness, that is that human, that is that angel, that is that pillar of fire, that is that manifest glory over the tabernacle, that is that invisible specific presence in/on the Ark of the Covenant, that is that (as I believe) man from Galilee.

My understanding of “persons” may have to change, though I will still maintain God’s multipersonal personitude, but my view that GOd is genuinely being the things he appears to be is a matter of God being generally honest in his visitations.

I think this view is limited, and limiting. Budget cuts on the abundant life.

If it only resembles, then I can’t help but feel God is being a little…cheap.

By presence I mean finite in scope, not in existential nature.

You’re calling details in a narrative meaningless for the sake of defending an idea of limitations in the details, when the issue of limitations is what I consider, meaningless.

In the end, in my opinion, I think your theology is a defense of limitations, rather than a defense of God’s capacity and nature.

  1. Do you think you and I are “existentially one” with God in the same sense that every atom is “existentially one” with the universe?

  2. You said my understanding of a “person” (i.e., that a person is, at minimum, a being with a unique self-awareness, first person perspective and will, which makes the being distinct from other persons) “fine enough.” It would seem, then, that you would be fine with affirming that each of the “multiple, eternal expressions” which are “capable of taking real form” exist as a self-aware being with a unique first person perspective and will which distinguishes them from the other persons. Your only caveat is that these persons would, by virtue of their omniscience, share a “perspective link” with the others. Does this mean each person knows and understands what it would be like to possess the unique first person perspective of the other without actually possessing it? Or does this mean that the same first person perspective is shared by all of the personal “expressions?” If the latter, then I think it would mean these “expressions” aren’t actually multiple persons, but rather one person (for they each possess the same first person perspective).

  3. You believe that Jesus and the Father are each an “expression of God.” But is the “God” of whom Jesus and the Father are “expressions” a divine person (in the sense that you think Jesus and the Father are), or not? Would this “God” of whom Jesus and the Father are “expressions” have a unique self-awareness and will and possess divine attributes such as omnipotence and omniscience?

But is this divine “self” (which you think is being expressed via multiple divine “selves,” such as the Father and Jesus) a person, or not? Again, you seem to agree with me that a “person” is a being with a unique self-awareness and will that distinguishes the being from other persons.

My view is that Yahweh and the two angels are called “men” simply because they resembled men in their appearance or likeness. Being referred to in accordance with how they appeared to Abraham and what they resembled to him, they are thus introduced in the narrative as “three men.” As you know, it is not unusual in Scripture for angels to be referred to as “men” (Josh 5:13-14; Dan 10:5-6; Mark 16:5), but that doesn’t mean they possess a human nature and are members of our race/species as descendents of Adam, the first man. They so resemble male human beings in their appearance that they are described as “men.” But to say that Yahweh and the two angels that were with him did not only resemble human beings but were, in reality, human beings - i.e., created beings who shared the same human nature as the first man, Adam - would, I think, be a mistake.

I don’t think you understand what I mean by the “essential attributes by which a being may be categorized as ‘God.’” I’m talking about the essential attributes that distinguish God from every other being, and without which God would not be God. Such essential attributes or characteristics would include a perfect and uncreated nature, necessary and underived existence, inherent and underived immortality, immutability, perfect and eternal knowledge of all that can be known and unlimited and inherent power to do all that can be done. God is also the only being who is perfectly, inherently and essentially “good,” and whose perfect inherent goodness is alone the eternal standard and ideal. No person - whether human or angelic - is “good” in this sense but God alone.

None of these essential divine attributes (attributes that make God uniquely who and what he is) are possessed by human beings. The essential attributes that make God unique could never be shared by any other being. And what Paul says in Romans 11:33-36 could not be said of any created being. To say that God’s image bearers “would have to possess all the essential attributes” of God “to some degree” is, I think, absurd. We do not (and never will) possess any of the above attributes of God to any “degree.” One cannot, for example, have an existence that is both derived and “to some degree” underived. Nor can one inherently possess “to some degree” unlimited power. One either possesses these attributes in full or one does not possess them at all. Being made in God’s image does not mean we possess any of the essential attributes that distinguish God from all not-God beings. Created beings may, for example, have knowledge to varying degrees, but merely having knowledge is not a distinguishing attribute of God that makes God who and what he is. God does not merely have knowledge; rather, God (in his uniqueness as God) has always possessed perfect, comprehensive knowledge of all that can be known - something that could never be said of any not-God being. To be made in God’s image in the sense of which Scripture speaks is not to possess the essential divine attributes that make God unique and distinguishes him from every other being. Rather, it refers to the capacity with which we were created as personal beings that enables us to “subdue [the earth] and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living things that moves on the earth” (Gen 1:28).

The very fact that the drop has returned to the “infinite ocean” means that it has ceased to be a “drop.” It lost its identity as a “drop” - something distinct from the “infinite ocean” - by virtue of the fact that it returned to the “infinite ocean.” And the very fact that there is an infinite expanse of the colour white means there can be no “white dot” in this infinite expanse. If it’s an infinite expanse, the colour white is all that is. Only if you were to say that the colour or “texture” of the “dot” was in some way different from the colour or texture of the infinite expanse (e.g., an off-white dot in a white expanse) could it possibly be said to be distinct from the infinite expanse. Otherwise, it would, again, be like speaking of an empty space in an infinite expanse of nothing. And the “oneness” of being of which you speak is, as you said, a “oneness” in which God would exist as you, which to me would entail that either an identity was lost or never existed in the first place. You’re simply asserting that the identity of the (not-God?) being would be “maintained by God,” but what I think you really have is a “oneness” of being in the most literal and absolute sense, such that there really is only one being and existence. Or, you believe as I do that our being and God’s being are not “one” in the most literal or absolute sense (such that there would be a loss of existential or ontological identity), but instead believe that God is maintaining a real distinction between your being and his being. What you call my “defense of limitations” is simply my attempt to recognize and affirm the necessary distinction between God and not-God, and the fact that God, in choosing to bring not-God into existence, willingly placed “limits” on the expression of his being in order to “maintain” (as you say) the existential/ontological distinction that would be necessary in order for both God and not-God (i.e., created, dependent, finite beings) to co-exist. In order for two beings (e.g., Jesus and his God, the Father) to be “one” in the sense that I think Scripture speaks, they have to be distinct beings. If the “oneness” spoken of is understood in the most literal and absolute sense of the word, then it would not only mean they are “one being” but “one person” as well.

Would the “infinite pattern” be infinite and complete apart from the pattern that you speak of as being “within” it, or not? And what distinguishes the pattern that you speak of as being “within” the infinite pattern from the infinite pattern? Or is it distinguishable?

How about a minimum number? Do you think God’s being two divine persons would be sufficient to accomplish this? Why or why not? If you’re not sure, how do you know God would have to be more than one person?

You believe I am “limiting” God in believing him to be a unipersonal being with one self-awareness, mind and will (although I believe this to be what God has revealed to us), but I find your view that a unipersonal divine being couldn’t possibly be capable of being “existentially connected” (however you understand this) to you and every other finite person in existence to be placing just as much of a “limit” on God as you think I am. You’ve said a great deal about what you don’t think a unipersonal God could do (while at the same time seeming somewhat unsure as to what exactly a “person” is, or what it means to say God is a person or persons). So how many divine persons, at minimum, do you think God has to be in order to be “existentially connected” to you and every other finite person in existence? If you don’t think a single divine person could do this, then perhaps you believe there have to be at least two divine persons. But how exactly would two divine persons be more capable of being “existentially connected” to you and every other person? How would the existence of an additional divine person make this possible, in your view?

Well the very fact that you refer to this God as “he” tells me that you think that he would, in fact, be a distinct person. Which would mean that Jesus and the Father are both divine persons of a single divine person. But I have no idea what this means - and I’m not really sure you do, either. Hence, you seem somewhat hesitant to affirm it (which is, I think, understandable :wink: )!

If Jesus’ God is “God of whom Jesus is a person” and they are “all persons of each other” (whatever you think this means), then wouldn’t it mean that the Father has a God (i.e., Jesus)? Is this what you believe? That the Father is not only Jesus’ God, but Jesus (the Son of God) is the Father’s God?

You speak of the Father as being “a person of Yahweh.” So is Yahweh (of whom the Father is a person) a person himself? Is Yahweh a “he” and a “self” with a unique self-awareness?

If the God of whom both Jesus and the Father are persons is “himself” multiple persons, then it seems you believe that both Jesus and the Father are divine persons of multiple divine persons. Again, I’m not at all sure what this means.

So you believe that an infinite being who can be referred to with the singular pronoun “he” can be simultaneously infinite and finite. Is that correct? And if by “he” you mean multiple persons, then it should be “they” (do you usually speak of multiple persons as singular, or just when you’re talking about God?). But if you do mean “they,” do you think that one of the multiple persons that you believe are each divine “expressions” can be both infinite and finite? If not, why not?

I believe that it was God himself - not an illusion - who appeared to Abraham, and that it is God himself - not an illusion - who is described as sitting on a throne beside Jesus in heaven. It is, I believe, God himself who is assuming a visible, embodied form that has the likeness of a human/angelic being.

I think an “infinite” God, being omniscient, would be perfectly capable of knowing what it would be like to experience “finite experience,” but as finite experience and infinite experience are mutually exclusive experiences, I don’t think what you say above would be any more logically possible than it would for God to be simultaneously existent and non-existent, or simultaneously created and uncreated.

God is either omnipresent in some sense or he’s not. Saying he’s simultaneously “omnipresent” and “present” does not convey anything meaningful to me. Whatever specific meaning you’re ascribing to the word “present” in the statement “God is simultaneously omnipresent and present,” it either means “present in all places at all times” or it means something less than this - i.e., “present” in some limited sense. If God’s “present” in the sense of “omnipresent,” then to speak of him as also being simultaneously “present” would be redundant if “present” meant “present everywhere.” And if “present” means “present” in the sense that you and I are “present” as personal, embodied beings, it would be a contradiction, since the sense in which you and I are present is in a limited sense (for you and I do not, as persons, exist everywhere at once). To be “present” in the former sense is not to be “present” in the latter, and vice-versa.

If God is truly omnipresent in his personhood and being, then all you’re really talking about is God making his divine presence known to us in some obvious way that is perceivable to us. This has nothing to do with God’s being both infinite and finite at the same time. If he was already omnipresent (in the sense that his divine “essence” and “self” is everywhere present) he wouldn’t actually be becoming “present” in some “finite” sense. He’d simply be making us aware of his presence and manifesting his presence in some way that is perceptible to us. From our perspective, it would simply appear as if God was suddenly present, since prior to the special manifestation his presence was not being made known to us in a perceptible way. But in reality he was there all along. It would be like fireflies being seen at night when they glow; one might not realize they were there until they made their presence known. But they were there before we saw them. We just didn’t realize it, and could not see them (and even when we do see them at night, we’re not seeing them in their entirety).

The fact that God is not exercising his unlimited power by actually doing everything he has the power to do simultaneously wouldn’t mean he is “limited,” or that I’m “limiting” him. God could’ve created everything that exists simultaneously, but instead we read that he did it over a period of time. And Scripture also seems to suggest that God prefers working through personal agents - such as through angels, or his Son - and not always directly (although I have no doubt that he could). Similarly, the fact that God could be everywhere at once in a personal sense but chooses not to exercise this ability (such as for the reason I’ve given) doesn’t mean he is “limited” in the sense of being unable to do something he wants to do. Surely you don’t think God is “limited” because he can’t create a “married bachelor.”

There doesn’t have to be if that “something” is God. But if there is no “not-God” then the only “unique, personal free-willed identity” would be God.

I have suggested in the past that God made everything out of his “being” or “very essence” rather than ex nihilo, but I believe that if he did do this then he did so in such a way that a real distinction was made between that which is himself and that which is not himself, such that there are in fact real distinct existential and ontological identities (i.e., that which is in identity “God” and that which is in identity “not-God”). And in putting such “boundaries” in place (such that there can be “God” and “not-God”), I believe God may have had to refrain from doing what he still has the inherent ability to do (i.e., be personally present everywhere at once) and “localize” himself (which would, I think, entail having some kind of embodied form). Scripture certainly speaks as if God is personally present in a localized form in a specific area in Heaven (1 Kg 8:30; Ps. 102:19-20; Eccl 5:2; Mt 6:9; Mk. 16:19; Lk 1:19; 1 Tim 6:16). But even while thus localized, the extent to which God can influence and interact with his creation (which is by means of his “spirit” or divine energy/power) has no limits, and in this sense he can be considered “present” beyond his personal, localized presence in Heaven (Ps 139:2, 7, 9, 10). I believe God is at every moment maintaining everything in existence as he wants it by his divine power, which would mean his divine power is everywhere present.

I’m not sure I ever said that God doesn’t actually have “eyes, a face and toenails.” In fact, I’ve elsewhere suggested (in a different thread) that God may very well exist in some kind of immortal, corporeal and organized form with a body that is similar to the kind of body with which we will be raised. I don’t see this as being at all problematic; I simply deny that God possesses a human nature (since I see human nature as being at least partly defined by certain limitations that God could not have and still be God). But whatever organs or features God may possess other than what can be seen and touched by us is not important to me. The point is that I think God is manifesting himself in a real form that makes it possible for us to have the kind of personal relationship with him that he wants us to have with him. If the personal relationship that God wants to have with us in heaven doesn’t require that he digest the food he eats, derive nourishment from it and then expel the waste, then I see no reason why he would need a digestive system. Perhaps the food he ate when visiting Abraham was instantaneously turned into energy after he ate it. Who knows.

What you call “specifically present” is, I believe, God’s being personally present as a localized and embodied centre of consciousness and self-awareness. The sense in which I believe God is “present” beyond his localized, embodied presence in heaven is, I believe, through his operative divine power or energy. While God’s divine power or energy “proceeds” from God, it is not God himself, or God “in person.” I believe God “in person” is in heaven with his Son, Jesus (or, on certain rare occasions, visiting mortals on earth as he did Abraham and Moses).

If God becomes a being that has the same nature and attributes as the kind of being that God created on the 6th day of Creation (i.e., a human being or “man”), then it would mean God has become a not-God being. So if you don’t believe that God can become “not-God” then what I think you’re denying is that God can become a human being, or any other created being. Consider Allan’s comment (which, if I’m not mistaken, you agree with) that “God cannot understand, share and finally redeem our suffering unless he too becomes a man. A real man, not in appearance only.” What kind of being is Allan talking about when he says “our suffering?” Is he talking about a being that is God, or a being that is not-God? Answer: he’s talking about a not-God being. He is, in other words, saying, “God cannot understand, share and finally redeem the suffering of not-God beings unless he too becomes a not-God being. A real not-God being, not in appearance only.” This, to me, is no more possible for God to do than it would be for him to be both existent and non-existent.

You speak of the “form of an angel.” But if the “form of an angel” is an angel (i.e., a being with the nature of an angel), and an angel is a kind of personal being that God created at some point in the past, then to say that God can “be” that “real form of an angel” is to say that God can “be” a real not-God being (since, like “man,” that’s what an “angel” necessarily is).

Either a human being is not a not-God being or it is a not-God being. If the former, then there is no existential or ontological distinction between human beings and God. We’d be one and the same being. God would be us and we would be God. But if the latter, then we would be “detached from God existentially.” We may be “one” with God in other ways (e.g., relationally), but we would not share the same identical being or existence.

I don’t think it’s at all “cheap” for God to choose to relate to us in a visible, tangible form that resembles his “highest” creatures while yet continuing to be God (as opposed to becoming not-God, which I think would be impossible for God to do). To say that God is “cheap” because he doesn’t become and relate to us as a not-God being (which, again, is what I think it would mean for him to become a genuine human being like you or I) is like saying God is “cheap” because he won’t create a married bachelor for our amusement.

I would certainly like to think so. At least in so far as what I meant by the metaphor.

Each unique, multiple, first-person perspective - person - sharing a single unifying perspective while still maintaining their unique, first-person perspectives via that omniscient link, seems compatible with the idea of God existing through multiple, eternal persons, while still being One Being.

Yet, so far as God is concerned, I might consider it like so; that the first-person perspective exists simultaneously, or with an omniscient perspective that functions superimpositionally.

I see no reason why The Deity should lack such things as personality. Holistically speaking, it is not an issue at all to the personal-multiplicity of the One God.

See above.

I don’t believe “Human” requires sharing the same human nature as the first Adam, if you are referencing the “sin nature”, as for the rest of Adam’s nature, I’m not entirely sure about that either, a notable issue is that we don’t exactly have a full account of Adam’s nature anymore than we have a full account of Christ’s - who is the Last Adam.

I believe God is capable of manifesting himself through a fully functioning, human body, void of sin and limit, just as easily as he is capable of manifesting himself as anything else you might be suggesting for his “resemblance appearance”.

It is not that I do not understand your definition - it is that I reject the limitations you’ve set on the premise, and therefore reject the limits that go along with your definition.

My beliefs being that the very fabric of Existence, Reality; is God, who is Existence and Reality itself - the I AM, that which is - see no issue with God being capable of expressing his being through created substances, and created forms.

Artistically speaking, God is perfectly capable of expressing his poetic soul through the oil and canvas he has made, and made to be art; and genuinely existing via that artistic creation, while remaining simultaneously The Artist.

You think it absurd, if so, the faith is rather useless if we can’t be like Christ, or be perfect as our Father is perfect - one of Christ’s direct commands.

As for your definition of “image of God”, it is a little bit tiresome to see all the limitations you put on things.

Your problem, if I may make an opinion-based observation, seems to be that you’re too reductionist to see the concept behind the metaphors I’ve used; the dot, the drop, etc.

And again, you’re too into limits to understand capacity, I think.

An identity can maintain its identity, while being integrated into/one with, the whole - because it is God who is essentially “The All” who has expressed “the part” into being, and that “part” is still one with “The All”.

A more holistic mindset would do you well for understanding mine.

The infinite pattern is the reason the pattern that is part of it exists; the reality of the pattern is what determines the pattern of the parts, the patterns within it, that express it. What distinguishes the pattern within from the infinite pattern without that it is one with; is the simple, sheer fact that it [the pattern within] is that pattern being that pattern, and it is that pattern, where as the infinite pattern is that infinite pattern, being that infinite pattern; though the patterns are still one with one another.

Here is a visual example;

Fractal Zooms in general, are fascinating visual aids for the concept I keep talking about.

I’d go with three at minimum, as that is what I believe the scripture attests to - at minimum.

I do.

I don’t see how.

I believe a Unipersonal God is limited, as you seem to have attested rather nicely. He must be separated from his creations, he is only able to resemble his creations, he is only able to be…sort of, kind of…omnipresent. Etc, etc.

A God capable of expressing himself as multiple-expressions simultaneously and capable of existing multi-personally while maintaining that infinite identity as The Deity; seems very free indeed.

As for being connected, if God is capable of being multi-personal while maintaining his identity as The Deity, he is capable of being existentially unified with my person, I am capable of being existentially unified to him while maintaining my identity. If he is only capable of existing unto himself unipersonally - and as you’ve confirmed rather insistently, must be separate from Creation, his creations…then indeed the Unitarian Deity and I are completely separate, and there is no union, certainly no union I could be eternally satisfied with.

Don’t be hasty. I hestitate due to the subject being God, whom is ineffable and mysterious. That being said, of course I don’t entirely understand - for that very same reason that God is God, and I have not yet matured enough to know the full mystery, to know as I am known.

That was speculation. But it would seem to me that if Jesus didn’t think it robbery to be equal with God, then perhaps they really are each other’s God, God being his own God is not much of a stretch for the truth. Surely even the Unitarian God is God of himself?

I use Yahweh to refer to the “I AM” which is God’s name for himself as “The Being” (Septuagint Translation of the phrase used in the “I AM” introduction). I could speculate safely that Yahweh is a person himself. God is capable of existing holistically, and does exist as such, I believe.

The same thing it has probably always meant. God isn’t a very easily solvable rubix cube.

I do. A whole timeline can be referred to as both Time and Times. It isn’t an entirely difficult concept, or at the least it is not a concept without its comparisons.

When those multiple persons are all expressions of The One Deity, yes, I do refer to God in the singular pronoun…And sometimes I call her, she.

As for the infinite/finite problem, see the metaphor with the timeline above.

And I believe God has the capacity to appear as “more than a likeness” and has done so on various occasions.

It seems to me that you’ll let God do/be practically everything I believe he is capable of, with the acception of “actually doing it/being it” outside of merely resembling so.

Is this a correct observation?

If God isn’t capable of being present, he isn’t capable of being omnipresent. If he is omnipresent, then he is also capable of being present, and indeed exists as such. If the truth is redundant, it is still the truth.

As for the rest of your post, I simply don’t see how your view works; notably because I don’t see a separation between the fabric of Reality of which Creation is made, and which embodies creative ideas such as you and me, rocks and trees, and even perhaps God’s eternal ideas of himself, and God - or to put it simply I don’t see Reality as being separate from God who is Reality itself, of which all realities and reals are a part and made of.

I would also argue that God is “more than resembling the likenesses” in which he appears, via those specific presences that I described. That is the point I am making.

I believe you’re comparing cats and cucumbers again.

I believe that’s a very silly conclusion, to be honest.

You mean, part of God’s essence is capable of ceasing to be God?

So, you at least half-way agree with me that God is perfectly capable of existing incarnate, while of course - simultaneously maintaining his infinite being?

I don’t believe humans are necessarily defined as being limited. We’re limited, but I don’t believe these limits are necessities for being human, or being one of God’s “human ideas” expressed creatively.

The food however, was just an example for dealing with the issue of whether or not God’s real form was worth the creative God’s ability.

Is the Unitarian God impersonal beyond that “in person” sitting localised upon the throne?

I’m ever more ceasing to believe in the very concept of “not-God”, with every step I take towards believing that anything that exists (like Creation) in Reality can’t be “Not-Reality”. And of course, I believe God is Reality.

If the very first angel is made of the stuff of Reality, and the stuff of Reality is God, and the idea of that angel - which is the angel’s self, is being expressed via that stuff of Reality, and that idea proceeds from God, and is also some sort of “idealic stuff of Reality” then I see little reason why I should conclude that the angel is a “not-God” anymore than I should conclude that the angel is a “not-real”, and I might also add if only speculatively (though with strong speculation) that the personal identity of the angel would still be made of the stuff of Reality, the stuff of God, personal identity though it may be; made up of idealic or substantive stuff though it may be, and the same goes for humans.

See the point concerning the pattern within an infinite pattern, and their oneness.

If I were a woman, and I had a fiance who had all the resources in the world - I’d expect a bona-fide ring on the day he proposed, not a plastic one. Making a point of comparing my desire for God to be genuine in his appearances, for at least the majority of the time when he’s wanting to relate to his children…to creating a “married bachelor” for our amusement, is again, I believe, a comparison of cats and cucumbers.

As for the whole “God/Not-God” issue, I’ve already made posts concerning that.

Hi Lefein,

This has been a stimulating and enlightening discussion, and a nice opportunity to sharpen our own views and perhaps become a little more consistent in what we believe. Although we certainly have our differences (to say the least!), I have a lot of respect for you and it’s always a pleasure engaging in discussions like this one. With that said, this will most likely be my last response in this particular discussion, as I think it’s getting close to having run its course (if it hasn’t already). But I certainly look forward to any future discussions we may have. :slight_smile:

What about everything else God created, whether animate or inanimate?

I’m not sure I grasp what you’re saying. I believe having a “first person perspective” and possessing a unique self-awareness are inseparable. Is it your view that each divine expression shares the same first person perspective (which would include self-awareness) as the other expressions, while simultaneously possessing a first person perspective (including self-awareness) that is unique to them, and by which they may be considered (and consider themselves) a unique person?

Ok, from what you say above, it would seem that you think the “God” of whom Jesus and the Father are “expressions” is himself a person, and thus personally distinct (at least in some meaningful sense) from both the Father and Jesus (and I’m assuming you would include the Holy Spirit as well, if you believe it/him to be a divine person in the same sense that you think the Father and Son are). If that’s the case, then what you seem to have are (at least) three divine persons (i.e., three self-aware beings who each possess the necessary divine attributes) who are (in some sense that I don’t think you’ve really explained) the “expressions” of a fourth divine person. Is that correct? If so, do you think these four divine persons (i.e., the divine person of whom the other persons are “expressions” as well as the “expressions” themselves) have always existed as distinct persons? That is, do you think the three persons who are the “expressions” of the fourth person have always existed as self-aware beings, or do you perhaps think their existence as unique self-awarenesses distinct from the divine person of whom they are expressions had a beginning at some point?

In response you wrote “see above.” From what you say above I concluded that you do believe the “God” of whom Jesus and the Father are expressions is a person or unique “self,” so I’ll take that as a “yes.”

No, I’m not referencing the “sin nature.” I’m referring to those necessary attributes that must be possessed by a being in order for them to be considered a “human being” rather than something else (such as God or a cat). And when God created the first human being, I believe he defined what those necessary attributes are. Being mortal or having a sinful inclination are not necessary attributes that must be possessed by a being in order for them to be considered a “human being” (since all human beings are going to become sinless and immortal at some future time, and still be just as human as they are in this state of existence). But derived and non-inherent immortality is one of the necessary attributes that must be possessed by a being if they are to be a “human being.” The only being for whom this isn’t an attribute is God himself.

Merely “manifesting” oneself “through” a “fully functioning, human body” apart from actually possessing a genuine human nature does not, I don’t think, make one a “human being.” To be a genuine human one must possess a human nature (i.e., all of the necessary attributes by which one may be considered a human being). Consider the following: when you say a “fully functioning, human body,” do you mean the kind of body that is possessed by a type of being that is by nature divine (and thus God) or the kind of body that is possessed by a being that is by nature not-God? If you mean the former, then there is no distinction between a human being and God. A human being and God would be one and the same (which would be consistent with the view that everything is existentially and ontologically an extension of God, which seems to be what you believe). If you mean the latter, however, then I think you’d simply be talking about God possessing the body of a being that is by nature not-God in the sense that many Christians think a “demon” can possess the body of a being that is by nature not “demonic.” God would simply be using the body of a human being like many think a “demon” can.

What you call “limitations” are, I think, simply logical distinctions between different natures (e.g., the nature of God and the nature of a human or a cat). You seem to be saying there is nothing in existence with a “not-God nature,” because if there were, then God couldn’t “express” himself as the being who possesses this nature, and would thus be “limited” (in your view). But if nothing has a not-God nature, then everything in existence is God (which you seem close to affirming, if you haven’t already in different words) - and it is for this reason that God could thus express himself as anything and everything. But of course, this is simply God expressing himself as himself. If that’s your view, then ok. But I’m convinced that God brought into existence something other than himself - something which is existentially and ontologically distinct from himself.

Do you think God is, at this moment, expressing himself as you, or that he could express himself as you?

Being like Christ and being perfect as our Father is perfect has nothing to do with possessing any of the divine attributes that I think distinguishes God from other beings. We can possess a moral character like God’s and thus be “perfect” as he is “perfect” (i.e., being kind and merciful to our enemies just as God is kind and merciful to “the ungrateful and the evil” - Luke 6:36), but only God’s goodness is essential to who and what he is. God has always been good, and his goodness is necessary. If we are good, it is because God has made us good, and because we have “learned obedience.” Our goodness is contingent, and depends on God. If we are good, it is only because God has so influenced us so as to produce goodness within us. But God is “good” in a completely unique sense that cannot be said of any other being; no being can be considered “good” in the exact sense that God alone is “good.”

In what sense do you think human beings are made in the “image of God” rather than, say, a cat?

I’m simply trying to approach this discussion in the most rational way I can. If I may make an opinion-based observation, the “concepts” of which you speak that are “behind the metaphors” you use often seem muddled and vague. And rather than clarifying the “concepts” of which you speak, the metaphors become something behind which the concepts can “hide” and remain safe. So what you call my being “too reductionist” is simply my attempt to bring greater clarity to what you’re talking about for the purpose of this discussion and for the benefit of those who might be reading (who, like myself, may be unable to immediately grasp the exact idea or meaning you’re trying to convey by your use of metaphors).

Do you think that you, as a human being, have the capacity to become uncreated and self-existent, or that God has the capacity to become created and dependent? If so, then I think the “limits” that I’m apparently “too into” are much to be preferred (insofar as something meaningful and coherent is actually being expressed) to the “capacity” that you apparently understand so well.

I think I do understand you: there is nothing in existence that is essentially “not-God” because everything in existence is an ontological extension of God; thus, there are no limits as to how God can express himself.

Ok, I’m glad you’re referring to the patterns that exist “within” the infinite pattern as being the “parts” of the infinite pattern. That helps me understand your metaphor better. Someone considering this infinite pattern and its parts (which are themselves patterns) from a reductionist perspective might say, “The infinite pattern (the whole) is equal to the sum of its parts.” But to consider it in a holistic way, one would say, “The infinite pattern (the whole) is greater than the sum of its parts.” Let’s go with the latter, since you think I’m too reductionist in my thinking. If (holistically speaking), one would say that the infinite pattern is greater than the sum of its parts, then there is no part that can be said to be equal to the infinite pattern itself; as the whole, the infinite pattern will always transcend its parts and could never be equal to any one of them. Any part of the infinite pattern would necessarily be “not-whole” and the whole of the infinite pattern would necessarily be “not-part.” So if God is the “infinite pattern” and we are the “parts” (the sum of which the “infinite pattern” is greater than), then it would seem to me that to say God can be both the whole and any part of the whole is to say that what is necessarily “not-part” can be “not-whole.” This, to me, is just as illogical as saying that God can be both created and uncreated at the same time. Moreover, even if God is not equal to the sum of his (or their) parts but should instead be considered as greater than the sum of his (or their) parts, it would still be true that God could not and would not exist apart from the parts, and that he is dependent on the parts for his existence and transcendent identity as the “whole” in the same way that the parts depend on the greater whole for their identity as “parts.” This, I believe, is to limit God tremendously. But again, this is all a response to your use of the “pattern” metaphor, so if you do not consider the above an accurate reflection of your view, then perhaps you can try to come up with a more adequate metaphor.

Because you’re basically saying that any one of the persons whom you believe to be fully divine in nature - any one of the persons that you would consider as possessing the necessary divine attributes by which a person may be considered “God” - would be incapable of being “existentially connected” in the sense that you think God should be able to be. Take, for instance, the God of whom you believe the Father and Son are both “expressions” and “persons.” To be consistent, you would have to believe that this divine person - this unique self-awareness and will, who (if he is to be considered “God”) possesses all of the necessary divine attributes - is incapable of being who and what he is and also doing what you think God should be able to do. Or to put it another way, you’re saying that the God in whom you believe is incapable of expressing himself as a single self who can be existentially connected to you and every other finite person. This, to me, is exactly what you’re accusing me of doing. It’s “limiting God.” You’re putting limits on what God can do, and denying that God could express himself as a single self while also being existentially connected to you and every other finite being. How is that not limiting God, in the sense that you think I’m doing it?

But the God for which you’re arguing is (apparently) incapable of expressing himself solely as a single divine person who is able to be existentially connected to you and every other finite person. IOW, the God of which you speak is too limited to express himself as a unipersonal Being who can be both immanent and transcendent. But why must you “limit” God so? And if you think God is not so limited as to be unable to do and be this, then it would seem that all of your objections to God’s being unipersonal God fall to the ground. You might respond that this God would still be “limited” in the sense that he couldn’t express himself as multiple persons, but this isn’t necessary for the Unitarian to believe. A Unitarian could simply maintain that God could choose to express himself in this way but chooses not to. There would be no reason to. If God expressing himself as a unipersonal Being can be just as simultaneously immanent and transcendent as you think a multi-personal God could be, it would be superfluous for him to be multi-personal.

You haven’t hesitated to say what you think a unipersonal God - or, as you might say, God expressing himself as a single divine person - is incapable of doing, so to suddenly appeal to God’s being “ineffable” and “mysterious” seems a bit evasive to me.

I’m not sure if saying “God is God of himself” conveys anything meaningful. While it would make sense for God to say to someone, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” or “I am the God of my servant, Jesus,” what would it mean for God to say, “I am the God of myself?” The personal title “God” implies superiority to someone or something else. But God is not superior to himself.

Ok, so you don’t actually believe in three divine persons at minimum, but rather four divine persons at minimum: Father, Son and Holy Spirit and a fourth person of whom these divine persons are persons.

What has it “always meant?”

But by “more than a likeness” you don’t mean that God becomes something with a not-God nature, right? If you’re not saying that God becomes not-God, then all you’re really saying is that God has, on various occasions, appeared as something that he, by nature, is.

I think God is capable of doing and being whatever he wants to do and be (such as have a personal relationship with beings who are not merely extensions of himself), but I’m still not sure I understand what exactly you think God is capable of doing and being, especially when your understanding of beings that I would consider “not-God beings” (such as human beings) is so radically different from my own. Do you, for example, believe that God is capable of expressing himself as you, a unique human being?

When you say “capable of being present,” do you mean present in the sense that you, as a human being, are present, or not? Because the sense in which you are “present” is a limited sense that necessarily excludes being present in all places at all times. So to say God isn’t capable of being omnipresent if he “isn’t capable of being present” (and by “present” you mean “present in the sense that you and I are present”) would mean that God can’t be present everywhere if he can’t be present in only a limited sense. But one could, I think, affirm that God can’t be present in only a limited sense (as we are) and still believe God is omnipresent. If God is in the fullest sense omnipresent (such that there is nowhere and no time that his person and being is not) it would be impossible for him, as a person, to be simultaneously present in the sense that you and I are present, because the two states of being “present” are mutually exclusive.

How so?

Perhaps it is, but it would be helpful if you explained why you think it’s so “very silly!”

Well assuming God didn’t create ex nihilo, one could say that when God chose to localize himself and limit his personal presence as a self-aware being to a spatially-extended form, all that wasn’t limited/localized took on a new existential identity and became, from God’s perspective, not-God. Although consisting of whatever God consists of (i.e., that which makes him something rather than nothing), the fact that God’s personal presence has been localized means it (i.e., that which wasn’t localized in a spatially extended form) can be considered as distinct from himself rather than existing as a personal extension of himself. And from this impersonal, not-God potentiality (which God was free to change or modify without changing or modifying himself as a divine person) God created this universe, and caused not-God persons to emerge from organized, spatially-extended forms that resemble the organized, spatially-extended form that God assumed when he localized himself.

And then, of course, there’s the more traditional view that God did create everything ex nihilo. So if you consider my more speculative theory too problematic, then I’m ok falling back on what’s been argued and defended by “orthodox” theologians! :slight_smile:

If, as I believe, God has chosen to limit his personal presence and localize himself in an embodied form for the reason I’ve given, then no, God wouldn’t be “infinite” in the sense of his being personally present everywhere (although he would still possess the capacity for this, as well as be “infinite” or unlimited in other aspects of his existence - e.g., his knowledge and power). I don’t think God is simultaneously existing in a state in which he is both personally present everywhere and also limited in his personal presence as we are. Either God is personally present in the sense that you and I are not (i.e., personally present everywhere) or he’s not.

I believe that when God created the first human being, he defined it (partially at least) as a being that is dependent on God for its continued personal existence, whether it exists as a mortal or an immortal. I believe only God is self-existent, and only God’s immortality is underived and an inherent, essential aspect of his existence. A man’s immortality must ultimately be derived from God. To argue that a human being’s nature is so undefined as to include the possibility of a human not being dependent on God for its existence or immortality is, I think, to cease to mean much at all when you talk about a human being or human nature.

Question: Do you believe that you (a genuine and unique human being) are necessarily limited in some ways? If not, why not?

I can’t speak for all Unitarians here, but I believe God’s power is not itself God, so no. When I speak of God being “present” beyond his localized, embodied presence in heaven, I’m using “present” in a similar kind of sense that Paul spoke of being with people “in spirit” (with the main difference being that God’s “spirit” - unlike Paul’s - is extended beyond himself as an energy or power that allows God to do all that he pleases in heaven or on earth while remaining personally present in heaven).

If not-God exists, then apparently God is not the only Reality. That’s what I think Creation’s all about: God bringing not-God into existence as such, and thus adding a whole new dimension to the reality that once consisted only of God himself.

Likewise, very sharpening, and very engaging. Even when we get the sharper tongues out for our word-battles. :stuck_out_tongue: I certainly enjoy being able to gain more consistency as I am certain you do as well. Keeps us honest I suppose! lol

And as for the discussion’s course, understood. Though there may still be question marks in my responses, but for the most part I too am mentally draining, and the conversation losing some of its potency.

I would think so as well, or at least I’d hope so. Everything that is “part of God” (as opposed to “apart from God”) I would hope for, and enjoy “oneness” with.

I think that is possible, my consideration is, at least expressible with what limited human capacity I have - as being a “superimposed multiplicity of perspectives”.

What I mean by that is, that these persons of God with their unique, first person persectives are likewise superimposed upon, or superimpose upon, or both; an omnipresent, omniscient perspective that belongs innately to “The Deity” (Omniessential God), a perspective that is experienced by the persons of God, who also experience their first person perspectives, or at least have the capacity for it - similar perhaps to your thing about the “presence of God” and his infinitival capacity to be omnipresent.

I feel that they have always existed - IE: eternal persons. To clarify real quick on “expressions” that is the closest term I have as of present for the idea of God “exflecting” (lol, sorry, another word I might have to define better, but it is basically reflecting only…ex instead of re) his being. Almost in a sort of higher, grander, and especially more real and passionate - similar fashion, that Artists express their being into their artwork. These things or “persons” they express are “eternal” to them, part of their very “eternal” nature, or would be in this case as the Artist is being represented as God for the metaphor.

I don’t suspect that the “persons” themselves had a beginning, only perhaps their various expressions (appearances) through the fabric of reality; such as the pillar of fire, the Angel of the Lord, Jesus, the appearances of The Father, etc. But as for the persons of God themselves, I would probably say no - they are eternal as God’s being is eternal.

I would say so, now that I have deeper consideration of the options and my beliefs.

I don’t believe that ultimately God is impersonal, so I can only conclude he must be personal - even if eternal persons of him/transcendent of gender(?) exist simultaneously.

Would these limits include God being more or less, forbidden, from expressing “His Divine Being”, an idea of himself perhaps, through the idea (a term which I’ll use for this to define all the “necessary attributes of a human being”, essentially the “Human Pattern”) of “Human Being”?

I would propose a similar question as above; is God more or less forbidden from manfesting an idea of himself, expressing himself, through the idea of a Human being that has been essentially, expressed and expressive of The Divine Nature?

As for;

I think this view, that of ontological unity, is very close.

This is not what I believe. :slight_smile:

My beliefs are that, anything that is a “not-God” does not actually have actual existence, in the same way that a “lie” does not actually exist, but can only “seem to exist” in a parasitic way off the actually existent “truth”.

I would affirm that nothing exists that is not ultimately, an expression of God, or something very close to it. In my view, God is Reality (with a capital R) in which realities exist, and “reals” (like you, me, cats, and trees) exist; ultimately all of these are expressions of Reality, and are “one with Reality” being “real”, and certainly in sharing that fundamental nature of being “real” as “Reality” is “real”.

To put it simply, yes, and most likely for both options.

I would think that, apart from Divine-ness, being perfect or good in any sort of the fashion; even the act of being nice, would be impossible.

I would say that it is in the very divinely inspired idea of a human being, vs. that of a cat.

The human being is the child of God by its very nature, by its very nature of “being a Being of The Being” the cat, as far as I know, does not carry that same nature of being a child of God in its divinely inspired idea. If it does, then it does I suppose, but it isn’t mentioned in scripture as such.

I believe, and it is difficult to describe, that the “image of God” may be (and though the terminology may be disliked by various theologians) - that which makes man “gods” (not in the being worshiped sense, but in a spiritual/existential sense perhaps) rather than cats, being more or less the direct children of God, as opposed to cats - who may or may not be, but scripture and revelation seems to state they aren’t expressed by God as “children”.

Your observation is understandable, but not entirely true on the hiding thing. Artistic/Language based personalities tend to use metaphors, where as Analytical/Mathematics based personalities probably don’t use them nearly as often.

My use of metaphors is the only way in which I can express something without using…what for most people I meet…unfortunately tends to be a long string of “big words”, not that you are of this sort, but I can only strip away as much of my common language as I can, if that makes sense.

I believe in Pre-existence, if it stretches as far as could be thought, then perhaps God’s idea of me (which I believe “is” me) has always existed, the creation was the manifesting of that idea through the fabric of Reality, into physical matter, into birth.

Oh, I stand corrected. You do indeed understand, my mistake. :slight_smile:

If pattern A existentially reflects pattern B, then pattern A and pattern B are still in union as One, the infinite pattern and the pattern within it that is a reflection, or exflection of itself - are still in union in such a means that the pattern still expresses the infinite pattern that it exists within, as its being is a manifestation of that infinite pattern.

God (the infinite pattern) is still existing holistically through, as, manifested/manifesting that, and one with, that pattern.

It is not a matter of Whole vs. Not-Whole; each are what constitutes “The Whole” by sheer factor of the pattern within the infinite pattern “existing” it is part of the whole, and one with it, as the whole is one with it; as opposed to something not-existing, and in that having no connection to the whole at all, being nothing.

Something that exists, and actually has existence; is real, is by default part of the whole Reality, and the whole Reality is by default, one with the thing that is real, because it is Reality which gives that real its existence as a real.

They are still ontologically connected, and existentially. But Reality is not the sum of parts, and yet in transcending and being transcendent of the patterns within it, is still immanent within those patterns to which the infinite pattern, Reality/God, gives existence, and gives reality.

“Nothing that is real, can be apart from Reality; what ever is real, Reality is inevitably a part. Everything depends on Reality to be real, everything that is real Reality is the reason for its being real.”

To state that something is a “not-whole” I believe is to miss the point. Everything is one with The Whole, because The Whole gives existence to everything which is one with it, and it is one with. Anything not one with it, not given existence by it; isn’t real, doesn’t exist, because what ever exists is by default part of The Whole, in the same way (in fact in the direct way) that what ever is real is part of Reality, and nothing can be real if it is not part of Reality - to be part of Reality is to be one with it.

He is incapable if he is only capable of being a being existentially connected unto himself; that is, if he, in a sort of divine unipersonal solipsism, is God and everything else is “not-God”. That is my issue more or less.

If God is Unipersonal, in such a way that he is not capable of existing multipersonally, then he by definition cannot be existentially connected to my person, as my person apart from being pulled forth from “not-God reality” to exist in “not-God reality” as a “not-God real” means that apart from one-way discussions, and textual references to God, and the occasional scientific argument, or some sort of imaginative format, whether in art or mind - my relationship with God extends no further than that, and unfortunately my relationship with my earthly friends is more real than mine with God ever could be, unless he decided to grace me with an appearance (which he so far doesn’t seem to be inclined to doing at the present moment) but even then, it wouldn’t be what I would expect should be possible from God, and it would only be an outer relationship, a thing only akin to being voice to voice, not heart to heart.

My view of my relationship with God carries over to my view of the relationship I have with people - or one I am trying to practice at at least - that, for example, when I have my future wife, I will not just be one with her in an entitled, imputed sense, but existentially we will have an individual, personal expression of unity and oneness in the fashion I have it with God.

Oneness and Multiplicity are vitally important to me in this respect, one that if God cannot have it so - then my hope is very much in vain, most importantly with God, but certainly with people I demand of myself to care infinitely about. Oneness and Uniplicity, which seems to be your proposal, even if I should abandon my definition of Unitarianism, to embrace the idea of Oneness and Uniplicity, still does not achieve that vitally important essence, one that I believe and have seen to be true; can only be achieved through Oneness and Multiplicity. Uniplicity simply doesn’t allow the freedom required, while maintaining the Oneness.

It is the difference between Unanimous Homogeny and Unanimous Heterogeny.

I believe the unipersonal God is incorrect, and I have reasons for it being so. The correct God, what I believe is the correct God, is mysterious and that effects my hesitance to describe him. If it is evasive, it is for not having the best words concerning a subject that is extremely important to my very existence, not for lack of backbone.

I disagree with the idea that it doesn’t convey anything meaningful.

I am an Attributarian (my theological description of my beliefs) I believe in more than four, I don’t have a definite number - I don’t put maximum number.

“God isn’t a very easily solvable rubix cube.”

With increased consistency and understanding of my own views - I don’t believe in a “not-God” nature, anything that is “not-God” doesn’t exist.

I am sure that the problem may lie quite directly in our differences of understanding, in that I don’t believe “not-God” things exist, though it has perhaps taken some time to find the means to define that belief.


I believe Reality is capable of expressing itself through any real, even if they are unique reals.

I believe God is capable of being present while simultaneously being omnipresent, because I believe God is capable of existing in a simultaneous multiplicity.

The issue of limits is not an issue for me, as I don’t have the issue of God being a uniplicity.

God’s doing things, or realising his full potential in any omniessential area is not the same as God doing so in any area to fulfill vital needs, or vital necessities for the realities and reals that exist within him, of whom I believe he (All of God, Reality) is one with.

It confuses Oneness in a Multiplicity with Oneness in a Uniplicity, or perhaps rather, unanimous heterogeny with unanimous homogeny.

I would think, that what ever arose out of nothing must ultimately still be a thing coming out of God, even if it must be ideas arising to be expressed into the nothing - which ultimately seems to be the Biblical case.

“Let there be light” - I would interpret as being, “I concieve of light, it is in my thoughts, I shall create it, express it, I shall make it be by the command of my expressing words, as brush makes the imagination become visible; so my words say, Let Light Be.”

I see, now I see what you’re getting at - even if I disagree.

Where as I would define the human nature, as best as I can, as that being a “being exflective of God, carrying God’s idea of the human, or the human pattern.”

Only in so far as my sin-diseased, mortal, limited embodiment goes. As for my being, I do not know of, or remember, what life is like apart from a sin-diseased, mortal, limited embodiment in matter is like and whether or not it is limited. I assume that it wouldn’t be at minimum, nearly quite as limited as my current condition. But I would assume that any limits are God’s limits, perhaps involved in the personal human pattern that is my pattern - but I don’t believe the human pattern itself, the Prime Template if you will, is necessarily limited.

I may have limits as a human, which God can remove or place, but I don’t believe God would in expressing himself or one of his persons as a human.

Would that perhaps, be that God exists as a Personal Entity, and Impersonal Entity simultaneously?


Aaron, I was surprised that you would write this! Do you have any evidence that this is the case?

The word “εν” occurs 1722 times in the New Testament. Its primary meaning “in” and is so translated probably over 95% of these times. So I would first look at the possibility: “In him all things were created”. I can’t make sense of that. Virtually all translators render the word “by” (as in agency) in Colossians 1:16. So the sensible thing to do is to ask oneself whether it is appropriately translated as “by” in the same sense elsewhere. This seems to be clearly the case in the following:

Mt 12:27 "and if I cast out demons εν Beelzebub, εν whom do your sons cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.
Mt 12:28 "but if I cast out demons by εν the spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.

But I have not found the translation “on account of” anywhere in the New Testament. Nor does any Greek lexicon (which I have consulted) so render it.

I wonder whether you have the word confused with “δια” which means “on account of” with the accusative case and “through” with the genitive. For in the second part of Colossians 1:16 Paul writes "all things were created δια him. But even there, it cannot mean “on account of him” because the “him” is in the genitive case, and so it means “all things were created through him” which suggests “by means of him”.

Aaron, all extant Greek manuscripts of John 1:18 prior to 300 A.D. (papyrus 66 and papyrus 75) refer to Jesus as the
μονογενης θεος (only-begotten God). Second century Christians also wrote of this, saying that the Son was the “only-begotten God” whereas the Father was “unbegotten”. The Christians of the first and second centuries clearly believed that Jesus pre-existed his birth.

By the way, I must confess I have not read every part of your lengthy posts. Have you dealt with “Before Abraham was, I am”?
I am not suggesting as some do that “I am” is a reference to "The Great ‘I AM’ ". Nevertheless, Jesus seems to be saying that he at least existed before the days of Abraham.

Greetings !

  Wow... wow... and more Wow...   I appreciate Aaron taking a lot of time and passionate effort 
    to express his Unitarian perspective too... with the others discussing their viewpoints as well...

  Once again .. which may be too repetitive in itself ... hermeneutics is the crux in any of these discussions 
     Aaron's interpretative method in contrast to others ... Along with Paidion and so on ...

   Paidion mentioned the greek word usage 
   I wonder whether you have the word confused with "δια" which means "on account of" with the accusative case and "through" with the genitive.   
    I will need to dig much deeper into my memory banks .. since it might take me a very long time 
     to dig up some articles ... as you know living in China has more than enough benefits ( from my personal
     view... ) however, the random blocking of various Websites does happen more than enough also..
   ( by the way ... I laugh when Websites are blocked .. while 99% of foreigners living here or outside scream
      bloody murder ... complaining about this situation ... so without getting into this pandora's box...
       I will not enter into it ... now )  

    There is a very crucial and important theological text which scholars have debated over 
         whether or not a greek word should be considered the objective genitive or the subjective genitive
       and the results from either choice lend themselves to significant meaning ... 

       Also there was discussion about Greek Mss as well...   e.g. the textual variations ...
       Let me begin then....   

         I mentioned in another post ... of a tendency at times to "flatten" the NT text as if it was 
       akin to some singularly composed piece of writing ...  along with neat verses included for easy 
        dicing into tiny pieces of doctrinal axiomatic propositions for supporting one's exegesis or eisegesis
        I assume that this is done as a very common habit of viewing the NT text...

       I will also assume that it is obvious that the NT has diverse literary genre itself... 
         with different personalities composing the various 'gospels' or letters written to 
        various geographical churches 

         With this in view then the task of trying to elucidate what the "original" author had in mind
         or was trying to express, communicate or elaborate becomes a much bigger task than 
          simply trying to use lexical concordant tools at hand ...

        Before I annoy some with stating the obvious allow me to continue ...  

          I surely have deep respect for NT scholars due to my personal experience with Gordon Fee...
          I have enough healthy respect for Wayne Grudem too ... although we certainly have 
           completely different understanding for the nuances of the greek word 'kephale' and its usage...

          I have also been involved in enough Textual Cricticism to know enough about the turf in general too...

          Thus, I do not really plan on engaging Aaron with the NT text for several reasons :
            he has his particular philosophical understanding and his logic ( meaning his way of understanding
            English in a way that makes reasonable sense to him ...  :wink: 
           *** before I continue I will say the same of JP Holding or whoever is really popular these days...***
            One of the most prevalent situations I noticed in discussions is the so called usage of "Logic"
             with a Capital 'T'   however, most people seem to have there own variations of what 
            'Logic' means and how to utilize it in debates and arguments ...
              In previous 'flame wars' and heated discussions that I have been in ....
             The words are flying fast .. emotive reactions become overheated ... misunderstanding ... 
             What seems perfectly reasonable, suitable and satisfying to one debater ---
                 seems to be unreasonable, unsuitable and inscrutable to the other ...

               Should I get into an exhaustive discussion of what any pericope of the greek NT means ..
             then I certainly believe that Aaron or Paidion could easily handle my comments and give 
                a satisfying rebuttal ...  

               e.g.   I could express my opinion that the textual variations in the greek text 
                 1 Cor 14:34 has significant nuances different from those who hold to a hierarchical
                 Systematic arrangement and design as contrasted with my Egalitarian perspective ...

                  I could express my opinion that the greek text at Eph 5:21-22 has no break in it at all...
                  but most likely all English translations make a pause, a break in order to begin 
                     a new paragraph which in English grammar generally means having a new topic 
                   sentence with other sentences supporting the main idea of this topic sentence....

                 Then me and others would jump on the Merry go round ... round and round ..
                  about what makes "sense" when plugging in other English words to the current English text ...
                   e.g.  Jim now does it make any sense to say .....  **********   ?
                  20 εὐχαριστοῦντες πάντοτε ὑπὲρ πάντων ἐν ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρί, 21 ὑποτασσόμενοι ἀλλήλοις ἐν φόβῳ Χριστοῦ.

22 Αἱ γυναῖκες τοῖς ἰδίοις [l]ἀνδράσιν ὡς τῷ κυρίῳ, from Biblegateway SBL Greek for example …

            notice .. there is no punctuation between 21 & 22 ... you can see a comma at the ending of Verse 20
           and also in Verse 22 ...    VERSE?????

         I will ask anyone to tell me how Erasmus was able to get his Textus Receptus published before the
             other guy ...   :smiley: ( humorous story to me ... very annoying to others )
         I will also ask anyone to tell me how Verses become so very sanctified and sacrosanct as to 
         reach the level of "Sainthood"   (please excuse my sarcastic wit - apologies to anyone who is annoyed )

         I could express my opinion concerning the usage of 'kephale' in 1 Cor 10 and other pericopes ...
        10 διὰ τοῦτο ὀφείλει ἡ γυνὴ ἐξουσίαν ἔχειν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς διὰ τοὺς ἀγγέλους. 

         I use pericope because it extends farther than a single verse does ...
           interestingly ,  I just looked up 'pericope' in various online dictionaries and smiled...
          different definitions and different nuances are presented ...
            As I tell my Chinese friends when they continue to have the obstinate stubborn habit 
           of attempting to directly, literally, one for one translation of English to Chinese ..
            omg ... try looking up the english word 'for' in a big dictionary ( meaning where the 
            dictionary entry has many examples of usage --- along with the Chinese translation
             for many of them ...)   Then I ask these Chinese students ... 
             which Chinese character will you select or choose ?  which usage are you plugging for ?   
             Should Paidion or Jason or someone else quickly jump in .. and tell me 
              Hey Jim !   it is soooo obvious that 'kephale' means "head"  
                 so then it goes along ... let us see ... the head of the woman is ... 
               aha !  perfect reasonable sense in English -----
               reasonable sense for those who live in N. America or other native english speaking countries...
               due to their socio-cultural living environment ( until the Feminist movement came along ... <img src="/uploads/default/original/1X/15680453330e74f929b585a237613f0bdf61e069.gif" width="15" height="17" alt=":mrgreen:" title="Mr. Green"/> )
              --- note ... by the way I do not happen to agree with the more contentious Feminist Theologians anyway...

              What is the point for these 3 examples ?
                That the NT text is multi-valent and thus there will be a myriad of diverging insights 
              depending on the Hermeneutical framework that is the basis for one's exegesis or eisegesis....

              I am not sure if anyone here has dug deeper into Textual Criticism ( meaning what is commonly 
             known as 'lower' as contrasted to 'higher' -- the 'higher' including source, redaction, historical etc...)

             Have any of you thought about what .. or if there were any Originals ?

             Usually amongst Fundamentalists or Conservative Evangelicals ... 
               it is taken for granted that there were Original editions of the Gospels .. etc...
               along with the inerrancy debates concerning these in the past ....

               Coming from the Evangelical wing myself ... 
               I continued to delve into this area ... and after more reflective thought ...
               came to my present position that the NT texts could be multi-valent....
               So that in my imaginative musings ... The Gospels could very well have 
              gone thru various revisions by Luke, Mark, Matthew and John...
                However, I have hesistancy about the Historical Critics and their 
                 proposals for heavy Redaction Criticism and so on ...
                 Bultmann and Co.  met their match with Barth and Co.
               Aaron and another poster commented upon the textual variations of the text itself...
                however, it should be noted that Scribal habits were really quite serious...
              even though there are enough textual variations amongst the MSS lot as a whole...
                even here there are strongly divided Scholars who have differing perspectives...

               Which in turn supports my current view for a NT text that is multi-valent

               Next, When we consider that Barth, Bultmann, Moltmann, Mirosalv Volf, NT Wright,
               Peter Kreeft, Gordon Fee, RF Capon, CS Lewis, and whoever you might wish to include...
                have divergent theological perspectives ....

              I am very curious how interpreters of the NT Text could consider that the NT Writers 
               would not follow suit ....  

              I have chosen these Theologians because I am more familiar with them 
                Some of them I have learned much more from than the others... 
               and only Fee have I met in person ...
                 Fee had significant influence upon my thinking ...
                for he frequently made a statement ....  BE a Scholar on Fire !!!

                Thus his point was that merely being an Academic Scholar in some Castle enclosed 
               by a moat or high walls ... was too abstract ... and that being a hyper Pentecostal 
                 with multitude of "signs and wonders" was stressing the emotional experience of such ...

                So how do I reconcile the divergent opinions of these Scholars which are really significant to me ?
                I have genuine healthy respect for them ... and as Moltmann has often said about his own 
                 theological perspectives... ( paraphrasing now --)  I am on a creative adventure  
                I find Barth to be exceedingly fascinating ... although I am certain that should I have 
                deeper insight into his theological insights ... I may or may not agree with him ...
               I am not sure Who is on ***yer held in very high esteem list but while I was studying Barth
                  I was thinking it would be very fascinating to sit in on his Lectures and 
                 to have the opportunity to ask challenging questions ...  by the way Barth was chosen
                    as one of the most influential Theologians of the 20th Century 
                  but for most Fundamentalists and Conservatives he is a turkey ... :laughing:                     

Fee instilled deeply into me to have passionate confidence for my theological insights …
whether he knew it or not … :mrgreen:

                  In my opinion should these Theologians have differing personalities along with 
                   differing sitz im leben that produced and shaped their theologies ... 
                  Then I came to consider much more deeply that the NT writers fit into the 
                      same category ....

                  Paul certainly had some encounters with others who had differing views from his own ...
                  and so did Peter as well... with Jesus ... James and John as the sons of thunder..
                  In Philemon, Philippians, etc....   
                   In Corinth ... 
                 --  bring this up because some from Chloe's family brought a most disturbing report to my attention—that you're fighting among yourselves! I'll tell you exactly what I was told: You're all picking sides, going around saying, "I'm on Paul's side," or "I'm for Apollos," or "Peter is my man," or "I'm in the Messiah group."

               With such diversity even between the early large Churches ... Antioch and Jerusalem 
          ( using these two words to indicate the Gentile members contrasted with the Jewish members )
           James in the book of Acts is held in very high esteem with the Jewish members...
              such that Paul wants to make sure that there is enough unity and fellowship between 
            both the jewish members and gentile members .. 

I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.
this is Paul’s admonition for those in Corinth …

          Up until 300 AD Jewish members were still belonging to the Church then well...  

          Then comes the exciting arena of throwing anathemas towards each other ...
          as the Church becomes more and more institionalized, organized and phenomenal growth takes place
           there is no need to hang out the "dirty laundry " here ... 
          But I wish to point out some interesting insights I have gleaned from my research ...
             Cyril and Chrysostom although very famous ( and rightly so ) also had very strong aggressive
           behavior towards those who did not agree with them ....
              The list can go on ... with each really famous Theologian there was a lot of diverging 
             ideas ... with lots of anathemas being handed out ...
           which unfortunately ( in my opinion ) came from the overbearing, dominating Hierarchical 
            view of the Trinity and within the Eccelesiastical arena... 
             The striving to maintain "Orthodox" dogma and doctrine .. along with the view 
              that within the Eccelesiastical domain .. there should be an "authoritative clout"
             a very powerful leadership which could exercise its so called God given "right" to 
                 rule over others within the so called "Kingdom of God"   

              As I have quoted from 1 Cor... from the Message bible version ...
          I cringe as I note ..   0I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I'll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.
               in SBL Greek ...

              Παρακαλῶ δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τοῦ ὀνόματος τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἵνα τὸ αὐτὸ λέγητε πάντες, καὶ μὴ ᾖ ἐν ὑμῖν σχίσματα, ἦτε δὲ κατηρτισμένοι ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ νοῒ καὶ ἐν τῇ αὐτῇ γνώμῃ. 11 ἐδηλώθη γάρ μοι περὶ ὑμῶν, ἀδελφοί μου, ὑπὸ τῶν Χλόης ὅτι ἔριδες ἐν ὑμῖν εἰσιν
            even though they were certainly those in Corinth who really super pissed off Paul ...
          I notice ... my friends... get along with each other ... be considerate .. cultivating life...
       ( on the other hand it is very easy to notice from a different hermeneutical method.... 

     ----  I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all come to agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same frame of mind and the same judgment.
             Mounce reverse Interlinear ... 

          I am God's ambassador ... Pope... or Bishop ... "Golden Mouthed Preacher"  (one early Church Father )
          by using the name of our LORD ... having his Power invested in me ... you all come to agreement
           there can be no divisions in the Kingdom of God .. we all must be united in the same frame of
             theological dogma and doctrine and the same judgment ... 

         thus we can toss anathemas and claim "authoritative clout " in God's name...  Amen... 

          ---- note I used the Message and Mounce --- NOT to promote Message over Mounce either ...
           simply convenience ...  to show different nuances of the same text ... 

            Therefore after researching Church History for more than 3 decades now ...
             It took me many a year of reflective musing... why ?  why the diverse theologies 
            despite belief in Jesus ?   after very much deep reflective musings I finally resolved 
               this query for my personal satisfaction ... which most likely could never satisfied others...

             There is a dynamic diversity existing within the entire History of the Christian Church 
             including Roman Catholic ... Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Protestant 

              ( sheeeeesh it took all that long winded writing to say the obvious ?  )
             but then again the obvious is frequently overlooked or ignored and stepped over quickly

              However, in this Forum which seeks fellowship through an Evangelical Universalist perspective...
             I wished to illustrate and share my insights in this way instead of having the potential 
              for conflict in the traditional way .... 

              As I have already read enough posts concerning the interpretative understanding 
                 of how non - Trinitarians and Trinitarians resolved their challenges 
               I will endeavor to attempt to express how I have arrived at mine ...

               One of the reasons for such long winded writing is to provide a foundation or framework 
             or basis for further discussion ... 
                 because I observed that to share my perspective on the Trinity would get mired down 
             and to become stuck in or as if in ... bog or trying to swim upstream against the current 
                of the river...  via contrasting hermeneutical exegesis ( or eisegesis ) 
                to readers who have enough patience I appreciate you ...    :slight_smile: 

                Next, I will continue to express my reasons for belief in my perspective on the Trinity ...

           all the best !

                 kudos to Paidion, Lefein and  Aaron for their passion and confidence and considerate behavior ....!
                   while discussing this thread thus far!

Greetings !

Paidion … here is the greek text I had forgotten about …

             15 Ἡμεῖς φύσει Ἰουδαῖοι καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἐθνῶν ἁμαρτωλοί, 16 εἰδότες [a]δὲ ὅτι οὐ δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ἔργων νόμου ἐὰν μὴ διὰ πίστεως **Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐπιστεύσαμεν, ἵνα δικαιωθῶμεν ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων νόμου, [c]ὅτι ἐξ ἔργων νόμου οὐ δικαιωθήσεται πᾶσα σάρξ. 17 εἰ δὲ ζητοῦντες δικαιωθῆναι ἐν Χριστῷ εὑρέθημεν καὶ αὐτοὶ ἁμαρτωλοί, ἆρα Χριστὸς ἁμαρτίας διάκονος; μὴ γένοιτο·

            this is a definite challenge for interpretation ( in my opinion )  
         whether it is to be understood as an objective or subjective genitive...   pistis Christou

         Aaron's comments are insightful here too ...  where he mentioned the Net bible in conjunction 
          with the textual variants....

        my brief comments are ...   depending on which hermeneutical method you select determines
            the outcome ...  :wink:   
          which is the more probable reading in context.  

         all the best !

             We focus our hearts and minds towards the Grand Dance at the Eschaton ....
            for the then ... 
             We receive manifold blessings and fruitful insights flowing abundantly from
             the perichoretic koinonia which is 
         the ontological essence of the Trinity ...**

Greetings !

     Now I will give a enthusiastic hearty Bravo !   Encore !  to Aaron and Lefein for their interaction above ...

     Although both of them met more and more challenges in communicating their own particular 
       perspective concerning who God is ... I observe an interaction that strives to showcase 
      each other's Passion for who God is in their minds and hearts without entering into that murky
      shadowy path that leads into heated emotive frustration --- which continues on to calling each 
      other a heretic or worse.