The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Is Jesus God or What?

Jacob’s view of the Trinity is not what Trinitarians believe, so he refuting his own view of what he thinks Trinitarians believe, not what Trinitarians believe. He can make all the convincing arguments he wants, but he isn’t refuting Trinitarian doctrine, he is refuting his own imagination of what he thinks Trinitarian doctrine believes. He doesn’t know what Trinitarians believe to refute them.

What is full, all, or for that matter one or three, in light of Infinity which is but another name for God? The fullness of God actually dwells in us, just not being realized yet.

Maybe we can learn a lesson in measurement of the things of God by conceptualizing a perpetual circuit of the seven and the eight in Hebrew terms. In the Hebrew “7” is “full, perfect and complete”. “8” is “more full, perfect and complete.”

In the Hebrew, seven is (shevah). It is from the root (savah), to be full or satisfied, have enough of. Seven is full and complete, and good and perfect.

Then you have following seven the eight. In Hebrew the number eight is (sh’moneh), from the root (shah’meyn), to make fat and to super-abound. Eight is the superabundant number.

As seven is full and complete, and good and perfect. Eight is above the fullness, completeness, goodness and perfection of seven. Lending support to this you have the jubilee which is seven sevens with the next being the jubilee.

Personally, in simplest terms, I believe the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Jesus. He was God come in the flesh.
The Father and Jesus are one in Spirit, however of different dimensions.
Beyond the ages Jesus is Father and Father is Jesus in the world.

John Gavazzoni who is one of my favorite Christian thinkers has a pretty interesting view which I think worth contemplating below. John is a Universalist.

Mystery of Deity:

I believe that we can be true to the Deity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and yet not be bound conceptually to the classical model of the trinity. I believe we should be free to challenge that theological premise and, indeed, ought to. I am not stridently anti-trinitarian. In fact, I sincerely admire the attempt----operative word, “attempt”— on the part of the early church fathers to explain the oneness of God while maintaining the plurality and complexity within God, yet properly distancing themselves from pagan polytheism.

I really do not fit in either the trinity camp or the oneness (Jesus only) camp, for I find that trinitarianism, per se, falls short of explaining the nature of God’s internal relationship, and the over-reaction, on the part of dear oneness brethren to trinitarian doctrine, very unsatisfying. God is One, to be sure, but that Oneness clearly includes an internal, relational dimension. Deity relates to Itself, and does so with a co-gender, paternal and filial delight. There clearly, and most certainly, is the oneness factor of God, and yet also, the “and” factor. Jesus said, “I AND the Father are one.” As I’ve said on a number of occasions, "what is it about “and” that you don’t understand?

How should our concept of God be structured? I am struck by a sense of artificiality when God is explained as one God in three Persons, and three Persons united by and sharing one divine substance, or essence. It lacks what is implied by the truth that Deity has a Son, not a Son in name only, but a unique, only-single-generated Son.

It does not address adequately, at all, the implicit impregnation, conception and birthing that is intrinsic to God having a Son, and the underlying divine romance that constitutes God’s relational disposition, which can be traced as a golden thread from the opening chapters of Genesis where Deity images itself in a man and woman in the Garden of Eden (delight), to Revelation, where the garden has become a community adorned as a bride for her husband.

So allow me, if you dare, to take a fresh approach to how we conceive of the vitality and structure of Deity. The following will obviously have to do with what is called, “Systematic Theology,” (though I prefer, “Cohesive Theology.”) and not an exercise in biblical exposition. It is what I have to offer at this time, after years of immersion in scripture and being called by the Spirit to reflect deeply on the nature of the One Jesus called, “Father.” The following, I assure and pledge to you, is subject to revision as the Spirit directs.

I have chosen as a title for this treatise, a phrase from Col. 2:19, “the increase of God,” and my understanding of that expression is that it does not mean merely an increase which is from God as someTHING He has given His church, but very literally, Paul is affirming that, as applied here to the body of Christ, the body grows by the “increase of God,” literally "grows the growth of God or, "is growing the growth of the God or, “growing (in) the growth of God.” Even if we just take it simplistically as increase from God, since God shares with His Son all that He is, and the Son gives Himself completely to His Body, the church, then increase is integral to Deity.

Deity, rather than being a static threesome in oneness, or oneness in threesome, is Being itself dynamically increasing or growing by the internal communion whereby the Spirit searches out the things of God, yea the deep things of God, and finds a Her to match Him.

Personhood has proceeded out from Pure Relational Being in the unfolding of God. From this divine “knowing,” this Spirit- conjugal union, there is a procession out of God, from the Primal Origin (Barth) of Being, or the Ground of Being (Tillich), a growth of God by reproduction, as the Personhood which proceeds from Being becomes Father/Mother by bringing forth an Eternal Son, the first-born of many brethren.

The Father, who includes Motherhood, is greater than the Son, not by nature, but as the Origin of the Son. But since the Son originates from the fulness of the Father, the Son is given equality with the Father as the Father/Mother Deity reproduce in the Son, all that Deity is. “The Father has life in Himself, and gave the Son to have life in Himself.” (Jn. 5:26)

Thus, the equality that the Son enjoys with the Father is a matter of the reproduction of Deity. God gives His best to His Son, His best, which is the fulness of Himself, and we, born by the extension of His Seed, share the same Family Oneness. In this light we can begin to understand the apostles definition of the church: “…the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.”

From Eternal Being proceeds Eternal Personhood, a Personhood that fulfills Being’s disposition for congugal union and reproduction, so that Being has become Persons, Persons of a familial nature. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God, and indeed we are.”

We are the family of God, by which God multiplies His/Her Being so that by us, in us, God is increased. The commission to “be fruitful, multiply, replenish the earth, and subdue it,” is rooted in and constituted by “The Increase of God.”

[size=85]Note: Some terms in the seven and eight measurement were borrowed from Bullinger.[/size]

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How strange it should be,
That we who seemed four,
Are now become Three.
And We Who are Three
Are yet become One,
Father, Spirit and Sons in the Son.


I thought the article was pretty confused. With Craig, I’d say a lot of his criticisms are misdirected.

You’re better off reading Jason’s work on the Trinity. :wink:


I agree - at least, that was my initial assessment based on the following sentence at the beginning of the article (after which I stopped reading):


Or this: … rton&cd=1#


To be fair, I think I still owe Mel some comments on that topic, going back at least as far as FREAKING AUGUST 31! :open_mouth:

(Uh, sorry, Mel. Distracted etc. :blush: Among other defenses, the beginning and ending of Sept is arguably the worst time of year for me to be able to concentrate on anything at all.)

Most people here will already be familiar with my forum work on the Trinity–which, although I consider it to be theologically more important than universalism, I try to restrict myself to talking about in connection to universalism when I’m on this forum. :slight_smile:

But for newcomers, here are some of the highlight pages:

metaphysical argumentSword to the Heart, which I am (or was until recent distractions) editing and revising to a 3rd edition here on the EU forum. (This link can also currently be found at the bottom of my forum signature for most posts.) It’s over 500 pages worth of systematic metaphysics leading up (last time I went through it anyway!) to orthodox trinitarian theism, without appeal to the authority of scriptural testimony per se. I’ve only posted up the first 175 pages or so here yet. But I’m trying to clear my desk enough to get back to posting up one small entry per day.

A (currently) 76 page digest of scriptural testimony. This puts forward the case in a relatively brief fashion from scriptural exegesis. (Note: ‘relatively’ brief == 76 pages. :mrgreen: ) Substantially more could be adduced; I haven’t even included a section on the Riddle of Psalm 110 yet, for example.

A set of replies to metaphysical criticisms of trinitarianism. Based on what were, at that time, recent crits launched against ortho-trin here on the forum. Should not be considered topically complete, but many standard issues are there. (This thread, incidentally, is where Mel and I were last discussing the topic, so far as I can tell.)

Another set addressing scriptural criticisms of trinitarianism. Ditto.

Quite a bit of discussion on why I believe ortho-trin is important for universalism. (I should really revise the title of that thread, which isn’t quite specific enough.) While this thread features loads of material, the two most pertinent posts might be here where I formally parse out a deductive argument from ortho-trin to universalism; and here where I parse out a deductive argument, not that ortho-trin must be true if universalism is true, but that the hope for universal salvation is logically greatest if ortho-trin is true.

As much as I want to jump into this discussion directly, though, I am almost-literally covered over with work at ‘work’-work today (and probably until the weekend). So I’ll just watch from the sidelines after this point. :slight_smile:

(By the way, Mel: I’m almost done reading through Klassen’s book on ‘What the Bible Says About Hell’. I’ll post up some remarks on it afterward, though again that probably won’t happen before the weekend at the earliest.)

Thanks everyone for your input so far. All of the comments have been good. I’m going to try going back through some responses and pick out certain comments for further discussion.
Hopefully, I’ll have time to read through some of that material, Jason. My time has become much more limited of late; and while I do want to get to it, I’m not really sure at this point how much time I’ll actually have to devote to it. Thanks for the links though, to make the search simpler! I’m also looking forward to your comments and insights on Klassen’s book.

I agree that the article is a bit confusedly written, which is why I asked that some of his more peripheral comments be ignored and just to focus on the actual biblical quotations and his direct commentary on those (which occur more toward the middle and especially the end of the article, for those of you who didn’t make it that far :wink: ).
Craig, I’m less concerned about Jacob’s apparent straw-man misunderstanding of Trin. doctrine than I am about his actual individual points. In other words, I guess I don’t see the real issue as a question of whether trinitarianism is logically internally coherent or not (I think when well-presented, it is logically internally consistent, even if some of the implications don’t appear to be), but whether it actually makes sense in light of what Jesus actually did and did not say about himself.

And that’s certainly what I understand trinitarians believe (having been raised as one myself).

Noted; however, the problem as I see it is that if Trinitarians believe that Jesus is not a corruptible man, then how is it that he is able to be tempted? In other words, as Aaron pointed out, it seems to be a logical problem (on the trinitarian position) for Jesus to be dualistic in nature, yet somehow not dualistic.

It is clear that Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God, and the firstborn over all creation. So my question then, is how would you answer Jacob’s charge that the image is not the thing, but rather a representation?

edit double post.

I think I would agree with this; and it seemed to me that Jacob’s point was similar, that there is a sense in which Jesus can be called God, in that functional and representational sense.

Jesus was given all power and authority as God’s representative to man in much the same way as Joseph was given power and authority over Egypt as Pharaoh’s representative, though not being Pharaoh himself.

Ran, I have to admit that I’m also having trouble understanding how the virgin birth itself contradicts those conclusions, whether actual sperm were used or not (I doubt they were).
I know that the scripture describes the birth of Jesus as the Word made flesh. Presumably God could have incarnated Christ without the use of a human vessel by which to do it. Obviously, for him to be of the line of David, God would have to insert him into the line through a descendant of that line, so using a human vessel makes sense from that perspective.

At any rate, this still makes the man Jesus a created being, even though the internal essence of that being was/ is the Logos. My question is, how is this scenario metaphysically significantly different than God indwelling us?

By the way; it didn’t occur to me at the time, but this thread should have probably gone in Christology.


Trinitarianism more important than UR…definitely. I agree. In fact, from where I’m standing, Trinitarianism is the only theistic option, period. Apart from the Trinity, I wouldn’t even be a theist (or a believer in UR). Can’t say more than that right now (except to say that you have to read Greg Boyd’s PhD diss in which he works out a Trinitarian process metaphysic in Hartshornian terms).



I absolutely concur everything except…yea…the UR thing.

Temptation is not corruption, being tempted does not mean you are corruptible. What dictates corruptible is when temptation comes, whether one gives into to it or not. Jesus did not, therefore remains incorruptible.

Basically, you made an error of associating the instances of being tempted as the same as sin. This error has suppressed the truth from being understood.

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I’m curious to know why you think Trinitarianism is the only theistic option. Can you elaborate a little, or do I have to go read Greg Boyd? :sunglasses:



If Jesus wasn’t corruptible…why did the devil try to tempt Him? I agree, temptation is not corruption, but if Jesus gave into that temptation he obviously would of been corrupted. This is what I believe. Jesus was the only man born spiritually alive since Adam. ( John 1:4-5) Jesus was not born with a sinful nature (spiritual death spirit) like us. Jesus was born with the same body as we have. His body( flesh) had the same desires as ours do. Jesus chose to operate out of his spirit rather than to satisfy the desires of his flesh. That is how he defeated the devil and chose not to be corrupted. (Hebrews 4:15)

Begotten, not made. He’s God’s ONLY Son!

He’s not a ‘human vessel’ - He’s God - A Person - Not to be divided up into ‘concepts.’ Wholly God and Wholly Man in a single Person.

Why does He have to be the God/man? Read Anselm: ‘Cur Deus Homo’ “Why the God Man?” It’s brilliant! You can find it on the web - it’s a free book.

You can count me in that club as well.

Thanks for reminding me of that, btw! (Still haven’t read it yet. Lots of other things since you last mentioned it–or since someone last mentioned it :mrgreen:–but not that yet.)

I think it’s significant that the only time the word “begotten” doesn’t imply being made or brought into existence is when it’s being used by Trinitarians to speak of the relationship between Jesus and God, the Father. Go figure. :slight_smile: