The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The Trinity and why it is a big issue


#1

Thursday, July 17, 2008
[size=150]*** Ommision of Responses due to volume ***[/size]

Bobby asked me a really good question - Why do I think that the Trinity is such a big issue?

It was never my intention that this blog should be a forum for discussing such a topic but, given the fact that Unitarians have had an historic link with universalism, I guess it was inevitable.

To start, I think that it is important to point out that all the Christian thinkers who thrashed out the doctrine of the Trinity from 2nd to 5th centuries did not think that they were ‘inventing’ new truths or adding to revelation. They were simply seeking to find ways of doing justice to the divine self-revelation testified to in Scripture. They wanted to preserve the fine balances required to appreciate the God revealed in Christ. Indeed, for them the debate was never about abstract and irrelevant theological talk - though it may look that way to us at first glance - it was always about the God of the gospel.

I personally take the Christian tradition very seriously and in my view the fact that the ecumenical creeds have governed Christian belief in all three major streams of the Church for centuries gives them prima facie authority. As Christians we’d need very strong reasons to reject them. So I am not starting from a neutral place in this discussion.

Is the idea biblical? Some people never tire of pointing out that the word “Trinity” does not occur in the Bible. But that is simply irrelevant. If the concept is the best way of doing justice to biblical revelation then the Trinity is biblical even if the word is a later label used for convenience.

Where to start? I simply intend to make a few, simple and provisional remarks as the topic is VAST!

All the early Christians were good monotheistic Jews. For them there was one God and to worship any other deity was to commit the primal sin of idolatry. But here’s the funny thing: As far as we can tell from the extant evidence the earliest Jewish followers of Jesus offered to their Messiah the worship due to God alone and they did not think that in so doing they were compromising their monotheism. (Richard Bauckham’s book God Crucified and Larry Hurtado’s book Lord Jesus Christ explore this issue at length).

Worship of Christ goes back to the earliest levels of the tradition that we can access. Given the robust monotheism of those who worshipped Jesus this is an extraordinary fact that needs accounting for. How could solid monotheistic Jews worship Jesus in good conscience?

In early Christian worship and theology Jesus was approached as the one though whom God made all created things (e.g., Jn 1:3; Col 1:16); the one who sits upon the very same throne as God (e.g. Rev 22:3); the one who receives the worship of God (e.g., Phil 2:10-11, note the allusion to Isa 45:23); as one who bears God’s own name (Phil 2:9); as one who is even called "God"on occasion (e.g., Jn 20:28; Heb 1:8). Old Testament texts about YHWH are applied to Jesus (e.g., Isa 45:23 in Phil 2:10-11 or Ps 45:6-7 in Heb 1:8). Jesus’ human body is the divine temple in which the very glory of God dwells (Jn 1:14). And so on and so forth. If Jesus did not participate in the identity of the one God of Israel then all this was idolatry.

And yet the early Christians were very clear that Jesus’ identification with YHWH was not such that Jesus was identical with his Father in heaven. God (the Father) created all things through his Word (1 Cor 8:6 - which, incidentally, is a Christian expansion of the Jewish shema from Deut 6:4); the throne in heaven is “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev 22:3); and when Jesus prayed to his Father in heaven he was not talking to himself.

So in the very earliest Christian responses to God in the light of the Christ-event we find a tension. Jesus shares in the identity of Israel’s one God and yet is not identical with the Father. Trinitarian theology is the attempt to clarify this tension and to guard it again those who would deny the deity of Christ (Arianism) and those who would say that Jesus and the Father are the same ‘Person’ in different disguises (Modalism). It also guards against a whole range of other unbalancing theologies. The aim is not to explain God or to put God in a box and understand him. God is mysterious - and this assertion is not an attempt to dodge hard philosophical issues but a simple admission that God’s bigger than our little brains. The aim of the systematic formulations of Trinitarian theology is to protect certain fundamental Christian claims about God and the gospel from being lost. It is to preserve the delecate balances of the divine self-revelation.

A similar process took place with the Holy Spirit after the controversies over the person of Christ had died down. Perhaps people might like to pick that up in conversations (this blog does not wish to outstay its welcome).

But it is not just a matter about how to interpret certain texts. Issues surrounding the deity of Christ had theological import.

All of the Father’s interaction with the universe - from creation through to new creation - is mediated through the Son and in the Spirit. If Son and Spirit are creatures (even highly exalted creatures) then God has no direct contact with his universe at all. God disappears off into the distance leaving us to engage with super-beings (the Son and the Spirit) instead. But Trinitarian theology, by insisting that Son and Spirit participate in the identity of the one God, puts God right at the heart of all creative and redemptive action. When Christ is saving us from sin God is saving us from sin. When Christ is with us God is with us. When the Spirit draws us through Christ to the Father God is drawing us through God to God. It’s God all the way down.

Of course, please do not think I underplay the humanity of Christ - it is simply that this post is not on that issue. Christ is able to fully save us because he is divine but he is able to save us because he is fully human and can represent humanity.

Universalism does not require Trinitarian theology (it does not even require theistic theology). Christian universalism, I think, does. I know that in saying this I will anger a whole load of blog readers. Oh well. I’m getting used to upsetting people.
Posted by Gregory MacDonald at 7:58 AM


"trinity".... is there such an entity?
#2

As an atheist I am probably less bothered one way or the other than the Christians will be on this board (correct me if I’m wrong). but it is an interesting question. One of the drawbacks I see to trinitarianism is the effect I see it having on the value of Jesus being ‘tempted in all ways as are we’.

My problem is this… If Jesus was actually God (and not as some translations of the Gospel of John verse one put it - and the word was a god (or of the same makeup as God)) then either he could never have succummed to temptation as he could not have sinned (making any temptation meaningless as there was never the slightest chance that he would have given in) or if he could have given in to temptation but still not sinned then that would be grossly unfair.

As is usual with he bible there seems to be evidence either way on the trinity - certainly some passages seem to suggest that it was at his baptism or his glorification that God officially adopted him as his son.

Anyway - my 2 pennyworth.


#3

Jeff

an excellent point. Different Christians would answer it differently. My current position (which is open to change) is to follow philosopher Thomas Morris who argues in “The Logic of God Incarnate” that Jesus was not able to sin but was able to be genuinely tempted.

The author interprets the traditional doctrine of the Incarnation as the identity statement that Jesus of Nazareth was one and the same person as God the Son, a single individual having all the properties constitutive of deity and all the properties essential to humanity.

Morris argues that, although no individual can have more than one individual-essence (that whole set of properties individually necessary and jointly sufficient for being numerically identical with that individual), various individuals share kind-essences (sets of properties individually necessary and jointly sufficient for membership in that kind). On the basis of this first key metaphysical distinction, he suggests that Jesus could have had all the kind-essential properties of humanity and divinity while still having a single individual-essence. He might have existed, that is, as “one person with two natures.”

Secondly, a distinction should be drawn between common human properties (those widely shared) and essential ones (those necessary to being a human being at all). To be fully human, then, is to share these essential properties. Morris suggests that one might properly hold properties that would be logically incompatible with an incarnation (such as metaphysical contingency, having a beginning in time, and being possibly annihilated) to be common, rather than essential human properties. Thus, by sharing all essential human properties, Jesus may still have been fully human without being merely human, as those would be who do not share such properties as these.

How might Jesus have shared all the kind-essential properties of both humanity and divinity and also have been fully human? Morris suggeststhat he may have had “two minds,” or two distinct ranges of consciousness: an earthly and historically conditioned one contained by, but not containing the divine one of God the Son. By means of the relation between the two, it may even have been epistemically possible for him (as ruled by his human mind) to sin, yet not logically possible for him to have done so in virtue of the necessary goodness of his divine mind.

What that means is that Jesus in his human mind might not have known that he could not sin. So he may genuinely have been tempted to do so and have freely resisted the temptation.

This analogy might help. Imagine a man in a room who is unaware that the door is locked. He is tempted to go out through the door but chooses not to. So he can be really tempted and really resist temptation even if it is the case that had he chosen not to resist temptation he would not have been able to sin.

Now I’ll be honest and say that lots of Christians prefer alternative accounts and I am not convinced by this one but it is, I think, coherent.


Stopping Sin at the Beginning
#4

Gregory,

First of all thanks for the reply. I am currently re-reading your book (a chunk at a time in bed of a night) having recently re-read Thomas Talbott’s.

That’s a fair chunk of stuff to digest :slight_smile: . I think I am going to have to read around this subject as I haven’t really ever come into contact with any literature dealing with this. When I was young in the Plymouth Brethren issues like this were never explored. The only explanation required was ‘fully God - fully man’.

The man in the room analogy is helpful but (keeping in mind the limitations of analogies stretched too far) does your current position mean that: although the man in the room genuinely and freely chooses not to try and open the door (and thereby passes the criterion for having been genuinely tempted) if he did give in to the temptation that he would physically not be able to open the door (even though it is unlocked)?

If I could ask an unrelated question here…
Where would it be appropriate to kickstart a discussion of the relevance or otherwise of Israels 3 feasts, the law of Jubilee and other old testament prophetic shadows of Universal salvation. I know in my first few posts here I have banged a drum rather for Dr Stephen Jones’ Universalist site over at gods-kingdom-ministries.org/. I must stress I have no affiliation with it other than it was the first place where I came across Universalism in any form. I must also say he is convinced that the book of Revelation is being enacted now and that every news item (economic crash etc…) is proof of that (a view I don’t share).

Now that I am more familiar with other versions of the doctrine I still find his e-books and articles have a very different (and in my opinion persuasive) slant on the subject which I don’t find at all in other literature (he espouses all the same arguments as yourselves - these are extra) and I would like to know the opinions of the board on whether they find these arguments helpful or not.

Sorry to go off-topic here.


#5

willieH: Hi GM… :smiley:

No offense GM… but you are “following” a blind man into a ditch… :cry:

His words are nothing but double talk… :angry:

If there is REAL TEMPTATION, then it means that SIN must be found to be an OPTION – OF that TEMPTATION…

If SIN is not an OPTION because JESUS was "not able [had no ability] to sin, then SIN was NOT OVERCOME by Him… which is a blatant LIE, …and,

(1) was invalid because it could not in actuality, TEMPT Him for He had no “ability” to succumb to it, and…
(2) Negates the Scripture which states He was TEMPTED in ALL POINTSAS… are we yet WITHOUT SIN… (Heb 4:15)…

If He was TEMPTED, …AS… are we in ALL POINTS… then SIN had to be an OPTION for Him, that was OVERCOME… for the “AS” part, includes the ABILITY to succumb to the temptation…

This guy (Thomas Morris), is so much as saying: (just for example)

(1) that I am really “tempted” to jump in the pool and GET WET, but “overcame” that temptation… even though there was no water in the pool… [how could you be tempted to GET [u]WET when no water was available?] or…

(2) that you are really “TEMPTED” to EAT, even though there is NO FOOD available to eat… [how could you be “tempted” to eat, when there was nothing to eat?]

The TRUTH makes sense, …no matter how any given "theologian" or "philosopher" wishes to employ MANY words to complicate a SIMPLE issue…

This is why it is best to seek the TRUTH of the WORD, and not a “man’s” interpretation, or potential “DOUBLE TALK” he/she might note concerning it…

I’ll be praying that you shall see the obvious holes in this "philosopher’s" yammering… :wink:

…willieH :mrgreen:


#6

The fact that the word ‘Trinity’ does not appear anywhere in the Bible is not the only problem with trinitarian doctrine. There is no mention at all of a God who is three persons in one, and no author in the Bible spends any time developing this doctrine. And how many times does the phrase ‘God the Son’ appear in the Bible? Not even once.

Also, the Bible states very clearly that God raised Jesus from the dead (not just the ‘Father’):
biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=god+raised+him+from+the+dead&x=13&y=17


#7

It also clearly says that Jesus raised Jesus from the dead, not only the Father. :wink:

No author spends time developing the doctrine in the sense that the Councils developed the doctrine, but many authors spend time emphasizing many different points that, added up together, result in ortho-trin (or so we find and believe).

I’m running a little late right now, so I don’t have time to link to discussions about this here on the forum, but there have been some pro and con (including extensive contributions from myself on the scriptural side of the issue.)


#8

Interesting. Where does it say that?


#9

Oh well, what the hey, I’ll chime in…

As well as also being curious where it says that Jesus raised himself from the dead, i’d also like to know, if the Trinity is firstly true and secondly, so important, why does Jesus command his disciples to baptise people in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit, yet in Acts, they never do? They always baptise in the name of Jesus.

And yet on the other hand we clearly see Jesus claiming to be God by forgiving sins and stating “I am” and all those other things.

(I’m not an anti-trin, I’m just confused and think the issue is much more complex than most Christians seem to think).

I want closure!!! :laughing:


#10

I think that Jesus says it in John.


#11

rline,
I know there’s at least some controversy over the possibility that the “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” is a later addition to the text. There’s a lot of info on the internet, but I have not looked at it enough to know what’s reliable or not. I bet some people here know way more about it than I do! I’m interested to hear more about this.

In John 10:18, Jesus says that no one takes his life from him, that he has the authority to lay down his life and to take it up again. Or maybe Jason has something else in mind.

Sonia


#12

I had a couple of other things in mind as well, but that was the main one (also verse John 10:17): “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one has taken [or takes] it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” (Relatedly, Jesus also asserts with “I AM” statements in GosJohn, not only that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, but that He is the Resurrection and the Life.) This authority comes from the Father, so there is certainly a distinction of persons (and an authoritative distinction, too). But still, Jesus is not passively raised by the Father. He is empowered by the Father to raise Himself (and also, consequentially, to raise all other persons, too, on the Day of the Lord to come.)

Not incidentally, this statement is given in relation to a comparison of Jesus as the good shepherd laying down His life for His sheep when the wolves come, to the mere hireling who runs away and abandons the sheep when danger comes. And the phraseology is the same as later in John 15 which features the famous statement about a man laying down his life for his friends (in context of Jesus trying to get the disciples ready for His forthcoming crucifixion.)

Also, if the disciples rightly understood Jesus to be referring to the “temple” of His own body, then back in the (first) Temple cleansing Jesus declared that He Himself would raise up the “temple” in three days that the chief priests would destroy, as a sign that He had authority to be saying and doing what He was doing. (John 2:18-22)

It’s worth pointing out that in the immediate sequel to this speech, John 10:22-30, Jesus even more directly claims the sheep/shepherd language from 10:1-18, to be an application of Psalm 95:5-7 to Himself as well as to the Father, thus claiming the identity and authority of the one and only YHWH Most High Whom we should worship (while also claiming some kind of real distinction of the persons of Father and Son.) Not coincidentally Jesus climaxes this declaration of shared identity with the YHWH of Psalm 95 with a claim of Shema unity, “I and the Father are One.” This, unsurprisingly, nearly gets Him stoned. :wink: But even in the previous scene there was a major debate among the Pharisees following Him, about whether Jesus was demented in the sense of being demon-possessed and/or insane, to be saying such things about Himself.


#13

My relatively brief (and not recently updated, though it needs one) Trinitarian Digest paper (only 76 pages right now, but could be expanded substantially more), can be found here.

My relatively briefer (less than 76 pages :mrgreen:) list addressing some scriptural critiques of trinitarian theism by non-trinitarians on this forum, can be found here. Boxer’s observations are dealt with near the top, as it happens.

A rather more in-depth discussion between (mostly) myself and Aaron Reynolds on the OT and the Trinity (or not, as he would argue), can be found here. I’ve been wanting to get back to this for quite a while now, but I probably won’t while Aaron is on sabbatical (since that wouldn’t be fair to sneak in replies while he’s not around. :slight_smile: )


#14

Thomas Morris’ ideas on this are interesting to me, because on the surface (there is a lot to digest there), he seems to be saying what the concordant literal crowd (i.e., Martin Zender) are saying; which is that Jesus is not “fully God and fully man”, but is partly both. And that seems to be the sum of their argument against trinitarianism, other than quoting all the scriptures that appear to dissuade one from the idea. It seems like a middle ground that attempts to do justice to the mystery, while interestingly claiming to be anti-trinitarian. Morris seems to be using the same data to help explain the opposite conclusion?

Put God in a box? Nah. You might as well try nailing Jell-o to the wall.


#15

Well, I’m not sure what “partly human” would be compared to “fully human” – less than fully human?

But “partly God” compared to “fully God” would certainly be less than fully God. And whatever is less than fully God isn’t God. A super-angel maybe, but not the creator and sustainer of all reality, and not something we ought to be worshiping along with God Most High. Absolutely not something we ought to be worshiping as our only Lord and Owner.

Such an entity might have some of the attributes of God–we have some of the attributes of God, after all. But aside from not having the attributes unique to God, we should not call such a creature (and this person would definitely be a creature, not the Creator) by the names unique to God, nor should we consider it to have the characteristics unique to God, nor should we consider it to do the deeds unique to God (such as being our ultimate Savior and Judge); much less should we consider it to have the throne unique to God. Much much much less should we render it the honor unique to God.

And if that person claims such things for him or herself, then that person is at best wildly deluded. Or else a Satanic rebel against God.

A trinitarian could believe in a manifestation of God that was less than human at all (such as a column of smoke and fire), or only partly human at most (such as an unborn body temporarily created for the convenience of eating a meal with a follower). But such a manifestation, even of God fully God, is not yet an Incarnation.

And an incarnation of something less than fully God, is not to be worshiped by those who acknowledge the existence of God Most High (which sooner or later should be everyone, even if people are currently ignorant or in denial about God’s existence.) A pagan might have some excuse about that. We don’t.

Loyal angels warn us not to worship them, when we make honest mistakes about their identity, but to worship God alone. Even setting aside problems with being only partly human instead of fully human, a claim of only partial divinity for Christ instantly obviates religious worship of Christ–which means the New Testament authors (and Jesus himself by report) are expecting us to worship that which is, at best, a lesser lord or god.

Speaking as a strict monotheist I have an absolute obligation to God Most High to reject that or any other idolatry. Period. The end. If I believed Christ was only partly divine, I would have to believe Christ to be a satanic rival to Satan. (Which might go far to explain the “only partly human” claim, too. :wink: )

This is why Christology is a big issue from the point of practical ortho-doxy: right praise of God; right representation of God in testimony to other people.


#16

And whatever Knoch’s personal beliefs may have been, I have never been given any special reason to doubt ortho-trin from his Concordant Literal translation (if that’s the one you’re talking about.) :slight_smile:


#17

First, I think it is a mistake to affirm that the Trinity concept was taught from the second century. Trinitarianism was promoted chiefly in the fourth century, although it may have occurred in a few pockets of thought prior to then. Tertulllian (about 200 A.D.) seems to have held a sort of proto-trinitarianism.

Secondly, there is no occurence of the word “God” in the New Testament which refers to a compound Being. Invariably the phrase “ο θεος” (The God) when there are no other adjectives modifying “θεος”, refers to the Father alone.

Thirdly, Jesus the Son of God Himself, in his prayer says, “This is lasting life, that they may know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” [John 17:3]. He not only calls His Father “the only true God” but with that little conjuction “and” seems to identify Himself as something other than “the only true God”.

Fourthly, there is no indication in the New Testament that Jesus raised Himself from the dead, in spite of all the Easter hymns. The phrase falsely translated, “He has risen” is correctly translated “He is risen” in the King James. There is a great difference between saying, “The dog has eaten” and “The dog is eaten”. In modern English the Biblical phrase ought to be rendered “He has been raised”.

Fifthly, there is no reason to assume that the following passage is speaking of Jesus’ death or resurrection:

*For this reason the father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. *

In my opinion He is speaking of His laying down His life here on earth for the sake of the Father instead of living it for Himself. But this is completely voluntary. God doesn’t force it upon Him. He could take it again, and live it for Himself like other human beings do.

Sixthly, Justin Martyr, a second century writer, in Dialogue With Trypho had a discussion with Trypho, a Jewish man, and several other Jews. Both Justin and Trypho spoke of the Holy Spirit. Clearly Trypho didn’t think of the Holy Spirit as another Divine Individual, since Jews have always believed that God is a single Individual. Justin used a great deal of discussion time to try to convince Trypho, that Jesus was the Son of God and therefore another Divine Individual and for this reason was properly called “God”. But never did he suggest that the Holy Spirit was a third Divine Person.


#18

Have you heard of Michael Heiser? He argues that the Hebrews were (at first, at least) binitarianists because they believed in both an invisible YHWH and a visible YHWH which they called the “word of God” (as in, the word of God came to me/spoke to me/stood over there). This was characterized even more in the Arabic Targums as the “memra of God” and this figure is what John was referring to in the first of his gospel.

thedivinecouncil.com (You can start with “the Word of Yahweh”)

Also, you may be aware that the word for “resurrect” means “to stand up.” Not that I don’t believe Jesus resurrected without the help of the Father, but it may be an interesting note to add.


#19

I’ve struggled with the doctrine of the Trinity for a while, so I feel I ought to engage with this.

Yes, and I understand you points (although I felt that number 1 was more “matter-of-fact” rather than an argument against the Trinity).

I’ve often wondered if the doctrine of the Trinity makes light of the fact that Jesus was the Messiah? The Jews seem to be clearly expenctant of a human to set them free. As can be seen from the Old Testament, every time a human came along, s/he did well as long as s/he followed God, and the people were on board. But then temptation entered into it and it all came tumbing down. Oh dear, the people are left wanting to be free again. They needed someone who would not fall.

Then the Messiah comes (“Christ” means “Messiah” as most people on here probably know). The Messiah is human. He is exactly what the people are expecting (in that respect): he is not an angel or anything else. But where all the others failed, he will succeed. His ways are in line with God’s ways (hence “I and the Father are one”). When tempted, he will overcome. The problem was that the people were expecting freedom from the Romans, but Jesus didn’t seem to do that. (I did hear from one person that actually the collapse of the Roman Empire can be traced back to Jesus… so maybe he did free them from that, just not in their timescale!) Jesus came to show people how to live for God, and to be the gateway for people to return to God (hence salvation “through Christ”).

The thing is, the Messiah was clearly God’s annointed. He was clearly more than Joe Human - he got it right! Which is why I have no issue with Jesus “being seated on the throne.” Yes, Jesus forgave sins - and that annoyed the Pharisees - but Jesus also taught us to forgive others: Matt 6:14-15. But to say that Jesus IS God? …Hmmmm… I’m not completely convinced.

And the argument I frequently hear:
“We’re trying to describe God from a human perspective. Because He is so much greater than us, He is pretty much incomprehensible. Any human analogy will fail, so we just have to accept it…”
And the conclusion is that the Trinity is the correct understanding?! To me, that argument is just as much against the analogy of the Trinity as it is for it.

Just some thoughts.


#20

I can’t figure out who you’re replying to with this statement. Robin? But he didn’t say it was taught from the second century; he said theologians “thrashed out the doctrine of the Trinity from 2nd to 5th centuries” and that in doing so they were “seeking to find ways of doing justice to the divine self-revelation testified to in Scripture. They wanted to preserve the fine balances required to appreciate the God revealed in Christ.” That isn’t the same thing as saying that the 4th century ortho-trin system was being taught from the 2nd century.

I’m the only other gung-ho trinitarian in this thread; and not only have I also never said it was taught (per se) in the 2nd century, I pretty much agree with Robin on what he did actually say. (And I expect, along with me, he’s including respectful reference to non-trinitarians trying to hash out the implications faithfully, too.)

Debatable, of course, but the actual point for debate is what the references to the term {theos} add up to theologically. For example…

…off the top of my head I can think of one obvious and well-known exception to this, where Thomas answers Jesus {ho theos mou} as part of an address which, in Old Testament parallels (both LXX and the underlying Hebrew, “the Lord of me and the God of me”), is uniquely addressed to God Most High.

But even when {ho theos} is being modified with an adjective, when an author (at least of the same school as the Evangelist of GosJohn) says of Jesus Christ {houtos estin ho alethinos theos kai zoe aionios} “This (one) is the true God and life eonian”, that’s a freakishly huge thing to say about someone compared with the “the True One” Whose Son Jesus is, and Whom we are supposed to be worshiping.

Already addressed in my commentary links I gave, so I’ll pass on. (The short version is that trinitarians accept the scriptural testimony there and actually deploy it in disputes with modalists as clear testimony of the distinction of the Persons, if any more evidence was necessary. The real complaint against trinitarians here, by modalists and various Arians on either end, is metaphysical, not scriptural: namely an expectation that if a multi-personal self-begetting and self-begotten God existed, the self-begotten Person wouldn’t be able to plausibly call the begetting Person the only true God and even His God.)

Except of course the indications in the New Testament that I talked about in some detail, the details of which you basically ignored when you addressed that same example next. :wink:

I agree with that, by the way; in all four Gospels and Rom 8, the phrase should be rendered “He has been raised” in modern English.

Since trinitarians don’t deny that the Father (and the Spirit for that matter) raised the Son from the dead, but rather affirm that (too), this is not really a problem. But for accuracy’s sake, the NASB and some other high ranking translations ought not to be reading in doctrine from somewhere else here. The KJV is in fact more accurate to the translation in those places.

On the other hand (as I also mentioned), if the disciples afterward (apparently including GosJohn’s author) were correct about Jesus’ prophetic sign-dare reported in John 2:19 (indirectly attested to again three Passovers later during His trial scene in the Synoptics), then Jesus said “I will raise” His body again within three days of the chief priests destroying it. The grammar and text transmission there are rock solid and not in dispute.

The only way out of it is to call coup against accurate reporting by GosJohn, and/or his sources; and/or to deny that the disciples actually came to understand Jesus’ reference wrongly after His resurrection (which I suppose is technically possible.)

Other than the reasons I gave, which you didn’t bother to discuss. :wink: While giving no actual reasons yourself for interpreting it another way.

Not that I disagree with your opinion there. But I disagree that this is the extent of what Jesus meant, not least because the immediate context is about the good shepherd risking his life being killed by wolves raiding the flock, unlike the mere hirelings who flee when the wolves arrive. The phraseology is the same as when Jesus tells them in the final discourse (John 15:13) “Greater love has no one than this, that one may be laying down his life for his friends.”

Since I am no expert on exegeting Justin Martyr, I’ll leave that for other people. The more pertinent question is whether the Judeo-Christian scriptures ever indicate, directly or by context, that the Holy Spirit is a third person.