To Put It Biblically

2:32 AM

If sola Scriptura was the cry of the Reformation, Biblical is the watchword of today's counter-cultural Christians. In contrast to Satan's lies, we have the Biblical truth. Conflicting with wishy-washy Christians who won't take a stand, we have a Biblical command. To differentiate from in-it-for-me pleasure-mongering, we have Biblical living.

Which is good. I love the Bible. Mine's deep mahogany, as big as my head, ESV crisp. I dig hermeneutics. It's excellent that the people of God stand on something stronger than emotion or fad theology. It's encouraging to hear the call to go back to the Bible, to look to the Bible alone for answers, to base one's salvation, life and spirituality off sola Scriptura.

So it leads me to the question: exactly what is all this talk about "Biblical"? I hear it thrown about, as a punch in the hand almost, in controversial opinions. "We may not like it, but it's the Biblical way." "It doesn't make sense, yes, but it's Biblical." "Don't do that! It's not Biblical."

Biblical womanhood. Biblical love. Biblical principles.

I know, in light of the self-help gurus still raking in money, that Biblical holds great weight for those of us who strive for Christ and His gospel. As well it should. However, take it from a young Christian who has been befuddled and bamboozled by the mishandling of this word: not everything that's Biblical is Biblical.

There seem to be two meanings for the word: one is explicit and one is implicit. Biblical can simply mean "anything pertaining to the Bible" -- Biblical interpretation, Biblical verses, Biblical account. Easy enough. I think every well-meaning teacher starts out with this correct use of the word, coupled with the correct understanding that all Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, etc. But in his zeal to impress his disciples with godliness, he ends up moving into the second, inferred meaning of the word -- and that's where danger enters, stage left.

The second Biblical means something like "stamped by the authoritative binding Word of God." In short, anything that's not Biblical is dead wrong. Biblical means truth. Biblical means revealed way, best way, if not the only way. Biblical means what one should do, be or believe. The opposite of Biblical isn't exactly sinful, though it runs a close second.

I agree that there are binding truths in Scripture -- what some would say Biblical or Scriptural truths. Murder is wrong: that's Biblical (in the Bible and unequivocally backed by it). Marriage is good: that's Biblical (in the Bible and unequivocally backed by it). The Trinity, Jesus' deity and salvation is Biblical -- in the Bible and backed by it unequivocally. Nobody really argues the use of the word Biblical there.

When applied to grayer areas -- here Biblical gets tricky. Yes, of course, Isaac and Rebekah's betrothal and marriage was Biblical, or at least, wasn't not Biblical; it didn't violate any obvious truths and it's in the Bible. But is their route to marriage therefore Biblical, in a this-is-the-way-walk-in-it type of bind? Paul's singleness is God-honoring and Scripturally approved -- but is it the Biblical norm? The wives of Corinth wore headcoverings, embodying the principle of submission and thus in harmony with the Bible's teachings -- but was their practice Biblical, binding, the only and/or best way to go about things?

See, I fear there's been much confusion over this term and thus over Christian living, Biblical truth and Christianity in general. It's horrible hermeneutics to take examples in Scripture -- no matter how excellent on their own -- and fashion them into the Biblical way to go, do or believe. It's a very bad idea to say that inclusion in the Bible = what one should do. In areas of choice, Christian liberty and personal preference, there is no one Biblical way, no uncompromisingly "best" way -- not as a blanket truth for all Christians at all times in every circumstance.

That's a genuine Biblical principle.

When we fudge on that, we risk watering down honest-to-goodness Biblical truth, burdening souls and driving away the very people who want to follow Scripture. Labeling anything and everything in Scripture as Biblical (i.e. what one ought to do) in the end backfires: not only will a discerning person recognize that the Bible says no such thing as, say, working women blaspheme God, but also he'll be tempted to throw out the real Biblical truths and the Bible with the so-called "Biblical" way.

For the love of Scripture and truth, please, be Biblical with Biblical.

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  1. I've only recently stumbled across your blog - and I love it. I agree with you so much and am really passionate about what you have said - but you have said it far more eloquently and gracious than I ever could! God is using you - keep writing!

  2. I just thought I would leave a comment to let you how much of a nice read this actually was.

  3. Knowing the TRUTH about the scriptures and keeping them in context is the most important thing when standing up for 'Biblical'. Whenever a scripture is used out of the context of its origins, it always =TROUBLE! Just like 'the trinity'~where are the scriptures that prove THAT one?!...that is catholic based nonsense and can't be proved by scripture. Deuteronomy 6:4-9- the first words say the L-rd is ONE...does your body walk around without your spirit? See what I mean? Mainstream christianity has come so far away from Biblical that I'm not sure it can identify it any longer....just saying.

  4. Mrs. Howard,

    I appreciate your concern for the truth. That also is my deepest desire -- to know the truth, to walk in it.

    In that spirit, I'd like to respond to your disagreement with the Trinity -- with my God. The Trinity is not a Catholic invention; it has been the historical position of the church since its conception. It's a very complex doctrine, impossible to fully grasp and difficult to explain. However, there is ample, ample evidence that this is so.

    You are correct -- our God is one. Jesus Himself said, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30). If you study carefully this doctrine, the emphasis on the unity and oneness of God is absolutely essential.

    You asked: "[D]oes your body walk around without your spirit?" With all respect, do you pray to yourself? Do you speak of yourself as your Father? If the doctrine of the Trinity is false, Jesus did so -- and more. It is so very easy to point to one specific verse and use that as our defense, especially in such a hard doctrine as this, but I believe we must look to the whole Scripture. Absolutely, God is one.

    It's also true that there are three unique and independent persons within the Trinity. Most of NT Scripture would make no sense without this proper understanding. Jesus referenced God the Father and said that He would send His Spirit on earth. He prayed to the Father on the eve of His crucifixion. It was His Father who turned from Him as He took upon the sins of the whole world. God the Father spoke to God the Son at His baptism, while the Spirit descended upon Him as a dove. We are therefore told to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

    This affects how we view salvation and our relationship with Him. Each person of the Trinity, though being one God, has a special role to play.

    It is the Spirit who convicts the world, seals our salvation, changes hearts and seeks to glorify the Son (Rom. 8:11; 8:15; 8:26, among so many others).

    It is the Son who died for our sins and is now our prophet, priest and king, the one mediator between God and man (Hebrews 1:1-4).

    It is the Father who pardons our sins, adopts us and disciplines us (Romans 8:15). It was the Father who foreordained that His Son would die for the sins of the world.

    Again, I want to emphasize the oneness of God. We should never refer to God as "they" but "Him," for He is one. Confusing? Very much so. But if we're going by Scripture and not by mere logic, if we're true Bereans, we have to deal with all the verses pointing to the Trinity before we automatically say, "This is crazy stuff -- it makes no sense."

    Dear Mrs. Howard, please reconsider your position. I seriously believe you are error and your characterization of God as "catholic nonsense" is so offensive to His holy name. I don't pretend to be right on everything or even on this matter, but I do desire that we keep this discussion going, as this is something that reflects upon the very nature of God and our salvation. If this were a minor point, I would not be so blunt, but I believe this is a major doctrine where so many have stumbled all over to their peril.

    I love you very much and pray we can keep this dialogue open and gracious. There are so many more verses I want to expound upon and points to make, but I'll just leave it at this. Many blessings to you.

  5. Hi Bailey,

    Another excellent and interesting post, Bailey. I think you make your point about the proper use of "biblical" very well.

    I was actually also going to make a small objection to your including the concept of "The Trinity" as an example of "in the Bible and backed by it unequivocally". While I would not refer to this idea as "Catholic nonsense", there are now, and have been throughout history, many people who call themselves Christians who are not Trinitarians. Yes, you can make a good argument for the concept of the Trinity based on scripture, despite the fact that the word Trinity is never used in the Bible, but you can also make a reasonable argument against the concept that is Bible-based. I tried to find a reference online to some of the arguments I've read, but couldn't find an argument that was well-presented and logically sound. I will look again and comment again if I find one. I certainly have no expectations that such an argument would convince you to no longer believe in the Trinity, but I do think perhaps there is third area besides the "binding truths" you mention and the grayer areas. For you, belief in the Trinity is one of the defining beliefs to be a Christian, but for other people who call themselves Christian, it's not. I don't know whether NOT believing in the Trinity would be a binding truth for them or a gray area. I think we have to acknowledge that there are some beliefs that some Christians would say are Biblical Truths and other Christians - Biblical Christians - would adamantly disagree fall into that classification.

    I will post a separate comment specifically on the topic of the Trinity.

    Keep making me think and analyze, Bailey! I love it!


  6. I found something similar to what I was looking for:

    I know that there exist Trinitarian arguments to refute the conclusions drawn from the verses cited on the linked page, but I think this page makes a good enough argument that we cannot say with absolute certainty that The Trinity is "in the Bible and backed by it unequivocally". At least your statement "Nobody really argues the use of the word Biblical there." is not correct, because people do argue this point including Bible-believing Christians.

    Let me re-emphasize that I do not think this argument in anyway detracts from the validity of the main point of your post. I love your line "It's a very bad idea to say that inclusion in the Bible = what one should do". I also agree with the other side of your argument that there must be certain binding truths that really are prerequisites to accurately and honestly calling oneself a "Bible-beliving Christian". My only disagreement is that belief in The Trinity is one of those prerequisite beliefs.


  7. Hi, Adele! Thank you so much for continuing this conversation. I so much appreciate your reasonable and gentle spirit, especially on this topic.

    I checked out the link and don't have time right now to read it thoroughly, so please pardon any ignorance on my part. I've only come across Unitarian beliefs through my general studies of theology and never "specialized" in it. I know this is a super touchy subject and I pray for the grace, wisdom and humility to address it as such.

    The Unitarian argument against the Trinity is different than most arguments against it. Generally, as I understand it, professing Christians disagree on the Trinity because they believe it compromises the oneness of God. They are still adamant about Jesus being God; indeed, that there is no other God than Jesus. So their emphasis is on the deity of Jesus and the oneness of God. Unitarians believe there is one God and that Jesus is not quite God, though higher above every created being, going by the article you linked.

    If I may say so gently, the Unitarian Jesus is not the same as the Jesus of the Bible. John 1 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (referring to Jesus). This is very clear all throughout Scripture, for the doctrine of Jesus' deity (as well as the Trinity, though the word itself is not found in Scripture) undergirds the entire Gospel. To deny those two doctrines is to deny Christianity, Jesus and the Gospel itself.

    Therefore, Unitarianism disqualifies itself as a distinctly Christian faith. I understand this is very controversial and blunt, and I apologize for that. There are so many groups and individuals who claim to be Christians -- Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists, Catholics, etc. -- but merely claiming the name of or a belief in Jesus does not constitute a saving faith in Him, which I believe to be the heart of true Christianity. Many in the name of Jesus and Christianity have such diametrically opposed views of God and salvation that we have to conclude they're not compatible. For instance, Mormons say they are Christians while believing in many gods and that one can become a god if he works hard enough. Jehovah's Witnesses deny the deity of Christ, as do Unitarians. (Baptists and Catholics have their own issues....)

    My God is a triune God; Jesus is God, the express image of God. I base my present and future salvation and hope on these two beliefs. There are only three hills that I would die on, so to speak: the nature of God and Jesus (including the Trinity and Jesus' deity), salvation by grace alone through faith alone, and possibly the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture. I cannot count as a brother or sister in Christ those who deny the clear teaching of the Trinity and the deity of Christ. This goes at the heart of who God is -- and if we cannot know clearly who God is, salvation is useless and any form of Christianity equally so.

    I don't mean to be arrogant or pigheaded. I'm sure this profession comes as no surprise to you. :o) I am so concerned that pure doctrine be taught, that salvation be made clear and that God be vindicated as to His nature. There are many, many discussions regarding different doctrines and fine points, but I think the deity of Christ and the "triuneness" of God are the clearest things in Scripture, necessary for our salvation.

    I do not mean to offend, only to clarify. Thank you for the discussion.

  8. One little note on Hebrew: The term "God" in Deuteronomy 6.4 is plural, not singular.

    I assume everyone discussing this is not necessarily familiar with the Elohist/Yahwist division within the Law. Some people believe this is caused by two different accounts being merged into one:

    1)The Elohist account referring to the God of creation, Noah, Abraham, etc. as Elohim (the plural of El, god.)

    2)The Yahwist account referring to the God of creation, Noah, Abraham, etc. as YHWH.

    Both terms "YHWH" and "Elohim" occur in Deuteronomy 6.4.

    Leading to the idea that it was during the writing down of Deuteronomy that the two religious accounts were merged into a single religious account.

    That is only one of many interesting parts of this discussion.

    Bailey, how do you have so many fascinating discussions on these topics?

  9. Sorry for the intrusion. :]

    I think God leads different people to different things...there is no set-and-stone Biblical way for some things. Some things you have to seek the Lord on and pray for guidance on. I've been learning this recently. :]


  10. Tragedy101, I've heard of that discussion but never pursued it enough to understand. One note on 'Elohim: while some interpreters point to this as strong evidence of the Trinity, it is always paired with singular verbs and everyone agrees it carries a singular meaning. I did a little doctrinal digging yesterday. :P

    LOL! Good question. I think it's a combination of thinking commenters and boring posts -- bunny trails are always much more fun. I love this, though. It's why I blog.

  11. The problem's source is good old Constantine, who, instead of removing paganism, simply blended it all together to make a killer cocktail of a mess. Study the story of Nimrod and Simeramus and see all the paganism wound up tight in modern churchianity. From church steeples to baby baptism...sick, sick mess we are left with. If you seek the truth with your whole heart, HE will always prove what is right and true in His W-rd and give you the wisdom of discernment.

  12. Mrs. Howard, you said that "HE will always prove what is right and true in His W-rd and give you the wisdom of discernment." Absolutely! Where then is your Scriptural argument against the Trinity or indeed for the whole "paganizing" of the church? I have never heard of Nimrod and Semiramis; I don't subscribe to Catholic doctrine; indeed, I gave a distinct appeal to Scripture -- not church tradition or pagan practice. I agree that Constantine had serious issues and muddied the water between Christianity and paganism, but the Bible came before Constantine. To that alone I stake my argument.

    If I may, I'd like to point out that merely because a pagan does or believes something does not make it automatically wrong. There are dozens of flood accounts. Many religions believe in God. Most teach their followers to do good, to worship and to seek truth. Are we therefore to reject the flood account, the belief in God, good works and worship merely because pagans do so? Again, we must look to Scripture alone as our guide.

    Please take this in the way it was intended -- as sincere concern for you and the truth.

  13. Hey Bailey,
    Thanks for your comments on my blog- we have so much in common, and it's funny that we are both looking at Hillsdale.
    Anyway, on Tuesday I am visiting the college to do an admissions interview and sit in on a class. I know you already did an interview, so I was wondering if you could give me a few pointers or things I should prepare before I go. My prospective major is political science. I'm pretty sure my email is on my blogger profile, otherwise you could just comment back.

  14. While you have never heard of Nimrod and Semiramis doesn't mean that the ancient beliefs that stemmed from this pagan religion haven't touched our belief system in a powerful way. And yet again, while you may not hold to catholic doctrine, it is, without doubt, at play in ALL mainstream religions because they are offshoots that never entirely let go of the pagan influences deeply intertwined in the catholic religion. Who was questioning the account of the flood? I was not referring to Biblical historical happenings in any way, but first only to address the worship of three individual persons of G-d as portrayed by making the cross symbol as the catholics do. That kind of individual worship is forbidden in the W-rd and stems from these ancient pagan beliefs. He is ONE G-d that we pray to in Yeshua's name whose Spirit lives within the temple walls of our fleshly abode. (Yes, His name is Yeshua and not Jesus, which is both a mistranslated (from the original Hebrew) and a common name,and YES, it does matter what we call Him, but that is for another day.) What is the origin of many things of and about the modern church? YES, they matter greatly! If the obelisks in place on top of pagan temples were left there when they were converted to christian churches and those symbols represent phallus worship, do you think they still need to be there?! Just because some might not choose to see their origins, only how they 'feel' about them, doesn't mean that it isn't wrong before G-d. We don't serve a wishy-washy G-d of 'whatever is the intention of your heart', we serve a G-d of absolutes, void of grey areas in all things that matter concerning our conduct as those who follow Him. Now, ultimately, that argument of church steeples seems trivial to some, but you must admit that it does matter what we adorn the building with when we call it 'the house of G-d'- which truly is no physical building except for our bodies. But, the matter of the trinity does take precedence here, because it directly affects our walk with G-d. The biggest of problems the modern church is entangled in is the keeping of pagan holidays as opposed to the Biblical Holy Days that are largely ignored or done away with. Where are the roots of christmas and easter? Why does mainstream church ignore the Holy Days? And chose the ones with pagan roots to bring glory to a G-d who refuses this type of adultery from His people. Your original post was speaking of those that claim anything and everything as Biblical, never understanding the scriptures that they twist to create the circumstances of their indulgences. But I say to you now that G-d desires that we test and prove ALL things that we believe concerning His W-rd. John 1:1 says that in the beginning was the W-rd, and the W-rd was with G-d, and the W-rd was G-d. That W-rd was made flesh in Yeshua our Messiah, but what exactly was THAT W-rd? From what adorns our houses of worship to what adorns our fleshly temples to what adorns our spirit, represents our level of understanding of the One we serve. Our ultimate goal as believers is to intimately know Him so we can please Him. There are so many layers of deception that now reside over His truths that it is though it is hidden...only to be revealed by those that seek an intimate walk with Him...hence the wide path-narrow path that scripture speaks of. There is a path of righteousness that He desires His people to walk, but it is an ancient path- not the modern liberal one that deceives so many today. Our houses of worship are tainted by paganism, our fleshly temples have many carved out niches to lesser gods of selfishness, and whole belief system is bound up in twisted scriptures...proof that while there is a church on almost every corner, the vast majority of Americans are spiritually dead.

  15. Deuteronomy 12:4- "Do not worship the LORD your God in the way these pagan peoples worship their gods. In deep study and research, it is unveiled the truths of how these pagans worship their gods, which puts us in direct violation of this scripture in Deuteronomy.

  16. Thank you for continuing this discussion with me. It's my greatest desire to worship the Lord in truth, so your concern is mine.

    It is actually not true that all modern denominations formed in the reformation or broke off from the Catholic church. Baptists trace their roots to splinter groups who never submitted to the Catholic church's structure or belief systems. Protestantism -- especially in the Baptist and Presbyterian circles -- is radically different from Catholicism.

    I agree that origins are important. Again, I cited my argument for the Trinity scripturally -- not from church history. Unless you're going to argue that the Scriptures are inherently tainted, you should be able to offer a Scriptural counterargument with no trouble.

    Regarding feast days, "redeeming" pagan practices and the like, Paul clearly teaches that nothing in itself is unclean: "I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean" (Romans 14:14). So the question we should be asking isn't whether the pagans do this, but whether we personally may do this unto the Lord, whether we are building up our brethren and whether we are acting in and from faith.

    Why? Paul again: Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God (1 Cor. 8:1-6). He uses this to say that it is not wrong to eat meat sacrificed to idols. However, he strictly forbids anyone to use this liberty and knowledge to cause another brother or nonbeliever to stumble or give the appearance of participating in idolatry (1 Cor. 10).

    Church steeples, Christmas and other things that may in varying degrees trace their roots to pagan practices are not today seen as such. They're seen as distinctly related to Christianity. So my conscience is not violated. If yours is, by all means avoid that which you cannot do in faith! I applaud your conviction.

    John 1:1 says that in the beginning was the W-rd, and the W-rd was with G-d, and the W-rd was G-d. That W-rd was made flesh in Yeshua our Messiah, but what exactly was THAT W-rd? The Word is Jesus Christ. It says the Word is God, establishing His divinity, and that the Word was with God, establishing His personhood. In v. 3, it says, "All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." This can be cross-referenced to Colossians 1:15-20: "He [the Son, v. 13] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross."

    If you sincerely believe that the nature of God is absolutely essential, please give me your Scriptural argument against the Trinity.

  17. wow - I took the weekend off and all this extra stuff came inbetween! LOL


    I actually agree with your statement that you cannot consider someone who does not believe in the Trinity your brother or sister in Christ. In fact, a long time ago I posted on a different forum making the argument that while some modern UUs call themselves Christians, I believe that we are not Christians in part because we do not believe in the Trinity ( I will try to find the link to that post). In order for communication to occur we need to agree at least somewhat on the meaning of words, and I don't think it is unreasonable for Christianity to carry with it the assumption of certain basic beliefs in common, including the Trinity.

    However, you also said, "the Unitarian Jesus is different from the Biblical Jesus" and this is simply incorrect. Any reading of the Bible (or any book for that matter) involves an act of interpretation. If one reads the Gospels through the lens of Christianity, you may be right that a view of Jesus is found that of necessity includes the concept of the Trinity. However, there are other ways to read the Bible that result in other views of Jesus that do not include this concept. These other views are most certainly NOT equally Christian, and one can argue whether they are equally valid, but they most definitely ARE equally Biblical. The page I linked to before is the best demonstration of this I've found.

    One little theological clarification: the author of the article I linked to did believe Jesus is a created being inferior and subordinant to God, but superior to all other beings, but this belief is not common among UUs today and may not exist at all. My understanding is that modern UU Christians (and I am not one, remember) believe that Jesus was a man - an extraordinary, compassionate, amazing man, and possibly divinely inspired, but still just a man, not a superior being. UU Christians call themselves such because they are trying to follow the teachings of Jesus, not because they believe Jesus is God, and as I said before, while I think people can call themselves whatever they want, I don't think it is useful to define these UUs as Christian, at least not in the same way the word is being used in the context of your blog.

    I will comment again with links. :-)

    Take care,

  18. Here are some links, which you should feel free to ignore or follow as you choose. ;-)

    This is a thread asking the question, "UU's: Christian or not?" to which I contributed several posts:
    My first post in this thread, and the one I referenced in my previous comment is post #7. There is some interesting discussion in subsequent posts, but I would suggest you not bother with the second page, which deteriorates into a ridiculous argument between another poster and myself that looking back I can't believe I participated in!

    This is the web page for the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship where you can see what they mean when UUs say they are "Christian": On this site you might enjoy reading a (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) response to The Five Points of Calvinism:

    Finally, here is a counter-argument by a Unitarian against the use of John 1:1 to support the concept of the Trinity:
    I don't necessary agree with everything in this argument, but you requested specific scriptural references (not from me, but I am volunteering :-) ).


  19. No weekends off allowed in the blogosphere! :o) Like a good student, I actually read through the links you gave me -- and I'm glad I did. I didn't fully understand UUs and had some faulty assumptions about their beliefs. UU sounds like the emergent church, actually, which I'm more familiar with. Thank you for being honest and forthright about your beliefs: it's no fun boxing shadows. ;o)

    Re: the Biblical Jesus. Here's where "Biblical" takes on those nuanced meanings. When I say "Biblical Jesus," I mean the correct Jesus, the correct interpretation (and I am open to the possibility that my interpretation is incorrect, if proved Biblically unsound). Of course all interpretations of Jesus are going to stem somewhat from the Bible and so can be called "Biblical" in that sense.

    But if Jesus is anything less than God, then I would dump Him in an instant for being a liar and/or a lunatic and turn full-blood anti-Christian. Any god who sends a so-called "son" to parade around divinely who isn't really anything but a mere man isn't worthy of worship -- unless he's just plain mean. A Jesus who sets himself up to be God but really isn't shouldn't be emulated in any way or form. If he's mistaken about his own identity, how is he to be trusted about the unknown identity of God?

    I'm hesitant to comment fully on the post you linked refuting the Trinitarian reference in John 1:1 because I don't want to babble along on the points we already agree with. The main point I want to mention that I think jeopardizes the author's interpretation is that the entire passage contradicts that interpretation. The main point is of the "light coming into the world" -- the light that reveals who God truly is. It's the coming of the Messiah, who was seen as divine both in OT prophecy and NT doctrine. Thus the reason John the Baptist, the herald of the Messiah, is on the scene.

    I believe another of the key verses in this passage is v. 18: "No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made Him known." We had never seen God. We had His law, sure, but we'd never truly had full access to Him due to the rift of sin between us and holy God. It took God Himself to show God Himself.

    Back to v. 1, the "Word/word" and the "light" in the passage are given pronouns like "he" and "him." A word, a plan, a purpose is an "it." In any case, tracing the word all the way through the passage, we run smack into God Himself. Elsewhere in Scripture, both spoken by Jesus and said of Jesus, Jesus is God. Perhaps John 1:1 isn't the best place to prove the Trinity or the deity of Jesus, but it certainly is the worst place to try to disprove it.

    In other news, I think this thread qualifies as The One with the Most Long Comments (Especially By the Moderator). Thanks for the conversation, ladies.

  20. Just for the record, I am NOT a UU, who you are correct in determining is NOT christian at all. I am Messianic.
    It was 325 A.D. at Nicaea that the doctrine of the Trinity was rammed through by Athanasius (using Mafia tactics) in a Council that was overseen by the Emperor Constantine who, ironically enough, thought of himself as God-incarnate. (Constantine was a Sun Worshiper and only made an official conversion to "Christianity" on his deathbed). Roman coins of the period still portrayed the image of the sun God despite the alleged sudden adoption/conversion of Christianity. Many of those present at the Council Of Nicaea were opposed the doctrine of the Trinity, siding with Arius. Even after the Nicene Creed, the Trinity was still hotly debated for decades and centuries after. "The word Trinity is not found in the Bible . . . It did not find a place formally in the theology of the church till the 4th century." -- The Illustrated Bible Dictionary. The New Encyclopedia Britannica: "Neither the word Trinity nor the explicit doctrine appears in the New Testament." Yale University Professor E. Washburn Hopkins: "To Jesus and Paul the doctrine of the trinity was apparently unknown; . . . they say nothing about it." -- Origin and Evolution of Religion. Historian Arthur Weigall: "Jesus Christ never mentioned such a phenomenon, and nowhere in the New Testament does the word 'Trinity' appear. The idea was only adopted by the Church three hundred years after the death of our Lord." -- The Paganism in Our Christianity. The New Catholic Encyclopedia states: "The formulation 'one God in three Persons' was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century. But it is precisely this formulation that has first claim to the title the Trinitarian dogma. Among the Apostolic Fathers, there had been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality or perspective." - (1967), Vol. XIV, p. 299. The Encyclopedia Americana: "Christianity derived from Judaism and Judaism was strictly believing that God is one person. The road which led from Jerusalem to Nicaea was scarcely a straight one. Fourth century Trinitarianism did not reflect accurately early Christian teaching regarding the nature of God; it was, on the contrary, a deviation from this teaching." -- (1956), Vol. XXVII, p. 294L. "The belief as so defined was reached only in the 4th and 5th centuries AD and hence is not explicitly and formally a biblical belief. The trinity of persons within the unity of nature is defined in terms of "person" and "nature: which are Gk philosophical terms; actually the terms do not appear in the Bible.

  21. The Trinitarian definitions arose as the result of long controversies in which these terms and others such as "essence" and "substance" were erroneously applied to God by some theologians." Dictionary of the Bible by John L. McKenzie, S.J. p. 899
    Regarding the Nicene Council and those that followed, Hans Kung in Christianity says, "The councilor decisions plunged Christianity into undreamed-of theological confusions with constant entanglements in church politics. They produced splits and sparked off a persecution of heretics unique in the history of religion. This is what Christianity became as it changed its nature from a persecuted minority to a majority persecuting others."

    "Anyone who can worship a trinity and insist that his religion is a monotheism can believe anything." -- Robert A. Heinlein

    And as for redeeming of pagan objects....provide me scripture reference please, because all I can find is scripture upon scripture of G-d telling His people to do away with/kill/destroy everything pagan. If we can redeem pagan objects then we can redeem the devil himself, but this can not be. Like those who claim you can observe Halloween and use it to honor G-d...where are those who stand for 'abstain from all appearance of evil'?! There is a veil over the eyes of modern christians put in place by a strong willed selfishness whose end can only be destruction.

  22. Quoting Bailey: "A Jesus who sets himself up to be God but really isn't shouldn't be emulated in any way or form. If he's mistaken about his own identity, how is he to be trusted about the unknown identity of God?"

    That would be a terrible betrayal and that is definitely NOT what I'm saying I believe. Let me start by saying I would never want to hurt you or make you uncomfortable, so if at any point this discussion ceases to be fun and interesting for you, please let me know and I will stop immediately. You can even just delete or stop posting my comments and I will take the hint and cease and desist and I will not be hurt or offended. Remember this is primarily an intellectual exercise for me, but I know it is much more than that for you.

    I don't believe Jesus is God, but I also don't believe he ever set himself up as God. People who came after him did that. I think Jesus says that he is the son of God, but he consistently refers to his father as a separate entity from himself, and he also refers to all human beings as children of God (and his brothers and sisters and he refers to his Father as "our" father, etc.). There are several passages in John that can easily be interpreted as contradicting this view. These passages can also be interpreted in such a way as to not contradict this view, but my own belief is that John was the last of the Gospels to be written and the author had already determined his own belief in the divinty of Jesus. The other three Gospels are much less concerned with presenting Jesus as God and that is reflected in the way Jesus speaks in those Gospels. However, since the starting point of this discussion was what is Biblical, it is not valid argument for me to weight some Gospels more than others. Instead, I will cite just a few verses from John and elsewhere that I think strongly present the view of Jesus as man and not God:

    John 5:19 when Jesus says, "the Son can do nothing by himself;"
    John 5:30 when Jesus says, "By myself I can do nothing"

    Acts 2:22 "Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know."
    Acts 17:31 "For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead."

    I have read the Christian Apologetics answer that the things Jesus said meant that he was saying he was God, but I disagree. When Jesus says he is the Messiah he is actually not saying he is God, and is in fact denying it, because to the Jews the Messiah is definitely NOT God, but rather is a man annointed by God, and Jesus was a Jew.


  23. Mrs. Howard, this is so far what you have proved:

    (1) Constantine was clearly a pagan who used Christianity as a means to unite his empire and exert his power. Agreed.

    (2) Many people disagree with the Trinity. Agreed.

    (3) Lots of Bible dictionaries and secular professors disagree with the Trinity. Agreed.

    (4) The word Trinity is not found in Scripture. Agreed. (Neither is Messianic, Bible, Scriptural, etc.)

    What you have not proved is that the Bible denounces the Trinity. It's very well to say that it doesn't and then grab a bunch of people who agree with you. If only the issue were that simple. :P

    People have debated the deity of Jesus, the validity of His miracles, salvation by grace alone through faith alone and whether Jesus even existed altogether. Certainly the presence of dissension, even in the early church, doesn't prove or disprove anything, other than the need to go back to Scripture. Paul right off the bat had to deal with Gnostics and Judaizers who twisted truth.

    Surely you don't base your faith on historians and secular Bible dictionaries? Why then the aversion to laying out a clear Scriptural case?

    Regarding "redeeming" pagan practices, I already laid out my case above. I am by no means supporting Halloween, infant sacrifice and sexual promiscuity to the glory of God as hardcore pagans did. Sin can never be redeemed. But if we're talking about objects or dates -- that's another issue entirely.

  24. To Mrs Howard, RE your comment, "Just for the record, I am NOT a UU, who you are correct in determining is NOT christian at all."

    I am pretty certain no one is going to mistake you for UU. I'm just saying . . . lol

    Pretty amazing how two people whose religious and world views are as radically different as yours and mine could somehow end up on what I guess is nominally the same side in a discussion, I think. :-)


  25. Adele, it doesn't disturb me that *gasp* people don't always agree with me. You're right -- this is not merely a mental exercise for me nor do I do it only for interest's sake. But it is a joy to share Jesus Christ and it is my greatest hope that you too may partake in this grace and joy that I have found!

    Thanks for clarifying your position. Instead of playing Bible verse ping pong, I want to focus on the person we do agree that Jesus was and claimed to be: the Messiah. It's actually very easy to establish that the prophesied Messiah was divine.

    Messianic prophecies all point to His divinity. "Immanuel" means "God with us": "For to us a child is born," Isaiah says, "to us a son is given; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Psalm 2 speaks of how the nations plot against the Lord and His Anointed and how they ought to "[s]erve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way." John the Baptist was to be "the voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord [YHWH], make his paths straight" (Luke 1:3). His very conception indicated Him Messiah, and as such, the magi worshiped Him upon His birth.

    Messianic passages emphasize the crucial understanding of Jesus' nature -- fully God and fully man. Jesus' favorite title was "Son of Man." Obviously, that automatically underscores His humanity. It's also a direct link to Daniel 7:13-14: “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed."

    The Jews recognized this link. It ruffled the high priest's feathers in Mark 14:61-64: "'Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?' And Jesus said, "'I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the cloud of heaven.' And the high priest tore his garments and said, 'What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy," etc.

    He invoked the title "Son of Man" again to say that He had the power to forgive sins (Mark 2:10-11) and was the lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27-28) -- power only ascribed to God, the Lawgiver. He also received worship (Matt. 14:33; 28:9, 17; Luke 4:14); blasphemy was the greatest charge leveled against Him. He spoke in His own name, not with the "thus saith the LORD" of other prophets and holy men. He told His disciples to follow Him as the way to salvation (Mark 8:34-35).

    Not all Jews accepted Jesus as Messiah. They put Him to death for claiming to be the Son of God, the Christ and the King of the Jews. They alternately accused Him of being too divine and too earthly. The common expectation was that the Christ would come as an earthly conqueror, whereas Jesus inaugurated a spiritual kingdom and became the prophesied lamb that was slain for the remission of sins.

    This is no mere man, whichever way you look at it.

  26. If you are looking for firm scriptural proof, perhaps you can get the ball rolling...

  27. Bailey,

    Much of what you say in your last post is entirely correct and I am in total agreement with. Please ignore the arrogance of my essentially equating those two things ;-). You are clearly well-educated in scripture, Biblical scholarship, and history. Far more so than most conservative Christians I have had discussions with, which is kind of surprising given that you are only seventeen. You also have a highly analytical mind, which makes it a pleasure to “debate” with you. It also challenges me to put more thought into my posts than I usually give to a blog comment exchange! So, I have pasted your post into a document and I am trying to formulate my response at least somewhat carefully.

    First, let me address the issue of prophecy. Yes, Jesus is presented in the New Testament as the fulfillment of prophecies from the Old Testament. That is undeniable. However, the authors of the New Testament knew about the prophecies and were intentionally writing the story as a fulfillment of those prophecies. I’m sure you know how easy it is to take events and present them in such a way that they appear to fulfill predictions made before the events occurred. Just look at what people have “shown” about the accuracy of Nostradamus’ predictions. This is not to say that the authors of the Gospels were wrong or lying, only that the thought process was the reverse of what might be expected. They did not look at a bunch of events in Jesus’ life and say to themselves, “This and this and this were prophesied, so gee, I guess Jesus *is* the Messiah”. They said to themselves, “I’m pretty darn sure Jesus is the Messiah (hey, he said he was), but if that is the case he ought to fulfill the prophecies. Let’s see if there is anything in his life that seems to fit. This fits really well, and this fits pretty well, and this could kind of be made to fit . . .”

    Now, let’s talk about the divine. There are many religions, Christian and non, that teach that the spark of the divine is in every one of us. To argue that Jesus was a man is not necessarily to argue that he was not at all divine. It is possible to argue that Jesus was no more divine than any other human being, however much or little divinity your own belief system interprets that to be. I love your passion and the joy that you have found, and I totally get wanting to share that joy. Did you know that the early Universalists were highly evangelical precisely because they were so joyful in their knowledge of a loving God that they wanted to share that knowledge with the world?

    This brings me to my main problem with The Trinity and the related concept of original sin. The doctrine provides a picture of humanity as inherently evil and redeemable only through violent sacrifice and non-human intervention. I find this philosophy to be in direct conflict with what Jesus actually taught. Jesus taught about a loving and forgiving God, a God that valued all living creatures. Jesus taught that we should love and value one another. It makes no sense that the God Jesus described would require a human sacrifice before fully accepting humanity. I know that Jesus did *not* teach some sort of happy, we’re all great just the way we are do whatever you want, kind of faith. His faith was demanding and challenging. He taught that each person should strive to be the best human being she could be and he preached service to others definitely.

    I understand that your belief in Jesus as God is a source of unbelievable joy and peace for you. I don’t think what I feel about what I believe can really relate to that, but I do find great joy and comfort in knowing the amazing possibilities in being human, that the salvation of humanity is ultimately in our own hands. I do not think Jesus was a “mere man”. I think he was a man with all the courage and compassion and almost magical insight that that can entail, as well as all the flaws and weaknesses that he shows us can be overcome. I think he was an amazing man.


  28. Mrs. Howard, now that's a bit unfair. My first response to you laid out my general understanding from Scripture and I've written much on John 1 and the Trinitarian implications there. It may not be, as you say, convincing, but at least it was an attempt at bringing Scripture into the equation.

    How are we to interpret such allegedly Trinitarian references?

  29. Adele, it has equally been a pleasure to "debate" this. It's so rare to find an internet discussion running on logic and respect, instead of potshots and bad spelling. :P

    Despite your kind comment on my analytical-ness, I'm confused on how exactly you interpret Scripture and where you are basing your understanding of Jesus. This is what I hear you saying (though I don't mean to put words in your mouth!): Jesus never claimed to be God. Others after Him did, as we see from the fact that Matthew, Mark and Luke don't brazenly trumpet His divinity like John and the epistles, etc. Indeed, those first three gospels are more accurate because Jesus doesn't outright claim He's God. In reality, Jesus only claimed to be and was seen only as the Messiah, who was certainly not divine. Now, since I attempted to establish that the Messiah was prophesied to be divine, I'm hearing you say that the gospels twisted it to look as if Jesus really was and claimed to be the Messiah, but that Jesus really only saw Himself as a man of God, albeit amazing. Could you clarify on that? I want to make sure I'm understanding you correctly. :o)

    On the contrary, I think that the Trinity expresses the most perfect and ultimate love and forgiveness and that original sin heightens that fact.

    God is generally benevolent to all -- He lets nonbelievers prosper, He sends rain on the evil and good alike, He does not prohibit nonbelievers from partaking in pleasure or seeking justice. You understand that general benevolence very well: you see a "spark of divine" in everyone; you see the goodness of God even among a suffering world; from that understanding, you declare God to be a good, loving, forgiving God. And you're right.

    But it's equally evident that there is a problem in this world. People die. People murder. Marriages crumble. Teens commit suicide. It stems from sin, the thing that cracked a once-perfect world and separated us from God.

    God, since He's God, has the power to forgive this sin -- but it's still there. If I knocked over your living room lamp and it smashed into a thousand pieces, you could easily forgive me, but your forgiveness doesn't fix the smashed lamp.

    Somebody's got to clean up the mess. Technically, that's our responsibility, for we contribute to the sin in this world. Forgetting original sin, it's easily established that we're sinful. We lie. We kill. We blaspheme. We steal. We lust. Ad nauseum.

    So God, since He is a just God and cannot allow sin to go unpunished, has two options: we pay or He pays.

    If Jesus is only a man, it does seem rather cruel and violent to have Him die, even if it was "just."

    But the Trinity and the deity of Christ introduces the craziest paradox of all. God sent His own Son to die -- He loved His perfect Son and He loved us, His imperfect creation, and it was the perfect Son who died. God died. The same God who established the rules fulfilled the rules.

    He now forgives those who claim that justice, who put on the righteousness of Jesus -- He doesn't excuse sin; the blood of Jesus satisfies His justice. The blood of His Son -- God Himself, God incarnate. God paid.

    In the end, He satisfied His own requirement for a violent death. No lamb, bull or person ever has to die for the one who claims forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

    So now His children don't have to strive to be perfect or even the best they can be. They are declared perfect in His presence. That, to me, is ultimate love. And that is the love I so want you to know, dear Adele -- a deeply personal love.

  30. I hate to barge in, but the insightful and respectful nature of this thread has impressed me. What is your opinion on whether of not acceptance of the trinity is a salvation issue? To state it more plainly: do you believe that believing in the trinity is imperative to receiving God's salvation and inextricable from the confessing of one's sins, acknowledging of the gospel, and asking Jesus to be one's Savior necessary for Salvation? (ok, maybe that wasn't more plainly :)

  31. I'm just going to pop in for a moment to let you know how blessed I have been through this discussion. I've seen many theological discussions turn into angry debates ("My way or the highway!"). To see you working to love and edify one another instead of tear down is an enormous encouragement.

  32. Adele,

    These are the teachings of Jesus:
    Leviticus 19.18
    Deuteronomy 30.14-16

    Miss Bailey,

    I think you have misrepresented my point.

    Elohim is not always paired with a singular verb. But when it is paired with a singular verb, it is always considered singular and referring to God.

    But my point was we can go to the first chapter, even, the first verse of Genesis and find pluralism of God. Anyone who believes in an infalible Scripture (as Adele and many Jews do not) must give more heed to the "coincidental" words chosen by those ancient scribes.

    Whenever a scripture is used out of the context of its origins, it always =TROUBLE! Just like 'the trinity'~where are the scriptures that prove THAT one?!...that is catholic based nonsense and can't be proved by scripture. Deuteronomy 6:4-9- the first words say the L-rd is ONE...

    It amused me that of all the passages from the Bible, she pulled the one that reads--in its context and original language, literally: "Hear, Israel: The LORD our Gods is one LORD." As proof of God's singularity.

    The term "one" here is the same "one" found in Genesis 2.24.

    But as I've been described, on many occasions:

    "A man convinced against his will,
    Is of the same opinion still."

    I think it's from a poem, but I really don't know.

    One Unitarian was very influential in my life, and I cannot help, but, think of her as a Christian.

  33. Hello all!

    May I enter into this stimulating and exciting discussion on the Trinity- Bailey and Mrs. Howard?

    I believe that the Trinity is fundamental to Christianity (I don’t own to possessing any of the analytical-ness with which some are gifted, Bailey), but this is an extremely important topic and I can’t help but add my two cents, with the hope that I may give a defense for my belief in the One God and also to exhort you, Mrs. Howard, with all respect, to bring yourself into subjection to The Scriptures, which is our only source for truth.

    First of all, it is important to believe that God is One (He is a unity) and that there is only one God. I have scripture here. I’ll throw out a few passages.

    Let scripture speak:

    “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deut.6:4).

    “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

    “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God…Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one” (Isa.44:6,8).

    When we speak of the Trinity, we are not saying that there are three Gods in heaven, but only one, and He is fully God. Even though we cannot separate God into parts, the Godhead consists of three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He exists in more than one Person. Look here—in Gen.1:26 God says, “Let *us* make man in *our* image, after *our* likeness.”

    Even though there are three Persons in the Godhead, each Person is fully God. They are not ‘one-third’ each; they are each fully God and still they are distinct Persons. The Father is neither the Son nor the Spirit, the Son is neither the Father nor the Spirit and the Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son. But, the fullness of God rests in the Father and the fullness of God rests in the Son and the fullness of God rests in the Spirit. Thus, they are One.

    Look, the Father is not the Son:
    “While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?’ They said to Him, ‘The Son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’ If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?’ And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore’” (Matt.22:41-46).

    Jesus is fully God:
    When Moses asked about God’s name, God said, “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex.3:14). Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). The religious leaders instantly recognized the connection Jesus made with God because they wanted to stone Him for saying this.

    …These are scriptural proofs of the Trinity.

  34. There is a limit to how many verses I can put into a blog comment. I don’t know if I’ve said what I attempted to say clearly or not and I don’t know if I have covered it fully (not everyone is a Bailey), but I hope I have said enough to make it clear that the Trinity truly is reality and that it is FUNDAMENTAL. It is the heart of Christianity. How can I stress this more?

    I admit that it is a hard concept to grasp, but still there are some things which we cannot grasp, because we are creatures. We are fallen and deficient and partial, so it’s hard for us to conceive such whole perfection. There are things we must let God alone understand fully and in these things we must exercise faith. Without faith, we cannot be children of God. If we are not willing to trust God’s Word, but instead we put trust in man’s wisdom, then we have not received the gift of the light that God shines to open our eyes to sin and we cannot be considered saved.

    I hope I have continued this discussion showing all respect, Mrs. Howard, towards a person and an elder and an authority. I hope you know that the reason I speak is because I care for you :-)

    Bailey, I am touched and impressed by your own defense of your belief in the Trinity. Your defense was clear and scripture-based. Thank you for your example.

    Here I end the longest comment I have ever written…

    I admit, I am nervous.

  35. Thanks for the amazing info. I find these posts have a lot of material. I can't wait to get a chance to impliment all these great posts. Thank you very much.

    This explains it all so perfectly! In Isaiah 59, it speaks of 'being repairers of the breach and restorers of paths to follow in'. The breach happens when pagan ideas get so intertwined in core beliefs that folks can no longer 'see the forest for the trees'. ANY follower(disciple) of Yeshua would have understood those core beliefs, and would never have muddied up the waters in any written word left behind for us. Essentially, we both understand the need for blood over the doorposts of our hearts and that blood was provided by Yeshua, our salvation. You are an amazing young woman full of knowledge and spiritual gifts seem to just emanate from you, and I consider it an honor to share in spiritual debate with you! At times, I fear I come across a little on the strong side, but G-d continuously works on us all, that's for sure! I do want to recommend an amazing book I am reading on the prophetical significance of 9/11...Harbinger, by Jonathan is taking America by storm right now and should indeed bring about a 'repairing of that breach' and restore the right path for America....I can't say enough good about this book!!! I will let this comment thread rest with this comment and I hope that you will read the link I posted and let G-d repair this breach for you.

  37. Chels, I don't believe that one has to know the ins and outs of the Trinitarian debate at the point of initial salvation. When the Gospel hits you square in the face and you repent and believe on Jesus, that's all that matters right there. However, I firmly believe that if one rejects the Trinity after being exposed to the doctrine, one is rejecting God and therefore not saved.

    So yes, I believe the Trinity is a salvation issue. And it works both ways: if God really isn't Trinitarian and I say He is, then I have rejected God and am not saved. I believe the nature of God is foundational to salvation. Hope that makes sense. :P

    Tragedy101, I'm sorry I misrepresented you. You make your case excellently.

    Thank you, Mrs. Howard, for your thoughts and your passion.

  38. Hey Bailey,

    I was reading over all my posts in this thread and there are a couple points where it seems like I contradict myself. I don't think I really do - I think it is just that my focus changes from post to post, but it is definitely my failure to be clear and not any lack on your part that results in any confusion or misunderstandings.

    Regarding the Messiah: I said that Jesus said he was the Messiah as evidence that he did not misrepresent himself as being God. Jesus, being Jewish, would have been intending a Jewish understanding of what a Messiah was: a human being anointed by God, chosen and enabled for a specific task. When you said that the concept of the Messiah itself implies divinity, that is true of the Christian concept of the Messiah, but not the Jewish concept. So yes, we are in agreement that Jesus presented himself as the Messiah, but not on what that implies.

    Here is a link to a page that gives a simple explanation of the Jewish concept of the Messiah.
    You will note that it says flat out that to Jews the Messiah is not divine. Jesus was a Jew, therefore I conclude that when he says "I am the Messiah" he is denying that he is God. In your post you said it is "easy to establish that the prophesied Messiah was divine" and I agree with that but only if you are using a Christian interpretation of the prophesies. These interpretations of the prophesies actually came much later than Jesus and that was what I was trying to say in my second post (albeit not very well) about Jesus as Messiah, not changing my mind about whether or not Jesus said he was the Messiah. Just that the divinity implications of him saying that were added after the fact.

    You put an incredible amount of rich subject matter in your last response to me, and I do want to say more, but I only have about 5 more free minutes now, so I will post more later.



Hit me with your best thought! I'm very interested in your unique perspective. If you'd like to discuss things in private, feel free to email me! :)