Friday, April 10, 2009

COLBERT INTERRUPTS EHRMAN

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Bart Ehrman
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77 comments:

Neil said...

Oh, that was sweet! Thanks for sharing it.

Hail Crom said...

Colbert's satire of conservative christians is priceless.

Ehrman is correct, the christology of early christianity was not of a divine jesus.

Mark - no birth narrative, Jesus is the Messiah, no "i am" claims, Jesus is completely subordinate to God

Matt & Luke - add a miraculous birth narrative, and expand the resurrection accounts yet Jesus is still human and inferior to and distinct from God.

Suddenly "John" comes along and has jesus existing next to god from the beginning of creation and then coming down to earth. John stuffs in jesus' mouth all kinds of "i am" statements. Yet, even in John, there are places where Jesus says explicitly he is not the only true God (john 17:3) and that he has the same God his disciples do (john 20:17). John depicts jesus as a "begotten god", a heavenly being yet not the one true God.

Clear embellishment and development here, yet not even enough to support the christian traditions of a trinity or of jesus being the same "substance" as the father.

Ranger said...

Whoa...Ehrman hates being made fun of...he is a brilliant guy, knows he's brilliant and acts like he knows he's brilliant...and it ticks him off when people make fun of him.

I don't like being made fun of much either, but when you're going on Colbert, what do you expect?

Michael Gilley said...

Oh Bart. God bless him.

Colbert is on top of his game. The reference to the Indian blind men parable was well played.

RevMike said...

What drives me batty is that Ehrman publishes ideas that have been around forever and then acts like he just discovered them. He seems to be more concerned with selling lots of National Enquirer type books than with discovering even one simple truth. Thanks to Stephen Colbert for showing how shallow are the "facts" he shares. Colbert blew him out of the water.

John Anderson said...

Dr. Witherington:

I trust you have seen Ehrman's first appearance on Colbert back in '06? If not, do check it out. I am surprised he agreed to come back.

Brian Small said...

I think Colbert got the best of him again.

matthew said...

Sometimes I wonder how he convinces people to go on his show, but I'm glad he does! Hilarious :)

Daniel 'Doulos' Lee said...

oh no.. i hope i don't turn out the same at princeton seminary this fall! haha.

robmanning said...

Wow. Ehrman got so OWNED!! You could tell he felt 2 ft tall by the end. But I'm sure he doesn't care as this book is probably making him millions.

Anthony said...

When Ehrman mentioned the "My God, My God why have you forsaken Me?" passage my jaw dropped. Whether or not Jesus said this on the cross or whether it was added in by the author, Erhman has to know that it was a theologically motivated reference to the Psalms. For him to infer that this was some kind of indication that Jesus was terrified or didn't know why he had to die is ludicrous.

stumcgregor said...

i've got to say, i really felt for Bart on that . . .

Ari said...

Hahaha I absolutely love this. Thanks for sharing!

Just putting it out there - if Ehrman wants to take the earlier synoptics as a better representation of how Jesus was identified by the earlier communities - wouldn't the Pauline Epistles, which were written much earlier, reflect an even earlier tradition testifying to Christ's divinity?

Heavens said...

At lest Colbert isn't as long winded as Ben ... and more funny.

Ben Witherington said...

Hail:

Actually Bart is dead wrong about early Christology, and I think he even knows it. Its pretty hard to miss Phil. 2.5-11, written before any Gospel probably. There it is said not only that Christ is "in very nature God" even before he takes on human form, but then on top of that Paul quotes and applies Isaiah to Christ after the ascension saying he has the name above all names, which very clearly in Isaiah is the name of God. The transfer of the LXX name for God 'kyrios' to Christ is clearly enough a statement about his divinity. In addition to which in Romans 9.5 Christ is called "God above all blessed forever".

Furthermore, the Synoptic Gospels most certainly do view Christ as divine. This is why he is portrayed as Immanuel for example in Matthew's Gospel, or as the human and also divine Son of Man of Daniel 7 fame who came from heaven to judge the world and will rule in a kingdom for ever (see Mk. 14.62).

Ehrman's retro arguments about such things don't even convince most liberal scholars these days, they just say that Paul was divinizing Jesus because they know he had an exalted view of Christ.

As for Colbert, he is a devout Catholic who teaches Sunday school, and is not much interested in making fun of any orthodox Christians.

Happy Easter,

BW3

David said...

Ehrman must believe in the possibility of resurrection at an unconscious level. Just look at his hairline:-)

Seriously though, Ehrman is a sad case. He made it close to the top of his field, lost his faith, and now is stuck in a career he thinks is a lie.

The man needs prayer, not derision. He is in a world of pain and disappointment.

Jc_Freak: said...

Wow, that was funny!

S.Cruver said...

If you go into a lion's den...YOU WILL BE EATEN. My kids even know that.

Ari said...

Exactly what I was thinking in response, Ben.

If anyone has read Ehrman's book "Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code" (2003) you might actually be convinced that Ehrman argues in favour of the NT testifying to Jesus as Divine. For example:

"...the Gospels of the New Testament portray him as human as much as they portray him as divine; the Gospels that did not get included in the New Testament portray him as divine as much, or more so, than they portray him as
human." (p.16)

"This view of Jesus as divine is not restricted to Paul and the
Gospels, however. It is the common view held among Christian writers of the early centuries." (p.17)

"Given the fact that our earliest sources portray Jesus as both divine and human, how do they resolve the difficulty?" (p.17)

"For Paul—and presumably for the Philippians to whom he wrote—Christ was “in the form” of God and was, in some sense, equal with God, even though he became human.
Similar teachings can be found in other writings of the New Testament. One of Jesus’ common designations throughout these writings is “Son of God.” This is scarcely an epithet that came to be applied to Jesus on the basis of a close vote at the Council of Nicea hundreds of years later! Our earliest Gospel, that of Mark, begins by announcing its subject matter: “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God” (Mark 1:1).5"

Anyway...

Happy Easter to all!

Brett R said...

Dr Witherington,

One of us is missing something here. Colbert did not destroy Ehrman here, but rather he had his conservative alter-ego debate Ehrman with bad logic, false premises, and ridiculous assertions. There was not any substance to Colbert's points, but rather a representation of orthodox Christianity that is but a caricature. When Colbert actually disagrees with him, his alter ego AGREES with the person, and spouts of the same types of arguments that he gave AGAINST Ehrman.
What evidence is that that Colbert is a Christian? I know he claimed to be in an interview, but the guy is never serious.

Matthew said...

I recently started reading "Lord Jesus Christ" by Larry Hurtado and at the same time, I took a look at J.P. Holding's critique of Jesus, Interrupted (he links to you) here:

http://www.tektonics.org/ezine/contradsample.html

James White recommends "The Lord of Glory" (which is pretty old) on the topic if Jesus' divinity in the synoptic gospels.
While I haven't read Warwick (or Prof Witherington's work on this particular topic), when I read Hurtado's work and on the other side I see how Ehrman makes absurd claims about the use of "immediately", I'm under the impression that Hurtado's analysis of Jesus' divine self-understanding is more honest.

Matthew said...

Ari, that's an interesting inconsistency.

Happy Easter to all of you and let's include Bart in our prayers

Matthew said...

@ Brett R
Colbert is a sunday school teacher. I believe that is sufficient evidence ;)

Hail Crom said...

Matthew,

Why not think outside the box instead of surrounding yourself with evangelical authors. Try "Jesus was not a Trinitarian" by Anthony Buzzard if you want a challenging read. Christians simply take the deity of christ for granted because they have never heard a fair presentation of an opposing view.

Ben,

Paul in Phi 2:6-11 Paul does not call Jesus God, this is what you want it to say. At best Paul is saying Jesus was some heavenly being that became human and obeyed God, and thus was rewarded/exalted with a name above all names. It doesn't say he shares the same divine nature as God, the greek word is "morphe" which is used to denote a visual likeness. The only other place "morphe" is used is in Luke where Jesus appeared to is disciples in a unrecognized "morphe".

Paul distinguishes Jesus from God constantly, just read the greetings to his letters. When Paul says "my God" he never refers to Jesus see Rom 1:7,8, 1cor 1:3,4, Php 4:19,20, Phm 1:3-5, Eph 1:3,17, etc

Paul distinguishes Jesus from "the only wise God" and "the God of all comfort" (Rom 16:27, 2Cor 1:3)

You know full well Rom 9:5 can be translated "who is over all, God blessed forever". How absurd to think Paul distinguished Jesus from God throughout the book of Romans, then suddenly out of the blue in Rom 9:5, he decides to call Jesus God without explanation, and then go back to his topic again.

Brian LePort said...

That was great. I love the "Jesus is an elephant" argument.

Matt Troupe said...

Can't help but think of Occam's razor... The more unsubstantiated theories you have to multiply of for your ideas to be true the more trouble you are in. Especially if you disregard other explanations. Christians believe in God's miraculous intervention in the life of Jesus and the writing of the Bible with lots of evidence that you may choose to dislike. But these various theories of the development of the NT depend on numerous unproven conjectures. The history of criticism is like a bunch of toddlers playing the board game "Clue." They just keep offering new guesses about who done it without all of the cards... these are tossed aside in 20-30 years. Yet all the other toddlers nod their heads in agreement for the time being. At what point would the multiplication of theories cause a scholar to pause and feel that they might be crossing the line into the ridiculously dishonest?

Rob Suggs said...

Hail and Brett R are indeed missing the point. Yes, Colbert lampoons conservatives, but he was clearly doing something different this time. In a clever way he managed to maintain his shtick while showing up Ehrman without mercy. (If he agreed with Ehrman, he wouldn't have actually scored points as he was careful to do. The elephant and other points were actual counterpoints disguised by his silliness. I do agree with another poster who subtly cautions us that what we ought to do is pray for Bart, whether it works or not. On this Easter weekend I'm more likely to realize that and be charitable. But it's hard not to get upset at the Barts of the world who pretend they're the leader of some new and definitive concensus sweeping away this two thousand year old Christology once and for all. In the end, it the living Word that judges us, and not vice versa.

bossmanham said...

So Bart doesn't believe because Jesus said, "My God My God why have You forsaken me?" in Mark, but not Luke? Maybe he's not as smart as we think. It's typical for different eyewitnesses to include different details of the same account.

Alan said...

Just how orthodox or devout Colbert is as a Christian is not well established -- on one hand he is a regular church-goer who teaches Sunday school on occasion, on the other hand, he is on record as saying that he is "not particularly religious" -- but I think Colbert makes it pretty clear in his most recent interview with Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he is indeed a Christian.

Just as it's naive to take Colbert's interviews with guests at face value, it's a little simplistic to see his interview approach as purely satirical. On occasion you'll see him break character when there's a particular point he really wants to explore. For example, when antitheist Sam Harris came on the show to talk about his book The End of Faith, you had Colbert gently tendering the possibility that Harris might accept the existence of a minimalist, deist type God. This was not pugnacious, shout-your-guest-down Colbert; this was a man thoughtfully seeking common ground and teasing out the boundaries of Harris's beliefs.

I think it's best to treat the interviews with Christian/anti-Christian leaders/writers as an interesting amalgam of satire and a genuine expression of his faith, however much of it he may have.

Ari said...

//James White recommends "The Lord of Glory" (which is pretty old) on the topic if Jesus' divinity in the synoptic gospels. //

And for anyone interested - as it is an old book - it is freely available online:

http://www.archive.org/details/lordofglorystud00warf

Carrie said...

I'm optimistic about Ehrman. And I liked Colbert's little analogy at the end... you could almost see Ehrman's brain thinking about it, through his eyes. We just need to continue to pray that as his life is consumed (daily) by the Bible (probably even more than the average Christian), that it would come alive to him.

Thanks for sharing this. :) Happy Easter.

James Garth said...

Ehrman got pwned. Priceless!

Matthew said...

Hail Crom,
I prefer to read scholarly works by experts in that field ("Lord Jesus Christ" by Hurtado) over popular books by people outside of their field (book and the man in the video), so I feel rather consistent.

Philip said...

Crom,

It appears that Paul really did believe that Jesus is, in some sense, God. He did not formulate his beliefs the way that it was done in the fourth century; everyone agrees on that. He was a first-century Jew trying to come to terms with who Jesus is – not an easy task.

Read Romans 10:9, 12-13, and follow the logic of Paul’s argument:
if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. … For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

Paul says that if you declare that “Jesus is Lord” you will be saved. His evidence for this is Joel 2:32, which says that “Everyone who calls on the name of YHWH will be saved.” Therefore, one is saved by calling on God’s name, YHWH, which is equivalent to being saved by calling on Jesus’ name. Paul is identifying Jesus as the Lord, YHWH, the God of Israel.

Read 1 Corinthians 8:4-6:
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, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

Pagans have many “gods” and “lords.” But Christians and Jews have one God and one Lord. For Jews, it is obvious that YHWH is this one God and Lord (Deuteronomy 6:4). The Septuagint uses theos (God) to translate Elohim (God), and kyrios (Lord) to translate YHWH (God’s name). However, Paul grafts the name of Jesus into the name of YHWH in his rephrasing of the monotheistic confession. All things come from the Father and through the Son. (Paul uses kyrios in translating YHWH in Rom. 4:8; 9:28-29; 11:3, 34; 12:19; 15:11; 1 Cor. 2:16; 3:20; 10:26; 14:21; etc.)

Let’s try Philippians 2:5-11 again:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus is God in his form. Yet, he did not hold onto (or use to his own advantage) his equality with God. Instead, he emptied himself and laid aside his divine privileges. He became a servant, sharing our human nature. God (the Father) gave Jesus the name that is above every name (i.e., “the Lord,” God’s own name). Everyone will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, and give him the worship that only God is due. (See Isaiah 45:23, where every knee will bow to YHWH.)

If one were to use the disputed Pauline letters, in Colossians 1:15-20 Paul argues that Jesus is pre-eminent and supreme over all created things. All created things were made through him. From Col. 2:9 one could easily conclude that Jesus is the God-man; God’s nature and human nature are united in the person of Christ.

Again, the phrasing used in later centuries is not necessarily in the NT, but the foundation is there.

Hail Crom said...

Philip,

Col 1:16 the word "by" is translated "in" over 1500 times in other places. Paul there speaks of Jesus' authority and dominion, with all principalities, powers, thrones, etc being created IN him, Paul loved to use the term "in Christ" as we all know. Paul was not calling Jesus the creator of the heavens and earth and Jesus clearly said someone else did that creating (Mat 19:4).

When Paul gives Jesus the title Lord Messiah it is always in distinction to God. Paul could have easily called both the Father and Son God but reserved the title God for the Father, and the title Lord for the Son. The greek word "kurios" was ambiguous as we all know and was used to translate several hebrew words including yahweh, adonai, adoni, sir/mr, etc.

Paul didn't say the Father gave him a name above all names he says simply "God" did. If the trinity was true we would expect the father, son and spirit to be distinguished from one another, but we would not expect to find the son being distinguished from "God" outright. This is made even more explicit in the Luke/Acts writings when Jesus is distinguished from the God of the Fathers (acts 3:13, 5:30)

Matthew said...

It appears that Paul really did believe that Jesus is, in some sense, God. He did not formulate his beliefs the way that it was done in the fourth century; everyone agrees on that. He was a first-century Jew trying to come to terms with who Jesus is – not an easy task.

The important thing is to read it in the context of monotheism and wisdom theology

Philip said...

Crom,

My interpretation continues to look more plausible than yours. In your first comment, you gave a rather distorted picture of the Christology of the Gospel of John. Here’s a more orthodox (and, I think, more reasonable) interpretation of John:

John 1:1-3, 18:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. … No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

The Word (the pre-incarnate Jesus) existed in the beginning, before anything was created. The Word is God, yet is distinguished from God (the Father). (Jesus is God in nature, but is not the same person as the Father.) Every created thing was created through the Word.

John 5:18:
This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

The Jewish leaders understand Jesus to be claiming equality with God. John indicates that he agrees with their interpretation.

John 8:58:
Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."

Jesus refers to himself as “I am,” which is God’s name according to Exodus 3:14. The Septuagint uses ho on to translate “I AM” in Exodus 3:14, whereas John uses ego eimi in John 8:58. However, ego eimi is used of the divine name in Isaiah 41:4; 43:10, 25; 46:4; 51:12; 52:6 and Deuteronomy 32:39. Jesus is claiming to not only have existed prior to Abraham, but to have existed eternally as YHWH.

John 10:30:
I and the Father are one.

Jesus claims that he is of the same essence as God the Father. The word used for “one” is hen, which is the neuter form, rather than heis, which is masculine. Thus, Jesus is claiming to be the same “thing” as the Father; Jesus is not the same “person” as the Father. In John 10:33, the Jewish leaders rightly understand Jesus to be claiming to be God.

John 17:5:
And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

Jesus was glorified with God the Father before the creation of the universe.

John 20:28:
Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"

Thomas refers to Jesus as “God.” Jesus indicates that he accepts this designation.

John’s Christology is very high and entirely compatible with Nicene orthodoxy, even though the words used are not always the same.

Matthew said...

Hail Crom, while I'm no expert in greek, Matt 19:4 is a citation from the OT, hardly a denial of divinity.

Brett R said...

Mathew, you said:

Colbert is a sunday school teacher. I believe that is sufficient evidence ;)


How do we know he is a Sunday School teacher? That is my question. Certainly, I could be wrong about this interview, but I have yet to see evidence that Colbert is a Christian. I'm not saying he is not, but can anybody point me to a source where he non-jokingly says he is a believer? Until such a source is revealed, my analysis stands.

Kenny Johnson said...

Brett R,

Someone did. NPR's Fresh Air.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15116383

This was a serious interview. Listen around the 40 minute mark. He talks about his faith and teaching Sunday School.

Of course, you could have searched this yourself instead of making me do it.

Nick Norelli said...

Matthew: I'm always glad to hear that someone is reading Hurtado! In my opinion he's done some of the best (if not the best) work in the field in the last 30 years. If you haven't already, I'd suggest supplementing your reading of Hurtado with Richard Bauckham and Gordon Fee. From Bauckham you'll want to get his most recent volume Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity without question. And from Fee I'd suggest Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study as well as God's Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul.

As far as Hail Crom's suggestion to read Anthony Buzzard, I'd say go for it, but be prepared to be underwhelmed. Buzzard's chief argument is one that counts personal pronouns. Singular personal pronouns are used with reference to God thousands of times so that, Buzzard thinks, proves that God is a unitarian being.

Hail Crom said...

Phillip,

Yes i realize Jesus was called "god" by Thomas. However, Moses, David, and the judges of israel were called that also (exo 4:16, 7:1, psa 45:6, 82:6).

You ignored that Jesus was called a begotten god (John 1:18) and that john 1:1 can legitimately be translated "a god" as R.C. Sproul and others conceed.

When Jesus is accused of claiming to be God he backs away from the claim, and even points to the judges being called gods (John 10:34-36).

Clearly the title "god/theos/elohim" could be used in a different sense. After all satan is called the god of this world (2Co 4:4).

Nick,

I agree with you, the ancient Israelites were polytheists, then henotheists, then monotheists.

Nick can you explain why your trinitarian god would say "I am the Lord your God" instead of "We are the Lord your God"?

jared t. said...

Haha, Ehrman didn't interact with any of Colbert's jokes...

Matthew said...

Nick, I read some of the reviews for Buzzard on amazon and it seems that his main point was a monotheistic creed, which reminds me of the way muslims read the gospels, so I don't think it will be as persuasive as Hurtado, but I think thay maybe I'll give t a try.
As for Bauckham, virtually everyone is recommending him on a number of topics so he's probably the next one I will read after Hurtado.

Brett R said...

Kenny Johnson said:

Brett R,

Someone did. NPR's Fresh Air.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15116383

This was a serious interview. Listen around the 40 minute mark. He talks about his faith and teaching Sunday School.

Of course, you could have searched this yourself instead of making me do it.
Thanks Kenny,

I did do a search some time ago, and could not find anything. I listened to the segment, and agree that he was serious and that he was confessing to be a Catholic Christian. I will go back and listen to the original video again (there was another one a while back I should listen to again also). Perhaps my take on his views is colored by the reaction of his audience. It did seem his arguments against Ehrman were not very sound, and more resembled his faux conservative character. So, either he is a more theologically liberal Catholic, or I am misinterpreting his comedy. I'll go back and listen as I am curious about this.

Nick Norelli said...

Hail Crom: "Nick can you explain why your trinitarian god would say "I am the Lord your God" instead of "We are the Lord your God"?"

I could but the comments to this post isn't the place to do so. And I'm curious, was what you said before this supposed to be addressed to me? I don't remember saying what you seem to be agreeing with so I'm not sure how you could be agreeing with me.

Matthew: Buzzard puts a lot of stock in a Unitarian (i.e., Socinian) reading of the Shema and he assumes that "one God" = "one person." I don't find his arguments persuasive in the least and he's not the best writer there is, but it's always good to read what one's opponents believe.

But yeah, Bauckham is must reading. If you're interested in some more of Hurtado's material I've listed some online resources here.

Kenny Johnson said...

Brett R,

Actually it seemed that some of his audience was cheering is points. But it seemed to me that Colbert was using sarcasm and humor to make some valid points.

For example the 4 elephants parable, though he ended it with a punchline, was a pretty serious challenge to what Ehrman was saying. Colbert was making the point that each Gospel is only giving us a piece of who Jesus was from the perspective of that author, but when you put all 4 together, you see a fuller picture of who Jesus was.

I obviously don't know Colbert's theology, but considering he believes in the doctrine of Hell, I wouldn't consider him too liberal -- though possibly a moderate Catholic.

Kenny Johnson said...

Hail Crom,

Jesus didn't back away from the title. If anything he clarified his position. Why not quote the rest?

34 Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are gods'If he called them 'gods,' to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'? 37 Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. 38 But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.

So in the end, he says if I do what the father does, then I am right to call myself God. And he then further states that he is in the father and the father is in him.

Philip said...

Crom,

You wrote:
”You ignored that Jesus was called a begotten god (John 1:18)”The Nicene and Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creeds also state that Jesus is begotten and is God, i.e., he is the begotten God. So, orthodoxy is quite OK with that. Even so, you must be aware that “begotten God” is an unlikely translation of John 1:18. More likely it refers to “the only God” (ESV), “God the only Son” (NRSV), “the only one, himself God” (NET), “the only Son, God” (NAB), “the unique One, who is himself God” (NLT), “the one and only [Son], who is himself God” (TNIV), or “God the One and Only” (NIV). According to Liddell & Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon, monogenes means “the only member of a kin or kind: hence, generally, only, single.” According to Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, monogenes means “single of its kind, only.” It has nothing to do with coming into existence or being created. But any way you translate it, it is compatible with Christian orthodoxy.

You wrote:
“john 1:1 can legitimately be translated "a god" as R.C. Sproul and others conceed.”Even “legitimately” might be to strong of a word. According to Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to New Testament Christology, John 1:1 is a “passage where Jesus is clearly called God.” (Murray J. Harris, Jesus as God, reached the same conclusion.) What does theos (without the article) mean in John 1:6, 12, 13, and 18a? And what do you care if John 1:1 calls Jesus “God”? (You’ve already mentioned that “Moses, David, and the judges of israel were called that also.”)

You wrote:
“Nick, I agree with you, the ancient Israelites were polytheists, then henotheists, then monotheists.”Nick appears not to have said anything of the sort. Are you joking? Or are you just a liar? Is there any evidence in favor of your claim? Is this another Anthony Buzzard thing?

You wrote:
“Yet, even in John, there are places where Jesus says explicitly he is not the only true God (john 17:3) and that he has the same God his disciples do (john 20:17).”You must be using a different definition of “explicitly.” Christians agree that there is only one true God. The Father is the one true God, the Son is the one true God, and the Holy Spirit is the one true God. John 17:3 doesn’t say that the Son is true God, but it doesn’t say that he’s false God, either. And given John’s many affirmations of the deity of Jesus, I doubt that John was trying to say that Jesus is not God. Regarding John 20:17, no one denies that Jesus and the disciples believed in the same God.

You wrote:
“Col 1:16 the word "by" is translated "in" over 1500 times in other places.”That’s irrelevant. My point had nothing to do with the word “by.” The verse reads: For in 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.You wrote:
“Paul was not calling Jesus the creator of the heavens and earth and Jesus clearly said someone else did that creating (Mat 19:4).”John 1:3, Colossians 1:16, and Hebrews 1:2 all explicitly say that everything was created through the Word/Son/Jesus (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:6). In Matthew 19:4, Jesus attributes the creation to “he who created [or 'the Creator'].” He doesn’t say that it was “someone else”—certainly not clearly, but not even obscurely.

You wrote:
“This is made even more explicit in the Luke/Acts writings when Jesus is distinguished from the God of the Fathers (acts 3:13, 5:30)”That God raised Jesus from the dead is stated many times in Scripture (Acts 2:24, 32; 3:15, 26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33, 34, 37; 17:31; Romans 4:24; 8:11; 10:9; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 15:15; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 2:12; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 1:21). All orthodox Christians believe that. It does not follow that Jesus is not God.

In your response to me you ignored what I said. The context of Romans 10:9-13 indicates Paul is equating the Lord Jesus with the Lord YHWH of the Old Testament. There is no other way for his argument to work. (Or do you think that his argument doesn’t work because he is guilty of equivocating on the term Lord?)

In 1 Corinthians 8:4-6, Paul inserts a statement about Jesus into the Shema. You shouldn’t ignore that. In Philippians 2:5-11, Paul says that Jesus will receive the worship that only God is due. Isn’t that significant?

In their book Putting Jesus in His Place, Robert M. Bowman and J. Ed Komoszewski present the following argument: Christian Scripture tells us that Jesus is God by indicating that Jesus shares the honors (glory, worship, prayer, faith, fear, devotion, love) due to God, the attributes of God (pre-existent, eternal, immutable, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient), the names of God (God, Lord, King of kings, Savior, I AM, Alpha and Omega), in the deeds that God does (creating and sustaining all things, salvation, sending the Spirit, giving life, judging), and the seat of God’s throne (equality with God, ruling over all things). This approach works far better than your approach of trying to make the New Testament compatible with Unitarianism.

Brett R said...

Kenny,

First of all, I appreciate all of those here that are confessing and defending orthodoxy.

OTOH, I listened to Colbert's dialog with Ehrman again, and I am still convinced that either Colbert is not trying to convince the audience that Ehrman is wrong, or that he is not capable of it. Colbert is very capable of skewering those that he disagrees with on political issues by getting to the root of a bad argument. OTOH, Colbert's arguments, whether it is his faux conservative persona or himself, are very lacking.

Here are some of the points that I find to be lacking of a defense of Christianity.

*quotes are from memory and thus paraphrased.

Colbert said that "I served you your head on a platter last time".
Ehrman replies, "that is what you thought"
Does Colbert every say this about someone he actually disagrees with? (not sure, but I haven't heard him)

Answer to the charge that the Bible contains contradictions - Colbert says that "none of the scholars that I read".This fits in really well with his faux conservative persona as the character would only read stuff he would agree with. OTOH, a true intellectual would be aware of all of the scholarship.


IN answer to the charge that Jesus is not God in the synoptic Gospels, Colbert says that "Jesus is the Son of God", which is followed by the audience laughing.

Colbert says, "that He says this in the Gospel of John (and he claims to accpet Ehrman's appology).
He also mentions that the other Gospels were a "rough draft", and that is why John is last.
Colbert says "what is the son of a duck? a duck.
Neither of these are serious arguments for the divinity of Christ or the truth of Scripture. The duck reference contains logical fallacies that his faux conservative character is well known for. (i.e. the order of the books of the Bible)

Next, Colbert twists Ehrmans words in saying that Ehrman is blaming the Jews - "I can’t believe you are blaming it on the Jews. That is so anti-Semitic."So, is that the Christ confessing Colbert or rather his faux conservative persona?

Christian's should not applaud Colbert in this case as it is at best a total misunderstanding of the faith. Especially in light of the fact that his audience is made up of many unbelievers. OTOH, Colbert's intelligence would seem to indicate that this was a mockery of orthodoxy rather than a support of it. The fact that he is a Catholic and Sunday school teacher is interesting, but as we all should know, the RCC has been very tolerant of liberals in their midst.

Lastly, I wonder what the audience generally thought about this...

Brett R said...

Here is the nail in the Coffin.

Colbert is definitly NOT an orthodox Catholic.

http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?mkt=en-US&brand=msnbc&vid=17e5b2fe-9105-486d-985f-d71255a562cb

Kenny Johnson said...

Brent,

You're right, he was "debating" Ehrman in character. It doesn't stray from the fact though that he did offer some 'serious' rebuttals.

I already mentioned the elephant parable.

I actually thought is duck comment was clever.

Colbert's arguments from the Gospel of John were well put -- and he gets some claps.

OBVIOUSLY Colbert's purpose is humor and not scholarly debate. No one is questioning that. And it's also obvious he is 'debating' in character. No one is debating that.

What some of us are arguing is that underneath that, Colbert is actually challenging Ehrman.

Matthew said...

john 1:1 can legitimately be translated "a god" as R.C. Sproul and others conceed.That would be based on grammar alone. Context is everything.

I believe James White once made a video rebuking Ahmed Deedat for this "No one who knows greek would make such claims"-mistake and mentioned an article from answering-islam.

http://www.answering-islam.org/Green/deedat.htm#word

Nick Norelli said...

Philip: I'm glad you mentioned Putting Jesus in His Place; it completely slipped my mind when I was recommending books to Matthew.

Matthew: Let me also put in a good word for Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ. Komoszewski and Bowman have taken the best of Christological scholarship and boiled it down into a concentrated and compelling argument for Jesus' deity. If you're interested I did a multi-part review of the book a while back.

Irenaeus of New York said...

ON JESUS' DIVINITY IN MATTHEW, MARK & LUKE

I think Ehrman is wrong about Christ not being divine in the first three gospels.

Matt. 4:7; Luke 4:12 - Jesus tells satan, "you shall not tempt the Lord your God" in reference to Himself.
Matt. 5:21-22; 27-28; 31-32; 33-34; 38-39; 43-44 - Jesus makes Himself equal to God when He declares, "You heard it said...but I say to you.."

We dont need the Gospel of John to make the point that Jesus was both God and Man. The authority with which he spoke is throughout all the Gospels.

Joel said...

Yes, that interview was with him in his conservative character. He's said all sorts of zany things in character. And while I'm not sure what his real views on gay marriage are, politically liberal views don't necessarily mean he's a theological liberal. I think gay marriage is a more complicated issue than some Christians make it out to be (and yes I think homosexual acts are sinful), but I won't derail this any more by going into detail about that.

It's obvious that Colbert was joking for most of the interview. But at the end when he talked about the blind men and the elephant, I think he was raising a serious point while not totally breaking character. He does that sometimes, and he makes fun of everyone he interviews to some extent (most of his points against NT Wright were just as silly as the Ehrman interview, for example).

Hail Crom said...

Kenny said...


In your response to me you ignored what I said. The context of Romans 10:9-13 indicates Paul is equating the Lord Jesus with the Lord YHWH of the Old Testament. There is no other way for his argument to work. (Or do you think that his argument doesn’t work because he is guilty of equivocating on the term Lord?)

If Paul relied on the LXX which most jews did (even the author of hebrews) then this isn't an issue. Since the word Lord replaced several different hebrew words. Paul may not even have known what the original Hebrew said. However even if he did, Jesus said he came in the name of his Father (John 5:43).

Kenny said...

In 1 Corinthians 8:4-6, Paul inserts a statement about Jesus into the Shema. You shouldn’t ignore that. In Philippians 2:5-11, Paul says that Jesus will receive the worship that only God is due. Isn’t that significant?

1Cor 8:4-6 is a favorite of unitarians to show Jesus is not God. Paul distinguishes Jesus from the 1 God of the bible as he does in Eph 4:4-6, and 1Tim 2:5. You can try to pretend it is a splitting of the Shema, but that is your wishful thinking and nothing more. Jesus explicitly quotes the Shema in Mark 12 as the greatest commandment in a conversation with a scribe. The scribe says "you have well said that HE IS ONE, and there is no other besides HIM" to which Mark comments that Jesus saw the scribe answered wisely and then Jesus says "you are not far from the kingdom of God."

Funny how Jesus and this scribe are in complete agreement on the Jewish view of yahweh as a single individual using singular pronouns. Jesus never corrected the Jewish Unitarian monotheism because Jesus is a Unitarian monotheist in the gospels.

Phillipians 2 explicitly states Jesus is not God because God is the one who exalts and rewards him in verse 9. You can speculate why your god would allow that but your bible is explicit that he chose that.

It is called delegated authority. The gentile Christians confused Jesus' delegated authority with ontological identity with God.

If one is honest enough to set aside their presuppositions and let the NT authors speak for themselves then you will see most of them say nothing about Jesus being deity.

You can pretend that Jesus saying that his Father is the only true God is not explicit enough for you but your not being honest. That is called denial.

The reality is the NT authors continuously distinguish Jesus from God throughout their writings and the "orthodox" have to read their theology into the texts at the expense of a plain reading.

Kenny said...

"God raised Jesus from the dead....All orthodox Christians believe that. It does not follow that Jesus is not God."

When Jesus is distinguished from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and called his servant, IT DOES FOLLOW THAT JESUS IS NOT GOD.

Act 3:13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him.

Matthew said...

It's funny that Acts 3 is a prooftext against Jesus' divinity while Acts 3:15 calls Jesus "the author of life"

Matthew said...

Same goes for Philippians 2.
Every knee shall bow and confess that Jesus is Lord (even "God the Father" is in here!), while Isiah 45 says that every knee shall bow before God.

Christology can hardly climb any higher

Hail Crom said...

Matthew

The issue here is that you have a commitment to your beliefs over reality. You most likely commited to christianity before objectively weighing the evidence for christianity. I know this is true for most christians and was true for me when i was a Christian.

When your willing to be objective, to step out of your christian bubble, and objectively analyze the bible then your eyes will be opened to reality. The reality is jesus was not depicted as the supreme being in the bible, not even in john. There are at best a handfull of passages to argue for his deity which are a tiny minority compared to the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Scriptural hermeneutics says to read the few in light of the many, the implicit in light of the explicit, and the obscure passages in light of the plain. Trinitarians do the opposite.

A case in point is your last comment. I show you that Peter and John explicitly distinguish Jesus from the God of Israel and call him the servant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. You ignore this blatant text and then desperately try to use the next verse to cancel it out. A critical thinking person would not the clear, continous distinguishing of God from Jesus and seek to explain other passages in light of this fact.

So how is Jesus the author of life if he is not God? The answer to this and all trinitarian arguments is simple and clearly stated in your bible. Jesus isn't the author of their birth from their parents obviously. Peter said in the previous chapted that God raised and exalted Jesus and made him both Lord and Christ. Peter said Jesus received the promise of the holy spirit which he poured out on his disciples making them born again. Jesus has the power to give live by granting the holy spirit to those that accept him.

Thus Jesus is the author of life to those that are dead in sin, to give the holy spirit to others just as God gave it to him. It is rather obvious to anyone that knows the bible but your narrow thinking prevents you from seeing these simple facts.

Jesus is not God but he is still the author of life and firstborn from the dead.

Kenny Johnson said...

Hail Crom,

I know you were writing to Matthew, but I have to respond.

1) I actually came to belief in Christianity through searching. I read a lot. I came to accept Christianity through this searching. I found then and now that arguments against Chrisitianity are very weak.

2) You have to really twist the New Testament statements about Jesus to get anywhere close to your interpretation. Jesus in not just called the author of life (as in a new spiritual life), but author of the universe. John says all things were made by him and for him and that without him nothing that is made would be made. Colossians says that he created all things.

Jesus is not just the author of a new spiritual life. He is the author of EVERYTHING. Seeing that Gen 1 says that God created the universe, what are we to conclude? Especially considering the other passage where Jesus says he was pre-existent, that Paul says he is the image of God, and tons of other verses that attest to both his pre-existence and his divinity?

Team Durkin: Chris, Melissa and Ethan said...

Hail:

I would be careful about insinuating these people are narrow minded and you are the only one thinking objectively. You do not know their story. You do not know where they are coming from. Most of these people know your arguments, have read your books, and can provide a highly articulate and intelligent defense of their beliefs.

To suggest they are being narrow minded actually reveals your subjective bias. I will think about and weigh what you have wrote. If you are truly committed to objectivity as you say you.. I would suggest you give it some time and do the same.

J. R. Miller said...

Hi,

For anyone who had trouble finding the NPR quote about colbert's faith, I have posted it HERE along with the first Ehrman appearance from 2006.

Will said...

I love my Church, and I’m a Catholic who was raised by intellectuals, who were very devout. I was raised to believe that you could question the Church and still be a Catholic. What is worthy of satire is the misuse of religion for destructive or political gains. That’s totally different from the Word, the blood, the body and the Christ. His kingdom is not of this earth.

We’re, you know, very devout and, you know, I still go to church and, you know, my children are being raised in the Catholic Church. And I was actually my daughters’ catechist last year for First Communion, which was a great opportunity to speak very simply and plainly about your faith without anybody saying, ‘Yeah, but do you believe that stuff?’ which happens a lot in what I do.

I have a wife who loves me, and I am oddly normative. I go to church. I would say that there would be plenty of Catholics in the world who would think of me as not that observant, but for the world I move in professionally, I seem monastic.

-Steve Colbert, http://minorthoughts.com/humor/why-i-like-stephen-colbert/

If no one has mentioned this yet, this may be sufficient evidence for establishing his Christianity.

Brett R said...

Will,

Thanks for posting that quote. Yes, I would say that puts him in the confessing Christian category. Still, I think some of his satire is not appropriate, especially considering that his audience is mostly non-Christian, and the target of his jokes are often Christians.

Philip said...

Crom,

When you responded to my previous post, you repeatedly called me “Kenny.” We aren’t the same person.

You wrote:
“Funny how Jesus and this scribe are in complete agreement on the Jewish view of yahweh as a single individual using singular pronouns.”So what? Do you think that in a hypothetical Trinitarian version of Mark 12:32, the scribe would say: “You have well said that THEY ARE THREE and there are no others besides THEM”? Christians, like Jews (and Muslims), believe that there is exactly one God. Christians are monotheists, not tritheists.

YHWH is one God. The “singular pronouns” argument is about the most pathetic I’ve ever heard. Does Unitarianism really have nothing going for it except grasping at straws?

You wrote to Matthew:
“A critical thinking person would not [sic] the clear, continous [sic] distinguishing of God from Jesus and seek to explain other passages in light of this fact.”Here is the problem. Most critical thinking people see that Jesus is God in the New Testament.

As I’ve mentioned already, Jesus shares the honors (glory, worship, prayer, faith, fear, devotion, love) due to God, the attributes of God (pre-existent, eternal, immutable, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient), the names of God (God, Lord, King of kings, Savior, I AM, Alpha and Omega), in the deeds that God does (creating and sustaining all things, salvation, sending the Spirit, giving life, judging), and the seat of God’s throne (equality with God, ruling over all things). It is reasonable to conclude, based on the many, explicit, plain passages of Scripture, that Jesus is God in the NT.

The one the NT authors call “God,” “Lord,” and “Savior;” the one that they worship, pray to, have faith in; the one who is eternal, immutable, creator, and judge; the one who sits on God’s throne – that is, Jesus Christ – he is God.

Hail Crom said...

Philip

Trinitarians say that God is 1 what in 3 who's. They say God being multiple persons does not contradict that God is one substance. Therefore your god could of hypothetically been 3 million persons and still remained 1 god.

However now your suggesting that if plural pronouns are used like They and Them, this would imply tritheism. However that is not true according to trinitarian reasoning. If God can speak of terms in US and OUR, then surely God's people could have referred to their God (singular) as They and Them. This never happens throughout the bible which obviously indicates they believed their God was a single person which is what Jews believe to this very day.

It is Christians which sought to change the Jewish unitarian monotheism as the result of the gradual developing Christology which took places over the decades following the belief in the resurrection. You can call the pronoun argument pathetic but it is clear that your attempts to dismiss it are what is pathetic.

The deity of Christ is absent from Matthew, Mark, Luke and from most of John's gospel also. John at best supports the Arian Christology of a created/begotten lesser god that was used to create everything else

Unitarian monotheism is the default position and you cannot point to anywhere in your bible where Jesus or his disciples deliberately set out to explain the change to binitarianism or trinitarianism which is obviously an embarassing omission for you.

The disciples had to hold meetings and address the issues and controversies involved with changels to the law....how much more time and energy would that have needed to spend changing the very definition of God. The jews never accused the early christians of changing god which they clearlt would have had that been the case. Instead we nly see them accusing the christians of forsaking moses and circumcision.

Philip you have no idea how weak your case is. I used to be a Christian...i used to beleive Jesus was God. As a Christian who believed in the inerrancy of scripture i abandoned that view for the christian unitarian view because i saw how weak the trinitarian case was. I ultimately rejected christianity altogether when i finally bothered to look at the basic assumption all christians take for granted. That the bible is the inspired word of god.

Philip said...

Crom,

What I was trying to say about Mark 12:32 was: (1) Trinitarians have no reason to be embarrassed by the statement, “he is one, and there is no other besides him.” The statement is compatible with Christianity; it is neither an affirmation nor a denial of the Trinity. It is simply a foundational statement of monotheism. (2) My question about a hypothetical “Trinitarian version” of Mark 12:32 was not meant as rhetorical. Really, what do you think Mark 12:32 should say in a “Trinitarian version”?

You wrote:
“The deity of Christ is absent from Matthew, Mark, Luke and from most of John's gospel also. John at best supports the Arian Christology of a created/begotten lesser god that was used to create everything else”The deity of Christ is not as clear in the Synoptics as it is in John, but it is not absent. In Matthew 28:17-20, Jesus is worshiped, he has all authority in the universe, he is incorporated into the name of God (“name” is singular) -- God is named as “the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” -- Jesus is omnipresent and eternal (he will be with his followers everywhere and for all time).

What do you mean by “The deity of Christ is absent … from most of John’s gospel”? The deity of Christ is presented at the beginning, several times in the middle, and again at the end. That isn’t enough for you?

Where in John is Christ presented as “a created/begotten lesser god”? In John 1:1-3, the Word (the pre-incarnate Christ) is presented as being there “in the beginning” and as “God.” The passage also states that all created things were made through the Word. In John 8:58, Jesus uses the divine name “I am” for himself, echoing Deuteronomy 32:39 and Isaiah 41:4; 43:10, 25; 46:4; 51:12; 52:6. Jesus is claiming to not only have existed prior to Abraham, but to have existed eternally as YHWH. In John 10:30, Jesus claims that he is of the same essence as God the Father; Jesus is the same “thing” as God the Father, but not the same person. In John 20:28, Thomas calls Jesus, “My Lord and my God!”

Your idea that the word “begotten” (used in some translations) means that Jesus was “created” has no basis in reality.

Although the NT writers seem to present Jesus as God (they call him “God” and “Lord;” they worship him and pray to him; he is eternal, immutable, creator, and judge; he sits on God’s throne), you claim that they didn’t really mean that. In your view, who was the first person to both present Jesus as God and really mean it? (Again, this is not a rhetorical question.) Was it Ignatius of Antioch? Justin Martyr? Irenaeus? Clement of Alexandria? Tertullian? Do we have to wait until the Council of Nicea?

You wrote:
“Philip you have no idea how weak your case is.”Actually, my case is very strong. Again, my case is this:
Jesus shares the honors (glory, worship, prayer, faith, fear, devotion, love) due to God, the attributes of God (pre-existent, eternal, immutable, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient), the names of God (God, Lord, King of kings, Savior, I AM, Alpha and Omega), in the deeds that God does (creating and sustaining all things, salvation, sending the Spirit, giving life, judging), and the seat of God’s throne (equality with God, ruling over all things). It is reasonable to conclude, based on the many, explicit, plain passages of Scripture, that Jesus is God in the NT.

Your case is: God raised Jesus from the dead and God is one, and there is no other besides him. Therefore, Jesus is not God.

Could a “critical thinking person” (as you put it) really believe that your case is stronger than mine?

Hail Crom said...

Philip said...

"Really, what do you think Mark 12:32 should say in a “Trinitarian version”?"

Well Jesus would have corrected him and said "well you formally believed God was one individual but i am here to tell you that he is actually 3 co-equal and co-eternal persons sharing one divine substance/essence" Jesus never changed the jewish unitarian monotheism because he was a unitarian monotheist himself.

Philip said...

"The deity of Christ is not as clear in the Synoptics as it is in John, but it is not absent. In Matthew 28:17-20, Jesus is worshiped, he has all authority in the universe, he is incorporated into the name of God (“name” is singular) -- God is named as “the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” -- Jesus is omnipresent and eternal (he will be with his followers everywhere and for all time)."

The word "proskuneo" means literally to kiss towards and could mean worship, homage, reverence, etc. Your assuming he was being worshiped based on your presuppositions. Others would see Jesus being honored as the Messiah and heir to David's throne (acts 2:33-36). If David could receive "proskuneo" in the LXX than Jesus can also.

Jesus is given all authority in heaven and earth showing he is not God, he is also given a name above all names showing he is not God. Jesus is not eternal and omnipresent. Jesus said he lived because of the Father (John 6:57). You make all kinds of unfounded claims based on your assumptions.

Philip said...

"The deity of Christ is presented at the beginning, several times in the middle, and again at the end. That isn’t enough for you?"

Aside from the prologue, and the john 8:58 "i am" claim (which isn't a direct quote from the LXX) Jesus is depicted as dependent on and inferior to his God by his own words. You read into these statements your hypostatic union concoction. When Jesus said "I am" the bread of life, the light of the world, the door, the vine, the way truth and life, etc. It is clear he wasn't using the words as a divine name. He was using them in their normal usage. So why is John 8:58 a sudden reference to the divine name when they aren't even discussing Moses and the burning bush story. Jesus explicitly brings up the burning bush story in Mark 12 and makes no such claim. Stephen brings up the burning bush story in acts 7 and he also says nothing about Jesus being God or present then.

Philip said...

"Where in John is Christ presented as “a created/begotten lesser god”? In John 1:1-3, the Word (the pre-incarnate Christ) is presented as being there “in the beginning” and as “God.” The passage also states that all created things were made through the Word."

John 1:18 obviously. John 1:1 can be translated "a god" so capitalizing it doesnt help you. Yes the arians believed this 2nd being created everything after God created it. You have not refuted my point.

Philip said...

In John 10:30, Jesus claims that he is of the same essence as God the Father; Jesus is the same “thing” as God the Father,

This is a joke. Jesus backs away from being god just a couple verses later and says ...men were called gods so what is the big deal? Jesus can be called "god" just as moses, david, the judges, and others were.

Jesus being "one" with the Father has nothing to do with substance, where are you getting that from? He was speaking of unity in purpose and goals. This is clear by the way he uses that term elsewhere...

Joh 17:21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
Joh 17:22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,
Joh 17:23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

Note Jesus shares his glory with his disciples, i guess they are part of the godhead too. Yes Thomas called Jesus god but as shown in John 10:34-36, humans can be called by that title (see psalms 45 and 82). That didnt stop Jesus from saying his Father is the only true God though (john 17:3).

Philip said...

"Your idea that the word “begotten” (used in some translations) means that Jesus was “created” has no basis in reality."

Does it ever not mean created?

Philip said...

"Although the NT writers seem to present Jesus as God (they call him “God” and “Lord;” they worship him and pray to him; he is eternal, immutable, creator, and judge; he sits on God’s throne), you claim that they didn’t really mean that"

Jesus wasn't called God by Matthew, Mark or Luke and the word "lord/kurios" was used to translate many different Hebrew words. Can you show me where in the synoptics Jesus was called "lord" in sense of deity? Luke/Acts even says Jesus was MADE BOTH LORD AND CHRIST (acts 2:36). It cannot be proven that any New Testament author believed Jesus was the most high God, shared the same substance as God, or was the member of a trinity. This is all presumption and eisegesis.

Kenny Johnson said...

Hail,

I think your problem is that you want to try to interpret each verse on it's own, rather than considering these verses in their broader context. Sure, you can make an argument that Thomas wasn't really calling Jesus Almighty God if you are only considering that verse in a vacuum, but when you put everything together, it's seem terribly obvious to me that the NT does affirm Jesus' deity.

So your argument to explain away a specific verse would carry more weight if it weren't for the dozens of other verses that contradict your argument.

Also, you never answered Phillip. When did people first start believing Jesus was God?

Seamless Melody said...

LOL.

It's a duck!!!!
... and an elephant!

Hail Crom said...

Philip

It is my position that the many, plain, explicit passages distinguish Jesus from God and only a handful of ambiguis perhaps implicit passages are used to argue he is God (phi 2, john 1). Each argument used for his deity either is logically fallacious (e.g. jesus doing miracles, forgiving sins,) or comes short of making him of the same substance as the Father and therefore not coequal and coeternal.

When did people first believe Jesus was God in the way it exists today? That is a red herring and irelevant to what the Christology was in the NT. However it is clear that tertulian, origen and authors did not hold to the christology that exists today. Tertulian said the son was a created god and that there was a time when the father was not the father and there was no son.

Philip said...

Crom,

You wrote:
That is a red herring and irelevant to what the Christology was in the NT.It wasn’t meant as a red herring; I just want to know more about Unitarian mythology. Since in the NT Jesus shares the honors due to God, the attributes of God, the names of God, in the deeds that God does, and the seat of God’s throne, yet for a Unitarian these things in no way mean that Jesus is God, I wonder what a Church Father can say that would indicate to you that he really believed that Jesus is God (and wasn’t just kidding or careless with words).

You wrote:
Tertulian said the son was a created god and that there was a time when the father was not the father and there was no son.Could you please provide a citation of Tertullian so that everyone can know what passage you are talking about? (Presumably, you’re thinking of Against Hermogenes 3: “There was, however, a time when neither sin existed with Him, nor the Son; the former of which was to constitute the Lord a Judge, and the latter a Father.”) I think that you have allowed the few, implicit, and obscure passages to guide your understanding.

Tertullian, Apology 21: “He is the Son of God, and is called God from unity of substance with God. For God, too, is a Spirit. Even when the ray is shot from the sun, it is still part of the parent mass; the sun will still be in the ray, because it is a ray of the sun—there is no division of substance, but merely an extension. Thus Christ is Spirit of Spirit, and God of God, as light of light is kindled. … that which has come forth out of God is at once God and the Son of God, and the two are one. In this way also, as He is Spirit of Spirit and God of God, He is made a second in manner of existence—in position, not in nature; and He did not withdraw from the original source, but went forth. This ray of God, then, as it was always foretold in ancient times, descending into a certain virgin, and made flesh in her womb, is in His birth God and man united.”

Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul 41: “For God alone is without sin; and the only man without sin is Christ, since Christ is also God.”

Tertullian, Against Marcion 4.18: Jesus is “in truth the God and Christ of Israel.”

Tertullian, Against Praxeas 2: “there is one only God, but under the following dispensation, or oikonomia, as it is called, that this one only God has also a Son, His Word, who proceeded from Himself, by whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made. … As if in this way also one were not All, in that All are of One, by unity (that is) of substance; while the mystery of the dispensation is still guarded, which distributes the Unity into a Trinity, placing in their order the three Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: three, however, not in condition, but in degree; not in substance, but in form; not in power, but in aspect; yet of one substance, and of one condition, and of one power, inasmuch as He is one God, from whom these degrees and forms and aspects are reckoned, under the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

Tertullian, Against Praxeas 3: The Son and the Holy Spirit are “members of the Father’s own substance”

Tertullian, Against Praxeas 25: “These Three are one [unum] essence, not one [unus] Person, as it is said, ‘I and my Father are One,’ in respect of unity of substance not singularity of number.”

Tertullian, Against Praxeas 27: “But the truth is, we find that He is expressly set forth as both God and Man”

npmccallum said...

Crom, Philip, Kenny, et al

I think there is something rather large missing in your conversation. You have polarized on two opposites: 1. Christ is God or 2. Christ is not God. Those who claim that Christ is God argue that this is what the scripture teaches. The same is true of the opposite opinion.

Both are true. Christ is both God and not God.

The Nicene formula is phrased specifically to admit this paradox. There is "One God, the Father." "One God" is not distributed over the other two persons but is unique to the Father. Yet the Son is homoousias with the Father. Constantinople I adds, speaking of the Holy Spirit, "who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified."

The difficulty of Arius is that he sought the terminological simplicity of of a Platonic First Principle. This caused him to adopt as norm the principle of "the unbegotten cannot be begotten" thus "there was a time when Christ was not." It is this canon, rather than the canon of faith handed down by the Apostles through baptism, that for Arius normed his reading of the scriptures.

Thus, Arius does not represent the subtly of the scriptures, where Nicea-Constantinople does.

I do think Crom has one further major issue stacked against him, namely, there is no historical record of anyone, ever teaching anything near to what he is saying. The closest is a highly speculative reading of the Ebionites. The next closest is probably Arianism, which argues that Christ was the first of all creation, that is, a demi-God. The argument that Jesus is "merely human" is a modern argument that treats first century texts as 5th century theological treatises and then points out that they are "immature" theology compared to later writings. Duh! Even the "dumb" Irenaeus pointed that out while at the same time saying "So then the Father is Lord and the Son is Lord, and the Father is God and the Son is God; for that which is begotten of God is God. And so in the substance and power of His being there is shown forth one God; but there is also according to the economy of our redemption both Son and Father."

(For the Colbert debaters out there, notice that Colbert's "duck" argument is essentially Irenaeus'.)

Is Irenaeus "innovating"? No he is just commenting on the (purposeful) ambivalence of Scripture.

So I Was Thinking said...

As a former student of Ehrman (many, many years ago), I must say that was the first time I've ever seen him speechless. Brilliant guy, but "I am di-vine, you are di-branches?" GROAN!

Hail Crom said...

npmacculum said...

"I do think Crom has one further major issue stacked against him, namely, there is no historical record of anyone, ever teaching anything near to what he is saying."

My comments are all logically deduced from the NT passages and do not require extra-biblical terms. The trinitarian "orthodoxy" is based on all kinds of extra-biblical creeds (nicene,athanasius)and commentaries (church fathers), and councils, and confessions.

The deity of christ as in being of equal "substance/essence" as the Father is not found anywhere in the bible. The bible does however repeatedly and explicitly distinguish Jesus from God time and time again (e.g. john 17:3, acts 3:13, 5:30). Since the arguments used to imply jesus is God (miracles, forgiving sins, receiving homage/worship, being called by god and lord) all can be explained in a unitarian sense the trinitarian explanation is unnecessary at best. The explanation is called legal agency. Just as the post-exile jews attributed similar abilites and attributes to Enoch, Joseph, and Moses without making them into the same substance as God. T

The deity of Christ is absent from the synoptics and at best Paul began the process of turning Jesus into another divinized hero like the patriarchs were. However Paul still repeatedly distinguished Jesus from God.

npmacculum said...

"The Nicene formula is phrased specifically to admit this paradox. There is "One God, the Father." "One God" is not distributed over the other two persons but is unique to the Father. Yet the Son is homoousias with the Father. Constantinople I adds, speaking of the Holy Spirit, "who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified."

If there is "one God" and that one God refers to the Father, then perhaps there is a better explanation for what needs to be explained regarding the Son. That explanation is legal agency. The bible explicitly states Jesus was appointed, anointed, ordained, predestined, given, sent, and exalted by his God. He was given the holy spirit (acts 2:33), made lord and christ (acts 2:36), exalted by God (phi 2:9-11), anointed with the holy spirit and power (acts 10:38), sent (1john 4:14), etc.

No trinitarian/deity of christ explanation is necessary.

The pagan converts took the developed/embellished jesus mythology they were presented with (exalted hero/patriarch) and took the small step of turning that into his divinity/deity.

If you read Larry Hurtado's book one God, one Lord you will see Enoch, Moses, and Joseph spoken of in Jewish writings in terms like...

"angel of God, ruling spirit...firstborn of every living thing"

"descended to earth..tabernacled among men"

"the archangel of the power of the lord and the chief captain among the sons of god"

"son of man"

"elect one"

"learned everything on earth and in the heavens"

"reveal all of the treasures of that which is secret"

"lesser yhwh"

"equal in glory to the holy ones"

"chosen..appointed from the beginning of the world"

"greater throne"

"judge and lead mortals"

"gave into his hands the whole world as a portion well fitted for his heir"

"each element obeyed him as its master"

Sound familiar?

npmccallum said...

Crom, as I said before, you, like Arius, are reading the scriptures with a different canon of faith than that which was received by an apostolic baptism (namely a Trinitarian baptism). The context for the scriptures is the worship of the Church.

You said "My comments are all logically deduced from the NT passages and do not require extra-biblical terms." This is a very modernistic reading of the scriptures where the scriptures are merely a set of hypotheses to be deduced logically. As I said before, this is a *modern* reading of the scriptures, one which has *no* support in early Christianity. If what you are arguing for is as provable as you suggest it is, why did *all* the early Christians miss it? Isn't it likely that they have a liturgical context to the scriptures that you do not? In any case, your reading is a modern one and is foreign to early Christianity.

Unfortunately, you attribute the divinity of Christ to pagan superstition. Yet this is entirely foreign to the pagan mind. It is paganism, namely platonism, that requires Jesus to be a created being so as not to encroach on the simplicity of the First Principle.

Regarding your list of titles, these titles are intentional to show that Jesus is a type of Enoch, Moses and Joseph. This is a standard mode of biblical interpretation pointing out that Christ is the saviour. Using them to argue for the lack of divinity in Christ is a serious misunderstanding at best.

My point still stands, Nicea-Constantinople best reflects the subtlety of language in the scriptures read in the context of the Church. In particular, it is a reading not normed by pagan principles such as Arianism.