"Unity without verity is no better than conspiracy." - John Trapp

Monday, July 17, 2006

Questions on the Godhead - Part 5

Well, after a break it's time to resume our look at the UPCI's "60 Questions on the Godhead" which I have been reviewing for a couple of weeks now. I want to pick up some of the points that I have skipped over previously and get through point 29. Seeing that I've already covered Questions 52 and 53, this will put us over the half-way point in the review.

Question 16. When God said, "Let us make man in our image" (Genesis 1:26), was He speaking to another person in the Godhead? No. Isaiah 44:24; Malachi 2:10.

The two passages sited to declare that Genesis 1:26 could not have the Trinity in view merely assert that the one true God is the creator. Trinitarians are in whole hearted agreement with these verses, and acknowledge that God alone is creator. However, given the limited revelation of the Trinity within the Old Testament, we do not expect a detailed discourse in Isaiah about how the Son created everything through the Spirit in accordance with the plan of the Father.

Genesis 1:26, however, clearly uses a plural noun for God, and the plural "us". There are three options for those who would take this passage as monotheistic. The first is that God is speaking in royal terms. This is popular in some circles, but probably was not a common practice when Genesis was written. Second, it is possible that God is referring to the angelic host who are with Him when He says "us". The major problem of this view is that it does not address the plural "Elohim" used for God. The third and final option is that this is an early revelation of the Trinity. Obviously, not much detail is given except that at lease two divine persons are at work in creation. It would be much later in revelation history before what the plurals signify would be explained.

Question 17. How many of God's qualities were in Christ? All. Colossians 2:9.

Question 18. How may we see the God who sent Jesus into the world? By seeing Jesus. John 12:44-45; 14:9.

Question 19. Does the Bible say that Jesus is the Almighty? Yes. Revelation 1:8

Worth remembering (sometimes I forget) that this document is probably meant to protect the UPCI from those that would claim Jesus is not God. In that regard, I see about three types of questions within the 60 Questions. (1) Questions that attack the Trinitarian view of God. These questions are the focus of my posts; (2) Questions that are "set up" questions for type (1) questions. These questions are meant to be affirmed, and then supposedly lock the respondant into agreement with a Oneness view of God a question or two later. I have dealt with a few of these already; and (3) Questions like these three that aim to establish the deity of Christ against those that would claim He was less than fully God. These questions Trinitarians can affirm without reservation as they would appear to be aimed at refuting beliefs held by groups such as the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Question 24. Did Jesus tell Satan that God alone should be worshipped? Yes. Matthew 4:10

Question 25. Does the devil believe in more than one God? No. James 2:19.

There is nothing here really objectionable to Trinitarianism. I suppose that the UPCI might think this could be used against Trinitarianism, since they try to make us out to be polytheists. But the Trinitarian assertion is that there is only one God, but that the one God exists in three persons. Therefore, God alone is to be worshipped, but this says nothing about whether God exists as a single person who reveals Himself as three manifestations (the UPCI view) or whether God exists as three persons.

Question 26. Does the Bible say that God, who is the Word, was made flesh? Yes John 1:1, 14.

Question 27. For what purpose was God manifested in the flesh? To save sinners. Hebrews 2:9, 14.

Question 28. Was Jesus God manifested in the flesh? Yes. I Timothy 3:16.

Question 29. Could Jesus have been on earth and in heaven at the same time? Yes. John 3:13.

Question 26 is the only mention of John 1:1 in the "60 Questions" which is, as I noted elsewhere, strange given its profound significance on the relationship of the Godhead. But it is not discussed because it clearly teaches a distinction in the Godhead, the Word "being with God" and the Word "being God". The question in as far as it goes with the verse is correct. John tells us that this Word became flesh and dwelt among us, a clear reference to Jesus.

Likewise, per question 27, this occurred to for the salvation of sinners. Question 28, I assume, is meant to mean that Jesus is only a manifestion of God in fleshly form, when in fact He is God the Son who has taken on human form. To read a fuller explanation from Paul on this, study Philippians 2:5-11.

"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." (ESV)

Notice that according to the UPCI, one "manifestation" did not count equality with another "manifestation" something to be grasped. Again, this only makes sense if we see the Father and the Son not as manifestations, but as persons.

Question 29 is based on a problem verse, where the key phrase to prove the answer to the question is not in the best manuscripts. The best manuscripts for John 3:13 read, "No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man." (ESV) The KJV rendering includes "which is in heaven" at the end of the verse. Even if the KJV has the correct rendering, Trinitarians affirm that the divine nature, which is omnipresent, dwells fully in Jesus.

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