Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Do You Reject Trinitarianism?
Part II: Holy Spirit and the Virgin Birth


How did Mary become pregnant?

According to Matthew 1:18 and Luke 1:35, Mary became pregnant by holy spirit. These read:
Luke 1:35 - The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. (NASB) (Note how "Holy Spirit" is in parallel with and equivalent to "power of the Most High.")

Matthew 1:18 - before they came together she was found to be [pregnant] by the Holy Spirit. (NASB, this has "with child" in place of "pregnant")

One source truthfully states:
"The gospels of Matthew (Matthew 1:18) and Luke [1:35] say that Mary was a virgin and that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. These gospels, later tradition and current doctrine present Jesus' conception as a miracle involving no natural father, no sexual intercourse, and no male seed in any form, but instead brought about by the Holy Spirit."[1]
According to Trinitarianism, the holy spirit is a person of the Godhead (specifically the third person), and therefore is God.[2]

Let's plug Trinitarian language into Matthew 1:18 and Luke 1:35, and see what we have (this is how Trinitarianism reads them):
Luke 1:35 - The angel answered and said to her, "God will come upon you, and God will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.

Matthew 1:18 - before they came together she was found to be pregnant by God.
If the holy spirit is God, then logically did Mary have sex with God?

It sure sounds like Trinitarianism unwittingly teaches that God had sex with Mary. Doesn't it look like that? It looks like a sexual union of an alien person with a human female, giving the holy spirit the role of an incubus.

If Trinitarianism responds saying that the Holy Spirit Person of God (God the Holy Spirit) used power to make Mary pregnant, then how is that any different from the holy spirit being a spiritual energy, an active force from God fulfilling God's purposes?

As discussed in Part I, Trinitarianism unwittingly denies two crucial Christian truths: the ransom and the divinity of Christ. It also appears that Trinitarianism unwittingly denies another crucial Christian truth, the virgin birth.

Trinitarianism unwittingly denies:
  • Christ's ransom
  • Christ's deity
  • Christ's virgin birth
  • Christ
But there is something else to ponder. If the third person of the Godhead, the holy spirit, begot Jesus, then why is the first person of the Godhead, the Father, the father? Should it not logically be the holy spirit person? That it's not Jesus' father is another devastating yet ignored dilemma for Trinitarianism.[3]

In conclusion, while it is true that the Bible calls the holy spirit God's "hand" and "fingers" (Psalm 8:3; 19:1; Luke 11:20), it also calls it God's "breath" (Genesis 1:2; Psalm 33:6; Exodus 15:8, 9). Thus, "like a powerful breath, God's spirit can be sent forth to exert power even though there is no bodily contact with that which is acted upon."[4] Therefore, Mary is only an honest virgin if the holy spirit is an impersonal utilitarian divine energy, making her pregnant without bodily contact.

Addendum
Acts 5:3-4 as a proof-text for Trinitarian Personhood
This scripture says:
Then Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the proceeds from the field? Wasn’t it yours while you possessed it? And after it was sold, wasn’t it at your disposal? Why is it that you planned this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God!” (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Here the holy spirit and God are seen to be referenced in parallel. However, all this could mean is that the holy spirit is God's emanation representing Him in the Christian congregation. It clearly does not demand that it can only mean that the holy spirit is synonymous with God and therefore is the third person of the impersonal Trinitarian Godhead. Demanding that it can only mean that is unreasonable and delusional, as in the “strong delusion” Christians are warned against at 2 Thessalonians 2:11. (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Additionally, Paul at Romans 8:11 said it was God’s spirit that resurrected Jesus, and at Ephesians 1:19-20 he said it was God’s power that resurrected Jesus. Thus he appears to have called God’s holy spirit God’s power, which is similar to what the Gospels present. In the account at Matthew 12:28, Jesus used the phrase “God’s spirit,” but in the parallel account at Luke 11:20, Jesus said “God’s finger.” Thus the Gospels present God’s holy spirit as God’s power. Holy spirit is also listed together with inanimate qualities, like faith in Acts 6:5 and 11:24 and joy in Acts 13:52. Clearly, faith and joy do not share the impersonal Godhead as persons with the holy spirit. Compare with a longer list of qualities seen in 2 Corinthians 6:6. Thus, the term “holy spirit” is used in a variety of ways that must all be taken together when determining its meaning. Therefore, the Trinitarian handling of Acts 5:3-4 can only be described as irresponsible and encouraging the grave sins of scriptural illiteracy and intellectual absenteeism.



Footnotes:
[1] "Virgin birth of Jesus." Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_birth_of_Jesus

[2] Trinitarian website: "The Person The Holy Spirit and prayer." http://www.thesanctuarychurch.us/holy_spirit.html
Also the source for the holy spirit graphic (the fiery dove) seen here.

[3] "Just who is baby Jesus' Father?" The Trinity Delusion: http://youtu.be/q8EM9IAv78A. I imagine a Trinitarian response to this reasoning could be that 'Jesus was speaking in behalf of his divine nature when referring to his divine father as the Father, and speaking in behalf of his human nature when saying the Father is greater than he is.' The problem with this response is that it is ad hoc and unwittingly applies personhood to nature. As Jesus was speaking as a person, not as one of his Trinitarian-assigned natures, this hypothetical Trinitarian response is refuted.

[4] "Spirit." Insight on the Scriptures Vol. 2, page 1020.


Credits:
The image of Mary is from the children's book My Book of Bible Stories, Story 84, "An Angel Visits Mary." Regardless of its target age-group, this article is excellent and may be read here: http://www.jw.org/en/publications/books/bible-stories/part-6-birth-of-jesus-to-his-death/story-84-an-angel-visits-mary/

Link to Part I


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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Do You Reject Trinitarianism?

For starters, here are reasons why I do:
1) It unwittingly presents an invalid soteriology, as its Jesus did not offer what Adam lost. Adam lost perfect life on earth. The Trinitarian God-man Jesus by definition could not offer a ransom that corresponded to that, for Adam was not a God-man, but a perfect man. (1 Timothy 2:5, 6; 1 Corinthians 15:45) In order for Jesus to buy back what Adam lost, he would (in order to be the true ransomer by definition) have to be a perfect man himself, nothing more, nothing less—in accords with the Mosaic Law. (Refer to Figure 1.)

Figure 1
From You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth (1982) page 63.
According to divine justice as expressed in the Mosaic Law, soul was to be given for soul. (Exodus 21:23; Leviticus 24:18) Since Adam was created as a sinless soul, another sinless soul had to be given in exchange as a ransom: this ransomer would have to correspond to Adam by being a sinless man. Therefore, the Apostle Paul at 1 Timothy 2:6 used the word literally meaning “corresponding ransom,” ἀντίλυτρον; antilutron.[1] The ransomer would have to voluntarily surrender what Adam lost by his disobedience in Eden, perfect human life. Nothing more, nothing less is required to avoid upsetting the soteriological balance. (Romans 5:14, 17) Thus, it was Jesus as the second and last Adam who emptied himself of divine glory (Philippians 2:7) to become what Adam lost: a sinless, perfect human life. (1 Corinthians 15:45) This, his sinless perfect human life, he voluntarily surrendered and sacrificed.

Trinitarianism, in contrast, teaches that Jesus did not fully or really die, as his “divine nature did not die,” only his “properties of divinity” with his human body died.[2] To restate: by being God Almighty, Jesus could not, by definition, fully die. Thus, Trinitarianism teaches that Jesus did not have to fully sacrifice his life. Regarding this, consider the conversation Jesus had with Peter recorded at Matthew 16:21-23 and at Mark 8:31-33. Here, Jesus made it very clear that he would be killed. But Peter rebuked him, saying: “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” (Matthew 16:22, NASB) Here, Trinitarianism appears to agree with Peter’s rebuke. But Jesus called such reasoning satanic, and thoughts of men alienated from God.

2) It violates the laws of physics that the Bible agrees with: the Trinitarian Jesus is “fully man” in the divine realm. As one Trinitarian put it: “Jesus continues to be fully God and fully human—now God in glorified human flesh.”[3] Yet, Jesus said that he is not from our world, that he comes from a transcendent realm (τῶν ἄνω; twn anw), a realm “above” our “lower” realm (τῶν κάτω; twn katw) where our physical bodies cannot enter. (John 8:21, 23) Additionally, there is Jesus’ contrast at Matthew 16:17, where he contrasts “flesh and blood” with his “Father who is in the heavens,” and 1 Corinthians 15:50, where Paul said that “flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom, neither does corruption inherit incorruption.” “Flesh and blood” is human nature,[4] and it can only exist on earth or in earthly conditions. (See also Psalm 115:16, which confirms the above reasoning that humankind, people of “flesh and blood,” can only live on earth, not in the spirit realm.) Thus, Trinitarianism is at odds with the laws of physics and contradicts Jesus and Paul. It makes Jesus into a fool for retaining his physical, human body and taking it to a place where he said it by definition cannot exist. To assert that Jesus retained his physical human body would be to contradict his earlier teaching in John 8:21, 23. It would also introduce an absurdity and an abstraction, like a two-dimensional being ascending to three-dimensional space and retaining his two-dimensional body. It is absurd and impossible.

3) It turns Jesus’ divinity into an abstraction. He is the second person of the Godhead, yet he is also “fully human” in the divine realm where Jesus and Paul said human flesh cannot exist, harmonizing with the laws of physics. This is the Hypostatic Union doctrine, which says Jesus is fully man and fully divine. This is like someone being fully two-dimensional and fully three-dimensional. It is impossible and absurd.

Trinitarianism teaches that Jesus is God, but his co-equal Father is also God, and so is the Holy Spirit. It therefore unwittingly denies the divinity of Christ, for it cannot be an abstraction. By making it an abstraction, and an absurdity, it is unwittingly denied, for absurdities are self-refuting and abstractions cannot exist.

Furthermore, merely saying that Jesus’ humanity does not diminish his divinity is prestidigitation, for it certainly does! Take for example a hypostatic union of a fish-bird. Would his fishyness diminish his birdyness, and vice versa? Absolutely!

4) Trinitarianism ignores the Bible teaching of agency. An example of the Bible teaching of agency is the account of Jacob wrestling with an angel in Genesis 32:24-30, and noted in Hosea 12:3, 4. He wrestled with an angel, but it is also said that he wrestled with God face to face. These descriptions are harmonized by the angel representing God Himself. Thus, when Thomas famously declared to the resurrected Jesus “My Lord and my God!”, it can be said that he was speaking in the same sense as Jacob calling the angel God. Jesus represented God like Jacob’s angel. Another example of the Bible teaching of agency is found in Exodus 23:21, where an angel was called Jehovah God. Thus, Jesus is God in the same sense that the angel in Exodus 23:21 was Jehovah God:
Exodus 23:21 in the NWT-Ref reads: Watch yourself because of him and obey his voice. Do not behave rebelliously against him, for he will not pardon YOUR transgression; because my name is within him. [Footnote: That is, the “angel” as Jehovah’s representative, to act in his name.]

Exodus 23:21 in the NET Bible reads: Take heed because of him, and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in him.
[The footnote on “name” says in part: “Driver quotes McNeile as saying, ‘The “angel” is Jehovah Himself “in a temporary descent to visibility for a special purpose.”’”]
As Jesus represented his Father and came in his Father’s name (John 5:43; 8:29), it could be said that Jesus is Jehovah God Himself in a temporary descent to visibility for a special purpose. Again, perhaps this is why Thomas declared “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) It is through the Bible teaching of agency that he is God, for John recorded Thomas’ exclamation “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God,” not literally God himself. (John 20:31)

Thus, the angel of the Exodus was Jehovah representationally, not literally or ontologically. The same with Jesus. He is Lord “to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:11) He honors his God and says “my God” four times as a resurrected being in Revelation 3:12. How Jesus represents God is seen in one of his messianic designations, Immanuel, “With us is God.” This name was also the name of a son in Isaiah’s day, perhaps his own son, and he certainly was not God. (Isaiah 8:18) Yet, Jesus fulfills the full meaning of Immanuel by representing God. As he said in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” Since Trinitarianism does not teach that Jesus and his Father are one person, but two distinct (not separate) persons,[5] Trinitarianism must concede that this declaration does nothing to explain the Trinity.[6] Additionally, the same word for “one” is also used in John 17:21 for Jesus’ disciples. In fact, Jesus himself taught his apostle Philip that he represents his Father and God Jehovah in John 14:9: “He that has seen me has seen the Father.” Jesus so perfectly reflects the personality of his Father that living with and observing him is, in effect, like actually seeing the Father. Yet, the Father is superior to the Son, as Jesus acknowledges in the next verse: “The things I say to you men I do not speak of my own originality.” Jesus properly gives all credit for his teachings to his heavenly Father.[7]

5) Trinitarianism ignores that Jesus is a man experientially, not ontologically. That is why Paul could say in 1 Timothy 2:5 that Jesus is “a man,” but in Galatians 1:1 say that he is ‘not a man.’ Jesus is a man due to his experience of being such on earth, but he does not exist as a man now.

6) Trinitarianism fails to understand that Jesus being “a god” (John 1:1, NWT) alongside his God (Revelation 3:12) is not polytheism but monolatrism, which is Biblical monotheism. It also fails to understand, or include in its theological cognizance, that angels are supernatural beings, therefore by definition they are gods. (Psalm 8:5; Hebrews 2:7) Yet, Christians do not worship these lesser deities but worship the Father, Almighty God. (John 17:1-5)

7) Trinitarianism fails to understand that God is the source of salvation. Jehovah God is the only Savior (Isaiah 43:11), yet Judges in Israel were saviors, sent by Jehovah the Savior. (Judges 2:16; 3:15) Jesus is our savior, sent by Jehovah the Savior. Jehovah God is the Source of Salvation who sends saviors. Jesus is the final savior sent by the Prime Savior.

Indeed, by way of contrast, Jehovah’s Witnesses affirm and openly declare Jesus’ divinity and lordship to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:11) It’s that simple.

(Notice: all definitions of Trinitarianism have come from Trinitarians. I have not referred to Jehovah’s Witnesses or The Watchtower for my beliefs.)

Footnotes:
[1] See also the Concordant Version, which translates antilutron as “correspondent Ransom.” http://www.concordant.org/version/NewFiles/15_FirstTimothy.htm Additionally, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words under “Ransom” calls the ‘anti’ preposition “significant.”

[2] Slick, Matt. “The Trinity, the Hypostatic Union, and the Communicatio Idiomatum.”
http://carm.org/christianity/christian-doctrine/trinity-hypostatic-union-and-communicatio-idiomatum Notice it is also claimed that “the person of Jesus died.” However, both Trinitarianism and that same article teaches the opposite, that the person of Jesus is divine and thus did not die, it was the “properties of divinity” with his human body that died. This oversight alone wreaks havoc with their credibility.

[3] “The Dual Nature of Jesus Christ.” http://www.gci.org/Jesus/dualnature

[4] See for instance Adam Clarke’s Commentary, which states:
This is a Hebrew periphrasis for man, and man in his present state of infirmity and decay. Man, in his present state, cannot inherit the kingdom of God; his nature is not suited to that place; he could not, in his present weak state, endure an exceeding great and eternal weight of glory. Therefore, it is necessary that he should die, or be changed; that he should have a celestial body suited to the celestial state. The apostle is certainly not speaking of flesh and blood in a moral sense, to signify corruption of mind and heart; but in a natural sense; as such, flesh and blood cannot inherit glory, for the reasons already assigned. http://www.studylight.org/com/acc/view.cgi?book=1co&chapter=015
[5] “The three persons of the Trinity are distinct, yet not divided (distincti non divisi), different yet not separate or independent of each other (discreti non separati).” McGrath, Alister. Christian Theology: An Introduction. Blackwell Publishing. Oxford. 2007. Page 250. http://books.google.com/books?id=tHlY94UWi3UC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA250#v=snippet&q=distincti%20non%20divisi&f=false

Additionally, Trinitarian apologist Matt Slick explains regarding them: “They are not three separate gods and are not three separate beings. They are three distinct persons; yet, they are all the one God.” (Italics added) “The Trinity, the Hypostatic Union, and the Communicatio Idiomatum.” (http://carm.org/christianity/christian-doctrine/trinity-hypostatic-union-and-communicatio-idiomatum) And Trinitarian Kenneth Samples declares that “God is three distinct persons.” (See “What a tangled web we weave” [http://jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2010/04/what-tangled-web-we-weave.html].)
For another example, see the video “The Trinity Defined and Refuted (Part 1 of 7)” (1:10-1:27) by Sean Finnegan. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlFZ9tz0MRA

Trinitarianism appears to be divided on this issue of separate and distinct or distinct only. See “Are the Persons of the Trinity separate and distinct or distinct only?http://jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2011/01/are-persons-of-trinity-separate-and.html

[6] The NET Bible footnote for “one,” while promoting Trinitarianism, says: “the assertion is not that Jesus and the Father are one person, but one ‘thing.’ Identity of the two persons is not what is asserted, but essential unity.” While this quoted portion of the footnote is essentially correct (aside from subtly implying that God is an abstract “thing” instead of a person), it is framed in Trinitarian application, for it qualifies their unity as “(unity of essence).” This is a baseless Trinitarian interpretation that fails to take into account the Christian teaching that Jesus was born from a human woman, therefore Jesus was emphatically not the same essence as God his Father. Far from having “trinitarian implications” as the footnote claims, John 10:30 merely shows that Jesus represents his God, and more clearly has agency implications as seen previously in Exodus 23:21 and discussed in point number 4 above. (See “Jesus: a Spirit Born on Earthhttp://jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2011/02/jesus-spirit-born-on-earth-jesus-was.html)

[7] Starting with “Jesus so perfectly…” taken from The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived. Ch. 116. (Used not as an authority on my beliefs, but for its simplicity of expression.)

Bibles used:
  • New World Translation with References
  • New English Translation
  • New American Standard Bible
(A less comprehensive version of this was posted on Yahoo! Answers, but was deleted since some Trinitarians were offended and complained about it. This version is preserved here.)

Introductory Trinitarian diagrams and descriptive artwork are, from left to right:

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