Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A startling admission on Trinitarianism

A leading Trinitarian philosopher and analytic theologian, Dr. Richard Swinburne, made a fascinating yet startling admission about Trinitarian theology, that it ‘cannot be derived from the New Testament’:

It seems to me, although I shall not argue it here, that even if you regard the New Testament as an infallible source of doctrine, you cannot derive from it a doctrine of the Trinity. Although there are many passages in the New Testament which speak of Christ as divine, and passages which speak of the Spirit of God, or of Christ and of the Comforter, there are non-Trinitarian ways of interpreting these later passages, which are just as possible as interpreting them as expressing the doctrine that the Holy Spirit is a divine person, and so entailing a doctrine of the Trinity. I shall not argue this here, that this is not in the New Testament, but it seems to me that it isn’t.

So unless Christians today either recognize some good a priori argument for a doctrine of the Trinity, or unless they consider that the facts that the subsequent church taught a doctrine of the Trinity, is a significant reason for interpreting the passages in a Trinitarian way—unless they’ve either got an a priori argument or they believe the church’s authority, it seems to me that most Christians today would not be justified in believing that doctrine. Those who do recognize the church’s authority to teach normally regard the Nicene Creed, promulgated by the First Council at Constantinople, as the first binding authoritative statement from which a doctrine of the Trinity can be derived.[1]
[End quote]

He issued these statements, that Trinitarianism is not in the New Testament per se but is first derived from the Ecumenical Councils centuries after the New Testament Canon was closed, in Professor Dale Tuggy’s Podcast 231 – Swinburne’s Social Theory of the Trinity, which I heartily recommend: trinities.org/blog/podcast-231-swinburnes-social-theory-of-the-trinity/

But how can the highly esteemed Theologian get away with saying that? Dale explains how in a cleverly facetious manner in his next podcast #232 – Trinity Club Orientation trinities.org/blog/podcast-232-trinity-club-orientation/. He can get away with saying that because he’s a card-carrying Trinitarian, that’s how.

Lastly, Dale reported on another Trinitarian theologian who made other similar and related comments on his Trinitarian theology, that it is not in the scriptures, which I have presented here:
A theology in crisis? jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2017/12/a-theology-in-crisis.html

Additionally, Dr. Craig has also gone on record as saying that the Trinity is “beyond the Bible.” See: Does Dr. Craig Have an Orthodox Christology? jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2017/07/does-dr-craig-have-orthodox-christology.html

[1] Transcribed by Mark Cain as seen here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/trinities/permalink/2039459139707375/?comment_id=2040331569620132&comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22R8%22%7D

See also:


Monday, June 25, 2018

Not all is well in Russia

Can a corrupt throne be your ally, a throne that makes evil laws? They band together against the life of the righteous and condemn the innocent to death.

Psalm 94:20-21, Christian Standard Bible

I can only offer my full spiritual and emotional support to my dear friends, my brothers and sisters in Russia.

Information on the tragic condition in Russia, on the corruption of its police force, transforming it into a criminal gang of thieves and thugs against its own law-abiding citizens, is repeatedly reported on in the news media around the world, and is seen here in official reports:


In the Russian language: https://jw-russia.org/

The introductory picture is found here:
Campaign of Terror Begins for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia

The entire judicial system in Russia has descended into the anarchy of a kangaroo court, where trumped-up charges trump justice.

Regarding crooked judges, the Easy-to-Read Version presents the above Psalm as saying:
They use the law to make life hard for the people. They attack those who do right. They say innocent people are guilty and put them to death.
Lastly, the New Living Translation presents it as saying:
Can unjust leaders claim that God is on their side—leaders whose decrees permit injustice? They gang up against the righteous and condemn the innocent to death.
Russia is committing horrible and libelous crimes against its own tax-paying citizens, ganging-up on a minority Christian congregation to steal valuable property and personal electronics. While this unjustified persecution is criminal, it has not resulted in executions as that Psalm states, and I certainly hope it never does! However, being imprisoned and robbed of valuables can seem like death!

Please see this video: How Did Jehovah’s Witnesses Come to Be Labelled as ‘Extremists’ in Russia? https://youtu.be/8C_XP74ZizQ

Additionally, I want to remind my Russian friends of the divine decree in Zechariah 2:8, which I have cast into this graphic:


Monday, June 18, 2018

Moses’ Example

There are a number of times in the Scriptures where Moses is presented as being a good example to imitate.

One is in 2 Corinthians 3:15-16, which reads: “In fact, to this day whenever Moses [the Pentateuch] is read [in the Synagogue], a veil lies upon their hearts. 16 But when one turns to Jehovah, the veil is taken away.”

The NET Bible offers two enlightening footnotes here for verse 16. For “one,” it states:
Or perhaps “when(ever) he turns,” referring to Moses.
At the end of the verse, its footnote says:
An allusion to Exod 34:34. The entire verse may refer to Moses, viewing him as a type portraying the Jewish convert to Christianity in Paul’s day.
This makes a lot of sense, for Exodus 34:34 says: “But when Moses would go in before Jehovah to speak with him, he would take off the veil until he went out.” The application being that, the convert to Christianity can now act like Moses and remove the veil by studying the scriptures and seeing their fulfillment in Jesus Christ, seeing God’s glory as reflected by him.

Moses also provided an example of pleading before God at Numbers 12:13, in this case to heal Miriam from being stricken with leprosy. It says: “And Moses began to cry out to Jehovah, saying: ‘O God, please heal her! Please!’” (RNWT) This is quite a bit different than how the NET Bible presents it: “Heal her now, O God.” This is more like a dry, sterilized command to God to do his bidding. However, one scholar explains that:
In translation, it sounds straightforward. But in the original Hebrew what Moses actually said was, El Na Refah Na La -אֵל נָא רְפָא נָא לָהּ.

This five-word phrase has perfect symmetry. The central word Refah means “heal”. It is surrounded on both sides with the word Na, meaning “please”. The two outermost words are El (“God”) and La (her”), both containing the sound “L”. This short phrase has poetic symmetry, where the repetition of the word “please” strengthens Moses’ prayer.[1] (underline added)
So I’m afraid the New Word Translation enjoys superiority over the NET Bible, and any other translation similar to it here. Moses at Numbers 12:13 presents a good example to emulate in prayer, not forgetting to season your petitions with politeness and proper etiquette even if feeling desperate.

[1] Moses’ holiest prayer.
Also the source for the opening graphic.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Ironic Ignorance

As the saying goes, “ignorance is bliss.” As seen here though, ignorance is ironic.

John 7 reveals some remarkable ignorance of the Scriptures among Jesus’ skeptics and enemies. Case in point: at John 7:41 “some were saying: ‘The Christ is not coming out of Galilee, is he?’” Here, the skeptics were ignorant of Isaiah 9:1-2 which specifically mentions Galilee in connection with a “great light.” Certainly it takes no great imagination to see that this could pass for the Messiah.[1] Then, at John 7:52 the Pharisees sneered: “You are not also out of Galilee, are you? Search and see that no prophet is to be raised up out of Galilee.” In saying this, they expressed ignorance that the prophet Jonah[2] hailed from Galilee as expressed in Jeremiah’s book 2 Kings 14:25. They also revealed ignorance of the messianic import of Isaiah 9:1-2.

In this, the NET Bible concurs in a footnote:
This claim by the leaders presents some difficulty, because Jonah had been from Gath Hepher, in Galilee (2 Kgs 14:25). Also the Babylonian Talmud later stated, “There was not a tribe in Israel from which there did not come prophets” (b. Sukkah 27b). Two explanations are possible: (1) In the heat of anger the members of the Sanhedrin overlooked the facts (this is perhaps the easiest explanation). (2) This anarthrous noun is to be understood as a reference to the prophet of Deut 18:15 (note the reading of P66 which is articular), by this time an eschatological figure in popular belief. This would produce in the text of John’s Gospel a high sense of irony indeed, since the religious authorities by their insistence that “the Prophet” could not come from Galilee displayed their true ignorance of where Jesus came from on two levels at once (Bethlehem, his birthplace, the fulfillment of Mic 5:2, but also heaven, from which he was sent by the Father). The author does not even bother to refute the false attestation of Jesus’ place of birth as Galilee (presumably Christians knew all too well where Jesus came from). [emphasis original]
This multilayered ignorance reveals just how unprepared Jesus’ contemporaries were. This is especially ironic considering that not all Jews were this unaware of their own scriptures, and this insight derives from a surprising source, the apocryphal book of Tobit. In it, Tobit is presented as being from the northern tribe of Naphtali in Galilee, the same place mentioned in the messianic prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2. (Tobit 1:1) In this fable, the Archangel Raphael (meaning “God Heals”) became the man Azariah (“Jehovah Has Helped”) who claimed to be one of Tobit’s relatives from Hananiah (Tobit 5:12-13), therefore also from Naphtali and Galilee. As one scholar reported: “Presumably, Hananiah is a member of Tobit’s tribe of Naphtali, from Upper Galilee. Raphael has therefore taken on the guise of a Galilean Israelite with a verifiable history.”[3] In this story, Azariah is responsible for two healings, that of blindness (Tobit 11:12-14) and of demon-possession (Tobit 8:3), miracles that are associated with God’s blessing, especially the former. (Isaiah 35:5-6; 61:1-2) Thus it seems pretty clear that even though Tobit is unhistorical, that it does preserve a Jewish expectation that the Messiah would also hail from Galilee. Indeed: “Raphael, the savior of Tobit, should be understood as a theological template for Jesus’ followers when they identified him as a heavenly savior in human form.”[4] So the only ones who recognized the messianic expectations of Galilee were the Jewish composers of Tobit. Thus the characters in Tobit “acknowledged that the angel of the Lord had appeared to them” as a Galilean savior. (Tobit 12:22) To repeat, the fictional characters of Tobit were more enlightened than Jesus’ real-life opposers. Has irony ever been so great as this?

In conclusion, may we not be caught off-guard as Jesus’ ignorant or forgetful skeptics and opposers were, with their lack of meditation and study of the Scriptures.

See also my discussion of a similar case here: A case for Christ’s pre-human existence: Additional explanation http://jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2011/07/case-for-christs-pre-human-existence.html This reveals another case of the Pharisees being caught off-guard, in this instance with Christ’s exegesis of Psalm 110:1.

[1] Regarding Isaiah 9:1-2 and the messianic connotation of the “great light,” The Complete Jewish Study Bible says:
[Isaiah] returns to the theme of future blessing. The Land that was to experience the Assyrian captivity would someday experience God’s blessing, mediated though the birth of a child who would rule on the throne of David. (vv. 6-7). The Targum uses the descriptions of these verses as titles for the Messiah.
Additionally, The Jewish Study Bible notes:
The ideal Davidic king. Isaiah describes the liberation from some form of adversity (perhaps the Assyrian conquests of Israelite territory… Most later readers (both Jewish and Christian) understood the passage to describe an ideal future ruler, i.e., the Messiah.
Thus the people in darkness seeing a great light are identified as living in the territory identified in verse 1, and that seeing a “great light” was indeed identified as being messianic.

[2] The Complete Jewish Study Bible in its introduction to Jonah says:
Though Yonah’s [Jonah’s] mission was to Ashur’s [Assyria’s] capital, the book is directed at Israel. … Israel is guilty not only of departing from God, but also of failing to carry out its great commission to the Gentiles.
So Jonah is recognized as a legitimate prophet and was grouped with the 12 Prophets in the Jewish Canon. Ironically, the Prophet Daniel was relegated to the Writings, showing that Jonah could have been too if he fell out of favor.

[3] Muñoa, Phillip. Raphael, Azariah and Jesus of Nazareth: Tobit’s Significance for Early Christology. Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha. (2012). 13

[4] Ibid. 15

Related blog entries:

Opening graphic from jw.org.

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