Monday, 28 July 2014

The Trinity: A response to Barry Umansky

Barry Umansky has responded to one of my comments with respect to the Trinity.

"Your beliefs do not constitute proof. Just to take one example,due to rather divergent views among Trinitarian
Christians, it is difficult to obtain a coherent and uniform explanation of the
Trinity. At one end of the spectrum is the description of the three components as
being three separate "persons". At the other end of the spectrum is the
admission that the Trinity eludes explanations and is a mystery. In between
these two extremes rests the description that the Trinity is a "compound unity" –
a single entity that has three different personalities or manifestations. The
common thread in this spectrum is that all Trinitarians hold the Trinity to be
consistent with monotheism, yet, according to the New Testament, each of the
three entities that comprise the Trinity has different knowledge, different powers,
and different wills, which is a common characteristic of polytheistic religions."

First of all, Trinitarianism, while acknowledging God as compound does not teach that the three persons are manifestations of the one God, Modalism actually teaches this." Trinitarianism by contrast teaches that there is One God who exists as three persons. Any claim that the Trinity is remotely similar to pagan polytheism, is just as absurd as saying the flood of Noah came from the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Each member of the Trinity carry out a different function, namely the Father sends the Son, The Son dies on the cross for sins and imputes his righteousness to us and both the Father and the Son send the Spirit to live inside Christians, enabling Christians to live holy lives. Having these distinct functions is no way parallel to the concept of ANY polytheistic religion.

"On the other hand, the God of the Hebrew Bible is an indivisible unity. The Shema uses the word echad (one) as an adjective describing the Eternal as ONE- not as a compound unity."

Moot point, because I never argued in my papers that the Shema taught about Gods unity or trinity. It only teaches how many Gods there are and nothing else.

The concept of
God as an indivisible unity can also be understood from the following passage:
Isaiah 44:6 – So said the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer the Lord of Hosts,
"I am first and I am last, and beside Me there is no God.”
The declaration by God, "I am the first", indicates that He has no father. When He
said, "I am the last", it means that He has no begotten son. Finally, when God
proclaimed, "beside me there is no God", it shows that He does not share His role
with any other god or entity – He has no "partners"."

The text simply acknowledges that there is only one God as again, a Trinitarian will accept. The context doesn't refute the Trinity in light of this.

The first and the last does refer to God being eternal with no beginning and no ending, but the objection presented by you doesn't take into consideration that the three persons existed eternally, Christ being the unique Son and the Father being a father to him.

Christians will accept that Ha Shem or YHWH is the only God and no other exists but he, which is all the text in Isaiah 44:6 is acknowledging and nothing else.

Finally, James White regarding the subject of personal singular pronouns has said:
Every single time, that the context does not demand that we see a particular indiviudual operating differently than the others, would be a referrence to the Triune God. So anytime where God's general activities, God's general attributes or in referrence, can be refered to the entire Godhead acting in unity

Now carrying on.

"Your belief in a triune deity can never be reconciled with the true monotheism which is at the core of Jewish belief. Thousands of Jews were murdered over the 
centuries because they refused to accept the trinity and forced conversions by Christians who held that very belief to which you subscribe."

The concept of a triune deity is monotheism, any claim otherwise is a strawman. The Trinity maintains monotheism and is consistent with such a belief. Unitarianism is just simply another form of monotheism. Both Judaism and Christianity are monotheistic religions and proving monotheism doesn't equal unitarianism, they are not synonymous terms.

Answering Judaism.

4 comments:

  1. Your response just affirms my position, ie there is no reconciliation. Your belief is that God is a compound unity, while in Judaism God is an absolute unity- no compartmentalization. To say that the Eternal is of one essence but composed of three persons is a grammatical and logical contradiction. A person is something created and contingent- only Hashem is the creator and noncontingent.

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  2. The way I used person is not how you think I am using it. When I say person in context of God, I am referring to one who can think, reason and plan. The subject of a person being a creation is irrelevant to how I was using it.

    As you said to me and I say to you, your belief is not proof.

    You are again assuming Unitarianism rather than proving it.

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  3. Can you explain in simple terms how it is that Jesus who is 1/3 of the triune godhead and who is described in the Nicene creed of 325 as " the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father" does not have the same knowledge as the Father-

    But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Mark 13

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  4. Jesus' knowledge was limited while on earth, however, there were cases where the disicples understood that Jesus knew all things. There are details that are only known to a certain member of the Godhead at certain times. That's one possible answer.

    The other answer is that Jesus is speaking of the end times in the context of a ancient Jewish marriage, where only the Father knew when the marriage takes place. This video by InspiringPhilosophy explains this point better than I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfdozI26lQQ

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