Response to James White

Posted by David Barron December - 1 - 2011 - Thursday ADD COMMENTS

I have responded to James White on the Trinity and his debate with Patrick Navas. The observer can well the judge the merits of each argument.

James White Responds

Posted by David Barron November - 30 - 2011 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

James White decided to take two hours responding to my video commenting on his debate with Patrick Navas on the Trinity. White repeatedly miss characterized my views and ignored my actual argument, so I will be responding soon. My notes are complete, I need only get before a camera, so you can anticipate an extensive response very soon…but I won’t take up two hours, I promise that.

John 1:18 and Monogenes Theos

Posted by David Barron November - 1 - 2011 - Tuesday ADD COMMENTS

Grassroots Apologetics has challenged Patrick Navas on the translation and meaning of monogenes theos in John 1:18.. Patrick is currently working on a response that will include (tentatively) some of my own unpublished research, which should prove to be a worthwhile read.

At the core of Grassroots’ argument is the claim that Daniel Wallace has “proven” Patrick wrong. This is a most ill-informed statement to make, and seems to come from a failure to carefully examine the evidence. On this, Greg Stafford has taken Dr. Wallace to task on some rather poor argumentation.

Navas and Diaz on John 12

Posted by David Barron October - 29 - 2011 - Saturday ADD COMMENTS

Patrick Navas has been interacting with Hiram Diaz from Grassroots Apologetics, a blog I recently became aware of, on the topic of John 12:41. Patrick provided a nice response to Diaz and Diaz has subsequently responded (a link to Diaz’s initial response is within Patrick’s response). Having observed the interaction thus far I wanted to provide several comments.

In both responses Diaz has displayed an apparent ignorance of Patrick’s theology, arguing as if Patrick denies Jesus preexisted. This, of course, is not the case, and Patrick has argued extensively in favor of this truth, though he has acknowledge some Socinian arguments he views having potential merit.

Diaz has twice ignored the arguments Patrick presents from the text itself, engaging only side points and not the exegesis of John 12 and Isaiah 52/53. This is extremely telling, for an actual exegesis of John 12:38-41 is most damaging to the Trinitarian interpretation, as I’ve detailed before and will highlight here again.

John quotes from both Isaiah 6 and Isaiah 53, with the latter presented first. John says, as accepted in the critical texts, “Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke about him.” Trinitarians must ignore this “because” as nothing quoted from Isaiah 6 was done because of seeing glory and speaking about him. They argue as if the text says “when,” a later variant that is well rejected. Isaiah said what he said from Isaiah 6 because of a command to do so, and while he did behold God’s glory, there is absolutely no evidence to support this sight serving as a basis for what he said.

Isaiah 53:1 presents two distinct questions, and serves as the focus of John’s argument. Isaiah 6 is cited to further expand upon this. Therefore, unless the text of Isaiah 6 found itself used by Isaiah in a tradition we no longer possess today, John 12:41 would refer back only to John’s primary argument from Isaiah 53:1.

Having said this, I do believe it was likely Jesus who was beheld at Isaiah 6, though it may have only been a vision. In Diaz’s latest response he argues from texts such as Genesis 19 that God is polypersonal, but he seems entirely ignorant of divine agency and how Second Temple Judaism had already accounted for these things by the time Jesus walked the earth. Examples such as in Numbers 12 when compared to Hebrews 3:3-5 make it unambiguously clear that the earliest Christians understood Old Testament theophanies in view of such agency.

They Beheld Jesus’ Glory

Posted by David Barron September - 4 - 2011 - Sunday ADD COMMENTS

In God and Christ: Examining the Evidence for a Biblical Doctrine I provided exegetical reasons to reject the common interpretation of John 12:41 as a reference to Isaiah 6. John’s use of “because” to provide the basis for Isaiah having said what he said refutes the connection to Isaiah 6 and instead points directly to Isaiah 52-53.

Glory can refer to a visual manifestation, but also to one’s actions. In the aforementioned discussion I specifically noted God’s glory in John 11 as a reference to his miraculous works. So Isaiah’s prophetic foresight (on the use of eiden in this manner cf. John 8:56) of Jesus’ salvific work prompted him to say the words recorded at Isaiah 53:1.

One reference not included within the discussion was of John 1:14. John speaks of having beheld Jesus’ glory, yet as a man upon the earth this would not refer to some visible sight manifest to the eyes. Instead, it would have referred to his works, both in miraculous signs and, most importantly, in the redemption brought with his death. George Beasley-Murray sees the same:

The Evangelist will have had in mind the glory of the Christ which the witnesses saw in the signs he performed (e.g., 2:11), in his being lifted up on the cross (19:35), and in the Easter resurrection (20:24–29). It was a revelation of glory such as could proceed alone from the “μονογενής from the Father,” – Beasley-Murray, George R.: Word Biblical Commentary : John. Dallas : Word, Incorporated, 2002 (Word Biblical Commentary 36), S. 14

There is at a minimum overlap between the glory John claims he and others beheld and that which Isaiah saw when he was prompted to say the words at Isaiah 53:1.

Robert Bowman in “The Great Trinity Debate”

Posted by David Barron April - 26 - 2010 - Monday ADD COMMENTS

Reviewing the opening of “The Great Trinity Debate” I opted not to take the time to comment. The material is certainly worthy of consideration, but the amount of time I have available for reviewing this debate has proven more limited than anticipated, so I must select the material most valuable in reviewing.

This post will consider some of Robert Bowman’s comments in the 2nd portion of the debate as they pertain to the interpretation of specific passages (found at http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2010/04/the-great-trinity-debate-part-2-rob-bowman-on-jesus-christ/). Thus, I will not be reviewing his comments outside of what he argues for these texts to mean or where he references a specific view view with which I would not agree. Without considering my comments most will likely observe how much of Bowman’s presentation is based not upon exegesis and historical or contextual arguments, but his own opinion. This is perhaps most apparent in the first passage he considered:

Matthew 28:16-20:

Jesus’ eleven apostles met Jesus after his resurrection on a mountain. “And when they saw him they worshipped him, but some doubted” (Matt. 28:17). Nothing in the context suggests that what some doubted was that Jesus had risen or that it was Jesus whom they saw. Rather, it seems that some doubted the propriety of worshipping Jesus. Their doubt makes no sense if this act was comparable to bowing before a human dignitary, as many anti-Trinitarians assert. Surely, Jesus’ disciples would have had no doubts about showing Jesus such courtesy and respect. No, apparently some doubted that Jesus was the proper object of religious worship, the act of humbling oneself toward a supernatural figure. Their doubt presupposes the biblical and conventional Jewish belief that the Lord God was the only proper recipient of such acts of religious devotion.

Bowman expresses his opinion that “some doubted” refers to doubts about worshipping him, but he utterly fails to present even the most basi evidence in support of this view. This is readily apparent in his appeal to weasel words, stating that “apparently” their doubt was in the acceptability to worship Jesus. While Bowman is correct in that the immediate context within Matthew does not present doubt on the part of the disciples respecting Jesus’ resurrection and identification, such is readily apparent within the other Gospels, removing doubt as to the meaning (Mark 16:11; Luke 24:10-11; John 20:25-29).

In the context of Matthew, the scene recalls the Temptation narrative that immediately precedes Jesus’ ministry (4:1-11). In the third, climactic temptation, the devil takes Jesus to a high mountain, shows him all the kingdoms of the world, and offers them to Jesus if he will worship him (4:8-9). Jesus rebuffs the temptation, quoting Deuteronomy 6:13, “You shall worship the Lord your God and serve only him” (4:10). Now, after Jesus? resurrection, he meets his disciples on a mountain and receives their act of worshipping him. The contrasting parallel is made complete by Jesus’ assurance to those who doubted that worshipping him was indeed appropriate: “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth” (28:18). This is the authority that the devil claimed he could give to Jesus if Jesus would worship him. Now Jesus has that authority, not from the devil, but from God the Father. No higher validation of Jesus’ authority was possible. The evident parallels between Matthew 4:8-10 and 28:16-18 confirm that “worshipped” in 28:17 denotes the act of religious devotion that Jesus himself had stated should go to God alone.

Once again we find Bowman’s opinion, but his argument falls flat. His submission is that the authority given in Matthew 28:18 ‘is the authority that the devil claimed he could give to Jesus if Jesus would worship him,’ yet this is far from the case. The authority promised by the devil was entirely earthly, limited to the kingdoms of the earth (Mat. 4:8-9), while the authority given by God was found throughout all of heaven and earth. This was vastly superior to anything offered or that could be offered by the devil.

Further, whereas Satan, as the giver of authority, asked to be worshipped, here Jesus, as the receiver of authority is given it. Any parallelism would find the Father as the object of worship. With this said, we can consider the matter of worshipping Jesus and the lack of significance to the Trinitarian case. Considering the following from my debate with Mike Felker on why Jesus is given what he is given:

?The Bible defines more than once that what Jesus is given is based upon the Father’s will. So in John 5:22-23 when Jesus relates how he will be honored as the Father is, he does so with a Greek purpose clause. Jehovah has given Jesus judgment “so that” meaning, ‘for the purpose of,’ being honored just as him. Similarly in Philippians 2:5-11 Jesus is exalted because of his obedience and faithfulness as God’s son and this is done “so that” or ‘for the purpose of’ having every knee bow to him.?

Those who deny that Christ is God raise the objection that Jesus said his authority was “given” to him, and ask how anyone could give God authority (or why God would need to give God authority). They argue that this is a derived and therefore inferior authority to that of God. This objection ignores the orthodox explanation that the Lord Jesus, by choosing to come into the world “not to be served, but to serve” (Matt. 20:28), had placed himself in a position in which he depended on the Father to exalt him.

For the above to be true Jesus would have necessarily stopped being God. All authority is God’s by nature, so for Jesus not to have it would mean he lacked the authority. Similarly, he could not be omniscient, for if he had all power he would not be dependent upon anyone to grant him authority. The Bible plainly reveals that Jesus lacked authority so to be given it. As God possess such by nature this is a powerful attestation to the fact that Jesus is not ontologically God.

Jesus then commands his disciples to go make more disciples from people of all nations, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (28:19). Jesus, the Son, identifies himself alongside the Father and the Holy Spirit as the Deity to whom each new disciple is to commit himself in the covenant rite of baptism. The Father clearly is God, and as we shall see in week 5, the Holy Spirit in this text must also be God; it follows that the Son in this text is also God. If we exclude the idea that these are three Gods, as we should, the conclusion that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God follows. In any case, Jesus is here explicitly making himself, as the Son, one of the persons toward whom disciples perform a religious act of devotion and covenant commitment. There is no precedent in biblical religion for performing such religious acts in devotion to a mere man, no matter how great a man.

The text demands little of what Bowman here argues. Provided above is assertion of what the text must mean, but not a demonstration. Much as the Israelites were baptized “into Moses” (and certainly into God, for they could not follow Moses without following God), we can well be baptized “into the name” of the Son? as our mediator, while also being baptized into “the Father” as our God and source of all things and “the Holy Spirit” as the deliverer of direction and teaching, which we are to accept.

After instructing his disciples to teach new disciples to observe everything he commanded them, Jesus concludes: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (28:20). Here Jesus promises to be with all of his disciples, wherever they are in the world, as they make disciples of all nations, in every generation until the end of the age. Such a promise implies that Jesus has the capacity to be present in any and all parts of the world simultaneously. The statement recalls God’s promise to Jacob, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go” (Gen. 28:15). In short, Jesus’ promise presupposes that he possesses the divine attribute of omnipresence. Nor is this an isolated statement in the Gospel. Prior to his death, Jesus told his followers, “Where two or three have gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst” (18:20). Only someone who is omnipresent could deliver on a promise to be present in the midst of every gathering of believers anywhere in the world. Jewish rabbis taught that where two Jews sat together to hear the Torah, the Shekinah–the manifest glorious presence of God–would be with them. Jesus claims that his divine presence will be with any two disciples who meet together to honor him (see Putting Jesus in His Place, 117-18).

Bowman presupposes Jesus’ physical presence with his disciples. This is certainly possible and should not be presupposed as ruled out, but it is by no means demanded. Similar language is used elsewhere, such as by the apostle Paul (1Co. 5:4). I would not suggest Jesus’ meaning here parallels Paul’s, but there are other equally valuable interpretations. This is one I would suggest we can answer only upon understanding the biblical teaching on Jesus, though even this would not make the matter conclusive.

More on John 8:58 with Barry Hofstetter

Posted by David Barron April - 11 - 2010 - Sunday 1 COMMENT

Barry Hofstetter has taken the opportunity to respond to my previous blog post concerning his comments on the “have been” reading of John 8:58. The response can be found at http://my.opera.com/BarryHofstetter/blog/2010/04/07/response-to-david-barron

Consider the key portions of this:

This was, of course, part of a continuing discussion, so that taking it out of the context of that discussion eliminates the points and counterpoints that were being made.

Hofstetter is correct in that his comments were part of a larger discussion, but this hardly excuses his error.  Any who care to review the discussion will find the person with whom he was having it even corrected him, so it is most surprising (or, perhaps not) that he continues to maintain it.  Hofstetter has simply misrepresented the position he was arguing against by providing a rendering that unambiguously failed to articulate what was argued for.

I have been involved with these discussions for a long time, and I would ask David what evidence I was ignoring? He seems to conflate disagreement with “not listening,” unaware of the fact that a person may know and understand, but still not agree. I staunchly disagree that ἐγὼ εἰμί is a “present of past action,” and I believe that if John had wanted to express what the JW’s claim, the Greek constructions that I suggested would be a good way of doing so.

The evidence Hofstetter has ignored is the interpretive, which is to say the meaning argued for by those who maintain the “have been” translation.  He is free to disagree with the translation, he is not free to suggest those who maintain it mean something contrary to what they articulate the meaning to be.

With this consider what he wrote for which the original response was made:

… he could have written… PRIN ABRAHAM GENESQAI, EGW HMHN, (Before Abraham was born, I was) which would express much more precisely what the way the JW wants to read the text…

The above does not come close to how JWs and those of us who maintain the “have been” rendering ‘want to read the text.’  This relates simple existence prior to Abraham, while we maintain eimi is durative, finding the action of existing, beginning in the past,  expressed as ongoing from commencement until Jesus spoke the words recorded at John 8:58.

I invite Hofstetter to explain how any alternate rendering he has provided expresses this notion.  In fact, duration is not expressed by any alternative rendering I have found Hofstetter suggest as ‘more precise’ to those holding the “have been” rendering with the notion of durative existence in view.

John 8:58 – Not Listening, Not Understanding

Posted by David Barron February - 23 - 2010 - Tuesday 2 COMMENTS

Reading the following I was shocked, and yet perhaps in another respect not so much.  I often wonder why some fail to realize the error in certain arguments, and it is perhaps because they do not listen to the points made against them.  Instead, it would seem as if they sometimes assume they know the counterpoint, assume they know the answer, but really have only created a straw man in their own mind.    Consider the following posted on one Yahoo group by Trinitarian Barry Hofstetter (ellipsis removes the Greek text as he also provided the transliteration):

Now, if John, as the author rendering Jesus semitic language into Greek, had wanted to express, “Before Abraham was born, I existed,” he could have written… PRIN ABRAHAM GENESQAI, EGW HMHN, (Before Abraham was born, I was) which would express much more precisely what the way the JW wants to read the text, and also accord much better with the usual sequence of tenses. Better yet, considering the JW theology that Jesus is the first created being.. PRIN ABRAHAM GENESQAI EGENOMHN, GEGONA, “Before Abraham was born, I came into existence…” These would be perfectly natural and expected ways of  saying it, but that’s not what we get. Instead we get that pesky present tense first person singular, used in an absolute way with no predicate.

I won’t bother to explain the error here, as it is well documented on this site and elsewhere, but being that I know Barry has been presented with the correct meaning, held by JWs and others, it is readily apparent that he simply does not listen.  Not only has he ignored those making the point in discussion, but also the Greek grammars and commentaries that have made the point as well.  One has to wonder if people only paid more attention how quickly many errors could be done away with.

The Narrow Mind and I AM

Posted by David Barron November - 15 - 2009 - Sunday 2 COMMENTS

Somebody recently asked me for the audio of my discussion of  “I AM” in John’s Gospel with Gene Cook of The Narrow Mind.  I managed to locate this and it can be heard here.  For reference, this was probably about 4-5 years ago.