Book Plunge: Jesus Was Not A Trinitarian Chapter 2

Who was the God of Jesus? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So we’re continuing our look at Anthony “Have I mentioned the Shema enough” Buzzard’s horrid book. In this second chapter, he’s going to ask who the God of Jesus was. At the start, if you’re an Arian and say Jesus has a God, that’s not going to be a problem to us. Jesus was also a human being who wasn’t an atheist.

So right off, Buzzard tells us that it’s a problem that nowhere in the New Testament does God mean the triune God and that’s a problem. Even if that is true, the response is “So what?” Buzzard doesn’t tell us why this is a problem. If what is being discussed is the relationship between Christ and the Father, then of course we won’t expect the word “Theos” to refer to the Trinity.

He later will say that God is never described as begotten, but Jesus is, which means Jesus had a beginning of His existence. Of course, this entirely begs the question and Buzzard posts this as if no one in church history ever said “Wow. Jesus is begotten! Imagine that!”

Trinitarian relations in understanding have always noted differences in how the persons are. The Son is begotten. The Holy Spirit proceeds. The Orthodox branch of Christianity can disagree with Catholics and Protestants on the filoque, but there is agreement that the Spirit proceeds. Since this is part and parcel of Trinitarian doctrine, it’s hard to see how this is an objection to it.

Here is what the Athanasian Creed says. (Keep in mind Orthodox Churches would disagree with “And the Son” in describing the proceeding of the Holy Spirit, but that is not our focus here.)

The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten; the Son was neither made nor created, but was alone begotten of the Father; the Spirit was neither made nor created, but is proceeding from the Father and the Son.

So here we have something saying the Father is not begotten and saying the Son is and somehow, Buzzard saying the same thing is supposed to be a problem? Also, the writers of the creed didn’t see a problem with the Son being begotten and also being eternal. Either they were all idiots who didn’t recognize a contradiction, or Buzzard is the one who isn’t understanding something. Decisions, decisions….

For those wondering, I view Jesus as begotten in the sense of that which is always in the Father being brought forth from Him. Since God is eternal, this is an eternal activity. The same follows with the Holy Spirit regardless of how many persons in the Trinity were involved.

Continuing in my look, more highlights I have are simply Buzzard making the same claims of Unitarianism over and over. There is a little change when we get to Paul and Buzzard says

Only a very deficient sense of history would permit the impossible notion that Paul believed the God of Israel to have been the Trinitarian God. This is widely admitted.

Unfortunately, Buzzard doesn’t tell us who this is widely admitted by. One wonders what he would think about the things Bart Ehrman would say are widely admitted in New Testament scholarship. There is plenty of scholarship out there anyway that will say Paul did believe in a triune concept of God, but Buzzard is not seriously interacting with that.

He then goes on to quote The New Bible Dictionary.

The Old Testament witness is fundamentally to the oneness of God. In their daily prayer, Jews repeated the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4, 5: “The Lord our God the Lord is one.” In this they confessed the God of Israel to be the transcendent creator without peer or rival. Without the titanic disclosure of the Christ event no one would have taken the Old Testament to affirm anything but the exclusive, i.e., unipersonal monotheism that is the hallmark of Judaism and Islam. Note carefully this candid admission. Reading the Hebrew Bible , on which Jesus was reared and which he affirmed as holy Scripture and which Paul claimed he believed, no one could possibly have imagined God to be more than one divine Person. The Hebrew Bible, says the dictionary, affirmed the unipersonal, non-Trinitarian God. Jesus echoed that affirmation precisely.

First, this can be debated as the intertestamental literature, as pointed out in the Wisdom of Solomon speaks of Wisdom in deified terms. This is not an exception. That being said, is it really a powerful argument to say no one understood it this way until Jesus came?

No, because it’s also true no one understood the Messiah would be born of a virgin (Which I do affirm), grow up among men, live a sinless life, die on a cross as a sacrifice for sins, be buried and raised again bodily in the middle of space and time instead of at the end of the age as would be understood, and would ascend to the right hand of God. Notice in this I didn’t include the deity of Christ since Buzzard wouldn’t agree to that.

So based on Buzzard’s words, since no Jew would have understood that from the Old Testament before, then we should reject it today. That would be nonsense for us. Now that we know the gospel, we can look back and see it there, much like once you know who the criminal is, you can look back on the mystery later and reailze it.

He then quotes someone else who says the Trinity in the New Testament is left implicit and undefined. He says the reader is left to wonder what that means. I could figure it out easily. It means the Trinity is there, but it is not spelled out. It is drawn out from taking the Scripture as a whole and it’s undefined meaning there’s no explicit definition of the Trinity.

He also refers to 1 Cor. 8:4-6. Buzzard is aware of Bauckham’s work, but doesn’t interact with him on this. Bauckham sees this passage as Paul actually putting Jesus in the Shema with the one God being the Father and the one Lord being Jesus. If Bauckham is right, then this totally blows apart Buzzard’s understanding as you have Paul, a devout Jew, seeing Jesus in the divine nature and this early on.

Buzzard later says

Admissions that “language is inadequate” to spell out the Trinity clearly have not prevented the printing of oceans of words attempting to explain the Trinity, using the non-biblical language of Greek philosophy, that the One God of the Bible is three hypostases in one essence, and that the Son of God was, incredibly, “man” but not “a man.” ( Did you know that this is what official Christendom believes?) The Bible nowhere, however, calls God “an essence” and never speaks of “three hypostases.” And any reader of the New Testament should be able to see that Jesus was a man.

This is such a bewildering statement! First, this is what official Christendom believes? Show where. Not just that’s what you think we believe, but show the statement. It doesn’t exist. Finally, we all agree Jesus was a man. Either Buzzard is incredibly ignorant here or he is incredibly dishonest. Neither is good.

He also says Paul had a warning against those trying to define God in terms of philosophy in Colossians 2:8. No. He had a warning against vain philosophy. That’s not the same thing.

So once again, I walk away from Buzzard’s work more convinced. Will anything be remotely persuasive in here? We’ll find out.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

 

The post Book Plunge: Jesus Was Not A Trinitarian Chapter 2 appeared first on Deeper Waters.


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