Under an old post on my blog, one Adam Pastor commented attacking the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, specifically in regard to the Deity of Jesus. I encourage you to read it here first if you want the full background to this reply, and here on CRM where the issue came up again prompting the late reply. Adam Pastor’s response contains 3 main points.
1) Jesus is god as in elohim (a given title like judge), not Yahweh (a matter of essence) so
the Father is the one God, the Son is the one Lord (merely judge)
2) Echad = one (?)
3) Propitiation can be accomplished by a mere man
First, I might point out that Mr. Pastor has conceded that Jesus is identified as God by Thomas (John 20:28), but has insisted that, in short, “God doesn’t always mean God,” in that, Jesus is not God in the sense that the Father is God (ultimately identified by Mr. Pastor in the Hebrew name Yahweh). The premise of this is stating that the Scriptures identify Jesus as “elohim,” but that is a title given to Judges and Moses as God’s “ultimate Judge and Representative.” Such an interpretation is given to John 10:34-35, where Jesus uses the plural of God (θεοι). I agree that Jesus is bestowed with titles of Judge and being Representitive. In fact, Jesus is also identified as an “apostle…of our confession.” (Heb 3:1) Jesus is indeed the Representative, Judge and Apostle of God.
But is this all that Jesus is?.
Mr. Pastor submits yes saying:
“There is ONE GOD, the Father.
The man Christ Jesus our Lord is in Heaven at the ONE GOD’s right hand.
The Lord Jesus is the ONE GOD’s right hand man so to speak!
ONE GOD and ONE man!
It’s that simple. It is not a difficult teaching at all.”
Or more simply in the earlier reply:
“ONE GOD, the Father; &
ONE Man, the man Messiah Jesus our Lord!!
ONE GOD, ONE Man
ONE GOD, ONE Lord”
I submit no, this is not all that Jesus is on three grounds beyond the explicit identification of Jesus as God:
A) Jesus is identified as God in the same way the Father is
B) Jesus possess Divine Attributes
C) Jesus is to be Worshipped as God
A) Jesus is identified as God in the same way the Father is.
Mr. Pastor has questioned the use of Theos applied to Jesus as being used in a different sense than when applied to the Father. Though I do not accept that as valid, the Scriptures are so clear as to the deity of Jesus that we can establish such a diety even beyond the explicit identification of Jesus as God in passages such as John 20:28, Titus 2:13, etc. I must point out, however, one wonders how exactly Mr. Pastor would expect the authors of Scripture to express Jesus as God in the same way as the Father explicitly if they do not do so even by the identification of Christ as both Lord and God in John 20:28.
Mr. Pastor, however, has set up a dichotomy between Lord and God, God as an singular existential state and Lord (or even God) as a title like Moses stated above, I.e. judge and magistrate. According to him, God is the Father, and the Lord is Jesus. Does the Scripture do this? It seems to in 1 Cor 8:6 in using the appellation of God for the Father and Lord for Jesus:
“there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”
But this begs a further question: What does it mean that Jesus is called Lord (Κύριος)?
Mr. Pastor has claimed that Jesus is only god in the sense of elohim. Yet, the additional title given to Jesus of Κύριος (Lord) is bestowed on the Hebrew names of Elohim, Adonai and Yahweh indiscriminately. One can see this in Psalms 16:2, where the text reads: “Yahweh, you are my adonai.” The Greek Septuagint (LXX) translates both of these as Lord (Κύριος): “Lord, you are my Lord.” Not only does the LXX do so, but the New Testament does as well, such as when Matthew 22:44 quotes Psalm 110:1. The Hebrew read: “Yahweh said to my adonai” and is translated into Greek in Matthew 22:44 as “The Lord (Κύριος) said to my Lord (κυριω, genitive of Κύριος).” Both uses contain the singular article.
Therefore, Mr Pastor’s statement of there being only “ONE GOD,[and] ONE Lord” as one God=Father, and one Lord=Son, is false then under his own method of reading, because the Father (identified by Mr. Pastor as Yahweh) is Lord and Jesus is Lord. There would then be two identified as Lord! This is important, because this affects one’s reading of 1 Cor 8:6 “there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ.” This is no proof text for Mr. Pastor when by Paul saying there is “one Lord Jesus Christ,” this is not to the exclusion of the Lordship of the Father (for the Father is called Lord too as displayed above). Within the same sentence, Paul cannot mean “there is one God the Father” to the exclusion of the diety of Christ. The two phrases of “one God the Father” and “one Lord Jesus Christ” are identifications, not theological statements of “Jesus only is Lord, and not the Father” or “The Father only is God and not Jesus.” One could just as easily say, there is one God the Father and one Lord Jesus Christ as there is one Lord the Father and one God Jesus Christ. The titles of God and Lord belong to both Jesus and the Father, without ceasing to be truly one God and one Lord in their shared Godhead. There is one God, and the Father is God and Jesus is God.
We see this identification not only of the Father as Lord, but of the Son with the same titles as the Father in Hebrews 1:10. There, the author says the Father speaks to the Son (Heb 1:8) words intended for Yahweh in Psalm 102. The preceding verses contains the title of Yahweh for God, then says the Father spoke to the Son the words directed to Yahweh. Jesus being called Lord in Heb 1:10 entails everything that the Father being called Lord entails, and addresses Jesus as Yahweh.
This also shows Mr. Pastor’s sarcastic statement “GOD is now in the presence of GOD for us!?! Pleassseee!” to be silly and childish, in that we may say “The Lord is in the presence of the Lord.” Such as is the reality we have seen in Matt 22:44 – “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand.”
So we can see, the Scriptures do not share Mr. Pastor’s characterizations of the words God and Lord as exclusive to either the Father or the Son, but present them as applying to both the Father and the Son. And as said before, Thomas gives Jesus both titles unambiguously: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) So should we.
B) Jesus possesses Divine attributes
Mr Pastor’s presentation of John 1:1-4 is brief, which is appropriate as it destroys his argument. When in John 1:14 we are told the “Word became flesh,” Pastor says, “Its in verse 14 that GOD’s [spoken] word became flesh resulting in Jesus Christ.” The Word is identified here, but it is not identified as spoken, he has read this in himself. The Word is identified as “God.” The “Word was God.” This time, singular as in the one God, not plural as in John 10’s exploration of elohim as applying to Moses. When God becomes flesh, when the Eternal takes on the temporal, yes, this results in Jesus in his full Person as God and as man.
Jesus is the Word of God, that is God. God became Flesh, and so is identified by John the Baptist in John 1:15. This shows us the shared divine attributes of Jesus and the Father since John the Baptist declares that Jesus pre-exists John the Baptist in John 1:15, 30, even though Jesus was born as man after John. This is the next point that leads us to acknowledge Jesus’ deity, namely that Jesus has the same divine attributes as the Father such, here eternality or such as Omnipotence and Authority (Matt 28:18), Omnipresence (Matt 28:20), and Omniscience (John 1:48, Matt 11:47). The teaching of Scripture is that Jesus was first in the morphe of God, before becoming in the morphe of man (Phil 2). Jesus was God taking on flesh, not flesh being bestowed a title.
C) Jesus is worshipped as God
The Scriptures make clear commands that no one is to be worshiped except God. (Ps 115:1, Isa 42:8, Luke 4:8) Yet, we also see that the author of Hebrews wants to attack the idea that Jesus is just a high figure like an angel. In Heb 1:5-6, the author writes that the Father says of the Son: “Let all God’s angels worship him.” This passage is very reminiscent of Psalms 97:7: “All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods (elohim)!” Such a passage also brings in our previous point, namely that Christ’s status of elohim is higher than the judges or Moses, for Jesus is to be worshipped. Worship is only allowed for God, yet worship is commanded of Jesus, the Son. This is because the Son is God.
2) Mr. Pastor’s reflections on “echad” (or one) do not clarify. Two Persons are refered to as one flesh in Gen 2:24. Two Persons can therefore make up one reality. Jesus makes a similar connection in John 10:30, when he says “The Father and I are one.” The question is “one what?” The what is God. Two persons in Genesis 2:24 make up one flesh. Two Persons (Jesus and the Father) make up one God, without using a different sense of echad, one.
The language for Jesus’ status as Son is that he is begotten. When mentioned in John 3:16, the word is actually a combination of one, or only and begotten (μονογενής). The distinction should then be made between sons of God in the sense of the saints, and this different category for Jesus. This is the Father begetting a Son, not merely adopting as with God and men. Tell me, what is your father? When a father begets, is it something different from himself? Do pigs beget dogs, or do humans beget bananas? No, human begets human. God begets God. God the Father begets God the Son.
3) On propitiation by man I will respond later when I have a little more time.