"Preexistence" vs. The Virginal Begetting/Conception

How can you exist before you exist? How can you be before you are?

 

Imagine Meeting a Man Whose Father Is God

We often ask friends and acquaintances about their parents. “What did your father or mother do? Is he or she still living?” Sometimes we learn of a distinguished father or mother who has brought honor to their family. Imagine now that on meeting Jesus (say at the wedding in Cana where he had just transformed 120 gallons of water into wine for celebration) you inquire, “Who was your father? What did he do? Was he well known in town?”

“In fact,” comes the reply, “my father is God.”

Quite a conversation stopper. One can imagine the questioner trying to process that information and assess the one who provided it. “God?” “Yes, my Father was and is God.” Not, of course, that Jesus said “I am God.” What he did affirm was that his Father was God. There is a huge difference.

Jesus as Son of God — that is what the New Testament documents record over and over again as the facts about Jesus’ family history. His passport would presumably have read rather differently from that of the average citizen. Next of kin? God, the Creator.

The concepts may seem bizarre, but we intend to show that we Christians are to claim a similar parentage, modeled after that of our older and uniquely begotten Brother. Strictly speaking, of course, Jesus could well also have referred to his father — his legal father — as Joseph. The New Testament records do not hesitate to refer to Jesus’ human father. Jesus is known as the son of Joseph.

The Son of Mary

Very strikingly, only in Mark 6:3, we read “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not his sisters here with us? And they took offense at him.” This reference to Jesus as the son of Mary is unique in the New Testament. It was certainly not customary to refer to a man as the son of his mother, rather than of his father. Luke’s and Matthew’s genealogical tables consistently list children as the sons of their father, with an occasional addition of the mother’s name. Luke notes that “When he began his ministry, Jesus himself was about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, the son of Eli…” (Luke 3:23).

Have you pondered the stupendous fact that there walked in Palestine a human person of whom it can be stated in all seriousness that he was the Son of God; that God was his Father; that his mother conceived him by sheer, unheard-of miracle?

This is the uniqueness of the Christian faith and of Jesus. In two matchlessly simple passages of the New Testament (Matt. 1 and Luke 1) we are presented with an unparalleled historical occurrence — one that is apparently glossed over even by believers. What makes the challenge of Jesus so compelling is that he was the “miracle man” par excellence, the amazing “genius” — the only human being ever to have stepped the earth of whom it may be truthfully claimed and asserted that his father was the God of Heaven and Earth, the Maker of all things.

The New Beginning

The miracle of the “begetting” of Jesus by the Father through His operational presence, the holy spirit, deserves careful meditation. Those innocent accounts of the origin of the Son of God have been at the same time the object of much sincere piety and the happy hunting ground of skeptics and critics who dismiss out of hand the notion that a man can be conceived and born without a human father. They have also suffered severely at the hands of speculative Greek theologians who invented a pre-history for Jesus which actually destroys the truth that he came into existence — i.e., was begotten supernaturally in history in Israel.

But why all the debate and doubt? The Genesis creation proposes that the One God called into being by spoken word the entire complex universe. Included in that creation was the fashioning of man from the dust of the ground and the animation of that extraordinary creature by the life-imparting breath of God. The first man Adam was from the dust of the ground, the pinnacle of the Genesis creation.

That miracle — the existence of thinking, speaking, human beings — confronts us daily, but we take it almost entirely for granted. We have forgotten about the appearance of the first man. We have been misinformed by “scientific” stories about the millions of years that man is supposed to have been on earth and, worse still, we have been told that he developed by accident from the slime. The whole process was so interminably long and uneventful that it ceases to have meaning. We are here simply because man has, more or less, always been here.

But not if we take Scripture seriously. Man according to the Bible is the ultimate masterpiece of the Divine Creative Hand. God saw that all was good. Sometimes watching a breath-taking display of ballet, gymnastics or ice-skating, we marvel at what this phenomenal creature, man, can do! Sometimes when we are exposed to the astonishing capacity of the well-trained human voice we are stopped in our tracks in wonder at what God has made possible. Sometimes, watching film of Auschwitz or visiting the Holocaust Museum we marvel at the sickening cruelty of which this masterpiece of creation is capable when left to his own wickedness.

The Genesis of the Son of God

But what fact of history can measure up to the appearance in Palestine some 2000 years ago of a member of the human race who claimed that his Father was no mortal, but God Himself? That event should get our attention. Something quite extraordinary has occurred. A second Adam, the beginning of a brand new race of human beings, has made his appearance, distinguished by the unique miracle that his begetting — coming into existence — was the direct result of a divine intervention in the human biological chain. No other religion makes that claim. Christianity does. Certainly pagan saviors have arisen in earlier times saying that their mothers bore them without benefit of a human father. But these crude legends about the sexual cohabitation of women and serpents or gods are totally unlike the story of how the Son of God began to exist.

The biblical account and the meaning of the virginal conception/begetting of Jesus has also not escaped the ravages of human imagination by which it has been turned into something which departs from the original story as penned by Matthew and Luke.

By speaking of the so-called Incarnation of the Son, church members actually contradict the biblical account of the genesis of the Son of God.

Matthew opens his gospel with an account of “the book of the genesis, or origin, or family history of Jesus Messiah, son of David, son of Abraham” (Matt. 1:1). The alert reader will hear in these words an echo of Genesis 2:4: “This is the genesis or origin or family history of the heaven and the earth when they came into existence, on the day when God made the heaven and the earth.”

Matthew's Genealogy

What Matthew describes is the beginning of a new creation, and the celebrated, promised descendant of David and Abraham is the star of this great new world event. God had announced to David news of the Messiah to come: “I will be Father to him and he will be Son to Me” (2 Sam. 7:14, quoted of Jesus in Heb. 1:5). In addition, the famous Messianic Psalm 2 had spoken of a prophetic decree by which the Father could say of the Son who was to come “You are my Son. Today I have begotten you — become your Father” (Ps. 2:7, quoted of the coming into existence of the Son by Paul in Acts 13:33[3] and Heb. 1:5).

After listing the family tree of Jesus from Abraham onwards through the kings of Judah, Matthew arrives at the climax of human history: “Jacob begat [became the father of] Joseph, the husband of Mary, from who was begotten [i.e., by God][4] Jesus, the one whose title is Christ” (Matt. 1:16).

Matthew notes that three groups of 14 names complete the list from Abraham to Jesus. Fourteen is the numerical value of David in Hebrew, marking the whole history as thoroughly in keeping with the great Davidic promise of 2 Samuel 7 and 1 Chronicles 17.

Genesis Not Just Birth

I can imagine Matthew lowering his voice for extra effect when he comes to verse 18. “Now the genesis, origin, creation of Jesus Christ was as follows: When his mother was engaged to be married to Joseph, before they came together, she was discovered to be pregnant from holy spirit [divine creative energy, just as the holy spirit had hovered over the waters in Gen. 1 and God had said ‘Let there be light’].” The story continues: “Now Joseph, her husband [i.e., to be, by modern customs], since he was an upright man and did not want to expose her to disgrace, planned to divorce her secretly. As he was thinking about these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and announced: ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. Because what has been generated, brought into existence [by God] in her is from the holy spirit.’”

Matthew 1:18 in the best Greek manuscripts describes not just the “birth” of Jesus but more precisely the “origin” or creation or generation of Jesus — his coming into existence. There are two words in Greek which are very much alike: “gennesis” and “genesis.” The difference is only of one letter, double n versus single n. The latter word is in the best manuscripts and this means that we are witnessing here the creation, the origin, of the Son of God, by miracle. The parallel with the first book of the Bible, Genesis, is clear.

Confirmed in Luke

If we turn to the corroborating account in Luke we have a concise message from Gabriel as to how Mary will bear a Son while as yet unmarried to Joseph. The announcement to Mary begins with the promise of the future restored Kingdom to Mary’s son, in line with the whole thrust of Old Testament prophecy: “Don’t be alarmed, Mary,” Gabriel says, “you have found favor in God’s sight. You are going to conceive in your womb and bear a son and you will call him Jesus. He will be a greatly distinguished person and will be called the Son of the Highest One, and the Lord God will give him the royal throne of his ancestor David, and he will be king over the House of Jacob during the ages, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” Mary then said to the angel, “How is this going to happen since I do not know any man?” The angel replied: “Holy spirit will come upon you and power from the Highest One will overshadow you and for that reason precisely the one being begotten will be called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1:30-35).

The detail of this extraordinary visitation merits careful attention. God is the Most High. God is to be the Father of the promised Messiah, descended of course from David through his mother. The child will thus be Davidic royalty and his father will be none other than God Himself. What we are seeing here is a divine procreation (totally unlike the pagan sexual unions promoted by counterfeit mystery religions). The phrase at the end of Gabriel’s brief conversation is particularly to be noted:

For this reason precisely[5] (dio kai) the child will be called [or the child will be — that is the sense] the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). For what reason? What is the basis for the Sonship of Jesus? On what foundation does the doctrine of Jesus’ Sonship rest? Precisely because God is about to become his Father, not because of any mysterious preexistence of the Son. Simply because he is the new creation by holy spirit effected in history in the womb of a Jewish maiden. This truly is the New Adam, the start of a new type of human being, a model for others as well as their Savior. Adam was also the son of God (Luke 3:38).

Raymond Brown

The comments of the leading commentary on the birth narratives are highly instructive. Raymond Brown refers to Matthew’s description of the origin of the Son: “God’s creative action in the conception of Jesus (attested negatively by the absence of human fatherhood) begets Jesus as God’s Son. Clearly here in this divine Sonship there is no suggestion of an Incarnation whereby a figure who was previously with God takes on flesh.” Then Brown says of later Christian theology, “the conception of Jesus is the beginning of an earthly career, but not the begetting of God’s Son. The virginal conception was no longer seen as the begetting of God’s Son but as the Incarnation of God’s Son and that became orthodox doctrine” (The Birth of the Messiah, p. 141).

We trust that the reader will not miss the enormous implications of this comment. Brown first of all describes what is obvious to every reader of Matthew and Luke that the Son of God was a created person, coming into existence by miracle without a human father. In a dramatic development “later theology” suppressed this sublime story and replaced it by a different one, namely that the Son of God did not begin in the womb but was already in existence prior to his conception. Later theology thus obscured the information provided for us in the Bible as the explanation for and basis of the doctrine of Jesus as Son of God. The teaching of Gabriel was overridden and replaced by a new and different idea of how Jesus was the Son of God. It was not because he was begotten in the womb, but because he had in fact always been the Son of God. He had been the Son from eternity and had no beginning. This latter concept became “orthodox,” the so-called right view, and all other views were ruled out of court on pain of heresy. The Bible, in other words, was assaulted.

Later Theology vs. Matthew and Luke

I do not think that churchgoers have pondered these amazing accounts of the beginning and creation of the Son of God. Do they see the marvel that God wrought when He decided to repeat His activity in creating Adam — the second time producing His own Son, not from the dust, but within the human biological chain and in the family of David?

Many have not sat down to think what a confusing contradiction is forced on Scripture when the “later” theology of an uncreated Son of God with no beginning was substituted for the historically created Son of God. It would seem that this “later” Jesus was radically different from the one presented by Gabriel, the one whom Mary recognized as her son and the Son of God. The “later” Jesus was Son of God in eternity, consciously active in Old Testament times and then decided one day to reduce himself to a fetus and pass into the world through Mary — instead of originating in and from Mary by divine creation.

The Son of God of these foundational accounts of the faith in Matthew and Luke takes us back behind the very complex speculations of “later theology” to the pristine view of the New Testament community. Their Jesus was veritably a member of the human race. He had no “super-history” in ages past. His “divinity” was ascribed to and explained by the amazing miracle that God had wrought in history in Mary. “For this reason indeed he will be the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). God was his father. Thus there was no suggestion at all that he was actually God. That would make no sense, since as Son he had been procreated at conception and God cannot come into existence. Jesus, the Son of God, did. God cannot be born. Jesus was begotten and born. Furthermore the Jews knew that there was only One God. All else would amount to polytheism and was to be avoided as a threat to the command against idolatry.

The Virgin Birth vs. the Incarnation

It would appear that a kind of sleight of hand operates when the public is invited to believe in both the virginal conception/begetting/beginning of Jesus and at the same time in his Incarnation into an earthly existence, from an endless prehistoric preexistence. Can one really come into existence as the Son of God if one is already existing as the Son? This would appear to be something close to nonsense, an abuse of language.

It is not without reason that the theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg states: “Sonship cannot at the same time consist in preexistence and still have its origin only in the divine procreation of Jesus in Mary” (Jesus, God and Man, p. 143). He further maintains that “virgin birth” stands in irreconcilable contradiction to the Christology of the Incarnation.

Born of God

Try reading the Bible with the belief that Jesus was a human being whose fundamental superiority to the rest of us lay in his miraculous beginning from Mary. That Jesus presented himself as the head of a new race of men. That is why we, who can boast no such supernatural origin, must nevertheless acquire one by being “born again.” The miracle for us as human beings invited to the new creation happens when we are born again by accepting the Gospel of the Kingdom of God as preached by Jesus and the Apostles. That Gospel of the Kingdom provides the divine “seed” (Luke 8:11; Matt. 13:19), the essential spark of the new life which will end in immortality. In John’s epistle he not only speaks of this miraculously potent “seed” residing in the believer (1 John 3:9), he speaks of Christians having been “born of God.” He is referring of course to the Christian’s rebirth. But in 1 John 5:18 he draws a parallel between the believer’s rebirth and the begetting of the Messiah, Son of God: “We know that no one who has been born from God continues in sin, but the one who was born from God preserves him and the evil one cannot touch him.”

With extreme precision the rebirth of the Christian is described as an event of the past with present consequences. The begetting/birth of Jesus is described in the aorist tense pointing to a once and for all event. We have learned when that miraculous coming-into-existence of the Son occurred: in history and in time, celebrating the inauguration of a new race of men and women destined, by divine “seed,” for immortality. In coming to understand Jesus you are becoming acquainted with the One who could say uniquely, “my Father is God.”

 

God is One and Jesus is Not God

There are lots of supporters of unitary monotheism.

Tom Harpur on the Trinity:

“What is most embarrassing for the Church is the difficulty of proving any of these statements of dogma from the NT documents. You simply cannot find the doctrine of the Trinity [or Binity] set our anywhere in the Bible. St Paul has the highest view of Jesus’ role and person, but nowhere does he call him God. Nor does Jesus himself anywhere explicitly claim to be the Second Person of the Trinity, wholly equal to the heavenly Father. As a pious Jew, he would have been shocked and offended by such an idea. This research has led me to believe that the great majority of regular churchgoers are for all practical purposes Tritheists. That is, they profess to believe in One God, but in reality worship Three. Small wonder Christianity has always had difficulty trying to convert Jews and Muslims. Members of both these faiths have such an abhorrence of anything that runs counter to their monotheism, or faith in the unity of God, that a seemingly polytheistic Gospel has little appeal for them” (For Christ’s Sake, p. 81).

 Exegetical Dictionary of the NT:

“One”: “Early Christianity consciously adopts from Judaism (Deut 6:4) the monotheistic formula, ‘God is one.’… According to Mark 12:29, 32, Jesus explicitly approves the Jewish monotheistic formula.”

 The Jewish People and Jesus Christ, Jacob Jocz, London: SPCK, 1949 (p. 262):

“Room for the Master of Nazareth within the structure of Jewish thought is only possible on the condition of a clear distinction between the Christ of the Christian dogma and Jesus the Jew… The Christian perception of Jesus in terms of the Holy Trinity rests upon a tragic misunderstanding… The rehabilitation of the ‘historic Jesus’ can only be at the expense of the orthodox Son of God…. It is only a vague and diluted Christian theology which imagines it possible to come to terms with Judaism. In reality there is no understanding between the two faiths: They possess no common denominator which could form the basis for a ‘bridge theology.’….That Montefiore is well aware of the difficulty can be seen from an earlier remark: ‘The center of the teaching of the historic Jesus is God: the center of the teaching of the Church is he (i.e. Jesus himself). It is this peculiar attitude to Jesus which divides for ever the Church from the Synagogue.’

“The Unity of God: The essence of Judaism is the doctrine of the absolute and unmodified unity of God. Prof. Moore’s masterly definition of the Jewish conception of that unity can hardly be surpassed. He calls it ‘the numerically exclusive and uncompromisingly personal monotheism.’ With it Judaism stands or falls. Indeed the absolute unity of the God of Israel together with the Torah, i.e., the revelation of this one and only God, form the heart and essence of Judaism. The rest of Jewish thought and practice is of secondary importance when compared with these two fundamental truths…. This most vital tenet, as conceived by orthodox and liberal Judaism alike, stands thus in direct opposition to the Trinitarian doctrine of the Christian Church” (p. 265).

 Professor Hodgson, Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford (Seven lectures on Christian Faith and Practice), 1951, p. 74:

“Christianity, as I said last week, began as a trinitarian religion with a unitarian theology. It arose within Judaism and the monotheism of Judaism was then, as it still is, unitarian…. Could the monotheism be revised so as to include the new revelation without ceasing to be monotheistic? I shall now try to show that the upshot of this development was a revision both of the theological idea of monotheism [the unitarian Jewish idea, as he just said] and of the philosophical idea of unity.”

The amazing suggestion that Jesus revised the monotheism of Judaism is flatly contradicted by the New Testament.

 Otto Kirn, Ph D. Th D. Professor of Dogmatics in the University of Leipzig (1950, New Schaff Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge)

“The Trinity: the Biblical Doctrine; Early dogmaticians were of the opinion that so essential a doctrine as that of the Trinity could not have been unknown to the men of the OT. However, no modern theologian who clearly distinguishes between the degrees of revelation in the OT and the NT can longer maintain such a view. Only an inaccurate exegesis which overlooks the more immediate grounds of interpretation can see references to the Trinity in the plural form of the divine name Elohim and the use of the plural in Gen. 1:26 or such liturgical phrases of the three members of the Aaronic blessing of Num 6:24-26 and the Trisagion of Isa 6:3.”

 Pannenberg (Jesus, God and Man, p. 32):

“Jesus is what he is only in the context of Israel’s expectation. Without the background of this tradition, Jesus would never have become the object of a Christology. Certainly this connection is also clear in other titles and generally throughout the NT, especially in Jesus’ own message. His message can only be understood within the horizon of Jewish apocalyptic expectations, and the God whom Jesus called Father was none other than the God of the OT. This context is concentrated in the most particular way in the title Christos… This justifies the formulation of the content of the confession of Jesus at the beginning of this chapter: He is the ‘Christ of God.’” [What nonsense then to say he IS God]

 Murray Harris: Jesus as God. The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus, Baker, 1992

“It was not the Triune God of Christian theology who spoke to the forefathers in the prophets…It would be inappropriate for Elohim [2,570 times] or Yahweh [6,800 times] ever to refer to the Trinity in the OT when in the NT theos regularly refers to the Father alone and apparently never to the Trinity” (fn 112, p. 47).

 Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels (“Incarnation”):

“To the men of the NT, God was the God of the OT, the Living God, a Person, loving, energizing, seeking the accomplishment of an everlasting purpose of mercy the satisfaction of his own loving nature…. Perhaps it would be more correct to say that the monotheism of the OT was never abstract, because the God of the OT was never a conception, or a substance (essence), but always a PERSON. Personality has never indeed the bare unity of a monad.”

 Murray Harris (Jesus as God):

“No attempt has been made in the preceding summary to be exhaustive. But we have seen that throughout the NT (o) theos is so often associated with and yet differentiated from kurios Yesous Christos that the reader is forced to assume that there must be a hypostatic distinction and an interpersonal relationship between the two. The writers of the New Testament themselves supply the key by speaking not only of o theos and Yesous but also of Pater (Father) and Uios (Son), of the Son of God and of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is the Father (in the Trinitarian sense), Jesus is the Lord (I Cor 8:6). When o theos is used, we are to assume that the NT writers have o pater (the Father) in mind unless the context [twice for certain] makes this sense of o theos impossible.” [Footnote]:

“A related question demands brief treatment. To whom did the NT writers attribute the divine action described in the OT? To answer ‘the Lord God’ is to beg the question for the authors of the NT wrote of OT events in the light of their trinitarian understanding of God [Yet above he just said God never refers to the Trinity!]. A clear distinction must be drawn between what the OT text meant to its authors and readers and how it was understood by the early Christians who lived after the advent of the Messiah and the coming of the Spirit.

“Certainly the person who projects the Trinitarian teaching of the NT back into the OT reads the OT through the spectacles of the dynamic trinitarian monotheism of the NT and is thinking anachronistically. On the other hand it does not seem illegitimate to pose a question such as this:

"To whom was the author of Hebrews referring when he said (1:1) ‘At many times and in various ways GOD spoke in the past to our forefathers through the prophets’? That it was not the Holy Spirit in an ultimate sense is evident from the fact that neither in the OT nor in the NT is the Spirit called ‘God’ in so many words. And, in spite of the fact that the Septuagint equivalent of YHVH, viz. kurios, is regularly applied to Jesus in the NT so that it becomes less a title than a proper name, it is not possible that o theos in Heb 1:1 denotes Jesus Christ, for the same sentence (in Greek) contains “[The God who spoke]… in these last days has spoken to us in a Son (en uio).

“Since the author is emphasizing the continuity of the two phases of divine speech (‘God having spoken, later spoke’), this reference to a Son shows that o theos (God) was understood to be ‘God the Father.’ [No one ever said God the Son.]

“Similarly, the differentiation made between o theos as the one who speaks in both eras [throughout the entire Bible] and uios (Son) as his final means of speaking shows that in the author’s mind it was not the Triune God of Christian theology who spoke to the forefathers in the prophets.

“That is to say, for the author of Hebrews (as for all NT writers, one may suggest) ‘the God of our fathers,’ Yahweh, was no other than ‘the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (compare Acts 2:30 and 2:33; 3:13 and 3:18; 3:25 and 3:26; note also 5:30).

“Such a conclusion is entirely consistent with the regular NT usage of o theos. It would be inappropriate for Elohim [2,570 times] or Yahweh [6,800 times] ever to refer to the Trinity in the OT when in the NT theos regularly refers to the Father alone and apparently never to the Trinity” (fn 112, p. 47).

Footnote 113, p. 48: “In classical Greek to theion often signifies divine power or activity or the divine nature considered generically, without reference to one particular god. There appears to be no NT instance where theos (God) signifies merely to theion (= numen divinum, as in Xenophon, Mem 1:4;18, deity in general, although both Philo (Agric 17) and Josephus (Ant. 14:183; Bell 3:352) use to theion of the one true God of Israel’s monotheism. In Acts 17:29 (see also the reading of D in Acts 17:27 and the addition to Titus 1:9 in miniscule 460) to theion is used of the Deity that is often represented ‘by the art and imagination of man.’ See further Ch. 13. section 1.”

“Theos,” Murray says, “applies to Jesus Christ:

Certainly in John 1:1; 20:28;

Very probably in Rom 9:5; Titus 2:13; Heb 1:8; II Pet. 1:1

Probably in John 1:18

Possibly in Acts 20:28; Heb 1:9; I John 5:20.”

In fact the term “God” for Jesus is certain only in John 20:28 and Heb 1:8.

 Karl Rahner, leading Roman Catholic scholar:

“We may outline our results as follows: Nowhere in the NT is there to be found a text with ‘o theos’ (God) which has unquestionably to be referred to the Trinitarian God as a whole existing in three Persons [the God Trinity]. In by far the greater number of texts o theos refers to the Father as a Person of the Trinity… In addition o theos is never used in the NT to speak of the holy spirit. Fn Thus for example in the whole OT saving history is ascribed to the God who sends Jesus, thus to the Father (Acts 3:12-26; cp. Heb 1:1). In Acts 4:24, Eph 3:9 and Heb 1:2 the God who created all things is clearly characterized as the Father in virtue of his distinction from the Son (Servant, Christ). Now if creation and saving history are ascribed to God the Father, there can hardly be a single statement about God (o theos) which is not included therein.

“Where Christ’s Person and Nature are to be declared with the greatest theological strictness and precision, he is called the Son of God… For these [NT writers] the expression o theos was just as exact and precise as ‘Father.’… When in consequence of all this we say that o theos in the language of the NT signifies the Father… all that is meant is that when the NT thinks of God, it is the concrete individual uninterchangeable Person who comes into its mind, who is in fact the Father and is called ‘o theos.’ So that inversely, when o theos is being spoken of, it is not the single divine nature that is seen, subsisting in three hypostases, but the concrete Person who possesses the divine nature unoriginately and communicates it by eternal generation to a Son too and by spiration to the Spirit” (Theological Investigations, Vol. 1 Darton Longman and Todd, 1961).

 

"God" Never Means "the Triune God"

The quotations above are amazing and astonishing admissions from top Protestant and Roman Catholic scholars to the effect that when the Bible says God, it never once means “the Triune God” or “the Biune God.” This is a dramatic admission that the Bible writers were unitarians, while the churches which claim the Bible as their authority are not.

At the simplest level it should be sufficient to show one’s friends that none of the 4,400 occurrences of the word God in the Bible means “God in three or two Persons.” What does that evidence tell us? That the Bible readers knew nothing of a Triune or Biune God.

Jesus quoted the Shema and affirmed it as the most importance divine utterance and command.

Jesus spoke of his Father as “the only one who is truly God” (John 17:3), echoing the exclusive claims for the One God found throughout the OT.

Malachi 2:10  had asked, “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?”

Paul according to the Amplified New Testament of Gal. 3:20 said, “God was [only] one Person — and he was the sole party in giving that promise to Abraham.”

The Roman Catholic translation (NAB) most helpfully renders Psalm 45:6: “Your throne, o god, stands forever; your royal scepter is a scepter for justice.” It notes that “the king, in courtly language, is called ‘god.’”

Psalm 110:1, the controlling Christological text of the whole NT (cited 23 times), speaks of One Yahweh addressing “my lord” (the capital is misleading in many translations, but NEB, NAB, RSV, NRSV have lower case correctly). Adoni, my lord, means a non-Deity superior. It never in all of its 195 occurrences refers to God who is the Lord God (Adonai). Jesus is the Lord Messiah (adoni, my lord, and hence in the NT “our lord”). God is still the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus is Lord Messiah

I Corinthians 8:4-6 defines the Christian faith in opposition to polytheism. Paul asserts that “there is One God, the Father.” That of course is a plain unitarian statement. He adds that there is “one Lord Jesus Messiah.” That statement defines the Son of God as the Lord Messiah, not the Lord God. Paul is in complete agreement with his colleague Luke who introduces Jesus as the “Lord Messiah” (Luke 2:11) and reports that Elizabeth rejoices that Mary is “the mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43) — i.e. the mother, not of God, but of the Lord Messiah, the “my Lord” of Psalm 110:1, which is the key Christological text of the whole NT. The Roman Catholic priest who remarked on TV that God came to Mary and said, “Will you please be My mother?” did not reflect the world of the Bible at all, but the later creeds of the Church. Once Jesus was turned into God, a more suitable and sympathetic mediator was needed and Mary was put in heaven (though she is actually dead) to supply the need.

Finally, the concept that Jesus is God obstructs the marvelous biblical account of what God has done with man, the man Messiah. The Trinitarian idea demotes man, and does not allow God to work through his chosen Man. The remedy for this is the Pauline statement that “there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Messiah Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

 

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