Friday, September 26, 2008

Final Rebuttal by Mike (Trinitarian position) on the proposition: "What does the Bible mean when it calls Jesus 'G/god'?"

There appears to be an assumption on my opponents part that God can “do whatever he wants.” But would he not agree that there are things that God cannot do? For example, God cannot lie. God cannot cease to exist. God can’t create square circles. He can’t create rocks so big that He couldn’t lift. Such things would be logical contradictions, and I couldn’t imagine my opponent disagreeing with any of this.

But the problem arises when he neglects to include in these “limitations” that God is also limited by what he has said in his Word. For instance, he argues:

“In reality, as a creature Jesus would be only as poor of a representation of God as he wanted him to be, for to say anything else would limit God’s creative ability.”

Jehovah is an infinite God in every sense of the word; in His holiness, power, knowledge (although many JW’s would dispute this), and eternality. If this is the case, is there not an infinite gap between the infinite and the finite? In other words, no matter how highly you exalt a creature, there is still an infinite and unbridgeable gap between the creature and the Creator. An example of this could be likened to a line. When we draw lines, they usually extend in two directions and end at a particular point. In Geometry, they extend forever in both directions. If God represents that infinitely long line, could you ever have a line segment (a line with two distinct end-points) that goes as far as an infinitely long line? Would it be fair to conclude that the finite line would only pale in comparison to the infinitely long line? Similarly, would not a creature, no matter how highly exalted, only pale in comparison to an infinite creator?

I submit that the only way one divine person (Jesus) could be the “exact representation” of another (The Father) would be a shared ontology. This is where the rubber meets the road with my opponent. He seems to be suggesting that I’m “limiting God’s creative ability” in arguing that God couldn’t create a creature who is the “exact representation” of Himself. Such is a logical contradiction, as an infinite God could not “create” another infinite being just like Himself.

My opponent attempts to justify his interpretation of Hebrews 1:3 by asserting that this text,

“does not make Jesus comparable to God who is the source of all things in contrast to Jesus whom they only come through (1Cor. 8:6)”

This indicates another incorrect assumption on his part that “instrumentality (that Jesus was the agent used to create) indicates an inferiority in nature.” But regardless, his statement is contradictory because Hebrews 1:3 states Jesus is the “exact representation” of the Father, yet this “does not make Jesus comparable to God?” How can something be “exact” and also “not comparable?” The only way this is possible is if you are speaking in functional rather than ontological terms. That is, I would agree that Jesus is not an “exact representation” of the Father in that they both play different roles; the Son entering into creation to accomplish redemption as opposed to the Father. But Hebrews 1:3 is very specific in indicating how Jesus is the “exact representation” of the Father by indicating the word “being.” If Hebrews 1:3 is speaking of His ontological exactness, then why bring 1 Corinthians 8:6 into the picture which speaks of the Father and Son’s roles in Creation? Is my opponent suggesting that God could not (hypothetically, of course) exist in three persons; all with separate roles in creation and redemption? Does the Father being the “source” while the Son being the “agent” make one ontologically greater or less than the other?

My opponent argues that,

“To suggest that Jesus could not be honored as the Father unless both are Jehovah is to suggest that Jehovah cannot exalt one and allow the worship of that one. God has no such limitation.”

This is incorrect because it neglects the assumption that God is limited by what He ordains to be. For instance, Matthew 4:10 says, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” (Matthew 4:10) If both Jesus and the Father (in Ex. 34:14) affirm that only YHWH should be worshipped, then should we not “limit” Him to what He has commanded His followers to adhere to? Even if we had no reason behind this command, we could be certain that God only wants us to worship Him. But He clearly specifies His reason for giving this command: He is a jealous God.

My opponent answers this argument by appealing to the fact that Jesus is worshipped to the glory of the Father. I agree with this. But it doesn’t actually address the issue: the worship of the Son. I’m sure Roman Catholics who worship Mary (although they wouldn’t call it “worship”) will readily admit that their prayers and service to her are to the “glory of the Father,” but we agree that this is completely blasphemous. However, we rarely argue this simply because we can’t find any statements in Scripture which command prayer and service (which, biblically, is synonymous with worship!) to Mary. No, we refute them by appealing to texts such as Exodus 34:14 which limit worship to God alone.

Another problem I have with my opponent’s explanation is that it fails to explain what this “worship” of the Son entails. Without getting into a full lexical discussion of proskuneo, I would ask the readers to ask yourself a simple question, whether you be a Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, or Evangelical: “What does your worship of God entail?” Is it limited in any way? Is it possible to worship God more highly than what is due? I submit that to allow the worship of a creature will lead to nothing short of idolatry. If the worship of a creature were Scripturally permissible, would we not expect some very strict guidelines so as to avoid idolatry? If so, I would like for my opponent to explain what these guidelines are so as to avoid giving Jesus what is due to the Father.


Pastor Mike said...

Very well argued my friend.

jimfisher007 said...

If Jesus is Jehovah then how is it that He can die and resurrect himself?
Or did He just go to sleep and then just wake himself up.

I know,...simple minded.


Rob said...

Jesus DID die and resurrect himself. Read John 10:17
The reason He can do this is because the soul is immortal while the unglorified body is not. Just because His body died did not mean He ceased to exist.

Hope that helps Jim


Anonymous said...

Well said Rob! I believe what the scriptures say, not the Watchtower.