Sunday, September 9, 2012

Drake Shelton's Triadology: A Summary

In a Christian context, debates about monotheism and trinitarianism seem to reduce to this: who are [or is] the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who or what is God, and how are these related to one another? Drake’s view is as follows:

There are three divine persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. To be divine is to be eternal, omniscient, good, just, etc. These are universals which may be predicated of the Father, of the Son and of the Spirit; that is, each is divine because there are a set of distinct, divine attributes which may be predicated of each of them. Why this is the case will be explained momentarily.

Whereas these attributes are what each has in common with the others, each is individuated from the others by his respective property or properties. So, for instance, the Father is eternally unoriginate, the Son is eternally begotten or generated from the Father, and the Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father.

Hence, the Father, Son, and Spirit must be distinct persons. To be a person is to possess a mind capable of reflexively indexing a certain set of propositions. So, for example, the reasons that the Father, Son and Spirit are distinct persons or minds is that only the Father can think “I am unoriginate,” only the Son can think “I am eternally begotten,” and only the Spirit can think “I eternally proceed.”

[These variances in reflexive thought do not imply that omniscience is impossible. The subject of the proposition "I am unoriginate" is, for the Father, "the Father," and both the Son and Spirit also assent to the proposition "the Father is unoriginate." Propositions are the meanings of declarative statements, and the meaning of the Father's thought "I am unoriginate" is synonymous with "the Father is unoriginate." Reflexive knowledge can accordingly be considered an indexation of propositional thought.]

Eternal generation and procession may be distinguishing properties, but they also point to the source of unity among the persons: the Father. It is the Father who communicates His divine nature, essence, or attributes in the Son and Spirit whose very persons are metaphysically grounded in the Father. This is not to say that the Son and Spirit are creations, however. Each is eternal and consubstantial with the Father in respect to His divine nature, for both persons causally extend from the Father necessarily rather than as an act of free will. And though eternal generation and eternal procession can be considered types of emanation or consubstantial extension from the Father, it is not Neoplatonic since such causality is a property of the Father alone. But the point is that the Father is the point of unity among the divine persons, not an abstract set of attributes which each person allegedly possesses of Himself. The Son and Spirit are not "autotheos." From this, Drake concludes that in the ontological as well as economic Trinity,

There is a subordination of persons but not of nature. The nature in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost is the same in character. However, the Father is the source of the Son and Spirit and all operation... Therefore, the Son is said to obey these commands and operations of the Father (John 10:18, Heb 10:7). The Son never commands the Father but the Father commands the Son. Jesus said in John 14:28 that the Father was greater than he was. The very terms Father and Son require a subordination of some kind.

It may be better, when first trying to grasp this view, not to think of the divine nature abstractly at all. There is certainly nothing wrong with the question, "what is the divine nature?" The divine nature is an idea – a proposition enumerating the attributes which must be predicable of an person in order for him to be divine – analogous to human nature. But neither divine nor human nature in themselves are minds or persons but attributes which identify divine or human minds or persons. Now, I may be said to be human and Jesus may be said to be divine, but in both cases the person is the subject.

As such, "God is three persons," "God is Triune," etc. are false. These propositions make the subject an impersonal divine nature and lead either to the view that the three persons are merely modes of God, which is the error of Sabellius, or to the view that the three persons are in some sense merely parts of God, which is unintelligible. It is no more proper to state that "God is three persons" than it is to state that "human is x number of persons."

This is a danger of considering the doctrine of the Trinity by beginning with the divine nature abstract from persons of whom it may be predicated. Hence, it is often the case that those who hold to the Western or Latin view will first ask “what” – not “who” – is God yet proceed to use personal [relative] pronouns in describing God’s attributes. This turns the divine nature into a person and either leads to a quaternity or a collapsing of the Trinity into [parts of?] one person.

The alternative to this conception of "numeric unity" is "generic unity" which in Drake's words, means that "the divine nature is generic in the sense that it defines the necessary predicates of three different things: three different divine minds." The only subjects to whom the genus "deity" can apply are the Father, Son, and Spirit. These persons are said to be united because of each the genus "deity" may be predicated, albeit with the qualification that the ground of this unity lies in the Father's eternal communication of this genus in the Son and Spirit.

The debate regarding generic and numeric unity is primarily about the ground of unity, though, of course, why one thinks the Father, Son, and Spirit may be said to be united will affect how one thinks they are united. Generic unity holds the Father as the principle of unity whereas numeric unity holds the divine nature as the principle of unity. The latter view, therefore, requires that the Son and Spirit are autotheos. Drake argues the contrary: "Aseity is not a divine attribute. It is a personal property of the Father. If Aseity is an divine attribute then this denies the eternal generation of the Son, which requires derivation."

The debate between numeric and generic unity is important because, for example, the view of the divine nature as absolutely simple presupposes that the principle, cause, origin, or source of unity among the Father, Son, and Spirit lies in the divine nature "itself" (numeric unity), whereas a view of the divine nature as allowing for real distinctions would be perfectly compatible with the Monarchy of the Father (hence, with generic unity). Absolute divine simplicity is problematic because it is unable to account for how men can participate in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4) given that there are no real distinctions in it. In fact, if there are no real distinctions in the divine nature, some sort of Neoplatonic Monad seems to follow. Real distinctions in God's knowledge and attributes, for instance, are good and necessary to the perfection of the Trinity.

Given these considerations about individuation, personhood, the divine nature, unity, etc., what does "God" means? Drake writes:

I have found that the word “God” can mean at least 6 things in this discussion: 1. The Father/Monarchy; Concreted person; 2. The Divine Nature; abstract substance; or that an uncreated person possesses a divine nature 3. Godhead 4.Source of operation; 5. Auto-theos: that is uncaused 6. An indirect sense in that the Logos and the Holy Spirit are called God as they inter-dwell (perichoresis) and are consubstantial with the Father.

Drake usually uses definitions 1, 4, and 5 when referencing "God." So, for example, Jesus is referred to as the Son of God. Just as the Son is a person, “God,” in this context, is a person – namely, the Father. As the Nicene Creed states, “We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.” The one God is the Father. The Father alone is Monarch, autotheos, inoriginate, the principle of unity, etc. Drake doesn't use definition 3.

As for definitions 2 and 6, “God” may in this sense be predicated of the Son and Holy Spirit, but in these cases such is due the fact they are persons who are divine; that is, to say Jesus [or the Holy Spirit] is God is a reference to the essence communicated from the Father. Even in this sense, “God” is an adjectival predicate, not a subject.

The most serious charge against this position is that it implies tritheism rather than monotheism, and Christianity is a monotheistic religion. But this charge can be answered only when it is clarified who or what the "one God" is. On Drakes view, Christianity is monotheistic insofar as the Father is the only person of the Trinity of whom “God” can be predicated qua personhood (cf. definitions 1, 4, and 5): “On my Nicene view, being the one God is a hypostatic property of the Father, not a divine attribute.” This does not preclude the divinity of the Son and Spirit:

God is not three gods as in Tri-theism but God is the Father and with the Father are his Word and Spirit in whom the Father communicates the divine nature. There is only one God, one divine nature and one divine operation. God is the only cause though there are different agents of action in the world. Causality requires infallible operation to produce a uniform effect. The Father is this cause. God is static and immutable. Ad extra the action of God is one in that all things are different aspects of one eternal act. This eternal act is governed by the plurality of Ideas or Thoughts in God as his nature Ad Intra. This eternal act is good because it is in accord with his divine nature/thought affirmations.

Does this mean that on Drake's view, Christianity is tritheistic with respect to definitions 2 and 6 for "God"? Yes. But since whenever Scripture references the "one God" it is always with reference to the Father, this is irrelevant. In the contexts of Scripture in which monotheism is emphasized, only definitions 1, 4, and 5 are applicable anyways. Where, then, is the error? It's principle of individuation coupled with it's rejection of an abstract divine nature as the principle of unity among the Trinity precludes Sabellianism. It's rejection of the Son and Spirit as created in favor of the monarchy of the Father as presented in Scripture, the original Nicene creed, and the Cappadocian Fathers precludes Arianism. Unitarianism appears to be an undefined catch-all which, if applied in this instance without accompanying counter-arguments, would signal a pejorative hit-and-run tactic.

None of this is meant to imply I have no more questions or concerns about this view. But then, those questions or concerns are not solely related to Trinitarianism. For instance, I still have questions about which theory of time is true or whether the idea of multiple possible worlds is intelligible, and the implications of Drake's strict view of the Trinity would seem to demarcate what possibilities are live options. But then, I'm going to have the same or similar questions with respect to any Trinitarian position, and I'd probably have further questions specifically relevant to that Trinitarian view.

To conclude then, Drake's view is the most coherent I have read. I would recommend his posts on Triadology (cf. here, here, here, and here), particularly for the sections of Scriptural support for his preference in using definitions 1, 4, and 5 for "God."

* Personal note: a thanks to Drake for reviewing this post and making some suggestions.

29 comments:

gustav2ndadolf said...

This is good. Thanks. Drake has been a big help to me on these issues. He understands the Energetic Procession challenge to Western Models, but he is one of the few people who actually can meet them head-on.

I had been confused about some things he said on generic unity and your post really explicates it.

Nick said...

I'm confused on how the 2nd definition of "God" (2. The Divine Nature; abstract substance; or that an uncreated person possesses a divine nature) is unacceptable/false, when this is the only way John 1:1c can be understood.

When the text says "the Word was God," this cannot mean "the Son was the Father," so the only option left is that "God" here refers to divinity. This is why John used the definite article for theos in 1:1b, but not in 1:1c.

Ben said...

If God is the Father alone, (i.e., the definition of God and the definition of the father are one and the same) as Drake would like to maintain and if Jesus is not the Father (to avoid any form of Sabbellianism)it follows of necessity that Jesus is not God. Drake's formula, therefore, is either irrational or heretical, it would seem.

Ryan said...

Nick, I don't believe I said that definition 2 is unacceptable or false. I thought I said the opposite. If I'm not mistaken, Drake says the same thing you do about John 1:1 in the comment section here.

Ryan said...

Ben, you are equivocating on the meaning of "God." I provided six definitions which Drake has said he encountered, three of which may be predicated of the Father alone (definitions 1, 4, and 5), two of which may be predicate of the Father, Son, or Spirit (definitions 2 and 6), and one of which is wholly inapplicable (definition 3). Just because Jesus is not God in the sense of definitions 1, 4, or 5 does not imply He cannot be God in the sense of definitions 2 or 6.

Nick said...

I see your point; I reread it and note that #2 is not forbidden. What at first appeared to seem that only 1,4,5 were acceptable was only speaking on a specific application.

Ben said...

Ryan,

I'm not equivocating; I'm rejecting Drake's definitions. Anyone who would say that God is the Father alone and also maintain that Jesus and the Spirit are God would be the one equivocating. That is obvious. The first part of definition #2 is the concept Drake wishes to avoid (The Divine Nature; abstract substance), the second half is simply an alternate way of stating #6. The definition of #6 is more honest because it is stating what is really taking place with this aberrant construction of the Trinity: Jesus is only in “an indirect sense… called God….” As though an appendage may in an indirect sense be called a body because it is of the same substance with the body. Of course, this analogy can only go so far because an arm is not “eternally begotten” of the body. I’m merely pointing out that Drake cannot say Jesus and the Spirit are God without equivocating with the definition of God (or the word “is”). Of course, as with the cults who attempt to rob Christ of His deity, Christ is God in a “sense” they would say He is “a god”. I would suggest logically, Drake’s view is not much different. Drake’s view may have more reverent terminology than the cults and share some phrases with biblical Trinitarianism, but the reduction of Christ’s deity is similar and the deception is similar. The biblical definition of Christ is not shared by Drake.

Consider this argument by Calvin from Scripture:

“In every case where the Godhead is mentioned, we are by no means to admit that there is an antithesis between the Father and the Son, as if to the former only the name of God could competently be applied. For assuredly, the God who appeared to Isaiah was the one true God, and yet John declares that he was Christ (Isa. 6; John 12:41). He who declared, by the mouth of Isaiah, that he was to be “for a stone of stumbling” to the Jews, was the one God; and yet Paul declares that he was Christ (Isa. 8:14; Rom. 9:33). He who proclaims by Isaiah, “Unto me every knee shall bow,” is the one God; yet Paul again explains that he is Christ (Isa. 45:23; Rom. 14:11). To this we may add the passages quoted by an Apostle, “Thou, Lord, hast laid the foundations of the earth;” “Let all the angels of God worship him,” (Heb. 1:10; 10:6; Ps. 102:26; 97:7). All these apply to the one God; and yet the Apostle contends that they are the proper attributes of Christ. There is nothing in the cavil, that what properly applies to God is transferred to Christ, because he is the brightness of his glory. Since the name of Jehovah is everywhere applied to Christ, it follows that, in regard to Deity, he is of himself. For if he is Jehovah, it is impossible to deny that he is the same God who elsewhere proclaims by Isaiah, “I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God,” (Is. 44:6). We would also do well to ponder the words of Jeremiah, “The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens,” (Jer. 10:11); whence it follows conversely, that He whose divinity Isaiah repeatedly proves from the creation of the world, is none other than the Son of God. And how is it possible that the Creator, who gives to all should not be of himself, but should borrow his essence from another? Whosoever says that the Son was essentiated by the Father,100 denies his selfexistence. Against this, however, the Holy Spirit protests, when he calls him Jehovah.”

I encourage you to read the whole argument (Institutes 1:8:25). I’m sure these arguments are familiar to you. I simply post it to bring them back to your remembrance so that you can apply it to Drake’s construction of the Trinity.

Ryan said...

Ben,

Words can have multiple meanings. As such, you need to be specific as to how I and Drake are equivocating, given that we would predicate "God" of the Father in a sense distinct from the way in which we would apply it to the Son or Spirit. Do you know what it means to equivocate?

In what way is Christ's deity reduced? If you followed the argument, the Son shares all the attributes of deity with the Father (as does the Spirit). The point is that not all that may be predicated of the Son can be predicated of the Father (or Spirit) and vice versa. If that were the case, then there would be no distinctions and, hence, only one divine person (Sabellianism).

You and Calvin need to argue that aseity is a divine attribute rather than an individuating property, not merely assert it. Also, you realize that the quote you provide denies eternal generation, right? Do you also deny eternal generation? I didn't think so, given your first paragraph, but then again, for you to cite an argument by Calvin which denies it wouldn't make any sense if you believed eternal generation. I would also note that eternal generation does not suggest the Son "borrows" the divine nature. The [impersonal] divine nature is eternal; hence, the Son is eternally generated, or else He could not be divine. It is also not separable or capable of being abstracted from the Son. The Son cannot be not-divine.

You will not convince me with arguments from authority, as I am already aware this view is not the mainstream Reformed view. I pointed the reader to the Scriptures Drake cites on his website which support definitions 1, 4, and 5.

1 Corinthians 8:6 yet for us 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.

Ephesians 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Note in each case that the relative pronoun which refers to "God" is in each case personal ("whom," "who"); that is, in these passages, God is a person rather than an abstract nature. The Father alone is God in these contexts (cf. here as well).

Drake Shelton said...

Hey guys. David Waltz, Jnorm and I have been having this conversation in as much detail as I think is possible here: http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2012/09/basil-great-letter-cxxv-excellent.html

Uh, I would like to join in here but I fear I would be typing out scores of pages I have already typed.

Check it.

Ben said...

Ryan,

To use more than one definition of a word in the same argument to conceal the truth of the conclusion is to equivocate. Drake cannot with honesty say Jesus is God, or that the Spirit is God. This should cause sober Christians to pause and reflect on what Scripture has to say about Christ and the Spirit. Hence, my quote of Calvin, who I quoted not as an appeal to authority, but because his argumentation was biblically based and it saved time as my argument would be the same (I noticed I cited the wring section, it should read 1:8:23, though section 25 is also pertinent to the discussion). Appeal to authority? If you can legitimately point out a fallacy in my arguments, please do, I'm always looking to improve them.

I actually have not come to a conclusion on the eternal generation of the Son. I'm reading arguments on two sides, examining the relevant biblical material and will hopefully arrive at a conclusion. But I don't see how my position on this issue either way offers your position any logical merit. You actually have ignored the portion of my argument that demonstrates that Drake's construction denies Jesus is God. That's the paper cut -- the Scripture that calls Him God is the lemon juice.

Christ claimed to be the "I AM" (John 8:58). If Christ is Jehovah as revealed in the Old Testament, if He is the "I AM" who revealed Himself to Moses, if He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty (Rev 1:8) and still not be God of Himself, I dare say, you would have a difficult time proving the Father is.

I have no problem, as a Trinitarian, referring to God using the relative pronoun "who" or "whom" as God is God in three persons. I may use the word “whom” in reference to the Triune God. Though, I acknowledge that often times when we use the word “God” we are referencing the Father only -- as with our prayers. But I may also say, “Jesus Christ, God, who is the King of kings, etc., referring only to the Son. When I say God, to whom all glory is due, regenerated my heart that I would believe the Gospel, I am actually referencing the Spirit alone. But if I say, “God, who saved my wretched soul,” I am actually referencing God in His Triunity, as the Father called, the Son paid atonement, and the Sprit regenerated. I see no logical problem with this. Though even if there were, it by no means negates the obvious problems in your own position. I know there is a great deal of learning we have yet to do with regards to the Trinity, but Drake’s formulation is patently wrong; it is not growth in knowledge but regression to formulas already rejected.

Curious too, if my citation of Calvin’s Institutes is an appeal authority, your citation of Drake’s blog would be… what?

Ryan said...

Ben,

There is no equivocation. In respect to Christianity's monotheistic claims, there is indeed only one God (definitions 1, 4, and 5). In respect to Christianity's Trinitarian claims, there are indeed three Gods (definitions 2 and 6). You are simply conflating arguments.

Drake denies that the Son is God in the 1st, 4th, and 5th definitions of "God," which does not preclude him from assigning the 2nd and 6th to the Son. You either do not understand the arguments or don't know what an equivocation is.

Citing Scriptures demonstrating that Jesus is God is an irrelevant exercise if you do not also show what meaning is to be associated with the word. For instance,

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

John 20:17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’

In this passage, Jesus distinguishes himself from "God." This is fine with my and Drake's view, which allows for differences in meaning, but not yours, which doesn't. So what do you do with it? What do you do with the other passages I cited already, which you didn't reply to?

"God is God in three persons."

Then either the persons are parts of God or there is only one person with three manifestations, both of which are false views.

"Curious too, if my citation of Calvin’s Institutes is an appeal authority, your citation of Drake’s blog would be… what?"

A source. I don't expect anyone to be bullied into believing Drake because he's a blogger, but I would also hope you're not bullying me into believing Calvin because he's Calvin. I addressed what you and Calvin said.

Ben said...

Ryan,

If you’re intimidated by Calvin I shall refrain from using him.

I’m not going to debate with you about the meaning of the word equivocation either. Look it up in your logic textbook and feel the weight of my argument then. There are more problems I can address without quibbling over terms you should know. What you’re doing now is dichotomizing the argument to avoid the obvious problems. If you were to apply this same type of reasoning to the incarnation you could say the Son is God but He is also not God – human but also not human. Someone may object and say, that’s not logical. You would then reply with something like: “You’re conflating arguments. When asking whether the Son is a man, we say yes; when answering if the Son is God, we say, yes. Two different arguments, so no foul.” Of course you would object to this type of reasoning in this context, as I object to your using it in the context of the Trinity.

But since you mentioned three Gods, I was reminded of something you said in your original blog post: “Does this mean that on Drake's view, Christianity is tritheistic with respect to definitions 2 and 6 for "God"? Yes. But since whenever Scripture references the "one God" it is always with reference to the Father, this is irrelevant.”

Now, I know you didn’t investigate this yourself. You probably just took Drake’s word for it, because it is simply false to say the Son is never referred to as the one God.

De 6:4: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.” Capital L.O.R.D in the King James, as I’m sure you know, means Jehovah – the self-existent one. Jehovah is the one God. Now, observe:

Isa 45:24, 25: “Surely, shall one say, in the LORD [the one God] have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” With Ga 2:16a: “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ”

Jer 23:5, 6: “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD [the one God] OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

Zec 14:9: “And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.” This is referring to Christ’s kingdom.

Tit 2:13: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;”

1Jo 5:20: “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”

You Said: “In the contexts of Scripture in which monotheism is emphasized, only definitions 1, 4, and 5 are applicable anyways. Where, then, is the error?” Firstly, if there are two Sources of operation (Definition #4), and two Gods who are auto-theos (definition #5), then quite apparently there are at least two Gods. I’d need more time to prove a third. But it appears with Drake’s view (and yours, as you’ve chosen to now identify your view with his), that the LORD our God is one LORD is contradicting. Secondly, if you attempt to avoid the multiplicity of Gods by applying only definition #1 (The Father/Monarchy), you ruin the individuality of the Father and Son making them one person leading even to patripassianism.

The other problem I see is not error, but just incongruent with your position: If the Son is Jehovah, He is God of Himself, for that is what it means to be Jehovah. If this denies eternal generation in the sense it’s used in the Nicene Creed, so be it -- I’d rather be biblical.

And I’m still wondering, how can the Son be “the Beginning” (Rev 1:8) and not be God of Himself?

Ben said...

As to the Scripture passages you quoted: I addressed the two you quoted previously with your emphasis on the relative pronoun. Drake’s massive list would take too long for me to address as there are different answers to the various passages. One answer that does apply to each of them is that my above argument proves his interpretation contradicts Scripture. I do have time for a couple, however:

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

John 20:17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’

You said: “In this passage, Jesus distinguishes himself from "God." This is fine with my and Drake's view, which allows for differences in meaning, but not yours, which doesn't. So what do you do with it?”

I think the answer to both of these lies in the fact that the incarnate Christ took on the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom 8:3) and was found in fashion as a man (Phil 2:8). Thus, in that sense, Christ identifies with God as a man. The question is one of the incarnation, not of the Trinity. Perhaps you didn’t notice the problem your own position has with this verse, when Christ says “to my father and to your father”. Obviously, the Father is not Father to the Son in the same sense as He is Father to us.

I find your lack of thought disturbing. It’s as though you’re fideistically Drakeian.

Ryan said...

Passive aggressive baits don't work on me. Skipping the pointless stuff:

"If you were to apply this same type of reasoning to the incarnation you could say the Son is God but He is also not God – human but also not human."

No, because there is but one person under consideration with respect to the incarnation whereas there are three persons under consideration with respect to this topic.

"Now, I know you didn’t investigate this yourself."

How?

"You probably just took Drake’s word for it, because it is simply false to say the Son is never referred to as the one God."

No, it is false to say the Son is never referred to as YHWH. But I am not opposed to referring to a vicegerent as He in whose name He comes and reigns, being the representative of said person. Nevertheless, the persons are distinct and distinguishable.

"This is referring to Christ’s kingdom."

Given my above response, a reply to this isn't necessary. But is Zechariah referring to the Son here? If you trace Zechariah's use of LORD back to the previous chapter, where he references the LORD's striking of His shepherd (13:7), it's apparent that the LORD of whom Zechariah speaks is the Father and the shepherd is Christ. So then, at what point does Zechariah transition from using LORD to reference the Father to using LORD to reference Jesus?

1 Corinthians 15:24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.

I do not see the point in citing Titus 2:13 or 1 John 5:20.

"Firstly, if there are two Sources of operation (Definition #4), and two Gods who are auto-theos (definition #5), then quite apparently there are at least two Gods."

Since there aren't, there isn't.

"Secondly, if you attempt to avoid the multiplicity of Gods by applying only definition #1 (The Father/Monarchy), you ruin the individuality of the Father and Son making them one person leading even to patripassianism."

That only follows if the Son is a monarch (source of operation; authotheos).

"The other problem I see is not error, but just incongruent with your position: If the Son is Jehovah, He is God of Himself, for that is what it means to be Jehovah."

Who or what do you mean by "God" here?

"And I’m still wondering, how can the Son be “the Beginning” (Rev 1:8) and not be God of Himself?"

I'm wondering why you think this passage refers to Christ. 1:13 makes it clear that it is the Father who is speaking.

Ryan said...

"I addressed the two you quoted previously with your emphasis on the relative pronoun."

Speaking of which, I have a question about that. You said: "God is God in three persons." How do you avoid the dilemma I present in my OP:

//"God is three persons," "God is Triune," etc. are false. These propositions make the subject an impersonal divine nature and lead either to the view that the three persons are merely modes of God, which is the error of Sabellius, or to the view that the three persons are in some sense merely parts of God, which is unintelligible. It is no more proper to state that "God is three persons" than it is to state that "human is x number of persons."//

I think it is time for you to state your own view, since you are criticizing mine.

"I think the answer to both of these lies in the fact that the incarnate Christ took on the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom 8:3) and was found in fashion as a man (Phil 2:8). Thus, in that sense, Christ identifies with God as a man. The question is one of the incarnation, not of the Trinity."

I am not sure this parry is compatible with a coherent view of the incarnation, but even if so, it at least isn't applicable to John 17:3, where Jesus is speaking of His relation to the Father prior to the incarnation (cf. 17:5).

"Obviously, the Father is not Father to the Son in the same sense as He is Father to us."

In some respects He is, and in others, He isn't. Obviously, our relation to the Father is not eternal. However, both the Son and ourselves should regard the Father as "1. The Father/Monarchy; Concreted person; 4.Source of operation; 5. Auto-theos: that is uncaused." Are you saying that our relationship to the Father does not at any point overlap with Christ's relationship to the Father? If not, then there is a point of identification between Christ and our relationship to the Father and so no problem at all.

"I find your lack of thought disturbing. It’s as though you’re fideistically Drakeian."

If you had read my post, you would have noted at least two points on which I lean towards disagreement with Drake: what is the correct theory of time, and whether there is more than one reality compatible with God. I have also stated in my post on the filioque that I am not so sure he is correct there either.

Also, I find your lack of charity disturbing. You should not be so focused on winning arguments, a motive evident in your attempts to poison the well, straw man, and bait me. These are superfluous tactics beneath Christian dialogue.

Drake Shelton said...

Ben,

“De 6:4: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.” Capital L.O.R.D in the King James, as I’m sure you know, means Jehovah – the self-existent one. Jehovah is the one God. Now, observe:

Isa 45:24, 25: “Surely, shall one say, in the LORD [the one God] have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” With Ga 2:16a: “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ”

Jer 23:5, 6: “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD [the one God] OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

>>>David Waltz wrote a great piece on the Yahistc language: http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2010/10/back-to-bible.html
Here is a fairly devastating point:

“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:32-36 – KJV: also Matt. 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42; Heb. 1:13)

When one references the Hebrew text, a clear distinction between the two "Lords" is made, for the first LORD is the person Jehovah/Yahweh (יחוח), while the second is the generic "lord" (לאדני):”

You also left out the famous Isa 6 passage of which Clarke states,

“And Cyril of Jerusalem, speaking of this very passage in Esaias, where he saw God sitting upon the Throne of his glory: The Father (saith he) hath no man seen at any time; but he which then appeared to the Prophets, was the Son….Thus when ‘tis said of Moses and the seventy Elders Exod. xxiv, 10, that they saw the God of Israel, and that there was under his feet as it were a paved work, etc. it must be understood that they saw, not the Invisible Father, but the Son appearing in the Name and Person of the Father.

All which, is much confirmed by St. Stephen’s Expression, Acts vii; 30, 32, that the ANGEL of the Lord [viz. the Angel of the Covenant, the Angel of his Presence, whom the Name of God was, and by whom God always speaks, upon which account he is stiled the Word of God] appeared to Moses in the Wilderness in a flame of Firse in a Bush;—stating, I AM the God of the Fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity Pg. 104-105

Drake Shelton said...

Ben,

This is what we read in Acts 7:
30 “After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning thorn bush.31 When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he approached to look more closely, there came the voice of the Lord: 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.’ Moses shook with fear and would not venture to look. 33 But the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have certainly seen the oppression of My people in Egypt and have heard their groans, and I have come down to rescue them; come now, and I will send you to Egypt.’

Yet we read in Exodus 3:7 that Jehovah is speaking. However, from verse 2 we know that it was not the person of Jehovah speaking but the angel of Jehovah. Here we see how the Word of God is identified with the Father with reference to Nominal Numerics not Cardinal Numerics. With reference to Cardinal Numerics the two persons are distinct. With reference to Nominal Numerics, the Word speaks for the Father as if the two were wearing the same jersey or as Clarke puts it that the Word appears in the name, or bears the name of the Father in the economia.

Drake Shelton said...

Ben,

Samuel Clarke in his work Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity, pg. 98-99, says,

“58. Before Abraham was, I am: The Socinian Interpretation of this passage is very languid and unnatural; that Christ was before Abraham, in the Fore-knowledge and Appointment of God. The plain Meaning is, that he was really with God in the beginning, and before the world was…Many Expositors, from our Saviours using in this passage the Words, I am…AND THAT He was That person, in whom [Compare Exod. Xxiii, 21, with Acts vii, 30-32…] the Name of God was, [viz. Jehovah, or, I am;] This, I say, cannot be denied. But to suppose that he here describes himself to be absolutely [I do not affirm absolutely but by way of representation as he was the icon of God. Col 1:15-DS] The Self-Existent Being; this is down-right Sabellianism, and directly contrary to the whole Tenour of Scripture.”


“Tit 2:13: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;””


>>>Titus 2 is not saying that the Great God and our saviour is jesus Christ, he is saying that he is looking forward to the glory of both of them because the Great God and jesus are two different persons. For scriptural support notice these two passages:

Titus 3: 4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,6 whom He poured out upon us richly *****through**** Jesus Christ our Savior

1 Timothy 2:5- For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

“1Jo 5:20: “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.””

The phrase “This is the true God” is not defined as jesus. Athanasius defined this usage as pertaining to his divine nature not that he is the One God. But secondly, in th context of the passage we are talking about what God has done and offered in the Son, as we read in the previous phrase in verse 20: “in His Son Jesus Christ”. The subject of the conversation is God not the Son, Jesus Christ.


“Firstly, if there are two Sources of operation (Definition #4)”

>>>When did I say I believe there are two sources of operation?

“ two Gods who are auto-theos”

>>I have specifically denied that the Son and Spirit are auto-theos. Where are you getting this ben?


“you ruin the individuality of the Father and Son making them one person leading even to patripassianism. ”


>>>How in the farthest imagination are we saying they are one person? The only criticism of our view is saying we believe in three Gods. My hardest critics have never even imagined making this argument.

Drake Shelton said...

Ben,

“If the Son is Jehovah, He is God of Himself, for that is what it means to be Jehovah. If this denies eternal generation in the sense it’s used in the Nicene Creed, so be it -- I’d rather be biblical.”

>>>The Son is not Jehovah. He is the spokesman of Jah as I have proven.

“And I’m still wondering, how can the Son be “the Beginning” (Rev 1:8) and not be God of Himself?”


>>>I deal with that here: http://eternalpropositions.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/who-is-the-alpha-and-the-omega-the-almighty/

“Obviously, the Father is not Father to the Son in the same sense as He is Father to us.”

>>>First Paul mentions that the One God is the father in 1 Cor 8:6 and he was not a divine person who humbled himself to take flesh. Second, the fact that our Sonship has a logical distinction from the Son’s (His is by nature, ours by grace and participation) does not mean that it has an ontological distinction from the Son’s because our sonship is a participation in that same eternal sonship of Christ. If you appeal to a second sonship of the Son that the elect participate in, you fall prey to the Adoptionist and Nestorian heresy.

Ben said...

Ryan,
I wasn’t planning on staying in this debate much longer because I don’t have the time. My wife is due to give birth to our third child any day, I have a business to operate and other obligations. Since you’re taking such offence to my posting it seems it would be best to bow out now anyway.

It certainly was not my intent to act uncharitably. I admit to being somewhat harsh at times, but this was simply quid pro quo due to your fuming arrogance. You posted like a little punk, so I treated you like one. In honesty too, it is difficult to think of someone saying the things you are saying as Christian. Whether you are a heretic, I can’t judge yet, but you certainly say some heretical and dangerous things.

Thus, I’m not focused on winning an argument; I’m focused on demolishing what I perceive to be heretical views of Christ and the Spirit. My own position on the Trinity, I think, is evident enough. I don’t care to engage you on that. My purpose here is to show the errors of Dake’s view, which are errors regardless of my own view of the Trinity. We could only have productive discourse on the Trinity after you reject monarchianism, and not before.

There are several times you have a misapprehension of my arguments. I am often arguing via ad hominem. Take that into account. When I say your position is x, it is because that is the logical implication of your position, in light of my argument, or the Scriptures I posted, not because you overtly said it yourself. It’s not a strawman; it’s an argumentum ad hominem. I wish you would have dealt with them as such, rather than writing them off with not so cogent one-liners.

The vicegerent argument is a pitiful cop out. Surly you must be second guessing your own position by now. Not only is it a cop out, but it has some extreme implications. Consider these passages in light of what you said:

Rev 1:5, 6: “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”
Ro 8:16, 17: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
2Ti 2:12: “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.”

If the Son is called the one God simply because of a status of vicegerent and we are joint heirs with Him, it follows that we may be called the one true God. That has obvious problems. I think the solution is that the passages I quoted prove the Son to be God of Himself and we are the ones who are merely vicegerents as the passages immediately quoted indicate. That doesn’t mean we may be called by His name, Jehovah, but we represent the authority of His name. Whereas the Son is Jehovah, as Scripture plainly says, not merely vicegerent.

Ben said...

Your uncertainty in your position is further evidenced by your abuse of the other texts. The grammar in Zechariah 13:7 is different than that of 14:9, so obviously 13:7 cannot be the antecedent for “LORD”. This is how these debates end up being so long. I don’t know what your eschatological position is, but from my study of pre, a, and postmillennialism, all understand this to be referring to the reign of Christ. It’s not an isolated passage it has and system of eschatology behind it. I read the whole book this morning; Christ is mentioned as the one God multiple times, keeping in mind the eschatological context.

Referring to “the Son of Man” in Revelation 1:13 as the Father is your biggest stretch yet. Shame on you! To stoop to such nonsense to defend what is obviously aberrant.

In John 17:3, 5 there is nothing unusual about the Son referring to the Father as the one true God, because He is, just as the Holy Spirit time and time again refers to the Son as the one true God through the apostles and prophets. This does not imply monarchianism.

My apologies if my writing seems choppy. I wrote part of this last night and part this afternoon (lack of time.)

Ben said...

Drake,
I do not wish to address you in this debate and here are my reasons. 1) I don’t have the time. 2) From reading your blog and other debates on the internet, I can see that if I had all the time in the world one minute would be vain to use on you in this debate. I’m aware of your position; you’re not informing me. 3) You, like Ryan, have already shown a misapprehension of my arguments. 4) Your arrogance would greatly perturb me. “David Waltz, Jnorm and I have been having this conversation in as much detail as I think is possible here.” I’m glad to see you’ve exhausted the issue. Don’t repeat yourself on my account.

Drake Shelton said...

Ben,

I feel sorry for you man. You are having a full out Neo just got unplugged meltdown. I can already tell from reading your comments that you have probably read maybe a book or two on these issues: maybe. You have probably listened to a handful of sermonettes on the Trinity and now you are shell shocked as to which Google search to perform to answer the mountain of problems in front of you.

“If the Son is called the one God simply because of a status of vicegerent and we are joint heirs with Him, it follows that we may be called the one true God.”

>>>First, I have already proven that the Son is nowhere referred to as the One God. Second, how you birthed that conclusion from the abortion of an argument you made is impressive. I have rarely seen such an ability to toss together such meaningless word pasta.

Ryan said...

"It certainly was not my intent to act uncharitably. I admit to being somewhat harsh at times, but this was simply quid pro quo due to your fuming arrogance. You posted like a little punk, so I treated you like one."

Not only do you contradict yourself in the span of four lines, you don't even direct me to what you think was arrogant. You say this is your last post, but if you were to continue to act childishly, I would and will delete your posts.

"If the Son is called the one God simply because of a status of vicegerent and we are joint heirs with Him, it follows that we may be called the one true God."

We are able to be co-heirs because we are consubstantial with the Son. The Son is consubstantial with the Father, but it does not follow that we are therefore consubstantial with the Father as well. That too is a necessary condition for a representative to bear the name of He whom he represents.

"I think the solution is that the passages I quoted prove the Son to be God of Himself and we are the ones who are merely vicegerents as the passages immediately quoted indicate."

I already asked who or what is "God" when you make these sorts of statements, but I guess now I'll never know.

"The grammar in Zechariah 13:7 is different than that of 14:9, so obviously 13:7 cannot be the antecedent for “LORD”."

I did not ask what you think is obvious, I asked at what point you think Zechariah transitioned from referring the Father as LORD to referring to the Son as LORD between 13:7 and 14:9.

"Referring to “the Son of Man” in Revelation 1:13 as the Father is your biggest stretch yet."

I misread. I thought John said "I turned from the voice..." However, I am still wondering why you think that 1:8 refers to the Son. Is it because you think that 1:8 as well as 1:11 must be voiced by the Son of Man? I don't see why that follows. In any case, I find Drake's point that nowhere else is "Almighty" predicated of the Son to be a stronger argument for the idea 1:8 refers to the Father.

"In John 17:3, 5 there is nothing unusual about the Son referring to the Father as the one true God, because He is, just as the Holy Spirit time and time again refers to the Son as the one true God through the apostles and prophets. This does not imply monarchianism."

Where is Christ referred to as "tou monou Theos," "ton monon alethinon theon," or "eis theos"?

How can there be more than one "only true God," where "God" is defined as source of operation or autotheos? If the Father and Son are distinct persons yet you claim they may both be called the only true God, how is that harmonized?

Bo said...

Well, there's this guy I know that we participate together in Gospel initiatives, getting himself all caught up in this "debate." So he emailed me a link to this for my pleasure reading. I was getting some help to understand all this from the comment thread until everyone got all childish. But oh well. I read the original post and find myself going from "yes, this makes sense and seems orthodox" to "Is Drake a Modelist?" which You (Ryan) state explicitly that this view does not allow for that conclusion. So, I won't allow my conclusions to go there. Either way, I'm trying to figure out why this is even important or is this just the theological musings of a few theologues? Any help would be appreciated. As a side note, I tried to access the articles written by Drake and got some messed up page. I don't know if it was because I was viewing it in Safari or what??

Bo said...

Oh, and by the way, the "guy" I know isn't Ben :)

Ryan said...

Who or what the ultimate object of our worship is would seem to be among the more relevant Christian doctrines, wouldn't you say?

John 4:21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

I honestly don't know why you can't view Drake's articles.

Anonymous said...

Now that Drake Shelton spits on the doctrine of the trinity and no longer calls himself a Christian, do you still recommend him?

Ryan said...

I make a distinction between arguments and arguers. For instance, if you reread the original post, note that I refer to Drake's "view" as coherent as expressed in certain links. Now, if the content in those links haven't changed, then I'd still recommend them. If they have, then I wouldn't necessarily.

Someone cited Drake as wavering on the personhood of the Spirit. If true, then obviously he can't be a Trinitarian, meaning he's abandoned his former view and now would be in disagreement with me as well as other Trinitarians with whom I disagree. But that doesn't mean his former view was incorrect.

But in any case, I think I've posted enough on Trinitarianism that anyone interested doesn't need to go to Drake's links any more to understand the arguments for it. This post was like a commentary on a book which was instrumental to one's conversion to Protestantism or Calvinism: it may have helped one understand the position, but it's not the basis for it. So if the author of said book were to apostatize, it doesn't indicate anything wrong with Protestantism or Calvinism; furthermore, the arguments in the book could still be correct. But I would recommend other sources to other people - preferably my own, if I've written anything - so that there's no confusion as to what I believe.