Dialogue with Ryan (Trinity Versus Unity)

I “met” Ryan at the Triablogue site in their post Is Hell an Infinite Punishment?  Ryan and I were exchanging comments and so I’ve established this post to allow an ongoing discussion on the trinity since it was a digression from the subject of the post.

Ryan’s first comment on that blog was here.   I won’t copy what we wrote there here.  We’ll just pick up the discussion from the point at which it ended.

So, Ryan, ask away.

(By the way for readers who want to learn more about Christ versus the Trinity, see:

There Is No Trinity; There Is Christ

Posts to Date on the Trinity Versus Christ)

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30 Responses to Dialogue with Ryan (Trinity Versus Unity)

  1. Ryan D. McConnell says:

    I suppose I’ll just start off by re-asking you to clarify what precisely is your position as an alternative to the doctrine of the Trinity? As I said over at the Triablogue post, while I’ve made my position rather clear, I still do not know what is exactly that you believe.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19). That is, Christ (Messiah) was not a separate person but rather an identity God created for Himself from the beginning. The purpose of this identity was to be able to visit the earth and live as one of us. In order to achieve this, no one could know that He was God while He was doing it. Only after He completed His work would His true identity as God be revealed. Therefore, the New Testament portrays Jesus as Messiah, with only hints of the Messiah’s deity. The Second Coming was, among other things, the revelation that the Messiah was God. Thus, when we cry out, “Abba, Father,” Jesus is the Father who is hearing our prayer (see Isaiah 9:6 – where He is called both the Son and the Father).

      • Ryan D. McConnell says:

        Also, I meant to ask.

        That is, Christ (Messiah) was not a separate person but rather an identity God created for Himself from the beginning.

        I don’t really know how to word this but are you saying that you believe Jesus was the Father, just under a different identity? I hope that makes sense.

        • Mike Gantt says:

          Yes. I don’t know how to come to any other conclusion.

          • Ryan D. McConnell says:

            Yes. I don’t know how to come to any other conclusion.

            OK then. Perhaps now I ask more specific questions.

            Who, or what, is Logos spoken of in the prologue to the Gospel of John (Jn 1:1-18) and it is the same who, or what, spoken of the Carmen Christi (Php. 2:8-11)?

            In Jesus’ High Priestly prayer in Jn. 17, who exactly is He talking to? Is He talking, to word it as best as I can, Himself? I’m trying to understand how it is that you can believe that Jesus was the same person as the Father yet was speaking to the Father.

            • Mike Gantt says:

              Who, or what, is Logos spoken of in the prologue to the Gospel of John (Jn 1:1-18) and it is the same who, or what, spoken of the Carmen Christi (Php. 2:8-11)?

              Yes, it is the same. It is the identity God created for Himself (i.e. Messiah) since the beginning of all things that He might live among us as one of us. Without such an identity – which was hidden from heaven as well as from earth – He could never have lived a truly human life. The Second Coming was the revelation that the Messiah had in fact not been a separate person but an identity that God Himself had assumed. That’s why the apostles called the Second Coming the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:7, 13; 4:13; Rev 1:1).

              In Jesus’ High Priestly prayer in Jn. 17, who exactly is He talking to? Is He talking, to word it as best as I can, Himself? I’m trying to understand how it is that you can believe that Jesus was the same person as the Father yet was speaking to the Father.

              Yes. This mystery is great, but God was determined to live a life that would be an example for all of us. To do so, He had to empty Himself, take the form of a bond-servant, and trust the promises of God from Scripture just as we have to do. Therefore, He lived fully on the human side of the divine-human equation. The “Father” for Him was embodied in all the things He had previously said to Abraham and His descendants. We can only see this in retrospect for the moment was too holy for us to see Him face to face as He was passing by (Exodus 33:19-23).

  2. Ryan D. McConnell says:

    Ok, thanks for clarifying. I just wanted to see if I could perhaps be able to pin down which unitarian belief you held to. That sounds like a unique version of modalism, a modalism without the aspect/mode of God having to be dependent on being observed by the believer.

    It’s also nice to finally see where you were getting at by asking the question of when we (the commenters over at Triablogue) thought that Jesus taught the disciples that He was God. So, you don’t think anyone believed that Jesus was God until His resurrection, is that correct? If so, do you also believed that Jesus never claimed that He was God up until that point?

    As for your Scriptural references, I’ll make a few comments:

    “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19)
    Comment: Why do you take “in Christ” (ἐν Χριστῷ) in the way that you do? Given that Paul had just used the similar phrase “through Christ” (διὰ Χριστοῦ) in verse 18, and the context surrounding the verse, wouldn’t “in Christ” actually describe the means by which God reconciled the world?

    “see Isaiah 9:6 – where He is called both the Son and the Father”
    He is not called “the Son” in Isa. 9:6. He is called “a son” and it serves as being more specific about the previously mentioned “child” in the verse; it has to do with His gender, not His divinity. You are right in that He is called “Everlasting Father” (אביעד) in the verse, though. However, given the use of אב on Tanakh, which do you take the title as such instead of seeing it as a description of the characteristics of the child to be born; specifically the covenantal nature of the term אב?

    • Mike Gantt says:

      So, you don’t think anyone believed that Jesus was God until His resurrection, is that correct?

      No, I’m not saying that. I actually wonder what the apostles knew and when they knew it. As I’ve mentioned, Jesus identity was progressively revealed. He began claiming to be no more than a Rabbi. He never told volunteered that He was the Messiah. He did not commission His disicples to preach His Messiahship until He had ascended into heaven. As the mission was executed and the day of the Lord drew closer and closer, I’ve wondered which, if any, of the disciples discerned that He was more than the Messiah. It certainly seems that John had a greater sense of His true identity than the other gospel writers, and this would fit with his outliving the others and his gospel being the last written – if indeed those are reliable facts (of course, dating of the NT texts and the lives of the apostles are fraught with controversy).

      If so, do you also believed that Jesus never claimed that He was God up until that point?

      I believe the hints were there. His deity was spoken of in a mystery in the NT just as His messiahship had been spoken of in a mystery in the OT. That is, no who read and believed the OT had successfully predicted how the prophecies would all be fulfilled. Yet, after the resurrection Jesus explained to His disciples and all the prophecies came together like the pieces of a puzzle. It had to have happened that way. It could happen no other way! In a similar way we can look back now on the NT (and the OT, of course) and see that Messiah was God Himself. It had to be so. It could not be any other way. That is, God often prophesies in a mystery, but, like a riddle, once it’s revealed it all makes sense and you see that no other answer could be true.

      “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19)
      Comment: Why do you take “in Christ” (ἐν Χριστῷ) in the way that you do? Given that Paul had just used the similar phrase “through Christ” (διὰ Χριστοῦ) in verse 18, and the context surrounding the verse, wouldn’t “in Christ” actually describe the means by which God reconciled the world?

      As you could infer from what I’ve written above, I’m not suggesting that Paul was teaching the deity of Christ in this passage. I believe we can retrospectively look back at it and see that truth, but that’s different from saying Paul was teaching it. As to my earlier question about whether and when any of the apostles knew of Jesus true identity, I’m mindful of Paul’s statement that he was caught up into Paradise and heard things which a man is not permitted to speak later in this letter (2 Corinthians 12:4). Could this be analogous to the days of His flesh when He told His disciples not to reveal His was the Messiah? It makes sense to me if that’s what’s being implied here.

      “see Isaiah 9:6 – where He is called both the Son and the Father”
      He is not called “the Son” in Isa. 9:6. He is called “a son” and it serves as being more specific about the previously mentioned “child” in the verse; it has to do with His gender, not His divinity. You are right in that He is called “Everlasting Father” (אביעד) in the verse, though. However, given the use of אב on Tanakh, which do you take the title as such instead of seeing it as a description of the characteristics of the child to be born; specifically the covenantal nature of the term אב?

      The article is not my focus in this verse. Rather, I am struck by the fact that the prophecy speaks of “son” and “father” in the same breath. Now you may be aware that there are some people who do not even take this to be a prophecy about Jesus at all but see Isaiah simply prophesying about a king in his own time with the hyperbolic language used for ancient near eastern monarchs. The mystery in which God prophesies can lead to many interpretations. However, I trust that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy and that everything in the Law and the Prophets and the Writings are about Him (Luke 24:25-27, 31-32, 44-48; John 5:39).

      • Ryan D. McConnell says:

        He began claiming to be no more than a Rabbi.

        Please substantiate this claim through Scripture. For Jesus to claim He was nothing more than a rabbi, which He obviously knew was not true, would be for Jesus to lie, would it not?

        He never told volunteered that He was the Messiah.

        For good reason, too. The volunteered had this bad habit of turning out to be false believers and, as such, given the sensitive nature of making the direct statement “I am the Christ/Messiah” (elaborated on below) in His day they could not be trusted with such information.

        He did not commission His disicples to preach His Messiahship until He had ascended into heaven.

        You know, when I saw your Scriptural references to passages where Jesus allegedly downplayed His Messianic identity in your comments over at Triablogue (i.e. Lk. 9:20-22, Mt. 16:20, Mk. 8:27-30), there was something I couldn’t quite put my finger on when I read the passages. However, I have figured out what struck me.

        Forgive me if I sound condescending by doing so but I’d like to quickly explain why a direct claim from our Lord of “I am the Christ” or “I am the Messiah” would have been extremely problematic in Jesus’ day. Do you remember what happened at the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem between the Jews and Jesus as recorded in John 10:22 where the Jews said to Him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” (Jn. 10:24)? Do you know why asked him this?

        You see, there had been others that made the claim “I am the Christ/Messiah.” And when they did so, they were arrested, put on trial, and most often put to death. As such, to get a statement from Jesus directly stating that He was the Christ/Messiah would mean the Jews had the proper warrant for arresting Him (as they tried to do anyway, Jn. 10:39, cf. Lk. 22:67-71) and, in turn, silencing Him by going to a trial that would most likely result in His execution.

        As such, Jesus, as means of ensuring that the appointed time for His betrayal/trial/death was fulfilled, told His disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Christ and that He had confirmed to them that He was.

        Hence why Jesus, as He did with His divinity, made claims to be the Christ/Messiah through more indirect means; primarily by claiming that Messianic texts of the Tanakh were about Him (e.g. Jn. 5:46; Lk. 7:22, 27). Though, Jesus does say it more directly both prior to His trial (Jn. 4:25-26) as well as at His trial (Mk. 14:62; Lk. 22:69); not to mention while hanging on the cross (Mt. 22:46; Mk. 15:34).

        Your thoughts?

        I believe the hints were there. His deity was spoken of in a mystery in the NT just as His messiahship had been spoken of in a mystery in the OT.

        Hints, that’s it? You don’t believe that Jesus was pretty explicit in identifying Himself as God in the Gospels, especially in the Gospel of John?

        The article is not my focus in this verse. Rather, I am struck by the fact that the prophecy speaks of “son” and “father” in the same breath.

        I suppose you can be struck by the appearance of “son” and “father” in the same verse but if the text itself doesn’t make any connection between the two then the significance you’re attributing to the two appearing in the same breath that kind of makes any connection you see moot, doesn’t it?

        • Mike Gantt says:

          Ryan,

          I do not dispute anything you say here about Jesus’ rationale for being indirect about His full identity, nor do I see it as conflicting with anything I have said.

          As for my sentence “He began claiming to be no more than a Rabbi,” you are interpreting it in a way I did not intend it. I only meant that He did not begin His ministry making the bold and direct claims that we see in the book of Acts after His resurrection and ascension. That is, He did not walk through Galilee announcing, “God has made Me both Lord and Christ!”

          Yes, I do believe that the Gospel of John speaks much more fully of Jesus’ identity than the other gospels and I have said as much in an earlier comment.

          How can you say that the text (Isaiah 9:6) doesn’t make any connection between “father” and “son” when it applies both terms to the same person?

          • Ryan D. McConnell says:

            I do not dispute anything you say here about Jesus’ rationale for being indirect about His full identity, nor do I see it as conflicting with anything I have said.

            I suppose I was going back to comments you made at Triablogue as well as comment I was directly responding to. You seem to place a lot of significance on Jesus instructing His disciples to not tell anyone that “He is the Christ,” yet you do so because you think Jesus was downplaying His Messianic identity. However, what I tried to clear up is Jesus was not downplaying His Messianic identity when He instructed the disciples to not go around telling everyone that Jesus was the Christ and that Jesus had confirmed His identity as such directly. He instructed them to do so because of the nature of making such a direct claim in His day. However, Jesus did, both more directly and more indirectly, tell people other than His disciples that He was the Messiah; including crowds of people.

            As for my sentence “He began claiming to be no more than a Rabbi,” you are interpreting it in a way I did not intend it. I only meant that He did not begin His ministry making the bold and direct claims that we see in the book of Acts after His resurrection and ascension. That is, He did not walk through Galilee announcing, “God has made Me both Lord and Christ!”

            Fair enough. I more or less just wanted to make sure that you weren’t saying what I thought you could have been saying.

            Yes, I do believe that the Gospel of John speaks much more fully of Jesus’ identity than the other gospels and I have said as much in an earlier comment.

            The question was more specific on whether or not the Gospel of John speaks more clearly than the other Gospels on the deity of Jesus. You said that were only hints in the Gospels as to Jesus’ identity. I think the Gospels, and especially the Gospel of John, go far beyond just hints. Am I wrong?

            How can you say that the text (Isaiah 9:6) doesn’t make any connection between “father” and “son” when it applies both terms to the same person?

            The “son” to be given (the same “son” in Isa. 7:14) has to do with the gender of the “child” to be born in the verse and has nothing to do with the names listed at the end of the verse, that’s how. The text goes no where near making any connection between the gender of the child to be born and the characteristic names He will be called by.

            • Mike Gantt says:

              The question was more specific on whether or not the Gospel of John speaks more clearly than the other Gospels on the deity of Jesus. You said that were only hints in the Gospels as to Jesus’ identity. I think the Gospels, and especially the Gospel of John, go far beyond just hints. Am I wrong?

              There are certainly many statements in the gospels, and especially in John, which, when viewed in retrospect by the apostles and by us, tell us about the identity of Christ. The distinction I’m trying to get you to acknowledge is between Jesus’ identity as portrayed in the gospels and that which is portrayed in Acts. From the Day of Pentecost onward, the identity of Jesus is not only made clearly, boldly, and unequivocally – it is the central aspect of the message that the apostles preached. That is, the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah of Israel, Jesus is Lord, God hath made Him both Lord and Christ this Jesus whom you crucified. These are the essential messages. This can be contrasted with the central message of Jesus in the gospels which was “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Don’t you see that the identity of Jesus was the main issue from Pentecost forward in a way that it was not prior to that time?

              The “son” to be given (the same “son” in Isa. 7:14) has to do with the gender of the “child” to be born in the verse and has nothing to do with the names listed at the end of the verse, that’s how. The text goes no where near making any connection between the gender of the child to be born and the characteristic names He will be called by.

              I don’t mean to frustrate you, Ryan, but I don’t see the gender (or the article) as relevant to the point I’m making about Isaiah 9:6. All I am saying is that the same person is being called both “son” and “father.” Nor should that be considered strange because every father was once a son. What makes it significant is that it’s a messianic prophecy; therefore, the fatherhood has to be come after resurrection and be spiritual because He took no wife and sired no children in the days of His flesh.

  3. Rob says:

    Very curious…your comment above sounds like a variation of modalism. If I may, would your position by something of a variation of modalism?

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Rob, I don’t know enough about modalism to say. What I have read about it didn’t attract me.

      • Rob says:

        Hi Mike,

        Yep, you have some type of modalism going on there. For example you state:
        “That is, Christ (Messiah) was not a separate person but rather an identity God created for Himself from the beginning.”

        Your only difference with modalism as historically stated is that instead of “modes of existance” you have a created identity. It is kind of funny in a way (and this doesn’t mean that I think you are funny) because what one is left with by what you have affirmed is like a hybrid between historical Arianism and modalism. That was why I said it was very curious.

        Anyway, these comments of mine do not add anything to the stated discussion. I do wish I had time to join in on the discussion, especially concerning the Is. passage, but that isn’t afforded to me at the moment. I do however wish you a good day and a very pleasant evening!

        • Mike Gantt says:

          Rob, it sounds as if you think that just because my view strikes you as similar to your understanding of modalism or Arianism in some way that this in and of itself discredits my view. By that same sort of logic, the trinity could be discredited because it bears some similarity to polytheism.

          I am not interested in “isms” of any kind. I am interested in knowing and understanding Jesus our Lord.

  4. Derek says:

    Hello Mike,

    If this:

    “That is, Christ (Messiah) was not a separate person but rather an identity God created for Himself from the beginning. The purpose of this identity was to be able to visit the earth and live as one of us. In order to achieve this, no one could know that He was God while He was doing it.”

    is an accurate summation of your belief you are indeed a modalist. Just (as Ryan says above) a unique one. Whether you accept that label or not means no more than if Rob Bell accepts the label “universalist” or not.

    In Christ,
    Derek

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Derek, I can’t control what sort of labels people want to attach to me. I am not standing up for a label; I am standing up for Jesus Christ who loved us and released us from our sins by His blood.

  5. Derek says:

    “By that same sort of logic, the trinity could be discredited because it bears some similarity to polytheism.”

    Comments like this and the title of this post, “Trinity vs. Unity”, suggest to me that you should at least try to understand trinitarianism before you comment on (or try to replace) it further. None of us are entering into a new discussion here. These issues are 2000 years old. You seem to think you’re “going rogue”, “fighting the man” or introducing something new with your insights. But that isn’t the case at all.

    In Christ,
    Derek

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Derek, I’m pretty sure I know more about trinitarianism than you know about my position. And I assure you that I have not discarded trinitarianism lightly. My problem is that I can’t square it with the Scriptures. And I’ve not yet encountered anyone who can justify it from the Scriptures.

      I know that some people call me a universalist because I say everyone is going to heaven. But I never studied universalism. What I did read about it didn’t attract me. And most people who know something about universalism couldn’t describe what I believe if they had to. I have to believe the same thing is true of modalism. These are the categories of “heresy” that the orthodox use to keep ranks. They are not a way of understanding an issue; they are a way of refusing to understand it.

      Your labeling of me allows you to say that my argument is 2000 years old. Maybe it is; maybe it isn’t. But you can’t know that until you understand it. I lay out my biblical case for everyone going to heaven here and my biblical case for an accomplished Second Coming here. If you don’t want to read it, I don’t condemn you for that. I can’t read everything that everyone wants me to read either. I’m only saying that if you don’t read it, please be fair and don’t assume you’ve heard it before.

      How new my insights might be to others is for them to decide. What I can tell you is that they were new to me. And they came from studying from the Scriptures. If someone can show me I’m wrong from the Scriptures, I will stand down. That applies to everyone going to heaven, to the Second Coming, and to the trinity. I am not interested in “going rogue” or “fighting the man.” I am only interested in honoring our Lord Jesus Christ. If I could do that without being so different, I would gladly do so.

  6. Ryan D. McConnell says:

    The replies are getting a bit hard to read because of the decrease in the width of their areas so I’m going to continue the discussion with a new comment, if that’s OK.

    There are certainly many statements in the gospels, and especially in John, which, when viewed in retrospect by the apostles and by us, tell us about the identity of Christ.

    When viewed in retrospect by the apostles and us? Meaning you don’t think Jesus’ own statements about His identity as God are clear in and of themselves?

    The distinction I’m trying to get you to acknowledge is between Jesus’ identity as portrayed in the gospels and that which is portrayed in Acts.

    I see no distinction, given that they preached the truth, albeit more directly than our Lord did (for reasons I stated above), that they been taught by our Lord both prior to and post His resurrection.

    From the Day of Pentecost onward, the identity of Jesus is not only made clearly, boldly, and unequivocally – it is the central aspect of the message that the apostles preached. That is, the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah of Israel, Jesus is Lord, God hath made Him both Lord and Christ this Jesus whom you crucified. These are the essential messages. This can be contrasted with the central message of Jesus in the gospels which was “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Don’t you see that the identity of Jesus was the main issue from Pentecost forward in a way that it was not prior to that time?

    The central aspect? Perhaps in some of the Epistles where the Apostles had to deal with proto-Gnosticism creeping into the Church (e.g. 1 Corinthians). However, I fail to see how the identity of Jesus specifically is the central aspect of their message; though it was undoubtedly part of their message. It would be kind of difficult to preach to the nations to repent and believe in Jesus without explaining who Jesus was.

    I don’t even think there was a “main issue” in the Apostolic period. There were significant issues, such as the previously mentioned proto-Gnostics and the Judaizers of Galatians. However, I don’t think there was a “main issue.” Now, if you’re simply making the point that there is a quite a bit mentioned in the sermons and encounters concerning who Jesus was in the Book of Acts then sure, I’ll concede that. However, I don’t see them presenting it as an “issue;” it was simply part of the message they were told to preach to the nations as a fulfillment of the Great Commission.

    Also, could you please clarify when you mean when you speak of Jesus as the “Messiah of Israel.” Though I believe this statement, albeit I probably define “Israel” differently than you do (I’m Reformed after all), I’m asking to make sure you believe that Jesus is, and had always intended to be, the Messiah of the Gentiles/Greeks as well.

  7. Mike Gantt says:

    The replies are getting a bit hard to read because of the decrease in the width of their areas so I’m going to continue the discussion with a new comment, if that’s OK.

    Yes, that’s a good idea. Thanks.

    When viewed in retrospect by the apostles and us? Meaning you don’t think Jesus’ own statements about His identity as God are clear in and of themselves?

    I’m not trying to make the point that Jesus was unclear. I’m simply saying that He did not speak in the explicit terms that we are using today. Just to take one example, even though you believe in the doctrine of the trinity you do not believe that Jesus explicitly said in Scripture, “God is a trinity and I am the second person of that trinity and the Father is…etc.”

    I see no distinction, given that they preached the truth, albeit more directly than our Lord did (for reasons I stated above), that they been taught by our Lord both prior to and post His resurrection.

    The central aspect? Perhaps in some of the Epistles where the Apostles had to deal with proto-Gnosticism creeping into the Church (e.g. 1 Corinthians). However, I fail to see how the identity of Jesus specifically is the central aspect of their message; though it was undoubtedly part of their message. It would be kind of difficult to preach to the nations to repent and believe in Jesus without explaining who Jesus was.

    I don’t even think there was a “main issue” in the Apostolic period. There were significant issues, such as the previously mentioned proto-Gnostics and the Judaizers of Galatians. However, I don’t think there was a “main issue.” Now, if you’re simply making the point that there is a quite a bit mentioned in the sermons and encounters concerning who Jesus was in the Book of Acts then sure, I’ll concede that. However, I don’t see them presenting it as an “issue;” it was simply part of the message they were told to preach to the nations as a fulfillment of the Great Commission.

    Please think about this a little more. From Pentecost onward Jesus’ identity was key – not just something about which more details were given. The gospel itself could be reduced to three words: “Jesus is Lord.” Paul could recite Romans 10:9 because it was a rallying cry for all disciples everywhere. I’m only saying that Jesus Himself did not use this rallying cry or this formula for preaching the gospel in the days of His flesh.

    Also, could you please clarify when you mean when you speak of Jesus as the “Messiah of Israel.” Though I believe this statement, albeit I probably define “Israel” differently than you do (I’m Reformed after all), I’m asking to make sure you believe that Jesus is, and had always intended to be, the Messiah of the Gentiles/Greeks as well.

    Yes, of course. The Messiah of Israel is the Savior of the world (John 4:29, 42).

  8. Ryan D. McConnell says:

    I’m going to again continue this discussion in a new post because of the replies becoming hard to read due to a decrease in the width of their areas.

    Yes, it is the same. It is the identity God created for Himself (i.e. Messiah) since the beginning of all things that He might live among us as one of us.

    How can an identity be “face to face” with God (the concept of λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν in Jn 1:1b)?

    The Second Coming was the revelation that the Messiah had in fact not been a separate person but an identity that God Himself had assumed. That’s why the apostles called the Second Coming the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:7, 13; 4:13; Rev 1:1).

    Please show how verses 1 Peter 1:7 and 1 Peter 1:13 have anything to do with the nature of the Second Coming. Also please explain why you take the context of 1 Peter 4 to be speaking of the Second Coming, rather than Peter speaking of soon to come destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70; especially given that Peter specifically mentions that the judgment he is speaking concerns the “household of God” (οἴκου τοῦ θεοῦ), a phrase often used for the Temple, and the most likely dating of Peter’s first epistle. Please also show how ἀποκάλυψις in Rev. 1:1 warrants the conclusion you have made, rather than simply being used for the opening of the Book to state that the contents of what were written in the Book were a disclosure of truth of, as the verse says, “things that must soon take place” to His servants by means of John.

    Yes. This mystery is great, but God was determined to live a life that would be an example for all of us. To do so, He had to empty Himself, take the form of a bond-servant, and trust the promises of God from Scripture just as we have to do.

    Please show how the text itself warrants your claim that Jesus, not be offensive, was acting schizophrenic and talking to His alternative identity. Are you starting with the text itself or are you reading a necessary conclusion of your eschatology into the text (i.e. the text cannot have the Son as a person talking to the Father as a person because your eschatology renders that an impossibility)?

    Also, please demonstrate that the purpose of God in His becoming flesh was “to live a life that would be an example for all of us” and that, given that you just used language right out off the Carmen Christi and the Carmen Christi specifically mentions that His purpose in coming was to be “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ), how that squares up with what the Carmen Christi says; along with every text where we are told that Jesus’ purpose was to preach, to serve, and to die.

    The “Father” for Him was embodied in all the things He had previously said to Abraham and His descendants.

    How does this square with Jesus saying that He Himself was God before Abraham existed (Jn. 8:58)?

    We can only see this in retrospect for the moment was too holy for us to see Him face to face as He was passing by (Exodus 33:19-23).

    Please expand on this.

    Exodus 33:19-23, specifically 19:20 and 19:23, speak of no one being able/allowed to see the face of God and which Paul confirms in 1 Tim. 6:16 has yet to ever happen. Given that you believe that God is one person and that Jesus was the person of the Father in flesh, wouldn’t this mean that have, in fact, visibly seen the person of the Father?

  9. Mike Gantt says:

    How can an identity be “face to face” with God (the concept of λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν in Jn 1:1b)?

    I don’t see “face to face” in the text. I do see a statement that equates God and Jesus (i.e. God and the Word). And this is consistent with my view.

    Please show how verses 1 Peter 1:7 and 1 Peter 1:13 have anything to do with the nature of the Second Coming.

    The entire New Testament anticipates “the end of the age” (i.e the Second Coming of Christ, the coming of the kingdom of God, the day of the Lord, the day of judgment, the eschaton, etc.). Peter’s exhortations are consistent with that expectation.

    That’s not to say that there isn’t preliminary revelation of Christ also, for as I’ve said, the revelation of Christ is progressive in the Bible. For example, think of Galatians 1:12, 1 Corinthians 14:26, and Matthew 16:17. Could Peter in 1 Peter 1 have been alluding to further partial revelations of Christ in anticipation of the ultimate revelation of Christ at His coming as well as that ultimate revelation? Yes.

    Also please explain why you take the context of 1 Peter 4 to be speaking of the Second Coming, rather than Peter speaking of soon to come destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70; especially given that Peter specifically mentions that the judgment he is speaking concerns the “household of God” (οἴκου τοῦ θεοῦ), a phrase often used for the Temple, and the most likely dating of Peter’s first epistle.

    The destruction of Jerusalem was one of the events that Jesus prophesied would be part of the complex of events that would be signs of the end of the age (the Olivet Discourse: Matt 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21). Therefore, I see Peter speaking of the approaching end, so noting with one of its key markers.

    Please also show how ἀποκάλυψις in Rev. 1:1 warrants the conclusion you have made, rather than simply being used for the opening of the Book to state that the contents of what were written in the Book were a disclosure of truth of, as the verse says, “things that must soon take place” to His servants by means of John.

    You don’t think the book of Revelation speaks of the Second Coming?

    Please show how the text itself warrants your claim that Jesus, not be offensive, was acting schizophrenic and talking to His alternative identity. Are you starting with the text itself or are you reading a necessary conclusion of your eschatology into the text (i.e. the text cannot have the Son as a person talking to the Father as a person because your eschatology renders that an impossibility)?

    No, I do not start with the text itself on this topic. I can’t imagine that a believer in a trinity does either.

    Also, please demonstrate that the purpose of God in His becoming flesh was “to live a life that would be an example for all of us” and that, given that you just used language right out off the Carmen Christi and the Carmen Christi specifically mentions that His purpose in coming was to be “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ), how that squares up with what the Carmen Christi says; along with every text where we are told that Jesus’ purpose was to preach, to serve, and to die.

    I don’t dispute the meaning you ascribe, but how does that deny that Jesus is our example? Does not verse 5 of Philippians 2 establish this as the very context? And then there’s 1 Peter 2:21, 1 Corinthians 11:1, and so on.

    How does this square with Jesus saying that He Himself was God before Abraham existed (Jn. 8:58)?

    Perfectly. What’s the discrepancy you see?

    Please expand on this [Exodus 33].

    For Jesus to have been recognized as God during the days of His flesh would have been counter to His mission. He came to be tempted in all points as we are. If He did not empty Himself of divine privilege and live entirely as a human being, how could He be tempted as we are? The cleft of the rock in which we were hidden included ignorance of His deity at that time (i.e. during the days of His flesh).

    The Exodus 33 passage prefigured the incarnation. The days of His flesh were when God’s “glory passed by.” As John said, we beheld His glory.

    Exodus 33:19-23, specifically 19:20 and 19:23, speak of no one being able/allowed to see the face of God and which Paul confirms in 1 Tim. 6:16 has yet to ever happen. Given that you believe that God is one person and that Jesus was the person of the Father in flesh, wouldn’t this mean that have, in fact, visibly seen the person of the Father?

    Didn’t Jesus say that if we’d seen Him, we’d seen the Father? (John 14:9)

    • Ryan D. McConnell says:

      I don’t see “face to face” in the text. I do see a statement that equates God and Jesus (i.e. God and the Word). And this is consistent with my view.

      That’s what the concept of λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν (“with God”) means in Jn. 1:1b.

      The entire New Testament anticipates “the end of the age” (i.e the Second Coming of Christ, the coming of the kingdom of God, the day of the Lord, the day of judgment, the eschaton, etc.). Peter’s exhortations are consistent with that expectation.

      I agree that the New Testament does speak of both the Second Coming, and with it the Final Judgement etc., but you specifically referenced 1 Peter 1:7 and 1 Peter 1:13 as having to do with the Second Coming being an alleged “revelation of Jesus Christ” (as you understand it). Your response does nothing in answering my question to please show how 1 Peter 1:7 and 1 Peter 1:13 have anything to do with the nature of the Second Coming.

      The destruction of Jerusalem was one of the events that Jesus prophesied would be part of the complex of events that would be signs of the end of the age (the Olivet Discourse: Matt 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21). Therefore, I see Peter speaking of the approaching end, so noting with one of its key markers.

      So you see the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 as being a part of the Second Coming, as a sign? Do you have exegetical grounds for doing so?

      You don’t think the book of Revelation speaks of the Second Coming?

      No doubt that the Book of Revelation speaks of the Second Coming. However, you specifically referenced Rev. 1:1 as a verse that supported your assertion that your belief about the Second Coming is correct. I’m asking you to show that ἀποκάλυψις (“revelation”) in Rev. 1:1 warrants your conclusion rather than taking noun to as (as I said before) simply being used for the opening of the Book to state that the contents of what were written in the Book were a disclosure of truth of, as the verse says, “things that must soon take place” to His servants by means of John.

      No, I do not start with the text itself on this topic. I can’t imagine that a believer in a trinity does either.

      Why would we not? Unless the text warrant us reading our Lord, again not to be offensive, acting schizophrenic and praying/talking to Himself, then the only other option, in my opinion, is trinitarianism; primarily given that explicitly claim to deity that our Lord makes in Jn. 17:5.

      I don’t dispute the meaning you ascribe, but how does that deny that Jesus is our example? Does not verse 5 of Philippians 2 establish this as the very context? And then there’s 1 Peter 2:21, 1 Corinthians 11:1, and so on.

      The reason why Paul cites the Carmen Christi, a hymn of the 1st century church, is to use it as an example of showing that we should be humble since the Son was humble in the Incarnation. If you want to say that Paul is saying Jesus is our example, then that’s fine. However, you specifically mentioned Jesus’ life on earth. Unless you were just strictly speaking of the humility mentioned of Jesus’ obedience, the Carmen Christi does not warrant you using it as an example of your assertion that God became flesh to “live a life as an example of us all” given that the text also speaks of the humility of the act of the Incarnation itself.

      Perfectly. What’s the discrepancy you see?

      You had said: The “Father” for Him was embodied in all the things He had previously said to Abraham and His descendants.

      By our Lord claiming He was ἐγὼ εἰμί (“I am”), thus using the divine name of Himself, before Abraham existed, thus claiming He was the eternal God of Abraham, would mean that our Lord was claiming He was the one who had spoken to Abraham and His descendants. Does that square with your unitarian, identity belief?

      For Jesus to have been recognized as God during the days of His flesh would have been counter to His mission. He came to be tempted in all points as we are. If He did not empty Himself of divine privilege and live entirely as a human being, how could He be tempted as we are? The cleft of the rock in which we were hidden included ignorance of His deity at that time (i.e. during the days of His flesh).

      So, again, you don’t believe anyone recognized Him as God prior to His Incarnation? If someone recognizing Him as God would have been so allegedly detrimental to His mission, why did He claim deity as many times as He did (even the point where is clear enough for the Jews to know that’s exactly what He was doing)?

      Please also show where “He came to be tempted in all points as we are” from Scripture to the extent where that was one of the purposes of Him coming.

      Didn’t Jesus say that if we’d seen Him, we’d seen the Father? (John 14:9)

      And the “seen the Father” was on the basis of Jesus’ words and works, not as seen in the flesh.

  10. Mike Gantt says:

    That’s what the concept of λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν (“with God”) means in Jn. 1:1b.

    That may be, but which English versions translate it this way? In any case, what does it matter to our discussion? I readily acknowledge that the New Testament (including this verse) presents God and Jesus as two entities (though this verse also presents them as one).

    I agree that the New Testament does speak of both the Second Coming, and with it the Final Judgement etc., but you specifically referenced 1 Peter 1:7 and 1 Peter 1:13 as having to do with the Second Coming being an alleged “revelation of Jesus Christ” (as you understand it). Your response does nothing in answering my question to please show how 1 Peter 1:7 and 1 Peter 1:13 have anything to do with the nature of the Second Coming.

    As I said, there are various ways that the New Testament writers refer to the eschaton: the day of the Lord, the day of wrath, the day of judgment, the coming of the kingdom, the Second Coming, and so on. These writers, of course, provide no thesaurus which lists all these synonymous phrases together; the writers simply use the phrases interchangeably. Therefore, when Paul refers to “the day of Christ Jesus” in Philippians 1:6 and then “the day of Christ” in Philippians 1:10, he does not have to tell us that it’s the same day He has in mind. Likewise, in 2 Thessalonians 1:10 all he says is “that day” and yet everyone knows what day he’s talking about. Similarly, when John and Peter use various expressions of a great impending event for which they are preparing the disciples, they, too, use various expressions which do not require everyone to pull out a dictionary or thesaurus. Of course, most of the expressions were lifted directly from what we call the Old Testament. Thus, it seems clear that the references in 1 Peter are references of this type.

    Nonetheless, if you want a specific indication look to the fifth verse of 1 Peter 1 which where “revelation” is associated with the “eschaton,” and which establishes context for the follow-on references to “revelation” that occur in the seventh and thirteenth verses.

    So you see the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 as being a part of the Second Coming, as a sign? Do you have exegetical grounds for doing so?

    As I may have mentioned, the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21) includes the destruction of Jerusalem as one of the events leading up to Christ’s coming. I know there people who say that Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD was His coming, but I do not think the Olivet Discourse says that this is the end. Rather it is one of the events leading up to the end. As to its sure inclusion in that set of events, however, we have, for example, Matthew 24:34: “…this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” This speaks of all the events the Lord described in the Olivet Discourse, which was an answer to the disciples’ questions about His coming and the end of the age.

    No doubt that the Book of Revelation speaks of the Second Coming. However, you specifically referenced Rev. 1:1 as a verse that supported your assertion that your belief about the Second Coming is correct. I’m asking you to show that ἀποκάλυψις (“revelation”) in Rev. 1:1 warrants your conclusion rather than taking noun to as (as I said before) simply being used for the opening of the Book to state that the contents of what were written in the Book were a disclosure of truth of, as the verse says, “things that must soon take place” to His servants by means of John.

    To say that the word “revelation” in the first verse applies only to the message of the book itself and has no application to great impending event of which the book speaks, would seem an awkward and strained interpretation to me.

    Why would we not? Unless the text warrant us reading our Lord, again not to be offensive, acting schizophrenic and praying/talking to Himself, then the only other option, in my opinion, is trinitarianism; primarily given that explicitly claim to deity that our Lord makes in Jn. 17:5.

    How can you see trinitarianism in the text when it only refers to two entities? That is, you have to be bringing trinitarianism to the text rather than deriving it from the text.

    The reason why Paul cites the Carmen Christi, a hymn of the 1st century church, is to use it as an example of showing that we should be humble since the Son was humble in the Incarnation. If you want to say that Paul is saying Jesus is our example, then that’s fine. However, you specifically mentioned Jesus’ life on earth. Unless you were just strictly speaking of the humility mentioned of Jesus’ obedience, the Carmen Christi does not warrant you using it as an example of your assertion that God became flesh to “live a life as an example of us all” given that the text also speaks of the humility of the act of the Incarnation itself.

    I don’t say that Christ came to earth merely to be an example for us all, but that this was one of His purposes seems undeniable. I struggle to understand therefore what you see as an issue between us here. I don’t want to make the Carmen Christi say more than it says, but its context does speak of more for us to copy than humility per se. Consider the verses leading up to it, including verse four which could be considered pithy instruction for how to live a Christlike life: “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

    You had said: The “Father” for Him was embodied in all the things He had previously said to Abraham and His descendants.

    By our Lord claiming He was ἐγὼ εἰμί (“I am”), thus using the divine name of Himself, before Abraham existed, thus claiming He was the eternal God of Abraham, would mean that our Lord was claiming He was the one who had spoken to Abraham and His descendants. Does that square with your unitarian, identity belief?

    Yes.

    So, again, you don’t believe anyone recognized Him as God prior to His Incarnation? If someone recognizing Him as God would have been so allegedly detrimental to His mission, why did He claim deity as many times as He did (even the point where is clear enough for the Jews to know that’s exactly what He was doing)?

    I believe the claims you speak of were Messianic claims, which were quite great in their own right. Yes, in retrospect we can see that Messiah was God Himself but I do not believe that was the belief of any of Jesus’ contemporaries. Many of them had very high views of Messiah: preexistence in heaven, angelic and greater-than-angelic powers, intimacy with God – but I don’t believe any of them thought they were face to face with God when they saw Him.

    Please also show where “He came to be tempted in all points as we are” from Scripture to the extent where that was one of the purposes of Him coming.

    Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:14-16.

    And the “seen the Father” was on the basis of Jesus’ words and works, not as seen in the flesh.

    Right. God can’t be seen in the flesh because He is not of flesh. God was “hidden in Christ.”

  11. Ryan D. McConnell says:

    Mike,

    It seems, unfortunately, that I am no longer going to be to continue in this discussion due to time restraints.

    I thank you for the discussion and the civility of it. My concern about your beliefs aside, may your search in the Scriptures for the truth, as well as the words of our fathers whom the Lord trained, continue to intrigue you.

    Soli Deo Gloria,
    Ryan

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