On his blog, Dominic Bnonn Tennant has posted “Is Jesus Really God?” I have commented on this post. In the comment thread, Dominic complains that I have not addressed his arguments offered in rebuttal to me:
Dominic: I’d like to point out to anyone reading how Mike conspicuously avoids my arguments while weaseling with the text of Scripture.
Therefore, I will give answers to his specific arguments here, where I have a little more elbow room (i.e. ability to do text editing that makes the dialogue easier for a reader to follow).
Dominic: Mike, obedience to Christ is only possible if you know who Christ is. Dale does not worship the same Christ I worship. I worship the Christ who is God. Dale does not. That’s a categorical difference.
A person who knows Christ is Lord is able to obey His commands, even if he might not yet fully appreciate all that is meant by the word “Lord.” Jesus did not say, “Why call ye Me ‘Lord, Lord, and do not confess Me as the second person of a trinity.” Rather He said, “Why call ye Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say.” He who obeys Christ is treating Him as Lord – and that’s what pleases God.
Dominic: I assume that the person who knows best what God is like is God himself. And I assume that if anything is going to be beyond my ability to understand properly, it will be ultimate reality—God himself. So when God reveals what he is like and I can’t understand it, I assume the problem is with me; not with God.
Agreed. Therefore, if you think God is revealing something to you that is unscriptural and illogical then you know that it is you who are wrong.
Dominic: Dale, by contrast, despite being infinitely inferior to God both ontologically and epistemically, sets up his own understanding as the authority for who God can be. Then, when God reveals something different, he rejects that because it doesn’t meet his little standard. That is the basic definition of faithlessness and idolatry.
I don’t know enough about Dale to know what has and hasn’t been revealed to him. I do know, however, that the trinity concept is a man-made intellectual idol. If you are saying that he has rejected that idea, then he has done well.
Dominic: As to whether Dale is sincere, I’m not sure how that is relevant. A sincere false teacher is still a false teacher. A deluded wolf who thinks it’s a sheep is still a wolf. The Jews who killed early Christians strike me as having done their best to serve God. Jihadist Muslims certainly seem sincere. Or to take tamer examples, open theists certainly claim to serve God, despite denying most of his attributes. Same for Catholics, who worship Mary and the saints along with God, while proclaiming a false works-based gospel—surely many of them are doing their best to serve God? The question isn’t whether they are sincerely trying to serve God, but whether theyknow God. Because if they do not know God through faith, then all they are sincerely serving is their own idols.
Sincerity counts with God, but I agree with you that it cannot make one right when he is wrong. My point in raising it was that while both of you are wrong (you in thinking that God is trinitarian and Dale in thinking that Jesus is not God) you both strike me as equally sincere. You and Sam seemed to be speaking to Dale contemptuously, and I thought tha tone was preventing constructive dialogue. I was hoping you’d address Dale as a Nicodemus or Gamaliel and not as an Annas or Caiaphas, because ostensibly the dialogue was for a worthy purpose – that is, to learn more about Jesus our Lord.
The following interactions are Dominic first quoting something I had written, then providing his response. After each, I respond to his response.
Mike: I will leave aside the question of behavior for the moment and ask you how faith in Christ as divine differs from faith in Christ as the most exalted agent of God?
Dominic: Your question answers itself. Imagine a Jew looking at the Old Testament and asking how faith in Yahweh as divine differs from faith in Yahweh as the most exalted angel of El.
Jews in the Old Testament routinely interacted with, trusted, and obeyed angels sent from God as if they were God Himself. Faithful obedience rather than ontologically precise parsing of the moment was what God valued. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” and “He who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”
Mike: And if you deem faith in the latter [i.e. “Christ as the most exalted agent of God”] to be deficient are you claiming that every believer in the New Testament at the moment of belief saw Him as fully divine?
Dominic: Probably not. But what would separate true believers from false ones would be their response to discovering Jesus’s divinity. Do they accept it in faith and worship him as God, or do they reject it and set up an idol in his place?
You should have stopped after your first sentence. You were doing so well!
The New Testament does not catalog the faith journeys of believers such that we can track for each of them the sort of two-phase faith process (1-believe in Christ as Lord, 2-believe in Christ as God) you are trying to impose.
Mike: I believe that we find the quickest path to understanding His nature by faith and obedience.
Dominic: You seem to be making my point for me. Dale disbelieves God’s revelation of himself, and refuses to submit himself to it. The very definition of faithless disobedience.
If you mean that Dale denies the trinity, then he is right…for the trinitarian concept is an intellectual idol born of disbelief in the promise of the Second Coming. You do well to believe that Christ is part of God; you’ll do better when you realize that He’s all of God.
Mike: Therefore, when someone tells me that he trusts and obeys Christ, I know we are on the same path.
Dominic: So when a Mormon tells you that, you know you’re on the same path? That’s unfortunate, since the path the Mormon is on leads to a gate labeled “Destruction”.
I don’t determine people’s identities by denominational or theological labels. I just preach Christ and watch to see whether they rejoice or fight me.
So, there you have it, Dominic: a specific response to every argument you raised to me in that post.
And, by the way, thanks again for the post. Jesus is God! To Him be the glory for what He has done!