Friday, August 22, 2008

The Trinity

What is the Trinity?

The word "trinity" is a term used to denote the Christian doctrine that God exists as a unity of three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each of the persons is distinct from the other, yet identical in essence. In other words, each is fully divine in nature, but each is not the totality of the other persons of the Trinity. Each has a will, loves, and says "I", and "You" when speaking. The Father is not the same person as the Son who is not the same person as the Holy Spirit who is not the same person as the Father. Each is divine, yet there are not three gods, but one God. There are three individual subsistences, or persons. The word "subsistence" means something that has a real existence. The word "person" denotes individuality and self awareness. The Trinity is three of these, though the latter term has become the dominant one used to describe the individual aspects of God known as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Included in the doctrine of the Trinity is a strict monotheism which is the teaching that there exists in all the universe a single being known as God who is self-existent and unchangeable (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6,8). Therefore, it is important to note that the doctrine of the trinity is not polytheistic as some of its critics proclaim. Trinitarianism is monotheistic by definition and those who claim it is polytheistic demonstrate a lack of understanding of what it really is.

* The Trinity
o God is three persons
o Each person is divine
o There is only one God.

Many theologians admit that the term "person" is not a perfect word to describe the three individual aspects/foci found in God. When we normally use the word person, we understand it to mean physical individuals who exist as separate beings from other individuals. But in God there are not three entities, nor three beings. God, is a trinity of persons consisting of one substance and one essence. God is numerically one. Yet, within the single divine essence are three individual subsistences that we call persons.

* Each of the three persons is completely divine in nature though each is not the totality of the Godhead.
* Each of the three persons is not the other two persons.
* Each of the three persons is related to the other two, but are distinct from them.

The word "trinity" is not found in the Bible. But this does not mean that the concept is not taught there. The word "bible" is not found in the Bible either, but we use it anyway. Likewise, the words "omniscience," which means "all knowing," "omnipotence," which means "all powerful," and "omnipresence," which means "present everywhere," are not found in the Bible either. But we use these words to describe the attributes of God. So, to say that the Trinity isn't true because the word isn't in the Bible is an invalid argument.

Is there subordination in the Trinity?

There is, apparently, a subordination within the Trinity in regard to order but not substance or essence. We can see that the Father is first, the Son is second, and the Holy Spirit is third. The Father is not begotten, but the Son is (John 3:16). The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father (John 5:26). The Father sent the Son (1 John 4:10). The Son and the Father send the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26). The Father creates (Isaiah 44:24), the Son redeems (Gal. 3:13), and the Holy Spirit sanctifies (Rom. 15:16).

This subordination of order does not mean that each of the members of the Godhead are not equal or divine. For example, we see that the Father sent the Son. But this does not mean that the Son is not equal to the Father in essence and divine nature. The Son is equal to the Father in his divinity, but inferior in his humanity. A wife is to be subject to her husband but this does not negate her humanity, essence, or equality. By further analogy, a king and his servant both share human nature. Yet, the king sends the servant to do his will. Jesus said, "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38). Of course Jesus already is King, but the analogy shows that because someone is sent, it doesn't mean they are different than the one who sent him.

Critics of the Trinity will see this subordination as proof that the Trinity is false. They reason that if Jesus were truly God, then He would be completely equal to God the Father in all areas and would not, therefore, be subordinate to the Father in any way. But this objection is not logical. If we look at the analogy of the king and in the servant we certainly would not say that the servant was not human because he was sent. Being sent does not negate sameness in essence. Therefore, the fact that the Son is sent does not mean that He is not divine any more than when my wife sends me to get bread, I am not human.

Is this confusing?

Another important point about the Trinity is that it can be a difficult concept to grasp. But this does not necessitate an argument against its validity. On the contrary, the fact that it is difficult is an argument for its truth. The Bible is the self revelation of an infinite God. Therefore, we are bound to encounter concepts which are difficult to understand -- especially when dealing with an incomprehensible God who exists in all places at all times. So, when we view descriptions and attributes of God manifested in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we discover that a completely comprehensible and understandable explanation of God's essence and nature is not possible. What we have, however, done is derive from the Scripture the truths that we can grasp and combine them into the doctrine we call The Trinity. The Trinity is, to a large extent, a mystery. After all, we are dealing with God Himself.

It is the way of the cults to reduce biblical truth to make God comprehensible and understandable by their minds. To this end, they subject God's word to their own reasoning and end in error. The following verses are often used to demonstrate that in the doctrine of the Trinity is indeed biblical.

* Matt. 28:18, Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
* 1 Cor. 12:4-6, Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.
* 2 Cor. 13:14, The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
* Eph. 4:4-7, There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. 7But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.
* 1 Pet. 1:2, "according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure."
* Jude 20-21, "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit; 21keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life."

__________________

Sources:

*Baker's Dictionary of Theology, Everett Harrison, ed. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1960.
*Berkhoff's Systematic Theology, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1988.
*Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1994.
*Hodge's Systematic Theology, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1981.

from CARM

27 comments:

satire and theology said...

Many theologians admit that the term "person" is not a perfect word to describe the three individual aspects/foci found in God. When we normally use the word person, we understand it to mean physical individuals who exist as separate beings from other individuals. But in God there are not three entities, nor three beings.

I like the term distinctions over persons.

Jeff said...

I like the term distinctions over persons.

Thanks Russ.

The other day, I saw a video where someone was saying that the Trintiy is actually three characteristics of God, which is incorrect. Merciful, compassionate, Perfectly loving (and the source of love), perfect truth (and the source of truth), perfectly just (and the source of justice), omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence...these could be considered characteristics of God. But the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not characteristics. Neither are they merely various roles that God plays at different times.

Like you implied, the Father is distinct from the Son, and the Son is distinct from the Holy Spirit. The Son is voluntarily subservient to the Father (giving the Father pre-eminence); the Holy Spirit is voluntarily subservient to the Son (giving the Son the pre-eminence), and the Father glorifies the Son, while the Son glorifies the Holy Spirit. Yet God is one Being.

The fact that the Son is distinct from the Father explains how Jesus, when He was on earth, could be praying to the Father, and yet still be God.

'Persons' is problematic for most people's understanding because most people view it as 'one person = one being.' But God is not like man in this respect, as, with God, 'three Persons (of the Trinity) = one Being.'

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Good post, Jeff.

I agree that the concept of the Son of God being in "subjection" to the Father does not in any way argue against His equality with the Father. I don't think the point of Jesus' being in subjection to the Father had anything to do with His Deity, but rather His humanity. Now I'm not denying a possible "logical" order within the Godhead; just that the point of Jesus' deference to God as His Father dealt mainly with His humanity.

Jesus came as God incarnate, of course. But He also came as the True Man, the "last Adam". It's in His humanity that Jesus is subjecting Himself to the authority of the Father. In Jesus' humanity, we see what is truly meant by a "human being" being the "image-bearer" of God. We've never witnessed a "true" man before. Even Adam wasn't truly Man--he finds his own destiny in Christ (as we all do). Christ is the true "image-bearer" and He is the destiny of Man as the fountain head of a new humanity (see Hughes' book, "The True Image: The Origin and Destiny of Man in Christ").

I think this is very important as we preach the Gospel. Christ was "suitable" as our redeemer because He is the True Man and the True Son who suceeded where Adam (the son of God) and "Israel" (the son of God) failed. Mankind can be redeemed because the True Man paid the price to secure our salvation.

The point is, for Jesus to be truly human, to be the true "image-bearer" in His humanity, we would expect that, even as Son of God, He would subject Himself to the Father. In Christ we see what a true human being is; and as the True Man, He relates to God as we were created to relate to God--as sons to a Father!

Again, I'm not denying that there may be some "logical" order of deference within the Godhead; but I think Jesus' dependence upon God and subjection to Him speaks mainly to His humanity as the True Man. This is our destiny as we are conformed to His image by the work of the indwelling Spirit of God.

I hope you understand what I'm getting at--I really don't want to start writing a book here! :-)

I have mentioned this issue before in passing, and will again in my Sacred Space posts (if I ever get back to them!). Maybe I'll do a specific post on Jesus as the True Man (as I did on Jesus as the True Israel).

Oh well...back to work for Sunday's service. Thanks for the diversion, Jeff--I needed it! :-)

Jeff said...

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Good post, Jeff.


Thanks!

Thanks for the diversion, Jeff--I needed it! :-)

You're welcome---Glad I could be of help!

I don't think the point of Jesus' being in subjection to the Father had anything to do with His Deity, but rather His humanity.

I tend to agree. I don't know any Scriptural basis for thinking that the Son (Jesus) submitted Himself to the Father before the Son became incarnate. I think Jesus, as the God-man, submitted Himself to the Father, in part at least, to demonstrate how we should live.

Even Adam wasn't truly Man

Not sure what you mean by this, but Adam was completely human. He was the perfect man before the Fall, but he lost that position, so, by "truly man," if you mean the "perfect man," I agree that, looking at his life in its entirety (i.e., including after the Fall), he was not perfect, obviously, because he brought the curse of God upon mankind and upon all earthly creation.

and "Israel" (the son of God)

(as I did on Jesus as the True Israel).


I read your post on that a while back, and I don't see any Scriptural basis for calling Jesus Israel. In Genesis 32:28, Jacob's name was changed to Israel. Israel means "He struggles with God," which would make no sense as far as calling Jesus that, because Jesus is God.

Christ is the true "image-bearer" and He is the destiny of Man as the fountain head of a new humanity

I agree that Jesus is the image of the Father:

"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Cor. 4:4)

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation." (Colossians 1:15)

"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." (Hebrews 1:3)


Jesus is the only one who has ever fulfilled the Law of God.

Christ's atoning death on the cross, along with the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, provided the means for some to live as mankind was created to live---in perfect obedience to God, and worshiping Him forever. On earth, we will become more and more like that as God sanctifies us through His Holy Spirit, but only in Heaven will we do that perfectly.

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Hey Jeff,

The idea that Adam was not perfect in his humanity is a Biblical-Theological conclusion based on the overall purpose and theme of God in making everything complete in Christ. I believe the entirety of Scripture teaches this concept, not just a few "proof-texts".

Since the idea that Christ was slain from the foundation of the world speaks to the issue of the eternal "covenant of grace", we can surmise that the eternal plan of God was for man to be perfected in the True Man who was to come at the appointed time to reverse the curse and recover humanity as "one new man" in Christ. Adam was not created as the "perfect" man--he, like every human being, finds his perfection in the True Man, Jesus Christ.

No one, not even Adam before the Fall was "complete" apart from Christ because Christ was destined before the foundation of the world to make "one new man" in Himself. (I know that the immediate context of the "one new man" phrase in Eph. and Gal. speak to the issue of Gentile and Jew becoming "one" in Christ so that there is no distinction between the two with regards to salvific intention; but the idea of one "new" humanity "in" the Servant/Messiah is found throughout the Scripture, especially Isaiah, as God speaks of the New Creation in Christ--a New Creation that is the "perfect" Creation in the consummated Shabbat of God's Rest).

The testimony of the Scripture, I believe, is that Man is not complete apart from the indwelling Spirit of God (which Adam did not have) given by Christ and the Father. Adam was not born of water "and the Spirit". I believe the Bible teaches that nothing is "complete" or "perfect" apart from Christ (Eph. 1:3-23; Col. 1:15ff; ). The "new man" is the "perfected" man; and man is only "perfect" in the "second Adam" (in Christ) because He is the True Man.

By "true man" I'm referring to "authenticity". When man was created, we was created as "image-bearer", to live out his life in perfect conformity to his intended creation. Adam failed (as do we all) because "authentic" humanity is only realized in Christ. Adam was shown to be incomplete by his disobedience. The "authentic" man is the man who always thinks and acts in accord with who he is as "image-bearer". Only Christ, in His humanity, fulfilled the role of "authentic" humanity and therefore, only "in Him", by the presence and work of the Spirit, are men recovered to true humanity.

The Biblical idea of "shalom" is important here. Shalom is the "state of harmony within the created order in which every created thing finds itself in perfect conformity to itself and its created function, and therefore relates with integrity (authentically), in truth to every other created thing and God Himself. Adam, as the first Man did not do this--Christ as the second Man (adam) did. And only those who are "in Christ" are "authentic" human beings by virtue of being New Creations in Christ. We don't act "perfectly" yet, but we are "truly" perfect "in Christ". All we await is the consummation of all things in Him when we shall finally and fully be made like He is.

Biblically, redemption (or "salvation") is more than simply the forgivenss of sins. Redemption as the all-encompassing purpose of God is the "new creation". We, who have the indwelling Spirit, are "new creatures" in that through Christ, the true Man, we have been given a new nature so that we are becoming (by the work of the Spirit) truly human; we are being conformed into true image-bearers by the Spirit as he conforms us to the image of Christ--who alone perfectily and fully bears the "image" and likeness of God by virtue of His union with God. We have been "joined to Christ" so that, in Him, we are now not only "once again", but "really and truly" by the presence of the Spirit, image-bearers of God as we were intended to be.

I believe that the overall testimony of Scripture (which I have not, by any means, exhausted in this short post) is that man (including Adam) is not "complete" or perfected apart from the true Man, Jesus Christ.

Of course, everything that I've just said here can be an issue of debate amongst Christians; a dialogue that can be very healthy as we think on and consider the greatness of our Lord. Even if we never reach an agreement on this issue (or the issue of Jesus being the "true Israel", which I'll quickly comment on in a little while), I think that anytime we have an opportunity to look at the Scripture to "know" our Lord it is a very God-honoring thing to do and we will be blessed. I believe that God enjoys His children discussing this great Salvation that He has provided in His Son.

As long as we aren't disagreeing over "essential Christian Doctrine", I believe these kinds of discussions are valuable to strengthen our faith in our Lord and Savior.

As I said, in a little while (after I do some stuff around the house) I will post a (hopefully shorter) comment on Jesus being the True Israel (with Scripture references).

Man, why can't I get Mrs. Moogly to do all the house work--then I can play on the computer all day long! :-) (I hope she doesn't read this!)

Jeff said...

Great Googly Moogly,

Thanks for your comment.

Adam was sinless and morally perfect before the Fall (as was Eve), and therefore did not need a Savior until after the Fall. They were also physically perfect before the Fall, because there was no disease or death. But you are correct that God, knowing the future and being omniscient, planned everything in advance.

I might say that if Adam had died before the Fall, He would go to Heaven without needing a Savior. However, there was no death before the Fall, so Adam would not have died before the Fall. But, since God has already predestined events from before the foundation of the world, God knew Adam would fall, and would eventually need a Savior.

Jeff said...

Great Googly Moogly,

who was to come at the appointed time to reverse the curse and recover humanity

Before the Fall, there was no curse, and no need to recover humanity. However, as I stated, God is omniscient and has predestined events from before time began, so to say that "before the Fall, Adam was perfect," although a true statement, is, in a sense, a moot point, because Adam did, in fact, eventually sin, and from that point on, needed a Savior. Also, from that point on, creation and mankind were cursed, and there was indeed, as you said, a need to recover humanity, in the form of the elect remnant.

Jeff said...

Great Googly Moogly,

No one, not even Adam before the Fall was "complete" apart from Christ

Remember that, before the Fall, Adam and Eve had perfect, unbroken fellowship with God, and since the earth was not cursed at that time, God walked among them on earth. They were, in fact, complete, because they had perfect union and fellowship with their Creator at that point. Not till later did they need saving.

Jeff said...

Great Googly Moogly,

The testimony of the Scripture, I believe, is that Man is not complete apart from the indwelling Spirit of God (which Adam did not have) given by Christ and the Father.

This is true today, but Adam, before the Fall, did not need the indwelling Holy Spirit, because he already had perfect, unbroken fellowship with God. The reason we need the indwelling Spirit today is because we are fallen and corrupt, and we need God's power within us to empower us to live out the Christian life. Adam and Eve, before the Fall, were already living in perfect sinlessness, and so did not need that. After the Fall, however, Adam and Eve had corrupted natures, and therefore did need salvation. So, again, looking at the complete picture, from the perspective of the entire lifetime of Adam and Eve (including both before and after the Fall), Adam and Eve certainly did need salvation.

Jeff said...

Great Googly Moogly,

When man was created, we was created as "image-bearer", to live out his life in perfect conformity to his intended creation. Adam failed (as do we all) because "authentic" humanity is only realized in Christ. Adam was shown to be incomplete by his disobedience. The "authentic" man is the man who always thinks and acts in accord with who he is as "image-bearer".

The Bible does testify that Adam failed. Looking at Adam's life as a whole, he failed to live out his life in perfect conformity to his intended creation. My only point earlier was that, before the Fall, Adam did live in perfect conformity to his intended creation. But that really doesn't matter, because later, he failed. The Bible looks at Adam's entire life, not just his life before the Fall.

Jeff said...

Great Googly Moogly,

Only Christ, in His humanity, fulfilled the role of "authentic" humanity and therefore, only "in Him", by the presence and work of the Spirit, are men recovered to true humanity.

Agreed. Christ was the only one who has ever fulfilled the Law perfectly. Though Adam was doing fine before the Fall, he messed up after that, and so Adam was then disqualified, failed, and his corrupt nature was passed down to the entire human race. That's why Jesus is called the "last Adam." Adam started out as morally perfect as Jesus was, but then he fell, so he failed to live out his entire life in perfection. He fell short. But Jesus never fell short. Therefore, Jesus fulfilled what Adam failed to fulfill---a perfect, sinless life.

Jeff said...

Great Googly Moogly,

The Biblical idea of "shalom" is important here. Shalom is the "state of harmony within the created order in which every created thing finds itself in perfect conformity to itself and its created function, and therefore relates with integrity (authentically), in truth to every other created thing and God Himself. Adam, as the first Man did not do this

Again, my point is that Adam did not do that in the entirety of his life, but he did do that before the Fall. But again, my point is really a moot point, because, even if a person is absolutely perfect for the first 10 or 20 years of their life, but then they commit even one single sin, they are no longer perfect, and they have fallen short of the glory of God, and they therefore need a Savior.

Jeff said...

we have been given a new nature so that we are becoming (by the work of the Spirit) truly human

And again, I would equate your term "truly human" to a human who is morally perfect and who is fulfilling the purpose for which God intended mankind to fulfill.

Jeff said...

As long as we aren't disagreeing over "essential Christian Doctrine", I believe these kinds of discussions are valuable to strengthen our faith in our Lord and Savior.

If it is iron sharpening iron, and causing us to study Scripture more, and leading us to know God better, then that is true.

I think you and I agree on a lot.

Man, why can't I get Mrs. Moogly to do all the house work--then I can play on the computer all day long! :-) (I hope she doesn't read this!)

LOL!

Great Googly Moogly! said...

I think I see where most of the disagreement is. I believe that the Bible teaches that Man's true destiny lies in Christ; so that apart from the Person and Work of Christ, Man is incomplete.

You keep stressing that "before the Fall", Adam was "morally" perfect. But you see...a truly "morally perfect" man is such in his very being. In this case, the "morally perfect" man would never "fall" because he would always live his life in conformity to what he was created to be.

I believe that the Bible teaches, and The Fall shows us, that God never intended for Adam to be the head of the "human race". I believe that God's intention "before the foundation of the world" (i.e. before Adam and the Cosmos was ever created) was for Man to find his complete perfection in the true humanity that Christ brings in Himself.

Christ certainly saves us from our sin, but that's not His main purpose. His main purpose is Redemption--the Redemption of the entire Cosmos and the recover of Sacred Space. The redemption of Man is not simply his salvation from his sins, but his becoming the human being, the "image-bearer" that God had intended him to be. But God's intentions for Man (and for the entire created order) are only (and always) fulfilled in Christ.

I agree that we do agree on a lot. And I think that we are pretty close to agreement on this. But I don't agree that Adam was the "perfect" man (morally or otherwise) before the Fall. God's purposes "before the foundation of the world", in my opinion, was for Man and the created order to find their destiny in Christ; that Man would discover his full humanity only in the only "authentic" Man to ever live.

If we never come to an agreement over this...that's okay. I do believe any discussion of the merits and glory of Christ amongst believers is edifying and God glorifying. How can God be more pleased with His children than to see them seeking to know His Son (their Savior) and proclaiming His gospel to a world at enmity with Him?

I'll try to post a quick comment on my understanding of Jesus as True Israel sometime this evening--if Mrs. Moogly cooperates. She's starting to settle in for the evening, so I might be able to sneak up here a little later for a quick comment.

Thanks Jeff.

Jeff said...

Great Googly Moogly!,

I believe that the Bible teaches, and The Fall shows us, that God never intended for Adam to be the head of the "human race". I believe that God's intention "before the foundation of the world" (i.e. before Adam and the Cosmos was ever created) was for Man to find his complete perfection in the true humanity that Christ brings in Himself.

This has to do with the origin of evil, I think, and also with the glorification of God. God certainly knew everything that would happen, and predestined events before they happened. God's plan of redemption through Christ was planned before the foundation of the world, so I think we agree on this point. All of it was and is for the glory of God.

But I don't agree that Adam was the "perfect" man (morally or otherwise) before the Fall. God's purposes "before the foundation of the world", in my opinion, was for Man and the created order to find their destiny in Christ; that Man would discover his full humanity only in the only "authentic" Man to ever live.

I don't see any conflict with Adam being physically and morally perfect before the Fall (which was the case), and God's plan of salvation and redemption through Christ. God knew that man, after the Fall, would need a Savior, and this was planned from the beginning. Adam was perfect up until the Fall, but that doesn't matter, because he then fell, so Adam's entire life was not perfect.

If we never come to an agreement over this...that's okay. I do believe any discussion of the merits and glory of Christ amongst believers is edifying and God glorifying. How can God be more pleased with His children than to see them seeking to know His Son (their Savior) and proclaiming His gospel to a world at enmity with Him?

Good attitude.

Adam Pastor said...

Greetings Jeff Jenkins

On the subject of the trinity,
I recommend this video:
The Human Jesus

Take a couple of hours to watch it; and prayerfully it will aid you to reconsider "The Trinity"

Yours In Messiah
Adam Pastor

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Ok...Jesus as "true Israel".

Rather than attempt a traditional comment on this, which would probably end up just being a re-wording of what I wrote on my site http://shalomistheword.blogspot.com/2008/08/israel-and-christ-brief-excursion.html, I'll attempt a brief explanation with Scripture references from a chart that was put together from various books. By the way, as I'm sure you realize (but in case others reading don't), I've never advocated anything that I've "discovered" on my own; i.e. I've never in any of my comments or on any of my own posts related any ideas that I've not heard or read before from theologians and godly Christians more versed in the Scripture than me. Unlike some bloggers that I've read :-), I've never advocated doctrine based solely on my own private interpretation of Scripture. I only mention this in case some readers haven't considered some things that I've said--I don't want anyone to think I'm making things up in my own mind :-)

Anyway, consider this in conjunction with my previous post at my site.

The chart I'm viewing is titled, "Transformation of Israel in Old Testament Prophecy". It shows Theocratic (or National) Israel > True Israel < Fulfilled Israel. (I wish I could just send the chart, but this will have to do) What's being described is that Theocratic Israel (national Israel, the people of God) prophecies of and finds its realization in the True Israel (Christ, the Son of God) who then, IN HIMSELF, by the New Birth creates the Fulfilled Israel (the true people of God, the true sons of God--His Body, the Church, the "one new man" consisting of Jew and Gentile).

Think of an hour glass, where everything in the Old Testament passes through Christ and comes out transformed in Him. When Jesus said that all the Law and the prophets and writings prophesied of and are fulfilled in Him, He meant everything--the entire purpose of God (and that includes "Israel" as the prophetic "people of God). The New Testament writers were convinced of this as they preached Jesus from the whole Old Testament (the only Scriptures that they had). Think of the hour glass as the way in which everything in the Old Testament prophesied of Christ, Christ came, and then all the New Testament is the record of the fulfillment of the Old Testament in Christ--promise of Christ, then fulfillment in Christ. And this promise/fulfillment motif includes the prophetic "Israel".

Now, from the chart try to picture this. Underneath "Theocratic Israel" we have 7 points of designation: 1. Son of Abraham 2. Elect Covenant son 3. Holy seed 4. Servant of Yahweh 5. Kingdom of priests 6. Sanctuary of Yahweh and 7. Unfaithful Offspring of Zion, Yahweh's Harlotrous Wife.

Underneath "True Israel" (who is Christ) we have 7 points of designation: 1. Son of Abraham 2. Elect Covenant Son 3. Holy Seed 4. Servant of Yahweh 5. King-Priest 6. Sanctuary of Yahweh and 7. True Offspring of Zion.

Now, underneath "Fulfilled Israel" (the Church) we have 7 points of designation: 1. Son of Abraham 2. Elect Covenant Son 3. Holy seed 4. Servant of Yahweh 5. Kings and Priests 6. Sanctuary of Yahweh and 7. Faithful Offspring of Zion, Yahweh's Devoted Wife.

Now the Scripture references for points 1-7 are as follows:

1. Gen. 12:1-3, 15:1-21; Exodus 3:1-8; Romans 4:1-25; Gal. 3:1-29

2. Exodus 4:21-23; Deuteronomy 7:6-8; Hosea 11:1; Ps. 2; 2Sam. 7:1-16; Isaiah 43:1-6; Romans 9:22-33.

3. Deuteronomy 7:6-8; Psalms 2 and 16 with Acts 2:22-31, 4:23-28; 1 Peter 2:1-10.

4. Isaiah 41:1-8, 42:1-25, 43:10-44:22, 45:1-7, 48:17-20, 49:1-12, 50:1-10, 52:13-53:12, 54:1-17.

5. Exodus 19:1-6; Psalm 110; Zech. 6:9-15; cf. also Jer. 33:14-34 with Rev. 1:1-6, 5:1-10.

6. Exodus 25:1-8, 29:38-46; 1Kings 6:11-13; Eze. 43:1-9; John 2:13-21; 1Cor. 3:16-17; Eph. 2:11-22; Col. 2:1-10; 1Pet. 2:1-10; also Rev. 21:1-11 in relation to the "bride" theme.

7. Isaiah 49:1-54:17; Eze. 16:1-34, 23:1-49; Hosea 1:1-4:19; Isaiah 9:1-7, 49:1-3; 2Cor. 11:1-3; Eph. 5:22-33.

Really, proof-texting can only go so far. I believe the full testimony of the Scripture supports this conclusion. Hopefully you will be able to "see" the chart and interact with the points and Scripture references to at least understand where this line of thinking comes from.

For anyone who thinks I'm advocating "replacement theology"--baloney! That term gets thrown around so much by people who think that they are supporting Israel. This is "fulfillment theology" as everything in the Scripture is fulfilled in Christ. I've read where some people are saying that the phrase "fulfillment theology" is just a code name for "replacement theology"--hogwash! The people who say this have no idea what they are talking about or what "fulfillment theology" theologians are talking about.

I have no problem with someone disagreeing with me--as you know by now :-) But I'd appreciate it if people actually interacted with these things before they blow it (or me) off. I know that you aren't one of these people. You, at least, interact with differing ideas whether you end up agreeing with them or not.

Anyway, in conjunction with my original post, I think this is about as far as I can go in this kind of a format. I hope you look through this material and consider it closely. I know I've given you a lot, so I don't expect a reply soon (or even at all :-)--take your time.

I appreciate the opportunity to discuss these things with you.

Well...gotta go. I forgot that I was cooking dinner tonight. I better make it delicious or I'll be in real trouble! :-)

Jeff said...

Adam Pastor,

Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

The video mentions Deuteronomy 6:4. In that verse, "one" is achad," which is a plural unity (Gen. 2:24; 11:6), in which two or more things are combined into one. Another word, "Yachid," is used to mean "only one (Gen. 22:2).

As another example of the Bible teaching that God exists as Trinity, let's look at Genesis 1:26, which says, “Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'” Genesis 3:22 states, "And the LORD God said, 'The man has now become like one of us...'" There are other Scriptures in the Old Testament that refer to God using the plural. It is also interesting to note that "Elohim," one of the primary titles of God in the Old Testament (occurring over 2500 times), is in the plural.

Some people have used these scriptures to hypothesize that there is more than one God. We can rule out polytheism (belief in multiple gods), because that would contradict countless other Scriptures that tell us that God is one and that there is only one God. Three times in Isaiah 45 alone, He states: “I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me” (vv. 5,6,18). A second possible explanation is that God was referring to the angels by saying "us" and "our." However, the Bible nowhere states that angels have the same "image" or "likeness" as God (see Genesis 1:26). That description is given to humanity alone.

Since the Bible, and the New Testament especially, presents God as a Trinity (three Persons but only one God), Genesis 1:26 and 3:22 can only represent a conversation within the Trinity. God the Father is having a "conversation" with God the Son and/or God the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament hints at the plurality of God, and the New Testament clarifies this plurality with the doctrine of the Trinity. Obviously, there is no way we can fully understand how this works – but God has given us enough information to know that He does exist in three Persons, - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Jeff said...

Great Googly Moogly,

I am researching the things you talked about. It will likely take more study. Here are some things that I am running across, and considering as to their validity:
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First, the NIV footnote comparing Hosea 11:1 with Matt. 2:15 makes sense to me. It says that Matthew found in the call of Israel from Egypt a typological picture of Jesus' coming from Egypt.
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As I research what you are saying, I am coming across a lot of references to Replacement Theology, so I do see similarities. However, from what I can tell, Replacement Theology says that the Church is True Israel.
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I saw this on one Forum (I'm still processing all of this, so I'm merely sharing some of the interesting things I'm finding. I'm not completely sure yet whether I agree with the quotes I am posting here or not.):
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"JohnStevenson
CARM Associate

Philippians 3:3 speaks of how we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh. This is in contrast to the "false circumcision" of the previous verse, so yes, it is appropriate to speak of those who have followed Christ as the "true circumcision" and perhaps even the "true Israel."

When we come to the epistle to the Hebrews, we are presented with the fact that Jesus is better...

* Than the angels
* Than Moses
* Than Joshua
* Than the earthly high priest
* Than the tabernacle
* Than the temple sacrifices

...and that He is the mediator of a better covenant.

One could just as easily say that He is the better messenger (angel), that He is the better Moses, He is the better Joshua, the better high priest, the better tabernacle, the better sacrifice, and yes, the better Israel.

That is not a denial of the significance of the Old Testament types, but to show that they all served to point us to Jesus."
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"frank7

25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this [is] my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (Romans 11:25-27 AV)

Allegorizing, or spiritualizing, contexually literal passages of God's Word-as Replacement/Remnant/Preterist Theology about Israel & the OT does-is nothing but select, sophisticated, unbelief. ...frank"
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"seminarian

Perhaps a better way to state it is that Jesus took on the role of Israel, and as her representative, He took upon Himself her punishment.
It is not insignificant (pardon the double negative) that Jesus called 12 to Him. We know that the Essenes, for example, proclaimed that they and they alone were "true Israel". Jesus's actions would have been a loud and clear message to His contemporaries that He was making a similar claim. Only those who followed Him would be "true Israel".
This is why Paul goes to great lengths to tell us that one is not automatically "true Israel" simply by one's birthright; rather, those who are in Christ are the true remnant, the true Israel. Paul recognizes that Jesus re-envisioned Israel as those who are in Him."
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"frank7

The Head of the church isn't the same as the church. Nor is Jesus the true eternal naton of Israel....He is the KING of the true eternal nation of Israel.

Words mean certain things...."

thekingpin68 said...

In this case, the "morally perfect" man would never "fall" because he would always live his life in conformity to what he was created to be.

In my PhD, I take the position Adam was morally perfect at some point (Hick and Davis disagree).

Hick makes the point that a morally perfect being would not fall, but I note that Adam was both immature and inexperienced and lacked the deep Holy Spirit connection that Christ had with the Father.

I reason as Christians are resurrected, they will have experienced the problem of evil and atoning/resurrection work and this will be used by God as persons are influenced by the Holy Spirit could guarantee that we do not fall. We have an advantage Adam did not, maturity and experience.

Also has Augustine noted, human moral perfection is finite, and God's is infinite. Therefore a morally perfect finite being could always potentially be corrupted. Therefore we need to be guided by the Holy Spirit...another point for soft-determinism.

In conclusion a morally perfect Adam could fall.

Thanks

Great Googly Moogly! said...

I think the main point of difference between "replacement theology" and "fulfillment theology" is this: "Replacement theology" tends to believe that God had a specific redemptive plan for national, Theocratic Israel (as inheritors of the Abrahamic Covenant--in them, Abe's decendants, all the families of the earth would be blessed) and they failed to do what God had desired, which is to fulfill the covenant. So God, determining to fulfill His plan, has created the Church as the new "Israel" to replace the Israel that failed and therefore, complete the purpose of God.

"Fulfillment theology", on the other hand, doesn't believe that national, Theocratic Israel was ever intended to accomplish the goal of God in redemption, to fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant--it was "typological" and prophecied of the One Seed of Abraham (the True Israel, God's True Son) who would fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant in Himself. The Church, as the Body of Christ is the "fulfilled" Israel--the one's who, by the power of the Indwelling Spirit, "go into all the world, making disciples of all people's and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit". In this way, the Abrahamic Covenant is fulfilled--as Christ, who is the Seed of Abraham, through His Body, the Church, becomes the blessing to all the families of the earth as people from every tongue, tribe and nation come to Him for redemption.

The Abrahamic Covenant has everything to do with "Israel", Abraham's "seed". The issue is, who is the true "seed" of Abraham. The New Testament teaches in general, and Paul tells us explicity that it is Christ Himself who is the "seed" in question, and all those who are joined to Him are likewise, the "seed" of Abraham.

It's in this way that the Church "fulfills" Israel without having to "replace" Israel. If Israel is only "typological" (as I believe and have tried to explain), then "fulfillment" theology has nothing to do with the erroneous idea of "replacement theology" because there is nothing to "replace".

Now...whether you agree or not, I hope this clarifies the difference between "replacement theology" and "fulfillment theology". I do not in any way believe that the Church "replaces" Israel; I believe it "fulfills" Israel as the goal that God had from the beginning.

If I was unclear somewhere along the line, I will attempt to clarify if needed. I just don't want people to think that "fulfillment theology" is the same thing as "replacement theology" only with a different name.

Thanks Jeff

Jeff said...

Great Googly Moogly!,

Thanks for that explanation. I don't believe that the Church replaces Israel either. I do believe that Israel will come to accept its Messiah (Christ Jesus) in the Last Days, and that they will be the 144,000. The Bible says that the gospel was offered to the Gentiles to make the Jews jealous (but I do believe that the plan from the very beginning was to offer it also to the Gentiles). I understand that there is even a revival going on in Israel right now, where many Jews are accepting Jesus as Messiah.

I will likely study this subject further.

Jeff said...

Russ,

Hick makes the point that a morally perfect being would not fall, but I note that Adam was both immature and inexperienced and lacked the deep Holy Spirit connection that Christ had with the Father.

When I said "morally perfect" in my previous comments, I did not mean 'unable to sin,' but simply 'being without sin.' I was merely defining 'morally perfect' as 'sinless.' Lucifer was morally perfect, in that sense, before he convinced 1/3 of the angels to join him in a rebellion to try to overthrow God's throne. Adam was morally perfect, in that sense, up until the point where he and Eve ate of the fruit which the Lord God had commanded them not to eat. Even though Eve was the human who first sinned, and who coerced Adam to sin, Adam was the head, so he is the one that the NT blames for mankind's corruption.

Jeff said...

I do believe that the Jews are still God's Chosen People, as a nation, and I can see where many in the U.S. erroneously attribute God's promises to Israel, to the U.S. I believe that the Jews are in rebellion against God right now, but, as I said earlier, will come back to Him in the last days, as a nation. In an individual sense, all who have been born again, who have the circumcision of the heart, are Abraham's children, spiritually speaking, and therefore, in that sense, we who have been regenerated are God's Chosen People.

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:9)

thekingpin68 said...

Cool, Jeff.

Jeff said...

The concept of personhood in the Trinity does not match the common Western understanding of "person" as used in the English language—it does not imply an "individual, self-actualized center of free will and conscious activity.

from Wikipedia