How Anti-Trinitarian Arguments Prove too Much!
Muslims are challenging Christians over and over again to show them just one verse where Jesus says, “I am God,” or “worship me.” Since these formulations are not used in the Bible, therefore, they conclude, Jesus did not claim to be God. This specific argument has been examined and answered in a number of articles (1, 2, 3, 4). In this paper we want to look at this question from a different angle.
It is an amazing fact that there is not a single direct statement from the Father in the entire NT where he says, “I am God,” or “worship me.”
There are three places in the NT where God says that he will be the God of all true believers (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:16; Hebrews 8:10; Revelation 21:7). Yet the problem is that none of these examples ever explicitly come out and say that it is the Father who is speaking.
Furthermore, two of the verses are not even from the NT, but rather are OT texts which the NT writers quote (cf. 2 Cor. 6:16; Heb. 8:10). In fact, one of these OT quotes are said to be the actual words of the Holy Spirit to the people, not the Father!
The author of Hebrews quotes the prophet Jeremiah’s promise that God would make a New Covenant with his people:
“For he finds fault with them when he says: The days will come, says the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in my covenant, and so I paid no heed to them, says the Lord. This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach every one his fellow or every one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:8-12
Now compare this to what this same writer says elsewhere:
“And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,’ then he adds, ‘I will remember their sins and their misdeeds no more.’ Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.” Hebrews 10:15-18
Thus, according to this inspired writing it was the Holy Spirit who spoke these words in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and is therefore the Lord God of the New Covenant community!
The third instance is similar to the other passages in that God says that he will be the God of all those who believe and overcome:
“And he who sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment. He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.” Revelation 21:5-7
The same problem occurs here since it is not completely certain that the Father is the One who is actually speaking. In fact, a strong case can be made that the Lord Jesus is speaking here since elsewhere he is said to be the One who will give living water to all who believe:
“For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17
“Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked him,and he would have given you living water.’ … Jesus said to her, ‘Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:10, 13-14
“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, ‘If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, “Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.”’ Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37-39
The risen and immortal Lord also identifies himself as the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, and the First and the Last:
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End…I Jesus have sent MY angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.’ … He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:12-13, 16, 20
If Jesus’ identity as God couldn’t be any more explicit notice the following verses carefully:
“And he said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent HIS angel to show his servants what must soon take place. And behold, I am coming soon.’” Revelation 22:6-7
Here it is the Lord God of the spirits of the prophets who is coming soon and who sent his angel to testify. Yet later in the same chapter it is the Lord Jesus who does all these things! See the above verses for the documentation.
Thus, Jesus is the Lord God of the spirits of the prophets!
Furthermore, in a certain sense Jesus is the Father of all the faithful and all believers are his children (and yet he is not God the Father). Jesus is prophetically called the Father of Eternity:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Father of Eternity (Abi Ad), Prince of Peace.’ Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” Isaiah 9:6-7
The expression here refers to the One who grants eternity, or more specifically eternal life, and describes him as the Creator of the ages (cf. Hebrews 1:3). And the NT does say that Jesus sustains his followers and grants them eternal life since he is the Author of Life:
“For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will… Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself…Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his [the Son’s] voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.” John 5:21, 25-26, 28-29
“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.’ … So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day… As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.’” John 6:35-40, 53-54, 57
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30
“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.’” John 11:23-27
“When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.’” John 17:1-2
“But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.” Acts 3:15
In this regard he is a Father since a father is one who gives life to and sustains his children.
Moreover, the NT says that we bear the image of Christ, much like a son bears his father’s image:
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the Firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29
“But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.” Philippians 3:20-21
“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." 1 John 3:1-2
In this respect the NT even calls Jesus the second or last Adam, a very apt description of his relationship to believers whom he transforms to share in God’s eternal life and moral incorruption.
“Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:14-19
“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, bya man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:20-23
“Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit. But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:45-57
The contrast between Adam and Christ shows that, as the second Adam, Jesus is the father of a new creation, being the head of a race of human beings who are transformed to live incorruptibly and immortally like himself.
And just like humankind bears the image of the first Adam who is the father of us all in a similar way we who are made to be a new creation bear the immortal and incorruptible image and likeness of the second Adam, the Lord Jesus, since he is our Father.
The above data demonstrates that there is absolutely nothing within the context of Revelation 21:5-7 which rules out the Lord Jesus from being the One identifying himself as the God of all who truly believe and prevail. And if he is the One who is actually speaking here then Jesus does explicitly claim to be God in the NT!
With that said, we have to be careful not to be too dogmatic about this point since the text is ambiguous concerning the exact identity of the Speaker, i.e. it may be the Father or it may be the Son who is speaking.
Yet whatever the case maybe the fact still remains that there is not a single NT text where the Father directly and explicitly says that he is God in those exact words.
Now an anti-Trinitarian may say that the testimony of the Lord Jesus and the inspired NT writers establish beyond any reasonable doubt that the Father is truly God:
“Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.” John 6:27
“When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.’” John 17:1-3
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3
“Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father's Son, in truth and love.” 2 John 1:3
Therefore, the Father doesn’t need to testify on his own behalf since the statements of both Jesus and the NT authors emphatically show that he is absolute Deity.
Yet if this logic were to be applied consistently then the anti-Trinitarian would have to also accept the fact that Jesus doesn’t need to come right out and say that he is God in those exact words since the testimony of the NT should also be sufficient in his case.
For instance, according to the inspired Christian Scriptures God himself testifies that Jesus is his beloved Son, the immutable Lord who created and sustains the universe, and the sovereign King who rules forever as God. God even commands all of his angels to worship Jesus:
“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” Mark 1:9-11
“… When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has obtained is more excellent than theirs. For to what angel did God ever say, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you’? Or again, ‘I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son’? And again, when he brings the Firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God's angels worship him [the Son].’ Of the angels he says, ‘Who makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.’ But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your comrades.’ And, ‘You, Lord [the Son], did lay the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all grow old like a garment, like a mantle you will roll them up, and they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never end.’ But to what angel has he ever said, ‘Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies a stool for your feet’? Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?” Hebrews 1:3b-14
Jesus is also called God in an absolute sense by his followers:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father… No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is God, the One who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.” John 1:1-4, 14, 18
“Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.’” John 20:28-29
“For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.” Titus 2:11-14
“Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ… so there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:1, 11
The NT writers also speak of Christ as having all the fullness of Deity and of his being the exact representation of God’s very own Being/substance, all of which is simply another way of saying that Jesus is God in the absolute and fullest sense of the term:
“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity is dwelling in bodily form,” Colossians 2:9
"In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and is the exact representation of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power.” Hebrews 1:1-3a
Not only does Jesus perfectly bear the very nature of God he is also sustaining creation by his powerful word, a work which God carries out according to Jewish beliefs:
“Because of him his messenger finds the way, and by his word all things hold together.” Sirach 43:26
Thus, if the words of Jesus and the NT authors are good enough to prove that the Father is God then the witness of the Father and the same NT writers should also be sufficient evidence in establishing the absolute Deity of the Lord Jesus.
But if the testimony of this witness to Christ’s Deity is to be rejected on the grounds that he never personally claimed to be God in those exact words then this same testimony must be rejected in relation to the Father since he is never once quoted in the NT as saying that he is God in those exact words either.
The anti-Trinitarians cannot have their cake and eat it as well.
Monday, 20 April 2009
Is the Father God?
How Anti-Trinitarian Arguments Prove too Much!