Friday, June 17, 2011

Jehovah's Witnesses and Questioning Authority(excerpt from a Ray Franz book)

1 John 4:1:Dearly loved friends,don't always believe you hear just because someone says it is a message from God:test it first to see if it really is

The following book excerpt is from pp.16-18 of "In Search of Christian Freedom" by Ray Franz

"If indeed authority has been an ancient enemy of truth,it has also been an ancient enemy of freedom,for truth is a prime liberating source,able to "make one free."When compelled to confront truth in the field of combat,error finds its favorite weapon,and also its ultimate refuge in authority.All too often,the claimed authority has no more genuineness than does the error itself.

No matter how much evidence may be supplied,no matter how much scriptural testimony may be presented,no matter how much logic may be brought to bear on the points discussed in this book,these may all be rejected and discarded by those who place a particular human religious authority as their guide,as the determiner of truth.In fact,with the vast majority of Jehovah's Witnesses all such evidence and scriptural testimony will be rejected before it is even heard--because authority has decreed for them that they should reject it.Those under the authority are thus robbed of the freedom to decide for themselves whether the information is factual or false,beneficial or detrimental.

And the same is true of all persons who submit to any human religious authority as their supreme arbiter of right and wrong.If they choose to allow that authority to decide for them ,speak for them,think for them,then any alternative argument or evidence advanced has no hope of a fair hearing,for "against authority there is no defense."The authority has no need to respond ,no need to refute,or even to consider the evidence presented;it simply condemns.This is,I believe,the basic issue and unless it is first understood,little else can be undertsood.At least that has proved to be the case in my own experience.

Men can make no greater claim to authority than to claim to speak for God--even more than that--to claim to be his *sole channel of communication* to all mankind.To occupy such a position would be an awesome responsibility indeed,and one that should logically call for the greatest humility on the part of the imperfect humans if they were in fact assigned to fill it.

A fitting analogy might be that of a slave sent forth by a king to deliver a proclamation.If impressed with his own importance,lacking humility,the messenger might feel free to add to the message or make adjustments,while nonetheless insisting that all hearers should accept whatever he presented as a bona fide royal order.If people questioned him on certain points,he might become resentful,seek to awe them with his royal backing in order to override any doubts about the authenticity of his statements.

By contrast,a truly humble messenger would scrupulously avoid any alteration of what came from the royal source.He would not become resentful if asked for proof of full authenticity for what he said,nor would he criticize if some took steps to confirm that the message he presented was delivered just as given,free from embroidery or change.Rather than decry such investigation as an abusive lack of respect for himself(the mere slave),he would accept it,even welcome it,as evidence of the inquirer's concern and deep respect for the will of his master,the Sovereign.

The Watchtower society repeatedly states that its message has life and death importance.The organization claims its message has been sent by God,the supreme Sovereign,for all mankind,with ultimate destruction as the outcome for disobedience.Some other religions take a similar position.

Surely,any claim of such magnitude should never go untested.In fact,the greatness of the claim calls for,not less,but more caution,more careful testing.Simple respect for God should move us,actually compel us,to make sure that the message is genuinely His,free from additions or alterations.The deeper our respect for God,the more conscientious our effort in testing."

I'm not asking Jehovah's Witnesses to question God or Jesus.I'm asking them to question *imperfect men* who make the downright astonishing & remarkably lofty claim to be the "sole channel" of God's.See the difference?If not,then when were the lines blurred for you?According to the WT,to question them demonstrates the same kind of "independent spirit" Adam and Eve demonstrated in the Garden of Eden when they questioned God.The Watchtower,however,isn't God.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Matthew 20:28 & Philippians 2:5-8:Rightly dividing the Word of truth

This is the second blog in a series where I will prove that the trinitarian interpretation of Philippians 2:5-8,in light of correlating texts,is easily proven not only difficult,but downright impossible.In this blog,we'll explore Philippians 2:5-8 in light of it's correlation with Matthew 20:28.

Scripture # 2:
Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

I think "Son of man" correlates with "form of God" in Philippians.Because,clearly,Christ was born as a man with God as his father.Christ was the Son of God AS a man.Children are the images of their father. Also, "came to serve"(from Matthew) correlates with "made himself nothing and took the form of a servant"(from Philippians).In addition,"gave his life as a ransom for many" from Matthew correlates with "humbled himself to the point of death" from Philippians.If I am right that Matthew 20:28 correlates with Philippians 2,then this proves that Christ as a man was the "form of God",simply enough.And that the humiliation in view from Philippians happened as a rich man who deserved only to BE served becoming poor for us by "serving",as a sinless man who didn't deserve to die choosing to die for us.As opposed to a pre-existing deity becoming a man for us.

Would you agree that "serve and give his life" from Matthew would easily correlate with " taking the form of a servant" and "humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death" from Philippians?Hmm..sounds exactly the same.Would this not then prove that Christ was the "form of God" in fact AS the "Son of man" since Matthew says that it is that MAN,as opposed to a pre-existing God in heaven,who "served and gave his life" as the REAL humiliation in view in Matthew and Philippians?Wouldn't this all go back to Christ being rich and sinless AS A HUMAN BEING who was king and Lord,yet serving and dying for others as if he weren't Lord of them,as if he weren't even sinless?(since it is only sin that leads to death!)Wouldn't all this seem to suggest rather explicitly that Christ as a man was the Son of God,as opposed to Christ as a man was a only a nature that God took on? As opposed to Christ as Son of God actually BEING God?Again,if I'm right about Matthew 20:28 correlating with Philippians 2,then it is proven with zero doubt that Christ was in the form of God as a man and not as the second person of a trinity.And also NOT as Michael the archangel or the Angel of the Lord..that has to be imported INTO all the texts in question.If you choose to argue that Christ is called "son of man" in Matthew 20:28 only AFTER his humiliation in Philippians,then how could you possibly prove this when the humiliation and abasement is precisely communicated as a rich sinless man serving and humbling himself unto death as if he were poor,as if he were criminal,as if he inherited sin like other men?If what I just proposed is the humiliation in view,then why must another be imposed?

Christ was in the "form of God" AS the "Son of man" who was very rich as heir,king and Lord.Yahushua CHOSE to serve and die for others,and that is the only humiliation communicated anywhere.He was a rich man who became poor for us.Not a rich God who became man for us.God or Archangel becoming man for us has to be imported and imposed.The humbling and absement from Philippians is defined as his taking on sin,serving,and suffering in correlating texts.He did this from the starting point of a rich man who knew zero sin,who didn't deserve to serve,suffer,or die.He deserved to be served,to never have to die,and zero suffering as the kind of man he really was(rich,sinless,perfect,Lord).Simple as that.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

2 Corinthians 8:9 & Phil. 2:5-8:Rightly dividing the word of truth

This is the first of a few blogs that will be exploring how other texts in the bible interpret Philippians 2:5-8 FOR us,making it simple to understand that a "hypostatic union" is not only improbable,but imo,impossible if I am right that the texts I will be using positively correlate with Philippians 2.This first blog(with an attached video)in the series deals with 2 Corinthians 8:9 in relation to Philippians.I already have a blog on this particular correlation if you'd like to read it here:

1st blog on 2 Cor. 8:9 in relation to Phil. 2

I wanted to simplify it as much as I could for a video.First,let us just look at the texts.

Philippians 2:5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:6 Who, being in very nature God,(in the form of God would be a better interpretation,sorry)did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

Now you will usually be able to get trinitarians and Arians to admit this correlates explicitly with Philippians 2.However,that would cause a real problem for them.Because they would then have to admit,according to their own interpretation of Philippians,that Christ's "richness" entailed his "pre-existent deity as the second person of a triune God" or as "pre-existing spirit creature."However,2 Corinthians here says that WE,through Christ's poverty "might become rich."To say "well Christ's richness meant as deity,but ours means as children of God" would be positively absurd.Yes,our "richness" within this text is compared to Christ's.So question is..what was the richness in Corinthians,which correlates with "form of God" in Philippians?If it's something we can have,apparently it is that we are "children of God,fellow heirs with Christ" destined for glory.(Rom. 8:16,17)Is that not what Christ also was?Could that not define Christ's "richness?"A child and heir of God,born of God, destined for glory.Absolutely.

As for the "poverty" of Christ in Corinthians,this would correlate with "making himself nothing, taking the form of a servant" from Philippians.How was this accomplished?Well,we've already established that "richness",if it does in fact correlate with "form of God" in Philippians,CANNOT be Christ as true God because we too can have the same richness.So working from that starting point,"taking the form of a servant" and "poverty" would be,not that deity took on human form but that the Son of God as a rich man who was heir to a kingdom,who deserved nothing less than to be served as well as a remarkable exaltation,instead humbled himself all the way to an ignominious,gut-wrenching fate on a cross!He served others humbly ,even dying for them,even though he was king and Lord of them.Yes,though he was rich,he became poor for us!

As James Dunn notes in "Christology in the Making"
"When Paul elsewhere speaks of "grace"(gracious gift,or gracious act)in connection with what Christ has done he was always thinking of his death and resurrection.(see esp. Rom. 5:15,21;Gal. 2:20;Eph. 1:6).Nowhere else does he talk of Christ's "gracious act" as his becoming man."p. 121

In review:

If Christ's "richness" was as "pre-existent deity",then *why and how* are we said to be rich within the same,I repeat same, passage?If you insist on interpreting "richness" differently for Christ than for us,essentially,then on what logical exegetical basis would this make sense within the very same passage?Do you believe(or not) that Christ's "richness" in 2 Corinthians 8:9 correlates with his being in the "form of God" in Philippians?If so,then when scripture is allowed to interpret itself,*how* is "richness" defined if we too can have it?Rich as true God?Or rich as children of God/heirs/future kings?Was Christ a child of God?Was he heir and king?Would it not then make sense that he was rich THAT way,as opposed to "rich" as the "2nd person of a triune essence in heaven"?Within 2 Corinthians 8:9,the "grace of Christ" was his "becoming poor",which would explicitly correlate with "made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being found in the likeness of men" from Philippians 2.Agreed? Wouldn't this suggest that, in correlation with 2 Corinthians 8:9, that Philippians 2:5-8 would then be that Christ as a *rich man who was a child of God*(as opposed to a rich pre-existing "true God")humbling himself even to death at the cross,as opposed to God becoming a man?Since the bible always,I repeat always, defines the grace of Christ as his death and resurrection,and never as God becoming a man?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Does John 16:28 prove that Jesus pre-existed?(An Arian issue)

This blog was inspired by a blog from Ivan,found here:

Ivan's blog on John 16:27-30

I recommend his blog to anyone interested in Christological,Jehovah's Witness,or kingdom of God apologetics.

(John 16:27-30, NASB)

for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father. I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.” His disciples said, “Lo, now You are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech. Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God.”

Ivan(whose blog inspired this post..thanks Ivan) says "if ‘come into the world’ means to be born, then one would expect this to be first and Jesus being commissioned afterwards. But this is not what Jesus says. He says he first came from God and then came into the world."

And I would say:how could Yahushua come into the world without coming from God to do so?How could he have been "born" without God sending his spirit to impregnate Mary,essentially causing his "word of life"(eternal life from the father) to manifest at the "proper time"?(1 John 1:1,2,5:11,Gal. 4:4)We already know from scripture that anything God wills is always with him and comes from him,instigated by an operation of his miraculous and powerful holy spirit.That is how and why any gift from the father could be said to come forth from Him,and in fact descend.

James 1:17:Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights(NIV)

or as the New Living Translation says:

Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.

What God decrees,harbors,fancies,and intends is with him,spoken forth,and manifest at the proper time.(Gal. 4:4,Eph. 1:10)I really can't think of anything from the father,any gift,any precious surety,more amazing and poignant than the "purpose he set forth in Christ"(Eph. 1:9),"which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."(Col. 1:27)Yahushua knew he was that "gift" that would "come down"(James 1:17),that "true bread from heaven",from youth on as his parents taught him the scriptures and the Spirit he was full of led and taught him fully.(John 3:34)This gift that came from God was Christ's *flesh*.This *Son of man* was of course from God!Where else would it(the bread,or flesh) and he(Yahushua) be from?

John 6:32:Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the *bread from heaven*, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.

This "bread" was "flesh" that "came down" from heaven as any gift from God would,as opposed to a spirit that transmigrated.(John 6:51)

Yahushua knew who and what he was,how he was present since before the world even was,as "the mystery hidden for ages and generations" that was "*now* revealed to his saints."(Col. 1:26)The revelation of that mystery was,again,Christ the genuine man in the flesh,not a Godman,not an Angel who became human.(except from both camps,Arian and trinitarian, by inference)The eternal life from the father was a "decree before the ages for our glory"(1 Cor. 2:7)and quite honestly and sincerely the Last Adam(that's a human being who needs no ontologies added,either at the same time or before and after) once manifest.(1 Cor. 15:45,Rom. 5:14,John 1:14)

The father Yah was the reliable source of Messiah Yahushua.In fact,he said to David:

2 Samuel 7:12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.

Messiah came from God.He didn't come forth of his own initiative and make claims that weren't true.(John 14:6)

John 8:42:Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me.

When Christ said "I came forth from the Father and have come into the world",he was trying to let them know that he was indeed the "Christ,the Son of the Living God."(Matthew 16:16)EXACTLY who he always said he was.He never said "I was the Angel of the LORD" or "I am the same God (in being,not person) as the One who sent me."The revelation that he was the decreed Christ of Yah was and is a truth so important that if one can't or won't accept it,that one will "die in his sin."(John 8:24)That was the purpose and heart of the texts in question.Because:

2 John 1:7:Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.

Yahushua wanted them to know that he was that "flesh" from heaven.The Messiah in the flesh,a true human being,from God himself,sent to save the world.

Ivan further says:"Another passage that points to a similar concept of being with God but sent to the world is John 17:18 (ESV):

As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world

It is plain that Jesus “sent them,” that is, his disciples, “into the world” in a person-to-person correlation. Yet, Jesus compares this sending to how the Father sent him “into the world.” Jesus’ sending must also have been a person-to-person correspondence."

To which I say:How did Yahushua send his disciples into the world?By letting them know of their divine commission and the work that needed(and still needs) to be done.Why would a pre-existence spring into view (except by presupposition perhaps)in order for God to have "person-to-person" correspondence with his own Son?Are we forgetting that "no one knows the Father except the Son"?(Matt. 11:27)And how do people come to "know" God?Well,by his Spirit.And who was full of that more exceptionally,intimately,and wholly than any other?Yahushua,of course,who was given the Spirit of his loving father generously "without limit."(John.3:34)I would certainly consider that "person to person" correspondence.

When Yahushua said "I am leaving the world again and going to the Father",even though it is the opposite of coming from the father,he is communicating that he is returning to the place from which he originated.He didn't come of his own initiative or from any unreliable source,but from the faithful and true Shema's One God Himself!God is the source and sender and father of the one he made to be Lord and king of the world,Yahushua.(Matt. 28:18,Acts 2:36)Christ was a gift of life,true bread from heaven,for the world who would exercise faith,poignantly and surely from Yahuwah,no other source.:)

When the disciples said "you are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech",the word for "figure of speech" is "paroimia",defined as an enigmatical or fictitious illustration on e-sword.(easily downloadable free bible study software)So basically all the disciples were saying was "what you have said is true,as opposed to false.You are definitely who you say you are.We believe you.You haven't spoken in another enigmatic illustration." NOT,and as opposed to, "You were a spirit entity who transmigrated into a womb to become a man.What you've said is clear in that you were the Angel of the LORD in the Old Testament who now stands before us as a human being!"That notion has to be read INTO the texts.The Greek word for "plainly" means "frankly" or "bluntly."Yahushua could say "frankly" and "bluntly" that he came from God without having to mean "I was a spirit who did."Because,again,how could Yahushua come into the world without coming *from God* to do so?His origin was from no other place!If it were,then he would be a false Messiah.We know that isn't an option.

Further,John writes:

John 16:30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?"

Do you think Yahushua was asking them if they now believed he pre-existed or if they now knew for certain that he was the Christ of Yah?To "know all things" means Christ was full of the spirit of Yah,truly "from God" as the prophesied Messiah to give life to the world,not that he existed for millenniums as another ontology.Again,I think the whole point is that he wasn't a false Messiah from some source other than Yah.

Ivan noted on his blog:

"Even preeminent British scholar James Dunn whom has a tendency to read pre-existence out of the New Testament says,

“Linked with the Father-Son theme is the regularly expressed conviction of his own pre-existence—of a prior existence in heaven with the Father (6.62; 8.38; 10.36; 17.5), of his descent from heaven (3.13; 6.33, 38, 41f., 50f., 58), of his coming from God (3.31; 8.42; (13.3); 16:27f.; 17:8) into the world (3.19; 9.3; 10.36; 12.46; 16.28; 18.37). The climax is probably reached in the most powerful of the ‘I am’ sayings, where Jesus’ claim to pre-existence achieves its most absolute expression—‘Before Abraham was, I am’ (8.58).”- Christology in the Making, pg. 57, 2nd edition."

My response to this point:

Dunn said in his foreword that since his writing of the "Christology" book that his "understanding of the beginnings of Christology has itself developed and become clarified"(xxvi) and that "it becomes clear from John's Gospel",to a degree he hadn't appreciated when he wrote "Christology",that the "main issue of that period was monotheism."(xxviii)And though he doesn't mention John ch. 16 specifically in his foreword,I am left to assume(and you can disagree) that if he thinks the Johannine Christ is NOT an incarnation of a pre-existing "Son of God",then he doesn't think any text of John would solidly support such a thought.He says:

"It would be better to speak of the Johannine Christ as the incarnation of GOD,as God making himself known in human flesh,*not as the incarnation of the Son of God(which seems to be saying something other.)*"(xxviii Foreword to 2nd edition of "Christology in the Making" by James D.G. Dunn)

and also:

"Christ was the incarnate Logos,a self-manifestation of God,the One God insofar as he could make himself known in human flesh.--not the incarnation of a divine power other than God.Christianity was still monotheistic;the only difference was the belief that this God had manifested himself in and as human flesh;this Jesus now provided a definitive 'window' into the One God;he was (and is) "God" as the self-manifestation of God,not as one somehow other than God.".(xxx foreword to 2nd edition of "Christology in the Making" by James D.G. Dunn)

In other words,Christ was the father(and the father's own self-revelation) incarnate in human flesh,not a pre-existing Angel or "Son of God" incarnate in human flesh.And I would agree.And,no,just in case there be any misunderstandings,that point is NOT advocating a Modalist position.It's advocating God the father IN his Son,a separate "being" and individual,*through* whom he made himself known as fully as an infinite, holy, and unseeable God possibly could.(2 Cor. 5:19,Col. 2:9)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

James Dunn on 1 Corinthians 10:4

"It is hardly likely that Paul intended to identify Christ as the wilderness rock in any literal sense.So "the rock was Christ" must denote some sort of allegorical identification:The rock *represents* Christ in some way;as water from the rock,so spiritual drink from Christ.But is it an allegory of the realities *then* operative,or something more in the line of a *typological* allegory of the spiritual realities now experienced by the Corinthians?The latter seems the more probable,not least because Paul HIMSELF describes the whole affair as *types* and as happening to the Israelites *typologically* in verses 6 and 11.In verses 1-2 it is fairly obvious that the phrase "baptized into Moses" has been modelled on the more familiar Pauline formulation,"baptized into Christ"(Rom. 6:3,1 Cor. 12:13,Gal. 3:27):the passage "through the sea" and "under the cloud" simply provided a typological parallel to the event of becoming a member of Christ--hence "baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea" modelled on "baptized into Christ in the Spirit"(1 Cor. 12:13).The Israelites can be said to have been "baptized" only as a reflection backwards into the Exodus narrative of what the Corinthians had experienced;and can be said to have been "baptized into Moses" only because Moses served as the typological counterpart of Christ.Similarly with the latter half of the parallel(verses 3-4):the manna from heaven and the water from the rock were simply types of the spiritual sustenance received by Christians from Christ.In the first half of the midrash it was unnecessary to identify Moses as the type of Christ--that would have been obvious anyway,and the "baptized into Moses" rendered a specific identification superfluous.In the latter half however,the type of Christ is less obvious.So to clarify his exegesis Paul simply adds the interpretive note, "the rock was Christ"--that is,to understand the full message of those wilderness narratives in their application to the situation of the Corinthians.(verses 6,11)Paul's readers should see the rock then as equivalent to Christ now.In other words,Paul says to his readers:if you compare yourselves to the Israelites you will see what peril you are in.They experienced the equivalent of what we have experienced:they went through what we call a baptism;they enjoyed what we call "spiritual food"--you only need to equate Moses with Christ(so "baptized into Moses")and the rock with Christ to see how close the parallel is to your situation--and yet look what happened to them(verses 5,9)"These things have become types of,or for you"(verse 6);they "happened to the Israelites typologically,but were written down for our instruction"(verse 11)--so be warned!

Paul then may indeed have been aware of Philo's identification of the rock with wisdom,or at least of Alexandrian Judaism's readiness to interpret the events of the exodus and wilderness wanderings allegorically.But where Philo used the historical narrative as a picture of the more timeless(Platonic) encounter between God and man,Paul used it as a picture of the eschatological realities that now pertain since the coming of Christ.In this typological interpretation it is not actually implied nor does it follow that Paul intended to identify Christ with Wisdom(since the rock=Wisdom,therefore Christ=rock=Wisdom).Nor does it follow that Christ was thought of as having existed at the time of the wilderness wanderings.All we can safely say is that the allegorical interpretation of Philo(or of Alexandrian Judaism) may well have prompted the more typological interpretation of Paul:as rock=Wisdom in Alexandrian allegory,so rock=Christ in Christian typology.In short,it is not sufficiently probable that 1 Cor. 10:4 refers to Christ as preexistent for us to make anything of it in our inquiry."

from "Christology in the Making" by James D.G Dunn pp. 183-184.