Is Jesus God? Answering Answers in Genesis (Part 1)

     I was recently made aware of an article by the creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis, which attempts to defend the traditional Christian doctrine of the "deity of Christ". Since I've been discussing the Trinity and related doctrines for the past month on this blog, I decided that taking a look at the article, and debunking the arguments within, would be the perfect ending to this series on the Trinity. This article presents basically all of the scriptural arguments for the deity of Christ that have been made by trinitarian apologists, and so the fact that all of these arguments are so easily refuted surely says something about the truth or falsity of this doctrine.

    Before beginning my critique of their article, I would like to point out one thing. Their arguments for Jesus being God all rest upon the assertion that Jesus possesses names, attributes, and works that only rightfully apply to Yahweh, the one true God. For this reason, their argument falls entirely apart if it can be shown that the titles, attributes, and works can apply to anyone other than Yahweh. Please keep this in mind when reading through my post.

    Is unitarianism a cult?

Interestingly, Answers in Genesis (AiG) chooses to start off their article with an ad hominem attack on unitarianism itself:

Is Jesus God? There are many cults and false religions today that deny it. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, believe Jesus was created by the Father billions of years ago as the Archangel Michael and is hence a “lesser god” than the Father. The Mormons say Jesus was born as the first and greatest spirit child of the Heavenly Father and heavenly mother, and was the spirit-brother of Lucifer. New Agers claim Jesus was an enlightened master. Unitarian Universalists say Jesus was just a good moral teacher.

This gives the readers of this article the impression that unitarianism is something that is only believed by cults. There are certainly cults today that believe in unitarianism, like the Jehovah's Witnesses, but these are by no means the majority of unitarians. Instead, most unitarians, in my own experience, are simply Christians who came to a different understanding of God's nature based on the clear teaching of the Bible (like myself).

    In fact, although 96% of Evangelicals profess a belief in the Trinity, 65% believe that Jesus was created by God, and 37% did not agree with the statement that the Son of God existed prior to Jesus' birth. It seems that belief in trinitarianism is simply a professed, creedal belief, and not one that most Protestants fundamentally agree with. Many US Protestants would be better categorized as unitarian, or at the very most "confused trinitarian". This just goes to show how AiG's categorization of unitarians as cult members is false, and bound to poison the well for Christians who are simply seeking biblical truth.

    Does Jesus have the names of God?

AiG begins their argument for Christ's deity by attempting to show that Jesus possesses the names and titles of God.

Jesus is Yahweh. Yahweh is a very common Hebrew name for God in the Old Testament, occurring over 5,300 times. It is translated LORD (all capitals) in many English translations of the Bible.

We first learn of this name in Exodus 3, where Moses asked God by what name He should be called. God replied to him, “I AM WHO I AM. . . .Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’ ” (verse 14). Yahweh is basically a shortened form of “I AM WHO I AM” (verse 15). The name conveys the idea of eternal self-existence. Yahweh never came into being at a point in time for He has always existed.

Jesus implicitly ascribed this divine name to himself during a confrontation He had with a group of hostile Jews. He said, “I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). Jesus deliberately contrasted the created origin of Abraham—whom the Jews venerated—with His own eternal, uncreated nature as God.

Actually, the title of God in Exodus 3:14 should almost certainly be translated, "I will be who I will be". In the original Hebrew, this title is ehyeh asher ehyeh. The word ehyeh is elsewhere translated as the future tense of the verb "to be", and was in fact used that way just two verses earlier:

And He [God] said, "Assuredly I will be [ehyeh] with you [Moses], and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain." (Exod. 3:12 NASB)

Essentially, what God is saying here is, "I will be with you, and I will be who I will be" (meaning, "I will be whatever I need to be for my people Israel"). Today, this is the majority scholarly interpretation of this passage. J. Washington Watts, a professor at Syracuse University, wrote that

Such a translation as ‘I am what I am’ appears to be ruled out completely by the fact that the verbs here are imperfects. ‘I am’ is the normal translation of the Hebrew perfect, not an imperfect... The translation offered here relates this explanation of the name to covenants with the patriarchs. As such it was a basis of assurance concerning Yahweh’s presence and support. This thought is made explicit in the verse that follows, and the proper name Yahweh, the memorial name, is made synonymous with the description ‘I shall continue to be what I have always been.’ This makes the description a restatement of Yahweh’s faithfulness and assurance that he will fulfill the covenants with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. [1]

Therefore, God's title in Exodus 3:14 should be properly translated as "I will be who I will be". This is how it was understood by several ancient translators as well, since both Aquila and Theodotion from the second century AD translated this title as εσομαι ο εσομαι (meaning "I will be what I will be").

    However, even if the title is meant to be a declaration of God's eternal self-existence, as both AiG and most modern translators seem to want it to be, this still would not be translated into Greek as εγω ειμι (which is what Jesus says in John 8:58). The Septuagint, which is the Greek translation that was used in Jesus' day, even by the writers of the New Testament, translates the full title as "εγω ειμι Ο ΩΝ", meaning "I am the ONE WHO IS", and the shortened title as simply "Ο ΩΝ". Since Jesus never identified Himself as either the "I will be" or the "ONE WHO IS", there is no evidence to suggest that He saw Himself as the recipient of the titles in Exodus 3:14.

    Instead, the gospel of John repeatedly develops "εγω ειμι" as a Messianic title, not a divine one. When the Samaritan woman remarks that she has heard that the Messiah is coming, Jesus responds, "εγω ειμι", meaning "I am [the Messiah]" (Jn. 4:25-26). Jesus tells the Jews that, unless they believe that "εγω ειμι", they will die in their sins (Jn. 8:24); since we are told elsewhere that the message by which they are saved is that "Jesus is the Messiah" (Jn. 20:31), this again is not a claim to deity, but the implied statement is "I am [the Messiah]". Jesus again states, "εγω ειμι", where the implied predicate is clearly "Son of Man", also a Messianic title (Jn. 8:28 cf. Mk. 14:62). In response to a Messianic prophecy, Jesus claims, "εγω ειμι", meaning "I am [the One prophesied]" (Jn. 13:18-19).

    We should give the author of the gospel of John enough credit to assume that he knew what he was talking about. John wouldn't have translated Exodus 3:14 with such an inaccurate phrase as "εγω ειμι", nor would he have expected his audience to know what he was trying to say if that were the case (since "εγω ειμι" is not how any other translation from that day translated Exod. 3:14). Jesus wasn't claiming to be God here; He was claiming to be the Messiah.

Jesus is Kurios. The New Testament Greek equivalent of the Old Testament Hebrew name Yahweh is Kurios. Used of God, Kurios carries the idea of a sovereign being who exercises absolute authority. The word is translated Lord in English translations of the Bible.

To an early Christian accustomed to reading the Old Testament, the word Lord, when used of Jesus, would point to His identification with the God of the Old Testament (Yahweh). Hence, the affirmation that “Jesus is Lord” (Kurios) in the New Testament constitutes a clear affirmation that Jesus is Yahweh, as is the case in passages like Romans 10:9, 1 Corinthians 12:3, and Philippians 2:5–11.

Like the claim that Jesus' "εγω ειμι" statements refer back to Exodus 3:14, this is blatantly false. There are three different Hebrew words that are translated into Greek as κυριος (kurios): the title adoni (used of human lords), the title Adonai (used of God alone), and the personal name Yahweh. In fact, κυριος is repeatedly used of humans in the New Testament; in one place, Paul exhorts all Christian κυριοι to submit to their κυριος in heaven, Jesus (Col. 4:1)!

    There is simply no evidence to suggest that the writers of the New Testament saw Jesus as Yahweh or Adonai rather than simply adoni (human lord). However, there is evidence that they saw Him as an adoni rather than Adonai. The Messianic prophecy of Psalm 110 uses adoni in reference to the coming Messiah:

The LORD [Yahweh] says to my Lord [adoni]: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." (NASB)

This prophecy is quoted or alluded to no less than twenty-four times in the New Testament as fulfilled by Jesus [2]. However, it does not describe the Messiah as Yahweh, or even as Adonai, but as merely adoni - a title meant for human rulers which is not once applied to God Himself. This is strong evidence that the title κυριος, when applied to Jesus, is not a claim to divinity, but merely to superiority. Unfortunately, most translations mask this fact by capitalizing "Lord" when applied to Jesus and God, and keeping it uncapitalized when applied to anyone else.

    To be clear, this doesn't mean that I believe that Jesus was merely a "good moral teacher", which is the caricature of unitarians that AiG paints. I believe that He is the greatest human being who ever lived, who died and was resurrected, and is now exalted to the highest possible position for a created being to hold, at the right hand of God. But the title of Adonai cannot be applied to anyone other than Yahweh Himself, whereas the title of adoni applies to anyone apart from God who has authority. Since Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18), He is the greatest adoni - the only one who can properly be called our (human) Lord.

Jesus is Elohim. Elohim is a Hebrew name that is used of God 2,570 times in the Old Testament. The name literally means “strong one,” and its plural ending (im in Hebrew) indicates fullness of power. Elohim is portrayed in the Old Testament as the powerful and sovereign governor of the universe, ruling over the affairs of humankind.

Jesus is recognized as both Yahweh and Elohim in the prophecy in Isaiah 40:3: “Prepare the way of the Lord [Yahweh]; make straight in the desert a highway for our God [Elohim].” This verse was written in reference to John the Baptist preparing for the coming of Christ (as confirmed in John 1:23) and represents one of the strongest affirmations of Christ’s deity in the Old Testament. In Isaiah 9:6, we likewise read a prophecy of Christ with a singular variant (El) of Elohim: “And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God [El], Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

The argument based on Isaiah 40:3 commits an error that I like to call the "fulfillment fallacy". According to this argument, anyone who fulfills a prophecy about God, or a statement that God will do something, must be God Himself. However, if this argument were applied consistently across the entire Bible, we would have to conclude that not only is Jesus God, but Moses was God (Exod. 3:7-10), Aaron was God (Exod. 17:17-20), all the judges of Israel were God (Judg. 2:16-18), and so on.

    The fact is that God often acts out His will through the use of intermediary agents, and when those agents fulfill His will, it can be said that He is the one doing those things. I wrote a lot more about this subject in my earlier post, "Understanding the concept of agency", and if you are curious, please go and check out that article.

    In the other verse quoted here, Isaiah 9:6, we are told that the coming Messiah would be called el gibbor, which is usually translated as "Mighty God". However, the title el gibbor is by no means unique to God alone; in fact, in one of the only two other places in the entire Old Testament where this title is used, it is applied to human rulers (Ezek 32:21), where it is usually translated as "mighty chiefs" or similar. This is entirely the result of trinitarian translator bias. The Jews of that time would have had no concept of Yahweh Himself coming down to be born as a human, and the title el gibbor (which is elsewhere applied to humans) certainly wouldn't get that idea across. It should more likely be translated here as "Mighty Chief" or "Mighty Hero" rather than "Mighty God" [3].

Jesus is Theos. The New Testament Greek word for God, Theos, is the corresponding parallel to the Old Testament Hebrew term Elohim. A well-known example of Christ being addressed as God (Theos) is found in the story of “doubting Thomas” in John 20. In this passage, Thomas witnesses the resurrected Christ and worshipfully responds: “My Lord and my God [Theos]” (John 20:28).

Jesus is called Theos throughout the rest of the New Testament. For example, when a jailer asked Paul and Silas how to be saved, they responded: “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). After the jailer believed and became saved, he “rejoiced, having believed in God [Theos] with all his household” (verse 34). Believing in Christ and believing in God are seen as identical acts.

In fact, there is only one place in the entire New Testament where Jesus is called θεος (theos) with certainty, and that is in Hebrews 1:8-9. That passage is a quotation of Psalm 45:6-7, a psalm which was originally written about an unnamed king of Israel who was being married to the daughter of the king of Tyre (go ahead, read it for yourself). Scholars are divided on who exactly this psalm was originally written for, but there are two main viewpoints: either it was written for Solomon, or for Ahab. Either way, it should be clear that this psalm was not originally written for God, and so interpreting its quotation in Hebrews 1:8-9 any differently simply shows trinitarian bias.

    But then, if Psalm 45:6-7 is referring to a human king, how can it call that king "God"? And why does Hebrews 1:8-9 call Jesus "God" if not in the same sense that Yahweh is God? The fact is that throughout the Bible, those who work out God's will on His behalf are sometimes called "God" in a representational sense. For example, when Moses was told that his brother Aaron would speak on his behalf to the pharaoh of Egypt, Yahweh told him that he would be God to Aaron (Exod. 4:16), and again in Exodus 7:1, Moses is said to be God to the pharaoh. In Psalm 82:1, 6, God tells the human judges of Israel that they are elohim (gods) because of the authority which He has given them. Even the burning bush in Exodus 3 who entrusted Moses with the personal name of God is later said to be merely an angel through whom God commissioned Moses (Acts 7:30, 35).

    Therefore, even when Jesus is called θεος in Hebrews 1:8-9, this does not mean that Jesus is actually the same as Yahweh (at least, not any more than Solomon or Ahab are the same as Yahweh, one of whom Psalm 45 was originally written about). Rather, He is the representational agent through whom God works out His will, as I discussed in my earlier article, "Understanding the concept of agency". As for John 20:28, I gave several unitarian interpretations of this verse at the end of another post, so please go check that out if you are curious.

    Finally, I find it curious that AiG states that "Believing in Christ and believing in God are seen as identical acts" and sees this as evidence that Jesus is God. This doesn't mean that Jesus is God, but rather corresponds quite nicely to what Jesus Himself told us earlier about His relationship to the Father who sent Him:

"Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me does not receive Me but Him who sent Me." (Mk. 9:37 NASB)

Now Jesus cried out and said, "The one who believes in Me, does not believe only in Me, but also in Him who sent Me. And the one who sees Me sees Him who sent Me." (John 12:44-45 NASB)

"Truly, truly I say to you, the one who receives anyone I send, receives Me; and the one who receives Me receives Him who sent Me." (John 13:20 NASB)

Because Jesus is God's representative agent, those who believe in Him believe in the Father who sent Him, in the same way that those who receive His disciples are also receiving Him. This certainly doesn't prove that Jesus is God any more than it proves that Jesus' disciples are Jesus.

    In summary, there is no evidence from scripture that either Jesus or the writers of the New Testament saw Him as ontologically the same as God, such that all the titles of God apply to Him. In the only place in the New Testament where Jesus is called θεος with certainty, Hebrews 1:8-9, this is a quotation from a psalm that was originally about the king of Israel; so Jesus can no more be considered God than Ahab or Solomon can be considered God.

    If the writers of the New Testament wanted to prove that Jesus was God, they could have easily done so. There is one title that is applied to God, and only God, in the Greek Septuagint, and that is "Ο ΩΝ" (the "ONE WHO IS"). All that the writers of the New Testament needed to say is "Jesus is the ONE WHO IS" ("Ιησους εστιν Ο ΩΝ"); their silence on this issue truly speaks volumes.

    Does Jesus possess the attributes of God?

Answers in Genesis next tries to convince us that Jesus is God by showing us how Jesus possesses attributes that only rightfully belong to God.

Jesus is eternal. John 1:1 affirms: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The word was in this verse is an imperfect tense, indicating continuous, ongoing existence. When the timespace universe came into being, Christ already existed (Hebrews 1:8–11).

Setting aside for a moment the fact that the "word", or λογος, in the prologue of John should almost certainly be understood as God's wisdom, and not the "pre-incarnate Christ", this argument is still false. The imperfect tense in Greek indicates any ongoing action, but does not require the action to continue prior to the time in question. To say that "in the beginning was the word" means just that: that the word existed in the beginning, but says nothing about whether it existed before the beginning.

Jesus is self-existent. As the Creator of all things (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2), Christ himself must be uncreated. Colossians 1:17 tells us that Christ is “before all things, and in Him all things consist.”

These first three texts are the main prooftexts for the position that Jesus created the universe. However, there are several other passages that clearly distinguish between the Creator of the universe and Christ, which would be rendered nonsensical if Jesus were the one who created the universe (Mk. 10:6, Acts 17:24, 31, Heb. 2:10). If the three texts that AiG cites truly prove that Jesus created the universe, this would seem to create an irreconcilable contradiction. So let's take a look at each one in turn:

All things came into being through it [the word], and apart from it not even one thing came into being that has come into being. (Jn. 1:3)

This passage is supposed to prove that Jesus created all things, because the "word" in John 1:1-13 is said to be the "pre-existent Christ". However, this is not a view that is inherent in the text; it must be eisegeted into the prologue of John, not exegeted out of it. The context indicates that the "word" here is the divine wisdom that became embodied in Jesus, but was not conscious prior to His birth. See this article for more information on the prologue of John and its relation to both biblical and extra-biblical wisdom literature.

in him [Christ] was created the all things in the heavens and upon the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or lordships or rulers or authorities, the all things has been created through him and for him. (Col. 1:16)

This passage is also cited to show that all things were created by Jesus. However, this passage is not referring to the original creation, but the new creation of all things in Christ. In the beginning, what was made was "the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1); here, what is being made is "all things in the heavens and upon the earth", which shows that it is not referring to the original Genesis creation.

    Furthermore, throughout Paul's writings, the term "in Christ" refers to those things that have been redeemed (cf. Col. 1:14), and so by saying "in him was created the all things", he is clearly referring to the new, redeemed creation which has been made in Christ and through Christ. See the following comparison between 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, a passage describing the new creation, and Colossians 1:16:

So then if anyone [is] in Christ, [he is] a new creation. The old passed away; lo, the all things has become new! Now the all things [are] out of God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ (2 Cor. 5:17-18)

in him was created the all things in the heavens and upon the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or lordships or rulers or authorities, the all things has been created through him and for him. (Col. 1:16)

From these contextual clues, it is clear that Colossians 1:16 is not referring to the original creation, but to the new creation, which was indeed made in Christ and through Christ.

upon these last days [God] spoke to us in a Son, whom He established inheritor of all things, and through whom He made the ages. (Heb. 1:2)

This is the last text thought to prove that Jesus was the one who created all things. However, the only reason to think that it is referring to the original creation is because most Bible versions translate the last part of this verse as "through whom He made the world" or even "the universe" rather than "the ages", which is the literal translation of τους αιωνας. This is another clear case of trinitarian translator bias.

    This is not saying that Jesus created the universe, but that God has created the ages through Him, referring to the oncoming ages during which Jesus will be reigning, and we alongside Him (Lk. 1:33, Eph. 2:6-7). Therefore, none of these three texts prove that Jesus created the universe in the beginning; instead, they are either referring to God's wisdom by which He created the universe (Jn. 1:3), or else they are referring to the new creation (Col. 1:16, Heb. 1:2).

    However, it should be noted that even if Jesus was the creator of the universe, this does not prove that He Himself was uncreated, as AiG wants us to think. Many unitarians, especially Arians, do indeed believe that Jesus was the conduit through whom God created the universe. This does not prove that Jesus is uncreated, much less that Jesus is God, but (if true) it would merely show that God created through Him.

Jesus is everywhere-present. Christ promised His disciples, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Since people all over the world gather in Christ’s name, the only way He could be present with them all is if He is truly omnipresent (see Matthew 28:20; Ephesians 1:23, 4:10; Colossians 3:11).

Just because Jesus is with believers does not mean that Jesus is truly omnipresent. Rather, Jesus is supernaturally connected to the members of His body through the holy spirit which God gives to us, and through that spirit He lives within us (Jn. 16:12-14, Rom. 8:9-11, Gal. 4:6, Eph. 3:14-17). This does not show that He is everywhere at once, but merely that He is with those who believe in Him, which is in no way incompatible with the biblical depiction of Christ Jesus as the human Son of God who has been exalted to God's right hand in the heavens.

Jesus is all-knowing. Jesus knew where the fish were in the water (Luke 5:4, 6; John 21:6–11), and He knew just which fish contained the coin (Matthew 17:27). He knew the future (John 11:11, 18:4), specific details that would be encountered (Matthew 21:2–4), and knew from a distance that Lazarus had died (John 11:14). He also knows the Father as the Father knows Him (Matthew 11:27; John 7:29, 8:55, 10:15, 17:25).

Again, this does not show that Jesus is omniscient, but merely that He knows far more than a regular human would. This is not incompatible with the unitarian view that Jesus is a human being, a man who was filled by God with holy spirit without measure (Jn. 3:34). In fact, He cannot have been truly omniscient, as He only knew those things that the Father revealed to Him (Matt. 11:27, Jn. 8:40), needed to learn (Heb. 5:8), and did not know the time of His return (Mk. 13:32).

Jesus is all-powerful. Christ created the entire universe (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2) and sustains the universe by His own power (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). During His earthly ministry, He exercised power over nature (Luke 8:25), physical diseases (Mark 1:29–31), demonic spirits (Mark 1:32–34), and even death (John 11:1–44).

The assertion that Christ created the universe has already been dealt with and shown to be unscriptural. The fact that Jesus is sustaining the universe by His power is not incompatible with His current position at the right hand of God, with all things in heaven and earth having been put under His authority (Matt. 28:18). And though Jesus certainly performed many miracles throughout His life, He also explicitly stated that He could only do those things that the Father gave Him the authority to do (Jn. 5:19-23). This means that Jesus cannot be omnipotent, although as the Son of God, He certainly has been given much power.

Jesus is sovereign. Christ presently sits at the right hand of God the Father, “angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him” (1 Peter 3:22). When Christ comes again in glory, He will be adorned with a majestic robe, and on the thigh section of the robe will be the words, “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16).

Of course I do not disagree that Jesus is sovereign. But AiG seems to be unaware that the fact that all things have been made subject to Christ actually disproves the idea that He is God. God, who created the heavens and the earth, is already inherently the Lord of all things (Acts 17:24). Jesus needed to be given His authority (Matt. 28:18, 1 Cor. 15:27-28, Php. 2:9-11, Heb. 2:8-9), which means that He cannot be inherently the Lord of all, but as Peter said, God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36). At the consummation, Jesus will be King of all kings, and Lord of all lords, subject only to the One who subjected all to Him (1 Cor. 15:24-28).

Jesus is sinless. Jesus challenged Jewish leaders: “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” (John 8:46). The apostle Paul referred to Jesus as “Him who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus is one who “loved righteousness and hated lawlessness” (Hebrews 1:9), was “without sin” (Hebrews 4:15), and was “holy, harmless, [and] undefiled” (Hebrews 7:26).

Jesus is indeed sinless, and the death of a sinless being was necessary to effect the redemption of all. But the fact that Jesus is sinless does not mean that Jesus is necessarily God - and thank God for that, because if He were God, He wouldn't have been able to truly die (1 Tim. 1:17, 6:16)!

    Does Jesus possess the authority of God?

Jesus always spoke in His own divine authority. He never said, “Thus saith the Lord” as did the prophets; He always said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you. . . .” He never retracted anything He said, never guessed or spoke with uncertainty, never made revisions, never contradicted himself, and never apologized for what He said. He even asserted, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Mark 13:31), hence elevating His words directly to the realm of heaven.

This is a surprisingly common claim made by trinitarians - "surprising", I say, because it is complete and utter nonsense. It is simply false that the prophets always said "Thus saith the LORD [Yahweh]" before quoting Yahweh's own words. In fact, there are many instances in the Old Testament where a prophet begins speaking in the first person as Yahweh without using the formulaic expression "Thus says Yahweh" first. See the following examples:

And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them... "Yet to this day Yahweh has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear. And I [Moses] have led you in the wilderness for forty years; your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandal has not worn out on your foot. You have not eaten bread, nor have you drunk wine or other strong drink, in order that you might know that I am Yahweh your God." (Deut. 29:2, 4-6 NASB)

"For behold, the Lord Yahweh of armies is going to remove from Jerusalem and Judah both supply and support, the entire supply of bread and the entire supply of water... And I will make mere boys their leaders, and mischievous children will rule over them" (Isa. 3:1, 4 NASB)

"For Yahweh’s anger is against all the nations, and His wrath against all their armies. He has utterly destroyed them, He has turned them over to slaughter... For My sword has drunk its fill in heaven; behold it shall descend for judgment upon Edom, and upon the people whom I have designated for destruction. The sword of Yahweh is filled with blood" (Isa. 34:2, 5-6 NASB)

"Return, Israel, to Yahweh your God, for you have stumbled because of your wrongdoing. Take words with you and return to Yahweh... I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, because My anger has turned away from them." (Hos. 14:1, 4 NASB)

"Behold, a day is coming for Yahweh when the spoils taken from you will be divided among you. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be taken, the houses plundered, the women raped, and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be eliminated from the city. Then Yahweh will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle" (Zech. 14:1-3 NASB)

Although there are many more examples of this in the Old Testament (e.g., Micah 1), these should suffice to show that it is not true that prophets always introduced Yahweh's words with the formula "Thus saith Yahweh". If these prophets were given the authority to speak in Yahweh's name, how much more Jesus, the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15 cf. Jn. 1:18, 12:45, 14:9) and perfect representative of God on earth?

    Furthermore, even though Jesus never introduced His words with the formula "Thus saith Yahweh", He did make it explicitly clear that the words He spoke were not His own, but those of His Father.

"I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me." (Jn. 8:28 NASB)

"For I did not speak on My own, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak." (Jn. 12:49 NASB)

"The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own, but the Father, as He remains in Me, does His works." (Jn. 14:10 NASB)

"Now they have come to know that everything which You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them" (Jn. 17:7-8 NASB)

Therefore, the trinitarian argument that, whereas the prophets spoke on the authority of God and introduced His words with "Thus saith Yahweh", Jesus spoke on His own authority, is patently false and duplicitous. It not only ignores clear evidence to the contrary, that the prophets were allowed to speak on the authority of God without using the introductory formula first, but also contradicts Jesus' own statements that He was speaking the words that the Father gave to Him.

    Did Jesus perform the works of God?

Jesus’ deity is also proved by His miracles. His miracles are often called “signs” in the New Testament. Signs always signify something—in this case, that Jesus is the divine Messiah.

Some of Jesus’ more notable miracles include turning water into wine (John 2:7–8); walking on the sea (Matthew 14:25; Mark 6:48; John 6:19); calming a stormy sea (Matthew 8:26; Mark 4:39; Luke 8:24); feeding 5,000 men and their families (Matthew 14:19; Mark 6:41; Luke 9:16; John 6:11); raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43–44); and causing the disciples to catch a great number of fish (Luke 5:5–6).

The miraculous signs which Jesus performed certainly show Him to be God's anointed one, the Messiah, but not that He is "the divine Messiah". In fact, "divine Messiah" is an oxymoron, since the Messiah was repeatedly prophesied in the Old Testament to be a human king of the Davidic line, separate from Yahweh (as I argued in a previous post).

    The miracles of Jesus demonstrate that He is a man given much authority by God, but not that He is God Himself. One example that trinitarians often like to give is Jesus' forgiveness of sins in the synoptic gospels, quoting Mark 2:7, "who can forgive sins but God alone?" However, they conveniently ignore the fact that the gospel of Matthew explicitly states that He was a man given authority by God to forgive sins:

"But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"—then He said to the paralyzed man, "Get up, pick up your stretcher and go home." And he got up and went home. But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. (Matt. 9:6-8 NASB)

As a matter of fact, this applies to all of Jesus' other miracles as well. As Jesus said to the Jewish leaders,

"Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in the same way. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will be amazed." (Jn. 5:19-20 NASB)

Based on these passages, it can be clearly seen that Jesus' miracles are not evidence that He is God. Instead, they simply show that He is a man who was given much authority by God, as His Son and anointed one.

    Was Jesus worshipped as God?

Jesus was worshiped on many occasions in the New Testament. He accepted worship from Thomas (John 20:28), the angels (Hebrews 1:6), some wise men (Matthew 2:11), a leper (Matthew 8:2), a ruler (Matthew 9:18), a blind man (John 9:38), an anonymous woman (Matthew 15:25), Mary Magdalene (Matthew 28:9), and the disciples (Matthew 28:17).

Scripture is emphatic that only God can be worshiped (Exodus 34:14; Deuteronomy 6:13; Matthew 4:10). In view of this, the fact that both humans and angels worshiped Jesus on numerous occasions shows He is God.

No one would doubt that Jesus was and is worshipped, this is made absolutely clear in the passages cited above by AiG. Furthermore, the Bible also makes clear that the worship of Jesus was considered to be okay and not against any commandment of God; after all, the Father actually commands the angels to worship Him (Heb. 1:6). However, this does not mean that Jesus is the supreme Deity, as I will show in this section.

    The word "worship" is translated from shachah in Hebrew and προσκυνεω in Greek. These words literally mean "to bow down" and "to kiss [the hand] toward", respectively, both of which were actions that expressed respect and reverence in ancient society. However, these words are used in the Bible to describe worship of both God and others (including humans). See the following examples:

So Abraham stood up and bowed [shachah] to the people of the land, the sons of Heth. (Gen. 23:7 NASB)

But he himself [Jacob] passed on ahead of them and bowed down [shachah] to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother [Esau]. (Gen. 33:3 NASB)

Now Joseph was the ruler over the land; he was the one who sold grain to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down [shachah] to him with their faces to the ground. (Gen. 42:6 NASB)

"So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself [προσκυνεω] before him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.'" (Matt. 18:26 NASB)

"Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down [προσκυνεω] before your feet, and make them know that I have loved you." (Rev. 3:9 NASB)

These practices were never condemned by God and were considered to be innocuous gestures of respect. In fact, Jesus proclaims that He will force one group of people to worship (προσκυνεω) the human members of the church at Philadelphia. Furthermore, in at least one case (that of the divinely appointed kings of Israel), it seems to have been institutionalized and encouraged by God. David, the "man after God's own heart" (Acts 13:22), not only worshipped others but also accepted worship, and was never condemned for doing so:

Afterward, however, David got up and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, saying, "My lord the king!" And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed [shachah] with his face to the ground and prostrated himself. (1 Sam. 24:8 NASB)

And Joab fell on his face to the ground, prostrated himself [shachah], and blessed the king (2 Sam. 14:22 NASB)

They informed the king [David], saying, "Nathan the prophet is here." And when he came into the king’s presence, he prostrated himself [shachah] before the king with his face to the ground. (1 Kings 1:23 NASB)

Then David said to all the assembly, "Now bless Yahweh your God." And all the assembly blessed Yahweh, the God of their fathers, and bowed down and paid homage [shachah] to Yahweh and the king. (1 Chron. 29:20 NASB) [4]

Clearly, then, worship (either shachah or προσκυνεω) is not limited to Yahweh God alone, and was often received by humans as well. But how can this be reconciled with the passages quoted by AiG, which appear to say that worship does belong to Yahweh God alone? The context of these passages (Exod. 34:14-15, Deut. 16:13-14, Matt. 4:8-10) makes clear that these commandments are only forbidding the worship of false, pagan gods, and not forbidding the worship of humans in a position of authority (of which Jesus is absolutely one; Matt. 28:18). This is because biblical "worship" simply refers to the act of paying respect and honor to either a ruler or a deity.

    Unfortunately, in the vast majority of Bible translations, the exact same words that are translated as "worship" when used in reference to God and Christ are variously translated as "bow down" or "pay homage" when used in reference to other humans. This obfuscates the true meaning of the word "worship", making it seem as though Jesus is God, and is yet another example of blatant trinitarian translator bias. In summary, yes, Jesus is worshipped - but worship is not, nor should it be, limited to God [5].

    Do Old Testament parallels prove that Jesus is God?

A comparison of the Old and New Testaments provides powerful testimony to Jesus’s identity as God. For example, a study of the Old Testament indicates that it is only God who saves. In Isaiah 43:11, God asserts: “I, even I, am the Lord, and besides Me there is no savior.” This verse indicates that (1) a claim to be Savior is, in itself, a claim to deity; and (2) there is only one Savior—the Lord God. It is thus highly revealing of Christ’s divine nature that the New Testament refers to Jesus as “our great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13).

This trinitarian argument, like so many others, is simply sheer nonsense. Certainly, God is the only savior, but this does not preclude the clear scriptural fact that many humans can also be called saviors. Many other passages in the Bible state that certain humans are saviors, raised up (i.e., commissioned as agents) by Yahweh: Othniel ben-Kenaz (Judg. 3:9), Ehud ben-Gera (v. 15), David (2 Sam. 3:18), Jeroboam ben-Jehoash (2 Kings 14:27), and many unnamed human saviors (Neh. 9:27, Obad. 1:21).

    Does this mean that all of those other humans were actually God incarnate? Certainly not! The fact is that God is the only savior only in the sense that He is the ultimate source from whom all salvation comes, but He often acts out this salvation through the use of intermediaries. See, for example, Judges 2:16-18:

Then Yahweh raised up judges who saved them from the hands of those who plundered them... And when Yahweh raised up judges for them, Yahweh was with the judge and saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for Yahweh was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who tormented and oppressed them.

In almost the same breath, we are told that the judges saved Israel (making them, by the most basic definition of the word, "saviors") as well as that Yahweh is the one who saved Israel. Which is correct? Both, because although the judges were the immediate cause of Israel's salvation, God was the ultimate source of their salvific actions, being with them "all the days of the judge". In the same way, we are told by Paul that "God was in Christ conciliating the world to Himself" (2 Cor. 5:19).

    But what about Titus 2:13, which AiG quotes to 'prove' that Jesus is both God and Savior? As a matter of fact, this verse could either be translated as "our great God and Savior Jesus Christ", or "the great God and [the] Savior of us, Jesus Christ" (in which case it would not be calling Jesus "the great God"). To use the Granville Sharp Rule in order to make this verse prove the deity of Christ is actually circular reasoning, as I argued in a previous post, because that rule requires that only one individual is in view (which is not true if Jesus isn't the same as God). All that this verse definitely shows is that Jesus is our savior, which neither trinitarians nor unitarians would deny.

Likewise, God asserted in Isaiah 44:24: “I am the Lord, who makes all things, who stretches out the heavens all alone, who spreads abroad the earth by Myself” (emphasis added). [sic] The fact that God alone “makes all things” (Isaiah 44:24)—and the accompanying fact that Christ is claimed to be the Creator of “all things” (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2)—proves that Christ is truly God.

As shown in the previous section, none of those three verses actually prove that Jesus was involved in the original Genesis creation of "the heavens and the earth". Other verses show that Jesus was not involved in the original creation (e.g., Acts 17:24, 31, Heb. 2:10). Jesus is the creator of the "new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17-18), not the old creation, and so this argument for the deity of Christ also fails.

    In the next part of this critique of Answers in Genesis' trinitarian apologetics, we will deal with their defense of the Trinity doctrine against "unitarian objections". Spoiler alert: many of their so-called "objections" are complete straw men of actual unitarian arguments, and don't engage with any of the objections that I raised in this post.

______________________________

[1] From A Distinctive Translation of Exodus With An Interpretive Outline

[2] Matt. 22:44, 26:64, Mk. 13:36, 14:62, 16:19, Lk. 20:42-43, 22:69, Acts 2:34-35, 5:31, 7:55-56, Rom. 8:34, 1 Cor. 15:25, Eph. 1:20, Col. 3:1, Heb. 1:3, 13, 8:1, 10:12-13, 12:2, 1 Pet. 3:22-24

[3] Martin Luther's translation translates el gibbor as simply "Held", meaning "hero".

[4] Notice the similarity of the Israelites worshipping "Yahweh and the king", and Thomas' exclamation in John 20:28, "My Lord, and my God!" In both cases, it seems likely that the worshippers are worshipping God along with someone else (in these cases, David and Jesus).

[5] Although there is definitely a sort of reverence that God alone deserves, which is why Jesus commands us, "the Lord our God, the Lord is one, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength" (Mk. 12:29-30). This sort of reverence is deserved by the Father alone, however, which is why Jesus says "the Lord our God" at the beginning of this passage rather than "the Lord your God" (cf. Jn. 20:17), and why Jesus elsewhere says that true worshippers worship the Father (Jn. 4:23-24).

A Unitarian View of the Holy Spirit (Part 2)

By Sean Finnegan (also view it on his website here)

Part 1: https://universalistheretic.blogspot.com/2022/05/a-unitarian-view-of-holy-spirit-part-1.html

    Throughout our study so far, we have focused on what the holy spirit is, rather than what it is not. However, considering the fact that so much of Christendom holds to the doctrine of the Trinity—including the idea that the holy spirit is a distinct individual from the Father and Son—I thought it would be appropriate to discuss why the spirit is not a “person.” The pressure to conform to the “orthodox” doctrine of the spirit’s personality comes from multiple sources. From internet websites zealously anathematizing anyone who dares to deny the spirit its co-equal, co-eternal, and co-essential status with the Father and the Son to most modern Bible translations that constantly translate neuter pronouns like “which” and “it” as “who” and “he” to my very own word processor that angrily underlines the capitalized “holy spirit” with jagged red electronic ink. Yet, regardless of the pressure to conform to a Trinitarian understanding of the holy spirit, there are several rather devastating reasons why the spirit is not a distinct “person.” [15]

    The Holy Spirit Does Not Have a Name

In the Bible, one’s name meant more than what people said to get someone’s attention. Rather, one’s name encapsulated all that a person stood for. The meaning of one’s name reflected his or her nature. For example, God’s proper name, Yahweh, is derived from the Hebrew verb “to be.” The statements, “I am who I am” and “[He] who was and who is and who is to come” reflect the meaning of His name (Exodus 3:14; Revelation 4:8). To be Yahweh is to be the existent one—the one who is always there. Jesus’ name means “Yahweh is salvation,” which makes sense when one stops to consider that Jesus was the means of Yahweh’s salvation for all mankind. Consider the statement about Jesus, “For there is no other name under heaven…by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Yet, the holy spirit is given no proper name. This is astounding if the holy spirit were truly a “person” equal with, yet distinct from the Father and Son. In fact, in biblical culture having one’s name stricken from the record was one of the severest punishments. It is hard to imagine why “God the Holy Spirit” neglected to reveal “his” name when the Father and Son certainly have.

    The Holy Spirit Never Sends Greetings

At the beginning of each of the thirteen letters written by Paul, the first few verses include some variation of the following benediction: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” [16]  This consistency is remarkable. Paul delivers grace and peace from God and Jesus to his readers but never from the holy spirit. If the spirit were a person, distinct from the Father and Son, then why does “he” never send grace and peace? In addition, the letter of James opens with “James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ….” Apparently, James considers himself a lifetime slave to the Father and the Son, but no mention is made concerning the holy spirit. Furthermore, the first letter of John begins with the following statement of fellowship: “…indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). Again, it would not make sense to leave out the holy spirit from fellowship with the believers if it were an independent person from the Father and Son.

    The Holy Spirit Is Owned by God

The phrase “spirit of God” appears twelve times in the NT, not counting variations. [17] In Greek, the phrase “of God” is one word, theou, which is in the genitive case. This is the possessive case and can be translated into either English using the preposition “of” or the apostrophe and “s” designation. For example, if Spot is the dog of Grace, then Spot is Grace’s dog—Grace is Spot’s owner. Thus it is with the spirit. It is God’s spirit—Yahweh is the source and possessor of the spirit. It goes where He sends it and does what He wants it to do. The spirit is not independent of God, but it is His influence and presence. For example, Paul asks, “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11).

    The Holy Spirit Is Never Prayed To

Jesus gave explicit instructions for prayer in the Sermon on the Mount and then again at the last supper. He always instructed his disciples to pray to the Father. Then, at the last supper, he told them to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ. This is especially noteworthy since the coming of the holy spirit was one of the topics he discussed at length in John 13-17. Why not ask the spirit directly to come into the new believer? Instead, Jesus says, “…if you ask the Father for anything in my name, he will give it to you” (John 16:23) and “…but if I go, I will send him [the helper] to you” (John 16:7). Furthermore, John the Baptist prophesied that one would come after him who would baptize in holy spirit (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33). This was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost when Jesus poured forth what the people saw and heard—the holy spirit (Acts 2:33). If the spirit were a person, then why does it not have a say about its own sending? The chain of events is clear, the convert or evangelist prays to God in the name of Jesus to receive spirit, and then Jesus baptizes the new believer in the spirit which proceeds from God.

    The Holy Spirit Is Left Out of Key Passages

Jesus confirmed the time-honored creed of the Jewish people when he declared, “…Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:28-29). Where is the holy spirit in this creedal statement? Why didn’t Jesus add the holy spirit in when he quoted it? When Jesus walked on this earth, he had an incredible oneness with his Father (John 10:30). He lived in a state of perpetual communion, always doing the works, [18] obeying the will, [19] and speaking the words [20] of his Father. In fact, several times, God spoke to Jesus audibly, and others heard what He said (Luke 3:22; Mark 9:7; John 12:28). Jesus expressed the oneness he enjoyed with the Father in the following words, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27). No one really knows the Son except the Father. No one really knows the Father except the Son. No one can know the Father unless the Son reveals Him. These words express a great deal of exclusivity. Why is the holy spirit left out? Why doesn’t Jesus also enjoy oneness with the third person of the Trinity like he does with the Father?

    In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus explained what would happen just before the Kingdom comes (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). After expressing to his disciples that they should be able to tell when the end is near, he clarifies by saying, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36). It is evident that in Jesus’ mind, the potential beings who may have end-times knowledge include humans, the angels, himself, and the Father. Why is it that only the Father knows when the end will come? If the holy spirit were also God, why is it left out twice (once from those who potentially could know, but don’t; and once from those who do know)?

    Several of the prophets had visions of Yahweh on His throne (1 Kings 22:19; Isaiah 6:1; Ezekiel 1:26; Daniel 7:9; Revelation 4:2). Jesus has been promised the throne of David (Luke 1:32). Until then, he is seated with the Father on His throne (Revelation 3:21). What about the holy spirit’s throne? Why is the holy spirit left out if it were also God? Of course, there are other reasons why the Trinitarian understanding of the holy spirit does not make sense, but these are, in my view, the five strongest. Before concluding our study, we should first work through the most common reasons given for believing in the spirit’s personality.

    What about All Those Personal Pronouns in John 14-16?

Nearly all modern translations have adopted the standard of using personal pronouns (like “he” and “him”) in reference to the holy spirit. This is unusual because the word “spirit” or pneuma is neuter in Greek, and the pronouns the Bible uses are likewise neuter (like it and which). Although it is often the case that masculine and feminine Greek pronouns are translated in English as “it” or “which,” neuter words in Greek are virtually never translated into English using personal pronouns except when referring to the spirit. Immediately, this double standard should grab our attention as a potential area of bias in translation. Jason BeDuhn insightfully explains the matter as follows:

Jason BeDuhn on Translating Greek Gender into English

Now it turns out that both “masculine” and “feminine” Greek nouns can be used for impersonal things as well as persons. But “neuter” nouns are used only for impersonal things, such as objects, animals, forces, abstract principles, and so on. The same holds true for “masculine,” “feminine,” and “neuter” pronouns…But even though the “personal” category is larger in Greek than in English, the “Holy Spirit” is referred to by a “neuter” noun in Greek. Consequently, it is never spoken of with personal pronouns in Greek. It is a “which,” not a “who.” It is an “it,” not a “he.” This is the case, then, where the importance of the principle of following primary, ordinary, generally recognized meaning of the Greek when translating becomes clear. To take a word that everywhere else would be translated “which” or “that,” and arbitrarily change it to “who” or “whom” when it happens to be used of “the holy spirit,” is a kind of special pleading. In other words, it is a biased way to translate. And because this arbitrary change cannot be justified linguistically, it is also inaccurate. [21]

Why isn’t the word “which” translated “who” if it is masculine? This is because in English we never designate non-persons with masculine and feminine pronouns unless a figure of speech called personification is taking place. For example, ships and cars are sometimes represented in English with feminine pronouns, but everyone recognizes that they are impersonal objects.

    Thus, a word’s grammatical gender does not automatically imply sexual gender. [22] If it did, then one would be quite confused about the gender of the holy spirit. In Hebrew ruach is feminine, in Greek pneuma is neuter, and parakletos is masculine. If grammatical gender did imply sexual gender, what pronouns would we use: “she,” “it,” or “he?” The only way to determine how to translate the pronouns is based on the belief of the translator concerning whether or not the word in question is a person. This process works fine in most cases except when the theological bias of translators dictates personhood. In these cases (“word” in John 1:1-3 and “holy spirit” throughout the NT), the translators break their own consistency and impose their theological bias without leaving so much as a footnote. Then, honest Bible students see that masculine pronouns are used in reference to the spirit along with capitalization—an equally biased contrivance—and then claim because of this that the spirit is a person. The result is circular reasoning.

    The word “spirit” is neuter; therefore, the pronouns referring to “spirit” should be translated accordingly as “it,” “which,” etc. If modern translators followed this standard, there would be little question about the holy spirit (at least until the reader broached John 14:16 where parakletos (helper) is masculine and may thus be referred to with masculine pronouns). Everything depends on whether or not the translator believes the paraklete is a person, but this is a theological rather than grammatical question. Even so, several times in the context, these two words are used interchangeably. This has a significant bearing on the matter.

John 14:16-17

...He will give you another helper, that he may be with you forever; that is the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive...

John 14:25-26

These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the helper, the holy spirit, whom the Father will send in my name...

John 15:26

When the helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will testify about me

John 16:13

I have more things to say to you but you cannot bear them now. But when he, the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth...

The helper is the holy spirit (or spirit of truth). Since pneuma, the word translated “spirit,” is neuter, it is clear grammatically that the spirit is not a person. Furthermore, if in the other sixty-five books of the Bible the spirit is not a person (and the helper is equated to the spirit), then we must conclude that the helper (although represented by a masculine noun and masculine pronouns) should also be translated as neuter. The only reasonable exception would be if personification is in use. [23]

    What about the Phrase “The Holy Spirit Says?”

Several texts have been used to support the belief the holy spirit is a person because the holy spirit speaks (2 Samuel 23:2; Matthew 22:43; Mark 12:36; Acts 1:16; 28:25; Hebrews 3:7; 9:8). Although communicating (i.e. speaking one’s mind) is certainly an indication of personhood, this is not necessarily the case for these texts because the spirit is a way of talking about God in action. Peter put it this way, “for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the holy spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:21). God speaks through the holy spirit; it is not only His finger but also His mouth. This is how we came to have the Scriptures. They were a result of God’s inspiration of the writer through the medium of His spirit, word, and wisdom.

    It is a well-known fact that the Jews have regularly used other words in an effort not to pronounce God’s name. For example, “heaven,” [24] “blessed,” [25] “holy One,” [26] “Lord,” [27] etc. are ways of referring to Yahweh without uttering His name. In like manner, the phrases “word of God,” “spirit of God,” “breath of God,” “wisdom of God,” “glory of God,” and “power of God,” are circumlocutions for God’s activity in the world. Dunn is once again helpful here:

James Dunn on “The Holy Spirit Says”

As for the rabbinic formula (‘The Holy Spirit says’), is this any more than what we might call a literary hypostatization? —that is, a habit of language which by use and wont develops what is only an apparent distinction between Yahweh and one of these words and phrases used earlier to describe his activity towards men (here particularly in inspiring scripture). Have we in all these cases any more than a personification, a literary (or verbal) device to speak of God’s action without becoming involved every time in a more complicated description of how the transcendent God can intervene on earth? —in other words, simply a useful shorthand device (‘Spirit of God,’ ‘glory of God,’ etc.) which can both express the character of God’s immanence in a particular instance and safeguard his transcendence at the same time without more ado. [28]

    What About the Intercession of the Holy Spirit?

The following text is quoted in an attempt to prove that the holy spirit is a person:

Romans 8:26-27

In the same way the spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and he who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the spirit is, because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Joseph Thayer reads this text as follows:

Joseph Thayer on Romans 8:26 

Romans 8:26 means, as the whole context shows, nothing other than this: ‘although we have no very definite conception of what we desire, and cannot state it in fit language in our prayer but only disclose it by inarticulate groanings, yet God receives these groanings as acceptable prayers inasmuch as they come from a soul full of the Holy Spirit.’ [29]

Another possible way to understand this text is to remember that the spirit is used interchangeably with Christ (cf. Romans 8:9-11). If this is the case here, then Christ is the one who intercedes on our behalf. This interpretation gains traction once we realize that a few verses later Christ is called the one “who also intercedes for us” (Romans 8:34). It is not at all unexpected to see a blurring of categories here; this is common in Paul’s letters.

    What about Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit?

Occasionally, people claim that denying the personality of the holy spirit is the unforgivable sin of blaspheming the spirit. In order to get to the bottom of the matter, we must remember the context of Jesus’ remarks about blaspheming the holy spirit. A demonized man was healed by Christ, and the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of demons. Christ pointed out the absurdity of “Satan casting out Satan” and then confessed that it was by God’s spirit that he cast out demons. Then he made the statement, “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the holy spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:32). Blasphemy against the holy spirit is observing God in action through His human Messiah and declaring that the source of his power was demonic rather than divine. In essence, they were calling God the prince of demons. This sort of unrepentant, hardhearted, intentional blasphemy against God at work in His Messiah is unforgivable.

    Conclusion

I have endeavored to accomplish two tasks: to define the holy spirit from the Scriptures and to explain why the traditional doctrine does not hold up to scrutiny. After consulting both Old and New Testaments, we discovered the holy spirit is a way of talking about God and Jesus in action, especially within the church. Although the spirit is not a person distinct from the Father and Son, it is certainly very personal. If the biblical evidence for the spirit’s personality is so lacking, why do so many believe in it today? BeDuhn explains what happened:

Jason BeDuhn on Theology Influencing Translation

Later Christian theology also applied the technical status of a ‘person’ on the Holy Spirit, which has led modern translators and readers to think of the Holy Spirit in human terms as a “who,” even a “he,” rather than as an “it” that transcends human measures of personhood. [30]

As we have seen, nearly all modern translations carry forward the tradition of theological bias on this issue. Ironically, translators were actually trying to honor the spirit as God and help people “rightly” understand the Scriptures. Yet, is it more honoring to change the meaning of someone/something or to represent it as it truly is? Certainly if the Bible teaches unequivocally the spirit is a person, then God doesn’t need the translators’ help to teach this doctrine by tweaking pronouns in favor of orthodoxy. The time is ripe for a fresh reconsideration of this matter. People deserve to know in actuality who God, His Son, and the holy spirit truly are. 

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[15] According to the Trinity, person means an individual or a mind (emotions, intellect, and will). Person does not mean a human being. God the Father is a person. Jesus is a person.

[16] Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 1:3

[17] Matthew 3:16; 12:28; Romans 8:9, 14; 1 Corinthians 2:11, 14; 3:16; 7:40; 12:3; Ephesians 4:30; Philippians 3:3; 1 John 4:2

[18] John 8:29; 10:25, 32, 37; 14:10; 17:4

[19] John 3:34; 5:30; 6:38; 14:31; 15:10

[20] John 7:16; 8:26, 28, 38; 12:49-50; 14:24; 17:8, 14

[21] Jason David BeDuhn, Truth in Translation ©2003, University Press of America, page 140.

[22] We have already noted that if a Greek word is neuter, then it does reflect that in English, and the word should use impersonal pronouns.

[23] Personification would not be unusual because this technique is often used to express truth in Scripture (for example, wisdom is personified as a lady in Proverbs 8). Also, note that Jesus himself said “these things I have spoken to you in figurative language...” (John 16:25).

[24] Matthew 19:23-24; Mark 11:30; Luke 15:18, 21

[25] Mark 14:61; 1 Timothy 6:15

[26] 2 Kings 19:22; Job 6:10; 1 John 2:20

[27] Virtually every OT quotation in which “Yahweh” had appeared has been rendered “Lord” (kurios).

[28] James DG Dunn, Christology in the Making (second edition) ©1989, Eerdmans Publishing Co. page 134.

[29] Joseph Henry Thayer, D.D., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament ©1977, Mott Media, page 522

[30] Jason David BeDuhn, Truth in Translation ©2003, University Press of America, page 136.

A Unitarian View of the Holy Spirit (Part 1)

By Sean Finnegan (also view it on his website here)

   Introduction

Trying to pin down a biblical definition for the word “spirit” is like trying to give a cat a shower—it can be done, but only with great difficulty, and one is never sure if he has thoroughly completed the task. It is my intention to put forth a scriptural definition of the holy spirit. I will build a cumulative understanding beginning with the Old Testament (OT). Then, I will add to that provisional definition the new insights presented in the New Testament (NT). In order to keep organized, I will divide up the NT into the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), the Gospel of John, and the rest of the NT (mostly Paul’s epistles). Lastly, I will explain the biblical reasons why I do not believe the spirit is a person in a Trinitarian sense. Before beginning this survey, I will say a word or two about the unique opportunity biblical unitarians have to investigate the doctrine of the holy spirit (pneumatology).

    Pneumatology is a frontier of inquiry for the unitarian community. There is much work to be done in defining the holy spirit apart from the historical straight jacket imposed upon it by the fourth century Cappadocian theologians [1] who declared that the spirit was “the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.” They went on to declare, “With the Father and the Son, he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets….” [2] Remarkably, nearly three hundred years passed before the personality of the spirit was dogmatized in an official creed. The second century Apostles’ Creed did not mention the spirit, and the early fourth century Nicene Creed mentioned it almost as an afterthought in the phrase, “and in the holy spirit.” It follows then that the holy spirit’s personhood was not original to the apostles but was worked out later by zealous though errant post-biblical Christians. For the purposes of this survey, I will not engage with the rather sophisticated philosophical and theological constructs of later Christian tradition but instead will limit this study to the biblical documents themselves.

    The Spirit in the Old Testament

To start this survey, we will begin by focusing on the Hebrew Scriptures (the OT). The Hebrew word most commonly translated “spirit” is ruach. Below is a table enumerating the different English words ruach is translated along with their number of occurrences in the New American Standard Bible (NASB).


Ruach is a fairly flexible word encompassing the meanings: spirit, wind, breath, and even matters of the mind and emotions. All of these words denote something unseen and unexplained. Here is how the holy spirit is defined in two standard Bible dictionaries and by one prominent biblical scholar:

Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period

When used of living beings, ruach refers to the essence of the life and vitality in both human beings and animals that is manifested through movement and breathing (Genesis 2:7; 6:17; 7:15; Numbers 16:22; Ezekiel 10:17). Just as “spirit” was considered the essence of human life, so analogously the term “spirit” was used of the presence, activity, and power of God, that is, characteristics that demonstrate that God is truly a “living God” (Deuteronomy 5:26; Joshua 3:10; 1 Samuel 7:26; Isaiah 37:4; Daniel 6:20; Matthew 16:16; Revelation 7:2). [3]

New Bible Dictionary

At its heart is the experience of a mysterious, awesome power—the mighty invisible force of the wind, the mystery of vitality, the otherly power that transforms—all ruach, all manifestations of divine energy. [4]

James Dunn on the Holy Spirit

There can be little doubt that from the earliest stages of pre-Christian Judaism, ‘spirit’ (ruach) denoted power—the aweful, mysterious force of the wind (ruach), of the breath (ruach) of life, of ecstatic inspiration (induced by divine ruach)…In other words, on this understanding, Spirit of God is in no sense distinct from God, but is simply the power of God, God himself acting powerfully in nature and upon men. [5]

Consider the following usages of ruach found in the Hebrew Bible: The spirit of God may be taken from one and distributed to others (Numbers 11:17), inspire prophecy (Numbers 11:25, 29; 24:2-3; 1 Samuel 10:6, 10; 1 Chronicles 12:18; 2 Chronicles 15:1; 20:14; 24:20; Nehemiah 9:30; Zechariah 7:12), be a way God speaks to people (2 Samuel 23:2), lead someone to a different location (1 Kings 18:12), transport someone from one location to another (2 Kings 2:16), be defined parallel with the anointing of Yahweh (Isaiah 61:1 cp. Acts 10:38), empower leaders to judge/rule the people (Judges 3:10), impart warlike energy/confidence (Judges 6:34; 11:29; 14:6, 19), supply supernatural strength (Judges 15:14), cause righteous anger (1 Samuel 11:6-7), impart regeneration/peace (Isaiah 32:15), give the Messiah wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, the fear of Yahweh, and the ability to judge justly (Isaiah 11:2; 41:2), endow artisans with skill (Exodus 31:3; 35:31); and be defined parallel to the presence of God (Psalm 139:7). [6]

    Each of these listed functions of the spirit refers to the one God, Yahweh, in action. The spirit of God is one of the primary ways of talking about God’s involvement in His creation. Most scholars agree, as James Dunn has already noted, the OT does not teach a literal distinction between God and His spirit. Oftentimes the writers of the Hebrew Bible employed literary metaphors when speaking of Yahweh’s deeds. For example, one may say “the word of Yahweh came to me” or “the spirit of God came upon him” or “the world was established by His wisdom.” These are ways of referring to the almighty, transcendent God in His mode of acting within creation. In actuality, it was God who spoke to the prophets, God who empowered the heroes of old, and God who created the world. However, these literary devices were used to preserve the “otherness” or transcendence of the greatest conceivable being and yet make plenty of room for His immanence and interaction within our world without raising any complicated questions. Anthony Buzzard is helpful when he writes:

Anthony Buzzard on the Holy Spirit

If one combs through standard Bible dictionaries, it is obvious that ninety-eight percent of the biblical data is satisfied if we define the Spirit as God in effective action, God in communication, His power and personality extending their influence to touch the creation in a variety of ways…Is the Spirit really anything other than God’s energy, inspiring human beings to perform extraordinary feats of valor, endowing them with special artistic skill or miraculous powers, and especially communicating divine truth? [7]

Can we conclude the spirit is merely an impersonal power, a kind of empowerment given to the creatures He favors like a battery pack? Certainly not. Is it merely a communication device, like a radio transceiver which can send and receive messages from God? Certainly not. The spirit of God is a way of referring to Yahweh in action. Consequently, criticizing His spirit is the same as criticizing God Himself. To say God’s spirit is impersonal is like calling someone’s written communication impersonal. A letter carries an author’s message, including his or her intentions and emotions. Of course, a piece of mail is not a person, but it is the very expression of a person. One experiences the distant person as near through the letter. God is so holy that even the holiest among us cannot see His face and live (Exodus 33:20). Until the resurrection, we are simply incapable of enjoying His immediate presence. Even so, He longs to communicate with us and have a relationship with us. He interacts with us through His spirit, His word, His empowerment, His wisdom, etc. Although God’s spirit is intensely personal, Dunn is right to state, “But of the Spirit as an entity in any sense independent of God, of Spirit as a divine hypostasis, there is nothing.” [8] Thus, we conclude (regarding OT pneumatology) that God’s spirit is not a person, though it is very personal—it is the very self-expression of Yahweh, the one God (Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; 6:4). 

    The Spirit in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke)

When one flips the page entitled “The New Testament” and enters the territory of Matthew chapter one, the definitions gained from the OT do not suddenly disappear. In fact, in the first three Gospels, references to the spirit of God are very much in tune with what we have already discovered. The holy spirit caused the generation of life in the virgin Mary (Matthew 1:18, 20; Luke 1:35); Jesus baptizes with it (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16); it descended upon Christ at his baptism (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22); it drove Jesus to go into the wilderness (Matthew 4:1; Mark 1:12; Luke 4:1); it gave the disciples words to speak when on trial (Matthew 10:20; Mark 13:11; Luke 12:12); it enabled Christ to proclaim justice (Matthew 12:18); it empowered the Messiah to cast out demons (Matthew 12:28); it inspired David to write psalms (Matthew 22:43; Mark 12:36); it caused prophetic utterances (Luke 1:41, 67), it was upon Simeon (Luke 2:25), it reveals truth about the future (Luke 2:26), it empowered Jesus (Luke 4:14), and it is given by the Father to those who ask (Luke 11:13).

    God’s spirit is His influence, presence, and power at work accomplishing His will in the universe in general and in among His people in particular. This empowerment made possible the miracles recorded throughout the Hebrew Scriptures as well as in the Gospels. For example, Jesus himself plainly stated God’s spirit empowered him to drive out demons:

Matthew 12:28

But if I cast out demons by the spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Luke 11:20

But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

This simple equation, “the spirit of God = the finger of God,” marvelously supports what we have already found—the spirit is the means by which God acts, much like a body. I interact with the world through my body. God interacts with the world through His spirit—like a finger. All of what Christ was able to do was a result of the anointing of God’s spirit. Peter put it this way, “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed him with the holy spirit and with power, and how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by devil, for God was with him” (Acts 10:38). Jesus’ ability to heal was made possible by the empowering spirit of God—God with him.

    In conclusion, the synoptic Gospels do not contain significant changes from what we have already seen in the OT. [9] Jesus saw himself as a man inspired and empowered by the God’s spirit. This enabled him to speak on God’s behalf and perform miracles just like some of the prophets of old.

    The Spirit in John

In the first portion of the Gospel of John, the holy spirit is spoken of as something descending from heaven to remain upon Jesus (John 1:32-33), as the means by which one is born again (John 3:5), as an enablement for Christ to speak the words of God (John 3:34), as a way in which one worships the Father (John 4:23), as the essential nature of God (John 4:24), as a life giver (John 6:63), and as something to be received by the disciples (John 7:39).

    It is clear from these examples that the essential character and functionality of God’s spirit has not changed. However, the claim that is made by John 7:39 seems to contradict everything we have discovered. “But this he spoke of the spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for the spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). Obviously, the spirit had been given in OT times as well as in Jesus’ own ministry as evidenced by his miracles and healings. Nonetheless, there must be some significant difference between the spirit hitherto available and what Jesus said in John 7:39.

    The answers are found in the chapters of John that make up the last supper discourse (John 13-17). During this dinner conversation, our Lord explains the coming presence of the parakletos (translated paraklete, comforter, helper, or advocate). [10] Jesus outlines the following chain of events: (1) the disciple demonstrates love for Jesus by keeping his commandments (John 14:15); (2) Jesus asks the Father to send the paraklete (John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7); and (3) he sends it in Jesus’ name to abide in the believer forever (John 14:16, 26).

    The paraklete is “the spirit of truth” (John 14:17), which will teach the disciples all things and bring to their remembrance all that Jesus had said (John 14:26), testify about Jesus (John 15:26), be more advantageous to the saint than the presence of Christ on earth (John 16:7), convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-11), guide them into all truth by speaking only what “he” hears (John 16:13), and disclose Christ to the disciple (John 16:14-15). Jesus revealed to his disciples that these new functions of the spirit would become available after he ascended to the Father. Some interesting language switches occur in this section of John’s Gospel that deserve our attention. In some instances, Jesus tells them he will send the paraklete; in others, he says, “I will come to you.” Note below:

The Helper (Paraklete) Will Come

He will give you another helper, that he may be with you forever (14:16)

the helper, the holy spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you (14:26)

when the helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father... (15:26)

if I do not go away the helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you (16:7)

when he, the spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth (16:13)

Jesus Will Come

I will come again and receive you to myself (14:3)

I will come to you (14:18)

you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you (14:17)

he who loves me...I will love him and will disclose myself to him (14:21)

if anyone loves me, he will keep my word…and we will come to him and make our abode with him (14:23)

I go away, and I will come to you (14:28)

‘a little while, and you will see me;’ and, ‘because I go to the Father’ (16:17)

The holy spirit is coming, and Christ is coming. How can this confusion be resolved?

John 16:12-14

I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when he, the spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own initiative, but whatever he hears, he will speak; and he will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify me, for he will take of mine and will disclose it to you.

Jesus would come to his disciples through the paraklete. Alva Huffer notes, “The work of Christ’s Spirit as Comforter, Advocate, and Helper was nothing other than the work of Christ Himself as Comforter, Advocate, and Helper through that divine power.” [11] It was through the paraklete that Christ and the Father would come and dwell within the saint (even while they remained in heaven). Jesus is not literally in each member of the family of God, but through the spirit his mind is “projected” enabling him to comfort, reveal truth, aid in times of temptation, and offer guidance. F.F. Bruce put it this way, “He had been with them for a short time, but the ‘other paraclete,’ his alter ego, would be with them permanently, and not only with them but in them.” [12] The spirit which inspired Jesus during his ministry on earth would now enable him to be present within his disciples in a new advantageous way.

    The Spirit in the Rest of the NT

Is it only in John that the spirit is defined as Christ indwelling the believers? How does the rest of the NT speak about the spirit? Before going any further and investigating Paul’s epistles, which have much to say on the subject, it is necessary to recall the chief prediction of John the Baptist: “I baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the holy spirit” (Mark 1:8; Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16; John 1:33). This prediction was reinforced by Jesus after he had spent forty days with his disciples in his resurrected body.

Acts 1:4-5

Gathering them together, he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," he said, "you heard of from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the holy spirit not many days from now."

Then, after a few days of anticipation, the disciples were praying when the sky suddenly started making strange noises. Into the building rushed a violent wind accompanied by tongues of fire. Suddenly they found themselves in a state of such inspiration that they spoke foreign languages they had never before known. The “new” spirit Jesus had promised descended and provided them with the words they were speaking. Peter explained this event with the words, “having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the holy spirit, he [Jesus] has poured forth this which you both see and hear” (Acts 2:32-33). Jesus is the dispenser of the spirit. Not only was he the greatest prophet whose very words were inspired by the spirit, not only was he anointed by the spirit, but he is also the Lord of the spirit who baptizes his followers.

    Paul’s epistles further develop the connection between the ascended Jesus and the holy spirit. Consider the chart below which lists some of the places that Paul speaks of the spirit and Christ interchangeably.

The spirit dwells in the believer (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 2:22)

Christ dwells in the believer (2 Corinthians 13:5; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27)

The spirit of Christ dwells in the believer (Galatians 4:6; Philippians 1:19)

Paul freely switches between these phrases as if they were synonymous. The interchangeable nature of these terms is readily apparent in the following texts.

Ephesians 3:14-17

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith...”

Romans 8:9-11

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

The spirit of God, the spirit of Christ, and Christ himself are all equivalent ways of communicating the same essential truth. Paul does not focus on ontological and metaphysical distinctions; rather, he sees the spirit primarily in functional terms within the experience of the Christian. From this perspective the spirit is Jesus. One Bible dictionary helpfully summarizes this as follows:

The New Bible Dictionary

The Spirit is now definitely the Spirit of Christ, the other Counselor who has taken over Jesus’ role on earth. This means that Jesus is now present to the believer only in and through the Spirit, and that the mark of the Spirit is both the recognition of Jesus’ present status and the reproduction of the character of his sonship and resurrection life in the believer. [13]

Again, the spirit is not a person but the projection of a person—the risen Christ—within the heart of the believer. Christ is the one “who searches the minds and hearts” (Revelation 2:23). He is the head of the body (Colossians 1:18) who causes “the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16). [14] The risen Christ is with us always (Matthew 28:20) and in the midst of two or three gathered in his name (Matthew 18:20). Yet, at the same time, he is not here; he is seated at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19; Hebrews 12:2; etc.) in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:20; 1 Peter 3:22; etc.). So how can Christ enjoy intimacy with his church even while he is in heaven? Or to put the question differently, how could he disclose himself to his disciples without the world seeing him (John 14:22)? Christ is present through the spirit. The spirit which proceeds from the Father connects Christ to his body like a nervous system— making him aware of what is going on and allowing him to coordinate his body. I experience Christ via the spirit, so to me, the spirit is Christ. 

    Before delving into the reasons why the holy spirit is not a distinct “person,” I will conclude our biblical survey by offering a definition. The holy spirit is God in action (as we have seen from the OT and the Synoptic Gospels) as well as the abiding helper (presented in John’s last supper discourse) distributed under the auspices of the Father by the ascended Messiah in order to benefit the Church—his body—by connecting him to every believer. Thus one could say, “the holy spirit is God,” as well as, “the holy spirit is Christ,” even though it is technically neither, since they are in heaven, whereas the holy spirit is in God’s people. The spirit is simply the way God and Christ are able to indwell and influence the church.

Part 2: https://universalistheretic.blogspot.com/2022/05/a-unitarian-view-of-holy-spirit-part-2.html

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[1] Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus

[2] The Constantinopolitan Creed

[3] Jacob Neusner, William Scott Green editors, Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period ©1996, Hendrickson Publishers, page 298

[4] JDG Douglas, New Bible Dictionary (second edition) ©1962, ed. By JD Douglas, FF Bruce, JI Packer, N Hillyer, D Guthrie, AR Millard, DJ Wiseman, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., pages 1137

[5] James DG Dunn, Christology in the Making (second edition) ©1989, Eerdmans Publishing Co., page 133.

[6] For a more exhaustive list see The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon pages 924-6.

[7] Anthony Buzzard, The Doctrine of the Trinity ©1998, International Scholars Publications, page 226.

[8] James DG Dunn, Christology in the Making (second edition) ©1989, Eerdmans Publishing Co., page 136 (emphasis mine).

[9] A possible exception could be the foreshadowing demonstrated by interchanging the spirit (Mark 13:11) for Jesus himself (Luke 21:14-15).

[10] Parakletos occurs 5 times in the NT (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7; 1 John 2:1). The word literally means someone or something called alongside, i.e. a helper, advocate, etc.

[11] Alva Huffer, Systematic Theology ©1960, The Restitution Herald, page 92.

[12] F.F. Bruce, The Gospel & Epistles of John ©1983, Eerdmans Publishing Company, page 302

[13] JDG Douglas, New Bible Dictionary (second edition) ©1962, ed. By JD Douglas, FF Bruce, JI Packer, N Hillyer, D Guthrie, AR Millard, DJ Wiseman, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., pages 1140-1

[14] To say that Christ the head does not communicate with and control his body implies he is paralyzed.

Is Jesus God? Answering Answers in Genesis (Part 1)

     I was recently made aware of an article by the creationist ministry , Answers in Genesis, which attempts to defend the traditional Chri...