Response to TMU: A Synopsis of the Deity of the Messiah

On March 26, 2018, The Master’s University announced the termination of Bill Schlegel after Mr. Schlegel informed Will Varner that he could no longer affirm the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity.1 I became aware of this myself on March 27 when Restoration Fellowship uploaded a video to their YouTube channel where Carlos Xavier interviewed Mr. Schlegel about his recent, radical change in faith.2 A few days after watching the video, two friends who graduated from TMU shared with me the official announcement on the university’s website containing an explanation of his departure and linking to three documents which defend the orthodox position. I want to engage with those documents to see whether they stand up to Scripture.

I desire to find the truth. I was raised in orthodox, evangelical Christianity, but over the past year or so I have scrutinized the Trinity very closely, studying its historical development as well as the chief texts in favor of it in the Bible. I am familiar with the pedigree of TMU; if there is anyone who can convince me of the biblical truth of this doctrine, it is the professors at this prestigious school. While I have largely given up on finding a proper doctrine of the Trinity in the Bible, there are persuasive arguments for the deity of Jesus3—whether one is a Trinitarian, Binitarian, Oneness Pentecostal, or Arian. Despite the doubts that I have after a year or so of study, I am coming to this issue with an open mind.

The format of their document4 is a list of bulleted points. For the sake of consistency, I have opted to present my response in the same format. I have attempted to maintain a roughly one-to-one correlation between my points and theirs, so it might be useful to the reader to display their document side-by-side with mine to get a better idea of how I am responding. I did not think I should copy their document into mine word-for-word.

The Trinity and the Divinity of Messiah in the OT

We have Trinitarian tensions in the OT

  • Genesis 1:26
    • This verse is supplied as an early example of the Trinity. It is one of four verses in the entire Bible where God (possibly) refers to himself in plural form. There are thousands of times when he refers to himself using singular pronouns, so that ought to be a red flag that TMU is perhaps cherry-picking. I don’t want to assume their motive, but if four verses with plural pronouns support the Trinity, then why wouldn’t thousands of pronouns promote a unitarian perspective? There are more theories on the meaning of these plural pronouns in the Old Testament than there are verses which employ those uncharacteristic forms. They could be a reference to the Trinity, but they are anything but proof.5
    • Personally, I find most convincing the Divine Council idea promoted by Dr. Michael Heiser.6 There is a lot on which I disagree with him, so don’t take this as a blanket endorsement. But there is a much stronger case for the Divine Council than there is for the Trinity in Genesis 1:26.
  • Genesis 19:24
    • The author tries to say that since the text refers to Yahweh on earth and Yahweh in heaven (which is a stretch), that somehow this implies two Yahwehs. So does TMU teach polytheism? 1 Kings 8:27 says that earth, heaven, and even the highest heaven cannot contain God. So why do they think that Yahweh being on earth somehow assumes he isn’t also in heaven? This is fallacious reasoning.
    • Furthermore, when we dig deeper into chapters 18 and 19, we see Yahweh tell Abraham that he himself will go to investigate those cities, yet later we see the angels tell Lot that Yahweh sent them. So is Yahweh an angel? Is he multiple angels? Or are these angels simply his agents through whom he interacts with Creation?
  • Deuteronomy 4:37
    • The argument from the Talmud is unnecessary. Just because rabbinic Judaism has struggled with this issue of God doing something or sending an angel to do it doesn’t mean their words should shape our understanding of the text. Rabbinic Judaism is plagued by hyperliteral interpretations of the Torah.7
    • TMU falls captive to the same argument used by the antimissionaries.8 Due to brevity, I won’t try to dig for a blog post or video demonstrating this argument, but it goes as follows: “Isaiah 43:11 says, ‘I, I am Yahweh, and besides me there is no savior.’ Because of this, Jesus can’t be the savior because only God is the savior.” Trinitarians jump on this argument and agree with it, then say this is proof that Jesus is God. That completely overlooks the fact that in nearly every act of salvation in the Bible, God uses agents, primarily people. For example, God saved Israel from Egypt9, but Moses saved Israel from Egypt.10 In reality, God saved Israel through Moses.11 In the same way, saying that the angel must be Yahweh in Numbers 20:16 because Deuteronomy 4:37 ignores the way the Bible consistently uses agentival language.
  • Isaiah 48:16
    • This verse does not support the Trinity unless one reads it as a Trinitarian. It is about as black and white as a rainbow. In reality, we have Yahweh (the Father/God), his servant (who is revealed to be Jesus in the New Testament), and the active presence of God empowering him. On the topic of the Spirit, The Bible Project have a very good video explaining what the word “spirit” means in Scripture.12 The term is flexible, although in the New Testament, certain writers seem to employ the term “Holy Spirit” as a way of referring to God (the Father) himself.13 At any rate, when the verse in question speaks of “his Spirit,” that is no way to refer to a person.
  • Isaiah 59:21
    • Again, there is an abundant amount of eisegesis going on here. This would never fly in academic circles. If this was written to confront Mr. Schlegel, it’s no wonder he wasn’t convinced. If it was written to persuade the student body of TMU, it is a shameful tactic of manipulation. A man cannot be his own servant. The servant of Yahweh cannot be Yahweh. To argue otherwise is requiring a suspension of the rules of logic and grammar that govern our normal speech.
    • Using the language of “my servant” would cause every listener to assume a human servant. Since the audience and readers of Isaiah’s words for several centuries didn’t even know about Jesus, using this language to refer to God the Son would constitute intentional deception on God’s part.
    • The full text of this verse says, “‘And as for me, this is my covenant with them,’ says Yahweh: ‘My spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children's offspring,’ says Yahweh, ‘from this time forth and forevermore.’” Does Jesus have children and grandchildren? The word “servant” isn’t even in this chapter, but you won’t know that from reading the document put out by TMU.
  • Isaiah 11:1-9
    • These verses are offered without commentary. But if we read them, there isn’t a hint of “trinitarian tension” in them. Verses 1-5 speak of a human descendant of David who will be anointed with the spirit of Yahweh in order to righteously judge the world. Verses 6-11 describe animal life in the Messianic kingdom and say nothing pertinent to this conversation. I wonder if citing this passage was a mistake.
  • Isaiah 61:1-3
    • Once again, I’m disappointed to see nothing even hinting at a “trinitarian tension” in these verses. The speaker has the spirit of Yahweh God upon him. He has been anointed by Yahweh for service. There are indisputably two separate actors in this scene. We know that Jesus prophetically fulfilled this passage by proclaiming it of himself, but that doesn’t change the reading of the passage. The purpose of this document by TMU is to prove the deity of Jesus from the Bible, not assume it and then find verses which could be taken to support it.

The Messiah is depicted as divine in the OT

  • “One can see this [is] the storyline of the OT. Consistently, the Messiah is depicted as the One who will fulfill what no human Davidic king could ever be or do (cf. Ps 2; 72; Isa 7-11; Mic 3-5; cf. also the books of 1 and 2 Kings). If Messiah was just a man, the entire logic of this ‘greater’ David would fall apart. After all, the OT thoroughly establishes that no man is righteous and even King Solomon states, ‘there is no man who does not sin.’ The OT believes if man is involved, only sin and failure will ensue. God must act in spite of man in order for fulfill His promises.”
    • Here we get into a better argument. Now I’m not going to try to comment on every cited passage here, since that would be quite the task. But why can’t Messiah be “just” a man and still be greater than David? Abraham was arguably greater than Adam, since Abraham trusted God completely while Adam broke the only commandment he’d been given.
    • The Bible does paint a pretty bleak picture of humanity as sinners incapable of pleasing God, but there are also examples of people who are said to be righteous according to the Torah (Zechariah and Elizabeth) or never described as sinning (Joseph). We can reasonably assume that they did sin, of course. But Isaiah 52-53 foretell of a man who would die for the sins of everyone else, not his own. A sinless Messiah is in the OT, but not his deity.
    • In reality, TMU is making an argument about total depravity, not the deity of Christ. They need Christ to be God because they believe man is completely incapable of holiness—even with faith. Sure, overcoming sin isn’t easy, and we will never be perfect in these bodies of flesh. But the argument of total depravity is that it is impossible for people to please God in any capacity. Ergo, the only way a person could do that is if he were God himself. That is the reason TMU was so offended by Mr. Schegel’s confession that they fired him and stripped him of his doctorate.
  • “Individual passages fill in this entire framework. Even in the Book of Job, Job wished for one who was both human and divine (Job 9:33). That was necessary for effective mediation between God and man. That sets up for the NT and affirms the OT perception that a divine Messiah/mediator is necessary.”
    • Case in point. Also, Job 9:33 says, “There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both.” An alternate reading is, “Would that there were an arbiter between us.” Either way, it is dishonest to claim the text says, “Job wished for one who was both human and divine.”
    • Furthermore, this argument from Job 9:33 is a great insult to God and ignores the context of the entire book of Job. Job wanted a mediator to defend his innocence, since he knew he hadn’t sinned, yet he thought his suffering was a form of punishment. TMU ignores that and instead says that Job wants a divine/human mediator to atone for his sins. It paints the picture that God is incorrigible and must be talked out of his wrath. This idea ultimately goes back to the Demiurge/Logos concepts in Neoplatonic thought, which is the root of Trinitarianism.14
  • “In Isaiah 6, YHWH is declared to be holy and then speaks of His holy seed. The term ‘seed’ goes back to Gen 3:15 as a messianic term. The Messiah has God’s own holiness for He is God.”
    • This point has my suspicion aroused as to the intent of The Master's University in compiling this information. The text cannot be forced to say what they claim it says. Isaiah 6:13 does speak of a holy seed, but it is talking about the remnant of Judah after God has removed the people from the land and further judged those who remain thereafter. The “holy seed” is the faithful remnant of Judah at that time. It doesn’t even talk about “God’s seed,” as the author falsely asserts.
    • To say, “The Messiah has God’s own holiness for He is God,” is fine and dandy. Prove it. That’s the point of this paper. Taking an assortment of verses out of context does not count as a persuasive argument.
  • “This is affirmed throughout Isaiah. For example, the Messiah in Isaiah 7 is named ‘God with us’ and in Isaiah 9, ‘Almighty God’ (cf. 10:20-21 where the term is used of YHWH).”
    • And Jehu means “He is Yahweh.” Does that mean this wicked king is also God? Theophoric names are commonplace in Hebrew. Furthermore, since Hebrew lacks a copulative verb, Immanuel could mean “God is with us.”
    • As for “El Gibbor,” there are other interpretations than saying this proves the Messiah is God.15 If that were Isaiah’s intent, why wouldn’t he call him “El Shaddai”? That would be completely unambiguous.
  • “In addition, in Isaiah, God claims He exclusively is the Savior (43:11; 45:21; 49:26); however, His Messiah is the savior both seen in Isaiah itself (Isa 49:6) and of course in the NT (Luke 2:11; Phil 3:20).”
    • Like I said, Trinitarian scholars love antimissionary arguments. I’ve been meaning to write post about this for a while, but I haven’t had time yet. But we see the same thing happen in the Gospels. The Jewish leaders say things such as, “Only God can forgive sins,” and Christians agree. But Jesus’ reply is that the Son of Man has been given authority to forgive sins. How do those who believed he was the Messiah respond? “When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.”16 Yet for some reason, Trinitarians would rather side with anti-Christ Jewish theologians than with the believing people who were amazed and praised God.
  • “Likewise, YHWH claims to open blind eyes (Isa 35:5) and the Servant specifically does that task (Isa 42:7).”
    • So that means if God does anything through someone else, that agent must also be God? Or is God incapable of using anyone else for his purposes without actually being that person?
    • Jesus testified, “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.”17 (I will address the part about being “in the Father” in the next point.)
  • “YHWH does not give His glory to another (Isa 42:8) yet Jesus has the Father’s glory (Isa 49:1-3; John 17:1-5).”
    • Another antimissionary argument. Besides, John 17:22 says, “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one.” Jesus wants us to have the same unity with the Father that he has, and to share in his glory. By Jesus’ own words, anything said about him must be said about us. If “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” proves Jesus’ deity, then “that they may be one even as we are one” proves our inclusion in the Godhead.18
  • “Furthermore, Isaiah 53 depicts the Messiah as God. He is high and lifted up, a title used only for YHWH who is seated on the throne in Isa 6.”
    • No it doesn’t. To be smitten by God means that one is not God. Isaiah 53 describes the servant who would bear the sins of Israel, not God. Besides, I’ve read through this chapter in the ESV and NASB, and neither translation say anything close to “high and lifted up.” I don’t have a problem with that phrase theologically, but I’d like to know what translation is being used here.
  • “Daniel 7 confirms this picture. It depicts one like a son of man who takes the throne to have dominion from the Ancient of Days (Dan 7:13-14). Only God is worthy to receive all glory and honor and to receive service from all peoples, nations, and tongue. In fact, throughout the book, human kings are denied this honor (cf. Dan 3:4; 5:19). Just like Isaiah states that the high and lifted up one in Isa 6 is Messiah, so Daniel depicts the same reality.”
    • There is a lot of reading into the text happening here. “Only God is worthy to receive all glory and honor and to receive service from all peoples, nations, and tongue.” While this is completely true, it overlooks the whole purpose of creating man and the ultimate conclusion of events. “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’”19 God had created us to be his representatives on the earth, governing Creation on his behalf. Jesus is the only one to have never sinned, so God has given him the glory and honor that comes with being the figurehead of the Almighty on earth. “For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘all things are put in subjection,’ it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.”20
  • “Consistently, in Ezek 1:26-28, the one seated on the throne is like a man yet has the glory of God. Ezekiel did not view this individual as an elevated human being but rather as God Himself. Indeed, the very next chapter this individual speaks to Ezekiel as God whom Israel rebelled against (Ezek 2:1-3). This is important for Paul’s (and author of Hebrews) description of Jesus as the ‘image of God.’ That language is from Ezek 1:26-28. If Ezekiel saw YHWH (as he claims, cf. 1:1-3) and described Him as the ‘image of the glory of God’ (Ezek 1:28), then when other writers describe Jesus as the ‘image of God’ (cf. Col 1; Heb 1), they mean Jesus is the same YHWH that Ezekiel saw.
    • So had Jesus already died, been resurrected, and been exalted to the throne? Philippians 2:6-11 seems to imply that prior to his death and resurrection, Jesus never before had this position. I’ll admit, Ezekiel is a difficult book, especially in his depictions of heavenly scenes. I don’t know what exactly he saw here. But it is logically inconsistent to say that he saw Jesus on the throne—unless this was a vision of the future.
    • Having an angel or person speak on behalf of God isn’t uncommon in the Bible. It doesn’t mean the speaker is God, but merely that God is using the speaker as a mouthpiece. If the one sitting on the throne wasn’t Yahweh himself, then he represented Yahweh.
    • The “image of God” issue is important. The word “image” in Hebrew also means “idol.” People are the “image of God” because we are idols—clay sculptures who operate on behalf of (and possibly appear like) God. Every human from Adam to today is the “image of God.” What distinguishes Jesus from the rest of us is that he alone was unmarred by sin. Whereas the rest of us are corrupted idols, he is the perfect idol.
    • It’s also important to have a little grammar lesson. Whenever you see the possessive phrase “of God,” the thing being possessed by God cannot also be God. To say otherwise destroys language.
  • “In Ezekiel 34, YHWH notes that there are no good shepherds in Israel. Therefore, He must become the good shepherd for His people (see vv. 5-11). He states that YHWH personally will do this (vv. 14-16) and parallels that the second David (v. 23). If YHWH alone is personally going to shepherd yet the second David will be the Shepherd, this begins to imply that YHWH is the second David and the Shepherd. That is fitting given Psalm 23 and of course John 10 (see below).”
    • This is the best argument presented so far. And yet, it still fails to see the clear agentival language employed. Yes, Yahweh will do it. He will accomplish it through his servant David. David (or Jesus) is the agent through whom God will accomplish the things he said he will do. God very rarely interacts himself with Creation. He nearly always uses intermediaries—angels and people—to accomplish his plans. Yet that in no way means he isn’t accomplishing those things himself. By not recognizing this principle, TMU is setting up a false premise—Jesus must be God himself, or he was an impostor.
  • “Jeremiah 23:6, the Messiah is called “YHWH is our righteousness.” How can a human king (who are only bent to evil, see Solomon’s quote above) ever have righteousness muchless [sic] YHWH’s own righteousness? This too affirms the divinity of the Messiah.”
    • I don't see the problem here. What's so special about having the name “Yahweh is our righteousness”? As I said before, theophoric names don’t imply that the bearer of that name is God. Rather, they are statements of one’s belief about God. TMU’s interpretation of this verse ignores the usage of every other theophoric name in the Bible. If they weren’t coming at the text with a Trinitarian angle, I doubt they’d reach this conclusion.
  • Zechariah 12:10
    • The rendering given by TMU says, “They will look on Me whom they have pierced.” This ignores the textual variants that say, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”21 Also, the author makes the claim, “This is affirmed in NT usage (John 19:37).” In reality, the NT quotation disproves TMU’s claim by citing the textual variant which does not say “look on me.” The reading TMU prefers is most likely in error.
  • Psalm 110:1
    • They are correct that David used “adoni” instead of “Adonai.” If he’d wanted to speak of God, he would’ve used “Adonai.” “Adoni” is used only of people. The rest of their explanation of this verse is convoluted at best. Following their strict dichotomy, David must be God because he refers to Solomon as “my son,”21 and Solomon wasn’t his enemy. So that must make Solomon God the Son, and David God the Father.
  • Psalm 45:6-7
    • There are multiple ways to interpret this. It is not unprecedented for men to be referred to as Elohim in the Bible, even by God himself. “I have made you elohim to Pharaoh.”23 “I said, ‘You are elohim, sons of the Most High, all of you.”24 (This could be referring to men or the divine council, but Jesus applied it to men in John 10:34.)
    • However, in both the Hebrew and Greek, Psalm 45:6 and John 10:34 could be translated to say, “Your throne is God forever and ever.” This would fit with 1 Chronicles 29:23, which says that Solomon sat on the throne of Yahweh. That is, he derived the seat of his authority from God himself.
  • Psalm 102:19-20
    • The reference they intended to cite is verses 19-21. Contrary to how they quote the final verse, the ESV renders itf: “That they may declare in Zion the name of the LORD” (emphasis added). The first argument, that the verse necessitates two people, is fallacious. The ones declaring the name of Yahweh in verse 21 are “the prisoners” and “those who were doomed to die.” Whatever translation TMU used here is highly misleading! The NASB agrees with the ESV, so I wonder if TMU had to dig to find a suitable translation.
    • Second, if Yahweh is the name of the being God, then it is also the name of all three persons in the single being. TMU seems to be implying two separate beings named Yahweh, since it says that Yahweh must be speaking about another Yahweh. This sounds more like Arianism, but it also goes to show the illogicality of the Trinity doctrine. It is impossible to understand “one God in three persons who aren’t subdivisions of God.” As the author himself has done, one must split Jesus from the Father and conceptualize two different beings in spatial terms to get to the interpretation he’s presented.
    • I have no idea what the author is trying to say in the second point. The word Jerusalem is used 647 times in the Old Testament. Zion is used 162 times. Is the author implying that every time we see one of those words, we’re to read the surrounding words as Messianic? I’m not picking up what you’re laying down here, Patrick.
    • I’m sure the OT writers were just as cognizant of the “tensions of multiple persons in the godhead” as Jesus was. That is to say, not at all. Hebrews 1:5 also quotes from Psalm 2:7, which says, “You are my son; today I have begotten you” (emphasis added). It is true that quoting Psalm 102 appears to be a solid argument for Jesus’ deity—until we flip the chapter to Hebrews 2:5, wherein the author writes, “For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking” (emphasis added). The author of this book wasn’t ascribing Genesis 1 creation to Jesus. He was applying that kind of creative authority to Jesus in the new creation, which began with his resurrection and will be fulfilled after heaven and earth have been destroyed.25
  • “Even in this ‘brief’ survey, we have quoted from the Pentateuch (Genesis and Deut), the prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah), and the writings (Job and Psalms). The OT is replete with indications of the Messiah’s divinity.”
    • Far from it. However, this document is replete with Trinitarian assertions about the text that no one reading or hearing it would assume means what TMU claims without having first been schooled in Trinitarian theology. It isn’t even evident after reading the New Testament unless you approach the text through a Neoplatonic worldview, as did the Church Fathers who invented the doctrine (and were quite open about their philosophical beliefs, I might add).26

Dealing with supposed objections of a Trinity/divine Messiah in the OT

  • “One major objection deals with the language of “son of God” in the OT. The idea is that the ‘Son of God’ in the Old Testament is a title for a human king and no more. It simply means ‘inheritor’ and has no divine connotations. Old Testament usage is synonymous with New Testament usage. Thus, Jesus as ‘son of God’ simply means Jesus is a human king, an inheritor of what God has.”
    • This point seems to be directly targeting Mr. Schlegel. He has said that the first thing in Scripture to cause him to doubt the Trinity was the way the Bible uses the term “son of God.”27
    • That said, I do believe this term applies to spiritual beings in certain cases, not just human kings. In the following section, I will appeal a lot to the work of Dr. Heiser, although at this point in my draft, I’m not going to search for citations unless I remember offhand where to find it. [EDIT: I never did go back and look for citations. I spent several weeks listening to hours of Michael Heiser's teachings on YouTube, reading his articles, and cracking open the first few chapters of one of his eBooks. I don't remember where I heard what.]
    • Language can be flexible, but it must conform to rules of grammar. To be the _______ of God means that God possesses that thing. The son of God cannot be God by virtue of the language. In a similar vein, words which mean something consistently in the Bible, much less English or Greek or whatever language you’re reading, cannot suddenly take on a completely foreign meaning without being redefined within the Bible. Here I’m referring to the idea of “being” versus “person.” These words take on completely new definitions in Trinitarian discussion than they have in any other usage in the English language. The Bible certainly never uses those words in the way that Trinitarians use them. The average Joe would have absolutely no idea what is being discussed without being indoctrinated into the lingo.
      • A spin-off thought that I don’t know where else to put: Trinitarians say that God is one being in three persons. But if a human being claimed to be three persons, he’d find himself in a psych ward pretty quickly. And yet we’re supposed to be made in God’s image. Trinitarians have no problem affirming Genesis 1:26 as long as we speak of God as “he,” but when we break it down into “they,” then the imago Dei thing falls apart.
      • One more tangent: It is always said that the Father is the first person, the Son is the second person, and the Spirit is the third person. Why can’t the Son be the third person and the Spirit be the first? What’s keeping the Father from being the second? If all three persons are co-equal and co-eternal, then the ordinal numbers applied to them are meaningless. But for some reason, it sounds inappropriate to my ears to call the Father the third person of the Trinity. Tangent done.
    • “God-man”? What does this mean? At least four times, God defines himself as being not a man.28 The author of this bullet point just assumes that what he says is true. “Jesus is God-man.” This is an oxymoron. Humans are created in the image of God, and Jesus is the perfect image, having never sinned. But God is not a man. The goal of humanity is to become sons of God.29 (Whether that is alongside the angelic sons of God or replacing them,30 I don’t know.)
      • I am confused by this statement: “Sons of God are not human beings and metaphors has flexibility.” Since I can’t ask the author what it means, I’ll just have to chalk it up to mystery. However, on the subject of worshiping the king, the author is simply wrong. There are numerous examples of people “worshiping” other people in the Bible.31 Of course we are to honor Jesus, even worship him.32 Jewish antimissionaries (and Trinitarians) claim that worshiping anyone other than God is sinful, citing Exodus 20:3. But that is deceptive and creates a false dichotomy. If God appoints a man to be his chosen king to perfectly represent him upon the earth, then it is glorifying to him to worship his appointed Messiah.33
      • Psalm 110 proves the opposite of what the author wants to prove. It is clearly speaking of Yahweh bestowing the kingdom upon someone else. It is impossible that anyone would read this psalm and think God was giving these things to God unless the reader went into it with a strong Trinitarian bias. Yahweh is speaking to someone else, whom he appoints as a priest-king. That is exactly what Jesus is.
    • The OT makes no such case for the divinity of the Messiah. I opened this document with an open mind, willing to be persuaded. But so far, the arguments in favor of the divinity of Jesus are only evident if one begins with that assumption. They are not self-evident. How can I be persuaded to believe a doctrine that doesn’t originate from Scripture and can hardly be extracted from it?
    • Unfortunately, the author’s citations of NT verses are not much more conclusive. I can clearly see how he reads them the way he does; that’s the faith tradition in which I was raised. But understanding the arguments isn’t the same as thinking they are credible or self-evident.
      • John 5:18 – Once again, the author agrees with the Jewish authorities of the day, rather than listening to the testimony of Jesus himself. Jesus neither broke the Sabbath nor made himself equal with God. That was what they believed because he violated their rules for the Sabbath, and they misunderstood his words about being the son of God. In reality, everyone who fears God is his son.34
      • Matthew 4:3 – This is a simplistic interpretation of the Adversary’s words. Luke tells us that Jesus is called the son of God because of the virgin birth (1:35), although that term encapsulates more than just parentage. Jesus had also just been anointed by the holy Spirit. Jesus’ first miracle was at Cana,35 but the Adversary was tempting him to use his newfound, God-given powers for his own gratification. (The fact that Jesus was tempted at all proves he can’t be God.36)
      • Matthew 14:28-32 – What Jesus did was truly miraculous, but the author is once again reading his divinity into the text. He did all his miracles in the power of God’s holy spirit.
      • Matthew 28:19 – There is serious reason to doubt that Matthew wrote this verse. For a thorough examination of this issue, see this article.37 Besides, it makes absolutely no sense for Jesus to casually mention the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit here when he had never taught about it before. If the current text was not changed post-Nicaea, then the Jews listening to Jesus would’ve heard, “In the name of the Father (God), the son (Jesus), and the holy Spirit (God).” (“Holy Spirit” is often used as a euphemism for “God” in the NT, although from context it seems that this isn’t the case every time. Sometimes it refers to God’s invisible interaction with the world, specifically in empowering believers.) [EDIT: In the time since completing the first draft of this paper, I have done more studying regarding the potential tampering with this verse. While I don't rule it out, I do think it is less likely than I believed at first. I address that in another point later on. I decided to keep my original thoughts in if for no other reason than to prove that I am willing to be proven wrong if presented with better evidence. That's the attitude I've had in writing this paper; so far I haven't been convinced.]
      • Matthew 11:27 – The author glosses over the first half of this verse: “All things in heaven have been handed over to me by my Father.” God doesn’t need to hand everything over to himself. We are dealing with two beings. That can be two Gods, or it can be Yahweh and his son. But it cannot be one being, or Jesus’ words make no sense.
      • Using the logic of “son of God” meaning “of the class of God,” what does the author say about Adam? Adam is called the son of God.38 Enosh was his son, and so on and so forth up to us. Does the “class of God” deteriorate over time? (I’m picturing Aragorn versus Arwen, both half-Elves, but one with deluded blood.) Also, Jesus was called the “Son of Man” much more often than “Son of God.” That means he’s “of the class of man,” which we’ve already seen means he cannot be God, since God is not a man nor a son of man.

Some conclusions from the OT discussion

  • There is no tension of the multiple personhood of God in the OT.
    • Maybe it’s just because it’s midnight, but I am not sure what the author means with the second bullet point. “The divinity of Messiah is actual given the storyline of the OT and numerous passages that attest to this.”
  • Regarding the final point of this section, the only reason the Messiah “must” be divine to save us is because the author set up some arbitrary rules that are eerily similar to the arguments of Jewish antimissionaries—creating rules God must follow derived from human reason rather than Scripture, then using them as the litmus test for the Messiah. As I argued in my footnote on James 1:13, the Messiah must be a human for his temptation (and subsequent high priesthood) to mean anything for us. Whether one is an antimissionary attempting to discredit Jesus as a fraud or Trinitarians trying to make him God, Jesus is stripped of what is necessary for him to be our atoning sacrifice and source of salvation.

The NT Affirms the Trinity and the Divinity of the Messiah

The NT explicitly affirms this

  • 1 John 5:20
    • This verse doesn’t call Jesus God. It refers to “him who is true” twice as clearly referring to God, juxtaposed with the son of God. Since the verse speaks of God and his son, which one makes more sense to be the “true God”? John refers to God as “he who is true” twice, so it would make sense that the “true God” is the same. Jesus is God’s son, not God.
  • Romans 9:5
    • This may sound contradictory with my arguments so far, but even if Jesus isn’t the Creator, it is not wrong to say he is God. The overarching story of the Bible is that God is adopting children into his family. He created idols from clay, animated them with his breath, saves them from death through the resurrection, and makes them like himself to live eternally. Jesus is the man he appointed to accomplish this. He’s the first man to be resurrected into eternal life. He is, in a practical sense, God, since he has inherited the authority and glory from the Father.
    • That said, the above concession is really unnecessary, since the phrase “who is God over all” is more likely a doxology than a description of Jesus. It is one of several cases where the way we translate the phrase in Greek can lead to drastically different meanings.39 While I have no theological qualms about affirming what I did in the above paragraph, we needn’t think Paul was writing such a weighty theological treatise in a single verse. It has nothing to do with the topic of his letter and is quite confusing for people who probably didn’t have access to the Bible for rigorous personal study to understand such a huge theme. The Revised Standard Version does a better job at translating this verse: “…and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen.”
  • Luke 24:51-53
    • The highlighted words in this verse are intentionally misleading. We’ve already looked at the subject of worship and how it is entirely appropriate to worship Jesus because by it we are worshipping God. However, the arbitrary use of capital pronouns and emboldening the word “God” at the end is not good apologetics. They were praising Yahweh because of what he’d just done through Jesus, not because Jesus is the Creator God.

The NT thoroughly describes Jesus as divine and preexistent—Paul’s view of Jesus

  • Jesus is active prior to the Incarnation (Philippians 2:5-8)
    • This passage does not say that Jesus was preexistent. It is comparing Jesus to Adam. Adam existed in the form of God. Adam considered equality with God something to be grasped (literally: seized by force). Adam filled himself up with pride, even though he was a mere man. In contrast, Jesus was in the form of God, yet he did not try to seize equality with God. He emptied himself of his pride and became a servant of all, since he was only a man. He humbled himself even to the point of death on a cross, at which point God highly exalted Jesus and God gave Jesus the name above every name. What Adam tried to seize by force, God gave to Jesus because of his humility.
    • How are we supposed to have the same mind as Christ if he were the Creator God who gave up his position in heaven and became a man to suffer and die for us? How could we possibly relate with that? Paul’s words to us make much more sense if we have the proper perspective. If Jesus were God, the things he did would be impossible for us to do. If he is “merely” a man with completely devout faith, he is the archetypal example of what God can do through a man who is wholly given over to him.
  • 2 Corinthians 8:9
    • Sorry, but this verse says nothing about Jesus’ preexistence. Jesus is the son of God by virtue of his birth40 and much more in his resurrection. He was rich because he had the most legitimate claim to the blessings of God of any man since Adam.
  • Jesus has descended from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:47)
    • 1 Corinthians 15 is one of the best chapters to disprove the Trinity. But before getting into that, let’s look at the phrase “from heaven” to see if it means Jesus is literally God. In Luke 10:18, Jesus said that he saw the Adversary fall from heaven. Does that mean the Satan is God? (Silly example, I know, but it came up in my search on BibleGateway.) In John 1:6, we see a similar phrase, “sent from God.” This is applied to John the Baptist. If Jesus is God because he’s “from heaven,” then John must also be God because he’s “sent from God.” In reality, being “from heaven” means that his ministry was approved by heaven. As Jesus said, he did nothing except that which the Father instructed him.
    • Now, let’s see why 1 Corinthians 15 disproves the Trinity. “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘all things are put in subjection,’ it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:20-28). Once again, we see two players: God and Jesus. God gives the kingdom to Jesus until Jesus subjects all things under his authority—this is the Messianic Kingdom. Once that is said and done, Jesus will himself be subjected to God, so that God may be all in all. There is really no way to spin this to support the Trinity or even just the Jesus=Creator doctrine without serious eisegesis.
  • Jesus is Creator (1 Corinthians 8:6)
    • This verse might say that Jesus was involved in Creation. If it does, it would at most mean that Jesus existed before the rest of Creation. It doesn’t mean that he is the Creator. This could support anything from Trinitarianism to Arianism. The verse says of God, “from whom are all things” (emphasis added), but of Jesus, “through whom are all things” (ESV, emphasis added). It’s notable that this is from the ESV, because a look at various translations shows that the preposition is sometimes rendered as “by” in this verse.41 The Greek word is di', and it has been translated as “by,” “through,” “because of,” “for,” “in,” “after,” “with,” and “of.” I understand the various renderings of this word are due in part to context, but is it possible that the translation in 1 Corinthians 8:6 was influenced by translator bias? Substituting several of the above possible English prepositions would not lead us to think that Jesus was the means of creation, but the purpose of creation. It’s possible that Paul’s saying that everything exists for him, which is consistent with the Messianic expectations of chapter 15.
    • But let’s consider the wider context of chapter 8. Paul contrasts the knowledge of God with the knowledge of false gods. Those who believe there are other gods cannot eat meat because of their weak consciences, but those who realize that Yahweh is the only God have the freedom to eat meat formerly sacrificed to an idol, since idols are nothing. Perhaps by saying “through/for whom are all things,” he means the freedom that we have from the false gods.
    • I’ll admit, this is probably the most confusing verse to interpret in the New Testament, at least that I’m aware of so far. (And yet, it does clearly distinguish “one God, the Father” from “one Lord, Jesus Christ.”) While it definitively doesn’t say that Jesus is the Creator God, co-equal with the Father, it does present a reasonable argument for his preexistence. As always, Scripture must interpret Scripture, so unless more of the Bible speaks to Jesus’ preexistence, we can reasonably assume that isn’t the point of this verse. But I will concede that it is a valid possibility.
  • Colossians 1:16
    • This one is much, much simpler to understand. Here, Paul clarifies what “all things” mean: “whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities.” While these are most often interpreted as angelic powers of some kind, those descriptions of angels are never explained anywhere else in the Bible, except possibly in Ephesians 6:12. Yet we also know that at the resurrection, followers of Jesus will be in positions of authority to rule over the nations in his kingdom. To me, it seems much more likely that Paul is describing the Messianic Kingdom hierarchy rather than the creation of angelic governments of some kind—especially when we look at the surrounding verses.
    • The paper by TMU points out that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, as if this were proof that Jesus were God. But Adam was also the image of the invisible God. So was Eve. So are all of us, although that image is corrupted by sin and decay. The goal is for us to all become the perfect image of God again, which can only be achieved by the resurrection when our bodies of death have been replaced with bodies of eternal life. Since Jesus never sinned, he never marred the image of God, so he revealed to us perfectly what we were supposed to be. By following him in faith, we are being conformed into his image,42 which is the image of God. We can join him in the resurrection because we have been reconciled to God through him.43 TMU is taking 1:15-16 out of context to argue for something that Paul isn’t saying. Paul isn’t trying to argue about the nature of Christ, but rather the purpose of Christ—as the means by whom God reconciles all things to himself. That is why Colossians 1 calls Jesus the “firstborn from the dead.” Jesus is the first man to be born again.
    • I’d also like to point out something. Verse 15 says that God is invisible. It doesn’t say the Father is invisible, but God. Furthermore, there is a persistent pattern throughout the Bible that if a man were to see God in all his glory, the man would die. How can anyone see Jesus, then, if he is God? The typical interpretation of the Transfiguration in Matthew 17 and the parallel passages in Mark and Luke is that Jesus revealed his full glory to the disciples,44 but that is impossible because God cannot be seen in his full glory. Not even Moses was able to look upon him.45 And when God gave Israel the Ten Commandments, none of them save Moses and Aaron were allowed on the mountain, and they had to be fully consecrated for several days first.46 There is no mention of Jesus’ disciples being consecrated before this event, so how could they have seen the unveiled glory of God the Son?
  • Jesus is sent by God—this means pre-existence (Romans 8:3)
    • We already dealt with being sent by God. Every prophet was sent by God, including John.47 What is being said in Romans 8? Paul is contrasting the law of sin and death with the law of the spirit. These are actually the same thing—the Torah—but approached from different angles. In chapter 7, Paul explains that the Torah is a law of sin and death to him in his flesh, since his sinful flesh takes the perfect Torah and uses it as a playbook for sin. The law of the spirit, on the other hand, is the Torah lived in faith.48 God could have created a new Adam from the dust without the curse of sin, but instead he chose to create Jesus in the womb of a sinful woman.49 Because of this, Jesus had a body that would decay and die naturally no matter what. This had to be done for Jesus to be a suitable sacrifice for sins.
    • If we take this verse to mean the Father sending his Son from heaven, then we are looking at two Gods—the Father and the Son. The former sent the latter into the world. This cannot be the same God because the text doesn’t say that God sent himself. This is a very Greek way of thinking (which is true of the entire Trinity doctrine). It imagines a council of gods on Mount Olympus with Zeus telling one of his sons to descend to the realm of men and become one of them. The Bible doesn’t describe anything like this.
  • Galatians 4:4
    • TMU bolds and underlines “sent forth,” but glosses over “born of a woman.” How is one born? As Luke 1:35 says, Jesus is called the son of God because God begat him within the womb of Mary. There isn’t a hint of preexistence in the birth narrative of Jesus, so there’s no reason to think Paul wrote about it. As for sending forth the spirit of Jesus to us, this has a precedent in the Old Testament. In 2 Kings 2, God grants Elisha a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. One’s spirit isn’t some person apart from oneself but is the breath that empowers the person to live. In both Greek and Hebrew, the pneuma or ruach describes an invisible wind that fills one’s lungs to give him life. When God gives us his spirit, he is filling us with the energy we need to accomplish his will.
    • Also, TMU makes another false statement. First, they quote the verse: “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” Then they write, “There is a parallel with the sending of the Spirit in Gal 4:6. The Spirit was pre-existent!” Perhaps I’m just misunderstanding them, but I think they’re interpreting this as the Holy Spirit, that enigmatic third person who’s never actually described as a person in the Bible. Then they contradict themselves with the next bullet point: “Note that it’s the spirit of his son. Can this be said of a human?” So is this the Holy Spirit, or is it the spirit of Jesus? Make up your minds. And yes, this can be said of a human. Jesus is the son of God primarily because God begat him within the womb of Mary. Adam is also called the son of God, and all we who follow Jesus are adopted as sons of God. So not only does this last bullet point contradict the one before it, but it contradicts the testimony of Scripture. We ought to expect better from such a prestigious university. It’s no wonder Mr. Schlegel wasn’t convinced by this paper.
  • Jesus Was Active in Israel’s History (1 Corinthians 10:4,9)
    • The author admits that verse 4 is confusing. I agree; I don’t know what Paul means by calling Jesus the rock in the wilderness (although in verse 6 (YLT), Paul says, “These things are types…”). As for verse 9, the reading of “test Christ” is a textual variant. Some texts read “test the Lord,” which presents no problem. Contextually, the version that says “the Lord” makes much more sense and requires no complex delving into the nature of Jesus, which Paul never does in his letters to the extent that would satisfy Trinitarian scholarship. That’s why they need to grasp for the tiny handful of confusing verses (e.g., 1 Corinthians 8:6) and textual variants like this to build a doctrine.
  • Paul calls Jesus God (Romans 9:5—Christ who is God over all)
    • Who wrote this? The formatting of the PDF has been terrible throughout, and it seems poorly edited because this verse was already brought up earlier in the document. That said, this final point is the most well-defended point of the entire document so far. If all the points were argued this thoroughly, it might be a bit more persuasive.
    • The alternate reading, “God be blessed forever,” does make more sense than saying “who is God over all.” Just because the author wants the other reading to be true doesn’t mean it is. The problem with all of these disputed translations is that the New Testament lacks a thorough polemic defending the deity of Christ. There are a small handful of verses that can be interpreted to say it, but this is a MASSIVE concept that must be thoroughly explored for the sake of the Jews. It isn’t hard for pagan Greeks to imagine a demigod. They’re the ones who invented the Trinity, after all. But the deity of Christ is blasphemy to any Jew who hasn’t been indoctrinated in Greek philosophy. If it’s true, then where is the book explaining it? It cannot be inferred by subtext, disputed translation, or textual variant.
    • As for Philippians 2, I actually agree with the author on this one. When the verse refers to God giving Jesus the “name above every name,” I believe this is the name Yahweh. Furthermore, I think it is appropriate to read “Jesus Christ is Yahweh” in this verse. Obviously, I do not think Jesus is the Creator or Yahweh himself, but God has exalted him to such a high position that he is functionally Yahweh (at least until he submits his authority back to God as 1 Corinthians 15 says he will). I’ve butted heads with a couple of unitarians over this, and I respect their opinions. But I have no problem saying “Jesus Christ is Yahweh” in that he represents Yahweh.


  • Jesus is the co-agent in creation with God (Hebrews 1:2)
    • First, I thought Jesus was God. Is God the Father or the Trinity? To say “Jesus is the co-agent in creation with God” is redundant if Jesus is God. I would give them a pass for what was obviously a mistake, but this is a perfect illustration of how mindlessly convoluted the Trinity doctrine is.
    • Second, context. In Hebrews 2:5, we read, “For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking.” Everything that the author says in chapter 1 refers to the world to come. In some way I don’t fully understand, Jesus will play (or is playing) an active role in the new creation.
  • Hebrews 1:8-10
    • Once again, context. The author states in 2:5 that he is speaking of the new creation. In 1:8-10, he’s applying Psalm 102:25-28 to Jesus in speaking of the new creation. He says that a mere seven verses later, but it’s easy to miss with the arbitrary chapter and verse divisors that unnaturally break up the text. The throne belongs to God forever, but at his discretion, he can seat an appointed agent upon it to rule on his behalf (1 Chronicles 29:23, 28:5; Psalm 72:11).
  • Jesus is brought into the world and worshiped (Hebrews 1:6)
    • “‘Bringing’ language implies he brought [sic] from somewhere. This means pre-existence.” That’s Mormonism, Patrick! When my parents brought me into the world, they didn’t pull me from somewhere else. Somehow, God used the miracle of sexual reproduction to create a brand-new soul inside the womb of my mother. He did the same thing with Jesus, except even more miraculously because he intervened and created Jesus without a human father. Also, how can TMU harp on how Jesus was “brought” into the world but completely ignore that he is the “firstborn”? If “firstborn” didn’t imply birth, the author could’ve picked other words to describe the relationship Jesus had with the Father.
    • Once again, worship is not exclusive to God in the Bible. If we are worshiping the king God appointed to rule on his behalf, then we are worshiping God.
  • Jesus is brought into the World (=incarnation) (Hebrews 2:7)>
    • TMU assumes that being “made like” his brethren proves that Jesus became a human. Why assume that? Is it the most natural reading? Is that really how a first-century Hebrew would read this, especially considering the doctrine of the deity of Christ took centuries to develop? I will readily admit that I am a novice in Greek, so this is complete conjecture on my part. But according to Strong’s, one possible translation of the word homoioó is “compare” and its conjugations. In fact, the NASB translates this word in that fashion nine times out of the fifteen places it occurs in the Bible. Perhaps the verse would make more sense to read, “Therefore he had to be compared to his brothers in every respect.” Otherwise, we are left asking, In what way was Jesus made like his brothers? We can’t just assume it’s speaking of him “becoming a human,” since that requires an immense number of assumptions to be made that aren’t evident within the Book of Hebrews.
    • Second, are we God’s brothers? If yes, then how is God our Father? If no, then how is Jesus our brother? How can God be both a Father and a Son at the same time without being both a Father and a Son?50 Once more, the doctrine of the Trinity requires a degree of logical flexibility in order to make any sort of sense of the text.
  • Jesus is active in Israel’s History (Jude 5)
    • This is another textual variant. Some manuscripts say “the Lord,” which would obviously refer to God. In fact, the top eight Greek texts listed on BibleHub for this verse all say “the Lord” rather than “Jesus.” Now it is true that many of the parallel translations say “Jesus,” but that’s likely due to translator bias more than anything else. If you have a disputed text and one version fits your doctrinal beliefs more than the other, you’ll go with the one that best fits your views. That’s fine, I suppose, as long as the variant is indicated in the margins (like in the ESV). But I wonder if TMU were hoping no one would research this verse since they themselves give no indication that the “Jesus” reading is disputed.

The Gospels

  • Jesus is presented as a heavenly being at the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-8; Matthew 7:1-8; Luke 9:28-36)
    • That’s one interpretation. But this happened on Yom Kippur (a comparison of the Synoptic Gospels proves this), so it makes much more sense that this was his revelation as the High Priest—less than a week before his 30th birthday on Sukkot.51 Since 30 was the age at which priests would enter the temple service,52 the priesthood symbolism is important.
    • Also, TMU compares Jesus’ clothing with that worn by the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:9. This is playing loose with the text. One of the foremost descriptions Jesus applied to himself was “Son of Man,” a clear allusion to the other person in Daniel 7, the one called the “Son of Man”! Jesus is NOT the Ancient of Days!
    • In Matthew 17:2, Jesus’ face was transfigured. In Exodus 34:35, Moses’ face was transfigured. Both of them functioned as priest-kings over Israel, although the authority of Jesus far exceeds that of Moses.
    • I’m not sure what is significant about Moses and Elijah both having theophanies on Sinai. Plus, neither of them saw God completely, yet Jesus’ disciples looked at him all the time without dying. I don’t know with absolute certainty why Moses and Elijah were sent there, but I have one theory. Moses was succeeded by Yehoshua (Joshua), and Elijah by Elishua (Elisha). One name means “Yahweh is salvation,” while the other means “God is salvation.” Jesus (Yehoshua in Hebrew) was the prophesied Prophet who would come after Moses,53 and he is the one who came after John the Baptist—who is a sort of Elijah.54
  • Jesus has authority over the heavenly realm (Luke 10:18-19)
    • I’ll see your contortion of Luke 10:19 and raise you a natural reading of Matthew 28:18. “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me’” (emphasis added).
  • Jesus has authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:1-12)
    • Antimissionary argument on repeat. If you side with the interpretation of the Pharisees and ignore Jesus’ own words on the matter, you’re wrong. Jesus said, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” We’ve already established that the Son of Man was never expected in Scripture to be Yahweh. So the significance of Jesus’ words is that God has given him the authority to forgive sins.
  • Jesus is accused of Blasphemy (Mark 2:7)
    • Antimissionary argument.
  • Mark 14:61-64
    • Once again, siding with the Pharisees, who obviously did NOT understand the Bible, or they wouldn’t have missed their Messiah so blindly. Jesus made a direct allusion to Daniel 7. They apparently missed the reference, since Daniel described the Son of Man being given authority by the Ancient of Days—Yahweh.
  • The “name” of Jesus is more powerful than a human name (Matthew 18:20)
    • I have a confession. I’m getting really fed up with this paper. The authors are just throwing out random verses—many of them out of context—and hoping no one will look them up. And their abysmal attempt at explanation for most of them is no more evident than here. “Certainly odd if Jesus is just a human.”
    • Matthew 18:15-20 is in the context of “church discipline,” or how to confront a brother in sin. In verses 18 and 19, Jesus gave his disciples the authority to make judgment calls on the Torah in cases of mediating issues like this. In that context, he is there with them. While I haven’t studied this issue of binding and loosing in great detail yet, these terms have to do with elders having the authority to make decisions regarding the Torah, similar to how the Supreme Court interprets the Constitution. This fits well with Matthew 19:28, wherein Jesus promised that the twelve apostles would each rule over a tribe of Israel in his kingdom. Jesus was authorizing a leadership structure similar to what Moses had in Exodus 18. James even exercised that authority in Acts 15.
  • Matthew 28:19
    • There is substantial reason to believe that this verse was modified by Eusebius or someone else after the Council of Nicaea. All of our extant copies of the text contain the current reading, but Eusebius quoted from it as “make disciples in my name” seventeen different times in his various writings prior to Nicaea, and then three times in its current form after Nicaea.55
    • There is also the secondary witness of the Hebrew Matthew text found in Shem Tov’s 14th-century polemic Even Bochan. While there are some problems in it where it was clearly tampered with in some areas (such as removing nearly all references to Yeshua as the Messiah), there are a few hints that suggest it could have descended from a line of Hebrew originals—or at least was translated from a Greek manuscript that escaped the post-Nicaean revision. Shem Tov’s Matthew 28:19 agrees with pre-Nicaean Eusebius’ Matthew 28:19. I find this convincing for two reasons: (1) If Shem Tov changed the text of this verse, it is unlikely that he picked the same words as Eusebius documented, and (2) while it makes sense that a rabbi would remove most of the references to Jesus as the Messiah, it makes less sense that he would change this verse, unless he were well acquainted with Trinitarian theology. It’s possible that he did it, but unlikely in my estimation.
    • Nowhere in the New Testament do we find this Trinitarian formula used by the apostles in baptism or explained by them in letters. Jesus never explained it either. For something as ineffably radical as changing a 4,000-year-old concept of who God is, one might expect at least a few sentences of explanation from the mouth of God the Son before he dropped this phrase on the disciples without warning on the day he ascended. The only other time we see another phrase like this in the Bible is in 1 John 5:7 KJV, and that verse is a known fabrication.
    • I know the same formula can be found in the Didache. I honestly don’t know how to answer that. It isn’t Scripture, but if that phrase is native to the Didache and not an addition, then I’m not sure why it was written. The personhood of the Holy Spirit wasn’t even decided until after AD 380. My suspicion is that the Didache was tampered with as well, but I have no way of proving that. EDIT: Since publishing this, I have come across the work of Alan Garrow, an Anglican scholar who has spent much time researching the Didache. He believes the original reading of the baptismal formula in this text was “in the name of the Lord,” which would fit the hypothesis that the Didache as well as Matthew was tampered with. While this cannot be proven, his argument for that being so is quite convincing. Prior to finding his work, I was nearly convinced that Matthew 28:19 was authentic due to Didache 7:1; but now it seems it could be possible for both texts to have been modified.
    • I would also like to point out that TMU takes for granted the personhood of the Holy Spirit, but never tries to defend it in this paper. “Both of which are clearly God” exemplifies the a priori assumptions that went into most of this paper.
  • Matthew 7:22
    • It is difficult for me to contain my frustration with their interpretation of this verse. Deuteronomy 18 is one of the clearest Messianic prophecies in the entire Pentateuch, but they have interpreted it to apply to the people whom Jesus condemns as lawless. The Christians Jesus condemns here aren’t doing things under his authority, they’re merely claiming to do those things in his name. I could just as well stand in front of a crowd and proclaim, “In the name of Muhammad, it will not rain tomorrow.” That is all these Christians are doing. They’re doing miracles “in his name” by stamping his name on them. But he rejects them because their works are lawless—without the Torah.
  • Acts 9:34
    • “Note that it’s Jesus who heals Aeneas, not Jesus relying on God’s power. Jesus himself is the source for miracles. This means Jesus is more than a human.” So is this Trinitarianism or Arianism? Jesus doesn’t need God? How is this not two gods?
    • Jesus was given the power to perform miracles at his baptism.56 He said his disciples would do even greater things than he did (how is that possible if he’s literally God?).57 He breathed on the disciples to impart his spirit to them.58 I’m not sure what happened in the spiritual realm when Peter healed that man. I’m not sure if he was actually somehow there or if Peter meant that it was through everything Jesus had done that the man was healed. But even if we simply read the words and assume that Jesus did it, there is no reason to think that Jesus is God or that he didn’t need God. Jesus’ own testimony was that he did nothing except what the Father had for him to do.59 Peter’s ability to heal came from Jesus and ultimately from God.
  • Jesus is worshiped (Matthew 14:28-32)
    • I feel like we’re on a hamster wheel retreading the same things over and over. Worshiping God’s son and Messiah is altogether appropriate because doing so recognizes God’s power on display in this perfect man.
    • As the “Son of God”, Jesus cannot be God. To be the son of someone else means that one cannot be the same being as one’s father. If “Son of God” is meant to equal “God”, then English means nothing and God is fundamentally illogical. There are better ways of communicating the Trinity doctrine without using terms like Father and Son, since those words have defined meanings that don’t mesh with Trinitarianism.
  • Miscellaneous examples of worship in Luke
    • You’re right, they are acts of worship. Do you want to know why Jesus deserves worship and not Peter? Because Peter is a sinner who depends on God’s forgiveness as much as anyone else. Jesus never sinned, and his perfect obedience allows him to be our high priest.
  • Jesus is preexistent – “I have come…”
    • The PDF states, “This formula (‘I have come…’) is used over twenty times [sic] (24) in early Judaism for a heavenly figure (angel) descending from heaven to earth for a purpose.” Citation? What about all the examples from the Old Testament wherein regular people say “I have come”? What about the average Joe with a flair for the dramatic who walks into his buddy’s house and announces, “I have come!” This is blatant eisegesis. It’s just like citing the “I am” statements in John as proof that Jesus is God when other people in the Gospel of John say “I am.”
    • Now to be fair, in John 6, Jesus does say, “I have come down from heaven.” Does that mean he literally descended from heaven, or does that mean that he was sent by God as God would send any of his prophets? Perhaps the greater context of Scripture ought to inform how we interpret this verse.60
  • Mark 1:24/Luke 4:34
    • Jesus is the holy one of God. To be “of God” means you cannot be God. How much clearer can it get? How can these Bible professors, the highest echelon of theologians, misunderstand such a blatant statement? They have replaced the Bible with their human tradition.61
  • Mark 2:17/Matt 9:13/Luke 5:32
    • “There is deliberate action. Jesus came in order to call the righteous. This implies preexistence.” Two things: (1) The verse they cited one paragraph above says Jesus did not come to call the righteous. Is this a typo or a genuine error? (2) This verse does not imply preexistence. If my boss were to ask me to deliver some item to another department, I could go there and say, “I came to deliver such-and-such.” That would certainly imply premeditated action, but not preexistence.
  • Luke 12:49
    • “Notice he says he has come to cast fire on earth. Implication [sic] is that he’s come from outside of the earth––heaven. Fire comes from heaven.” There is no such implication unless one brings it to the text. I’m trying to be sympathetic because I grew up in this doctrine, but now it seems like nothing more than a feeble grasping at straws.
  • Luke 19:10
    • So? How is this an argument for his divinity?
  • Matthew 20:28
    • TMU, you are the ones insisting that Jesus “came from somewhere.” That is not a necessary deduction from the text. If the translator had rendered this verse as, “The purpose of the Son of Man is to seek and save the lost,” it would mean the exact same thing without leaving room for such a dogma-driven interpretation. Besides, any prophet could be considered sent by God. Isaiah certainly was.62 Is Isaiah God as well?
  • Jesus is preexistent – “I have been sent…” (Mark 9:37/Luke 9:48)
    • These “I have been sent” verses barely even deserve a response. “Grasping at straws” puts it mildly. I was a Trinitarian for decades, and never in my life would I have considered these verses as even hinting at the deity of Christ.
  • Mark 12:1-12
    • “Jesus was sent by the father. He was preexistent.” The parable calls him a son! Being a son is the opposite of preexistence because sons are born. They are begotten. They are conceived. There was a time (ca. 2 BC) when Jesus didn’t exist. Then God caused Mary to become pregnant, and suddenly Jesus existed. That’s how sons are created. There is nothing in this parable that even hints at the deity of Christ.
  • Matthew 10:40
    • Nothing can be said here that hasn't already been said.
  • Luke 10:16
    • “Notice the parallel between Jesus sending his disciples and God sending Jesus. Both Jesus and the disciples have been sent from one place to another. This implies preexistence.” So… the disciples preexisted their births in eternity past too then, eh?
    • In what language does being sent from one place to another AT ALL imply preexistence? I mean, I guess you need to exist in order to be sent. But Jesus wasn’t really sent out for his ministry until he was about 30 years old, now, was he? Just as he was sent out by an adult, so too did he send his disciples out as an adult. See, that must mean they preexisted as well!
  • Jesus was active throughout Israel’s history (Matthew 23:37-24:1)
    • Perhaps Jesus was speaking as a prophet on behalf of God (which Peter says he was, Acts 3:22-23). Or perhaps Jesus was speaking of his own emotion toward Jerusalem that he felt throughout his life visiting there, knowing to what lengths he would go to save them for God.
    • 23:36 does not say that Jesus sent the prophets. That’s a blatant twisting of the text. The verse, as quoted two bullet points above (in their article), says, “You who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you!” If Jesus were God, this would’ve been a grand time to say something like, “You who… stone those whom I sent to you.” But he didn’t. Because he’s not God. I was open to persuasion when I started reading this. But if the very best of conservative, Reformed, evangelical scholarship can’t do any better than this hogwash (that’s pretty derisive coming from a Jew), then I must thank them for convincing me that there is no substance to the doctrine of the deity of Christ.

The NT’s use of the OT affirms this

  • The NT uses OT passages about YHWH to describe Jesus.
    • I don’t dispute all of these. In fact, they are a strong argument in favor of Jesus as the agent through whom God would accomplish these things. We see God use agents all throughout the Bible, but they are always either non-human angels or sinning humans. Only Jesus was a sinless human, so only he could truly be a satisfactory agent to carry out God’s plans on earth.
    • I do dispute the connection between Colossians 1:15 and Ezekiel 1:26-28. The much more logical connection would be Colossians 1:15 and Genesis 1:26. As for Ezekiel, that book still puzzles me in places because it contains some fantastical things. I can’t say for sure whom it was that Ezekiel saw. If the rest of Scripture didn’t refute it, I’d warrant that he could’ve seen Jesus in some sort of preincarnate state.
    • I’ll dispute the tie between Hosea 13:11-14 and 1 Corinthians 15 because I can’t figure out what they’re trying to say. In Hosea 13:14,63 God says he will redeem Ephraim from death and resurrect them. Meanwhile, 1 Corinthians 15:4 says that Jesus “was raised” (that means he didn’t raise himself). And note that in 15:57, Paul concludes, “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” God did it. He did it through Jesus. Ergo, Jesus didn’t do it himself. He was merely God’s agent.
    • What translation are they using for Exodus 34:6-8? The ESV doesn’t contain the phrase “grace and truth.” But comparing that to John 1:17 is… no more or less ridiculous than about half the other claims made in this paper. John wrote, “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” This has nothing to do with listing out God’s attributes. The former says what Jesus did. The latter tells who God is.
    • The “first and the last” issue is one that I don’t know to resolve just yet. There are a couple of unitarian explanations that could suffice, but ultimately, I don’t have a personally satisfactory way to resolve these descriptors. The easy solution would be to say these are definitive proofs that Jesus is Yahweh. But as we’ve seen so far, there is scant evidence to support that conclusion in the larger context of the Bible if we aren’t reading into the text like it’s a foregone conclusion. That said, this paper is actually wrong. It says the phrase “the first and the last” applies to Jesus in Revelation 1:8. That’s false. The verse reads, “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God [Yahweh God], ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’” I’ll trust that they got the citation wrong, since it is actually Revelation 1:17 that calls Jesus “the first and the last.” Again, I’m not impressed with the scholarship that went into this piece. Flip over a chapter, and 2:8 also calls Jesus “the first and the last.” The one that confuses me the most is Revelation 22:13, since the speaker calls himself the Alpha and the Omega; the speaker appears to be Jesus, but just one chapter earlier (21:6), it is God who says this of himself. My hunch is that Jesus claims these titles as the inheritor of God’s throne over Creation, but I haven’t resolved this completely for myself.

The Rest of the NT

  • The author makes a bizarre appeal to James 2:19 and 4:5, somehow trying to suggest that 4:5 refers to “God the Holy Spirit.” The author is apparently ignorant of the meaning of the word “spirit” in the Bible. It is consistent in both Hebrew and Greek, but we get into all sorts of trouble in English because our word “spirit” has been influenced by two millennia of paganism. The literal meaning of “spirit” in the Bible is something along the lines of “an invisible breath or wind that causes movement and life.”64 Particularly in Hebrew, they don’t describe what things are, but what they do. They didn’t know what air was, so they saw wind and breath as an invisible force that moves both plants and living creatures. Ergo, God’s spirit is his invisible presence interacting with Creation in a tangible way. It gets confusing in the New Testament because the phrase “Holy Spirit” is sometimes used as a substitute for the divine name, much in the way that Jews today will replace Yahweh with Adonai or Hashem. This took me a while to realize, but it became self-evident when I gave up on the convoluted idea that the Father and the Holy Spirit were separate persons. The reason this “nickname” gets confusing, however, is because there are times when the text says God gives us his holy spirit. Is he giving us himself? Unlikely. It seems to me that the phrase “Holy Spirit” can either be used as a substitute for Yahweh or to describe God’s sanctified power to walk in holy obedience and, on occasion, to perform miracles. That is the way James is using the word “spirit” here in 4:5.
  • As for the second part of his appeal to James 2:1, 23, this is more antimissionary silliness. The author is claiming that one cannot have faith in both Jesus and God unless Jesus is God. It deserves no further comment.
  • Moving on to 2 Peter 1:1, the author actually makes an appeal to grammar in this case, since here it suits his argument. The specific grammatical rule he’s referencing is the Granville Sharp Rule.65 In this case, there is probably cause to believe the rule applies,66 although there are exceptions.67 Ultimately, there are three possibilities: (1) Peter is referring to “God and our Savior,” which is a legitimate translation of this verse; (2) Peter is calling Jesus “God” in the sense of a supreme ruler, which is not unwarranted in the Scriptures; or (3) Peter is casually assuming that the readers will just know that Jesus is Yahweh, even though he never took the effort to explain this mind-boggling idea to them in writing. To our Trinitarian minds, the idea that Jesus is Yahweh seems blatantly obvious, but it would’ve been an enormous pill for most of the early believers to swallow—at least among the Jews. That TMU must appeal to a contentiously translated verse like 2 Peter 1:1 and not simply point to some apostolic treatise written to convince the Jews paints the doctrine with suspicion.
  • We already dealt with 1 John 5:20. Did the author forget about this? Did he repeat it in hopes that the reader would forget and think there was more material to support the divinity of Christ than there really is? I don’t mean to assume the author’s motive, although there have been enough other shady tactics in this article to make me suspicious.
  • Next, the author tries to appeal to “coming” (like “sending” earlier) as proof that Jesus came from somewhere. Second John was written to confront Docetism, an early form of Gnosticism. Gnosticism is the granddaddy of Trinitarianism. Trinitarians try to get around 2 John 7 by affirming that Jesus “came in the flesh,” yet they get squeamish when asked whether Jesus could’ve given into temptation and sinned, and they are left with resorting to befuddling definitions of the word “temptation.”68 (Are you noticing a theme? Trinitarianism is replete with unusual definitions of words that don’t fit their normal usage in order to make the Bible say what Trinitarians want them to say.) To be clear, If Jesus could not have sinned, then he did not come in the flesh and could not have been tempted in all things, and thus cannot be our high priest.
  • First John 2:23 says absolutely zilch about the divinity of Jesus.
  • First John 4:9 says that Jesus is God’s only son. God (Yahweh) has a son (by definition, not Yahweh). John MacArthur has a son named Matt.69 If the leadership at Grace Community Church started saying that Matt was John because he’s the son of John, that would lead to a lot of confusion and probably the creation of a cult (not that some don’t argue that already…70).
  • There is nothing improper about the son receiving the same worship as the Father. Maybe I’m just dense, but I don’t see what Revelation 1:4-5, Isaiah 11:1-9, and Isaiah 48:16 have to do with each other. Revelation 1:4-5 talk about God, the “seven spirits who are before the throne,”71 and the man Jesus. Furthermore, in verse 6, John writes that Jesus has made us priests to Jesus' God. Moving on to Isaiah 11, verse 3 says, “And his delight shall be in the fear of Yahweh.” If the Branch were Yahweh himself, why would his delight be in the fear of Yahweh? That makes no sense. Verses 6-9 have nothing to do with the topic at hand. I already addressed Isaiah 48:16 as it came up earlier in the article; I won’t rehash all that.
  • “It is for this reason as well that the Lamb and the Father share one throne (Rev 22:1-2).” Right. Two separate beings—the Lamb and the Father (God)—share a throne. That is the opposite of Trinitarianism, since Trinitarians claim that the Lamb and the Father are the same God. Sure, they say there are multiple “persons” of the Godhead, but what does that look like in practice? Two individuals who are separate beings. Furthermore, see 1 Chronicles 29:23, which says that the Messiah Solomon sat on the throne of Yahweh. See Psalm 45:6, which can rightly be translated to say, “Your throne is God forever and ever.” See Psalm 110:1, wherein Yahweh says to the Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool.”
  • Although more could be said, at this point, we have shown that every NT writer affirms the deity of Christ and the Trinity. This is not some obscure doctrine. The support for it is overwhelming.” This is hilarious. Stringing together a bunch of verses (many of which only fit if a preferential translation is assumed while ignoring the other possible renderings) does not constitute a formidable defense of the doctrine of the deity of Christ. The fact is, the Bible never plainly states this doctrine. It never spells it out in anything remotely satisfactory, especially for those coming out of Judaism who would be horrendously offended at the thought of God becoming a man. Remember how angry the religious leaders were in John when they thought Jesus called himself God? Where was this outrage in Acts? Where was it addressed in the epistles? Peter’s first sermon in Acts does a terrible job at defending the deity of Christ because he flat-out calls him a man and makes clear distinctions between Jesus and God. Paul talks about the believers in Corinth splitting into factions, claiming, “‘I follow Paul,’ or ‘I follow Apollos,’ or ‘I follow Cephas,’ or ‘I follow Christ.’”72 He tells them off for their infighting,73 but he never chastises them for putting the apostles on the level of deity (as Christ supposedly is) or for demoting Christ to the level of men. He elevates Christ,74 but he never says Christ is God. Paul considered these believers to be saints;75would he really say that to people who were worshiping him or Peter or Apollos as God? There needs to be an entire letter on the subject. We live two thousand years removed from the writing of the New Testament and over seventeen hundred years from the invention of Trinitarianism. We don’t see the controversy it caused because we have a very white-washed way of approaching it. To jump from “Jesus is the Messiah” to “Jesus is God” would require much more proof than the scant verses strung together by TMU.76 It is not a foregone conclusion in the New Testament, and we cannot assume that something as fundamentally groundbreaking as this doctrine would’ve been thoroughly taught verbally but never written about. That’s at best an argument from silence, and it doesn’t fly.

Dealing with supposed objections

  • As TMU point out, being “sent” by God does not make one God.
    • I’ve already briefly addressed Numbers 20:16. It does not say what TMU claim. The issue of the angel being sent is one of Yahweh acting through an agent.
    • The word of God is not personified in Psalm 33 any more than his wisdom and prudence are personified in Proverbs 8. When TMU capitalizes “word” in their essay, they are being deceptively anachronistic because they’re suggesting the “word” in these passages refers to Jesus. Furthermore, if Yahweh sends his word, then his word is not himself. That’s illogical. TMU defeats their own argument in this point. Also in this point, TMU cite Psalm 143:13-18. They give the reference twice. Psalm 143 ends with verse 12, so I’m not sure what they intended to reference. I find it slightly ironic that they cite verses that aren’t in the Bible to argue for a doctrine that isn’t taught in the Bible.
    • “Sending shows that Jesus is the emissary of God Himself for the One who denies the Son denies the Father that sent Him (John 5:23, 38; 6:29; see also 1 John 4:9; see also John 8:16; John 17:6).” YES!!! I couldn’t agree more! Jesus is God’s appointed prophet77 and anointed king78 who came to initiate the regathering of Israel79 and will return to rule on God’s throne over the whole world.80 Jesus is God’s emissary, his apostle.81 We are judged according to everything he says because every word he speaks comes from God.82 “In light of OT background AND usage in John, sending language refers to the divine equal of the Father who is the perfect representative of the Father to the degree that if one does not believe in the Son He does not believe in the Father.” That has not been adequately demonstrated in this essay and utterly contradicts the previous sentence I quoted from them.
    • “This is precisely why John states that John the Baptist is sent from God (John 1:6) and not from the Father (see usages above). The sending of the Father and Son denotes a relation that John does not have. John is human; Jesus is divine. It is as simple as that.” This is utter nonsense. God is the Father, and the Father is God. Look no further than John 20:17, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Jesus’ Father is our Father. Jesus’ God is our God. If you have a problem with that, take it up with Jesus. This argument is a classic case of eisegesis—that is, reading into the text something that the reader presupposes it ought to say.
  • The point about John 10:29-38 is a mixture of antimissionary argument and a misunderstanding of the B'nai Elohim. (To be fair, that is a very misunderstood concept by nearly everyone—including myself. I’ve barely scratched the surface of understanding it.)
    • I’m not sure how TMU claims that Jesus is arguing from lesser to greater. Which is greater—a god or the son of a god? Now I don’t think it’s that necessary to get into the B'nai Elohim discussion right now, because whether the psalm (and Jesus’ quotation of it) were referencing other gods or human judges, the point remains the same. Jesus didn’t claim to be Elohim, he claimed to be Ben Elohim. In Hebrews 2:7-9, we see that Jesus (as the archetypical man) was made a little lower than the gods. “For a little while” shouldn’t be thought of as preincarnation language because the psalm is speaking as much about mankind as a whole as it is about the Messiah. But Jesus will be elevated above the gods as Yahweh puts everything in subjection under his feet. (He will then return this back to Yahweh and submit to him, that God may be all in all.83)
    • As for my claim that this is an antimissionary piece, I say that because once again, TMU is siding with the Pharisees’ misinterpretation of Jesus’ words rather than what he actually said.
  • I’ve had to resort to my thesaurus to find synonyms for “ridiculous” so as not to sound too repetitive. This point about Jesus being the image of God rather than being created in the image of God is farcical.
    • I did admit before than I’m not entirely sure what is going on in Ezekiel 1. But let’s consider Colossians 1:15 from the previous point: Jesus is the image of the invisible God. God cannot be seen by anyone because we would die. So if Jesus is “God the Son,” coequal and coeternal with the Father, then we could not see him either. The only way God the Son can be visible when God the Father cannot is if God the Son is lesser in glory than God the Father.
  • As for Jesus tabernacling among us, I sort of agree. Jesus is not “God in a bod.” Before addressing John 1:14, it’s necessary to backtrack to 1:1. The last phrase of that verse, often rendered as “and the Word was God,” is difficult to translate. I favor the way it is translated in the Revised English Version, which reads “what God was the word was.”84 When God’s word/reason/plan was brought to fruition, it was in the man Jesus. I agree with TMU that this language seems incarnational. What it doesn’t say, though, is that the word was another person of the Trinity, or even a person at all prior to the incarnation.
  • On Ephesians 1:3, TMU once again deny the Trinity in their explanation of this straightforward and uncomplicated verse. Whether the verse reads “the God and Father of our Lord” or “the God who is the Father of our Lord” is irrelevant. John 20:17 says that Jesus has a God, and his God is the same as our God. But even if TMU’s translation is preferred, then our God is the Father of Jesus, meaning our God is NOT Jesus.
    • Trinitarians have made a grand conspiracy out of this “sending” language (which is actually quite benign in the text and unworthy of such a fuss). How on earth can “Jesus ‘have a God’ relative to being within the Godhead”? What does that even mean? It means nothing at all. It is gibberish couched in theological jargon.
  • First Timothy 2:5 does prove Jesus is a man. It says he is a man.
    • This is a sneaky game. They say, “[Unitarians] argue that this [verse] proves Jesus is a man.” Then they turn around and say, “No one denies the humanity of Christ.” To them I ask, “Is Jesus a man? Is Jesus a human?” This is a yes-no question that does not warrant a detailed explanation. Every single son of Adam can answer these questions in the affirmative without any caveats except, apparently, Jesus—the self-described Son of Man.
    • Paul didn’t trifle with multiple “aspects” of Christ because such things were the invention of post-biblical Neoplatonism that infiltrated Christianity after the fall of Jerusalem and the schism between Messianic and non-Messianic Jews.
    • The language of “mediator” does not presume an equality with God and man. Job said absolutely nothing about a “God-man85” mediator. TMU cites the verse; do they expect people to take their word for it? Read it yourself to see that it says nothing remotely close to what they claim. “For true mediation to occur, the mediator must be able to be equal with both.” This is, once again, illogical. Let A=God, B=man, and C=mediator. If A=C and B=C then A=B. But that is blasphemy. If A≠B, then A=C≠B or A≠B=C. Jesus is our mediator, but he cannot be the equal of both parties at the same time.
    • Trinitarians may well be guilty of false witness. Daniel 7 does not say that the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man are equal. That is blasphemy! The former gives a kingdom to the latter. That means the latter lacked something before the former gave it to him. Also, whence came this one like a son of man? Only the Ancient of Days was sitting on his throne, being served by myriads of heavenly beings, and judging mankind. The son of man appears on the scene to receive the kingdom from God.
    • TMU emphasizes that Daniel described the latecomer as “one like a son of man.” But Jesus never said, “I am ‘like’ a son of man.” He simply called himself the Son of Man. So if Daniel’s use of simile is important enough to suggest that being like a son of man is different from being the Son of Man, then Jesus doesn’t even fulfill this verse in Daniel at all.
    • Regarding TMU’s claim that the verse could read, “There is one who is God, one who is also the mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus,” this is wrong on two fronts. First, I read through twenty-eight of the most popular English translations, and none of them gave that reading.86 I’ll grant that the rest could be misinformed and TMU could be correct, but we’ll have to weigh the evidence. Second, TMU bases their argument on the supplied “and” in the New American Standard Bible. Added words are important because they can change the meaning, so let’s look at it in Greek.87
      • Here is the word-for-word translation of the Greek text: “one for God one and mediator of-God and of-men man Christ Jesus.” Now this is unwieldy in English, but let’s look at how many words must be added to achieve the translation TMU suggests. “[There is] one [who is] God one [who is] also(and) [the] mediator between(of) God and (of-)man [the] man Christ Jesus.” There is no justification for adding “who is” twice, especially since none of the top translations have those words. Their suggested translation is deliberate rewriting of the text to fit their theological agenda.
      • Let’s also consider how illogical their version is. They have repeatedly pointed back to Job 9:33, wherein Job bemoans that there is no arbiter between himself and God. So if the mediator in 1 Timothy 2:5 is God, then we’re back in the same conundrum. This whole “God-man” business completely dodges the issue. If God could suddenly become a man to serve as our mediator, why couldn’t he have done the same for Job? Is it because God had to die first? Aren’t the OT saints covered by the blood of Christ just as we?88 If OT saints are forgiven by Christ, and if God himself is our mediator, then why couldn’t he have mediated between himself and Job at that time, knowing that he (as Jesus) would eventually die to save Job from his sins? But if Jesus hadn’t been conceived yet and hadn’t become our high priest, then there was no mediator at that time.
    • This fact doesn’t exclude the notion of the divinity of Christ because the thought never crossed Paul’s mind. None of the NT writers needed to think about it because it hadn’t crossed their minds. Most of them knew Jesus personally. Throughout the Gospels, they never stated that they believed him to be God. He never said anything to lead them to that conclusion. “Upon closer study” means “After cherry-picking verses and adding in words here and there to fit our doctrine.”
    • First Corinthians 8:6 doesn’t call Jesus the Creator. TMU only quote the latter half of the verse. In full, it says, “For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (emphasis added). First, Paul clearly distinguishes between God, whom he identifies as the Father, and Jesus, whom he calls the Lord. Certainly, there is ample justification for calling Jesus “Lord,” since his disciples called him that since the beginning of his ministry. Second, Paul says that all things come from God. That means the Father alone is the Creator. Third, Paul says that all things are “through” Jesus. Since God is our Creator, then what does it mean for everything to come “through” Jesus? Does it mean God somehow used Jesus to create everything? That doesn’t fit Isaiah 44:24, which says, “Thus says Yahweh, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: ‘I am Yahweh, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself.’” Since Paul affirmed that God alone is Creator, then per Isaiah 44:24, Jesus couldn’t have been involved. Perhaps, then, we exist through him because he is the means by which we are saved, so we have eternal life through him.

A concluding reflections [sic] from the NT discussion

  • “Every NT writer affirms the deity of Christ.” That could hardly be further from the truth. The only thing further from the truth is the next line, “It is extensively interwoven in the theology and doctrine of the NT.” This entire essay is chock full of selective interpretations, deliberate ignorance of textual variants, and an insistence upon the pervasiveness of this doctrine which cannot be justified from the scant evidence they provide. How could a doctrine that overturns the entire Bible’s concept of monotheism. The New Testament always writes God and Jesus as two separate people. If Jesus is a deity, then he is a separate and lesser god than Yahweh, the Creator God. This is confirmed because of Jesus calling Yahweh his God.

What is at stake with the deity of Christ?

In this final section, TMU explains the real weight of the matter—what is at stake in the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity. I agree with their insistence of the gravitas of this matter. On a practical, day-to-day level, whether Jesus is God or not doesn’t really affect the basic outworking of my faith. But having a correct understanding of this issue changes our understanding of every other doctrine in Scripture when we begin to study them all out.
  • God (theology proper) – TMU says that a change in the doctrine of the Trinity necessitates a fundamental reimagining of the nature of God. They don’t bother to speculate any further than a single sentence merely stating this fact. What they ought to investigate is how the doctrine of the Trinity radically changed the Bible’s presentation of the nature of God. The Bible gives us a God who cannot be tempted by evil and a Christ who can. The Bible gives us a God who is immortal and a Christ who died. The Bible gives us a God who is necessarily invisible and a Christ who was seen for over thirty years. The Bible gives us a God who is not a man and a Christ who is. The Bible gives us a God who is the Ancient of Days and a Christ who is the Son of Man. The Trinity doctrine evolved over several centuries after the last apostle died. As Jewish believers became dwarfed by the Greeks coming to the faith, a concrete knowledge of the Bible was replaced with indoctrination into Neoplatonic philosophy. Instead of a Church filled with people familiar with Moses and David and the prophets, we ended up with a Church who were comfortable with the concept of demigods born from women. It is the Trinity, not Biblical Unitarianism, which has infiltrated Christianity and upended our understanding of God.
  • Holy Spirit – This article did an abysmal job arguing for the personhood of the Holy Spirit. The fact is, the term “holy spirit” is sometimes used as a description of God’s power poured out in the lives of believers to prophesy and perform miracles. Othertimes, it is used as a substitute for the word “God” in the way someone might say “his royal highness” instead of “the king.”
  • Christ – Biblical Unitarians don’t deny that Jesus was a man. We affirm 1 John 5:1 just fine. It is Trinitarians who violate verse 21 because they’ve elevated a man to the position of Yahweh. Now to be clear, Jesus deserves to be worshiped and praised for what he did and what God did through him. But we cannot lazily attribute attributes of God himself to Jesus and ignore or explain away every instance where the Scriptures disagree. I don’t fault any of my Trinitarian brethren for what they believe. For one thing, we’ve all been raised in it from the beginning. I would rather meet people where they are and sow seeds through friendship than cut myself off from everyone who disagrees. Additionally, I care more about how people live before God than I do that they have perfect theology. I know my own theology is likely wrong in some areas; we are all on a journey of faith, so as long as we have faith, God is willing to look past our faulty beliefs about him.
  • Angels (angelology) – Yes, God made man a little lower than the angels. More accurately, we are lower than the elohim—the gods. When Yahweh said, “Let us make man in our image,”89 the “us” refers to this council of gods. (Note that Yahweh alone was responsible for Adam’s creation.90) I don’t know what TMU believes is the point of Hebrews 1-2 which is somehow undone from reading Psalm 8 as it is written. The author’s point is that Jesus was a man, not an angel. That’s clear and unambiguous in chapter 2. We already discussed in chapter 1 how those passages applying Creation language to Jesus were stated to speak of the New Creation.91
    • Hebrews 2:8-9 says, “Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” The point the author is making is that Jesus was a man who suffered death in his perfect obedience to God, so God “put everything in subjection to him,” “left nothing outside his control,” and “crowned with glory and honor.” Furthermore, the chapter goes on to read, “In the midst of the congregation, I will sing your praise,” “I will put my trust in him,” and “I and the children God has given me.”92 Whose praise is Jesus singing if not God’s? In whom is Jesus placing his trust if not in God? Why does Jesus need God to give him brothers and children if he himself is God?
    • So back to angelology, Jesus was certainly created lower than the elohim, but now he has been exalted to a position of supreme authority over Creation.
  • Man (anthropology) – This is the most important issue of all. As I explained before, the real issue at stake in the deity of Christ is this one of anthropology. The doctrine of Total Depravity says that it’s impossible for man to obey God faithfully. The Bible says that we can.93 Now there is no one except Jesus who has done this perfectly, but there are a number of people throughout the Bible who are described righteous according to the Torah. Does that mean they never sinned? Unlikely. But it does mean that their hearts were totally devoted to God and their desire was to walk in obedience. One such example is Zechariah, who alongside his wife was said to be “righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of Yahweh.”94 Zechariah, being a priest, had a vastly larger requirement to the Torah than any of us. To walk in all of that blamelessly speaks quite highly of his faith. It also proves that it is not impossible to walk faithfully before God. You see, the problem with the doctrine of Total Depravity is that it puts us in the role of a helpless victim who can’t possibly live up to God’s expectations. Why even try if his commandments are too burdensome? But because Jesus obeyed perfectly because of his faith,95 we can have hope that if we follow after Jesus in faith, we will be forgiven when we do sin because of our trust in him. He blazed the trail for us to walk in, even if we fumble our way through it. The point is that we maintain our faith in God through Christ and walk in obedience to his instructions. Insisting that the Torah is impossible for us even if we really love God and want to obey him is a slap in the face of God because it accuses him of setting standards high enough to condemn everyone, regardless of our faith. Jesus proved that it can be done, so he gives us the hope we need to continue trying even after we fail. It is in that way that he is the author and perfecter of our faith.96
  • Sin (hamartiology) – TMU is making a lot of exaggerated statements. “The doctrine of sin is completely undone.” No it isn’t. Citing Genesis 6:5 is irrelevant because we don’t know what life was like before the Flood. Does this mean these scholars believe every intention of their own hearts is only evil continuously? I’m surprised they didn’t cite Romans 3:10-18, which is much more generally applicable. Sin is still sin. Why should that have to change? And who’s to say that Jesus was a “simple man”? That’s a loaded statement. Jesus was far from a “simple man.” He was the son of God because of his virgin birth97 when God caused Mary to be pregnant with child. We can only speculate why it’s significant that Jesus didn’t have a human father. I believe it is because Jesus was the second Adam. Like Adam,98 Jesus’ father was God himself. While I don’t think the Bible says this specifically, I believe that Jesus was born into the same state of moral innocence that Adam had at Creation. Jesus had to learn obedience just like the rest of us,99 but as he grew in wisdom and stature,100 he obeyed, unlike the rest of us. As Paul argues in Romans 7, the Torah is perfect, but when we hear it, our sinful flesh takes its instructions and turns them into a new provocation to sin. The more we learn of God’s righteousness, the more we want to rebel. But Jesus didn’t do that. He submitted to everything and paved the way for our resurrection.
  • Salvation (soteriology) – That’s right. Jesus didn’t need the Gospel because he had complete faith. As the Torah says, “You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am Yahweh.”101 It says, “I am Yahweh your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.”102 The man who is perfectly obedient to God does not need forgiveness for anything, but we can only be perfectly obedient if we love him. As Jesus said, “The most important [commandment] is, ‘Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one. And you shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”103 That’s exactly what Jesus did. He loved Yahweh his God with everything. Now Paul also writes that Jesus was born under the Torah.104 This means that while Jesus didn’t sin, he was born into a sin-cursed world wherein all life dies.105 He would’ve died as well regardless of his own personal guilt. That’s why he gave up his life willingly.106 Moreover, God glorified Jesus and proved everything he said and did by resurrecting him107 and giving him an immortal body—the same one we will all have.108
    • As for the assertion that “God could simply replicate this for every other person as well.” Or God could have not created humans with a capacity to sin. Or he could have not placed a temptation in the Garden of Eden to begin with. Or he could kill us all on the spot the moment we sin once. “You will say to me then, ‘Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?’ But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory.”109 How dare The Master’s University question why they struggle with sin but God chose Jesus to be our sinless Savior.
  • A “mere mortal” can be the righteousness of God if God appoints him to be his righteousness. It isn’t difficult.
  • The Gospel of Grace as TMU teaches it is incomplete. Jesus taught the Gospel of the Kingdom, not the Gospel of Grace. He taught obedience through faith. Evangelical Christianity’s gospel differs from what is revealed in Scripture.110 We are saved by grace through faith and not of works. But to deny that works have anything to do with it is false. If we never did bad works, we wouldn’t need saved from the penalty for sinning. In order for our punishment to be just, we must have the opportunity to choose between good and evil works. We can try to carve out our own morality like the Pharisees, or we can have faith in God which leads to obedience to his holy instructions. The Gospel of the Kingdom says that God has appointed an heir of David to reunite the twelve tribes of Israel and rule forever from Jerusalem. Anyone who has walked faithfully after God will be resurrected into this kingdom when Jesus returns. If Jesus were God, we might as well throw out most of the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament because they speak of God raising up someone else (the Branch in Jeremiah 23, for example). It is all by God’s grace, but that doesn’t exclude the complementary aspect of obedience.’
  • Yes, we will be glorified in the same manner as Jesus.111
  • Eschatology – TMU cites several passages in Revelation asking about Jesus being worshiped. Yes, of course he is worshiped, as is fitting because God declared it. If I’m in the grocery store and I see a mother with a well-behaved child, I may compliment her on her child’s behavior. While that praise goes toward the child, it is ultimately to the mother, since the mother was the one who trained her child to be so well-behaved. As Revelation 21:22-23, John says that God is the light and the Lamb is the lamp. Two separate beings—one is the source of light, while the other is the channel through which it flows. In Revelation 22:1, water doesn’t just flow from the throne of God, as we’d expect if Jesus were God. It actually flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb. Two separate beings again.
  • Bible (bibliology) – “At this point, one has either ignored or explained away so much of Scripture that one has a new Bible, a new canon, and rejected the inerrancy and authority of that which is Scripture.” I’m glad TMU is wiling to confess their sins. (Please forgive the sass.) By ignoring textual variants and trying to paraphrase verses to sound more Trinitarian (which happened classically with Matthew 28:19 and 1 John 5:7 as well), Trinitarian scholarship has tried to create their own Bible which teaches something invented centuries after the canon was closed.
  • Church (ecclesiology) – In what way does the Church change if Christ is not God? They simply state this to be the case without even attempting to explain.
I agree with their closing—everything is at stake over this issue. The theology espoused by The Master’s University teaches people to disregard the Torah because it takes God himself to obey it. They teach that God is capricious and changes his mind regarding his instructions. They teach that God can mediate between himself and man but just refused to do so for Job. They teach that the invisible God can be seen quite plainly. They teach that the immortal God can die. They teach that the God who can’t be tempted by anything was tempted in everything.

Which elevates Jesus more—saying that he could only obey God because he was God, or saying that through his unwavering faith he obeyed God in all things? The former option isn’t glorifying to him at all! It strips him of the ineffable honor he deserves as the only sinless man. It’s no big deal for God to not sin, but for a man to keep it up for over thirty years is unthinkable, and yet he did. Jesus deserves our praise so much more because he’s a man like us who conquered sin.

Every knee must bow, and every mouth must confess that Jesus is Lord—to the glory of God, the Father. Christ is all in all112 because his God113 put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things.114 But just as God has given all these things to Jesus, Jesus will give them all back to God in the end of this age, so that God may be all in all.115

7 See how far out of context they take the simple command, “You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk” (Exodus 23:19), by reading into the text:
8 Jews who actively engage in arguments against Jesus as the Messiah (irrespective of the question of his divinity).
9 Exodus 14:30
10 Acts 7:40; Hebrews 3:16
11 Psalm 77:20
14 This connection is thoroughly documented in the book The God of Jesus in Light of Christian Dogma by Kegan Chandler. I noticed on Mr. Schegel’s blog that he also recommended this book. Even if one rejects the conclusion (that the Trinity isn’t biblical), it is still an unparalleled resource for the historical evolution of this doctrine.
16 Matthew 9:8
17 John 14:10
18 For a more thorough lesson explaining what it means to be “in the Father,” see this teaching by Messianic Hebraist Izzy Abraham:
19 Genesis 1:26
20 1 Corinthians 15:27-28
21; this video goes through ten examples of textual variants that get cherry-picked by Trinitarians to prove the deity of Christ, often while ignoring the variants that don’t promote this doctrine. As the speaker says in the video, unless we have definitive proof that one reading is preferential to another, we can’t cite any reading to promote our own view. Throughout, I will point out any variants of which I am aware, and I will argue for readings that seem to be more logically consistent. That said, all textual variants should be treated as equally suspect unless we have a good reason to prefer one over another (and theological bias is not a good reason). I acknowledge that the pro-Trinitarian reading of these verses could be correct, but it is impossible to prove their accuracy, so they should not be considered as valid arguments unless TMU is willing to admit these verses have variants that do not promote their doctrine.
22 1 Kings 1:21
23 Exodus 7:1
24 Psalm 82:6
25 Isaiah 65:17
26 See The God of Jesus, Chandler.
28 Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Job 9:32; Hosea 11:9
29 Ephesians 1:5
30 Cf. Jude 1:6. My understanding of this subject is infantile, but the Enochian/Watcher mythology was much more prominent in second-temple Judaism than most scholars today like to believe. I don’t consider 1 Enoch to be inspired Scripture, but it receives more mention and reference in the New Testament than is normally acknowledged.
31 Isaiah 45:14
32 John 5:23
34 Cf. Isaiah 63:16; Jeremiah 3:19; Malachi 2:10
35 John 2:11
36 James 1:13. Jesus’ obedience in overcoming all temptation would be meaningless if he were God, since God cannot sin and therefore cannot be tempted to sin. How could Jesus be said to be tempted like us in all things (Hebrews 4:5) if that weren’t true? It would make the Book of Hebrews false and nullify the point of having a perfect high priest who could also relate to us in our struggles. A divine Messiah leaves us without a mediator between us and God.
38 Luke 3:38
40 Luke 1:35
42 Romans 8:29
43 Colossians 1:20
44 This event happened on Yom Kippur, so Jesus actually revealed himself as the high priest wearing spotless white garments.
45 Exodus 33:20
46 Exodus 19
47 John 1:6
48 Cf. Revelation 14:12
49 Luke 1:35
51 I won’t go into the whole chronology of his ministry here, but this is taken from The Chronological Gospels by Michael Rood. I don’t recommend a lot of his resources, but from my own reading of the Gospels, his timeline seems to make the most sense of any I’ve heard—much more than the 3½-year timeline promoted by Eusebius.
52 Numbers 4:3
53 Acts 3:22-23
54 Matthew 11:14
56 Luke 4:18-19
57 John 14:12
58 John 20:22
59 John 8:28
61 Mark 7:6-9
62 Isaiah 6:8
63 I have no idea why they cited the other verses. They have nothing to do with this one thematically.
65 “The following rule by Granville Sharp of a century back still proves to be true: ‘When the copulative KAI connects two nouns of the same case, if the article HO or any of its cases precedes the first of the said nouns or participles, and is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle; i.e., it denotes a further description of the first-named person.’” (A Manual of the Greek New Testament, Dana & Mantey, p. 147)
67; my appeal to certainly could be taken as cherry-picking, but I’m merely trying to offer another perspective. The previous article cited offers a very robust case in favor of the Granville Sharp Rule. The article, however, points out the disagreement among Bible translators on how to render 2 Peter 1:1, proving that it isn’t cut-and-dry.
71 There are a few possibilities as to what these could be. They could be the seven spirits referenced in Isaiah 11:2. They could be seven angels that oversee the congregations in Turkey to whom this letter was originally written. They could be seven faithful B'nai Elohim, the remnant of the divine council that didn’t rebel (cf. Psalm 82). Some suggest that it is a description of the Holy Spirit, but I disagree on the basis that the Holy Spirit is never described as a unique person (unless as a euphemism for Yahweh).
72 1 Corinthians 1:12
73 1 Corinthians 3:5-9
74 1 Corinthians 1:13
75 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 2:1
77 Deuteronomy 18:15-19
78 Acts 2:30
79 Matthew 15:24
80 Revelation 22:3
81 Hebrews 3:1
82 John 14:10
83 1 Corinthians 15:20-28
84; their translating decision is thoroughly documented and backed up by even some Trinitarian scholarship.
85 This is an oxymoron. Numbers 23:19 says that “God is not a man… or a son of man.” To be God is to be not-man. To be man is to be not-God. We are a shadow and image of God, but we are not God. The same is true of Jesus.
88 Cf. Revelation 13:8
89 Genesis 1:26
90 Genesis 1:27
91 Hebrews 2:5
92 Hebrews 2:12-13
93 Deuteronomy 30:11-20
94 Luke 1:6
96 Hebrews 12:2
97 Luke 1:35
98 Luke 3:38
99 Hebrews 5:8
100 Luke 2:52
101 Leviticus 18:5
102 Leviticus 11:44
103 Mark 12:19-20
104 Galatians 4:4
105 Romans 5:17
106 John 10:18
107 Acts 2:23-24
108 1 Corinthians 15:42-49
109 Romans 9:19-23
110 Cf. Galatians 1:6-9
111 John 17:22
112 Ephesians 1:23
113 Ephesians 1:17
114 Ephesians 1:22
115 1 Corinthians 15:28


Popular posts from this blog

Why I Left Answers in Genesis

Problems with the Ark Kinds

Dangers of the Anti-Nomian Movement: A Rebuttal to Answers in Genesis