Is God a trinity?: Debate Error Corrected

This should be fairly short post, but I believe this needs to be addressed and corrected.

During the debate my opponent Josh Lovell stated during his cross-examination of me that the word “glory” in John 17:5 was not the same word used for “glory” in John 17:22.  I personally believe that this was a mis-statement by Josh based on a prior discussion outside the debate we had regarding God giving his glory to others from Isaiah 42:8.  I could be wrong, but either way this statement by Josh is completely incorrect and the text shows it clearly.

For the record, Josh and I stated at 1:34:10 onwards in this audio here:

Josh’s question:

“So, can I say right now, Father glorify me with the glory I had before the world was, or before I was created because when I die God’s going to glorify me?”

My response:

“It’s possible because of John 17:22 “And the glory which you have given me I have given them that they may be one just as we are one” And he’s praying about people in the future who will believe in him”

Josh’s response:

“Right but that glory, those two glory’s are different words. They are different glory’s.  If you look up those two glory’s they are different, they’re referring to two separate types of glories. Those words are different. You can double check me and go into the Greek if you want to.. but the glory that he says here in verse 15 is a different word than “glory” there.

My response:

So it’s not “doxa”? Well I can’t ask questions

Josh’s response:

No, it’s not. I have all my notes here…


Now at this point looking backwards I’m not quite sure why Josh said verse 15 either.    Because I never mentioned verse 15.  I said John 17 verse 22.  Verse 15 doesn’t have the word “glory” in it… but verse 22 does have the word “glory.”  Josh stated that these were not the same word in Greek but that is incorrect.  Here are the two verses in Greek.

John 17:5  καὶ νῦν δόξασόν με σύ πάτερ παρὰ σεαυτῷ τῇ δόξῃ εἶχον πρὸ τοῦτὸν κόσμον εἶναι παρὰ σοί

John 17:22  κἀγὼ τὴν δόξαν ἣν δέδωκάς μοι δέδωκα αὐτοῖς ἵνα ὦσιν ἓνκαθὼς ἡμεῖς ἕν

You can see the word “doxa” is clearly in both of these verses.  I’m not sure if my opponent mis-read this or was thinking of the wrong verse because of a prior discussion.  I only say it’s possible he was thinking of something else but referenced the wrong verse because he had such a quick answer prepared.  The issue is, these are the same word just in a different case.  That doesn’t make them a different word… it just makes them a different inflection because of the case in Greek for whom the word “glory” is referring to in the text.

With this in mind I decided to email Josh about a week after our debate to ask him to clarify his position because I did not address this within our debate.  Time is just tight in a debate, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and looked it up later.  So here is a copy of my email.

debate questioning 1

 

After a month I had still not yet received a response.  I heard that Josh had made a move and gave him the benefit of time to get a full response back.  So I sent Josh another email to remind him of my important question regarding his claim during the debate about a month later

debate questioning 2

 

It’s now been over 4 months since our debate and I do not yet have a response from Joshua to correct or clarify this error from his claim about the word “doxa.”

 

I believe this shows clearly that God does share his glory not only with his Messiah in a pre-existent sense, but also with future believers who will believe on the Messiah and become one with them.  Until I get a clarification response I must consider this an unanswered error on the part of my opponent.

 

And just in case someone was thinking it’s possible Isaiah 42:8 was what my opponent had in mind as a different “glory[doxa]” and God not sharing that “glory”… here’s Isaiah 42:8 in the Septuagint.

Isaiah 42:8  ἐγὼ κύριος ὁ θεός τοῦτό μού ἐστιν τὸ ὄνομα τὴν δόξαν μου ἑτέρῳ οὐ δώσω οὐδὲ τὰς ἀρετάς μου τοῖς γλυπτοῖς

“doxa” is right there in red highlight.

Hopefully my opponent will respond eventually and correct this error on his part.

 

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Equivocation and the word “God”

While I admit to having my mind a lot on the debate lately, the nature of this post is NOT to start an unending debate back and forth with my opponent.  The nature of this post is to explain further why I believe the trinitarian explanation of “God” cannot escape equivocation and/or a contradiction to the Scriptures.  I believe my opponent did equivocate many times in our debate, but I’m not going to detail that here.  I’m going to deal with the common explanation given by many apologists today on the trinity.

Many trinitarians claim they are not tri-theists and will openly deny any argument which puts them in this camp.  They will claim it’s a straw-man, yet in reality it is not if their definitions are unpacked and expanded upon.

Can I demonstrate for you in writing?  A common trinitarian explanation usually goes something like this when questioned(usually by an ill-informed Muslim or skeptic):

Non-trinitarian: So you believe Jesus is the son of God?

1) Trinitarian: Yes, Jesus is the son of God.

Non-trinitarian: Then Jesus is not God?

2) Trinitarian: No, Jesus is God.

Non-trinitarian: So Jesus is his own Father?

3) Trinitarian: No of course not, that’s not what we believe.   Jesus is deity and thus God, but he is not the Father.

Non-trinitarian: So you believe there are two Gods?

4) Trinitarian: No, we believe in one God in three persons–namely the Father, the Son and Spirit.

 

This is a very simplified version of a normal conversation that would occur in a questioning of a trinitarian position.  Many of us have seen, heard, or even explained something like this ourselves in the past.  It’s a patent denial of tri-theism(or in this case, bi-theism since we’re only talking about the Father and Son) and explanation of their view on what they deem monotheism.  The common trinitarian position of this day is that there is 3 WHOs(Father, Son, Spirit) in 1 WHAT(God).  You can see this explanation on James White’s own web page to see I’m not making this up: http://vintage.aomin.org/trinitydef.html

To the ill-informed person this might sound plausible, yet to us who have been trained to really hear and read what trinitarians have said and written we see major faults in this explanation.  Do you notice first, the number of different definitions of “God” that appear in this short explanation by the trinitarian?

In the first response by the trinitarian the definition for “God” is clearly an identity(who), the Father.  Jesus is clearly the son of an identity, God the Father.  Yet in the second response by the trinitarian affirming “Jesus is God,” the definition of “God” has now switched to a meaning of “deity” or “having the divine nature.”  The word “God” in the second response has now switched to a “what.”  That’s the only possible defintion because of course the trinitarian is not going to affirm Jesus is God by identity, namely the Father.  The third response by the trinitarian somewhat affirms the definition of a “what” from the second response by now saying “Jesus is deity”(what he is), but the conclusion “…and thus God” has now switched definitions back to a meaning of “God by identity(who he is).”  The fourth response of the trinitarian with the full explanation of the trinity has now redefined the term “God” back to a “what” affirming the 3 persons(WHOs) within this one “God”(WHAT).

If you don’t think this explanation is committing the fallacy of equivocation, I urge you to read a definition of it:

The fallacy of equivocation occurs when a key term or phrase in an argument is used in an ambiguous way, with one meaning in one portion of the argument and then another meaning in another portion of the argument. –

http://www.txstate.edu/philosophy/resources/fallacy-definitions/Equivocation.html

Do you see how many different definitions for “God” came up ambiguously in this one explanation?  There’s 3 different definitions in this one explanation.  Each of these “God” definitions are NOT each other.  That is their doctrine.  If you are hearing this and not writing it down, it can almost sound plausible.    Now I don’t have a problem with differing definitions of the term “God.”  Even I have different definitions in my own explanations, but that is different than using the term “God” ambiguously in an explanation to pass off what sounds like a good argument if not forced to define the terms.  The problem is the constant back and forth switching and what the trinitarian is claiming follows from each definition and explanation.

Yet we have another huge problem to point out with the explanation.  In the third response by the trinitarian–the trinitarian is equating the meaning of the “what”(deity) to a “who”(God).  Not only does this not necessarily follow, it creates a second “God” identity since the first “God”(identity, the Father) is NOT the second “God”(identity, the Son).  Trinitarians will usually then cry out “No, you don’t understand… there’s only one God! We are not tri-theists, that’s a straw-man.

But the problem is, we do understand and refuse to allow the equivocation and/or contradiction of simple grammar going on in the explanation.  Some trinitarians(not all) will then resort to equating their arguments to God Himself by falling back into “mystery” when confronted with the issue.  Others, I hope will see the error and look to challenge their doctrine.  Which will you do?


“Is God a trinity?” – Formal Debate

Hello all,

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my recent debate with Joshua Lovell on the trinity.  I wanted to first share it more in full without my direct thoughts on the subject.  We had a great formal and respectful debate on the subject of the trinity that can be seen/heard on youtube and also downloaded in audio.

You can see that debate here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27MsuzINaeM&t=6028s

You can listen to that debate(at this point, a bit louder/clearer) here on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdqWRRvpHVg&t=209s

You can also download the debate audio from a link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/1zc5f2kmsz2azn7/edited%20debate%20audio.mp3?dl=0

 

I hope you are edified about both positions with regards to the Scriptures in this discussion.

 

-Sean