Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Old Testament's Revelation of Christ [Pt.3]

by Rudolph P. Boshoff

[Continued from Pts. 1 & 2]

II.c Jesus in Old Testament Typology

Patrick Fairbairn (1969:42-43) describes typology as the dramatic unity of Scripture by looking at Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament Christian faith foreshadowing God’s revelation in Jesus Christ.  John Walvoord (1969:63) adds to the fact that typology is concerned with (1) typical people; (2) typical events; (3) typical things; (4) typical institutions; and (5) typical ceremonies. Walvoord (1969:64) mentions five points to describe how Jesus fulfils Old Testament typology and we will reflect just on a few of these:

i. Typical People

Aaron – Aaron was a type that revealed the Christ in the function of His humanity and priestly work. Aaron was man and Christ was truly man acquainted with our human weakness to identifying with us and being our intercessor. As Aaron Christ would become the perfect mediator that would aid all humankind in their stance before the God of Israel. Even though Aarons extent of ministry was solely to the nation of Israel, Jesus in the full extent of His grace became the intercessor to all those who are His. The Book of Hebrews gives a clear indication that Aaron was a type of Christ. Aaron was appointed to a Sacred office as Christ to His Priesthood (Heb 5:4-6) and represented ministry in the earthly realm as Christ would be appointed to the heavenly (Heb 8:1-5). Aaron’s duty was to administer the old Mosaic covenant but Jesus would minister the new covenant sealing it in His blood (Heb 8:6). Aaron had to sacrifice as a daily institution but Jesus would offer sacrifice once and for all in His blood (Heb 7:27). 

Abel – Walvoord (1969:64) mentions as Abel was slayed for his righteous sacrifice because of the jealousy of Cain, so Christ was slain for the world, because of His righteousness proclaiming the new promise by the religious Jews. The reason God ultimately accepted the sacrifice of Abel was because he offered a sacrificed by faith (Heb 11:4) and so Christ’s sacrifice was accepted. Abel believed what was revealed concerning the sacrifices and offered a lamb as a blood sacrifice in contrast to Cain’s bloodless offering. Abel is therefore a type of Christ in life as a shepherd as well as his manner of sacrifice foreshadowing the necessity of His death. Jesus Christ is presented as the true Shepherd who made a blood sacrifice to God in obedience to the legal requirements of God.    

Adam – Walvoord (1969:64-65) says that both Adam and Christ entered into creation through a special act of God absolutely sinless acting on behalf of those whom God considered in them representatively (Rom.5:14). Adam is the head of the Old Creation but Christ of the new Creation. Adam was disobedient by Christ is contrast as the one who remained obedient to death (Rom 5:12-21). The very terms “first Adam” and “last Adam” are applied to Adam and Christ representing the first representative of God on earth and the future representative of God both in heaven and earth (1 Cor. 15:45-47). There is also a reference to Adam being the husband of Eve as a type of the bridegroom in relation to the Church as the bride. 

Benjamin – Benjamin foreshadowed in his two names, two aspects of the person of Jesus Christ in that He would suffer and ultimately be raised to glory. Benjamin’s mother Rachel with her dying breath named her newborn son ‘Ben-oni’, meaning “son of my sorrow.” Jacob, however, named him Benjamin, meaning “son of my right hand.” As Ben-oni, Jesus Christ is depicted as a son of sorrow to Mary (Luke 2:35) and would be subjected to suffering and ultimate death. As Benjamin, Jesus Christ would be “the Son of my right hand” to God the Father (Heb.1). Benjamin was also victorious as a warrior tribe and so Jesus would be victorious overcoming sin and spiritual death for us (Walvoord 1969:65). 

David – David is most commonly recognized as a type of Jesus Christ. David is depicted as first a shepherd and then King. David was called by God and was rejected by his brethren having to face danger and threat of death by the then anointed King. In David’s exile, he took a gentile wife and later ruled over Israel in complete sovereignty and power. Jesus Christ is depicted as the great shepherd of the sheep before ascending to the throne as the Messianic King. Jesus was also called by God but rejected by the Jewish religious system and brethren, facing danger and death, because of the claims he made. Jesus also did not come just for the lost sheep of Israel but ultimately brought all those who were lost in even the gentile world unto Himself subjugating them to His rule and authority as King (Walvoord 1969:65). 

Isaac – Walvoord (1969:65) mentions that Isaac is regarded as a type of the Church which composes the spiritual children of Abraham (Gal.4:28) which becomes new creatures with new natures as a result of the working of the Holy Spirit of God being redeemed from the old sinful nature [Ishmael] (Gal 4:29). Both Christ and Isaac have miraculous births anticipated in advance being the ‘only begotten’ (John 3:16, Heb 11:17). The Sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22 foreshadows the promise of a lamb, Jesus Christ, in which He was our substitute for our sins. Genesis 24 also depicts a type of prophetic picture of the Holy Spirit securing a bride for Christ relating to all the details of the story of Isaac and Rebekah. 

Joseph – Joseph’s life is paralleled as a type in numerous instances of Christ’s work and ministry, and his life is seen as one of the most compelling examples of this fact from the Old Testament. Both Jesus and Joseph were born because of special interventions from God (Gen 30:22-24, Luke 1:35). Both Jesus and Joseph were dearly loved by their fathers but hated by their brethren (Gen 37:3-4, Matt 3:17, John 3:35, 15:24-25). Both Jesus and Joseph were rejected as rulers over their brethren and robbed of their robes, conspired against and thrown in a pit of death (Gen 37:8, 18, 23; Matt 21:37-39, 26:3-4, 27:35-37; John 15:24-25. Both were sold for silver and became servants which was condemned even though they were innocent (Gen 39:4, 11-12, Phil 2:7, Isa 53:9, Matt 27:19, 24). Both Jesus and Joseph were raised from humiliation to exaltation by God, and in their exaltation, even the gentiles were blessed (Gen 41:1-45, Acts 15:14. Rom 11:11-12, Eph 5:25-32). Both finally receive recognition as savior and redeemer [Christ in the future] (Gen 45:1-15, Rom 11:1-27) being elevated to a place of honor and safety (Gen 45:16-18; Isa 65:17-25) (Walvoord1969:66-67). 

Joshua – Joshua means “Jehovah saves” and is the equivalent of the Greek name ‘Jesus’. Joshua as a type signifies Christ as being a successor to Moses, Christ succeeds both Moses and the Law (Joh.1:17, Rom.8:2-4, Heb.7:18-19, Gal.3:23-25). Jesus Christ was victorious as Joshua in an area where Moses had failed (Rom.8:3-4) and both Christ and Joshua interceded for their own before God (Josh.7:5-9, Luke 22:32, 1 John 2:1). Joshua distributed and allotted land to his people and Jesus Christ allotted gifts and rewards to His Church (Josh.13, Eph 4:11-13) as the ruler of His Church just as Joshua was the ruler of Israel (Walvoord 1969:67). 

Kinsman-redeemer – Christ is foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament as our Kinsman-redeemer. He had to be a relative related to the person or inheritance to be redeemed (Lev 25:48-49, Ruth 3:12-13, Heb 2:14-15). Jesus fulfilled this by becoming a man having the sins of the world imputed to him where redemption was accomplished by a payment of the price (Lev 25:27; Rom.3:24-26; 1 Pet 1:18-19; Gal 3:13). Walvoord adds that the entire order of redemption is a prophetic picture of Jesus Christ that would come and redeem the world through the sacrifice of Himself (Walvoord 1969:67). 

Melchizedek – Walvoord (1969:68) mentions that Melchizedek (Gen.14) was a King who was blessed by Abraham with a tithe after his conquest with the Kings. So Christ is also a priest forever like Melchizedek (Ps.110:4, Heb 5-7) and he will also be the King of righteousness as Melchizedek’s name foretold bringing forth bread and wine as a sign of the new covenant of his blood.    

Moses – Moses predicts that one will come like unto himself (Deut.18:15-19) where he foreshadows the reality of Christ. Like Moses Christ will be a redeemer and saviours (Exo.3:7-10, Acts 7:25) rejected by their brethren (Exo 2:11-15, John 1:11) during a period where they would be separated and redeem a quality people (Exo 2:16-21, 2 Cor 11:2, Eph 5:25-32). Both Moses and Jesus are received by Israel at their second coming (Exo 4:19-31, Rom.11:24-26) being both priests and advocates (Exo 32:31-35, 1 John 2:1-2) prophets (Num 34:1-2, John 12:29) intercessors (exo.4:19-31, Heb.7:25) and rulers and Kings (Deut 33:4-5; John 1:49). Like Christ, Moses died before the Israelites could enter the Promised Land. Now let us turn our attention to events that would foreshadow the coming of Jesus Christ.

ii. Typical Events

Clothing of Adam and Eve – In Genesis 3 we see the devastating effect of the Sin of Adam, as a result both Adam and Eve realize their nakedness and god clothes them (v/21). God clothes them because of their physical needs but there is also a deeper reality in that God was foreshadowing a promise that he would supply them complete garments of righteousness that would be wrought through the death of His provisional lamb (v/15-16) as seen throughout scripture (Walvoord 1969:69). 

Preservation in the Ark – An extraordinary type is depicted in the judgement of God of humanity in a flood (Gen.6-8). Noah and his family are commanded to build an Ark as a type of refuge to the coming tides that would allow them to escape the coming wrath and destruction of God. Similarly, the arrival of the person of Christ is a sign of judgement on the wicked but secures the place of God’s people in Christ (2 Pet 2:5, 7) (Walvoord 1969:70).   

Deliverance from Egypt – Walvoord (1996:70) recognize that the entire story of Israel being delivered from Egypt being brought to the Promised Land is a type of what Christ achieved for every single believer in his or her salvation. All the elements of deliverance, the plagues, and even the Passover to the crossing of the Red Sea are connected to what Jesus achieved in and through the Cross. Israel is delivered through the same waters that killed the Egyptians; similarly, Christ suffers the death that brings forth our salvation. In the wilderness Israel receives manna from heaven (Exo.16:4) which foreshadows Jesus being the bread of life while the water from the rock speaks of Christ smitten so we can have eternal life (Exo.17:6).   

Entrance into the Promised Land – Israel’s crossing the Jordan with its piled up waters into the Promised Land is a shadow of the death of Christ as a means of victory. The Angel of the Lord, which is Christ in His preincarnate form, went before the Israelites and by His power; they achieve victory in their conquest (Walvoord 1969:70-71). 

iii. Typical Things

Old Testament Sacrifices – The Sacrifices of the Old Testament are clear types of what Christ would suffer as the coming Messiah (Walvoord 1969:71-72). Just to mention a few examples; Rosen (2006:32-33) indicates that the Passover lamb was to be one without blemish and we know that the New Testament text reveals the reality that Jesus was perfect and without blemish (Deut 15:21, Isa 53:7; 2 Cor.5:21, Gal.2:20, 1 Pet.1:19-20). The Passover lamb was marked for death and Christ was marked for death (Isa 53:7, 1 Pet.19-20). It was also ordained that none of the Passover lambs bones was to be broken (Exo 12:3, 5) and we recognize that none of Jesus Christ’s bones were broken (John19:32-33). Israel was instructed to consume the lamb with bitter herbs (Exo12:8) because bitterness speaks of mourning (Zech 12:10) of the firstborns that was slayed in Egypt (Exo 12). The blood of the lamb had to be painted on the doorposts and lintels (v.7) as it resembles the reality of the cross Jesus would die on.     

The Tabernacle – Louis Talbot (1942:11-12) mentions that the tabernacle was a typical presentation revealing a spiritual reality designed by the God of Israel to provide a temporary place of worship for the children of Israel in their wanderings prefiguring the person and work of Jesus Christ. The tabernacle included the service of the high priest and his sons where Jesus Christ is our faithful high priest and his believers are priests. The court and the gate prefigure Christ being the way to the Holy God and the tent of the congregation represents Him dwelling in the midst of His people. The brazen altar foreshadows the cross and the offerings upon the altar Christ as our sacrifice and the laver of brass represent Christ as our cleanser. The golden candlestick shows Christ to be the light and the table of shewbread reveals Him as the bread of life. The golden altar of incense portrays Christ as our advocate with the Father and the Ark of the Covenant and the mercy seat shows Christ as our God at the throne of grace. The Day of Atonement also reveals the cross and Christ returning into His glory. The Shekinah Glory upon the finished tabernacle reveals the favor of God on the temple and foreshadows the presence of God within the temple and Christ.

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Old Testament's Revelation of Christ [Pt.2]

by Rudolph P. Boshoff

§ II. A Review of Christian Scholarship 
on the Person of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament

II.a Introduction

In this section, I will show what prominent Christian Scholars believe about the person of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Old Testament. Norman Geisler (2002:7) emphatically states that Christ is the thematic unity of the whole of Scripture and revelation. Even though this section will focus solely on how  Christian Scholars evaluate the reality of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament, we recognize that Jesus claims unambiguously that He is the central message of the whole sweep of the Old Testament (Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39; Hebrews 10:7; Matthew 5:17). This is the central focus that preoccupies these scholars and they look at language, imagery, categories, and the text to answer these questions surrounding prophecy, typology, and Theophany.    

II.b Defining Major Scholarly Views: 
Jesus as Promised Messiah in Old Testament Prophecy

i.“Jesus as the coming Messiah”- Richard N. Longenecker (2001:7-8) points to the earliest Jewish Christian community was convinced of the fact that Jesus Christ was the long expected Jewish Messiah. It is important to note that this was a political and nationalistic expectation where Jesus would have been the coming redeemer of the nation of Israel that would rival and ultimately overthrow the then current political system of Rome. There was therefore a prevailing eschatological expectation that was embedded in the Jewish expectation in where this Messianic figure would ultimately inaugurate the final age and be the deliverer and King for God’s people as the Anointed One (Dan.9:25-26a). Haasbroek (2004:37-38) mentions that this Messianic King’s foundational task would be to restore what Adam lost and He would ultimately bring back creation and God’s people to their intended glory. The Messiah is therefore an actual individual that would be raised by God to a place of pre-eminence with the task and vocation to accomplish this task (Isa.53:4; Luke 2:11). Haasbroek (2004:39-40) points to that fact that Jesus was recognized by His own disciples to be this Messianic figure and the ultimate fulfillment of Gods promise (Matt.16:16; Mark 8:27-31; Joh. 1:41, 11:27). 

ii. “The Messiah as the preexistent One” - Aquila H.I. Lee stipulates another dimension that is important to our understanding of the Jewish Messiah (2005:100-102). She mentions that that coming Messiah was preexistent. Now this might seem like a foreign idea to contemporary Judaism and the current expectation of the Messiah, but she shows emphatically that there was a common understanding for this to be a reality. Even though some scholars (Dunn 1992:72) hold that there was no conception of a preexistent Messiah prior to the Similitudes of Enoch, Lee notices that the Messianic King was seen as a manifestation and embodiment of a Spirit sent by God. William Horbury (1998:108) urges that the descriptions of this Jewish Messiah were not incompatible with his humanity or position as king and that the portrayals consistently revealed in the Old Testament Scriptures shows the Messiah amongst the ancient Jews as preexistent (Isa.9:5, Mic.5:1). He then (Horbury 1998:169-191) infers from a number of texts from the Septuagint (nl. Pentateuch, Prophets, and the Psalms) that the Messiah was preexistent. He mentions that the Messiah was (a) light: Isaiah 9:1, 5; (b) a divinely sent Spirit: Amos 4:13; Lamentations 4:20; (c) had an angelic character, star: Numbers 24:17, Isaiah 11:1-2; (d) was endowed with the title ‘anotle’: Zacharias 6:12; and was in existence prior to the creation of heavenly bodies: Psalm 72:5, 17; Psalm 110:3).   

iii. “The Messiah as Divine regent” - The Messiah was not only held to be the eschatological fulfilment of the Jews or preexistent in early Jewish thought, but the expectation was also that He would be ultimately divine. James H. Charlesworth (1988:132) shows that Jesus refers to God as ‘Abba’, which is deduced from the Aramaic noun, “The Father” (3 Macc.6:3, 8). Jesus implicitly announce that he is not just referring to God as ‘ābînû’ (m.Yom 8.9), which would have been a generic reference to God as the One ordering all of Creation, but, Jesus alludes to God as the actual base of His own self-identity. Even though rare in ancient Judaism, Jesus Christ hyphenates a transcendent quality of Sonship that implicitly reveals the true nature of Him as the expected Messiah. Charlesworth wants us to notice that it is important to note that Jesus did not proclaim ‘Himself’ but rather calls attention to the dawning of God’s ultimate rule and we should be cautious to infer from the Gospels that it readily seeks to identify Jesus as god explicitly in His own self-understanding (1998:135). This is not a point I agree with that we will look at again in later in this paper where I will show that even though the authors had a primary concern to show how Jesus fulfilled His demanded function, he was still revealed as divine. The gospels seek to describe a functional revelation of Christ as well as an ontological revelation of Jesus Christ.           

iv. “The Messiah as the Only King” - Another aspect that is important is that the Old Testament depicts God to be the Only King and desires universal divine rulership (Psa.145:10-13; cf. 93; 96; 97; Isa.33:22, 52:7). Prolific scholar N.T. Wright (1992:302-307) mentions that there is only One King over all of Creation and that is Yahweh our God (hegēmon depotes). Even though there are kings that are functioning on earth, the kingdom of God, historically and theologically considered, is essential to Israel expectation in their hope that Israel’s god is the only King. 

The idea of Israel’s God becoming King in the unfolding historical expectation and stipulated traditions is seen manifest in the coming of the Messiah (Wright 1992:307-309). God’s kingdom is fully revealed in the coming of the Messiah inaugurating the Kingdom rule (Psa.110, Isa.9:6) and we clearly notice this is the exact reality of the coming of Jesus Christ in the New Testament (Matt.1:23, cf. Isa.7:14). The coming of Jesus Christ is also the eschatological fulfillment of Israel’s messianic hope and expectations but more so, Gods coming to His people (Wright 1992:310). Richard Bauckham (2008:109) affirms Wright’s point in that early Jewish Israel understood the uniqueness of God to be both the only sovereign Ruler of all things but also the only Creator of all things. In early Christology the Messiah is seated on the divine throne itself exercising divine sovereignty over all of the cosmos (2008:21-22) participating in the unique activity of creation (2008:26).   

v. “The Messiah as the coming Lord” - Stemming from the above-mentioned perspective of Yahweh returning to earth Michael F. Bird (2014:52) writes that Jesus without a doubt knew Himself to be divine. He adds that Jesus as Messiah was conscious that in him the God of Israel was finally returning to Zion to renew the covenant and to fulfill the promise Yahweh made to Israel about a new Exodus. The Isaianic declarations emphatically states that Yahweh will return and rule in Zion to judge Israel’s enemies and to dwell amongst His people (Isa.40:3, 52:7-10).  

Bird (2014:55) shows that these motifs are not isolated speculations but also evident in other prophetic books that exemplify the end of Israel’s exile entering a new Exodus where Yahweh will return to Zion to judge Israel’s enemies and dwell with His people (Ezek.34:7-16, 22-24). Jesus fulfills in all these expectations and even believes within Himself that He is finally Yahweh returning to Zion and scriptures like Luke 19 in the New Testament affirms that Jesus as Messiah (Luk19:38, cf. Psa.118:26) is Yahweh returning to Zion (Bird 2014:57). 

We will next look at Old Testament typology and the reality of Christ revealed by it.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Word of God Speak: A Response to Professor Bobby Killmon

Bobby Killmon is the Dean of Biblical Studies at Indiana Bible College, a Oneness Pentecostal institution. Killmon wrote a blog post entitled John 1 Is Not a Separate Person of a Trinity wherein he has sought to debunk the notion that “the Word/Logos in John 1 is not a separate person of a trinity.” I was pleased to find this article, and I assumed that Mr. Killmon, a professor of biblical studies, would provide good interaction with the biblical text. However, upon examination, I noticed that this article affords almost no interaction with the prologue of the fourth gospel and merely rehearses the well-trodden arguments of Oneness Pentecostals and other theological unitarians. 

Killmon begins his article by asking, 
“Should we use 2nd-4th century creeds and philosophical developments are [sic] how they understood the ‘Word’ in Jn. 1?”
He answered, 
“In order to do this we must dismiss the entire OT usage of the term word and all material outside of Scripture used by Jews of the time.” 
Killmon has implied that the manner in which trinitarian Christians arrive at their understanding of the λόγος is by merely parroting the creeds and some ambiguous “philosophical developments.” This notion, however, is negated by a vast body of exegetical literature that has been produced by Christians for nearly two thousand years. The means by which we should understand John’s Word is an examination of what John actually wrote. Only then, after apprehending what the apostle has said, can we then move on to the analogy of Scripture. Ironically, however, Killmon never interacts with the prologue. 

Killmon then went on to appeal to the utilization of the term “Word” as it appears in the OT:
Numbers 22:38 says, “…the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak.” Jer. 23:9 says, “…because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness.” These references are clearly about the utterances of the prophet spoken by divine inspiration. Even though this “word” of the Lord is spoken of as independent of God, no one can seriously claim these show a second person. This is being readily admitted today by many non-Oneness scholars, such as noted Cambridge scholar James Dunn. Regarding passages that seem to show the Word being independent of God, Dunn states, “…that is more an accident of idiom than anything else.” He further argues, “But for the prophet the word he spoke under inspiration was no independent entity divorced from Yahweh.” Even Rudolf Bultmann says, “God’s word is God…” Dunn affirms this too stating, “God’s word is God’s act … the manifestation of his power, the real manifestation of God.”
Killmon should feel acute cognitive dissonance in his appeal to both Bultmann and Dunn. Neither of these men shares virtually any of the theological commitments possessed by Killmon, including any orthodox understanding of biblical inspiration or inerrancy. In any case, I suppose Killmon believes ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ 

One would think that learning what John means when he wrote about the λόγος would require that one examine what he actually wrote. Instead, Killmon appeals to a handful of texts in the OT, which are essentially irrelevant to what John wrote. Killmon has argued that since the term “word” is used in the OT to refer to something impersonal (e.g., a prophetic word), John cannot, therefore, intend to identify the Word as a person distinct from God. This sort of argumentation is surprising from a “Dean of Biblical Studies.” Taking the use of a term as it is found in two texts within the OT and imposing that definition upon another text without actually considering what that author wrote is both illogical and eisegetical by definition. Using Killmon’s method, one could take the term άρτος (“bread”) as it occurs in the Septuagint and insist that Jesus Christ is made up of flour, water, and yeast.1 Such an interpretive method is absurd and commits essentially the same error that Killmon accuses trinitarians of committing.

There are multiple pericopes within the OT which describe a personal Word. For example, Genesis 15:1 states that “the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision.” Abram calls this Word, “O Lord God” in v. 2. If the Word is identified as “Lord God” and appears and speaks with Abram, the Word is necessarily personal. In 1 Samuel 3 we are told that the Word of the Lord was revealed to Samuel and “stood” by him (vv. 7, 10). The chapter concludes in v. 21 with, “And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.” This Word is distinguished from God (v. 21), speaks of God in the third person (v. 13) and is said to have “appeared” and “stood” with Samuel. Clearly, this Word is personal. 

While there are many other OT texts which one could marshal in order to further disprove Killmon’s narrow definition of either dabar or logos, I will now turn to his assertion regarding second temple Jewish literature. Killmon continued, 
Scripture speaks clearly in Psalms and the Prophets of the Word being God Himself acting in creation, in judgment, and in salvation. This is simply OT language used in its right and typical function. Even G. F. Moore says, “It is an error to see in such personifications an approach to personalization. Nowhere either in the Bible or in extra-canonical literature of the Jews is the word of God a personal agent or on the way to come such.” Catch that. This isn’t about PERSONS! Further, NOWHERE in any Jewish literature of the time does saying it’s persons exit. Dunn further admits that, “…a considerable consensus has been achieved by the majority of contemporary scholars would agree that the principal background against which the Logos prologue (Jn. 1) must be set is the OT itself…” The OT, not later doctrinal development. We are against this interpretation. We are anti-trinitarian in this sense.
Not only does the OT describe the Word in personal terms, there is a vast body of second temple literature which does as well. The Aramaic Targums include many passages which identify the Memra (i.e., the “Word”) in many of the same ways the NT identifies the Son of God. Targum Jerusalem translates Genesis 1:26, “And the Word of the Lord created man in his likeness…” In the same way that John identifies the Word as the one through whom are things were made (1:3), Targum Onkelos states, “And the world was made by his Word.” Whereas John associates the Word with light in John 1:4, Targum Neofiti states, “The earth was void and empty and darkness was spread over the face of the abyss, and the Word of the Lord was the light.” The Targums interpret Genesis 15:1 similarly: “Fear not…My Word will be your shield.” 

Some interpreters have argued that the Targumic Memra is merely a linguistic device that was utilized in order to distance God by means of circumlocution.2 The difficulty with this view is that the Targums translate the OT Angel of the Lord, who is both identified as Yahweh and is clearly portrayed as personally distinct from God,3 as the Word. Thus, if one asserts that the Angel of Yahweh is personal, then necessarily, the Targumic Memra must be similarly understood.4

Killmon concluded,
As one man poignantly said, “Right readers must read rightly.” Necessarily then, we must first approach the Bible correctly as the inerrant Word of God. Then, we must read rightly or interpret it correctly by not presupposing our own ideas and reading them into the Scripture. The “Word of the Lord” must be defined by the OT usage, not a post-New Testament invention. The only way one can see a trinity in the reference to the “Word” in John 1 is to presuppose it, ignore the OT usage, interpret it a new way, and disregard the first century usage as well. This is telling “eis-egesis” (reading your meaning into the Bible) not true exegesis (drawing the meaning out of the text’s intention). Which approach is Christian? Which treats Scripture as the inerrant Word of God? The way we use Scripture tells on us. I want to not only say I love and revere His Word, but in my practice demonstrate this is true.
In the final analysis, Killmon commits the very sin that he accuses orthodox Christians of committing, namely, he imports an interpretation upon a text from elsewhere and forces that text to fit his pre-conceived paradigm. His assessment of the use of “word” in the OT and in second temple literature is shallow and inaccurate, betraying even a cursory understanding. Killmon never provided an exegesis of the relevant text and instead appealed to two other texts whose relevance consists only in the fact that the term “word” appeared in them. That isn’t exegesis. Rather, such an approach is, ironically, intensely eisegetical.

1 John 6:48.
2 Martin McNamara, Targum and the Testament Revisited, 2nd Ed., (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 162.
3 Gen. 16:7-13; Zec. 1:12; 3:1-2.
4 For a more in-depth consideration of the Targums and for an exegesis of John’s prologue see Michael R. Burgos ed., Our God is Triune: Essays in Biblical Theology (Torrington, CT: Church Militant Pub., 2018), 106-42.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Old Testament's Revelation of Christ [Pt. I]

by Rudolph P. Boshoff

§ I. Introduction

I.a Background

There has been an increasing trend in Christian Scholarship that the Old Testament Scriptures is not a central revelation of Jesus Christ or His divinity. Marcus Borg (2000) evidently finds Jesus to be a sage but not a divine and Bart D. Ehrman (Bird 2014) speculates what it meant when we spoke of Jesus as being Lord over all.

Some evangelical Scholars have been of the opinion that the very central focus of the Old Testament was essentially Jesus Christ. In this study I will show that Scholars affirm how Jesus was significant to the Old Testament context and then press on to look at two key Scriptures that would affirm that very fact. In conclusion, we will show that the story of God was indeed the story of the revealed Jesus Christ.

I.b Objective and Key Questions

The primary objective in this paper will be to explore the Old Testament references to Jesus Christ. I shall attempt to answer three key questions:
1. What have theologians, both historical and contemporary, taught about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament? 
2. What does Scripture teach about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament? 
3. Based on the evidence of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament, who is he?
I.c Thesis Statement

The Old Testament reveals a picture of Christ that shows him to be the Messiah, Angel of the Lord and ultimately divine.  

I.d Methodology

The introductory part of the paper will (a) state the research problem, (b) highlight three key questions, (c) define vital terms and (d) conclude with a tentative practical supposition of the antecedent clause of the thesis statement.
Step 1: This step will describe current views within Christianity about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament including important features that will develop the basis of my investigation. Each view will utilize the works of significant scholars like Bates (2015), Bauckham (2008), Bird (2014), Borland (1978), Charlesworth (1988), Geisler (2002), Haasbroek (2004), Horbury (1998), Lee (2005), Loader (2001), Longenecker (2001), Rosen (2006), Robinson (2013), Stephen (1998), Talbot (1942), Walvoord (1969), Wright (1992). I will show what each scholar’s perspective stipulates in Old Testament prophecy, typology, and Theophany concerning the preincarnate Christ. 
Step 2: This step will focus on the Biblical teaching concerning Jesus Christ as revealed in the Old Testament with the focus on the Son of Man (Daniel 7:13-14) and Jesus as Immanuel, God with us (Isaiah 7:14). For the book of Daniel, I will use Bauckham (2008), Gowan (2011), Hammer (1976), Horbury (1998), Longenecker (2001) and Macleod (1998). For the Book of Isaiah I will use Bruce (2008), Nägelsbach (1980), and Wiersbe (2002).
Step 3: This step will conceptualise a theology extracted from the key ideas and applicable passages in Scripture by showing how the New Testament authors found what they believed about Christ in the Old Testament Scriptures. I will then also construct a Biblical perspective that will show that Jesus Christ was more than just the coming Messiah of the Old Testament was and that the story of God is the story of Christ.
In conclusion, I will show that Christian scholars have positively affirmed the deity of Christ in the Old Testament Scriptures and that we can show biblically with absolute assurance who the God of the Bible is in the Old Testament because of the revelation of Jesus Christ.

[Continued in Pt. 2]

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Jesus is Not the Father Redux: A Response to Clayton Killion

I linked to an article entitled A Look at Three Passages Oneness Pentecostals Use to DemonstrateJesus is the Father in the “Worldwide Godhead Symposium” debate group. Clayton Killion, a Oneness Pentecostal, took the time to respond at his Lectionary blog. While I appreciate his willingness to write a cordial response, his effort divulges significant logical, exegetical, and theological problems.

The purpose of my article was, as the title states, to address the main texts Oneness Pentecostals appeal to in order to justify their claim that Jesus is the Father in human flesh. While other aspects of Oneness theology and Christology depend on other texts (I address dozens in my book, Against Oneness Pentecostalism: An Exegetical-Theological Critique, 2nd Edition), these three texts are the main passages marshaled specifically to prove Jesus is the Father. Not recognizing this, Killion began his article with a mischaracterization: “According to Burgos, we Oneness Pentecostals appeal to only a handful of texts—no more than six—in order to build our Christology.” This statement is a straw-man as I clearly do not believe (nor have I ever written or said) that Oneness Pentecostals build their entire Christology on a handful of texts. Rather, my contention in the article was that the three texts in question are those predominantly utilized in order to demonstrate that Jesus is the Father. Killion went on to write,
Anyone who has read David Bernard, Nathaniel Wilson, David Norris, Daniel Segraves, Jerry Lynn Hayes, or Jason Weatherly can attest to this fact. I find Burgos’ above statement astounding—given that he has written multiple books in response to our doctrine, engaging all of the aforementioned authors.
The only thing astounding here is the mischaracterization he put forth from the outset. Moreover, unless Killion believes that the statement “Jesus is the Father” is a comprehensive summary of Oneness Christology en toto, there is absolutely no basis for his mischaracterization of my article.

Killion wrote, “Every Biblical passage that you have studied with respect to trinitarianism, we have studied vis-à-vis Oneness dogma. We build our teaching on the whole of scripture—just as you claim to do.” Really? Exactly where is the Oneness Pentecostal systematic theology? You can find a systematics text that reflects what I believe in virtually every Christian bookstore. Precisely where is this comprehensive Oneness Pentecostal theology found? Even those Oneness works which attempt to address more than the doctrine of God don’t even come close to attempting a systematic treatment of biblical doctrine. I assert the reason why there is no Oneness systematics text, is because Oneness Pentecostalism is incapable of theological consistency as it is built upon the misguided use of prooftexts.1

Killion then addressed what he characterized as my “exegesis of Isaiah 9:6.” This is confusing since I didn’t provide an exegesis of this text in the relevant article. Rather, I appealed to pp. 98-101 in my book which does provide an exegesis. What I did provide was a few sentences which explain why I don’t believe the phrase “father of eternity” to mean that Jesus is God the Father. If Killion does desire to interact with my exegesis, it has been in print for three years. He responded to my summary by asserting that I have adopted the “EXACTLY [sic] the same logic that Jehovah’s Witnesses use in order to prove Jesus is not God at all.” Essentially, Killion has argued that in the same way that the Watchtower explains away Immanuel on sematic grounds, I too have explained away the phrase “father of eternity.” He concluded, “If Jesus’ name Abiad/”Everlasting Father” does not literally mean he is the Father, then Jesus’ name Immanuel/”God with us” does not literally mean that he was God.” This statement, however, divulges a logical fallacy that is at the root of Killion’s quant claim. First, the claim that I am engaging in the same hermeneutic as a suborndinationist cult is mildly amusing and totally unfounded.2 His argument erroneously presupposes the univocality of the words "God" and "father." Second, it is a bald assumption to suppose that “father of eternity” necessarily identifies Jesus as God the Father. Without any justification or rationale whatsoever, Killion equates the phrase “father of eternity” with God the Father. Third, I do believe with abject consistency that both “father of eternity” and “Immanuel” are titles of deity. However, my contention is that within the context of a title, the “father of…” construction is a Semitic linguistic convention that is designed to characterize a subject and not identify a subject. Thus, to call the Son of God “father of eternity” is to attribute eternality to him, and not to characterize him as God the Father.

Monday, October 7, 2019

What is the Bible?: The Patristic Doctrine of Scripture [Review]

What is the Bible?: The Patristic Doctrine of Scripture.ed. Matthew Baker & Mark Mourachian.(Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2016), 224 pp.

With the contemporary shift away from modernist/Enlightenment-influenced exegetical and hermeneutical practices,1 contemporary theologians are revisiting the works of their theological forebears. Studies on the exegetical and hermeneutical practices of the church fathers are numerous, but a definitive look at patristic bibliology is lacking. What is the Bible?: The Patristic Doctrine of Scripture aims to supply substantive information in this area by carefully examining the writings of several eastern patristic authors. What is more, however, the book aims to show the effect that these writers have had on recent theologians. Thus, the book is divided into two parts. The first covers “Approaches [to Bibliology] in the Christ East” dealing with the doctrine of Scripture as it appears in the writings of Origen of Alexandria, the so-called “Desert Fathers,” Ephraim the Syrian, John Chrysostom, Saint Maximus the Confessor, and others. The second part covers “Modern Approaches [to Bibliology] Inspired by the Fathers,” detailing the work of George Florovsky, Justin Popovic, and T.F. Torrance, ending with a brief history of modern biblical criticism.

One of the things that is helpful about this book is the several needed corrections it brings to discussions about the interpretive methods of Origen and Chrysostom, men who are typically set in diametrical opposition to one another as regards their understanding of the nature of Scripture and how it is to be read. Origen is typically painted as a wild-eyed allegorist who has no regard for grammatical-historical exegesis, who sees the Scripture as putty to be made into whatever the interpreter desires. However, this is not the case. Origen did engage in fanciful exegesis, if allegorical interpretation of his kind can justly be called exegesis, but this was only part of his interpretive process. For Origen, the Scriptures were tripartite, mirroring the composition of man and, by implication, the Trinity, being comprised of a body (the grammatical-historical meaning of the text), soul (the ethical/moral meaning of the text), and spirit (the anagogical meaning of the text). Just as the body and the soul and the spirit of man are intended to be in harmony with one another, so too the body and soul and spirit of the Scriptures are to be in harmony with one another.

Friday, September 6, 2019

The Son Who Learned Obedience [Review]

While many evangelicals are aware of the internicene debates over whether or not the Second Person of the Trinity is eternally functionally subordinate hereafter EFSS) to the Father, it seems not many have delved more deeply into the matter than what they have read online between the feuding parties. D. Glen Butner’s book on the matter takes the reader beyond the dialectical proof-texting of Scripture and historical theologians so common in the debate, and addresses some more pressing concerns that the doctrine of EFSS raises. The Son Who Learned Obedience: A Theological Case Against the Eternal Subordination of the Son aims to, and in this writer’s opinion does, present an argument against the EFSS doctrine that self-consciously elaborates on some of the more nuanced doctrines presupposed and entailed by it. Rather than miring down his readers in abstruse details, Butner skillfully selects the more prominent facts relevant to his argument, explains them, and draws his conclusion.

The book is scholarly, accessible, and irenic in its tone. Butner is not seeking to anathematize those who hold to EFSS; he wants to respectfully and carefully engage with their best arguments, and he succeeds at it. A needed explanation of the complexity of the issue at hand is given by Butner before he delves into EFSS, its proponents, and his argument against it. He reminds his readers that “systematic theology differs from biblical theology in the tools it deploys to make sense of the Bible.”1 Whether or not the Son of God is eternally functionally subordinate to the Father is a question that all sides of the debate will have to answer by means of “second-order reflection on the Bible.” Butner —
The issue of eternal submission is a question of how best to make sense of the broad testimony of Scripture, a question of which terminology provides conceptual clarity for Scripture's broad testimony, and a question of whether the terminology considered is compatible with faith seeking understanding through reason and tradition. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Genetic Fallacy: Critical Race Theory's Indispensable Tool [Pt.2]

§ III. Valid Genetic Reasoning According to Scripture

Having elaborated on why the genetic fallacy, why it is a fallacy, and why CRT is entirely dependent on it, we now turn to answer the implied claim of CRT proponents that our genetic reasoning is fallacious. Given that Scripture contains no errors, logical or otherwise, we will be appealing to the it to defend genetic reasoning in general, and our own genetic reasoning in particular. For if our method of reasoning is not condoned explicitly or implicitly Scripture, then we must abandon it. It will be demonstrated that our reasoning is not only neither explicitly nor implicitly condemned by Scripture but required by Christians in our analysis of ideas that are purportedly derived from, supportive of, or in harmony with the teaching of Scripture.

Prior to Foucault, Freud, and Nietzsche, the enemies of Christ utilized the genetic fallacy in order to steer people away from the Lord Jesus. For example, in John 7:45-52 we see the fallacy employed by the Jewish leaders. There we read the following –

The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”

Whereas the Law of God does not judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning about what he does, the Jewish leaders rejected the claims of and about Christ for two reasons. Firstly, they asserted that the laity did not “know the law” (i.e. they were not rabinically trained) and, therefore, were not competent to assess whether or not Jesus was the Messiah. Ironically, through their fallacious argumentation the Jewish leaders also imply that their criticisms of Christ are correct because they originated with the so-called “learned” men of Israel. As a further point of dramatic irony, the reader by this point in John’s Gospel knows that Nicodemus, one of the elite teachers of Israel trained to “know the law” was woefully ignorant about Christ’s person and work, the doctrine of regeneration in the Old Testament, and the typology of the Old Testament.1 Secondly, the Jewish leaders asserted that Jesus could not be the Christ because “no prophet arises from Galilee.” What is being communicated is not merley that no prophet arises from Galilee geographically, another point which is demonstrably false,2 but what is also implied is that the Lord’s teaching about himself is not to be trusted because it originated with a man whose place of origin, i.e. Galilee, was low on the social totem pole.3

The Jewish leaders of Christ’s day did not differ much in this regard to Nietzsche, for whom the truth of Christianity was refuted by a genealogical analysis – or so he believed – of the origin of its central moral and metaphysical doctrines. What they fail to demonstrate is that the social standing of the people, and of the Lord Jesus as well, provides an unreliable foundation for the claims made about and by him. Simply being a layperson without formal rabbinical training does not render the theological claims one makes false. Likewise, simply being a person who was born into a family of a lower social stature does not render the theological claims one makes false. However, like their modern successors – Nietzsche, Freud, Foucault, and the gamut of CRT theorists, scholars, apologists, and activists – the Jewish leaders irrationally argued that the truth claims they were being presented with were false due to their origin among certain classes of people in society.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Genetic Fallacy: Critical Race Theory's Indispensable Tool [Pt.1]

by Hiram R. Diaz III

§ I. Whose Fallacy is it Anyway?

Whereas proponents of Critical Race Theory (hereafter, CRT) once claimed that “social justice contras”1 were ignorantly protesting CRT, they are now claiming that our criticisms are fallacious forms of genetic reasoning.2 Given that this latter accusation is a tacit admission that we are not ignorant of CRT, it follows that CRT proponents are the ones who are arguing fallaciously by moving the goalposts. The fallacy of moving the goalposts is committed when a speaker/writer demands that his debate opponent meet some criterion, but changes the criterion to be met when his opponent has met his initial demand. In the case of CRT’s incompatibility with Christianity, consider the following example –
Person A – “If you want me to take your arguments against CRT seriously, then you need to prove to me that you know what you’re talking about.” 
Person B – “CRT is x. It originated with y, was passed down through z, and is now held primarily by people from w.” 
Person A – “That’s all well and good, but how can I take your arguments against CRT seriously when you haven’t sufficiently demonstrated a link between CRT and the possibility of it being anti-Christian?”
This example of moving the goalposts, moreover, is only one level of fallacious counter-reasoning by proponents of CRT, for we have elsewhere shown quite clearly how CRT’s philosophical underpinnings are inseparable from its use as an “analytical tool.”3 What is argued against by the CRT proponent, therefore, is a straw man. Furthermore, the accusation that opponents of CRT have committed the genetic fallacy is ironic, given that CRT’s foundational assumptions are prime examples of the genetic fallacy.

In what follows, we will demonstrate how CRT is built and thrives upon the genetic fallacy. Additionally, it will be demonstrated from Scripture itself that some forms of genetic reasoning are not fallacious, and that our criticism of CRT falls under this category of valid genetic reasoning.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Irenaeus on the Trinity [Review]

Trinitarian apologists are often accused of quote-mining the patristic authors for anything that seems to bear a resemblance to succinct formulations of the doctrine of the Trinity in later, pro-Nicene writers. The fact is, however, that while some Christian apologists engage in that kind of superficial reasoning, not all of us do. Some of us go back to the sources themselves and then diligently search contemporary scholarship to gain a better understanding of how they and their colleagues interpret the fathers, and why they it is they affirm or deny that a given father holds to one of the cardinal doctrines of the faith. Some of us understand that scholarship often times is driven by philosophical commitments that are assumed to be true and, therefore, are functioning as the grounding of all subsequent conclusions surrounding the church fathers and what they could or could not have known and, by implication, what they did or did not teach directly or indirectly in their texts. The doctrine of the Trinity is one of those doctrines whose complexity over time has led unbelieving scholars to conclude that it is not deducible from the Scriptures but was, instead, the hybrid offspring of Neo-Platonism and Aristotelianism as funneled through later church fathers who would write on the subject. But as Jackson Lashier’s book Irenaeus on the Trinity makes evident, this is not the case.

In fact, Lashier’s work helps us see that the closer one’s theology is tied to the Scriptures, the more clear he is in articulating what is essentially a pre-Nicea pro-Nicene form of Trinitarianism, complete with a distinction between the ontological and economic Trinity. By contrasting the philosophical terminology of Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, and Theophilus of Antioch surrounding the ad intra and ad extra personal relations of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit to one another with Irenaeus’ Biblically constrained language of God’s “two hands,” one readily sees that the former is more prone to misinterpretation than the latter. That is to say, the earlier fathers’ language regarding the Son and the Spirit as the 2nd and 3rd divine “entities” lent itself to the ontological subordinationism and hierarchy within the divine essence/Godhead that Irenaeus’ Gnostic opponents had built into a complex hierarchical ontology of aeonic emanations. Thus, Lashier argues that Irenaeus’ departure from the nomenclature of Justin, Athenagoras, and Theophilus (in most cases) is not due to his lack of a doctrine of the ontological and economic Trinity (a claim which some scholars have advanced over the past 100 years or so), but is due to his desire to employ the language of Scripture in order to avoid bearing a superficial resemblance to the subordinationist theology of the Gnostics.

What is more, by avoiding the Platonic notion of orders of being, or ranking of being, Irenaeus is able to show the equality of the divine persons from the Scriptural teaching that creation, redemption, and restoration are all solely the works of God, and yet they are acts attributed to the Father and the Son and the Spirit. The Father and Son and Spirit all create, all redeem, and all restore – they are perfectly equal, differing only in their ad intra and ad extra relations to one another.

Lashier is, of course, careful not to use later terminology developed at Nicea and beyond, lest his readers suppose he is reading back into Irenaeus’ writing orthodox Christian doctrine that wouldn’t come into being until a few hundred years later. Rather than speaking of the ad intra and ad extra relations of the divine persons, Lashier speaks of Irenaeus’ understanding of the relation of the divine “entities” to one another in creating, redeeming, and restoring all things. This is helpful not only in clearing Lashier of any charges that he is reading back into Irenaeus, but also in understanding that the specific terminology could very well be changed without affecting the substance of the doctrine. This means that Irenaeus’ doctrine of the Trinity may be translated without much difficulty into Nicene terminology, which further implies that the closer the fathers remained to the Scriptures, the more clearly they articulated a doctrine of the Trinity that is nearly identical to what we find articulated in the later in church history by pro-Nicene theologians.

Some attention is paid to the hermeneutical practices of each of these early church teachers, with some attention also given to several key texts which have a long history of being interpreted as articulating the doctrine of God’s Triunity, despite being parts of the Old Testament. For instance, the presence of the Voice of God in the garden of Eden is identified as the Logos, as is every instance of God personally speaking to individuals face to face (e.g. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Manoah, Samuel, etc). Similarly, Abraham’s meeting with Yahweh at the tents of Mamre (cf. Gen 18) was interpreted as the Lord meeting with his two “angels,” or “two hands,” an interpretation that is found much later in St. Augustine’s De Trinitate as well.

Unlike the philosophical depictions of the Trinity given by Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, and Theophilus, Irenaeus’ exposition of the Scripture brings the three persons into relief, compromising neither their undivided essence and attributes nor their distinct relations to one another (ad intra) and toward creation (ad extra). Irenaeus on the Trinity is a helpful tool for the scholar, or pastor, or academically inclined Christian who wants to deepen his knowledge of church history and its more well known figures. It also is helpful in providing Christians with an understanding of how the church fathers approached Scriptural interpretation, a process which involved interpreting all of Scripture in light of all of Scripture.

You can find Lashier’s dissertation on the same subject for free here.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Contra Atheism [Pt. 4]

§ VII. Is God Real?

Consequently, atheism is only intelligible iff God is real; but if atheism is intelligible, then God is real, and atheism is necessarily false. This means that given atheism, atheism is logically possible but ontologically impossible. The assertion “God is not real” is proof that he is, in fact, real, and it implies that the atheist knows this to be true. This is so because he utilizes universal truths – e.g. the laws of identity, non-contradiction, excluded middle, deductive inference, etc – which he believes will lead him to objective truth – i.e. knowledge of things as they are apart from his subjective apprehension of them. If the atheist truly does not view the laws above mentioned as anything more than social constructs, then he can offer his opinion about theism, as well as his opinions on any other matter – including, in fact, his opinions concerning what reality is – but he cannot hope to come to know the truth about theism or atheism, or any other matter. Professing himself to be wise, he has become a fool.

§ VIII. Concluding Remarks

In his paper “Atheism,” philosopher Gordon H. Clark, in accord with the view expressed by the present author, wrote the following –
At first it may seem strange that knowledge of what God is more important than knowledge that God is. His essence or nature being more important than his existence may seem unusual. Existentialists insist that existence precedes essence. Nevertheless, competent Christians disagree for two reasons. First, we have seen that pantheists identify god with the universe. What is god? —the universe. The mere fact that they use the name god for the universe and thus assert that god "exists" is of no help to Christianity
The second reason for not being much interested in the existence of God is somewhat similar to the first. The idea existence is an idea without content. Stars exist—but this tells us nothing about the stars; mathematics exists—but this teaches us no mathematics; hallucinations also exist. The point is that a predicate, such as existence, that can be attached to everything indiscriminately tells us nothing about anything. A word, to mean something, must also not mean something. For example, if I say that some cats are black, the sentence has meaning only because some cats are white. If the adjective were attached to every possible subject—so all cats were black, all stars were black, and all politicians were black, as well as all the numbers in arithmetic, and God too—then the word black would have no meaning. It would not distinguish anything from something else. Since everything exists, exists is devoid of information. That is why the Catechism asks, What is God? Not, Does God exist?1
Clark understood that the question of God’s “existence” needed to be clarified in order to be understood and addressed. Once this is done, it is plain to see that atheists are not concerned with the “existence” of God but with his “reality.” This “reality” must be defined as well, but for the atheist there is no way of justifying a concept of such an objective “reality.” Apart from a non-empirical, disembodied, omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, omnipresent mind, the universal truths requisite to cogent reasoning and speculation in the matters of metaphysics, epistemology, and even science do not “exist,” i.e. are not “real.” They are, instead, mere assertions whose truth value is uncritically accepted by the atheist in his complaints against Christianity.

In his attempt to identify God as unreal, the atheist turns to creation and imbues it with divinity. Not only does matter become the source of all power, all order, all modes of being, all knowledge, all history, whose ever evasive essence can only be known by a process of negative abstraction from reflection on physical things (i.e. the via negativa) – it becomes the teleological terminus of all of the atheist’s thinking and acting. Whereas Christianity loudly proclaims Soli Deo Gloria!, the atheist affirms Solam Materiam Gloria! And by so doing confirms that his lack of belief in other gods, including the one true God, does not indicate that he lacks belief in all gods. For the atheist, there is only one ontological entity greater than which none may be conceived; and that entity we all know as Matter.

1 “Atheism,” Trinity Foundation,, Accessed April 25, 2019.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Contra Atheism [Pt. 3]

by Hiram R. Diaz III

§ V. Disambiguating “Existence”

Having demonstrated that the popular definition of atheism as a lack of belief in gods is untenable, we may now return to the question of existence. As we mentioned earlier on, assertions like “x exists” are either tautologous or non-tautologous. If they are tautologous, they are asserting nothing more than the proposition “This logical subject of predication is this logical subject of predication” or “x is x.” If they are non-tautologous, they are signifying some undefined property by the word exists. Assuming that the atheist intends to communicate something non-contradictory when he denies the existence of God, we must seek to understand what he means by the term exists.

As we begin, let us note that if by saying “There is no God” the atheist means “God cannot be empirically verified” or “There is no empirical being to which the term God properly applies” then he is confusing categories. As the London Baptist Confession of 1689, following the teaching of Scripture, states –
The Lord our God is…a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions.
The lack of empirical evidence for a being who is immaterial does not demonstrate that there is no such immaterial being. Some atheists will retort that immateriality is problematic, for it seems to allow us to affirm that there are other immaterial beings in addition to God. This, however, is neither a logical nor ontological problem. It is a problem for the materialist who believes that “existence” is synonymous with an empirically verifiable material instantiation of a given entity. But arguing against the idea that there is a God on such a basis is an exercise in fallacious, circular reasoning.

What does the atheist mean by the proposition “There is no God”? Given that he cannot say that a lack of empirical evidence regarding a non-empirical being is proof that there is no such being, we can only conclude that his proposition means “There is no non-fictional being to which the term God properly applies.” More to the point, the atheist’s belief is that God is not real. Unlike the unclear assertion that “God does not exist,” the proposition “God is not real” asserts that a particular logical subject [viz. God] is merely conceptual [i.e. is not real].” And while this is much clearer, it still suffers from a host of problems which we will now examine.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Contra Atheism [Pt. 2]

by Hiram R. Diaz III

§ III. The Logical Problem

Thus far we have taken for granted that the assertion “God exists” is one that may be meaningfully denied. However, is this the case? What does it mean to affirm that God exists? Logically speaking the word “is” functions as the copula connecting the subject term of a proposition to its attendant predicate term, as the following diagram demonstrates –
The assertion “God exists,” then, expresses either one of the following propositions –
1. A particular logical subject of predication [viz. God] has the property of being a logical subject of predication. 
2. A particular logical subject of predication [viz. God] has the property of x [i.e. an undefined property signified by the word exists].
Whereas proposition 2. may be translated into a non-tautologous proposition (e.g. “God exists” = “God is an extra-conceptual being with all of the attributes classically and biblically ascribed to him”), proposition 1. is a tautology that is true of any given logical subject of predication. More concisely, if the assertion “God exists” is not idiomatic shorthand for a lengthier proposition in which attributes are predicated of God (e.g. “God is a non-fictional/extraconceptual being”), then it is akin to asserting x is x. This being the case, it follows that unless the atheist defines his terminology, explaining what he means when he says “God does not exist,” his assertion is at best ambiguous. And at worst, it is self-contradictory, for the assertion “God does not exist” would then be logically identical to the proposition “This logical subject of predication [viz. God] has the property of not being a logical subject of predication [i.e. “not existing”].” This is not a return to Anselm’s Ontological Argument, but a simple recognition of a logical problem facing the atheist. If “being” cannot be divorced from “being the logical subject of predication,” and it cannot, then one cannot rationally deny the “existence” of any logical subject once it has been verbally, or by some other means of communication, identified as a logical subject.

§ IV. Who or What are Rightly Called Atheists?