Friday, May 24, 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, http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/The%20Trinity%20Review%200032a%20Atheism.pdf, 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.

1. The Problem of Objectivity

The atheist’s belief that God is “not real” (i.e. does not “exist”) presupposes that there is a reality which he and theists can and do know. And given that he assumes he and theists know this reality, he is further assuming that reality is objective, i.e. that its constituent objects and attributes are what they are independently of his or the theist’s subjective apprehension of them. What is real, then, is that which corresponds to the collection of objects and attributes that are what they are independently of our subjective apprehension of them. For the atheist, God does not correspond to the collection of objects an attributes that are what they are independently of our subjective apprehension of them. Therefore, he believes that God is not real.

This reasoning is self-contradictory, for the act of scrutinizing any given entity is necessarily subjective. To put the matter clearly – One can only scrutinize a given entity by means of subjective apprehension. If one can only affirm as objectively real that which is what it is apart from one’s subjective apprehension of it, then one cannot affirm anything as real. This necessarily implies that the atheist cannot even affirm that there is an objective reality, for how could he verify that there is a collection of objects and attributes that are what they are apart from his subjective apprehension of them if he can only subjectively apprehend them?

The common reply to this is that the atheist can affirm certain entities as real by appealing to the testimony of others. However, this merely moves the problem backward by a step. For the atheist would still need to subjectively apprehend the testimony of others. He would not be obtaining knowledge about anything objective, therefore, by subjectively apprehending the testimony of others. And this introduces another problem.

2. The Problem of Other Minds

The problem of objectivity, as we have noted already, is not solved by appealing to the testimony of others. What’s more, appealing to the testimony of others presupposes that others have minds, and this is something that cannot be verified empirically either. One may attempt to sidestep this problem by asserting that the actions of other individuals necessarily signify that those individuals, like oneself, have a mind. But upon what basis? While some of the atheist’s physical activities may signify his correlative mental activities, this says nothing about the physical activities of others. How can the atheist know that the physical activities of others signify correlative mental activities? Upon what basis does the atheist believe that his own physical activities signify to others that he has a mind simultaneously performing correlative mental activities?

Given the problem of objectivity, he has no basis for believing that his actions signify to others at all. He believes that he knows his bodily activities correlate to his mental activities. And we may grant him that, for the sake of argument. But to extend this reality to others steps beyond what he claims to have empirical evidence for, namely the body-as-mind-signifier theory that undergirds his belief that one can observe the actions of another individual and soundly infer therefrom that he has a mind.

3. Other Problems of Induction

As atheism rejects the reality of an all knowing mind who is capable of revealing, and who has revealed, universal truths to men, it follows that universal affirmative and negative propositions are only approximately universal. Consequently, an atheist’s deductions from assumed universal propositions are always only approximately universal. Moreover, these approximations to universality are determined by the atheist himself who, by rejecting divine revelation, must determine the parameters of his inductions. These parameters, however, must also be determined by the atheist, leading to an infinite regress of such determinations, resulting with the atheist’s inability to justifiably assert any universal proposition to be or not be the case. The atheist, therefore, cannot claim to deductively prove any proposition he holds as true. Rather, his deductions are hypotheses given the inductive parameters he has arbitrarily established. The atheist is limited to inductive reasoning, in other words, which is even more of a problem for the following reasons.

a. Inductive Reasoning Implies Knowledge of at Least One Universal – This universal is what we may call the axiom of induction. It is the necessary presupposition that property sharing entities constitute a class. This axiom lies at the foundation of all induction, but it cannot be established by induction without the atheist already employing it. The axiom is a true proposition, and this is a problem for the atheist. For to whom does the truth belong? Whose mind is the source of this proposition? It cannot be the atheist, for the atheist is limited in what he knows, as well as in how he can possibly come to know what he knows, and the axiom of induction is a true universal proposition that cannot be established by means of induction.

b. Induction is Secondary to Deduction from the Axiom of Induction – Given that induction presupposes the axiom of induction, it follows that every induction proceeds upon the basis of a prior necessary deduction from the axiom of induction. The set of particulars from which the atheist desires to draw conclusions is generated by a deduction from the axiom of induction, namely –
All property sharing entities constitute a set.
A, B, C...n+1 are property sharing entities
Therefore, A, B, C...n+1 constitute a set.
The deduction of a set from the axiom of induction, therefore, precedes all induction. This elementary observation has profound implications, for it necessarily implies that the laws of inference precede induction and cannot be justified by an appeal to inductive arguments, for every induction follows from the deduction of sets from the axiom of deduction.

c. Deductive Set Generation Implies the Priority of the Laws of Logic & Deductive Inference – It is not problematic for the atheist merely that an axiom precedes the atheist’s attempt to draw inductive inferences, nor is it problematic for the atheist merely that a necessary deduction precedes his inductive reasoning. What is even more problematic for the atheist here is the fact that set generation depends upon the laws of logic – viz. the law of identity, the law of non-contradiction, and the law of the excluded middle – as well as the rules of inference. The laws identity, non-contradiction, and excluded middle, as well as the rules by which we may know if our deductively drawn conclusions are valid or invalid are propositions that precede the minds of all men. To whom, therefore, do these ideas belong?

§ VI. Does the Atheist Have Justification for his Belief?

Now that we have cleared away the brush from the atheist’s ambiguous language, we may ask –
Does the atheist have justification for asserting that God is not real?
No, he does not. This is so for the reasons we have established above, which we will now summarize very briefly.
1. Atheists do not, and cannot, have access to objective reality if they are confined to empirico-inductive reasoning. Because they cannot, and do not, have access to objective reality, they have no basis for believing that there is a collection of objects and attributes that are what they are apart from his subjective apprehension of them. 
2. Atheists cannot verify that there is an objective reality, moreover, by appealing to the testimony of others. Because he has no access to objective reality, he can only subjectively apprehend the testimony of others. He also cannot justify his belief that these other minds are themselves objectively real, since he is not identical to them. He presupposes that his bodily activity correlates to his mental activity, with the body serving as a signifying mechanism to himself and others, but he cannot say that the same is true of others. Thus, even an appeal to the physical activities of others does not prove that they have minds like his own. He is, in the final analysis, confined to his subjectivity. 
3. Inductive reasoning proceeds upon the basis of (a.) the axiom of induction, (b.) the deductive generation of sets, (c.) the laws of identity, non-contradiction, and excluded middle, and (d.) the laws of deductive inference. The axiom of induction, the deductive generation of sets – i.e. the discursive application of the laws of identity, non-contradiction, excluded middle, and deductive inference – are all immaterial content. Prior to induction, therefore, there are propositions that can be understood by finite minds, but which cannot be generated by finite minds.
In summation, the atheist’s belief that “God is not real” is one that he can only make by first presupposing that there is a mind that possesses and has generated universal truths apart from which man’s thinking cannot even get off of the ground. The atheist is not only unable to assert that God is not real, he is unable to assert that there is such a thing as reality at all.

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?

Before examining the meaning of the assertion “God does not exist,” we must first do away with the popular level definition of atheism as the lack of belief in gods by subjecting it to scrutiny. Below we will look at some, but not all, of the problems that the popular definition of atheism entails.

1. The Problem of Non-conscious Beings

If atheism is the lack of beliefs in gods, then any thing (being) lacking consciousness is, therefore, an atheist. Observe –
a. Non-conscious beings lack every kind of belief. 
b. Belief in gods is a kind of belief. 
c. Therefore, non-conscious beings lack belief in gods.
Applying the law of transitivity, we have the following –
a. If atheists are beings which lack belief in gods, 
b. and non-conscious beings lack belief in gods, 
c. then non-conscious beings are atheists.
This is not what the atheist intends to communicate, but it is what follows from his definition of atheism as the lack of belief in gods. In order to avoid this, the atheist must clarify what he means when defines atheism as the lack of belief in gods.

2. The Problem of Unconscious Beings

The atheist will, perhaps, clarify what he means by stating that atheism is the lack of belief in gods found among personal beings with the capacity for consciousness, but this is only a little bit better. Consider –
1. Atheism is the lack of belief in gods found among consciousness-capable beings. 
2. Consciousness-capable beings are categorizable as either conscious or unconscious. 
3. Therefore, atheism is the lack of belief in gods found among conscious or unconscious consciousness-capable beings.
What is more, assuming for the sake of argument that it is possible for a person to become absolutely unconscious in the cases of sleep, medically induced comas, accidentally induced comas, and so on (an assumption which it seems atheists generally hold), the popular definition of atheism inexorably results in the absurdity of affirming that unconscious theists become atheists by means of their being rendered unconscious. Thus, in the case of sleeping theists it would be valid to argue the following –
1. Those who are unconscious lack all kinds of beliefs. 
2. Sleeping theists are part of those who are unconscious. 
3. Therefore, sleeping theists lack all kinds of beliefs. 
4. If one lacks all kinds of beliefs, then one lacks a belief in gods. 
5. Sleeping theists lack all kinds of beliefs. 
6. Therefore, sleeping theists lack belief in gods. 
7. All consciousness-capable being who lack belief in gods are atheists. 
8. Sleeping theists are consciousness-capable beings who lack belief in gods. 
9. Therefore, sleeping theists are atheists.
This is an absurd conclusion, but one that follows from the definition of atheism as a lack of belief in gods.

3. The Problem of Conscious Beings

What we have examined above is not a straw man of what the atheist believes, but is an examination of the logical conclusions we may derive from the atheist’s definition of atheism. We have done this in order to demonstrate that the definition given by the atheist is deficient because it would apply to a broader category of beings than that category to which the atheist intends to apply it, effectively resulting in identifying all beings as atheists. And even when qualified, the definition fails because it is still too broad, including even theists as atheists.

The atheist may attempt to further qualify his definition by stating that he is only referring to conscious consciousness-capable beings who lack a belief in gods. This is better, but it is still problematic. For the sake of argument, we may grant that there exists a person whose mind is completely devoid of any ideas about God. Now let us say that this individual lives 37 years of his life without ever thinking about God, gods, cultures and individuals besides himself having or lacking belief in gods, or even his own lack of belief in gods. He is conscious of every other fact of the world capable of being known by him, as well as of his own mental life. He lacks consciousness of only one thing, viz. his lack of belief in gods. Suppose that this remains the case until he one day is presented with the Gospel of Christ and reflects on his mental activity and concludes that he lacks, and has always lacked, a belief in gods. Has he always been an atheist? Or has he just become an atheist? If he has always been an atheist, then it follows that those who are in an analogous situation, epistemologically speaking, are likewise atheists. This would include individuals who are cognitively undeveloped (e.g. unborn children), cognitively underdeveloped (e.g. mentally challenged persons), or who have become cognitively impaired by natural or accidental means over time (e.g. individuals with degenerative brain disease, or individuals who have experienced brain trauma).

The problem here should be evident to the attentive reader. In a word, it is this –
If a conscious individual lacks consciousness of his current lack of belief in gods, then he is no different than a person who lacks the cognitive ability to become aware of his lack of belief in gods. Consequently, there is a difference between those whose reasoning has led them to lack a belief in gods, or whose reasoning has confirmed their lack of a belief in gods as true, and those who lack the cognitive ability to rationally evaluate the arguments of theists, reject them as fallacious or unsound, and thereupon come to lack a belief in gods, etc.
To put the matter succinctly: It is simply not the case that atheism is the lack of belief in gods, for there is a clear difference between the conscious consciousness-capable individual who lacks a belief in gods due to some cognitive impairment and the individual who lacks a belief in gods as a consequence of the use of his normally functioning cognitive faculties.

4. The Problem(s) Facing the Atheist

Thus, in attempting to work around having to make a positive assertion about God’s existence the atheist has cast a wide enough net to include nearly anyone and anything that absolutely lacks consciousness for the entirety of its life (e.g. persons) or the entirety of its endurance1 (e.g. physical objects), as well as persons lacks consciousness either temporarily or for the entirety of their lives. He has, moreover, moved from asserting something objective about God or gods (e.g. There are no gods) to asserting something subjective about himself (viz. “I lack a belief in gods”). The former has monumental implications for all of human history and society, while the latter is merely a report about the psychology of one individual who does not desire to state what he does believe. As we have shown above, the atheist is not one who merely lacks a belief in gods, but one who has received, evaluated, and rejected information about gods and has, by rational means, rejected those arguments as fallacious or unsound.

Once this is reckoned with, it must further be acknowledged that disbelief in a given proposition (e.g. God exists) is necessarily dependent upon a prior commitment to an unstated epistemology which axiomatically defines what is or is not proper evidence regarding the truth of a given proposition, and scrutinizes theistic arguments on that basis. Stated more broadly,
P is dubious iff it meets some prior condition of dubiousness. The prior condition of dubiousness, moreover, is either be heuristic or indubitable. If heuristic, then P is heuristically or theoretically, but not actually, dubious. However, if indubitable then P is actually dubious. Given that the skeptic believes P to be actually dubious, then it follows that he likewise believes his prior condition of dubiousness to be indubitable.
What this means is that the atheist’s disbelief is the necessary consequence of his prior commitment to certain unstated positive beliefs. His disbelief is actively reached by means of his use of reason, it is not merely the lack of belief in gods. Rather, the atheist’s lack of belief in gods is the consequence of his rational criticism of theistic arguments, rational criticism which is dependent upon his prior positive and indubitable beliefs. The atheist believes that gods do not exist.

Additionally, the atheist faces the problem that all empirico-inductivists face – the problem of hasty generalization. Given the problem of induction, it follows that the atheist cannot appeal to his examination of his mental states to demonstrate that he lacks belief in gods. The parameters in which he is to perform such an induction remaining undefined and fluid, moreover, he cannot say he is either more or less certain that he is one who lacks belief in gods. This means that the atheist may speculate that he is one who lacks belief in gods, but he does not know this to be true, nor can he know it. Rather, he has assumed as indubitable inductive parameters which may heuristically “prove” that he is one who lacks belief in gods. If he truly does lack belief in gods, this cannot be known to him by means of his own empirico-inductive reasoning.



1 This should be understood in the ontological sense.

Monday, April 15, 2019

In Defence of Christianity: Early Christian Apologists [Review]

by Hiram R. Diaz III


As we have noted elsewhere, the task of apologetics is one that has been given to all Christians.1 Knowing how that task has been taken up by Christians in the past, then, can give Christians from all walks of life insight into how they may better engage in apologetics to God’s glory. In Defence of Christianity: Early Christian Apologists is a small but densely packed review of apologetics as it was practiced by Christians in the 2nd century, beginning with the much overlooked apologist Aristedes. The book then covers the usual subjects of interest in this matter – Justin Martyr, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, Mathetes, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Octavius/Municius Felix – following up with “the other side of the story,” which is comprised of translations of 2nd century pagan authors on Christians and Christianity. The last chapter is an assessment of how Eusebius employs the apologists in his Ecclesiastical History.

The writers of the collected essays helpfully flesh out the historical context, shedding light on aspects of the apologists’ writings that may be confusing to present day Christians. For instance, within the early church writers there is a strong emphasis on the superior morality of Christians, an emphasis so strong that it could lead the uninformed reader to conclude that these men were legalistic and self-righteous, promulgating a religion of works over and against a religion of grace. This, however, is shown to be a misreading, for the apologists were merely engaging in polemical rhetoric against the pagan philosophers and religious cults of their day who boasted of their moral superiority. The superior morality of the Christians, then, is not always referring to direct actions of Christians, but primarily to the consistency demonstrated, largely considered, between their moral precepts and their daily lives.

Along these same lines, the authors of In Defence of Christianity do an excellent job of showing where the early apologists utilized, rejected, and reformed philosophical concepts (primarily the Platonists, but to a lesser extent the Stoics) pertinent to their stated apologetic goals. While some of the language of the Platonists and Stoics was appropriated by the early apologists, moreover, these authors helpfully explain where they differ. For anyone familiar with the theoretical reconstructions of early Christianity by unbelieving scholars like Elaine Pagels and Bart Ehrman, scholars who deny that there was any single Christianity and argue instead that there were many Christianit-ies (among whom they count the Gnostic heretics), the clarifications of the authors of In Defence of Christianity come as a much needed breath of fresh air. While there were differences between the apologists, there was much unity in central doctrinal matters, doctrinal matters that set Christians apart from their pagan critics and enemies.

Practically speaking, this book offers contemporary Christians insight into how apologetics was not merely a method of persuasively debating unbelievers and demonstrating the truth of the Christian religion, but also a genre of writing that had clearly discernible features. Among those features, there were addresses to persons of power, reductio ad absurdum arguments against the pagan gods and philosophers, arguments demonstrating the superiority of Christian morality to that of the pagan religionists and philosophers, and a demonstration of the antiquity of the Christian faith (another apologetic maneuver that may be misunderstood by contemporary readers of the early apologists, in which the apologists argue that the Old Testament was the first work to contain metaphysical and moral philosophy that was later stolen from the Scriptures by the pagans under the influence of demons). This focus of the book at least raises the question of genre for contemporary Christians – Should Christians employ a uniquely Christian apologia genre? What would or would not be the benefits of doing or not doing this? Is there Scriptural justification for doing so?

Perhaps one of the most helpful suggestions these authors give is that the contemporary Christian consider the fact that the world of the early apologists was not yet Christianized. The time period was still predominantly pagan, and this meant that the apologists were played an important role in explaining the Christian faith to outsiders who may have hear that Christians were incestuous, atheistic, cannibalistic, haters of humanity. And in this respect, the early apologists can give us direction as to how we can, in our “post-Christian” society, persuasively defend the faith once for all delivered unto the saints.

Although In Defence of Christianity is intended for a scholarly/academic audience, its content is valuable enough to warrant even the non-academic’s attention. It is highly recommended for all who are seeking to properly understand the early apologists, as well as utilize the best of the argumentation and rhetorical strategies that they offer their readers.


1 See Diaz, Hiram R., “What is Apologetics?” Biblical Trinitarian, http://www.biblicaltrinitarian.com/search?q=What+is+Apologetics.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Contra Atheism [Pt. 1]

by Hiram R. Díaz III

§ I. Introduction:
There Are No Atheists


For centuries, many apologists have presented arguments in defense of the existence of God to men who self-identify as atheists. Yet the Scriptures are clear –
...what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.1
In addition to having had the sin and guilt of Adam imputed to himself, fallen man also incurs the wrath of God because he knows God is the Creator, Law-Giver, and Judge of all men, and yet refuses to honor God as God or give him thanks. Paul’s words here are universal and, therefore, exclude no person who ever has lived, is now living, or will ever live subsequent to the Fall.

There is no question about the matter – God reveals to us that there are no atheists. Instead, there are idolaters who have “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.”2 Rather than trusting the Word of God, the professed atheist trusts in his own word. Rather than obeying God’s moral law, the professed atheist establishes his own rule of conduct. Rather than working within the metaphysical framework revealed by God to man in his Word, the atheist constructs his own metaphysical framework in which he seeks to operate, free from the ontological and providential strictures placed upon him by God.

Psalms 14 and 53 are often cited as proof that the Scriptures recognize some men who are actually atheists, but these psalms do no such thing. Their shared opening line – “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” – is a concise way of expressing the attitude of the unbeliever who thinks that the one true God will not bring his (i.e. the atheist’s) thoughts, words, and deeds into judgment. As Willem A. VanGemeren explains –
The word “fool” is synonymous with “wicked”...It reflects the wisdom tradition where the “fool” aggressively and intentionally flouts independence from God and his commandments... 
[…] 
The denial of God is not an absolute denial of his existence. The pagans around Israel believed in many gods, and the impious in Israel did not rationalistically deny the historic and cultural links between the Lord and Israel. In their impudence fools disregard God’s expectations. God is not important in their lives. They shut off the affairs of this world from divine intervention and deny any personal accountability to God for their actions.3
No man is truly an atheist; rather, all men know God by means of direct revelation to them. What can be known of him has been made known to them by God. However, fallen men pervert the truth about him, ascribe divine attributes to his creation, and show themselves to be idolaters by worshiping the now divinized creation.

§ II. What is an Atheist?

Hence, the atheist is an idolater who replaces the Creator with the creature, imbuing the creation with divine attributes in one way or another. For instance, the materialist believes that matter is everywhere (i.e. omnipresent), the source of all potential and actual power (i.e. omnipotent), and the source of all knowledge and consciousness (i.e. omniscient). Matter is literally the alpha and the omega of all things. It is a se, seeing as it is not dependent on anything for its existence, but instead is the source of all that exists. Even the atheist’s moral code is dictated to him by the creation indirectly (as in the case of deriving one’s sense of right and wrong from observing animal social conduct) or directly (as in the case of issuing commands to others and oneself upon the basis of one’s perceived autonomous authority).

Atheism differs from other forms of idolatry, however, because its “unknown God” is neither a crude mythological deity whose attributes and actions are exaggerated human attributes and actions, nor is its “unknown God” personal and, therefore, an imitation of Yahweh. The “unknown God” of the atheists is an abstraction from both of these theological sources. For, on the one hand, the atheist believes that everything is ultimately physical; while, on the other hand, the atheist believes that the physical alpha and omega is elemental and knowable by means of abstraction. It is not this or that physical object perceptible to the senses that is the atheist’s god, it is the immanent physical ground of all derivative physical beings.

This is not, of course, how atheists would self-identify. Rather, contemporary atheists at the popular level define their position as “a lack of belief in gods.”4 Note that this definition does not speak to the objective state of affairs that obtains (i.e. whether or not God exists), as it is a description of an individual’s psychological state. Whereas “older dictionaries define[d] atheism as ‘a belief that there is no God,’”5 contemporary atheists will often argue that these older definitions are due to “theistic influences,”6 and that “without the (mono)theistic influence, the definition would at least read ‘there are no gods.’”7 However, this is not the case, as philosopher Paul Draper explains –
“Atheism” is typically defined in terms of “theism”. Theism, in turn, is best understood as a proposition—something that is either true or false. It is often defined as “the belief that God exists”, but here “belief” means “something believed”. It refers to the propositional content of belief, not to the attitude or psychological state of believing. This is why it makes sense to say that theism is true or false and to argue for or against theism. If, however, “atheism” is defined in terms of theism and theism is the proposition that God exists and not the psychological condition of believing that there is a God, then it follows that atheism is not the absence of the psychological condition of believing that God exists (more on this below). The “a-” in “atheism” must be understood as negation instead of absence, as “not” instead of “without”. Therefore, in philosophy at least, atheism should be construed as the proposition that God does not exist (or, more broadly, the proposition that there are no gods).
This definition has the added virtue of making atheism a direct answer to one of the most important metaphysical questions in philosophy of religion, namely, “Is there a God?” There are only two possible direct answers to this question: “yes”, which is theism, and “no”, which is atheism.8
From this it follows that it is not incorrect to define atheism as the belief that God does not exist or, what is essentially the same thing, to define an atheist as one who assents to the proposition that God does not exist.



1 Rom 1:19-21.
2 Rom 1:23.
3 The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 267.
4 “What is an Atheist?,” American Atheists, https://www.atheists.org/activism/resources/about-atheism, Accessed March 22, 2019.
5 ibid.
6 ibid.
7 ibid.
8 “Atheism and Agnosticism,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/atheism-agnosticism/, Accessed March 22, 2019.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A Brief Proof of the Holy Spirit's Personhood

by Hiram R. Díaz III

§ I. Introduction

Among those who oppose the Trinity, there are some who argue that the Holy Spirit is not a Divine Person co-equal with the Father and the Son but is, instead, a force identified with the Father’s, as well as the Son’s, activity in the world. Problematically, however, the Scriptures repeatedly attribute activities to the Spirit of God that are personal in nature. Some of the key Scriptural texts that explicitly attribute personal activity to the Holy Spirit have been dealt with elsewhere,1 and, therefore, will not be examined here. Instead, we will be examining a very brief exchange between the Lord Jesus Christ and his opponents in which the Personhood of the Holy Spirit is a logically necessary consequence of Christ’s argumentation.

§ II. An Unclean Spirit vs. The Holy Spirit

In the Synoptic Gospels, it is thrice reported that Christ was accused of casting out demons by the power of the devil. Let us read these reports and then examine their meaning and what their meaning necessarily implies.
Matthew 12:22-32 
Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. 
Mark 3:22-30

Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. 
Luke 11:14-23 
Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the prince of demons,” while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebub. And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

In Matthew and Mark, the Lord Jesus’ work is said to have spurred some of the people to ask “Can this be the Son of David?” Luke does not record the people asking this question, but his report is in agreement with what was occurring in this context, for in it our Lord, God’s anointed King, is destroying the kingdom of Satan. Christ is the Stronger Man who binds the strong man (i.e. devil) and plunders his (i.e. the devil’s) house. Christ does this by the “finger of God” (Luke 11:20), which is to say “the Spirit of God” (Matt 12:28 )/ “the Holy Spirit” (Mark 3:29).

Contextually, therefore, there are two spirits, corresponding to two kingdoms, in diametrical opposition to one another. The devil is identified as “an unclean spirit” (Mark 3:30), “the prince of demons” (Matt 12:24, Mark 3:22, & Luke 11:15), and is implicitly identified by Christ as a personal entity in Luke 11:24-26. 

Speaking of what occurs after demons are exorcised from unbelievers, the Lord Jesus declares –
When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, “I will return to my house from which I came.” And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.
What is clear from these texts is that spirits are not forces but immaterial, self-conscious, morally accountable persons. They differentiate themselves from others (e.g. humans2 and other spirits), and exercise volition as regards various activities (e.g. deciding whether or not to inhabit a lost person's body).

Rather than performing miracles by the unclean spirit Beelzebub, the Lord Jesus Christ reveals that it is by the Spirit of God the he (Christ) “casts out demons” (Matt 12:28 & Luke 11:20). It is blasphemous, therefore, to attribute Jesus’ miracles to the an unclean spirit. Those who attribute the work of God to the devil are guilty of the unforgivable sin. The enemies of Christ are identifying the Holy Spirit as the unclean spirit Beelzebub, i.e. an unclean, immaterial, self-conscious, morally accountable person. The Holy Spirit is not a force, therefore, but an immaterial, self-conscious, and morally accountable person. Christ affirms that the Spirit of God is a person, not a force like electricity.

§ III. Implications of Christ’s Pneumatology

The language used by the Lord Jesus here is significant in a number of ways. Firstly, Christ’s contrasting of the Spirit of God and Beelzebub indicates that his hearers also understood that the Spirit of God was a distinct person, and not a force/power like electricity. Unitarians who assume that the Jewish people did not view the Holy Spirit as a distinct person are hereby shown to be wrong. Secondly, by identifying the Spirit of God as “the finger of God,” Jesus implies that Old Testament passages regarding “the finger of God” should be understood as referring to the Holy Spirit, which is to say a distinct divine person. 

The phrase “finger of God” shows us precisely three times in the Old Testament. We encounter the phrase in the following passages –
Exodus 8:19 – Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.
Exodus 31:18 – And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.
Deuteronomy 9:10 – And the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words that the LORD had spoken with you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly.
The Holy Spirit inscribes the law of God (Exo 31:18 & Deut 9:10) and performs miracles (Exo 8:19), and does so specifically in relation to the deliverance of God’s people from the kingdom of Pharaoh. Christ’s identification of the Holy Spirit as the finger of God is rich with meaning, then, drawing our attention to God’s deliverance of his people from Egypt by the hand of his unique prophet.3 Christ’s working of miracles and his deliverance of prophetic utterances by “the finger of God” should have been noticed by his enemies as the fulfillment of prophecy regarding the prophet like Moses whom Yahweh would raise up.4 They, however, completely failed to see this truth.

Thirdly, while the Lord Jesus ascribes divine power and personhood to the Holy Spirit, he does not identify the Spirit of God as the Father. This is evident from his declaration that
...every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.5
Note the distinctions here between the Father and the Son and the Spirit. While the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit may all be blasphemed against, it is only blasphemy of the Holy Spirit that is unforgivable. Consequently, if blasphemy against the Father is forgivable, then the Father cannot be the Holy Spirit. Likewise, if blasphemy against the Son is forgivable, then the Son cannot be the Holy Spirit. This is not only a refutation of unitarianism proper, but also of the heresy of modalism/oneness theology.

§ IV. Conclusion

Given the context of the Lord Jesus’ interaction with those who claimed he was working miracles by the power of the devil, we see clearly that the Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force. The Holy Spirit is a person, but he is neither the Father nor the Son. Furthermore, we see that the Holy Spirit is neither greater nor lesser than the Father and the Son in honor, dignity, and authority, for blasphemy against him incurs an eternal punishment from which no one can deliver. Lastly, we see that the Spirit of God is God, for the sin of blasphemy may be committed against the Father, the Son, or himself, implying that these Three persons occupy a distinct ontological category excluding all others.


2 Scripture, in fact, refers to men as “spirits” in Heb 12:9 & 12:23, further underscoring the personal nature of spirit, in contradiction to the unitarian belief in spirit as an impersonal force.
3 cf. Num 12:6-8.
4 cf. Deut 18:15-22.
5 Matt 12:31-332.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Did Paul Identify Jesus as the Angel of the Lord?

by Michael R. Burgos Jr.


I have labored elsewhere to demonstrate the robust proto-trinitarianism within the OT, particularly as it relates to the divine angel. Given the trajectory of the work, there remains a significant need for continued research into how the proto-trinitarianism of the OT was integrated by the Holy Spirit into the NT. I have already considered the prologue of the fourth gospel, Jude 1:5, and 1st Cor. 10:1-5 in this regard. In this article, I turned my attention to Galatians 4:14 in order to answer the question, "Did Paul identify Jesus as the Angel of the Lord?" 

4:14 and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. 
4:14 καὶ τὸν πειρασμὸν ὑμῶν ἐν τῇ σαρκί μου οὐκ ἐξουθενήσατε οὐδὲ ἐξεπτύσατε, ἀλλ᾽ ὡς ἄγγελον θεοῦ ἐδέξασθέ με, ὡς χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν.
Translators have supplied the referent for the Galatians' “trial.” Paul’s condition was the “illness of the flesh” mentioned in v. 13, and what is here described their “the trial in my flesh” (ton peirasmon tē sarki mou). The term peirasmos may be translated either “trial,” “test,” or “temptation” as directed by the context.1 Temptations are either internal or external. Internal temptations are brought about when one is “lured and enticed by his own desire.”2 External temptations occur from without, when an agent does the tempting as in Jesus’ temptation in the desert.3 In this case, the Galatians were placed under a burden due to Paul’s illness, and instead of entertaining the temptation to reject him, they treated this situation as a trial and an opportunity to bless the apostle.

“You did not scorn or despise me” (ouk exouthenēsate oude exeptusate). 
When Paul was among the Galatians, they did not “scorn” him. The verb exoutheneō is translated variously: “treat with contempt,”4 “to reject,”5 “to despise,”6 “to have no standing,”7 “to be of no account.”8 It is defined as “to shown one’s by one’s attitude or manner of treatment that an entity has no merit of worth, disdain.”9 The accompanying term translated “despise,” ekptyō is a hapax. The term originally referred to the act of spitting upon someone as a means of expressing contempt, or to ward off demons or sickness.10 Etymologically, the term is a compound word comprised of ek meaning “from” or “out of” and ptyō which refers to the act of spiting. Thus the term is literally, “to spit out.”11 Over time this term came to take a figurative meaning, referring to the act of loathing or disdaining someone so as to spurn them. Some interpreters push the term back to its former meaning so as to identify Paul’s “illness of the flesh” as a form of epilepsy, which is said to have been a product of demon possession.12 However, such an interpretation rests on speculation. The only thing the text implies is that this illness is a fleshly (i.e., bodily) ailment and that it potentially could have turned off the Galatians such that they despised him.

“But received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus” (all’ hōs angelon Theou edezasthe me, hōs Christon Iēsoun). 

Instead of despising Paul because of his illness of the flesh, the Galatians did him “no wrong” (v. 13) and received him. The adversative conjunction alla confirms an intended contrast. Paul is reminding the Galatians of their former hospitality in the hope that they will remember who he is, and how they loved each other. 



What Paul meant by “received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus” is of considerable debate. The first question is whether the anarthrous hōs angelon Theou should be understood definitely (i.e., "as the angel of God") or indefinitely (i.e., “as an angel of God"). Wallace has argued that the essentially synonymous phrase angelos Kuriou be rendered definitely throughout the NT as though it always refers to a particular angel.13 This viewpoint is not derived from a grammatical or lexical basis, but from his assumption that the angel of the LORD in the OT is the same as the angel of the Lord in the NT. Wallace concluded that the Angel of the Lord in the OT and NT is an agent who represents Yahweh and not Yahweh himself.14


There is however, a substantial reason for distinguishing the Angel of the LORD in the OT from lesser angels in the NT. The angel of the LORD is none other than the God the Son. The appellation “angel” does not indicate the particular ontology of a subject either in the OT or NT, but identifies one’s function as a messenger.15 In fact, God himself is identified as an “angel.”16 The angel of the LORD is identified as God/Yahweh himself consistently throughout the entirety of the OT.17 So too, a trinitarian relationship is depicted in the OT between the divine angel and his Father. 

Indeed, the biblical authors make every effort to communicate that we should not understand the angel of the LORD as an created agent. Take for instance the sending of God’s angel in Exodus 23:20-33. There, God warns his covenant people saying, “do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him” (v. 21). Yahweh commands the Israelites to “obey his voice and do all that I say” (v. 22), and calls the angel “the LORD your God,” saying, “You shall serve the LORD your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you” (v. 25). The third person verb translated “he will bless” (ūberak) implies a personal distinction between the angel and Yahweh, while the phrase, “the LORD your God” identifies the angel as fully God. Consider also Zechariah’s courtroom vision in Zec. 3:1-5. There, the angel of the LORD is identified as Yahweh and yet distinct from Yahweh by the writer:

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?

The presence of the unique divine angel throughout the OT cannot be explained by means of a created agent without obliterating any meaningful way of upholding the prohibitions against idolatry.18 

The angel of the LORD is so frequently identified as the key salvific actor in the OT, if the angel is a creature, there would be no legitimate means to distinguish God from his agent. The angel of the LORD was understood by the OT people of God as completely unique and equal with God.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A Look at Three Passages Oneness Pentecostals Use to Demonstrate Jesus is the Father


by Michael R. Burgos Jr., Ph.D.

Oneness Pentecostals have attempted to marshal evidence that “Jesus is the Father” by appealing to only a handful of biblical texts. This attempt itself divulges the weakness of the Oneness assertion since out of the entirety of the NT, Oneness Pentecostals can find less than half a dozen texts which teach the foundational assertion of their Christology. The classic text Oneness adherents point to is Isaiah 9:6. I have written on this text at length elsewhere,1 demonstrating that the phrase “eternal father” (Heb. avi ab) no more identifies the Messiah as God the Father than say, the biblical names Abijam (“father of light”) or Abigail (“father of joy”). Rather, the appellation “father of eternity” is intended to characterize the Son of God as having something Oneness Pentecostals deny, namely, an eternal existence.

The second most utilized of these “Jesus is the Father” texts is John 14:6-18. The difficulty Oneness adherents face with this text is twofold: First, in order to understand this passage to teach that Jesus is the Father, one would have to atomize the text and divorce it from the balance of the NT. Take for instance the parable of the wicked tenants in Luke 20:9-18; Matt. 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12. In this parable Jesus depicts himself as one who is numerically and personally distinct both in terms of his sending and death. Second, in order to derive the notion that “Jesus is the Father” from John 14, one would have to omit those many portions of the chapter which explicitly depict Jesus as being personally distinct from the Father. 

For example, in v. 2 Jesus states that he will go and prepare a place for his disciples at his Father’s house, in v. 12 Jesus states again that he is going to his Father, in v. 13 Jesus states that the Father will be glorified in the Son, and in v. 16 Jesus states that he will ask the Father for another helper, namely, the precious Holy Spirit. How then do orthodox interpreters understand statements like, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (v. 9)? Historically, Christians have understood this text to indicate the fact that Jesus is the perfect and final Revealer of God. This is why John characterizes the Son as God the Word. So too, this is precisely the same reason why the author of Hebrews depicts the Son as God as the perfect revelation of God to man and the exact imprint of the Father’s nature.2 Hence, a consistent interpretation of John 14 indicates that Philip needed no other revelation of the Father since Jesus is the co-equal God who makes the Father known.3

The other main passage utilized by Oneness adherents is 1 John 3:1-5. V. 2 states, “Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” Similarly, v. 5 states, “You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.” Oneness interpreters argue that because the immediate antecedent is God the Father (vv. 1-2), this subsequently implies that the Father (i.e., Jesus) appeared to take away sins. However, the means by which one determines the subject of a pronoun is are the pronoun’s antecedent or postcedent. The pronoun in 3:2 is linked topically and contextually to the pronouns in 2:28-29:
And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.
That the subject of 2:28-29 is Jesus the Son is clear since v. 18 begins a section on antichrists and those who deny Jesus Christ and by implication, deny the Father. The verb phaneroō occurs nine times in this epistle and every single time it refers to the Son.4 Additionally, the statement in v. 25, “And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life” undoubtedly refers to the many places wherein Jesus promised eternal life to those who believed in both himself and the one who sent him.5 Moreover, while the Son of God is the indirect antecedent in chapter 2, and he is the immediate postcedent in v. 8. In v. 8 phaneroō is again applied to the Son. Thus, a more consistent reading recognizes that John did not imply that Jesus is the Father, but that John assumed his readers would know better than to conflate the identity of the Father and Son. 

In conclusion, the few NT passages Oneness Pentecostals call upon to demonstrate that “Jesus is the Father” demonstrate only a flawed hermeneutic. The only exegetical method which affords the Oneness reading of these texts is the one which presupposes Oneness Pentecostalism from the outset.


1 Against Oneness Pentecostalism: An Exegetical-Theological Critique, 2nd Ed., (Winchester: Church Militant Pub., 2016), 98-101.
2 Heb. 1:1-3. 
3 John 5:28; 1:18 resp. 
4 1 John 1:2; 2:19; 2:28; 3:2; 3:5; 3:8; 4:9. 
5 John 3:15; 3:36; 5:24; 12:44; 20:31; cf. John 17:5; 1 John 5:9-13.