November 24, 2020

The Council

Proclaiming the truth to the world.

Here is another installment of my conversation with ContraModalism.

ContraModalism:

“I don’t understand what you think you’ve actually established. Your objection that being God isn’t an ontological statement but merely one about relations is unconvincing.” Well I’ve presented you with the evidence I see for Godhood being dominion, and have been able to easily answer every supposed objection to it you have brought forward. So find it unconvincing if you like, but it seems to me you lack a reason. “You already granted that the phrase is actually about ontology.” I don’t know where you get the idea that I’ve conceded that divinity is ontological; I quite clearly have not. “I think you might even be aware that certain beings may even possess certain properties or attributes.” Obviously being possess attributes and properties… I have readily agreed that we are able to speak about ontological properties and attributes. That does nothing to make divinity ontological.

“You have even agreed that the only God that really matters is the one with certain attributes and prerogatives. You also seem to grant that only one God exists. Second, there is a Greek term for “dominion”. It is κυριότης, ητος, ἡ and not θεός, οῦ.” Yes, I believe monotheism, and I believe that the one God is the Father in particular, not the Trinity. That there’s a Greek word for dominion proves nothing. I’ve never argued that the term for divinity in Greek is the term for dominion, but rather that biblically the concept of divinity is dominion.

“You also don’t distinguish between different Hebrew words for the term God. They all aren’t the same and they don’t denote the same thing. Elohim is different from Yahweh. You are cultically fixated on the English term God that you miss the point. In order to be the God of Israel or the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob he would have to be Yahweh. To be Yahweh is just to have the prerogatives, relationships, and attributes befitting such a being. That is why the NT goes on to identify the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as Yahweh.” The unutterable tetragrammaton is not a word for God or divinity, but a proper name. When I’ve been discussing divinity I’m referring to what is referred to by the Hebrew term elohim and its variants, and the Greek theotes. The name LORD is not a generic term for a god, but the proper name of the Father. Of course He has certain unique attributes, prerogatives and roles (like being the one God), but that doesn’t mean that the Son shares all those just because the Father shares His name with the Son. The Father gave the Son His name, but it is an unwarranted assumption that this means the Son has all the same attributes and prerogatives. Ex 23:20-23 KJV “20 Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. 22 But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. 23 For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.”
John 17:11-12 NASB “Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. 12 While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me;”
Hebrews 1:4 NASB “having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.”
That the Son shares the name of the Father does not do anything to support your view. In fact, the very fact that He received this name from the Father shows that He is another person besides the Father, not the same person.

That the Father is greater than the Son does not refer simply to the Son’s incarnate state as a man. It is nothing special to say that God is greater than a man, even angels are greater than men. The Father is greater than the Son as Son; as the Father is the cause of His being, and His God to Whom He is subject, not just in the incarnation, but always. For the Father is Almighty, ‘Ruler over all’, not only after the Son’s incarnation, but before, and always; so the Son has always been subject to the Father. “I admire your guesses but the reason Samuel is called “Elohim” is that he is a spirit. It has nothing to do with “dominion” over Israel. So, it also has nothing to do with the eschaton. It is about King Saul consulting a witch to speak to the prophet Samuel. ” You’re just gainsaying the point I made without refuting what I said. I gave you two perfectly plausible explanations of that passage that are congruent with how we understand divinity. I’m not really that interested in ANE paganism. We are dealing with scripture. I already gave the possibility that the pagan witch is using the term as the other ANE pagans did to describe a ghost. If so, that doesn’t do anything to militate against our understanding of divinity. Of course a pagan witch thought about it in a pagan, instead of a scriptural way.

“There is the one true God that is the God of Israel. Since you maintain that the Son and Father share no substance or anything that is numerically the same, then you have two Deities over Israel. So, my charge of polytheism applies.”

No, it does not. You believe in one God as the Jews do, by denying the real personal existence of the Son prior to the incarnation. We believe in one God, and one Son of God. The Son is not a second God, for He is not a second Father, and not equal with the Father, so as to destroy the divine monarchy. But the Father alone is the one God, because He alone is supreme over all, and all are subject to Him, including His Son, Who shares in His dominion over the universe.

“You assume that I agree that a person must be a counscious being that can’t share a nature. So, again, just begging the question under the guise of an artificial contradiction that arises from your preset ontological categories.”

No, I’m not assuming anything. If you want to make up another definition for personhood or contest the one I’ve put forward, which is the historic definition of the term, you may do so. The Son is not the Son of God unless He is another numerically distinct individual besides God, whatever words you want to use to describe it.

And now, you should address the evidence I have repeatedly appealed to that shows that Godhood or divinity is relative, not ontological; that it is dominion, not a nature. The scriptures repeatedly use the term “God” in a relative way (eg, “God of”, “God over”). They use the term “god” this way in reference to various kinds of being including men and angels, which shows that the term does not denote a nature, but a relation. Appealing to ANE paganism will not make this point go away.

TheSire:

“I don’t understand what you think you’ve actually established. Your objection that being God isn’t an ontological statement but merely one about relations is unconvincing.”

Well, I’ve presented you with the evidence I see for Godhood being dominion, and have been able to easily answer every supposed objection to it you have brought forward. So find it unconvincing if you like, but it seems to me you lack a reason.

You never demonstrated the definition is the one the Biblical writers are operating with. You merely assumed what Godhood denotes and then read it into every instance of the term God. That isn’t an exegetical argument. So, I dismissed it. I went on to provide a counterargument demonstrating that God in many occasions isn’t reducible to meaning “possessing Dominion” and I gave a context for which the term God has been understood throughout the pagan context to the Old and New Testaments. What you are doing is not any different than the way sodomite apologist change the meaning of Arsenokoitai in order to defend their ideas. It simply is arbitrary.

“You already granted that the phrase is actually about ontology.”

I don’t know where you get the idea that I’ve conceded that divinity is ontological; I quite clearly have not.

You have conceded this in different ways. You have understood that dominion requires certain and specific properties. Without possessing these properties dominion would be impossible. Especially, to have dominion over the entire universe and creating it requires certain properties. You granted that and so this discussion about the term Godhood is unnecessary. But I am ambitious and have argued that we have Biblical evidence that Godhood is related to ontology. I argued that Yahweh’s Godhood is about a specific being with a specific identity. That identity is eternal, all knowing, all powerful, personal, a se, and many other things. He has relations distinct to him. You also had no sufficient response to my pointing out the historical background that undermines your position.

“You have even agreed that the only God that really matters is the one with certain attributes and prerogatives. You also seem to grant that only one God exists. Second, there is a Greek term for “dominion”. It is κυριότης, ητος, ἡ and not θεός, οῦ.”

Yes, I believe monotheism, and I believe that the one God is the Father in particular, not the Trinity. That there’s a Greek word for dominion proves nothing. I’ve never argued that the term for divinity in Greek is the term for dominion, but rather that biblically the concept of divinity is dominion.

Why are the terms for dominion never used interchangeably with Dominion? Shouldn’t we see some evidence that the phrases share the same meaning?

“You also don’t distinguish between different Hebrew words for the term God. They all aren’t the same and they don’t denote the same thing. Elohim is different from Yahweh. You are cultically fixated on the English term God that you miss the point. In order to be the God of Israel or the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob he would have to be Yahweh. To be Yahweh is just to have the prerogatives, relationships, and attributes befitting such a being. That is why the NT goes on to identify the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as Yahweh.”

“The unutterable tetragrammaton is not a word for God or divinity, but a proper name. When I’ve been discussing divinity I’m referring to what is referred to by the Hebrew term elohim and its variants, and the Greek theotes. The name LORD is not a generic term for a god, but the proper name of the Father. Of course He has certain unique attributes, prerogatives and roles (like being the one God), but that doesn’t mean that the Son shares all those just because the Father shares His name with the Son. The Father gave the Son His name, but it is an unwarranted assumption that this means the Son has all the same attributes and prerogatives. ”

I never stated that the Tetragrammaton is reducible to Elohim. The fact still remains that Yahweh is an Elohim and to be Yahweh requires you to possess all the attributes and prerogatives of Yahweh. I don’t think each person share every attribute with one another. I think they share a common nature that is the Divine attributes. The Son must possess the properties that make him Yahweh or he wouldn’t be Yahweh. It also is just a proper noun which is under the common noun Elohim. So, presumably, Yahweh is a specific being possessing dominion.

The prooftext you use never establish any point of your theology. Exodus 23:20-23 has God appearing as an Angel. You seem to think the Angel is the Son and I would agree with that. This is long before the Son is incarnate and his later exaltation. So, this verifies my thoughts about the Son being Yahweh. Hebrews 1:4 is debatable whether the name received is Yahweh or Son. I think the more likely name is the Son. Was he not a Son before his exaltation? John 17 could be referring to it either instrumentally as God’s name is synonymous with his power or it is referring to the revealed character of the Father by the Son. Also, isn’t it your case that the Son receives his name at the exaltation?

Ex 23:20-23 KJV “20 Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. 22 But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. 23 For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.”

John 17:11-12 NASB “Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. 12 While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me;”
Hebrews 1:4 NASB “having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.”

That the Son shares the name of the Father does not do anything to support your view. In fact, the very fact that He received this name from the Father shows that He is another person besides the Father, not the same person.

“That the Father is greater than the Son does not refer simply to the Son’s incarnate state as a man. It is nothing special to say that God is greater than a man, even angels are greater than men. The Father is greater than the Son as Son; as the Father is the cause of His being, and His God to Whom He is subject, not just in the incarnation, but always. For the Father is Almighty, ‘Ruler over all’, not only after the Son’s incarnation, but before, and always; so the Son has always been subject to the Father.”

Well, that isn’t an exegetical argument, but a theological. But here I’ll clarify once more that the text does have a meaning. It means the Father in glory is greater than the Son incarnate. You have preconceived notions what the text must mean and then you interpret it in the light of your invented theology.

“I admire your guesses but the reason Samuel is called “Elohim” is that he is a spirit. It has nothing to do with “dominion” over Israel. So, it also has nothing to do with the eschaton. It is about King Saul consulting a witch to speak to the prophet Samuel. ”

“You’re just gainsaying the point I made without refuting what I said. I gave you two perfectly plausible explanations of that passage that are congruent with how we understand divinity. I’m not really that interested in ANE paganism. We are dealing with scripture. I already gave the possibility that the pagan witch is using the term as the other ANE pagans did to describe a ghost. If so, that doesn’t do anything to militate against our understanding of divinity. Of course a pagan witch thought about it in a pagan, instead of a scriptural way.”

Well, it is relevant how you tried to read Elohim in some eschatological sense when that isn’t in the passage. I’m pointing out that all you do is read into passages things that aren’t there. It goes to show that Elohim means spiritual beings. Samuel has no dominion in the sense of ownership and that is hardly what the witch is thinking when she sees him. “Oh look a being possessing dominion!”. That’s just an ad hoc interpretation to save your nonsesnse. Your other idea is she is thinking she sees a Deity in the pagan sense(which I’ve mentioned already contradicts your thesis) but let’s suppose it didn’t for a moment.  The interpretation is still silly when King Saul goes on and ask what do you see and she tells him it is an Elohim. Is Saul interested in a pagan god or a human spirit? He wouldn’t have inquired of another god if he was going to request Samuel to help him get in good standings with the God of Israel? The natural reading is she tells him she sees a spirit and he wants to know if the spirit is Samuel.

“There is the one true God that is the God of Israel. Since you maintain that the Son and Father share no substance or anything that is numerically the same, then you have two Deities over Israel. So, my charge of polytheism applies.”

“No, it does not. You believe in one God as the Jews do, by denying the real personal existence of the Son prior to the incarnation. We believe in one God, and one Son of God. The Son is not a second God, for He is not a second Father, and not equal with the Father, so as to destroy the divine monarchy. But the Father alone is the one God, because He alone is supreme over all, and all are subject to Him, including His Son, Who shares in His dominion over the universe.”

I don’t deny the Son is an eternal person. You believe in two gods. The Gods of Israel. One may be greater than the other, but you have a pantheon where they are two separate beings that require our worship. Thus you have violated Jewish thought about there being only one God. The issue is in Jewish thought is that the one God is Yahweh. The Father and Son share that title. It is blasphemous for the Son to have the name of the Father if he isn’t as much God as the Father is God because the name simply denotes the supreme being that is God over all things.

“You assume that I agree that a person must be a conscious being that can’t share a nature. So, again, just begging the question under the guise of an artificial contradiction that arises from your preset ontological categories.”

“No, I’m not assuming anything. If you want to make up another definition for personhood or contest the one I’ve put forward, which is the historic definition of the term, you may do so. The Son is not the Son of God unless He is another numerically distinct individual besides God, whatever words you want to use to describe it. And now, you should address the evidence I have repeatedly appealed to that shows that Godhood or divinity is relative, not ontological; that it is dominion, not a nature. The scriptures repeatedly use the term “God” in a relative way (eg, “God of”, “God over”). They use the term “god” this way in reference to various kinds of being including men and angels, which shows that the term does not denote a nature, but a relation. Appealing to ANE paganism will not make this point go away.”

The irony of these last statements of yours is that your entire case rests on the fact you made up a definition for Divinity and Godhood. I think that Trinitarians shouldn’t start with the idea that each center of consciousness is of different beings. You are merely starting with the fact that that is the way it is with human persons. So, the contradiction is an artificial one out of your preset definitions instead of any ontological condition. The so-called evidence that I haven’t addressed is because it isn’t evidence for your position. The fact that God stands in relation to things doesn’t entail or imply that deity and Godhood are reducible to relations. It is like thinking that if you read an alien medical book(English translation) and noticed for everytime that it spoke of humans it was in relation to something else. The Aliens write ” The humans of earth are unique.” You would conclude that since it is said in that way that human carries no ontological baggage. It just means dominion of those on earth. But that is obviously false. Humans are physical beings with specific attributes. It would be silly to conclude that it isn’t ontological. It would be dumb to think that if you were captured by these aliens that they said “ContraModalism is Human” just implies you have dominion of the earth. So, all you use as this irrefutable evidence is just a non-sequitur. Second, it has the issue of underdetermination. Those phrases equally make sense if it is being said about a relation between two ontological things.