I resume my refutation to Heinz: The Bible on the Only True God Pt. 2.
As D.S. Russell writes:
“There is ample evidence to show that [the OT] conception of monotheism was held in conjunction with a belief in a spiritual world peopled with supernatural and superhuman beings who, in some ways, shared the nature, though not the being, of God” (The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic_ P. 235).
Heinz again commits the fallacy of appealing to authority as if the appeal to D.S. Russell establishes his point. As noted earlier, scholars are divided over this issue and therefore appealing to them proves nothing. Second, Heinz must define for us what it means to say that angels share the nature of God and are supernatural beings. By nature, does Russell or Heinz mean that angels share in God’s quality of life? If so, then we wholeheartedly agree since even believers share this divine life:
“Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil.” 2 Peter 1:4 NIV
Glenn Miller comments on the meaning of this passage:
2 Peter 1.4: Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
This passage is a bit different than the others, largely due to some specialized vocabulary. It uses a ‘softer’ word for ‘divine’ (i.e theios–divine) instead of the ‘stronger’ word (i.e. theiotes–deity, as in Col 2.9 above). It uses a special word for ‘virtue’ (i.e. aretas) and links ‘sharers’ and ‘divine nature’ in a formulaic way.
The ‘softer’ word for ‘divine’ throws us into a similar situation that we had above in the Eph 3.17 passage, of course, but the technical vocab also tips us off that we do not become GOD ourselves(!).
These phrases were stock-in-trade in Hellenistic Judaism (as well as non-Jewish Hellenism) and might have been the very terms used by the false teachers in chapters 2 & 3.
The main import of the technical phrase ‘sharers of divine nature’ was that of IMMORTALITY and INCORRUPTION (physical). So Davids (HSNT:181-182):
What “partaking of the divine nature” does mean for Greek and Jewish authors is to take part in the immortality and incorruption of God (or “the gods” in pagan Greek literature). One who has so participated will, like God, live in the immortal sphere and like him not be tainted with any corruption.
In keeping with the ‘softer’ word used here (“divine”==”god-like”), Bauckham delineates the limits of this terminology (WBC: in. loc.):
In what sense do Christians become “divine”? In view of the background sketched above, it is not very likely that participation in God’s own essence is intended. Not participation in God, but in the nature of heavenly, immortal beings, is meant. Such beings, in the concepts of Hellenistic Judaism, are like God, in that, by his grace, they reflect his glorious, immortal being, but they are “divine” only in the loose sense, inherited from Hellenistic religion, of being god-like and belonging to the eternal world of “the gods.” To share in the divine nature is to become immortal and incorruptible.
This ‘loose’ sense of OUR being “god-like” in immortality is a UNIVERSE AWAY from Jesus having all the fullness of the Godhead in His body! (Again, we participate in this immortality THROUGH the efforts of this God-in-flesh Jesus Christ). (http://www.webcom.com/ctt/trin03g.html- bold emphasis ours)
Hence, to share in God’s nature means to share in God’s immortality and incorruption. It does not mean that angels or men are lesser gods deriving their divinity from the true God. So we once again see that Heinz’s sources do not prove his position.
It is my position that Jesus, like the angels and Moses and King Solomon at Ps 45:6 is a “figurative God.” The Catholic NAB footnote on Ps. 45:7 says that “the Hebrew king was
called ELOHIM, “God,” not in the polytheistic sense common among pagans, but as meaning “godlike,” or taking the place of God.”
Heinz commits the fallacy of equivocation since Jesus is not God in the same sense that angels, Moses and Solomon are. Jesus is the exact imprint of God’s nature, the eternal Word of God, the unique Son of God, the Agent of creation, the Sustainer of the universe, the Sovereign Lord of all, the Judge of all, King of kings and Lord of lords, and the Savior of the world. (Cf. Matthew 25:31-46; John 1:1-3, 10, 14; 3:16-18; 4:42; 5:22-23, 25, 27-29; 6:51; 12:47; Acts 10:36, 42; 17:30-31; Romans 10:9-13; 14:9; 1 Corinthians 4:4-5, cf. 1:7-8, 16:22; Philippians 2:9-11; Colossians 1:16-18; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; 1 Timothy 1:15; Hebrews 1:2-3, 10-12; 9:27-28; Revelation 17:14, 19:16; 22:12-13, 16, 20)
Second, Heinz again reads his own understanding into my use of the term “figurative.” It is obvious to anyone who has read my article that by figurative I mean that angels, Moses, judges etc. are not gods in any sense. Rather, as the Catholic NAB footnote to Psalm 45:7 implies, they are referred to as gods because they stand in the place of God and speak with his authority. Yet, this is not what Heinz believes. So either Heinz is trying to be evasive here, or simply does not understand my point.
Sam: Stafford is simply wrong when he asserts that “The angels are not true gods, nor are they false gods; rather, they are ‘copies’ (derivative images) of the true God, and receive their authority and power from Him in order to carry out His word…” (Stafford, J.W.D., p. 200) They are neither true nor false, nor derivative copies but messengers created to do the will of God; no more, no less.
Reply: But is not Jesus also a messenger of God?
“He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” Jn 5:23 KJV
“I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” Jn 5:30 KJV
“the Father hath sent me.” Jn 5:36
“And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me” Jn 6:39 KJV
“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” Jn 3:17 KJV
“For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God” Jn 3:34 KJV
etc etc etc.
But yet we read that angels we also sent from God (Num 20:16; 1Chron 21:15; 2Chron 32:21 etc), amongst others.
The difference between Jesus and the angels is that whereas angels are created Jesus is not. Angels by their very nature are creatures created for the sole purpose of serving God and man. (Cf. Hebrews 1:7, 14)
Yet Jesus is the eternal Son of God who was sent to represent his Father to mankind. (Cf. Hebrews 1:1-2; 7:3)
It is also interesting to note that in most of the cases where ELOHIM was used of angels in the OT, the LXX translates it as AGGELOI, the sole exception being Psalm 86:8 [LXX 85:8]. While the Hebrew language may have “inherited” the term ELOHIM from its Semitic forbears in reference both to the true God and to spiritual beings created by God, it seems that by 280 bc, the translators were reluctant to use THEOI in reference to angels. Angels are NEVER termed THEOI in the NT, and only once is the term applied to men, and that is a quote by Jesus of the OT (“ye are gods). As a JW, Heinz will have to say that the human judges FUNCTIONED as God, just as does Jesus (in his view), but then he’ll also have to concede that angels being called ELOHIM may also have the same FUNCTIONAL application.
Furthermore, can Heinz show where anyone of these “so called” gods are ever described as creating, giving eternal life, being one with the Father, or sharing the same nature of the Father? Since we know Heinz cannot, we therefore see him once again committing the fallacy of false analogy as well as the fallacy of equivocation.
Everyone knows what John 1:1 says regarding Jesus, but few take into account the words PROS TON QEON (with/toward the God). Interestingly, according to my software, the only other time John uses the term PROS TON THEON is at John 13:3, “Jesus knew that the Father had given everything into His hands, that He had come from God (PROS TON THEON), and that He was going back to God.” HCSB
The Catholic Kleist&Lilly NT translates this as “messenger from God.” This same NT translates “sent from” as “ambassador” in regards to Jesus. I think this is very important.
Heinz again equivocates by assuming that PROS TON THEON has the same meaning in both passages. The context of John 1:1 rules out the meaning that the Logos was simply an “ambassador.” Of course the Son is a “messenger” – we don’t need a questionable scriptural link to a passage in a completely disparate context to tell us that. We need only look at Jn 1:18, in which the Son “exegetes” the Father for us. But surely, Heinz, the Son is portrayed as much more than a mere “messenger.” He is the complete, final, and perfect revelation of the Father to mankind. (Cf. Hebrews 1:1 ff)
Even though we’re not told specifically that Christ is the ‘perfect’ revelation of the Father, yet to argue otherwise is to argue that the Father revealed Himself imperfectly. Now, who more perfectly reveals the Father – a creature or God Himself?
“The main point of the Jewish law of agency is expressed in the dictum, “A person’s agent is regarded as the person himself.” Therefore any act committed by a duly appointed agent is regarded as having been committed by the principle.” The Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion, R.J.Z. Werblowski and Geoffrey Wigoder
Jesus, as PROS TON THEON, “coming from God/God’s messenger” acts as God agent/ambassador, and therefore he is God to those he is bringing God’s message to.
Heinz throws out red herrings since the subject is not the Jewish concept of agency. As I stated, I have never denied that Jesus is the Father’s messenger sent to do the Father’s will. What I have denied is that Jesus is a creature.
Furthermore, not only is Jesus the agent/ambassador of the Father but is also God in nature, something that is not true of any other agent. That is why he alone is able to perfectly represent and act in his Father’s place, since he is one with the Father in essence and nature.
Finally, Jesus is not simply God to man solely because he brings the Father’s message to mankind. Rather he is the God of all flesh by virtue of the fact that he is the Creator, Savior and Sustainer of all. (Cf. Matthew 1:21; John 1:3, 10; 6:51; 12:47; Colossians 1:16-17; 2:9-10; 3:3-4; 1 Timothy 1:15; Hebrews 1:2-3; 2:10; 7:25; 9:15, 28; 10:14; 1 John 4:14)
That is why Thomas could call Jesus “My God.” These Jewish believers saw no problem in considering Christ as both God’s “agent” as well as their God – much like Trinitarians such as myself have no problems doing likewise. (Cf. John 5:18-29; 10:27-30, 20:28-31)
But what of Sam’s objection coupled with his quote of Psalm 86?:
“”Among the gods there is none like you, O Jehovah; no deeds can compare with yours… For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you ALONE are GOD.” Psalm 86:8, 10
These passages make it difficult for anyone to believe that although Jehovah is the true God, there are gods of a lesser kind since Scripture clearly states that no gods have ever been formed at all.”
Reply: Next to Jehovah, there really are no other gods, for as Sam himself allows, the others are simply “figurative gods.” These figurative or “functional gods” magnify the almighty God Jehovah. No one else in the Bible is called almighty, and Jehovah is the God of gods, “Oh give thanks unto the God of gods; For his lovingkindness endureth for ever.” Ps 136: 2
I will repeat Heinz’s statement so that the readers can see just how incoherent Heinz’s position actually is:
Next to Jehovah, THERE ARE REALLY NO OTHER GODS, for as Sam himself allows, the others are simply “figurative gods.” These figurative or “functional gods” magnify the almighty God Jehovah…
So if these angels are not really gods but simply function as gods in a figurative sense, JUST AS MY POSITION HOLDS, then Heinz has now conceded my point. He has now admitted that angels are not truly gods. By so doing Heinz ends up refuting the position held by the WatchTower and his buddy Greg Stafford.
Let us not forget Sam’s other position:
The biblical data also teaches that there are more than one person who are addressed as the one true God, namely the Father and the Holy Spirit. (Cf. Jn. 17:3; Acts 5:3, 4) Yet, they are not three Gods but only one true God. (Cf. Deut. 6:4; Gal. 3:20)
Is the holy spirit really called God at Acts 5:3, 4 though? Let us see what it says:
“But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thy heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land? While it remained, did it not remain thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thy power? How is it that thou hast conceived this thing in thy heart? thou has not lied unto men, but unto God.” ASV
Do you notice that the last part is directed towards Peter when it says, “thou has not lied unto men?” See, they lied to Peter, who was “filled with holy spirit.” Acts 4:8
And when they lied to Peter, they lied to God. Later on, in the same chapter, we have a similar situation in vss 38 and 39 where these words were directed towards Peter and the disciples, “Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will be overthrown: but if it is of God, ye will not be able to overthrow them; lest haply ye be found even to be fighting against God.” Peter and his men were not God, but representative stand in place of God, and when something is done against them, it is done against God. “Whoever touches you touches the pupil of his own eye.” Zech 2:8 New Jewish Publication Society/ Tanakh That is why the Scofield Study Bible cross-references Acts 5:4 to Scriptures like Numbers 16:11, 1Samuel 8:7 and 1 Thess 4:8 which says, ” Therefore he that rejecteth, rejecteth not man, but God, who giveth his Holy Spirit unto you.” ASV
Heinz thinks that by appealing to passages where attacking God’s people is said to be an attack on God is somehow equivalent to what is said about the Holy Spirit in Acts 5:3-4. Heinz thinks that his approach refutes the Deity and person of the Holy Spirit.
If Acts 5:3-4 were the only explicit witness to the Deity of the Holy Spirit then Heinz would have a point. Yet the Holy Bible clearly teaches that the Holy Spirit is Lord/Jehovah, Creator, shares the same divine name of God, is eternal, omnipotent omnipresent, omniscient, speaks and has emotions. (Cf. Genesis 1:2; 2 Samuel 23:2-3; Job 33:4; Psalm 104:30; 106:32-33; 139:7-12; Isaiah 63:10-14; Ezekiel 11:1-5; Nehemiah 9:20, 30; Micah 2:7; Zechariah 4:6; Matthew 28:19; Mark 3:28-30; John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15; Acts 10:19; 11:12; 13:2; 15:28; 16:6-7; 21:11; 28:25-27, cf. Isaiah 6:9-10; Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 2:9-11; 12:4-6, 11, 13; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; 13:14; Ephesians 4:30; Hebrews 9:14; 10:15-17, cf. Jeremiah 31:34; Revelation 22:17)
By highlighting Peter’s filling with the Holy Spirit Heinz seemingly is suggesting that the Spirit must be impersonal. As JWs often claim a person does not fill individuals, only a force does. If this is true then both God and Christ cannot be persons either since they are said to fill things. (Cf. Ephesians 1:22; 3:19; 4:7-10)
In fact, the Holy Bible says that believers are clothed with Christ and that Paul was poured out as a drink offering. (Cf. Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:27; Philippians 2:17; 2 Timothy 4:6) Using JW logic this would conclusively prove that neither Jesus nor Paul were actual persons.
Furthermore, Heinz overlooked his very own point that clearly establishes the personality of the Holy Spirit. That Peter could say that Ananias didn’t lie to men but to the Holy Spirit affirms that the Spirit is a Person since one cannot lie to an impersonal force!
Seeing that Heinz likes to appeal to the views of early Judaism to establish his position here is Messianic Jewish Scholar Dr. Michael L. Brown’s comments regarding the early Jewish view of the Holy Spirit:
“Interestingly, there are several references in the Rabbinic literature to the Holy Spirit speaking, announcing, crying out, rebuking, and even serving as the counsel for the defense. For example:
· The Talmud (m. Sotah 9:6; b. Sotah 46a) states that when the elders performed the rite of the red heifer (Deut. 21:1-9), ‘They did not have to say, “And the blood shall be forgiven them” [Deut. 21:8], instead the Holy Spirit announces to them, “Whenever you do this, the blood shall be forgiven you.”’
· Commenting on Exodus 1:12, ‘But the more they [i.e., the Israelites] were oppressed [by the Egyptians], the more they multiplied and spread,’ the Talmud states (b. Pesahim 117a) that the Holy Spirit announced to them, ‘So will he [Israel] increase and spread out!’ This is explained by Rashi and other major Jewish commentators to mean that the Holy Spirit said to the Egyptians, ‘Just as you seek to oppress them more, the more so will they increase and spread out!’
· In Pirke D’Rabbi Eliezer 31, as Ishmael (Abraham’s son) and Eliezar (his steward) argue about who will be Abraham’s heir-seeing that they are going together with Abraham to sacrifice Isaac to the Lord (Genesis 22)-the Holy Spirit answers them and says, ‘Neither this one nor this one will inherit.’
· In a late midrash cited in Yalkut Reubeni (9d) to Genesis 1:26, after Ben Sira shared the secret, mystical teachings with his son Uzziah and his grandson Joseph, the Holy Spirit called out, ‘Who is it that revealed My secrets to mankind?’ Ben Sira replied, ‘I, Buzi, the son of Buzi.’ The Holy Spirit said to him, ‘Enough!’
· Lamentations Rabbah 3:60, 9 relates that after the Roman emperor Hadrian indiscriminately executed two Jews, the Holy Spirit kept crying out, ‘You have seen O LORD, the wrong done to ME. Uphold MY cause! You have seen the depth of their vengeance, all their plots against ME’ (Lam. 3:59-60). This provides an example of the Spirit making intercession.
· According to Leviticus Rabbah 6:1, the Holy Spirit is a defense counsel who speaks to Israel on behalf of the Lord and then speaks to the Lord on behalf of Israel. To Israel the Spirit says, ‘Do not testify against your neighbor without cause’ (Prov. 24:28), and to the Lord the Spirit says, ‘’Do not say, “I’ll do him as he has done me”’ (Prov. 24:29).
“In all these citations, which can easily be multiplied (see, e.g., Genesis Rabbah 84:11; Song of Songs Rabbah 8:16; Lamentations Rabbah 1:48), there can be no question that we are dealing with a ‘who’ and not just a ‘what’, with a personal dimension of God and not just an impersonal power, with God himself and yet with a ‘separate’ entity who can mediate between God and man. And these citations closely parallel some of the New Testament descriptions of the Holy Spirit, although virtually all the Rabbinic texts cited were written many years later…” (Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus-Volume Two, Theological Objections [Baker Books; Grand Rapids MI, 2000], pp. 55-57 bold and capital emphasis mine)
In light of the preceding arguments, we discover that Heinz’s scriptural examples do not establish his case against the divine personality of the Holy Spirit. Heinz ends up committing the fallacy of false analogy and the fallacy of equivocation since his arguments have no bearing on the biblical witness to the perfect Deity and personality of God’s Spirit.
I am not done just yet: The Bible on the Only True God Pt. 4.