Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Have Moved!

I have moved; both literally and figuratively. While I will no longer be posting here at Vineyard Calvinist, I have today opened up a new blog For some of the reasons why, visit the new website and I'll tell you. Enjoy!


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Vineyard Calvinist is Shutting Down for a While

I have decided to shut down for a while. I know this will disappoint a few people, but I think it is for the best. I need to concentrate on being the worship leader at VCF Tampa and some of the other ministries I am doing at the church. Some time at the beginning of next year I will be teaching some classes for both my church and a sister church north of here in Inverness, FL. I need to concentrate on that as well so I think that it would be good for me to take a break from blogging for a season. I will be back though.

In Christ,

Monday, December 1, 2008

My New Ride and Quiet Times

I didn't get up this morning thinking to myself, "Hey I think I'll spend $23,000 and go buy a car today" but that is exactly what I did. I traded in my 2002 Volkswagen Jetta (which I have been dying to get rid of for several weeks now) and am now the owner of a 2005 black Honda Civic. Yes everyone and their grandmother has driven a Civic at some point, but there is a reason for that. They really are good cars. My parents have had one for coming close to a decade now. This thing even has a spoiler and a sunroof. I am excited about this.

On another subject, I've decided to do away in my own life with the concept of the "quiet time". You know, where you sit down in a quiet place and pray and read your Bible and meditate on what you read. It's not that I don't believe in prayer, Bible study, or meditation, I do and plan to continue those vital activities, but it just seems to me in talking with others and thinking about it; the concept of the quiet time has become to many, including myself, a "Sacrament" in the bad sense of that term. It's a work; a ritual that many do and mark off as one's spiritual obligation for the day.

Now I have to be careful, because there are some/many believers who find the quiet time refreshing and exhilerating. If that's you, please ignore this portion of the blog post and continue on with having your quiet times, but I just think that for me (and I suspect many others), it's better if we pray, study our Bibles, and meditate in some other way, whatever that might mean. Let me know what you think.

Blessings in Christ,

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Vineyard Calvinist Top Ten List

Today I thought I'd list the top ten books that I have read that have profoundly influenced me. These are books that have shaped my thinking in areas like theology, life, church, and hermeneutics. So without further adieu, here is my top ten in descending order.

10. The Quest for the Radical Middle: A History of the Vineyard, by Bill Jackson

I just finished up this one last week and loved it! Jackson takes the reader almost literally step-by-step through the Vineyard Movement's history from its background in the 1960s to 1999 when Todd Hunter led the Vineyard. My only complaint is that this book is long overdue for a revision. It only goes up to 1999 and other significant themes have impacted the Vineyard since like Bert Waggoner taking over for Todd Hunter, the emerging church, and the egalitarian controversy. It still is an excellent book and every Vineyard church member should read it.

9. End Time Delusions, by Steve Wohlberg

This book is key to my transition from the pre-tribulation rapture view to the post-trib view. It also opened me up to the possibility that futurism and preterism aren't the only interpretive options for biblical prophecy and the book of Revelation. One knock on the book is that Wohlberg is apparently a Seventh-Day Adventist and he takes a bit of a hostile tone toward those who disagree with him, particularly dispensationalists, almost consigning them to hell. That is not an overstatement. Also, while dismantling both futurism and preterism, his historicism is regrettably not a better alternative. But it did open me up to eventually embracing idealism.

8. The Cross-Centered Life, by C.J. Mahaney

This is a classic, and a very quick and easy read. Mahaney very deftly deals with issues that many Christians face like legalism and condemnation by taking us back to the cross. This is reformed soteriology at its best.

7. Some Messianic Jews Say: Messianic Judaism is Not Christianity, by Stan Telchin

This book was another quick and easy read. Telchin basically said in that book what I had been thinking for quite some time. He lays out some of the problems in the Messianic movement (legalism, elitism, divisiveness, etc...)while still appreciating its strengths. Although Telchin apparently has some serious family problems that have opened up questions as to his credibility, this is none-the-less an excellent critique of Messianic Judaism written by a former insider.

6. Messianic Christology, by Arnold Fruchtenbaum

Ironically next on my list is this one written by a Messianic Jewish believer. This book deals with messianic prophecies fulfilled by Jesus' first advent. He self-consciencously does not deal with second-coming prophecies (which is good because Fruchtenbaum is a dispensationalist), and shows that only Jesus of Nazareth fulfills the requirements of being Israel's Messiah. Some of the chapters also lay a very solid foundation for the Hebraic basis of Trinitarianism. I highly recommend this one especially for those interested in messianic prophecy.

5. Decision Making and the Will of God, by Gary Friesen

This was another paradigm shattering book for me. Friesen's thesis is that Scripture does not teach that God has an individual will for each believer. That is, I am not necessarily supposed to marry so-and-so or get such-and-such a job. He shows that taken to consistecy, I may have put on the wrong pair of socks this morning! Friesen then suggests that Christians should use wisdom given in Scripture to make life decisions.

4. The Word and Power Church, by Douglas Banister

I stumbled upon this one at my employer's sale rack and grabbed instantly. Banister does a fantastic job showing how both solid exegesis and expository preaching go hand-in-hand with praying for healing and receiving prophetic words. He details his own journey from being a good evangelical pastor to managing charismatic gifts in his church. He also shows how a good word and power church should function living in the tension. His overview of charismatic gifts in church history isn't bad either. Every reformed charismatic guy should read this one.

3. Convergence: Spiritual Journeys of a Charismatic Calvinist, by Sam Storms

This is one in the same vein as Banister's book. I actually met Storms earlier this year and got this one signed. Storms spends the first part of the book detailing his own journey similar to Doug Banister's from a cessationist Bible church pastor to Metro Vineyard staff member, to Wheaton college professor, to president of Enjoying God Ministries. This guy actually rubbed elbows with Mike Bickle, Paul Cain, John Wimber, and others among the Kansas City Prophets and leadership of the Vineyard movement. The second part of the book deals with the divide between word-oriented cessationists and the more experiential Pentecostal/Charismatics. He ably shows how both word and spirit (or word and power) compliment each other. Another classic in the burgeoning Reformed Charismatic world.

2. Abraham's Four Seeds: A Biblical Examination of the Presuppositions of Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism, by John G. Reisinger

This was my introduction to New Covenant Theology and what an intro it was! Reisinger shows how both Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology have hermeneutical starting points that don't mesh with scripture. He capably shows that as he puts it, "The nation of Israel was not the 'Body of Christ,' even though the Body of Christ is indeed the true 'Israel of God.' I believe this is one of the most true statements of theology I've ever read. The only knock on it is that Reisinger spends, in my opinion anyway, too much time defending believer baptism (he is a Baptist, so I guess it's understandable). The other complaint is that I think he spends most of his energy critiquing Covenant Theology and too little on Dispensationalism. Even still though, I think one of his most positive contributions is in the realm of hermeneutics. That is, I think he shows very well that the OT is to be interpreted by the NT. Very good and stimulating reading.

1. Surprised by the Power of the Spirit: Discovering How God Speaks and Heals Today, by Jack Deere

This book is a landmark achievement in articulating a sound exegetical basis for continuationism. As with Banister and Storms, Deere tells his story of going from cessationist to continuationist including a stop at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Anaheim with John Wimber. Deere shows how miraculous gifts did not cease with the apostles and that it was not only the apostles who could do miracles. He gives fascinating and emotional anecdotes to compliment his exegesis, which is exemplary. Also, he has some good chapters on cultivating intimacy with God that challenge me even today. Deere is easily one of the most influential figures among evangelical continuationists and reformed charismatics. This book easily deserves to be number one on my list. I would recommend it to anyone!

Well there you have it. These are the books that have been the most influential to me in my Christian life. Other books could have made the list, but I thought ten was a good number. I also have a huge list of books that I have yet to read. Maybe as time goes on, I'll modify my list, but for now, these are the best.

In Christ Jesus,

Friday, November 21, 2008

Core Beliefs, Values, and Priorities

Although this blog has been up for a few months now, I think the time has come for me to finally lay down what this blog is really all about and how I will go about putting forth what I believe to be important.

For those familiar with how the Vineyard works as a church planting movement or those familiar with the life and ministry of John Wimber, Vineyard churches are required while they are being planted to put forth what there particular values, practices, and priorities are and I thought why not do the same for this blog. So without further adieu, here are the things the Vineyard Calvinist is all about.


-Promoting and defending historic evangelical, orthodox, and reformed doctrine and teaching as set forth in the Holy Scriptures and explained in the creeds (Apostle's, Nicene, Chalcedonian, Athanasian), confessions (Westminster, 1st and 2nd London Baptist, Belgic, etc.), councils (Orange), and contemporary statements (Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy) of the Church throughout its history.

-Promoting, explaining, and defending the five "solas" of the Protestant Reformation (Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus, Soli Deo Gloria)

-Understanding, promoting, articulating, defending, and applying a consistently reformed soteriology which includes but is not necessarily limited to:

  • the five points of sovereign grace also known as "Calvinism" (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistable Grace, Perseverence of the Saints).
  • The imputation of the righteousness of Christ to the believer by faith alone.
  • Penal Substitutionary atonement.

-Consistent interpretation of the Old Testament by the New Testament. That is, the Old Testament does not exclusively interpret itself. The New Testament is a "new torah" and is the vehicle which should drive our interpretation and application of the Old Testament. Also, it is now the standard of ethics, law, and conduct for the Christian.

-Biblical Continuationism. That is, I believe that all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are still being given today and are distributed by the Holy Spirit as He wills. Further, I believe that these gifts will only cease after the return of the Lord Jesus to the earth.

-Power evangelism. The Kingdom of God is here today. Jesus rules today as David's heir. As a result, the Kingdom of God is invading and plundering the Kingdom of Satan. Believers are empowered to teach the words and do the works of Jesus including, but not limited to:

  • Healing the sick
  • Casting out demons
  • Raising the dead

-An emphasis on the local church as the place where most ministry both to the body and to the world should take place. The congregational life of the church is to be one of encouragement, equipping, and sending forth. This also entails a belief in biblical leadership (i.e. eldership, apostleship, etc...)

-Although recognizing that this is a sensitive issue, I believe that biblical eldership and apostleship, and teaching and preaching to the congregation are offices and functions open only to qualified men. Further, it is the role of the husband to lead his family. These in no way, undermine the equality, giftings, and anointings of women in the church.

-Love and worship as a way of life. The Kingdom of God is not exclusively about miracles and mighty works. It is primarily about love, peace, joy, reconciliation, compassion, mercy, grace, goodness, etc. Also, the worship of God is not confined to two hours on a Sunday morning and a mid-week service. It is all of life.

-An understanding and appreciation for church history.

-Promoting all of these things in a spirit of grace, patience, love, and conviction.

-Blogging as much as possible to promote my beliefs and values.
-Standing against error and loving the truth.
-Recognizing that my family, church, and job take higher priority than this blog as much as I enjoy and want to blog.
Well there you have it. Feel free to comment and tell me what you think. Thank you very much.
-Christian Edmiston

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Quick Election Day Thoughts

Well I voted today. Although I seriously considered going with a third party candidate, I ended up casting my ballot for John McCain. But my purpose today is not to highlight why I did so, but to share some quick thoughts for this election day. Some of them are obvious, and some not so obvious, but I hope you all enjoy and feel free to comment and agree/disagree. I may expand on one or more of these points later, but time is short today. As a disclaimer, these are my opinions and convictions and are not statements of Christian orthodoxy

-One's political views are not necessarily and indicator of one's standing with God or his/her relationship with Christ and it is not correct to be suspicious of other believers whose political and social views are different from one's own.

-It is possible to be a Christian Democrat and love Jesus, His people, and the world and be a vibrant believer

-Christians are neither commanded to, nor forbidden from engaging in social causes (i.e., pro-life movement, war, the environment, the poor, etc.).

-Regeneration is primary to any meaningful change in any arena, social or otherwise. We should be about preaching the Gospel and discipling first, and about social causes, if desired, second.

-There will be no "golden age". That is, I do not believe in either postmillennialism or neo-latter rain revivalism.

-...[God] does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, "What have You done?" (Daniel 4:35 NKJV)

-Whoever is elected to any office, Christians are obligated to respect, honor, submit to, and pray for those in authority. It is a sin to mock or to verbally or in writing disparage any other human being, but especially those in authority (1 Tim. 2:1-4; Romans 13:1-7; James 3:8-12). That however, does not mean we are obligated to agree with them in anything. We can in good conscience disagree with those in authority over us as long as we are full of respect, honor, love, and obedience.

-Civil disobedience is a sin except in cases where obedience to Christ and obedience to authorities are mutually exclusive (Acts 4:18-20).

Well I've got to run and go to work. Blessings.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Open Letter Concerning the Doctrines of the Trinity and the Deity of Christ

As some of you may have seen in a previous blog entry, I was recently challenged concerning my Trinitarian beliefs. I was sent a link to a documentary which attempted to prove biblically, theologically, and historically that Jesus is not truly divine and that the doctrine of the Trinity is untrue and a product of pagan influence on a gentile church. Essentially, the Trinity and the deity of Christ was denied in favor of a Unitarian view of the Godhead and of Christ.

I took some time to watch the documentary "The Human Jesus" (hereafter THJ), take notes, and write down my review of it. I sent it to the individual who originally sent me THJ, Adam Pastor. But I thought it wise to put it also on the blog. I thought so because if I was willing to defend a complimentarian view of gender roles publically on the blog, much more the deity of my Lord Jesus Christ.

Anyway, my response is below. It is a little long but such an important topic deserves some time and space.



Please accept my apologies for taking so long to get back to you. I have not forgotten but in actuality have been taking the time to watch the documentary you sent and to take notes on it as I wanted to offer to you an informed reply. Also, I have looked at your website to try to understand exactly what you do believe and what you do not.

Now on to "The Human Jesus". The first and most glaring thing I noticed was that there seems to be a sizeable misunderstanding of what Trinitarians like myself really believe about the nature of Christ in particular. Although the basic definition is correct, one gets the impression that Trinitarians believe in a Jesus that is truly God, but not really a man. That is not in fact what we believe and such a belief would be considered Gnosticism. The only group I know of that would be close to this would be the Christian Science cult.

The second thing I noticed was that there is this underlying assumption that Trinitarianism is incompatible with Jewish Monotheism. Along with this is the assertion that Trinitarianism will not be acceptable to the Jews (for example) because it is not consistent with their monotheism. With these I have a few replies and questions. Firstly, Trinitarianism is a form of Monotheism. It is not the only form, but it is one of them (and in my judgment, the purest and most biblical). The very definition of Trinitarianism is the belief in one God in three persons. If orthodoxy were teaching tritheism, you would be absolutely correct in asserting that we have departed from monotheism.

Secondly, truth about God is not determined by what is “Jewish” and what is not, but by what God’s Word actually says. The truth of God’s Word is often at odds with what men (even Jewish ones) will accept. For example, the Corban rule (Mark 7:9-13) would have been considered a very Jewish thing to do because of its Talmudic origins, but it had no basis in Torah and in fact was a clever way of getting around what Torah commanded concerning honoring father and mother. In a nutshell, the Lord Jesus cared (and still cares) more about what the Scriptures actually said than what might have been considered Jewish at that time or any time.

Thirdly, along with the above is the presupposition that Trinitarianism and the creeds that confess it are actually borrowed from pagan philosophy and the polytheism that usually accompanies it. However, this would only be true if there is no precedent in the Old Testament for the idea of a plurality within the one Godhead. As I shall argue shortly, there is plenty of evidence within the Old Testament for the idea of plurality and tri-unity.

At one point in the documentary we are told that the New Testament consistently warns against the gentile influence corrupting the pure Jewish faith. My question is when does the New Testament ever warn of this? Not that it isn’t possible for pagan influences to corrupt the true faith of YHVH, but again in the documentary, it is simply assumed that that is what happened. And I am not referring to some prior pagan practices that may have been assimilated (1 Cor. 8 seems to teach that elements used in pagan worship are not defiled), but pagan belief systems. I don’t see the early church attempting to reconcile the worship of Zeus/Jupiter into the worship of Israel’s God. Rather, I see the church looking at evidences in both testaments and attempting to formulate a belief about the One True God whom they confessed.

Several times we are also told that whenever Jesus appeared to be taking on divine prerogatives, He always backed off and denied that He was doing so in an absolute sense. The examples given are John 5:17-23 and John 10:30-39.

Concerning John 5:17-23, my reading of it shows no signs of denial that Jesus is equal to God the Father, quite the opposite. Rather, we should look at this passage in its context.

For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”

Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

Basically, this text can be broken up like this:

-Whatever God does, Jesus does
-If it is objected that Jesus says He can do nothing of Himself, proving He is not God, my answer is that difference in function does not equal difference in essence or in inequality. Consider what I blogged about that caused you to contact me in the first place; namely the issue of men and women and their roles and functions in the home and in the Church. Men and women are equal and both are created in the image of God, but they have different roles with the man taking headship in the home and in the Church. The submission of the woman does not entail her inequality with the man.
-God (the Father) raises the dead, Jesus raises the dead. Only God can raise the dead whether physically or spiritually.
-Only God judges (Psalm 9:7, 8; 94:2), yet Jesus is the One Who judges. It will not do to argue that Jesus only carries out and pronounces what the Father decrees because this passage makes clear that the Father judges no one. God has given that prerogative to the Son.
-The result is that the very same honor given to God is given to the Son as well as the Father, and that failure to honor the Son in that way is failure to honor the Father.

This is classic Trinitarianism as it relates to the Son’s relationship with the Father. The Father and the Son are equal. They share the One divine essence. However, in that equality (which can be illustrated by the roles of men and women in the home and the church), there is headship and submission. Also, there is difference in function.

We now come to John 10:30-39. In order to treat this passage properly, I think its larger context will go a long way.

Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”

Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?”

The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.

One of the things that I think everyone overlooks in this exchange is the repeated emphasis Jesus makes on His “works” or the miracles that He did that bore witness to His identity. This is not isolated to this point in chapter 10, but is found elsewhere in John’s gospel (2:11; 4:54; 5:20, 36; 6:14; 11:45; 14:9-11; 20:30-31; 21:25).

This, I believe, is the lynchpin of Christ’s argument with the religious leaders. I always used to be confused by Jesus’ question immediately after the Jewish religious leaders picked up stones to stone Him. Why would Jesus ask about which work He is being stoned for? Is He completely oblivious to what He just said and wondering why He is about to be stoned? What does this question about His miracles have to do with anything?

The answer is found in verses 37 and 38. I am going to skip over vv. 34-36 for the time being but will return to them later. It is interesting that those about to stone Jesus did not dispute the reality of His miracles but instead for claiming to be God, which amounted to blasphemy in their book (and it would be, if it is not true). The Lord, however appeals to His miracles to back up His claim. Remember, we haven’t left the discussion of Christ’s statement in v. 30 about being one with the Father. Jesus is defending that statement by saying, in essence, “I am one with the Father. The miracles He gave me to do prove it. If I haven’t done any miracles, don’t believe me and start hurling stones. But if I do the miracles, which you don’t dispute that I do, believe me that I am one with the Father.”

The reason Jesus asks the question in verse 32 is to point out that the works which the Father gave Him to do, have never been disputed as having occurred by the religious leaders. Their response shows this. The point Jesus makes is that these same miracles which they admitted as having happened, prove the statement made in v. 30 and its implication, namely that Jesus is God.

Now I believe that Jesus did His miracles by the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit. However, these Spirit-wrought works were given by the Father to show that Jesus is the one sent by Him and Jesus, not me, is making the connection between the works He does and His identity as the God-man, one with the Father. In other words, His miracles confirm the message of Christ’s identity as one with the Father and the one sent to bring salvation to the world.

Now I will discuss vv. 34-36. At several points in The Human Jesus, we are told that many times in scripture, non-divine rulers and kings are called “gods”. As it pertains to this passage, Jesus is backing off from the claim to divinity by pointing that fact out.

However, many times, non-divine rulers are called “gods” because they actually are worshipped as such (like Caesar and in some cases Satan). Further, God Himself is also called “god”. At best, the argument from the documentary leaves the question open. Either Jesus is saying “I am God”, or He is saying “I am a ‘god’; that is a non-divine, but powerful ruler”. Context drives our interpretation (at least it should). Firstly, the point I made above argues for the former. Secondly, I think it is plain that Jesus is arguing from the lesser to the greater. He is saying that if non-divine judges are called “gods” in a much lesser sense, how much more the One sent by the Father and attested to by signs, wonders, and miracles. How much more is the one who actually is one with the Father going to be called God in its truest sense.

Now if I am correct, then it’s not blasphemy for Jesus to say, “I am the Son of God”, which according to context, is equivalent to saying “I and My Father are one”, because it was that statement and the religious leaders’ response to it that prompted this short monologue. That is exactly the point made in verse 36.

John 17:3 and 1 Corinthians 8:6 are some other proof texts given in The Human Jesus designed to disprove Trinitarian notions of God in favor of a Unitarian one. I think on closer examination they are not as anti-Trinitarian as they may at first appear.

John 17:3 reads:
…And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Once again, I think context goes a long way in helping us correctly interpret the passage in question. Let’s see the whole context.

Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
(John 17:1-5 NKJV)

While v. 3 standing on its own might give the impression that Jesus is affirming a Unitarian view of the Godhead, the surrounding context gives us some very Trinitarian statements. Firstly, Jesus petitions the Father to glorify Him. The Old Testament is very clear that God does not share His glory with anyone (Isaiah 42:8; 48:9-11). Secondly, it is the Son who has authority over all flesh. Only God can have that. It will not do to say that the Father delegated this authority so that makes Him less than God because of the point I made above that difference in function does not equal difference in essence or equality. Thirdly, it is the Son who gives eternal life, which is a prerogative of God alone.

The last point is made in v. 5 in which I believe clinches it. Jesus prays again that the Father would glorify Him with the same glory He had with the Father before the creation of the world. The documentary asserts that Jesus was created in the womb of Mary His mother. John 17:5 would seem to contradict that assertion (among other verses; see for example Colossians 1:17). Further, this passage I believe asserts the full equality of Jesus with the Father, as well as by extension proving His deity.

It is in this context that Jesus defines eternal life by saying that it is knowing the Father, the only true God. I believe this fits perfectly well in a Trinitarian framework. No Trinitarian says that the Father is one of three gods, with the Son being another, and the Spirit yet another. That would be polytheism, which is heresy! Trinitarians happily assert that the Father is the only true God. We also assert that the Son and Holy Spirit also are the only true God. We believe in one and only one God.

If that doesn’t convince you, try this. If you would, assume just for the sake of argument that the Trinity is true and God the Son did become incarnate and take on human flesh. Ask yourself this question: Just how would we expect Him to pray to God His Father? Would we expect Him to affirm anything less than monotheism. Would we not expect that He would refer to God the Father as “The only true God”?

Jesus is certainly affirming monotheism here, but He also makes the point that eternal life is just as equally knowing Jesus Christ whom the Father sent. That clearly puts Him on an equal plane with the Father.

1 Corinthians 8:6 is similar. Paul makes a very monotheistic creedal statement to which I agree completely. However, there is something that I think Unitarians miss. It is asserted that since the passage says “…There is one God, the Father, of whom are all things and we for Him…” that that is damning to Trinitarianism. However, reading the rest of the passage reveals Paul’s very Trinitarian theology. Again I will quote the whole passage.

For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.
(1 Corinthians 8:5,6 NKJV)

Let’s take the Unitarian argument to consistency. If the argument is true that this passage precludes Jesus Christ from being God because there is only one God, the Father, then it is equally true that God cannot be the Lord, because Paul tells us that there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ. How then should we understand a passage like Revelation 11:15:

Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”

It is obvious that “our Lord” is God and “His Christ” is Jesus. But if we took 1 Corinthians 8:6 the way you suggest, then we have a problem because there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, Paul’s Trinitarian theology is brought out by linking together God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in the work of creation. He says that all things exist of God the Father and all things exist through Jesus Christ, God the Son.

I find that both John 17:3 and 1 Corinthians 8:6, when read in context are very strong passages affirming both the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine of the Trinity.

One other point that is made particularly at the beginning of the documentary concerns the Shema. It is argued that any argument for Trinitarianism breaks down when we remember that God is one and that this was (and is) the flagship confession of the people of Israel. A couple of things I’d like to say concerning this.

Firstly, the Shema is a classic statement of monotheism; one of the most to the point. However, it is not the last word on the nature of God. Nothing subsequent will contradict it, but it might (and does) offer advance and new revelation that will teach us more about God while never superceding it or contradict it. This I think is apparent when coming to the New Testament, but there are Scriptures which says it pretty outright.

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. (Hebrews 1:1 NKJV)

For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house…And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end. (Hebrews 3:3,5-6a NKJV)

Now I realize that you recognize that Christ is greater than Moses and I do not wish to patronize you by suggesting that you don’t, but I think that you may have missed some of the implications of that fact. Moses spoke from God and everything he spoke (including the Shema) was and is true, but what these Scriptures indicate is that the revelation given us in Christ Jesus is greater and more complete (but not contradictory), and sheds more light on what we have read prior. Further, everything prior must be interpreted in light of the greater revelation in Christ.

Another example of this can be seen when Jesus and Peter, James, and John descend from the Mountain of Transfiguration. Peter astutely asks why the scribes say that Elijah must come before the Messiah and the Lord replies that the scribes are correct but that Elijah did come. The disciples realized that He was referring to John the Baptist. So then, Malachi 3:1 was fulfilled, but the New Testament gives us advance and the deeper, truest meaning of the prophecy.

I think we have something similar in Deuteronomy 6:4. The New Testament never changes it, ignores it, or contradicts it; but rather more fully explains it and teaches us its truest meaning.

But even without all of that, I do believe that the Shema itself does hint at Trinitarianism. The first Trinitarian argument that is attacked is the belief that the Hebrew word “echad”. Trinitarians have argued that the word can and often does imply a compound unity which would open the door to the idea of a plurality within the Godhead, whereas The Human Jesus objects by saying that it only means an absolute one with no room for plurality. A Rabbi is even enlisted to support this.

However there are other passages in Scripture which seem give weight to the Trinitarian interpretation. Firstly, Genesis 2:24 says that when a man and a woman come together, the two become “one flesh”. In the Hebrew language, the word used for “one” is ehcad. This is one example of ehcad meaning a compound unity. Similarly, in Ezekiel 37:17, Ezekiel is instructed to take the two sticks symbolizing Joseph and Judah and to join them into one stick. Again the Hebrew word for “one” is echad.

While these do not prove the Trinitarian interpretation, they certainly open the door for it, and given the extra light of the New Testament particularly (though not exclusively), Trinitarianism is not as baseless as The Human Jesus would lead us to believe.

The next thing I want to touch on is the documentary’s treatment of John 1:1. I have heard of alternate interpretations of this verse which are used to deny that Jesus is God (notably the Watchtower’s translation “a god”) but I did not expect this. The only thing I can really say to that is that I think the interpretation that the “Word” which was with God and is God is more than just the plan of God or the purpose of God as the documentary asserts.

This interpretation breaks down at v. 14 which tells us that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The question we may reasonably ask is, “Who became flesh and dwelt among us according to the context”? The Word did. And the apostles beheld His (the Word’s) glory as of the only begotten of the Father. Clearly Jesus is the one who is only begotten of the Father. And if this is so, then it is He who became flesh and dwelt among us and it is He who is the Word who became flesh and who was with God and was God. This is more than just a Hebrew idiom that personifies God’s purpose or plan.

I also wish to defend the belief that the deity of Jesus makes possible our salvation. Contrary to the documentary’s claim, the worthiness of the sacrifice does make a difference. The children of Israel were not allowed to bring just any goat/bull/ox/sheep, etc… The sacrifice, as you no doubt are aware, must have been without blemish completely or it could not be a sacrifice.

This is typical of the sinlessness of Jesus. Only a sinless human being could be the sacrifice necessary to take away the sins of the human race. And only an infinite being could suffer an eternity’s worth of the wrath of God against sin in a finite period of time. If Jesus were not God, He could not suffer that infinite wrath in the space of one afternoon. If Jesus were not God, then no one could be saved.

One final thing. Near the end of the documentary it is argued that if Jesus were God, then how does He serve as an example to me as to how to live as a redeemed human being? The answer given is that He doesn’t. Jesus is man, not God so He does give us that example of how people should live to God’s glory.

However, I would counter by saying, as I did above, that Jesus when coming to earth “emptied Himself” as Philippians 2 says and became a human being. In emptying Himself, He voluntarily chose not to use His divine attributes but instead lived His life as a man in the power of the Holy Spirit. That is His sinless life, His victory over temptations, His miracles, and His obedience to the Father in going to the cross were done in the power of the Holy Spirit and not on the strength of His divine nature although He could have. This provides powerful assurance to me of what I can do with the same Holy Spirit in me.

To further make my point, I have linked below a message given by Dr. Sam Storms where he argues this point further.[3]

In closing I wish to put this in perspective. This is not a minor disagreement about a secondary point of doctrine. This is an issue which touches our eternal destinies. The fact is that Christology is vital to our salvation. Even a cursory reading of John’s gospel and His epistles make this plain. If I am wrong about Jesus being God and the Trinity, then I am going to Hell. If you are wrong about Jesus not being God, then you are going to Hell. I cannot sugar coat this. I believe that you must turn away from this doctrine you hold, embrace the true Lord Jesus Christ who is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Jesus who is God incarnate who alone through faith in His name will save you and all who trust in Him from God’s wrath against our sins. Please consider what I say and don’t hesitate to reply.

-In Jesus name and on His authority,
Christian Edmiston

[1] Scripture taken from the New King James Version.
Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
[2] All emphases are mine.