In the comments of Is Jesus really God? Dale Tuggy has been peddling his usual unitarian heresies, and Mike Gantt has been playing his bodyguard. That discussion spilled over to a post on Mike’s blog where he tries to deal with my arguments head-on. Let’s see how he fares.
A person who knows Christ is Lord is able to obey His commands, even if he might not yet fully appreciate all that is meant by the word “Lord.”
But Dale is not merely ignorant of who Jesus says he is. He doesn’t simply “not yet appreciate” what “Lord” means. Rather, he openly denies it. He isn’t accidentally mistaken due to not having had time to work things out. He takes the considered position that Jesus is not Yahweh, and he argues for it every chance he gets.
He who obeys Christ is treating Him as Lord – and that’s what pleases God.
Mike has things exactly backwards. The term Lord (kyrios in the Greek) is lifted straight from the Septuagint—the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. In most cases, the personal name of God, Yahweh, was replaced with kyrios because the Jews had a superstition about it being blasphemous to repeat or even write the name of God. Thus, to say “Christ is Lord” is to confess his deity. And if you believe Christ is Lord (ie, that Jesus is Yahweh), then you will obey him as God. Mike switches this around to define Christ’s lordship in mere terms of having our obedience. But in that case, our employers are also our lords. The police are our lords. It empties the term of any serious meaning.
Moreover, as I’ve already noted to Mike, Dale does not obey Christ, because he obstinately refuses to believe what Christ says about who he is. That is basic disobedience to the authority of God and his word. You can’t obey Jesus in greater things if you refuse to even submit yourself to his claims about himself. But I would expect Mike to vouch for Dale, since Mike himself claims in the above-referenced post that “the trinity concept is a man-made intellectual idol.”
You and Sam seemed to be speaking to Dale contemptuously, and I thought tha tone was preventing constructive dialogue.
You mean like when Jesus called the Pharisees sons of the devil, or when Paul said he wished the circumcision party would finish the job and cut off their own genitals? What makes you think constructive dialog is possible with Dale? It’s not like he’s looking around for answers and is open to being taught. On the contrary, he sets himself up to “correct” those who hold fast to the revealed truth of Scripture. I’m familiar with him and his errors, both from his sophomoric discussions with Steve Hays, and more recently his jejune interaction with Ed Feser on theistic personalism. He is a classic example of why I tend to assume philosophy professors are smug, unteachable fools until proven otherwise. The fact that his tone is more irenic than mine just makes him a silver-tongued devil.
Jews in the Old Testament routinely interacted with, trusted, and obeyed angels sent from God as if they were God Himself. Faithful obedience rather than ontologically precise parsing of the moment was what God valued.
Aside from the obvious hyperbole of treating angelic visitation as routine, this is wrong on at least three levels:
Firstly, it is basically irrelevant. Trusting and obeying angels (created beings) sent from God is categorically different from placing your faith in, and worshiping them. So whatever argument Mike thinks he is making here is a non-sequitur.
Secondly, this highlights how God is by no means unconcerned about “ontological parsing”. Mike is simply mistaken about this—God is extremely concerned that people understand the distinction between creator and creature. On several occasions when an angel appears to someone, that person falls down and worships—and the angel is all like, what are you doing?! I’m just a servant like you—worship God alone! God does not blithely overlook our worshiping his creation. God does not think it is okay to put our faith in a created being instead of in him. That is the essence of sin. Why do you think the first three commandments are all about not doing that?
Thirdly, Mike begs the question. He just assumes that some of the most prominent OT angelophanies are not actually theophanies. But I deny that: indeed, I think all the appearances of the “angel of Yahweh” are actually appearances of Yahweh himself. In Gen 16, for example, it is obvious that Yahweh’s angel just is Yahweh himself. That is certainly what Sarai believed (v 13). Similarly, Gen 18 begins with Yahweh appearing to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre—something immediately described as “three men” whom Abraham addresses collectively as “my lord”. (But yeah, that whole trinity thing is just a man-made idol…) Similarly in chapter 19, the angels are Yahweh—verse 18ff. And notice the odd phrasing of verse 23, where Yahweh is both at Sodom and in the heavens; something which makes no sense on a non-trinitarian understanding of God.
I don’t determine people’s identities by denominational or theological labels [ie “Mormon”]. I just preach Christ and watch to see whether they rejoice or fight me.
Notice how oblivious Mike is to the problem. Mormons believe in a Jesus who is the created spirit-child of a physical God, who physically inseminated Mary. They believe this Jesus is the brother of Lucifer. Ie, the devil and Jesus are the same kind of being. They don’t believe that the Father exists a se. The being to whom they apply the label of “Christ” is a completely different being to whom the one the Bible applies it. Yet for Mike none of this matters. As long as they use the same word, everything is okay. It doesn’t matter what the object of faith is in Mike’s view—it doesn’t matter who you believe in, as long as you give him the right name.
I wonder if Mike has the same attitude to his friends. Imagine if he had a friend named Jack, and he met someone who claimed to be best buddies with Jack. Would it make any difference to him that the Jack this person was speaking of was a dog, and not his friend at all?
Presumably it would. Yet when it comes to God, Mike is happy for anyone to say they’re best buddies with Jesus, even if their Jesus is further below God than a dog is below a man.