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Rationalizing "the Word" in John 1:1

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  • Rationalizing "the Word" in John 1:1

    When we read that Jesus is the Way (John 14:6), we do not take that to mean that He is literally a footpath. We take it to be a descriptive name of a Person.

    When we read that Jesus is the Door (John 10:9), we do not take that to mean that He is a literal gap in a wall. We take it to be a descriptive name of a Person.

    When we read that Jesus is the True Vine (John 15:1), we do not take that to mean that He is a garden plant. We take it to be a descriptive name of a Person.

    Yet when it comes to Jesus being "the Word" (John 1:1), Unitarians twist themselves into knots in order to make it mean that in the beginning Jesus, the Son, was a "plan" or a "thought in the mind of God" - "mere speech" to use Origen's phrase. Unitarianism seems to hinge on this inconsistent interpretation of Jesus' names expressed in different parts of John's writings. There is one grid for interpreting John 1:1, and then another one for everything else.

    "The Word" is a name of Jesus, a Person, according to the Scripture (Revelation 19:13).


  • #2
    Originally posted by Justinus View Post
    When we read that Jesus is the Way (John 14:6), we do not take that to mean that He is literally a footpath. We take it to be a descriptive name of a Person.

    When we read that Jesus is the Door (John 10:9), we do not take that to mean that He is a literal gap in a wall. We take it to be a descriptive name of a Person.

    When we read that Jesus is the True Vine (John 15:1), we do not take that to mean that He is a garden plant. We take it to be a descriptive name of a Person.

    Yet when it comes to Jesus being "the Word" (John 1:1), Unitarians twist themselves into knots in order to make it mean that in the beginning Jesus, the Son, was a "plan" or a "thought in the mind of God" - "mere speech" to use Origen's phrase. Unitarianism seems to hinge on this inconsistent interpretation of Jesus' names expressed in different parts of John's writings. There is one grid for interpreting John 1:1, and then another one for everything else.

    "The Word" is a name of Jesus, a Person, according to the Scripture (Revelation 19:13).
    The Unitarians will do and say anything to remove Jesus' divinity.

    Comment


    • #3
      I agree, although I am using "Unitarian" in the broad sense, inclusive of both those who deny Jesus' divinity and those who seemingly accept it (albeit, claiming that His deity is "the Father"). In both cases, in order to make the Unitarian theology work, they have to strip the Word in John 1:1 of Personhood. This is usually done by appealing to a hyper-literal, rationalistic interpretation of "the Logos" as literally God's abstract reason, or some kind of plan or speech - "mere speech", as Origen described this view. They do not do this with any other names like "Door", "Way", "True Vine," "Bread," etc.

      And Scripture actually spells out the truth that "the Word" is a Personal name in Revelation 19:13.

      It might be most accurate to say that Unitarians will do anything to remove the Son's deity.
      Last edited by Justinus; 01-29-19, 01:00 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Justinus View Post
        I agree, although I am using "Unitarian" in the broad sense, inclusive of both those who deny Jesus' divinity and those who seemingly accept it (albeit, claiming that His deity is "the Father"). In both cases, in order to make the Unitarian theology work, they have to strip the Word in John 1:1 of Personhood. This is usually done by appealing to a hyper-literal, rationalistic interpretation of "the Logos" as literally God's abstract reason, or some kind of plan or speech - "mere speech", as Origen described this view. They do not do this with any other names like "Door", "Way", "True Vine," "Bread," etc.

        And Scripture actually spells out the truth that "the Word" is a Personal name in Revelation 19:13.

        It might be most accurate to say that Unitarians will do anything to remove the Son's deity.
        John 4:24 King James Version (KJV)

        24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.



        Jesus, during his life, described himself as God here?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Justinus View Post
          When we read that Jesus is the Way (John 14:6), we do not take that to mean that He is literally a footpath. We take it to be a descriptive name of a Person.

          When we read that Jesus is the Door (John 10:9), we do not take that to mean that He is a literal gap in a wall. We take it to be a descriptive name of a Person.

          When we read that Jesus is the True Vine (John 15:1), we do not take that to mean that He is a garden plant. We take it to be a descriptive name of a Person.

          Yet when it comes to Jesus being "the Word" (John 1:1), Unitarians twist themselves into knots in order to make it mean that in the beginning Jesus, the Son, was a "plan" or a "thought in the mind of God" - "mere speech" to use Origen's phrase. Unitarianism seems to hinge on this inconsistent interpretation of Jesus' names expressed in different parts of John's writings. There is one grid for interpreting John 1:1, and then another one for everything else.

          "The Word" is a name of Jesus, a Person, according to the Scripture (Revelation 19:13).
          I'm Oneness...not a Unitarian. And I agree with your post. "The Word" is a descriptive name for Jesus, who is the divine person incarnate.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by mizpeh View Post
            I'm Oneness...not a Unitarian. And I agree with your post. "The Word" is a descriptive name for Jesus, who is the divine person incarnate.
            Hello Mizpeh. I have been trying to explain to a gentlemen who goes by ACA for short on the Trinitarian board that if you don't speak Oneness taking anything they say in one place at face value will leave you completely confused. Look above at what you, "'The Word' is a descriptive name for Jesus, who is the divine person incarnate." So Jesus is the name of the divine person incarnate. But with just a few minutes between posts you said this to Michael in another thread regarding the name "Jesus":

            "The Word" is a descriptive name for Jesus, who is the divine person incarnate:

            Originally posted by Mizpeh
            Hi Michael, some Oneness, like myself, will observe the difference between Father, Son, and Spirit as being different titles describing different manifestations of God. As for the name of Jesus, the texts that are most convincing to me that Jesus is the name of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit is Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:28.
            When I read the title of this thread. I think you might be conflating the name of Jesus and one of the descriptive titles of God: ie: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
            See, here you claim that the name Jesus doesn't merely apply to "the divine person incarnate" but rather to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And poor ACA would probably think that you are claiming "the Word" is "the divine person" in John 1:1 which is not what you are doing at all are you? Before what you call in "incarnation" you believe there was only one divine person (which does make you a unitarian, small "u"). And you don't believe that "the Word" and "the God" were in a personal relationship with one another "in the beginning" do you? See, someone like ACA might understand you as referring to "the Word" as the divine person of "the Son," and "God" as the divine person of "the Father" but meaning the same thing as Trinitarians in John 1:1.

            By the way, the reason I asking these questions is so that I can direct ACA over here because he isn't understanding Oneness. He thinks that "concurrent modalism" is the doctrine of the Trinity using different terms and I'm telling him that it most certainly is not.

            TheLayman

            Comment


            • #7
              The spoken word of God was made flesh, via a sperm cell to mate with Mary's egg.

              The person that this flesh belonged to was an individual named Jesus.

              This individual(last Adam), died for our sins and was made a quickening spirit instead of being stuck with eternal flesh.

              This individual was not God, incarnated into flesh then God, reincarnated into a quickening spirit as Christianity inadvertently teaches.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by TheLayman View Post

                Hello Mizpeh. I have been trying to explain to a gentlemen who goes by ACA for short on the Trinitarian board that if you don't speak Oneness taking anything they say in one place at face value will leave you completely confused. Look above at what you, "'The Word' is a descriptive name for Jesus, who is the divine person incarnate." So Jesus is the name of the divine person incarnate. But with just a few minutes between posts you said this to Michael in another thread regarding the name "Jesus":

                "The Word" is a descriptive name for Jesus, who is the divine person incarnate:



                See, here you claim that the name Jesus doesn't merely apply to "the divine person incarnate" but rather to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And poor ACA would probably think that you are claiming "the Word" is "the divine person" in John 1:1 which is not what you are doing at all are you? Before what you call in "incarnation" you believe there was only one divine person (which does make you a unitarian, small "u"). And you don't believe that "the Word" and "the God" were in a personal relationship with one another "in the beginning" do you? See, someone like ACA might understand you as referring to "the Word" as the divine person of "the Son," and "God" as the divine person of "the Father" but meaning the same thing as Trinitarians in John 1:1.

                By the way, the reason I asking these questions is so that I can direct ACA over here because he isn't understanding Oneness. He thinks that "concurrent modalism" is the doctrine of the Trinity using different terms and I'm telling him that it most certainly is not.

                TheLayman
                Hello TLM,

                I thought I was being very clear with my wording but I'll try to be more precise...The name, Jesus, is the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit...the proper name. There is ONE divine person who manifests himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These are relational and ontological descriptive names/titles. The name, Jesus, is the one name in which the apostles baptized new believers. The apostles understood this to be how toobey the command that Jesus gave to them in Matthew 28:19. The name of Jesus is not an abstract descriptive term like "Word".

                I have read a few things that ACA has written. I would never call him "poor".

                I am claiming that the Word is the divine person in John 1;1. How could he be "other" since I believe that God is one divine person? I'm the same type of believer as the Jews...were they unitarians? (Why do I always feel like I'm on trial when I discuss the Bible with you?) No, I don't believe that the Word and God were in a personal relationship since the Word is God...but more to the point the Word is an abstract descriptive name referring to a specific aspect of the person of God...his self expression (a synecdoche of sorts). It encompasses not only the outward expression but the inward thoughts behind the expression. So it can be said that the Word was with God was God. "Wisdom" is another attribute of God that is personified in the OT.

                I believe the descriptive names Father, Son, and Spirit are referring to specific manifestations of God or modes of existence and try not to conflate them. If ANA were to do as you say "
                understand you as referring to "the Word" as the divine person of "the Son," and "God" as the divine person of "the Father" then he would be reading his theology into my words. He would have to clarify for understanding. When I say "one divine person", I mean that there is only one divine person who has revealed himself as Father, Son, and Spirit.

                I don't think I've heard of "concurrent" modalism. Is that opposite of what Sabellius was suppose to have taught?



                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by mizpeh View Post
                  Hello TLM,

                  I thought I was being very clear with my wording but I'll try to be more precise...The name, Jesus, is the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit...the proper name. There is ONE divine person who manifests himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These are relational and ontological descriptive names/titles. The name, Jesus, is the one name in which the apostles baptized new believers. The apostles understood this to be how toobey the command that Jesus gave to them in Matthew 28:19. The name of Jesus is not an abstract descriptive term like "Word".
                  You know, in all honesty, one of the things I didn't mention to ACA is what a nasty attitude Oneness have in general and this attitude is the first hurdle one must get past in trying to have a discussion with them. It's almost as if Oneness read a personal slight into everything one says to them. For example, if someone points out that something they said is ambiguous it is taken as a slight because of course they were being quite clear. At any rate, as I pointed out previously you said: "'The Word' is a descriptive name for Jesus, who is the divine person incarnate." You see, the problem is it is difficult to tell in that sentence whether you are saying "the Word" or "Jesus" is the divine person incarnate because you also said Jesus is the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as well. And of course "the Word" doesn't seem to be any person incarnate in John 1.1. However, I did point out to ACA that what Oneness teach is incoherent, contradictory, and logically inconsistent so I guess this got covered anyway.

                  Originally posted by Mizpeh
                  I have read a few things that ACA has written. I would never call him "poor".
                  And as a Oneness Pentecostal you tried to read slights into what is said about others. Saying "poor" somebody is an expression of sympathy Mizpeh, it wasn't condescending. It would be like someone noting that I went to GNC to try to have discussions that lent themselves to understanding rather than debate but "poor Layman couldn't say good morning without being personally attacked by a dozen 'Spirit filled' Oneness." See how that works? I'm saying that it is the incoherency of all the Oneness explanations that has confused ACA, I'm not saying ACA is unintelligent (and it is truly difficult for me to imagine that you actually read that into what I said...but obviously you did which is sad).

                  Originally posted by Mizpeh
                  I am claiming that the Word is the divine person in John 1;1. How could he be "other" since I believe that God is one divine person? I'm the same type of believer as the Jews...were they unitarians? (Why do I always feel like I'm on trial when I discuss the Bible with you?) No, I don't believe that the Word and God were in a personal relationship since the Word is God...but more to the point the Word is an abstract descriptive name referring to a specific aspect of the person of God...his self expression (a synecdoche of sorts). It encompasses not only the outward expression but the inward thoughts behind the expression. So it can be said that the Word was with God was God. "Wisdom" is another attribute of God that is personified in the OT.
                  Let's see, you said:

                  1. I am claiming that the Word is the divine person in John 1:1.
                  2. I don't believe that the Word and God were in a personal relationship since the Word is God.

                  So, when you said you thought you were being quite clear you were which is why, as usual, what you say is incoherent, contradictory, and logically inconsistent. You "clearly" claim "the Word is the divine person" in John 1.1 which reads:

                  "and the Word [the divine person] was with God"

                  So thus far, according to what you have been clear about, "God" must be impersonal because if "the Word" is "the divine person" (which is what you said) and God is a person, then they would definitely be in a personal relationship with each other. Oh, and God in 1.1b does not have the same referrent as "the Word," it is not grammatically possible. Then you go on to contradict what you said in #1 above, to wit:

                  1. I am claiming that the Word is the divine person in John 1:1.
                  2. the Word is an abstract descriptive name referring to a specific aspect of the person of God.


                  So on the one hand you "clearly" claim "the Word" is "the divine person" and then turn around within a few sentences and contradict yourself by "clearly" claiming that "the Word is an abstract descriptive name referring to a specific aspect of the person of God"

                  See, on the one had you claim "the Word" is the divine person, and then a couple sentences later claim "the Word" is merely a "specific aspect of the person of God." Logically inconsistent. BTW, you can stop now, I've been down this road with you literally hundreds of times, I was just hoping to be able to demonstrate something to ACA and I think you've done a fine job of doing this, I don't need to continue.

                  Oh, by the way, in answer to your question, YES, modern Jews are unitarians, as are JW's who are a type of arian. Mizpeh, unitarian=God is 1 person, binatarian=God is 2 persons, Trintarian=God is 3 persons. Jews, Socinians, Arians, modalist monarchians, all are unitarians. And if you are interested in why I call the neo-Oneness of today "twoness" in regard to the Father and the Son instead of "binatarians" it is because while all of the explanations I hear always make the Father and Son personally distinct (i.e. two persons), the Son always ends up being something less that God (he began to exist for one thing), thus with regard to the Father and Son I call them Twoness indicating they teach the Father and Son are two persons but not two divine persons as binatarians teach. The "exact nature of this twoness" must be determined on a case by case basis though I have boiled it down to 4 basic categories.

                  Originally posted by Mizpeh
                  I believe the descriptive names Father, Son, and Spirit are referring to specific manifestations of God or modes of existence and try not to conflate them. If ANA were to do as you say "
                  understand you as referring to "the Word" as the divine person of "the Son," and "God" as the divine person of "the Father" then he would be reading his theology into my words. He would have to clarify for understanding. When I say "one divine person", I mean that there is only one divine person who has revealed himself as Father, Son, and Spirit.


                  Actually someone would be presupposing you weren't contradicting yourself or implying that the Bible contradicts itself (see above). It is interesting you said "He would have to clarify for understanding" but when I pointed out why what you said was confusing and why the first thing you said was "I thought I was quite clear." Of course the real problem is that Oneness teaching (not just yours) is incoherent, contradictory, and logically inconsistent at its core so it only follows that every Oneness Pentecostal who tries to explain it will end up making claims that are incoherent, contradictory, and incoherent.

                  Originally posted by Mizpeh
                  I don't think I've heard of "concurrent" modalism. Is that opposite of what Sabellius was suppose to have taught?


                  It's actually a term Oneness coined and its a misnomer, another term that someone thought would solve all the problems with Oneness (and it didn't). And it actually comes from a misunderstanding of what historic modalism taught. It's enough to know that you've never heard the term and you've been in and around a great many Oneness circles for a long time an never heard the term. Anyway, since I myself have had this discussion with you on hundreds of occasions and I know what happens very quickly I'm not going to go round and round with you on everything you said, as I said, you have demonstrated what I was trying to explain to ACA quite nicely.

                  TheLayman
                  Last edited by TheLayman; 02-20-19, 09:32 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mizpeh View Post
                    Hello TLM,

                    I thought I was being very clear with my wording but I'll try to be more precise...The name, Jesus, is the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit...the proper name. There is ONE divine person who manifests himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These are relational and ontological descriptive names/titles. The name, Jesus, is the one name in which the apostles baptized new believers. The apostles understood this to be how toobey the command that Jesus gave to them in Matthew 28:19. The name of Jesus is not an abstract descriptive term like "Word".

                    I have read a few things that ACA has written. I would never call him "poor".

                    I am claiming that the Word is the divine person in John 1;1. How could he be "other" since I believe that God is one divine person? I'm the same type of believer as the Jews...were they unitarians? (Why do I always feel like I'm on trial when I discuss the Bible with you?) No, I don't believe that the Word and God were in a personal relationship since the Word is God...but more to the point the Word is an abstract descriptive name referring to a specific aspect of the person of God...his self expression (a synecdoche of sorts). It encompasses not only the outward expression but the inward thoughts behind the expression. So it can be said that the Word was with God was God. "Wisdom" is another attribute of God that is personified in the OT.

                    I believe the descriptive names Father, Son, and Spirit are referring to specific manifestations of God or modes of existence and try not to conflate them. If ANA were to do as you say "
                    understand you as referring to "the Word" as the divine person of "the Son," and "God" as the divine person of "the Father" then he would be reading his theology into my words. He would have to clarify for understanding. When I say "one divine person", I mean that there is only one divine person who has revealed himself as Father, Son, and Spirit.

                    I don't think I've heard of "concurrent" modalism. Is that opposite of what Sabellius was suppose to have taught?





                    Instead of claiming that the Word (Logos) is simply the One divine person, what you should be saying, based on what I read of your post, is that the Word is the One divine person's "self-expression."

                    IOW, according to you, John 1:1 amounts to, "In the beginning was the One divine person's self-expression, and the One divine person's self-expression was with Himself, and the One divine person's self-expression was an attribute of Himself (much like the One divine person's Wisdom).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by forever4truth View Post

                      Instead of claiming that the Word (Logos) is simply the One divine person, what you should be saying, based on what I read of your post, is that the Word is the One divine person's "self-expression."

                      IOW, according to you, John 1:1 amounts to, "In the beginning was the One divine person's self-expression, and the One divine person's self-expression was with Himself, and the One divine person's self-expression was an attribute of Himself (much like the One divine person's Wisdom).
                      Hi F4T, Self expression is an aspect of a person. It isn't something "other " than the person. The word, "Word", is used to accentuate that aspect of the person who was manifest in the flesh. Synecdoche...look it up.
                      Stop being so word-for-word literal. Some things don't substitute. I'm not going to play those games anymore.
                      When God expressed himself in the beginning...he spoke. When God expressed himself in the last days...he became flesh. Hebrews 1

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mizpeh View Post
                        Hi F4T, Self expression is an aspect of a person. It isn't something "other " than the person. The word, "Word", is used to accentuate that aspect of the person who was manifest in the flesh. Synecdoche...look it up.
                        Stop being so word-for-word literal. Some things don't substitute. I'm not going to play those games anymore.
                        When God expressed himself in the beginning...he spoke. When God expressed himself in the last days...he became flesh. Hebrews 1
                        For the record, I'm not arguing that God's Self-expression is something "other" than His person. Remember, I now consider myself a Biblical Unitarian, so I don't view God's logos as a distinct person from or within Him.

                        That said, what exactly would you change from my understanding below of what you believe about John 1:1?

                        "In the beginning was the One divine person's self-expression, and the One divine person's self-expression was with Himself, and the One divine person's self-expression was an attribute of Himself.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mizpeh View Post
                          Hi F4T, Self expression is an aspect of a person. It isn't something "other " than the person. The word, "Word", is used to accentuate that aspect of the person who was manifest in the flesh. Synecdoche...look it up.
                          Stop being so word-for-word literal. Some things don't substitute. I'm not going to play those games anymore.
                          When God expressed himself in the beginning...he spoke. When God expressed himself in the last days...he became flesh. Hebrews 1
                          BTW, I meant to ask you: what ever happened to Praxeas?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by forever4truth View Post

                            BTW, I meant to ask you: what ever happened to Praxeas?
                            He doesn't post much on AFF. Last time I read posts by him interacting with theology was in Facebook forums but I left those quite awhile ago...so I really don't know.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Thanks for linking me here, TheLayman. (For future reference, typing @[screen name] and clicking on the name in the subsequent dropdown list will insert a Notification in that person's Inbox to alert him that you have tagged him in a thread.)

                              I just began research on Old Testament theophanies yesterday, but I wanted to Subscribe to this thread so I don't miss anything else.

                              For the record: what I describe as Concurrent Modalism, derived from statements by Oneness and former Oneness on CARM rather than however it may have been contended historically, is a de facto Trinitarianism which contends three eternal manifestations while rejecting only extrabiblical terminology such as "three persons" or "three hypostases." Very simply--without including Old Testament manifestations which many are unfamiliar with--it would look like this:
                              YHWH Sabaoth -----> The Father
                              The Word -------------> The Son
                              Ruah YHWH ---------> The Holy Spirit
                              That is, I was not identifying as Concurrent Modalism a Oneness theology which said "YHWH trifurcated into The Father + The Son + The Spirit, say, at the Incarnation." I do concede that I may be missing certain nuances of denotation concerning Oneness theology, with which I have little experience as of yet.

                              I continue to be interested in hearing about explicit soteriological material from the NT which deals with Oneness theology of any stripe.
                              Thank you.
                              Inactive, except to upload and bump.
                              I wiped my slate clean and followed only biblical data to see if Unitarianism was true. After 40 weeks, I knew it couldn't be.
                              After 5 years, very few could even interact with the exegeses, so I am moving on.

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