The Nature of God–Part Three: Genesis of the Last Adam (Resources & Notes)

[Note:  The fundamental position of the Binity doctrine is the belief that God the Father and his son Jesus are both God and they have always existed as God.  Some hold that God the Father and Jesus are one in essence and others believe that they are one in the sense of unity of mind, yet each is believed to be a distinct being called God.  For those who believe that God is “one” in regard to unity of mind, we find that such an interpretation has led some to erroneously assume that God is a family, rather than being a Father who is bringing into existence a spiritual family—the children of God.  In this case, the holy spirit is seen as being the power and life of God.]

[Note:  The fundamental position of the Trinity doctrine explains that God the Father, and God the son, and God the holy spirit, represent one essence called God, yet each retains a distinct sense of person and individuality within this “triune” concept of God.]

[Note:  The Binity doctrine was essentially the precursor to the doctrine of the Trinity.]

[Note:  Regardless of whether or not there is an acceptance of the Binity or Trinity doctrines, sometimes referred to as paradigms, it is evident that the biblical presentation does account for a “triune” expression of God in the Scripture.  Thus the prophets and the apostles recognized that there was the unseen or invisible God, and there was the voice and thought of God, and there was the expressed power and creativeness of the spirit of God.]

[Note:  The apostles were aware of the god-man concept because this particular belief was not foreign to many peoples in the Middle East, Central Asia and Asia Minor.

When Paul and Barnabas were in Iconium (Konya), which was in the southern part of central Anatolia, being modern-day Turkey, there were both Jews and gentiles who accepted the apostles’ teachings regarding the gospel of the kingdom of God.  But the unbelieving Jews in the area stirred up trouble and convinced many of the people to cast Paul and Barnabas out of the city, and as a result they went on to Lyconia and came to the city of Lystra in Asia Minor.

Upon arriving in Lystra we see that Paul and Barnabas found a:  “certain man who was impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked:  The same heard Paul speak:  who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet.  And he leaped and walked.  And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.  Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.  Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things?  We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:  Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.  Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.  And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them” (Acts 14:8-18).]

[Note:  There is the belief that the “beginning” that is addressed in John 1:1 is talking about a beginning that predates the creation of the heavens and the earth, which is a conclusion that has no biblical foundation or context.  It is a fabrication that has led to much speculation about the relationship of God the Father and Jesus, assuming that both have always existed and perhaps—at some time in eternity—they both did not get along and had to come to an agreement before God created the heavens and the earth and humankind starting with Adam.]

[Note:  Jesus became the origin of those who would be “born” of God, noting that only God the Father through Jesus can give the power to become children of God, which is a conclusion that is understood from the writings of the Apostle John and the authors of the book of Hebrews.]

[Note:  Jesus’ Father, who was understood to be the “God of the fathers,” was the creator of the heavens and the earth, and the one—according to the apostles—who raised Jesus from the dead (Heb. 2:9-10; 3:4).]

[Note:  “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Rom. 8:29-30, ISV).]

[Note:  “The disciple ‘whom Jesus loved, who had lain close to his breast at the supper,’ in his own Gospel exhibits a true testimony that his lover is indeed the Christ, God’s son; that is that he is not only man, born at the end of the ages, of the Virgin’s womb, but also God, begotten of God the Father before all ages.  All sacred Scripture, being divinely inspired bears witness to this truth but the original motivation as well as the text of this book by John defends that proposition in particular and in an especially lucid manner.  The original motivation was derived from the fact that when the author was sent into exile by Domitian (the second persecutor of Christians as Nero was the first), heretics invaded the church like wolves in a sheepfold deprived of its shepherd:  Marcion, Cerinthus, Ebion, and other antichrists who denied that Christ existed before Mary and who stained the simplicity of evangelical faith with perverse teaching.  For that reason, urged by almost all the bishops then in Asia, having prayed earnestly to the Lord after a fast undertaken by all of them together and having drunk the grace of the Holy Spirit, John wrote this Gospel, which dispelled all the obscurity of the heretics with the light of truth thus suddenly exposed” (Early Medieval Theology, “Rupert of Deutz:  Commentary on Saint John (Selections), The Text,” The Library of Christian Classics, edited by George E. McCracken, Westminster John Knox Press, 1957, 2006, p. 257).]

[Note:  It is not uncommon to hear the statement that “Jesus was God in the flesh,” which is a statement that is nowhere found in Scripture.  Such an interpretative statement assumes that God transformed into a man, which assumes that the spoken thoughts of God can be individualized and given a separate intellect apart from God the Father.]

[Note:  John wrote that the “word (λόγος, logos, ‘utterance, speech’) was made (γίνομαι, ginomai, ‘arise, appear, come to be’) flesh (σάρξ, sarx, ‘flesh, meat, body’), which does not mean that the spirit transformed into human flesh, and such a statement does not mean that God became a human being (ἄνθρωπος, anthrōpos), but rather God’s utterance (thought) became flesh by means of the spirit of God.]

[Note:  “For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you” (Mt. 10:20).]

[Note:  The issue then is to explain how the logos was made flesh in Jesus seeing that Jesus had his own human “spirit” and intellect apart from God the Father, because Jesus claimed to have his own logos, and he affirmed this by saying:  “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings:  and the word [logos] which ye hear is not mine [not my logos, implied by context], but the Father’s which sent me” (Jn. 14:24).]

[Note:  To claim that Jesus was the logos of God who sent the “life” to himself while he stood near the Jordan River is a contradiction, because such a claim would mean that Jesus was in two places at the same time—in heaven with God the Father and on the earth with John the Baptist.]

[Note:  Jesus came in the flesh because his origin was in the flesh, and the Apostle John forewarned of those who would claim otherwise and therefore we are to:  “try the spirits whether they are of God:  because many false prophets are gone out into the world.  Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:  And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God:  and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world” (I Jn. 4:1-3).]

[Note:  “This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood.  And it is the Spirit that beareth testimony, because the Spirit is truth” (I Jn. 5:6, Webster).]

[Note:  Jesus was the firstborn son of Mary and according to the law of Moses he was considered “holy,” that is set apart, and so it was that Joseph and Mary offered the appropriate sacrifices for Jesus.  Pointing out that Jesus was born “under the law” and he lived according to it, and throughout his childhood he advanced in wisdom and favor before God (Lk. 2:22-24, 52).  For as Luke wrote:  “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him” (Lk. 2:40).  (Scripture associates the wisdom of God with the logos of God, and so here we read that Jesus was filled with wisdom, but was himself not that wisdom of God.)  (See also, Num. 23:9; Ps. 8:4; 144:3; Mt. 16:13, 27.)]

[Note:  “Tertullian follows the line suggested by Irenaeus in seeing the Threeness of Father, Son, and Spirit as a plurality revealed in the working out of the divine plan in history. ‘All three’, he says, ‘are one (unus).’  But Tertullian felt that it must be possible to answer the question ‘Three what?’ or even ‘One what?’  He therefore proposed to say that God is ‘one substance consisting in three person.’  The precise meaning of the Latin words substantia and persona is not easy to determine in Tertullian’s usage.  He was a well educated orator rather than a meticulous philosopher, and it is probably a mistake to try to interpret his terminology within a rigorous Aristotelian framework.  He had been influenced by Stoicism with its doctrine that the immaterial is simply the non-existent, and was prepared to explain that God in all three ‘Persons’ is ‘Spirit,’ which he seems to have interpreted as an invisible and intangible but not ultimately immaterial vital force” (The Early Church, Henry Chadwick, The Penguin History of the Church 1, “Justin Martyr,” Penguin Books, 1993, p. 89).]

[Note:  “Philo has an elaborate Logos speculation, and this has attracted students of the New Testament and Christology to his writings.  According to Philo the Logos was the mind or reason of God, the locus of the ideas of Platonic philosophy (p. 313).  The Logos was God in his rational aspect, but the Logos also functioned as the head of the hierarchy of the intermediary between the world and God.  An aspect of God himself, the Logos was not hypostatized as a person as in Christianity and certainly never became incarnate.  What Philo said only hypothetically, “God would sooner change into a man than man into a god” (Embassy to Gaius 16.118), the Fourth Gospel affirmed as reality (John 1:14).  (Backgrounds of Early Christianity, “Hellenistic-Roman Philosophies,” Everett Ferguson, William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1993, p. 451.)]

[Note:  Jesus told his disciples that they would be baptized with the holy spirit, which was the same baptism that Jesus experienced after being baptized in the Jordan River, which was an event witnessed by John the Baptist.  In this case it was Jesus who was to baptize with the holy spirit, and so it was that Jesus did baptize his disciples on the Day of Pentecost.]

[Note:  “ And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with:  but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father” (Mt. 20:23).]

[Note:  Jesus himself claimed to be a man who heard the truth from God, and Jesus did not have all knowledge as does God the Father.]

[Note:  The Jews knew of God as a Father before Jesus revealed the Father who dwelt in him by the spirit and logos of God (Jn. 8:41).]

[Note:  “Stoicism went back to Heraclitus (c. 500 B. C.) for its view of the world.  Heraclitus thought that the world was essentially fire in various forms.  Fire turned into air, air into water, water to earth, and back again.  This constant change is balanced by an interchange.  He called this principle of balance, stability, or order logos.  The logos became another word in the Stoic system for god, since it maintains order.  This impersonal reason that gives order to the world is thus unlike the Christian conception found in John 1” (Backgrounds of Early Christianity, “Hellenistic-Roman Philosophies,” Everett Ferguson, William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1993, p. 336).]

[Note:  “Justin’s debt to Platonic philosophy is important for his theology in one respect is of far-reaching importance.  He uses the concept of the divine Logos or Reason both to explain how the transcendent Father of all deals with the inferior, created order of things, and to justify his faith in the revelation made by God through the prophets and in Christ.  The divine Logos inspired the prophets, he says, and was present entire in Jesus Christ.  This inspiring activity and its culmination in the actual incarnation are special cases of divine immanence.  It is implicit in Justin’s thesis that the distinction between ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ corresponds to the distinction between God transcendent and God immanent.  The Son-Logos is necessary to mediate between the supreme Father and the material world.  Justin therefore insists that the Logos is ‘other than’ the Father, derived from the Father in a process which in no way diminishes or divides the being of the Father, but in the manner in which one torch may be lit from another.  He is Light of Light” (The Early Church, Henry Chadwick, The Penguin History of the Church 1, “Justin Martyr,” Penguin Books, 1993, p. 77).]

[Note:  Jesus made a distinction between the resurrection and being born of spirit when he answered a challenge from the Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection, and so Jesus answered their trapping question from the perspective of King David’s comment regarding the future reign of Jesus.

And so “Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage:  But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:  Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.  Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.  For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living:  for all live unto him.  Then certain of the scribes answering said, Master, thou hast well said.  And after that they durst not ask him any question at all.  And he said unto them, How say they that Christ is David’s son?”  And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies thy footstool.  David therefore calleth him Lord, how is he then his son?” (Lk. 20:34-44.)

Here Jesus reminds us that the God of the patriarchs is still their God, because they would live again, and the scribes acknowledged that Jesus had answered wisely telling them that those who are changed to spirit must first be “children of the resurrection.”

Then Jesus questioned them by saying:  “How say they that Christ is David’s son?”  And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies thy footstool.  David therefore calleth him Lord, how is he then his son?”

David’s statement was only possible if Jesus was in the lineage of David, and thereby his birth followed that of David’s as an heir to David’s throne, and so Jesus was called the son of David.  Noting also that Jesus was made “Lord and Christ” after the death of David, and after his own resurrection from the dead, which means that the only way for Jesus to be the lord (master) of David would be if David were also resurrected from the dead and Jesus were to assume the throne of David.  Being a reasonable argument to prove the resurrection and not a discussion to show that Jesus had some form of “pre-existence” before King David.]

[Note:  What Moses knew and understood about God was explained to the people of ancient Israel, and this knowledge about God was brought forward by the Apostle John when he stated that the utterance was God, for John wrote:  “the Word [logos, utterance] became flesh” and “tabernacled” among us, noting that by means of this tabernacling the word was appeared in the flesh—not by transformation—and John went on to explain that the disciples had recognized that God was in Christ and did “tabernacle” among them because they “beheld His [God’s] glory, glory as of an only begotten from the Father, full of grace and of truth” (Jn. 1:14, YLT).

John explains to us that the disciples and others saw God’s “glory” manifested in the “only begotten from the Father,” which allowed John to also say that even though they saw Jesus:  “no one has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, that One declares Him” (Jn. 1:18, YLT).  Therefore the “Word” became flesh by means of “tenting” in Jesus (Col. 2:9).]

[Note:  The belief that God was in Christ should not seem foreign to Christians, because Paul also said, “And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Eph. 3:19).]

[Note:  John the Baptist makes a distinction between God who is the Father who anointed Jesus with the holy spirit, and Jesus who is the son of God, and this distinction was further characterized by Jesus who said that:  “I have come in the name of My Father, and you do not receive Me.  If another comes in his own name, you will receive that one” (Jn. 5:43).  Showing that Jesus himself did not bear the name YHWH.  Which allows us to conclude that God the Father and Jesus the Christ are two distinct beings—one eternal, the other made immortal, with the understanding that it is God the Father who brings sons through Christ.  (See also, Jn. 1:9-11.)]

[Note:  The International Standard Version of the Bible states that:  “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people.  It trains us to renounce ungodly living and worldly passions so that we might live sensible, honest, and godly lives in the present age as we wait for the blessed hope and glorious appearance of our great God and Savior, Jesus the Messiah” (Titus 2:11-13).

Such a translation implies that Jesus is the great God, which is not what we find in the Authorized Version, which states:  “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:13).  (The AV implies two beings that will appear, one being the glory of the great God and the other being the savior Jesus.)]

[Note:  Jesus “shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” (Mt. 16:27).  Therefore, Jesus is not coming as the glorious God, but is coming in the glory of his Father, who is God.]

[Note:  “So far, indeed, have the translators been from intruding the doctrine of Christ’s Divinity into passages where it is not alluded to, that they have not given the full force of some of the most explicit statements, as, for example Tit. ii.13:–“Looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory [not, glorious appearing] of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ,” &c.; better perhaps, “the great God, even our Saviour.”  It may be observed that we have omitted (as Coverdale has done) the article before “appearing,” “blessed” applying to it as well as to “hope,” which here stands for the object of hope” (Revision of the Authorized Version. The English Bible and our Duty with Regard to It, by Thomas Kingsmill Abbott, published by Dublin, McGlashan and Gill, 1857, pg. 23).]

[Note:  The concept of having a “spirit” in us that imparts intellect is not an exclusive idea only found in Scripture, but in Scripture we find that it is our spirit or mind that becomes subject to God’s judgment, and that judgment is administered by Jesus.  And so we find Stephen saying before he died:  “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59, AV).  Which is better translated as:  “they were stoning Stephen, calling and saying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive [take, accept] my spirit;’ and having bowed the knees, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lord, mayest thou not lay to them this sin;’ and this having said, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:59-60, YLT).

The context for Stephen’s statement is that Stephen had a spirit that could be judged, and asking that those who were killing him not receive this act as a charge against them, even though this act will be brought to judgment.  For the judgment that is God’s was given to Jesus:  “For even as the Father raises the dead, and gives life, so also the Son gives life to whomever He wills.  For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.  The one not honoring the Son does not honor the Father who has sent Him.  Truly, truly, I say to you, The one who hears My Word, and believes the One who has sent Me, has everlasting life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (Jn. 5:21-24).]

[Note:  There was a time when the people of Israel heard the voice of God, but there is a time coming when the dead shall be resurrected, which is a matter of judgment, and the voice that they will hear will not be the voice of God, but as Jesus said, “Truly, I tell all of you with certainty, the time approaches, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear it will live.  Just as the Father has life in himself, so also he has granted the Son to have life in himself, and he has given him authority to judge, because he is the Son of Man” (Jn. 5:24-27, ISV).  (See also, Deut. 5:4.)]

[Note:  “The only doctrinal definition on Mary to which the Byzantine Church was formally committed is the decree of the Council of Ephesus which called her the Theotokos, or “Mother of God.”  Obviously Christological, and not Mariological, the decree nevertheless corresponds to the Mariological theme of the “New Eve,” which has appeared in Christian theological literature since the second century and which testifies, in the light of the Eastern view on the Adamic inheritance, to a concept of human freedom more optimistic than that which prevailed in the West.

“But it is the theology of Cyril of Alexandria, affirming the personal, hypostatic identity of Jesus with the pre-existent Logos, as it was endorsed in Ephesus, which served as the Christological basis for the tremendous development of piety centered on the person of Mary after the fifth century.  God became our Savior by becoming man; but this “humanization” of God came about through Mary, who is thus inseparable from the person and work of her Son.  Since in Jesus there is no human hypostasis, and since a mother can be mother only of “someone,” not of something, Mary is indeed the mother of the incarnate Logos, the “Mother of God.”  And since the deification of man takes place “in Christ,” she is also—in a sense just as real as man’s participation “in Christ”—the mother of the whole body of the Church” (Byzantine Theology, Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, by John Meyendorff, Fordham University Press, 1979, p. 165).]

[Note:  The Apostle John clearly makes a distinction between God the Father and Jesus his son when he addressed the congregations of the church of God, and in so doing we see the concept of “dominion” being given to Jesus.  For John wrote:  “John to the seven churches which are in Asia:  Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth.  Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.  Amen.”]

[Note:  The argument that Jesus was only stating something to fulfill a prophecy by what he said on the cross is based on an interpretation of a statement found in a psalm of King David, and in this psalm we see that David writes of his own anguish, and says:  “My God [El], my God [El], why hast thou forsaken me?  why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?  O my God [my Elohim], I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent” (Ps. 22:1-2).

By this statement it is thought that David had foretold what Jesus would say just before he died on the cross, because Jesus said, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?  that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mt. 27:46.)

However, God had not forsaken David in his troubles, but by what Jesus said it is thought by some that the Father was not present on the cross shortly before Jesus, with the idea that God could not be present on the cross to bear the sins of the world (Ps. 42:9).  The text and its language doesn’t indicate that “forsaken” is what is meant in this context.]

[Note:  Jesus did not come out as God, but rather came out from God.]

[Note:  The Bible—as a printed book—has within it the recorded words or logos (spoken thoughts) of God as well as the words of those who interacted with the logos of God.  Therefore, we could conclude that the Bible contains the logos of God in print because it contains the words of God.]

[Note:  Justin Martyr was the foremost interpreter of the theory of the logos in the second century AD.]

[Note:  In AD 381 the second Ecumenical Council further addressed the issues of the Council of Nicaea, and so:  “behind the definitions of the councils lay the work of theologians, who gave precision to the words which the councils employed.  It was the supreme achievement of St Athanasius of Alexandria to draw out the full implications of the key word in the Nicene Creed: homoousios, one in essence or substance, consubstantial.  Complementary to his work was that of the three Cappadocian Fathers, Saints Gregory of Nazianzus, known in the Orthodox Church as Gregory the Theologian (?329-/90), Basil the Great (?330-79), and his younger brother Gregory of Nyssa (died 394).  While Athanasius emphasized the unity of God—Father and Son are one in essence (ousia)—the Cappadocians stressed God’s Threeness:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three persons (hypostasis).  Preserving a delicate balance between the Threeness and the oneness in God, they gave full meaning to the classic summary of the Trinitarian doctrine, three persons in one essence.  Never before or since has the Church possessed four theologians of such stature within a single generation” (The Orthodox Church, Timothy Ware, Penguin Books, 1993, p.23).]

[Note:  “As the decades passed between 325 and 381, when the second general council of the church met, leaders in the Arian debate slowly clarified their use of ‘person.’  Three so-called Cappadocian Fathers—Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, and Basil the Great—led in this achievement.  The Cappadocians used the social analogy, but they saw that the distinctions between the three divine ‘persons’ were solely in their inner divine relations.  There are not three gods.  God is one divine Being with three carriers:  one Godhead in three ‘persons’” (Church History in Plain Language, by Bruce L. Shelley, Thomas Nelson Pub., 1995, p. 105).

[Note:  The word persona originally meant a mask worn by an actor on the stage.]

[Note:  By interpreting the writings of John to mean that Jesus was the logos, and not the tabernacle of the logos, expositors have made Jesus to be God, and by doing so they argued and reasoned the conclusion that Jesus was “God the son” instead of the “son of God,” and by consequence it led to the interpretation that Mary was the mother of God.]

[Note:  “Thus the Trinity must not be interpreted in a literal manner; it was not an abstruse “theory” but the result of theoria, contemplation.  When Christians in the West became embarrassed by this dogma during the eighteenth century and tried to jettison it, they were trying to make God rational and comprehensible to the Age of Reason.  This was one of the factors that would lead to the so-called Death of God in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as we shall see.  One of the reasons why the Cappadocians evolved this imaginative paradigm was to prevent God from becoming as rational as he was in Greek philosophy, as understood by such heretics as Arius.  The theology of Arius was a little too clear and logical.  The Trinity reminded Christians that the reality that we called “God” could not be grasped by the human intellect.  The doctrine of the Incarnation, as expressed at Nicaea, was important but could lead to a simplistic idolatry.  People might start thinking about God himself in too human a way:  it might even be possible to imagine “him” thinking, acting and planning like us.  From there, it was only a very short step to attributing all kinds of prejudiced opinions to God and thus making them absolute.  The Trinity was an attempt to correct this tendency.  Instead of seeing it as a statement of fact about God, it should, perhaps, be seen as a poem or a theological dance between what is believed and accepted by mere mortals about “God” and the tacit realization that any such statement or kerygma could only be provisional” (A History of God, The 4000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, “Trinity:  The Christian God,” by Karen Armstrong, Ballantine Books, 1993, p. 118).]

[Note:  “Of God.  Let there, then, be laid as first foundation of your souls the dogma concerning God, that God is one alone, unbegotten, without beginning, unchanging and unchangeable, neither looking to any other as the author of his being nor to any other to succeed to his life of which life he had no beginning in time nor will it ever come to an end:  then that he is good and just, so that if ever you hear a heretic say that there is a just God and also a good God and they are different, be straightway on your guard as you recognize the poison-pill of heresy.  For some have dared, in their godless teaching to divide the one God.  And some have distinguished the maker and master of the soul from the creator of our bodies, a doctrine as impious as it is stupid.  For how should a man that is one be servant of masters that are two?  As the Lord says in the gospel, “No man can serve two masters” So there is only one God, the maker of both souls and bodies.  There is one creator of heaven and earth, who made the angels and archangels.  He is indeed creator of plurality, but of one only was the Father before all ages, that is of his only and sole-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also he made all things, both visible and invisible” (Cyril of Jerusalem and Nemesius of Emesa, “Selections from the Catechetical Lectures,” Lecture IV, On the 10 Dogmas, The Library of Christian Classics, Edited by William Telfer, Westminster John Knox Press, 1955, 2006, pp. 100-101).]

[Note:  “For ignorance touches not the Son of God, who was the Father’s counsellor before the foundation of the world, the Wisdom in which the Almighty God rejoiced.  For the Son is the power of God, as being the original Word of the Father, prior to all created things:  and he might justly be styled the Wisdom of God and the Teacher of those who were made by him” (Alexandrian Christianity, Selected Translation of Clement and Origen, “On Spiritual Perfection,” The Library of Christian Classics, Edited by Henry Chadwick and J.E.L. Oulton, Westminster John Knox Press, 1954, 2006, p. 97).]

[Note:  “But Nicaea had introduced confusion and doubt into men’s minds.  Most of its participants readily accepted the condemnation of Arianism, which too obviously distorted the original tradition; but the constructive doctrine about the Trinity contained in the term homoousion (“of one substance”) was a different matter.  This term had been proposed and in fact thrust upon Constantine, and through him upon the Council, by a small group of bold and far-sighted theologians who understood the inadequacy of merely condemning Arius and the need to crystallize Church tradition in a clear concept.  For most of the bishops, however, the word was in comprehensible.  For the first time a creedal definition had been made to contain a term alien to the Scripture.  Even the meaning was dubious; would not this “one in substance” bring back into the Church the temptation of Sabellianism, so recently overcome?  Still, the council at Constantine’s request had dignified it as a symbol of faith without probing much into its ramifications of meaning.  The bishops considered it their main work to condemn heresy; as for the symbol of faith, in practice every Church had its own which was essential—but not necessarily literal—agreement with all the others” (Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy, by Alexander Schmemann, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1992, p. 78).]

[Note:  “Toward the end of the fourth century after Nicaea (325) an on the eve of the Council of Constantinople (381), a growing convergence was emerging the confession of Trinitarian faith in terms of one God with three persons, Father, Son, and Spirit.  Above we noticed that in the Christian West, it was expressed with the formula:  “one substance in three person” (una substantia, tres personae).  In the Christian East, the way Athanasius and the Cappadocians came to express the orthodox doctrine was mia ousia, treis hypstaseis. God is one being (ousia) with three persons (hypostaseis)” (The Trinity, Global Perspectives, “Emergence of Trinitarian Canons,” by Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Westminster John Knox Press, 2007, p. 37).]

[Note:  “Hymn or not, the Prologue of John’s Gospel stands apart.  Its key term, logos, is not used of Jesus in the rest of the Gospel, though “God’s only son (1:14, monogenous) is echoed in John 3:16 and 3:18.  Even if this latter term should not be translated “only-begotten” (as it is in the Vulgate and King James Versions), it certainly bespeaks a unique relation between Jesus and the God he calls Father.  What is that unique relation?  The Prologue’s definitive answer is that Jesus, that flesh-and-blood human being (sarx) is the pre-existent logos of God (1:1, 14).  It is tempting, in light of the later Logos model (see Chapter Six, 2), to understand this as a contextual description, Christians offering Hellenistic readers a term for Jesus such as their own philosophers might use.  In this case logos would be the rational order of the universe, its intrinsic structure (Kleinknecht and Kittel, TDNT IV:69-143).  Certainly some have understood this to be the Prologue’s point (Bultmann, 1971:1-18).  If so, John meant that the rational divine order of the world took human shape in Jesus—a convenient foothold for future Constantinianism! (cf. Yoder, 1985a:chap. 6).  It seems more faithful to the Prologue itself, however, to read logos as does the Septuagint, in translation of Hebrew dabar, and to associate it with the speaking, the word of God in Hebrew Scripture (Gen. 1:3; Deut 33:9; Pss. 33:6; 68:11; Isa. 40:6-8; 55:10-11; Amos 3:8; cf. Wisd. Of Sol. 9:1-2; 18:15).  Jesus is God’s utterance” (Systematic Theology, Doctrine, Vol. II, “The Identity of God,” by James Wm. McClendon, Jr., Abingdon Press, 1994, p. 289).]  

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