The "Deity" of the Messiah Yeshua
This is the dogma of dogmas. Most right- and left-wing Christians alike, especially religious professionals, at least must consent orally and/or in writing to the doctrine of the "deity" of the Messiah Yeshua on pain of expulsion, including unemployment in the case of religious professionals of any sort. The more extreme trinitarians more than imply that salvation is contingent on affirmation of this doctrine.
Apprehending the truth on this subject, too, is kind of like the Everest of theology, if not religion. Not many climb up there, and those who do may not come down. Only a certain hardy breed even make the attempt, and I guess most people think that such spiritual fanatics are crazy.
I must say, though, that the task of apprehending the truth about the doctrine of the "deity" of the Messiah is not like climbing Everest. One doesn't do it just because "it's there," because it's the highest spiritual summit and one feels determined to prove that it CAN be climbed. Any adventurer with that kind of motivation, I suspect, won't reach this summit.
This is a burning issue. So many with so much prestige insist, nay demand with so much conviction that THIS uncategorically is THE TRUTH, that the doctrine of the "deity" of the Messiah Yeshua is "non-negotiable." Others, not as many, to be sure, yet equally prestigious, insist, even demand with equal conviction that this is NOT the truth, that the doctrine of the "deity" of Yeshua is UNTRUE.
Judge for yourself, if you haven't already, but know that EVERYTHING does indeed rest on this judgement. It is hard in a war not to take sides. It was hard in World War II to be a German and not be a Nazi. In this war, the ultimate war of all wars, it is impossible. "NARROW is the way to life, and FEW are those who find it."
The dialogue below is a discussion of this question. The discussion isn't over. The Lord will have the last word, but if I am correct, He already has. The outcome already is known, but only to the "survivors." The way to the Kingdom of Yhwh is open. It always has been, but only the "few" will brave the difficulties which lie on this path:
> I read your Email, and have now skimmed through your web page, and I will
> say that I agree with you in part but disagree in a few key points. I have
> also gone back and reviewed your comments on the paper I wrote on the
> Triune Nature of Gd. It still seems that the big questions are "Is Yeshua
> deity?", and "Is Yeshua created or did he always exist?". From your
> cosmological organizational chart it looks like the question of who or what
> is the Holy Spirit also needs to be answered. I did not see anywhere on
> your home page where these questions are biblically answered in an in depth
> way. I would like to see them answered.
I am pleasantly surprised that you have gone to the trouble to read over my previous literature and want to discuss the main point, viz. the doctrine of the "deity" of Yeshua, in greater depth. I agree, too, that this is the main point, not only within Christianity but also in regard to the great division between Christianity and Judaism and, I would even say, between Yhwh and the world.
So let's get right to the main point: Correct me if I'm wrong, but the doctrine of the "deity" of Yeshua is the IDENTIFICATION of Yeshua as Yhwh, as the One who formed Adam from the dust of the earth, who made Chavah (Eve) from Adam's rib, who spoke to Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov, appeared to Moshe and the Yisraelim in Sinai, etc. The doctrine of the deity of Yeshua is NOT that Yeshua is JUST an AGENT of, or "functionally subordinant" to Yhwh but also that Yeshua is "equal"--in rank, power, even in BEING ("ontologically equal," "one in Being," "homoousias")--to Yhwh. Even though Yeshua is "functionally subordinant" to Yhwh, in other words, even though Yhwh made everything THROUGH Yeshua and that Yeshua is a "second Person," the doctrine of the deity of Yeshua postulates that the two also are one, NOT just in the way that a father and a son who work together as a team are one, NOT just in the sense that the Father and the Son are united in purpose, conviction, love and so forth, as any two people who are united for some reason may be, NOT, finally, just in the sense that one's arm or leg or even one's whole body is oneself, even though one's arm, leg or body are not ALL oneself, but MORE than this, that the two are equal in BEING or IDENTITY, equal in EVERY WAY, not different in ANY WAY AT ALL. This is what I understand, based on my reading and hearing and seeing the statements of the proponents of the doctrine of the "deity" of Yeshua, is meant by the "deity" of Yeshua. In their own words, Yeshua, they claim, is "fully God," 100%, nothing less. Nothing less will do, they insist. One must insist on 100%, and if one doesn't so insist, if one deviates at all from 100%, one is heretical, even lost, damned, which may not be the usual insistence, but when "push comes to shove," as they say, this IS the "bottom line," so far as trinitarian dogma (or modalism, too) is concerned. This critical point also is why trinitarians and modalists are united against "Arians," JW's, etc. The big controversy is not just a question of hair-splitting: The difference which separates the two factions really is INFINITESIMAL, literally, one side insisting on NO LESS, not even A LITTLE BIT LESS, than 100%, the other side insisting on LESS than 100%, at least 99.99...% but definitely NOT 100%. There is, in effect, a LINE, INFINITESIMALLY THIN, between the doctrine of the "deity" of Yeshua and "Arianism" or, in times past, "Judaizing." I shall even draw a picture of the controversy:
Notice the LINE which separates the two parties in the controversy. That LINE, I believe, represents the Word of Yhwh. It is neither "high" nor "low," neither Gentile nor Jewish. That, I believe, is where the Lord stands--right on the line. Yeshua, in fact, IS the line. "High" Christology is too high: It's ABOVE the line. "Low" Christology is too low: It tends to UNDERstate the "divinity" of Yeshua, to lead to such ideas as the denial of the pre-existence of Yeshua as the Word of Yhwh. The Biblical, Messianic, Apostolic position is EXACTLY MIDWAY between "high" and "low" Christology. It doesn't have a problem with, or try to underemphasize either the "high" scriptures, such as Jn 8:58, Jn 1:1, etc., or the "low" scriptures, such as Jn 14:28, Mk 10:40, etc. It doesn't try to explain one or the other away but, as proper hermeneutics requires, to find the correct BALANCE between the two.
I will ask you these questions: What do you mean by the "deity" of Yeshua or the "ontological equality" of Yhwh and Yeshua? Do you mean that Yeshua and Yhwh are the same in EVERY WAY, even though they are more than one Being? If this is not what the "deity" of Yeshua or the "ontological equality" of the Father and the Son mean, then what do these terms mean? What do YOU think they mean?
If the "deity" of Yeshua and the "ontological equality" of Yhwh and Yeshua DO mean that they are the same in EVERY WAY and that Yeshua is no less than 100% God, the very One who spoke and appeared to Adam, Avraham, etc., how can Yeshua be to the RIGHT of that One? How can Yeshua have a different POSITION than Yhwh? Isn't it true that if two beings have different POSITIONS, if they occupy different sets of points in space, that in itself is a difference; hence the fact that Yeshua sits or stands to the RIGHT of Yhwh proves ipso facto that the two are NOT "ontologically equal," i.e. the same in EVERY WAY. Or do you argue, as some, that Yeshua doesn't "really" sit or stand to the RIGHT of Yhwh?
It is manifest, though, that there are other differences, unless you believe that Yhwh died when Yeshua died, but if Yhwh died, and Yhwh is the source of life without which nothing can live (not even Yeshua: cf. Jn 5:26), how is it that EVERYTHING didn't die when Yeshua died? Doesn't the fact that everything didn't die when Yeshua died show that Yeshua is not completely equal to Yhwh? What would happen if Yhwh died? Do you think ANYTHING could exist if Yhwh did not exist? Do you think YESHUA could exist without Yhwh? Yeshua said "Of myself I can do nothing"? How then could Yeshua exist without Yhwh?
Another thing to consider: Any human being who looks into Yhwh's face cannot live, yet many people looked into Yeshua's face and lived. Doesn't this, too, show that there is some difference, however infinitesimal, between Yhwh and Yeshua? Again, the doctrine of the "deity" of Yeshua looks questionable, which is why there is so much disagreement about it. One of the basic rules of hermeneutics, however, is that major doctrines must be supported unequivocally by scripture, which is manifestly not the case in regard to the doctrine of the "deity" of Yeshua. Another basic rule, by the way, is that doctrine must not be based on tradition, however old or popular such tradition may be.
Still another thing to consider: A servant, according to Yeshua, is not greater than his master (cf. Jn 13:16, 15:20), but neither, by DEFINITION, is a servant EQUAL to his master. Yeshua definitely is the SERVANT of Yhwh. Even trinitarians, even the Athanasian Creed, admitted that Yeshua is "functionally subordinant" to Yhwh. Now every servant is "equal," in a sense, to his master since a servant is an extension of his master, just like an arm or leg, which is a part of, and therefore, in some sense, identical to its owner, but, and this is the point, this is NOT the kind of "ontological equality" that trinitarians speak of. "Ontological equality" is not JUST the representation of the master or principal by the servant or agent. "Ontological equality," in fact, can only be one thing (so far as I can tell), viz. the equality of something to itself, i.e. a = a, b = b, etc. No two things, "a" and "b," for example, are or can be ontologically equal because "a" must be different IN SOME WAY from "b" in order to distinguish "a" from "b." The minute one admits that "a" is different AT ALL from "b," the minute one admits that there are TWO, "a" cannot be "ontologically equal" to "b." So the very fact that Yeshua is "functionally subordinant" to, i.e. a SERVANT of Yhwh shows that the two are not "ontologically equal."
There are indeed many scriptures which prophesy that Yhwh will do this or that. Then one finds that, lo and behold, Yeshua fulfills that prophecy. This is just like saying that George Washington won the American Revolution, and the 13 colonies won the American Revolution. Well, BOTH are true, yet this doesn't mean that George Washington was "equal" in every way to the 13 colonies. In the same way, the fact that Yhwh does everything through His Word doesn't necessarily mean that Yhwh is the same in every way to Yeshua.
As I have said before, nowhere does scripture require that one confess that Yeshua is Yhwh, much less that Yeshua is 100% God, "fully God," "ontologically equal" to Yhwh, etc. Nor does scripture require that one confess that God is "three Persons," "three interfaces," or three anything, triune, etc. Many disciples confessed that the Messiah Yeshua is the Son of Yhwh, and they were approved. We are commanded, too, to stick to the "sound words" of the Messiah and no others, nor to be "cheat[ed] . . . through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Messiah. Messianic officials, on the other hand, do insist that we subscribe to trinitarian dogma, yet they also insist that scripture is our only rule. Official Messianic jurisprudence is out of sync with the Word. My position is that this is a problem, and the solution is to get official Messianic jurisprudence precisely in sync with scripture. When that happens, even when we move openly in that direction, leaving behind any and all historical, political, socio-economic and other "hang-ups," then I do believe we will see those blessings and miracles for which we pray, not just in private but in public, too. Only then will we get over the syndrome of "charismania," a departure from reality, living in a kind of fantasy world. Only then will we really move forward.
The answer to the question, "Is Yeshua created or did he always exist?" is the same: It is exactly MIDWAY between the two alternatives. You say, "That's impossible. How can someone or something be created and also eternally existent? Someone or something either must be created or eternally existent. It cannot be both," but consider John 1:1 = "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was WITH (the) God, and the Word was God." How can the Word be "with" (the) God and also "be" God? To be "with" (the) God implies TWO. It implies a DIFFERENCE between the two, like "a" and "b." To be "God" implies ONE so there seems to be a contradiction, but this apparent contradiction illustrates the point that the Biblical position is neither "high" nor "low" but exactly MIDWAY between the two.
Yeshua IS the "beginning of the creation of Yhwh" (Rev 3:14). High Christology wants to say that Yeshua PRECEDED the beginning. Low Christology wants to say that Yeshua began after the beginning, at his birth in Beyt Lechem, for example, or even, like the "Adoptianists," at his baptism. It's like the Democrats and the Republicans: The Democrats always want to put more money into welfare and education. The Republicans always want to put more money into "the military-industrial complex." This is "party spirit" or partisanship, which we are to avoid. Yeshua IS the beginning. He is neither before nor after.
But when did the beginning begin? Did you know that there was a controversy in ancient Greek philosophy over whether the first instant of time was infinite or infinitesimal? Some philosophers took one side, and some took the other, but the Word resolves the problem: Yeshua IS the beginning. Yeshua is like a duck-billed platypus: Is it a bird or a marsupial? It's part bird and part marsupial. It has some features of a bird and some of a marsupial. It's a cross between the two. Or Yeshua is like a photon: Is a particle or a wave? It's a cross between the two. Yeshua is a cross between God and nature. He has features of both. High Christology, though, wants to overemphasize the divine features. Low Christology wants to overemphasize Yeshua's materiality. The solution is to emphasize the "sound words" of Yeshua and the Apostles and to steer away from ". . . foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife" (II Tim 2:23). Once one deviates away from scripture into either "high" or "low" territory, once one begins to impose other words such as "deity," "triune," etc., one unleashes a world of strife. It is like eating the forbidden fruit. It brings death into the world, and those who do so shall reap what they sow.
You also asked about the Holy Spirit. Do you believe that God is three Spirits? Probably not, I would assume, yet you believe that God is "three Persons" or "triune" so there must be a difference between a "person" and a "spirit," viz. that spirits are not "flesh" (cf. Luke 24:39 "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.")
We know that the HS is a Spirit. We know that spirits can and do speak and act. Evil spirits, for example, can make people sick or crazy, speak, and move from a person to a pig (cf. Mk 15:13). Would you say that the "legion" of demons in the Gadarene demonaic were "persons"? I assume not. Why, then, do you insist that the HS is a "Person"? Just because the HS speaks, thinks and acts doesn't prove that the HS is a "Person."
Neither is the HS a "force" or "power" like magnetism or electricity, but scripture does speak of the HS "flowing" or being "poured out," rather like a fluid or gas. Again, this is another duck-billed platypus situation: The HS has features like a "person" and like a "force." High Christology wants to emphasize the "personal" features. Low Christology emphasizes the "inanimate" features. Scripture says that the HS is Spirit so let's not deviate to the right or left, high or low. Let's stick to the "sound words."
> Apart from these questions I want to challenge you to preach the Gospel
> first on your home page then give a warning as to the error of "Trinitarian
> Dogma". It is my opinion that we are first called to proclaim the Gospel
> of the Kingdom of Gd, second to challenge people to righteousness and
> bringing forth the fruit of the Spirit, and third to warn people of error.
If my thesis is correct, if trinitarian dogma is "mystery Babylon," 666, etc., I AM preaching the gospel. Those who "worship the beast," have the "mark of the beast," the "number of the beast," etc., are destined, not to salvation but to perdition. To identify trinitarian dogma as 666 IS to preach the gospel. It just depends to whom one preaches. Most Jews, for example, don't believe in trinitarian dogma, but they reject Yeshua. They need to hear the Truth, which is that the Messiah Yeshua IS the supremely beloved Son of Yhwh.
It is evident, though, that the Lord has called me to preach to YOU (Messianic believers) and to tell YOU that something MAJOR is AWRY and that some recalibration needs to occur in the Messianic world. He even has told me exactly WHAT is awry, which is exactly what I am telling you, not to anger you but just the opposite, to help you and others FIND what you seek. I am not against you. I'm FOR you. Very much so. I am not preaching to Catholics or Presbyterians, not even principally to Jews because YOU are the ones who are CLOSEST to the Truth. YOU are the VANGUARD. You need me, and I need you. If you cut me off, don't be fooled: You cut off yourselves, not me.
> I am looking forward to your response and further dialog.