Thursday, July 18, 2013

REVIEW of McKee's "Confronting Yeshua's Divinity and Messiahship" [NOTE: INCOMPLETE DRAFT]


Why should it matter whether we believe Yeshua is God or just a man?  

McKee's belief is that this is in fact a salvation issue:

"Most critical to recognize is that Yeshua the Messiah is specifically referred to as 'Lord,' and that 'if you confess with your mouth Yeshua as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved,' (Romans 10:9).  This is not just some recognition of Yeshua as 'Master' or 'Leader,' for as C.E.B. Cranfield concludes, 'The usage of [Kurios] more than six thousands times in the LXX to represent the Tegragrammaton [i.e. the Divine Name of G-d]...must surely be regarded of decisive importance here.' This indeed indicates that acknowledging Yeshua the Messiah as God Incarnate...is required for salvation," (pg. 21)

With the rise of false teachers in the Messianic movement who deny Yeshua's Divinity and lead weaker Messianics into apostasy, McKee has responded with a book that seeks to accomplish two things:

(1) systematically examine the arguments made against Yeshua's Divinity and Messiahship;

(2) provide Biblically-rooted responses to such arguments.

The ultimate goal of the book then is to equip Messianics so that they can remain strong in the faith.

Whilst McKee methodologically divides the book into point-by-point responses to false claims, this review, for practical reasons, will only survey only three of the Christological topics covered in the book:

(1) Evidence for a Plural G-dhead in the Shema;

(2) First-Century Jewish Reactions to Yeshua's Assertions of His Own Divinity.

(3) Yeshua's Pre-Existence as Evidence of Divinity

EVIDENCE FOR A PLURAL G-DHEAD IN THE SHEMA

"...there can be a wide difference of approach between how the Shema is viewed in Jewish theology and Christian theology--particularly when it comes to the statement 'the LORD is one.'  In historical Judaism, the Lord being 'one' means that God is a single entity.  In historical Christianity, being 'one' means that God is surely a prime entity, but that He may be composed of multiple elements like Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," pg. 60.

So does the Shema allow for a plural G-dhead?  To answer this question, McKee reviews the terms "Elohim" and "Echad" as well as the "Messianic Shema" of 1 Corinthians.

Elohim:

"From the Creation account, it is often debated whether or not Elohim or God is an absolute one or a composite one.  We read in narrative, 'Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image....' (Genesis 1:26).  Christians have widely viewed this as a conversation that God is having with Himself, indicative of a plural Godhead.  Jewish readers, in contrast, have largely interpreted the 'Us' as a Heavenly court or celestial host, representing the Supreme Being and His angels.  This second interpretation can run into a potential problem, as Genesis 1:27 further says, 'God created man in His own image [...]'  The subject of this sentence is clearly Elohim or God, with human beings created b'tzelem Elohim...or in the image of God.  Human beings were not made in the image of the angels, requiring that the 'Us' of Genesis 1:26 to be God,"  pg. 69.

Echad vs. Yachid

"...Biblical Hebrew has several terms for 'one.'  The Hebrew word used in the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4 is echad [...]; it is to be differentiated from the word yachid....A notable usage of echad appears in Genesis 2:24: 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.'  This speaks of a husband and wife becoming basar echad...This is two people, or two distinct entities, becoming one," pg. 70.
"The Hebrew term yachid...in contrast to echad...is something that...concerns...'only one'....In Genesis 22:2, God tells Abraham to take his only son to be sacrificed...[et-binekha et-yechidekha...]..." pg. 71  McKee concludes:  "The statement [in the Shema] that Elohim is echad, does very much seem to allow for a plural Godhead..." pg. 72

The Messianic Shema:

"In various theological circles, it has been witnessed that 1 Corinthians 8:6 has been known as a kind of 'Christian Shema,'  in that the One God of Israel and the One Lord Yeshua the Messiah are identified side by side with one another....[Yeshua] is identified in 1 Corinthians 8:6 as the One Lord, heis Kurios...What makes this important, of course, is how the title Kurios was employed in the Greek Septuagint for rendering the Divine Name..." pg. 80.  This idea is then corroborated with quotations from Gordon D. Fee and Bauckham. 

FIRST-CENTURY JEWISH REACTIONS TO YESHUA'S ASSERTIONS OF HIS OWN DIVINITY:

Yeshua Incorporating Himself into the Shema:

"In John 10:30, Yeshua told those assembled at the portico of Solomon, celebrating Chanukah, that 'I and the Father are on.'  In oral Hebrew dialogue, He would have said something like ani v'avi echad anachnu...or v'ani v'ha'av echad...there is a correlation made with the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4...[Yeshua] did not just claim that He and the Father were of one accord.  Surely, many of the Jewish religious leaders of the day thought that they and God were of one heart and mind, in agreement and in one accord, in terms of how people were to live and conduct themselves.  The reaction seen to Yeshua's claim that 'I and the Father are one' (John 10:30) is, 'The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him' (John 10:31)," pg. 20.

Yeshua Accused of Blasphemy By the Entire Sanhedrin:

"But He kept silent and did not answer.  Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, 'Are You the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?' And Yeshua said 'I am [ego eimi]; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER [Psalm 110:1], and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN [Daniel 7:23].  Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, 'What further need do we have of witnesses?  You have heard the blasphemy;  how does it seem to you?'  And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death' (Mark 14:61-64).

"...before Abraham was born, I am":

"The dialogue between Yeshua and these Jews [in John 8] reveals something quite startling:
'So the Jews said to Him, 'You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?' Yeshua said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.'  Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Yeshua hid Himself and went out of the temple'.... Yeshua did not say, 'Before Abraham was born, I was' in the past tense," pg. 51

YESHUA'S PRE-EXISTENCE AS EVIDENCE OF HIS DIVINITY:

Here's a sampling of an extensive survey of such passages:

"But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.  His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity..." [Micah 5:2]

"Just as Genesis 1:1 says, 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,' John 1:1-3 says, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him...'  Further in John 1:14 we see that 'the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.'....John 1:1-3 certainly testifies that Yeshua pre-existed the creation of the universe as God..." pg. 31

"In the hymn of Colossians 1:15-20, the testimony given about Yeshua also affirms His pre-existence of the universe.  '[F]or in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth....(Colossians 1:16-17, RSV)," pg. 32

After citing numerous such evidences, McKee concludes, "Yeshua the Messiah did not have to be born to exist, because there is ample testimony in the Apostolic Scriptures that He not only pre-existed the Creation of the universe--but that He indeed created the universe!" pg. 34

CONCLUSION

To be continued... this is all I had time to write tonight.  And sorry for publishing such a rough draft...but I thought it might help people even in its current state.


4 comments:

  1. The Shema of Devarim has nothing to do with the nature of God. It just states that God is the only true God among all the other pagan gods.

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    1. I think every word and letter of the Shema (and all of Torah for that matter) tells us many things about the nature of G-d, some of which we are currently incapable of understanding.

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  2. This is a copout Peter...That means that we all read a book that is impossible for us to understand...Boy, what a bunch of dummies we are....

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    1. Dan,

      I said "some" of it is beyond our understanding; I did not say "all" of it is beyond our understanding.

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