Friday, July 24, 2015

Responding to Lee Miller from House of David

This post is intended for Lee Miller of the House of David Fellowship in Richmond, Virginia.  Lee, I hope you'll take the time to read all of this carefully.

Recently, I visited House of David Fellowship in Richmond and felt quite out of place because they teach there that Yeshua is not the G-d of Israel.  Now think about the implications of this doctrinal position for a moment:

If a congregation teaches that Yeshua is not the G-d of Israel then that means that anyone who worships Yeshua as G-d, in the eyes of that community, is a heretic, unfit to be called an elder and probably a candidate for being kicked out of the community.

So for that reason alone, the question of the Divinity of Yeshua is a big deal.  But it's also a big deal because the Bible claims that Yeshua is the G-d of Israel and so if He's not then we've got a big problem.

So yesterday Mr. Miller recommended Skip Moen's writings (LINK) on the topic of the Trinity.  I say he recommended them because he said Skip had some insights on this topic.  So I reviewed some of Skip's blog posts.

BRIEF REVIEW OF SKIP MOEN'S WRITINGS ON THE TRINITY

If I had to briefly summarize Skip's writings, he basically says that Trinitarians violate the "plain meaning rule" of exegesis when they interpret passages such as John 5:19 and especially Matthew 24:36.  He focuses particularly on Matthew 24:36 because it seems to indicate, at face value, that Yeshua has no knowledge of a particular upcoming date.  Lastly, Skip asserts that the concept of the Trinity (i.e. that Yeshua is the G-d of Israel) arose through the Council of Nicaea and that "Jewish sages and rabbis never came to this conclusion."


REBUTTAL

First, the plain meaning rule doesn't apply when the context indicates that the meaning is not plain.  For example, if one applies the plain meaning rule in an exegesis of Peter's Dream where the sheet comes down from heaven or if one applies the plain meaning rule to various passages in Revelation then one will arrive at absurd conclusions.  In the same way, given that any passage referring to aspects of the Deity must be considered mystical.  There is no "surface" meaning when the entire passage deals exclusively with a deep, mystical subject.

Okay, now for the fun part.  Skip asserted that Second Temple era Jews would never have accepted Yeshua as the G-d of Israel because this idea only arose in the fourth century or thereabouts.  So the following excerpt provides a rather lengthy table of references that show Paul the Apostle had no problems whatsoever with identifying Yeshua with the unique Divinity of the G-d of Israel:

Richard Baukham, Paul's Christology of Divine Identity

"...the monotheism of Second Temple Judaism was indeed 'strict.'  Most Jews in this period were highly self-consciously monotheistic, and had certain very familiar and well-defined ideas as to how the uniqueness of the one God should be understood.  In other words, they drew the line of distinction between the one God and all other reality clearly, and were in the habit of distinguishing God from all other reality by means of certain clearly articulated criteria."

"In my view high Christology was possible within a Jewish monotheistic context, not by applying to Jesus a Jewish category of semi-divine intermediary status, but by identifying Jesus directly with the one God of Israel, including Jesus in the unique identity of this one God.  I use the term 'unique identity' as the best way of speaking of the uniqueness of God as generally conceived in early Judaism."

"The one God of Second Temple Jewish belief was identifiable as unique by two kinds of identifying features.  The first concerns his covenant relationship with Israel.  He is the God of Israel, known from the recital of his acts in Israel's history and from the revelation of his character to Israel (Exod 34:6).  He has revealed to Israel his name [Adonai], which was of great importance to Jews of the Second Temple period because it names precisely the unique identity of their God."

"...this God was also characterized as unique by his relationships to the whole of reality:  especially that he is the only Creator of all things and that he is the sole sovereign Ruler of all things.  Such identifications of [Adonai] are extremely common in Second Temple Jewish literature.  Such identifications of [Adonai] are extremely common in Second Temple Jewish literature.  They were the simplest and clearest way of answering the question:  What distinguishes [Adonai], the only true God, from all other reality?  In what does his uniqueness consist?  These characteristics make a clear and absolute distinction between the true God and all other reality.  God alone created all things;  all other things, including beings worshipped as gods by Gentiles, are created by him....However diverse Judaism may have been in many other respects, this was common:  only the God of Israel is worthy of worship because he is the sole Creator of all things and sole Ruler of all things.  Other beings who might otherwise be thought divine are by these criteria God's creatures and subjects.  (Thus so-called intermediary figures either belong to the unique identity of God or else were created by and remain subject to the one God, as his worshippers and servants, however exalted.)"

"My purpose in the rest of the present paper is to examine some of the evidence for this kind of Christology of divine identity in the letters of Paul."

"(1) [Adonai] texts with Jesus Christ as referent:

(1a) Five quotations including kurio
Rom 10:13-----Joel 2:32
1 Cor 1:31------Jer 9:24
1 Cor 2:16------Isa 40:13
1 Cor 10:26----Ps 23(24):1
2 Cor 10:17----Jer 9:24

(1b)  One quotation to which Paul adds legei kurio
Rom 14:11----Isa 45:23

(1c) One quotation not including kurio
Rom 9:33----Isa 8:14

(1d) Nine allusions including kurio
1 Cor 8:6----Deut 6:4
1 Cor 10:22----Deut 32:21
2 Cor 8:21----Prov 3:4
Phil 2:10-11----Isa 45:23
1 Thes 3:13----Zech 14:5
2 Thes 1:7----Isa 66:15
2 Thes 1:9----Isa 2:10, 19, 21
2 Thes 1:12----Isa 66:5
2 Thes 3:16----Num 6:26

(1e) Six stereotyped OT phrases including kurio

'to call on the name of the Lord'

1 Cor 1:2 (cf. Rom 10:13)----Joel 2:23; Zeph 3:9; Zech 13:9; Jer 10:25 etc.

'the day of the Lord'

1 Cor 1:8; 5:5; 2 Cor 1:14; 1 Thes 5:2; 2 Thes 2:2 Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; Amos 5:18; Isa 13:6, 9 etc.

'to serve the Lord' Rom 12:11; 16:18 1 Kdms 12:20; Pss 2:11; 99(100):2; 101(102):22 etc.

'the word of the Lord' 1 Thes 1:8; 2 Thes 3:1 Isa 2:3 etc.

'the Lord be with you' 2 Thes 3:16 Ruth 2:4; 1 Kdms 17:37; 20:13 etc.

'the fear of the Lord' 2 Cor 5:11 Isa 2:10, 19, 21 etc.

(2) YHWH texts with God as referent:

(2a) Nine quotations including kurio"
Rom 4:7-8----Ps 31(32):1-2
Rom 9:27-28----Hos 2:1 + Isa 10:22-2316
Rom 9:29----Isa 1:9 (kuvrio" sabawvq)
Rom 10:16----Isa 53:1 (kuvrio" in LXX, no equivalent in MT)17 Rom 11:3 3----Kdms 19:10 (kuvrio" not in LXX, no equivalent in MT)
Rom 11:34----Isa 40:13
Rom 15:11----Ps 116(117):1
1 Cor 3:20----Ps 93(94):11
2 Cor 6:18 2----Kdms 7:14, 8 (kuvrio" pantokravtwr)

(2b) Three quotations to which Paul adds legei kurio"
Rom 12:1919----Deut 32:35
1 Cor 14:21----Isa 28:11-12
2 Cor 6:17----Isa 52:11 + Ezek 20:34

(2c) Twelve quotations in which the speaker ('I') is identified as YHWH in the OT context

Rom 4:17----Gen 17:5
Rom 9:9----Gen 18:14
Rom 9:13----Mal 1:2-3
Rom 9:14----Exod 33:19
Rom 9:17-----Exod 9:16
Rom 9:25----Hos 2:25
Rom 9:33-----Isa 28:16
Rom 10:19-----Deut 32:2120
Rom 10:20-----Isa 65:1
Rom 10:21-----Isa 65:2
Rom 11:26-27----Isa 59:20-21
2 Cor 6:2----- Isa 49:8"

CONCLUSION

As you can see, Paul had no problem identifying Yeshua with the G-d of Israel.  This blows Skip Moen's case out of the water---and this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to evidence on the Divinity of Yeshua.  But this can be an ongoing thing.  I'd especially like to address the passage where Yeshua refers to Himself as "I AM" without even an implied predicate (see notes below).  But the purpose of this particular post is to thoroughly and unequivocally destabilize Skip's assertion that the idea of Yeshua's Divinity is something that happened only after the fourth century C.E.

Shalom,

Peter





MISCELLANEOUS NOTES:

"In its predicative form...'I am' is a grammatically normal enough statement...When 'I am' lacks even an implied predicate, however, it becomes unintelligible except as an allusion to God's name..." Keener, The Gospel of John, pgs. 769-770

"Jesus uses the ego eimi formula in three different ways in the Fourth Gospel: (1) With a predicate....(2) With an implied predicate....(3) As an absolute...certainly in 8:58: 'before Abraham was born, I am!' The last of these uses needs furhter comment, for in this case ego eimi represents the divine name. In Exodus 3:14 God says to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' The 'I AM WHO I AM' is translated as ego eimi ho on in the LXX. In Isaiah 43:25; 51:12 ego eimi on its own functions as the divine name. Thus when Jesus said to 'the Jews', 'before Abraham was born, I am', he was identifying himself with God. He was not only pronouncing the name of God...he was claiming to be God," Colin Kruse, The Gospel According to John, pg. 138

16 comments:

  1. Shalom Peter,

    I hope all is well. I think your offended to the position they hold because it conflicts with your way of thinking. I actually agree with them, yet I don't view you as a heretic. You just felt out of place. You were worshipping at a place the went against your common position. You may have felt alone. Nevertheless, it's not a salvational issue. We shouldn't make it one. It's great to debate these things. However, I wouldn't count out my brothers or sisters because of a non salvational issue. Continue to be encouraged. You should visit again, not to be persuaded, but just to understand the other side of the spectrum.

    Shalom Aleichem

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    Replies
    1. Why would I take my family to a place where they would feel uncomfortable? That's not how things work.

      Delete
    2. Who said it is not a salvational issue?

      Delete
    3. Anonymous,

      Excellent point. "Gifted" has made at least 2 big assumptions upon which his anti-Trinitarian view depends:

      (1) Evidence for the Divinity of Yeshua cannot possibly exist in Scripture because then that would mean that the Christians were right about something. And since Christians are wrong about the Law, they must therefore be wrong about everything;

      (2) Rejecting Yeshua's claim of being the unique One G-d of Israel is not a salvational issue.

      Those are some pretty big assumptions.

      Delete
  2. Peter,
    I've notice you provided my assumption without me stating one. Your painting a brush on my thoughts when I haven't stated anything of that liking. As you have notice, I reply when I have the time. Why speak for me in this regard? Why not let me state my "assumption" as you call it? Nevertheless, where & how are you coming up with accepting the Mashiach as Elohim a salvational issue?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. RE: "Nevertheless, where & how are you coming up with accepting the Mashiach as Elohim a salvational issue?"

      Where are you coming up with the idea that it's okay to call yourself a follower of Yeshua whilst rejecting what He said about Himself?

      Ridiculous!

      Delete
  3. Peter,

    Just perfect. I ask a question. You give no answer. Yet, you pose a question to me. Is this what a dialogue is my friend? Selectively answering questions.....

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. Hi Peter, I’m responding to this post because you said in the opening that you are responding to me.

    To all, please forgive the length (3 separate parts) but to keep things from being misunderstood or misinterpreted, I felt I needed to take extra measures to be clear.

    Setting the record straight

    To the best of my knowledge, I have not posted on any subject on your blog. If I am in error and I have posted on your blog a declarative statement about any subject and that is what “Responding to Lee Miller from House of David” means, please point me to the post. (Thanks)

    Now that “responding to me” has been addressed…

    Concerning your request “I hope you'll take the time to read all of this carefully”, unfortunately, the answer is no, I don’t have time in my schedule at this point to do that, but thanks for sending me this and to Skip too. I’m sure he will appreciate it.

    If I were to take the time to do that ‘read all of this carefully”, then I would have to check everything thing that you said and all your references and do my own due diligence, as I always do, for all those that I study. My agenda at this time in this season is quite full, so I hope you can understand. (Thanks)

    In paragraph number 2, you state “they teach there (House of David Fellowship) that Yeshua is not the G-d of Israel.”

    Let’s examine this statement.

    1. To the best of my knowledge, you have only visited once or twice over the past 5 years. (Please correct me if I am mistaken. That’s all I remember at this time).

    2. If the above statement is true (1), then it would seem to me that you only have those visits and the House of David website to work from. If you know of a “teaching” that I have made on that subject, please point me to it. I am not aware of any. (Note: I did once, within the scope of teaching the people how to read scholars, give a lesson on Psalm 110:1 so that I could point out standard errors that are easily identifiable).

    3. Let’s examine the vision of House of David Fellowship and the word “teach”.

    (a) We know that we are coming out of paganism and moving toward the light of the Truth.

    (b) We know that we are removed from the first century by almost two millennia.

    (c) We know that very few of us read the Scriptures from the Hebrew and Greek that we have available to us today.

    (d) We know that we lack historical context in many instances when trying to understand what the original authors meant to the audience they were writing to/for.

    (e) We know that the editorial committees that have been entrusted to translate accurately from the Hebrew and Greek into modern English have sometimes mistakenly missed the mark and sometimes purposely changed the English from the underlying text.

    (f) We know that each person comes out of their previous religious experience carrying baggage and it takes time to identify all that we have learned incorrectly.

    (g) We acknowledge that each person who has been called moves at their own pace. No one else has the authority or jurisdiction to dictate at what pace they should be moving at.

    (h) We know that it is possible to read the text through a paradigm that produces incorrect results (Paul is the poster child).

    (i) Finally, we openly acknowledge that at any point in time, myself and some other person in the assembly will differ on some doctrinal subject but we do not have a problem with that because each of us is at a different place in the restoration. Each of us is “working out our own salvation”. What we need to focus on is “By this shall all people know you’re one of my disciples, if you have love one for another.” And is that what we’re presenting to the world today?

    Therefore, here is how we do it at House of David Fellowship:

    Subjects are presented, usually based on requests from those that call House of David Fellowship (HODF) their home. At some point, the elders get together and discuss these suggestions and make a plan on how we will proceed. (Continue to part 2)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Continuing with part 2

    As it is explained to all those who present at HODF, we are not looking to “you” (the presenter) to teach us what is right or wrong or what is true and what is false, for the most part. What we are interested in is that when you are assigned a topic to present, you are expected to do the following:

    (a) Study the topic from the Hebrew and/or Greek

    (b) Consult historical documents as are necessary so that the assembly can get a handle on what has been discussed on this subject before

    (c) Collect the necessary data and place it in some order

    (d) Present it from the position that “Here it is. This is what I have found (references included). These are the conclusions I am drawing from what I have found. Please get out your red pens and start marking it up so that all possible mistakes can be examined and then cleared up to the assembly at some future date. Thank you.” (Proverbs 18:17)

    Note: This has happened more than once to things I have presented and I’m glad: Thank God for Assemblies in Community!

    Now, returning to the statement Peter makes in paragraph two.

    In paragraph number 2, you state “they teach there (House of David Fellowship) that Yeshua is not the G-d of Israel.”

    This is just not true, in any sense of the word. It does not match the vision statement and this subject is not one that has been taught at HODF. There is no definitive document that you, Peter, can refer to that states that we have in fact taught on this subject and reached a conclusion. It just does not exist.
    My brother, I believe you have judged in error. However, if you can present such a declarative document, please do so and accept my apology ahead of time.

    Now, to what has actually transpired:

    You did come to the fellowship when I invited you to be involved in our multi-part series on Acts 15. You were there for part one but not any of the other parts. We have missed what you might have brought to the table concerning this important chapter in Acts.

    My presentation was listing some of the topics mentioned in Acts 15 that could be discussed in more detail. This was the entire context and as is our way, we ask all that their comments stay within the scope of what has just been presented. We do that, not because while discussing Moses journey back to Egypt after his burning bush experience that the requirements of deacons are not important. They are. But that discussion is not within the scope of Moses journey back to Egypt.

    Your injection of the trinity while we were mentioning the possible topics of future discussion as regards Acts 15 was outside that scope. What did I do? I let it go and the assembly just continued our discussion within the scope of the presentation.

    Note: This was all recorded so that we would have a record if ever we would need it.

    I know that you spoke with one of the Elders after the main service was concluded (possibly during dinner) but I do not know all of what was said or discussed.

    In our assembly, we have people who believe different things. Just pick a subject and this will prove to be true. Nevertheless, we come together and share our findings on different subjects and care for one another in the area of needs as we are able. And we do this knowing that we differ on certain theological doctrines and we still continue to assemble ourselves together. We all (in our assembly) agree that this is proper.

    After the service, you emailed me for my position on the subject of the trinity. I will quote the email fully (the response) I sent back to you now:
    (Continue to part 3)

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  7. Continuing with part 3

    After the service, you emailed me for my position on the subject of the trinity. I will quote the email fully (the response) I sent back to you now:

    Hey

    I can only speak for Jackie and I. We did a preliminary evaluation of the trinity and found it was a big subject. So since understanding the nature of the godhead is not required to enter into nor walk in the covenant, it has been set on the back burner until we have more time to look at it.

    One thing I will say about my preliminary look: The scholarship of several mainline trinitarian scholars is very shoddy. I was quite disappointed in their rose-colored-glasses and "they clearly have no idea what they are talking about concerning the Hebrew" approach.

    That being said, that does not deter me on this or other subjects when I get to them for I do my own research and usually from several angles. If you have been following my posts on our series on Acts 15 (part IV is this coming Sabbath), you will have noticed that I come at things from angles nobody else even considers. I believe that when the time comes for Jackie and I to look at the trinity doctrine, that attitude will benefit us greatly.

    One final thought: At this time, we can honestly say that at least we think that the Messiah is divine within the semantic range of the word as it is used in Scripture. Also, we think the journey to know what the author meant when the text was written has not yet concluded.

    Thanks for inquiring.

    As all can see, I have not taken a position on the subject and you can see the reasons that were listed. If I have not taken a position on any given subject, how can I be teaching to the assembly that that particular doctrine is true or false? I submit that I cannot.

    In a later email, you asked if I knew of “people” who had done studies on the subject and at first, I didn’t think of any but later, I remembered that Dr. Skip Moen had begun some research on the subject and I sent his website to you in case you were interested.

    Two points:

    1. What you think of Skip’s writings is between you and him. However, when you say “This blows Skip Moen’s case out of the water…”, it struck me as a prideful and perhaps even arrogant statement.

    I do teach in my fellowship that when possible, be kind and generous when informing others that they have missed the mark. Perhaps I am the only one who might have sensed that in your statement but I felt it was proper to share with you the immediate reaction I experienced.

    2. In your statement “thoroughly and unequivocally destabilize Skip's assertion that the idea of Yeshua's Divinity is something that happened only after the fourth century C.E.”, I know for a fact that that is not Skip’s position for I have read it in his writings. Is it possible that perhaps once again my brother, you have judged in error?

    Finally…

    Recently, I had someone who contacted me about the Feast of Tabernacles that is being held in central Virginia this fall. They told me that at another site they knew about (different state), as a requirement for attending, one had to take a particular position on this subject or they could not attend. That appalled me! Is that how far we have fallen; that fellowship with others can only take place on someone’s pre-determined doctrinal selection list?

    May God Forbid!

    Conclusion: I cannot be a part of this continuing discussion. I just don’t have the time. I have stated my case and I have no plans at this time to venture into this subject, allowing other decisions that I have committed my “Yea” to to fall by the wayside.

    I believe that your accusation that I have taught a particular position on this matter is in error.

    I believe that your accusation against Skip Moen concerning his position on the divinity of Yeshua is also in error.

    Thanks for providing a space whereby I could set the record straight.

    Lee Miller
    Elder – House of David Fellowship

    ReplyDelete
  8. Mr. Miller,

    The fact that you say you don't have time to discuss this topic, when this topic is important enough to most people to break fellowship over, is telling.

    The fact that you refuse to affirm that Yeshua is G-d, claim to not take a position, yet promote anti-Trinitarian teachers (e.g. Skip Moen), and the fact that elders at your congregation actively promote that Yeshua is not G-d--all of this shows us where you stand.

    By the way, Phil Aydlotte, one of the elders there, got in my face and, quite angrily told me that I was wrong to say that Yeshua is G-d. He said, quite forcefully, that Yeshua is NOT G-d. He remembers this conversation. Yet you claim to not be aware of these teachings at your congregation. Very interesting indeed.

    So thanks for stopping by to let us know that you don't have time to read the Scriptural case presented above.

    Peter

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  9. Again, I think this is being totally overblown. Peter, you still have shown me your reference for this belief being salvational... You normally good with giving your references, yet you chose not to give information this time. Hmmmmmmm

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    1. Gifted,

      Let me get this straight. You, like Lee Miller, haven't responded to the Scriptural argument presented above, yet you want me to provide additional Scripture? First, why don't you respond to all of the verses presented above, verses where Paul applies Adonai texts directly to Yeshua such as:

      "(9)That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved....13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved," Romans 10:9,13

      Which applies the following Tanak passage to Yeshua:

      "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call," Joel 2:32

      Address every single instance listed above where Paul does this, explain them ALL away, if you dare to try.

      Then we'll move forward and discuss ALL of the passage where it says ONLY G-d Himself is the Savior and not any man or created being.

      You see, that's how civilized conversation works: when one person presents evidence for a certain conclusion, the opposing person must then address EACH piece of evidence. And if the opposing person does NOT address each piece of evidence then the opposing person is revealed as a bigot.

      Your move.

      Delete
  10. Peter,

    My friend you have grossly overlook your own threads. On 7/24/15 at 10:09. I made a response. You then followed by stating, "why take there where they would be uncomfortable?" Then on 7/25/15 at 2:34, I CLEARLY ask you a question sir. You then followed up on 7/26/15 at 5:28 am by asking a question. Can you explain how you just overlook that question prior to your post? This is how a conversation work. Evidence shows I presented a question that you clearly refuse to answer. I wonder why? I see also your understanding agency is misunderstood. Nevertheless, the ball is in your court. I was very lucid of asking you where does the bible say it's a salvational issue to believe Yeshua is Elohim (not son of Elohim)? However, it appears you have questions which we can hammer out as long as you visit the prior post. Just for your to see that I've ask this question of you. Because you only address one question to me "comfort with your family at David fellowship). All other comments were to anonymous.

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    1. Gifted,

      In the original post there is a table of verses that show Paul attributing Adonai texts to Yeshua. You NEVER responded to this evidence which shows Paul understands Yeshua to be G-d. And now you want more evidence.

      Civilized conversation doesn't work that way. Respond to the original set of evidence first.

      Delete