Friday, December 30, 2016

How the Trinity Violates the Law of Noncontradiction

I came across a series of six interesting lectures by Dr. R.C. Sproul on the subject of the Trinity titled “The Mystery of Trinity,” in which he goes through the history of the development the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, and ultimately attempts to explain in the final lecture how the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is logically self-consistent and does not violate the “law of noncontradiction”. My aim in this post is to refute this claim, and show how the doctrine of the Trinity does in fact violate the law of noncontradiction. But before I Continue, I should like to add that this is not a critique of Dr. Sproul himself, or of his particular theological exposition. The critique is of the doctrine of the Trinity itself, and the theology that underpins it. The reason why I am picking on him is because he is the best, not the worst. I have a lot of respect for him as a theologian, and I have learned a lot from his lectures. It is the doctrine of the Trinity itself that is inherently flawed so that no theologian can defend it, not even one as able as Dr. R.C. Sproul.

A word about the “law of noncontradiction” (also known as the “law of contradiction,” see here) is appropriate. The “law of noncontradiction” deals with the logical fallacy of saying that something is and is not something else at the same time, or is two contradictory things at the same time. If we said that A is B and not B at the same time, that is a logical fallacy, and violates the law of noncontradiction. If I said that the piece of chalk in my hand is a piece of chalk and not a piece of chalk at the same time, that violates the law of noncontradiction. R.C. Sproul has another interesting lecture which deals specifically with the law of noncontradiction which can be seen here, which is also worth watching.

So how does the doctrine of the Trinity fair with respect to the law of noncontradiction? The Trinity is defined by the theologians including R.C. Sproul as “three Persons in one God,” or “three Persons in one Essence”. The “Essence” (the God) is one, but the “Persons” are said to be three—hence they argue there is no violation, because we are dealing with two different things. Here is a quote from his first lecture (seen above):

“When we see our confession of faith in the Trinity, the Church confesses that God is one in essence and three in person. God is one in A, and three in B. And if we said he was one in essence and three in essence, that would be a contradiction. Or if we said that he was one in person and three in person, that also would be a contradiction. But as mysterious as the Trinity may be, and as it may be above our capacity to understand in its fulness, the historic formula is not contradictory.”

But if we examine the definition a bit more closely, we find that it is not exactly what it appears to be. Here is a question: Is the one true God (call him Jehovah, Elohim, Adonai, or whatever you like), is that one God by himself a Person or not? Is “Jehovah” as portrayed in the scriptures a Person or not? The answer is unreservedly yes. The Bible portrays the One True God as a Person. No doubts about it. There is no way of getting round that. Even R.C. Sproul I am sure would agree that the One True God is a Person—in which case we now have four Persons in the Trinity and not three! We have the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which is three, plus the One True God Himself, which brings it to four! What all of that amounts to is that the Trinity actually consists of Three Persons in one Person, which violates the law of noncontradiction. We are saying that the Godhead consists of one Person and three Persons at the same time, which is a violation.

Another way of looking at it is like this: the doctrine of the Trinity as defined by the theologians teaches that each of the three Persons of the Trinity is by himself God, as well as the One True God that makes up all three, so that we are now dealing with four Gods in the Trinity, not three. We have the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each of whom is individually God; plus the combination of the whole (call him Jehovah, Elohim, Adonai, or what you like), who is also God. So we now have four Gods in the Trinity, not three; or putting it another way, we have “three Gods in one God,” which is also a violation. That is in fact the traditional definition of the Trinity. That is how the Athanasian Creed defines the Trinity:

“So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords.” Link

That in essence is saying that the Trinity consists of three Gods in one God. The phrase “three Persons in one God” is a later invention, and is just a verbal trick to obscure the obvious logical inconsistency that is inherent in saying “three Gods in one God,” or “three Persons in one Person”. It is theological dishonesty, that is all it is. It is a verbal trick, and a cheap one, nothing more. But it gets worse than that. The doctrine of the Trinity is also unbiblical. It teaches that the individual members of the Trinity are coequal. They have equal status within the organization. The Bible, however, tells a different story. The Bible teaches that of the Three members of the Godhead, one of them is God over the other two—has always been, and always will be. Here are some references:

John 14:

28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.

John 20:

17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Romans 15:

6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:

31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.

Ephesians 1:

2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
• • •
17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

Ephesians 5:

20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Colossians 1:

2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

1 Peter 1:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

I am sure they will now say that these refer to Jesus in his humanity, not his divinity. But there is no logical, theological, or scriptural grounds for it. Embedded in the very idea of Father-Son is seniority-subordination. A son is always junior and subordinate​ to the a father. It is God the Father who sends the Son, the Son does not send the Father. The Son worships the Father, the Father does not worship the Son. In his final prayer to the Father Jesus says:

John 17:

5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

This is no longer referring just to his humanity. The the “glory which I had with thee before the world was” was the glory of his divinity, not his humanity. So all is not well with the traditional Christian doctrine of the Trinity. It is a logical absurdity. It violates the law of noncontradiction; it is unscriptural; and it is inherently dishonest theology. Its aim is to bamboozle Christians with verbal trickery into believing a logical fallacy, as well as an unbiblical entity. It is false theology and false doctrine all the way through.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Was King Saul Regenerate?

More interesting videos! I came across the above, in which at 8:56 minutes into the video the following question is asked:

“Was King Saul regenerate, or was he simply empowered by the Holy Spirit as a tool for God’s glory without salvation?”

A couple of people joked that they had never met him! Steve replied that he thought the answer to that was No! But he didn’t specify “no” to what, to the first part of the question or to the second part? Finally Al Mohler pitches in to give it a longer reply, followed by R.C. Sproul. The story of Saul, however, presents a bigger challenge to Reformed theology than the question of whether he had been regenerate or unregenerate. The challenge is presented in the following passage of scripture:

1 Samuel 13:

11 And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;
12 Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.
13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.
14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.

This presents two possible outcomes for Saul depending entirely on his own choices and decisions. His fate was not predetermined. The choice was his, not God’s. God gave him the opportunity. He could have chosen differently, and the outcome would have been different than it turned out to be, which negates predestination and predetermination of Calvinism as R.C. Sproul and others understand it to be. Saul could have chosen differently, and the outcome would have been different. Did God know ahead of time what choices Saul would make? He did! Was Saul predestined to make the choices that he made? The answer given in 1 Samuel 13:13–14 is emphatically NO!

In Reformed theology, as articulated by R.C. Sproul and others, man’s freewill is seen to be incompatible with God’s sovereignty. One cancels the other. If man was totally free, God would cease to be totally sovereign at the same time. In biblical terms, however, the two are not incompatible. Man can retain his total freedom, and God retains his total sovereignty at the same time. In biblical terms, while man is free in the choices he makes, he is not free to determine what the consequences of those choices will be. That is where the sovereignty of God kicks in. God has established a law, and man has the freedom to break that law, but God is in charge overall, and determines what the consequences will be.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Did God Die on the Cross?

I was looking around on the Internet and came across this interesting blog post by R.C. Sproul on the Ligonier website titled, “Did God Die on the Cross?” Here is a quote (emphasis added):

“We believe that Jesus Christ was God incarnate. We also believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross. If we say that God died on the cross, and if by that we mean that the divine nature perished, we have stepped over the edge into serious heresy. . . .

“Some say, “It was the second person of the Trinity Who died.” That would be a mutation within the very being of God, because when we look at the Trinity we say that the three are one in essence, and that though there are personal distinctions among the persons of the Godhead, those distinctions are not essential in the sense that they are differences in being. Death is something that would involve a change in one’s being.

“We should shrink in horror from the idea that God actually died on the cross. The atonement was made by the human nature of Christ. Somehow people tend to think that this lessens the dignity or the value of the substitutionary act, as if we were somehow implicitly denying the deity of Christ. God forbid. It’s the God-man Who dies, but death is something that is experienced only by the human nature, because the divine nature isn’t capable of experiencing death.” [R.C. Sproul Mar 23, 2016 Category: Articles]

I see some theological and linguistic errors in that statement. To say that somebody or something “died,” is not to say that they were annihilated, became extinct, or ceased to exist, or that their “essential nature changed”. Nobody dies in that sense of the term, including man. When man dies, he doesn’t cease to exist. His body may cease to exist as a living organism, but his spirit, the most important part of him, lives on. Jesus was no different. When he died, his spirit lived on, “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” (1 Peter 3:19–20.) If Jesus was God at the time that he died, then it would be right to say that God had died; if he wasn’t, then it wouldn’t be. Since he was, then it is right to say that God died on the for our sins (or the Son of God did, which amounts to the same thing). It doesn’t mean that he ceased to exist, or his essential nature changed, or he ceased functioning as God.

The scriptures actually talk about another kind of death. It is referred to in the book of Revelation as the “second death” (Rev. 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8). This is a spiritual death, also known as damnation. It entails being cut off from the presence (and Spirit) of God. Jesus actually experienced both kinds of death on the cross. The Epistle to the Hebrews gives us a clue:

Hebrews 2:

9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

In what sense did Jesus “taste death for every man?” We know that every man dies. If Jesus had “tasted death for every man,” that means that logically nobody else should die. But we know that they do. The answer is that he experienced spiritual death for us on the cross, as well as natural or physical death. We all die naturally (and get resurrected because of the Atonement), but we don’t all have to die spiritually, because Jesus has already paid that price for us—on condition of our faith and repentance.

So in a very real sense it is right to say that “God died” on the Cross for us. It doesn’t mean that he was annihilated, or ceased to exist, or that his essential nature changed. Nobody “dies” like that, including man. It means that he experienced the pains of physical as well as spiritual death on our behalf. And he experienced it as a Deity, not just as man. He experienced what it means to be damned—so that we might not be, on condition of faith and repentance. But he remained God all along. His divinity never changed in the process. He did not become less divine when he was having those painful experiences. In fact, only a divine being could have experienced such intense suffering and survive it. It was completely out of the power of mortal man to experience or accomplish it.

Mormons are lucky. They know all kinds of great stuff that Evangelicals theologians don’t. And guess where it all comes from. From the Book of Mormon of course—where else! 😇

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ravi Zacharias at the Mormon Tabernacle!

I have just been watching the above video of a sermon that Ravi Zacharias preached at the Mormon Tabernacle a couple of years ago. He has made two big mistakes in his sermon. The first mistake he made was that he thought he could teach Mormons something without learning anything from them. The truth is that there is infinitely more that he could learn from them than he could ever teach them. If he had realized that, he would have been able to preach a more effective sermon. The second mistake he made was that he was more interested in winning the praises and approval of his fellow Evangelical friends and patrons than winning the praises of God. As Jesus repeatedly says in the New Testament, “they have their reward”—but it won’t be from God. For these reasons his sermon has been largely a failure. I can’t think of anything positive to say about it. I don’t intend to analyze his sermon in detail. I will just briefly comment on something that he said towards the end of his sermon. At 56:42 minutes into the video he says the following: 

“I close with two simple illustrations: One of the greatest books ever written is that written by John Bunyan called Pilgrim’s Progress. If you have never read it, you have picked your own pockets. Read it! I think it is accurate to say outside the Bible it has been translated into more languages than any other language [sic] in the world.… Bunyan gives a beautiful climactic moment when pilgrim arrives to the hill where his bag is going to fall off … the burden. You see, he was looking for the celestial city, but he got a shock, you will never get to the celestial city without going through Calvary; you will never get to the celestial city without going to the cross. So the burden falls off, and here is what he says: I saw three shining ones; the angel of dawn, the angel of daybreak, and the angel of dusk. It is allegory. The angel of dawn says, “Thy sins be forgiven thee”. The angel of daybreak takes the new robe and the sandals, and puts it on him; and the angel of dusk gives him a scroll and a mark on the forehead, to move on towards the celestial city. The first, the spiritual; the second, the physical; the third is the scroll, the intellectual to guide him all the way to the celestial city. God is complete in what he gives you and me; forgives you, robes you, guides you, and takes you to the celestial city. What a brilliant allegorical description; the angel of dawn, the angel of daybreak, and the angel of dusk to guide you, to give you the wisdom, to lead you into his eternal presence.”

Well, I have got a bit of advice for him too. There is a book that is of infinitely greater value than Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress. It is called the Book of Mormon. It is a book of scripture, revealed for out time. If he doesn’t take it seriously enough to read and study it very carefully indeed, and learn from it, he has more than “picked his own pocket”. He could rob himself of eternal salvation. If he wants to get to the “celestial city,” the Book of Mormon tells him how. Here is a quote (punctuation revised):

Moroni 8:

25 And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins.
26 And the remission of sins bringeth meekness and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come when all the saints shall dwell with God.

This is how the Book of Mormon says you can get to the “celestial city,” as he (or Bunyan) calls it. There is no other way. My advice to him is to bin John Bunyan’s book, and start reading the Book of Mormon.

Friday, December 2, 2016

How was Abraham justified?

I am having a lot of fun with these videos, keep it coming! I just came across the above, in which at 19:33 minutes into the video R.C. Sproul asks one of the panellists the leading question: “What was the basis of Abraham’s salvation? How was Abraham justified?” To this the respondent (sheepishly) replies: “By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone!” R.C. then retorts: “He is exhibit A!” And the respondent affirms: “Yea! And Paul says that. He is exhibit A!”.

Well, I have got bad news for them. That is not the right answer to that question. The real answer to that question is, It depends on whom you ask! If you ask Paul, that might appear to be the right answer; but if you ask God in the Old Testament, or James in the New Testament, you get a different answer. God’s answer to that question in the Old Testament is as follows:

Genesis 22:

15 And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

Genesis 26:

4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;
5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

And James’ answer is as follows:

James 2:

17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

Here we have the testimony of two against one! God and James are saying one thing, and Paul another. If I have to choose between the two, I would rather chose James and God. This of course does not mean that faith is not important, or that we do not need to have faith. Nor does it mean that we are saved “by our own works”. Nobody is saying that. But there is something fundamentally wrong with the words “faith alone. It is not “faith alone. It is faith followed by repentance, baptism, and keeping God’s commandments (and endure to the end). “Faith alone is the doctrine of the devil. It is the antithesis of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It goes against the very essence of it. It negates the very words used in James 2:17. The “gospel” that the Reformed theologians teach is the gospel of damnation, not the gospel of salvation. It damns anybody who touches it with a barge pole.