John 1:9 and New Scientific Research?

I came across an article so fascinating I have to share it with you! It brought to mind what the author of the Fourth Gospel wrote in his prologue. He states, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (KJV John 1:9).  Check out this article by Michael Guillen titled The spark of life: Science and the Bible meet again

 

To find out more about Michael Guillen visit www.michaelguillen.com

Is Biblical Creationism Illogical?

Is Biblical Creationism Illogical?

Introduction

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1 KJV). It has been stated this is the most read verse of the Bible in all history. This straightforward verse is the foundation on which the resulting revelation of God is formed. Atheists around the globe find the opening line of Scripture to be an outmoded and absurd speculation. They accuse the Bible of being unscientific and anti-intellectual, but is this really the case? Is the biblical creation narrative an irrational assumption void of logic and empirical evidence? This paper will counter the claims of sceptics by utilizing logical inferences and scientific indications for intelligent design, thus, casting serious doubts on the atheistic notion of Darwinian evolution.

The logical methodology employed in this work will be congruent with the correspondence theory of truth. In his book, Christian Apologetics, renowned apologist Douglas Groothius writes, “A belief or statement is true only if it matches with, reflects or corresponds to the reality it refers to.”[1] In other words, this paper will evaluate both the validity of Darwin’s theory of evolution and the biblical theme of creation by seeing how each reflects with the known reality of scientific exploration. It should be noted the existence of God cannot be empirically proven, but neither can evolution be proven. By the close of this argumentative essay it is the author’s hope the reader will see the rationale behind the belief in the biblical creation story. Also, this work seeks to debate the competing ideas of evolution and creationism not the various interpretations of the creation narrative found in Genesis.

“In the Beginning…”

To answer the question which worldview reflects the reality of scientific data? We must first know the claims of science. According to cosmologists, the universe is not eternal, but has its origins in a singular moment of time. Scientists refer to this as the Big Bang. In his book, The Case for a Creator, Lee Strobel, concerning the Big Bang theory, quotes physicist Steven Weinberg as saying,

In the beginning there was an explosion. Not an explosion like those familiar on Earth, starting from a definite center and spreading out to engulf more and more of the circumambient air, but an explosion which occurred simultaneously everywhere, filling all space from the beginning with every particle of matter rushing apart from every other particle. [2]

It is true both atheists and many creationists accept the Big Bang as a viable theory of the origin of all things, however, their perspectives are very different.

First, for the Christian theist this fact does not contradict, but rather reinforces the creation narrative. In the opening verse of the Bible the temporality of universe is declared against the backdrop of the eternalness of God. The Creator-God is reigns in transcendence over the creation. Creationist logic is sound when it asserts the cosmological argument for God. Donald McKim defines this argument as an “argument for God’s existence which proposes that since all things in the universe must have a cause, God must exist as the ultimate cause of all things.”[3] For example, you are reading this paper as a result of an individual mind articulating the words, thoughts, phrases, and taking the time to jot them down to be viewed by others. It would be illogical to believe this work appeared from nothingness, but rather it had a point of origin. This is the reasoning behind creationism.

On the other hand, Darwinian thought excludes the necessity of a creator. It proposes everything visible and invisible, known and unknown, the entirety of the universe spawned from nothing. This defies all logical reasoning. In mathematics, when zero it added to itself or multiplied by itself the answer is a definitively zero. If the universe came into existence with an explosion, where did the initial spark originate? An explosion cannot occur from nothingness, because there is nothing to initiate or to fuel this eruption. In other words, the only logical explanation is there is an eternal Creator outside the universe which was (and continues to be) the ultimate cause. The phrase of the creation story, “In the beginning God…” (Gen. 1:1 KJV), is really not illogical, but rationally reflects known scientific evidences.

 “… God Created the Heavens and the Earth.”

The biblical plot of creation moves forward and reveals this eternal God is very innovative, but does this reflect reality? To further bolster the claim for intelligent design and to deconstruct the notion of natural selection a survey of the evidences from the fields of physics, astronomy, and biology will be explored.

First, is there any evidence for creationism in the field of physics? The prime signal for intelligent design can be witnessed in the “anthropic principle”. Strobel quotes scientist Patrick Glynn as stating, “…all the seemingly arbitrary and unrelated constants in physics have one strange thing in common – these are precisely the values you need if you want a universe capable of producing life.”[4] Is this merely a coincidence as evolutionist suggest? Strobel recounts physicist Robin Collins illustration, “Let’s say you were way out in space and were going to throw a dart at random toward Earth. It would be like successfully hitting a bull’s eye on trillionth of an inch in diameter.”[5] It appears the odds are stacked against evolutionary assumptions in the field of physics, but an intelligent mind can account for these exactitudes.

Secondly, does the field of astronomy yield any contrary testimonies to biblical creationism? Unfortunately, the evolutionist does not fare well in this category either. The precision of Earth’s placement appears to intentional for wellbeing of the inhabitants of the planet. For example, Benjamin Zuckerman, a professor in astronomy at University of California at Los Angeles explains the importance of Jupiter’s role in sustaining life on Earth. He argues,

It is that gravitational force that benefits Planet Earth. When massive objects that could do great harm to our planet hurl through our solar system, Jupiter acts as a vacuum cleaner, sucking comets and asteroids into itself or causing them to veer away from Earth. Without Jupiter Earth would be a sitting duck.[6]

This is merely one illustration of the fine tuning of the universe to enable life on Earth. It would be impossible to identify all the astronomical elements which are conducive to life on Earth, a few more would be our place in solar system, our solar system’s residence in the Milky Way Galaxy, and finally the Milky Way’s home in the universe. Natural selection cannot account for all these precise placements. For illustration, it would be far more probable to throw several decks of playing cards in the air and each suit within each deck of cards land in numerical order. It is highly illogical to assert that random chance would establish such a finely tuned Cosmos, but intelligent design can rationally explain the fastidiousness found in the field of astronomy.

Finally, does the various fields of biology support the creation narrative? First, by examining the fossil record one encounters the “biological big bang” called the Cambrian Explosion. Geologist Keith Miller defines this event as “the relative rapidity of diversification of invertebrates during the Cambrian”[7] period. This surge of new phylas does not contradict, but rather strengthens the creationist viewpoint. The Bible records, “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so” (Gen 1:24 KJV).

However, on the other hand, this swell of new complex lifeforms defies Darwin’s theory of evolution. In fact, Darwin himself was counting the discovery of new fossils to support his notion of natural selection, but time has been very unfriendly to Darwinian evolution. Another self-inflicted wound is Darwin’s necessity for copious amount of time for his evolutionary theory to work is negated by the brevity of the Cambrian Era. In other words, time has run out for Darwin’s assertions.

Another salient point in the field of biology is the uncovered “language of life.”[8] Discoveries in DNA sequencing has revolutionized the field of biology. Much like characters of a book, DNA is intelligently positioned to inform the linking of amino acids. This process is specific and complex. Mike Chapman writes, “Science says that anytime one see a specified complexity there must be intelligence behind it.”[9] Natural selection fails miserably at explaining this phenomenon, but intelligent design is seen as a plausible assumption.

The Repercussions of the God-hypothesis

            As illustrated in the aforementioned scientific evidences of various fields of study, the creationist worldview fits closer to reality than the evolution’s worldview, thus, arguably bolstering the plausibility of creationism. But what repercussion does the God-hypothesis have on humankind? If man’s existence is not caused by random acts of natural selection, then one can only assume man is here for a purpose. He is accountable to the Creator. The denial of God in evolution attempts to do away with this responsibility. Yet, many logical and scientific evidences point to the notion of intelligent design. The question is whether the creature will submit to the Creator? The God which was in the beginning has revealed Himself to mankind in all generations and man will be responsible for his response to this Creator- God.

Conclusion

In conclusion, after briefly surveying the fields of cosmology, physics, astronomy, and biology it is apparent Darwin’s theory of evolution is not supported by science. In fact, it is merely a godless philosophy, which is being overshadowed by the evidences pointing to intelligent design. On the other hand, the biblical creation story is neither outmoded nor illogical, but all the more a plausible reality. Case in point, the Scripture declared these truths generations before modern science! The canon of Scripture is accurate and reliable source of truth.

BIBILOGRAPHY

Chapman, Mike. A Journey through the Old Testament, Ed. Homer Rhea. Cleveland, TN: Pathway Press, 2001.

Groothius, Douglas. Christian Apologetic: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 2011.

Larson, Brain C.  750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers, and Writers.Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998.

McKim, Donald. Westminster’s Dictionary of Theological Terms.Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996.

Miller, Keith B. “The Fossil Record of the Cambrian “Explosion”: Resolving the Tree of Life.” Perspectives On Science & Christian Faith 66, no. 2 (June 2014): 67-82. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed January 31, 2016).

Strobel, Lee. The Case for a Creator. Grand Rapids, MI; Zondervan, 2004.

[1] Douglas Groothius, Christian Apologetic: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 2011), 124.

[2] Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator (Grand Rapids, MI; Zondervan, 2004), 114.

[3] Donald McKim, Westminster’s Dictionary of Theological Terms (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996), 63.

[4] Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator, 155.

[5] Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator, 165.

[6] Brain C. Larson, 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers, and Writers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998), 97-98.

[7] Keith B. Miller, “The Fossil Record of the Cambrian “Explosion”: Resolving the Tree of Life”, Perspectives On Science & Christian Faith 66, no. 2 (June 2014): 67-82. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed January 31, 2016), 68.

[8] Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator, 272.

[9] Mike Chapman, A Journey through the Old Testament, Ed. Homer Rhea, (Cleveland, TN: Pathway Press, 2001), 52.

Richard Dawkins & The God Delusion

Are creationists delusional? Richard Dawkins argues the notion of God is a delusion and Darwinian evolution is the only true and rational explanation of the existence of all things. According to the logical law of bivalence this statement is either true or false. Douglas Groothius writes, in his book Christian Apologetics, “A belief or statement is true only if it matches with, reflects or corresponds to the reality it refers to.”[1] This leads one to the question, which worldview is valid? Darwinian evolution or Creationism? In this post, I will attempt to prove the assumptions of Dawkins to be illogical (or maybe downright delusional) and give credibility to the theory of Intelligent Design. Also, after illustrating the plausibility of creationism, I will share why I believe the Christian worldview is the most reasonable.

Which worldview corresponds with the scientific facts? Often, it is presumed Darwinians have the many fields of science in their corner, but this is merely an erroneous assumption. I will give three examples that wield the deathblow to the Darwinian worldview.

First, science has proven the universe is not eternal, but rather came into existence at a certain point in time. A majority of scientists adhere to the Big Bang theory to account for origins of the universe. Both Darwinians and creationist agree this is very acceptable, but the evolutionist has a difficult time explaining exactly how this enormous explosion happened from nothing. Nothing happening to nothing and igniting an explosion which in return causes everything to come to be is very illogical. However, if there was a God who initiated this explosion and created all things Ex Nihilo or out of nothing would be reasonable, because you must have a painter to have a painting.

Second, Darwinian evolution is at odds with the fossil record. In fact, Darwin was counting on future fossil discoveries to bolster his claim, but overtime this has not been the case. The Cambrian Explosion or a “the biological big bang” places the last nail in the coffin to Darwin’s theory. At this period of time, the fossil record shows an enormous amount of biological advancements in organisms that cannot be explained by Darwinian evolution. There is simply not enough time in this period to allow for Darwin’s theory of evolution to take place, but a creator could accomplish it! These advance organisms lead nicely to my final piece of evidence against macroevolution.

Third, Darwin’s theory cannot rectify the existence of irreducible complex molecular machines. For example, the bacterial flagellum. Biochemist Michael Behe states,

Just picture an outboard motor on a boat and you get a pretty good idea of how the flagellum functions, only the flagellum is far more incredible. The flagellum’s propeller is long and whip-like, made out of a protein called flagellin. This is attached to a drive shaft by hook protein, which acts as a universal joint, allowing the propeller and drive shaft to rotate freely. Several types of proteins act as a bushing material to allow the drive shaft to penetrate the bacterial wall and attach to the rotary motor.[2]

Evolution argues that this came in to existence over time, but without all of the aforementioned components the bacterial flagellum would not work. I have not mentioned the complexity of DNA information found in living cells! Evolutionist cannot explain these by natural selection, but intelligent design can!

After exploring how Darwinian evolution and intelligent design add up against only three scientific facts it is easy to see evolution falls drastically short. Darwinian evolution simple does not reflect or correspond with reality, thus it is false. Yet, intelligent design is a very logical assumption.

As promised, since I have only made an argument for intelligent design so far, I will now explain why I believe the Christian worldview is the most plausible of all. I will utilize the previous examples of scientific evidence to simplify my argument. First, Christianity has always agreed with science that the world was not eternal. This eliminates all religions that view the universe as ever-existing. The Bible clearly states, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. … 3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Gen 1:1, 3 KJV). This very well could be the scientific “Big Bang”. Second, the Cambrian Explosion can be explained by Genesis’ account of creation as well. It states, “25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that [it was] good” (Gen 1:25 KJV). Furthermore, the intricate details of irreducible complex molecular machines and DNA are easily rectified with the Christian worldview.

What is the difference between Christianity’s claim and other monotheistic faiths, like Judaism and Islam? Why should it be chosen? In the following paragraphs I will answer these all important questions.

First, the differences between Christianity and other religions is that Christianity is incarnational. It claims this Creator-God came and dwelt among mankind in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Although, other religions may mention Jesus of Nazareth in their religious texts, only Christianity acknowledges Him as the Son of God. This statement is either true or false. Did Christ claim to be God? Some argue, like Islam, Christianity has perverted His teaching and distorted the Bible. But the Bible has a superb record for reflecting reality. For example, many outside sources corroborate the claims of Scripture, especially the Gospels. The four biographies can be trusted to depict the proper image of Jesus of Nazareth, because they were written by eyewitnesses or accomplices of these eyewitness within close proximity of the event happenings. The stories of Christ were pasted on orally for approximately 20 to 30 year (maybe less) and then written down with great historical accuracy. This may appear to be a long time, but in an oral culture this could be done without difficulty.

Secondly, the Christian worldview answers all the major question of where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? It does this without contradicting the scientific realities of the known universe. Also, the accounts of the death, burial, and resurrection have been meticulously passed down through the generation. Often, people will object saying it is anti-intellectual, unscientific, racist, sexist, homophobic, imperialistic, unconcerned for nature, and has unappealing view of afterlife, but not one of these claims can be found in the teachings of Christ when they are correctly expounded. I am convinced that the Christian worldview it the most logical.

In conclusion, are Christian creationist delusional? I believe the logic and scientific evidence speaks for themselves. Richard Dawkins may very well be guilty of exactly what he accuses creationists of being, delusional. There is no evidence to support macroevolution, in fact, all the evidence points to intelligent design. Furthermore, they do not merely point to ambiguous intelligent design, but to Jesus Christ. The author of Hebrews states, “And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:” (Heb 1:10 KJV). God is more than an emotional crutch for unintelligent people to learn on, but there is significant evidences to Him being the Eternal Mind that instituted and sustains all of the universe. The Christian worldview is not a delusion!

[1] Douglas Groothius, Christian Apologetics (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2011).124.

[2] Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), 253.

Muslims Covert After Dreams

Many think that our Muslim brothers and sisters are beyond hope, but this video tells a different story. Jesus shed his blood for all of humanity, which includes those that follow Islam. The mainline news will not report stories like this, but I wanted to help get the message out. Please remember, in the end every knee will bow and tongue confess our Lord! Watch the video below and let me know what you think.

Defending Dogma : An Apologetic Response to Karl Barth’s Doctrine of the Trinity

Defending Dogma : An Apologetic Response to Karl Barth’s Doctrine of the Trinity

What is God like? Is He monadic in nature or is He triune? This has been the source of great contention for many great thinkers throughout history. Many view the concept of Trinity as a creation of heretics in the early church. They accuse Trinitarian Christians of being tri-theistic, but is this an accurate accusation? Often, opponents point out that the word “trinity” is nowhere to be found in the canon of Holy Scripture. However, Trinitarian theologian Karl Barth counters this argument by stating that the doctrine of the Trinity is “appropriate” dogma of the church universal. By examining Karl Barth’s doctrine of the Trinity, we can witness that although not directly revealed in Scripture, it is a correct dogmatic understanding of the nature of God, thus refuting other monarchist views. It is the intent of this work to investigate the grounds of Barth’s reasoning by looking to the Scriptures exegetically and by surveying teachings of the Church Fathers

Who is Karl Barth?

First, Karl Barth was born May 10, 1886 in Basel, Switzerland. He was a theologian that had been schooled in the German inspired liberal theology of the Nineteenth Century, but later in his life he became critical of this branch of theology. He is accredited of launching the Neo-orthodox movement. This movement had seen the shortcomings of liberal theology in the wake of the World at War and offered another perspective. He sent shockwaves through the theological world when he published The Epistle to the Romans in 1933. In a biographical sketch it is written of Barth,

An indefatigable worker and prolific writer, Barth produced more than five hundred books, articles, sermons, and papers during the course of his long and illustrious career. His magnum opus, Die kirchliche Dogmatik (Church Dogmatics , 1936-1969, 1975), the first volume of which appeared in 1932, grew to thirteen large books totaling more than nine thousand pages in German (Bilhartz).

Karl Barth passed away in his hometown of Basel, Switzerland on December 10, 1968.

His Trinitarian Views

First, the doctrine of the Trinity, for Barth, is interwoven with the doctrine of revelation. He argued that God had revealed Himself as triune in nature within the gospel of Christ. It was in the Incarnation we received the revelation of the doctrine of the Trinity. Barth writes,

The act of revelation as such carries with it the fact that God has not withheld Himself from men as true being, but that He has given no less that Himself to men as the overcoming of their need, and light in their darkness – Himself as the Father in His Own Son by the Holy Spirit” (Barth, 38).

It is clear to see from the statement above, Barth had no qualms for attributing divinity to each member of the Godhead. Barth’s entire theology hinged on the Trinitarian view of God. He argues “that God reveals Himself as Lord” (Barth, 308).

Secondly, Barth noted that the doctrine of the Trinity is not directly revealed in Scripture, but rather is a dogmatic teaching of the church.  He writes,

The doctrine on the Trinity is an analysis of this statement [see quote above], i.e., of what it denotes. The doctrine of the Trinity is a work of the Church, a record of its understanding of the statement or of its object, a record of its knowledge of God or of its battle against error and on behalf of the objectivity of its proclamation, a record of its theology and to that degree of its faith, and only to that extent, only indirectly, a record of revelation (Barth, 308).

In a nutshell, Barth argues that the Incarnate Christ is the moment of clear revelation of triune nature of the Godhead and the Bible, produced by the church, is a record of this fact. All through Scripture, God has been hinting to His nature, but it becomes apparent in Jesus the Christ. The revelation of Christ and the revelation of Holy Scripture identify the doctrine of the Trinity.

What does Scripture Reveal?

If Barth’s placement of the doctrine of the Trinity in the arena of church dogmatics is correct, we should be able to reproduce or prove his assertions by looking to the Scriptures. Don K. McKim defines dogmatics as, “the formal study of the Christian faith which presents its beliefs and doctrines in an organized and systematic way. (McKim, 81). It is the intent to appeal dogmatically and exegetically to the Scriptures in this section to affirm the hints of the Trinity given to us by God in the Bible.

Trinity in the Old Testament

First, God attests to the validity of the doctrine of the Trinity at the very beginning of His
revelation. The Trinity is alluded to be present in the act of creation. The Bible states, “In the beginning God [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth” (KJV, Gen. 1:1). The word used in this passage that we translate in English as “God” is the Hebrew word Elohim. This is the plural form of the Hebrew word and it could be translated as “gods” and indeed has been elsewhere in Scripture. Yet, it should be noted the singular verb “created” (Heb. Bara) indicates plurality of a single object. Bryan Murphy states, “The normal way to tell the difference in most OT contexts is that Elohim is used in conjunction with singular verbs and predicators when it refers to the God of Israel” (Murphy, 168). On the other hand, when Elohim is used in identifying the gods of the Canaanites a plural verb is used in conjunction with it. Although, this could be seen as God revealing himself as one in essence, but with multiple distinctions, scholars on both side of the argument say this simply could be majestic speech on behalf of God. We need to look further on into the creation account to prove Barth’s assertion correct.

We encounter the use of the plural noun Elohim in Genesis 1:26. The Bible records, “And God [Elohim] said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” (KJV, Gen. 1:26). Who is God speaking to? In his article about the Trinity in the creation story, Murphy writes, “In Gen. 1:26 there is a significant deviation from the syntactical pattern followed throughout the creation narrative. A statement of deliberation is made-seemingly within the Godhead itself” (Murphy, 172).  This apparent communication between the divine hypostases allude to the affirmation of Barth’s concept of the Trinity which is indirectly revealed through Scripture.

Secondly, how are we to handle the Shema found in the Book of Deuteronomy? Does it not declare the God of Israel is one? The Shema states, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one [echad]!” (NASB, Deut. 4:6). The key to viewing the shema in a Trinitarian sense is the Hebrew word echad, which is translated in English as “one”.  In his article on the Trinity, Kevin Giles writes, “The word translated into English “one” in the Shema is the Hebrew word echad. It can be used to speak of the unity of husband and wife. In the New Testament, the belief that God is one continues to be affirmed” (Giles, 14).  In other words, the term echad does denote oneness, but with the capability of have multiple distinctions within the “one”. After hearing the shema recited on face value, some would accuse Christians of being tri-theistic, but upon a closer look one can see such claims are erroneously false. Also, on a side note, it is nteresting the names attributed to God appear three times in the shema. Could this have been an indication of God’s triune nature that Barth spoke about?

Furthermore, could there have been a vision of the distinct persons within the Godhead? In fact many scholars believe this is exactly the case in the vision recorded in the Book of
Daniel. The Bible states,

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed (KJV, Dan. 7:13-14).

It is clear that “one like the Son of man” approaches the “Ancient of Days”, but what could this mean? Could it be that the “Ancient of Days” is the unbegotten Father and the one approaching is God the Son? It is clear that the “one like the Son of man” is given attributes reserved for God. For instance, He is coming of the clouds of heaven. Also, He is given dominion, glory, and a kingdom! Some would argue that this, if anything, proves a bi-unity. Yet, could it be the “shy” member of the Trinity is staying away from the spotlight? Or it could be stated the Holy Spirit’s presence is affirmed in the fact a person is able to read of such inspired vision. Finally, it is easy to see from these few passages the doctrine of the Trinity is alluded to all through the Old Testament.

Trinity in the New Testament

It may seem trivial to document evidences of the Trinity in the New Testament, but this is the portion of Scripture where the triune nature of the Godhead is presented with clarity. Barth knew the New Testament surrounded around the death, burial, and resurrection of the Incarnate Christ. It is within this Incarnation the Trinity is revealed to the Church. The Church in turn, analyzed the information presented by the Incarnation and then it formulated the doctrine of the Trinity.

First, the Threeness of God is illustrated at the baptism of Christ in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. The Bible records,

And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (KJV, Matt. 3:16-17).

Although, some may object to this passage being used for a defense of Trinitarian dogma on the basis that it does not affirm the divinity of Christ (I will refute the claim Monarchianism later), it is paramount to viewing the distinctions within the Trinity. God the Son is being submerged into the waters baptism, then we see the Spirit of God descending in the form of a dove, and finally God the Father speaks with affirmation of the Son.  Again, this passage may be weak apologetically, but it does define the distinctions of Father, Son, and Spirit. Also, this is the basis of the baptismal formulas found in Matthew 28.

Secondly, to support the divinity of the Son, which is needed for the doctrine to stand, we come to Jesus’ high priestly prayer. The Apostle John writes,

5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was… 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. 24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world (KJV, John 17:5, 21-24).

This passage clearly refutes the notion of Jesus of Nazareth being adopted by God at his baptism. It is also clear that, although distinct from the Father, the Son is of the same substance or homoousios with the Father. Jesus of Nazareth is the eternally begotten Son of God the unbegotten Father!

On the other hand, how do you properly handle the statement of Christ in John 14:28? The Bible states, “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” (KJV, 14:28). The statement must be viewed through the kenosis of the Son according to Philippian 2. Christ divested himself to human form, but kept his divinity in order to bring salvation to mankind.

In summary, although not directly revealed in Scripture, it is quite evident that the Trinity is a proper understanding of the nature of God. Thus, Barth was correct in his assumption that the doctrine of the Trinity is a dogmatic teaching of the church. Yet, this work would not be complete without looking at the early teachings of the Church.

The Trinity and the Church’s Teachings

What did the early church teach concerning the Trinity? In fact, the era of the Apologists came about due to the Church facing outside pressures. The Roman Empire had viewed Christianity as a sect within Judaism, but the Jews accused Christians of being olytheistic.  To name a few, men like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyons, Tertullian, and Athanasius rose to the challenge of defending the orthodox view of the Christian faith. It is important to mention that the doctrine of the Trinity is solidified as heresies were put to rest. This essay will only look to a few Church Fathers to confirm Barth’s view of the doctrine of the Trinity.

First, Justin Martyr was one of the first apologists to come on the scene to defend the divinity of the Son. He argued that the Father and the Son were different in number, but the same in will.  Terry Cross in his work on the doctrine of the Trinity explains Justin’s reasoning when he writes, “… the Logos is like a fire that is set by another fire; or a torch lit by another torch. The first torch and second torch are numerically distinct, yet both are fire. The first fire is not diminished by the second one that is lighted” (Cross, 4). Logically speaking, Justin Martyr seen Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ or the Logos of God. The two were one and the same. This was laying of the foundation for Church’s the doctrine of the Trinity.

Secondly, Irenaeus of Lyons was a staunch supporter of the doctrine of the Trinity.
Irenaeus coined the expression the “two hands” of God, as he spoke of the work of the Spirit in creation and the Son in redemption. M.C. Steenberg writes,

His confession of Christ raised to the Father by the Spirit, who thus is the ‘cosmic Christ’ inasmuch as he raises with him-self the cosmos of his formation, is the bedrock of his whole theological vision, and this tri-personal reality stands as the foundation on which rest Irenaeus’ views regarding every aspect of Christian theology (Steenberg, 62).

Thus, we can see that concept of Trinity was at work in this early Church Father’s theology. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit was paramount to Irenaeus of Lyons understanding of the nature of God.

Furthermore, some would argue the church invented the term Trinity and they would be absolutely correct! Tertullian was the first to coin the phrase Trinitas or Trinity. Trinity is nowhere in the Scripture, but the concept is there. The deity was Christ was taught and believed on in the early church. Church Fathers, like Tertullian, merely acknowledged the triune nature that was revealed in Christ and the Scripture.

 Even furthermore, some would argue that the Trinity was a later addition to Christian doctrine, but that simply is not case. As mentioned above, the term Trinity was coined by Tertullian in the Third Century, but according to Athanasius’ defense against Arius the triune nature of God was the teaching of the Apostles! In his argument against the Arian heresy, he appealed to the Rule of Faith which was the doctrines handed down from the Apostles themselves. This Rule of Faith actually even predates the canonized New Testament. So, to state that the Trinity is a later invention or addition is absurd.

 The Councils of the Church and the Creeds they produced clearly teach the doctrine of the Trinity. This doctrine can be seen in one of the most recited and beloved creeds. The Nicene Creed declares the Trinity! It states boldly,

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.  Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.  And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the
Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and
glorified; who spoke by the prophets.  And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen (Nicene Creed).

This creedal response was forged in the furnace of fiery conflict to explain the nature of God. It answers with a resounding, Yes, God is Trinity!

In summarizing this section, the Trinity is and has always been the orthodox view of the God of the Bible. He is one in essence, but three in persons. This affirms Barth’s concept of the doctrine of the Trinity being a dogmatic teaching of the Church.

Monarchianism Rebutted 

On the other hand, there are some that may object to the Trinitarian doctrine of God as put forth in this work. They see God as a monarch or one ruling sovereign over the cosmos. According to Grenz et al, Monarchianism was “a movement in the second and third centuries that attempted to safeguard monotheism and the unity of the Godhead. By denying the personal reality of the Son and the Spirit as separate from the Father, however, this defensive attempt resulted in an anti-Trinitarian heresy” (Grenz et al, 80). Although, there is many variations of this heresy, it can easily be divided into two camp; Dynamic Monarchianism and Modalistic Monarchianism.

First, Dynamic Monarchianism views Jesus as merely a Spirit empowered prophet. Christ is a man, thus, prohibiting him from being of the same substance of the Father. This heresy is still ongoing in factions like the Jehovah’s Witness, Christadelphians, and Unitarians. This heresy was debunked by Athanasius by appealing to the soteriological work of Christ. How could a mere man reunite God and man? Could we save ourselves? The only hope mankind has in the redeeming work of the God-man, Jesus Christ.

Secondly, Modalistic Monarchianism views the Father, Son, and Spirit as modes of
appearance of the one God. In other words, there is one God without any distinctions with
Himself. He is a monad. Oneness Pentecostals are adherents to this doctrinal error. To challenge this claim, one needs to look at the baptism of Christ found in Scripture. There were three distinct personalities. Also, one could appeal to “God being love”. How can God be love if there is not an object of love? The object cannot be creation, because this would make God dependent on creation. No, God must have distinctions within the Godhead to which He can give and receive love.

Conclusion 

In conclusion, the doctrine of the Trinity is not directly spoke of in Scripture, but the concept is ever present. When one looks at the clues contain in Scripture it is easy to confirm Barth’s theology of the nature of God correct. Also, it is supported by an overwhelmingly majority of early Church Fathers as a legitimate view of God’s nature. By investigation of Scripture and history, Barth’s claim that the doctrine of Trinity is a dogmatic teaching  of the orthodox Church is affirmed.

Works Cited
Bilhartz, Terry D. “Karl Barth.” Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia (2014): Research
Starters. Web. 17 Apr. 2015.

Barth, Karl, Geoffrey William. Bromiley, and Thomas F. Torrance. Church Dogmatics. London: T. & T. Clark International, 2004. Print.

Barth, Karl, and Helmut Gollwitzer. Church Dogmatics. Louisville, KY: Westminster John
Knox, 1994. Print.

Cross, Terry L., A History of Christian Doctrines (Chapters 1-3), PDF text. Cleveland, TN: no publisher, 2013. Print.

Giles, Kevin. “The Orthodox Doctrine Of The Trinity.” Priscilla Papers 26.3 (2012): 12-23.
Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 Apr. 2015.

Grenz, Stanley J., David Guretzki, and Cherith Fee. Nordling. Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1999. Print.

“Historic Creeds and Confessions.” – Christian Classics Ethereal Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2015.

King James Bible. S.l.: Thomas Nelson, 1991. Print

Murphy, Bryan. “The Trinity In Creation.” Master’s Seminary Journal 24.2 (2013): 167-177.
ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials. Web. 17 Apr. 2015.

NASB Compact Reference Bible: New American Standard Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 2000. Print.

Tawhid vs. Trinity Debate

Last night, my inner theology nerd was satisfied, as I watched a great debate between two opposing views. Dr. Nabeel Qureshi (a former Muslim) and Imam Dr. Shabir Ally went head to head debating what God was really like – Tawhid or Trinity?

The debate was organized by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. It was broadcasted from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. The debate was handled in a  very professional manner.  The atmosphere was one of respect and scholarship. If you haven’t watched the debate, I am including the video in this post. So what are you waiting for?

 

 

In addition to the video, I am providing some research of my own within the post. So, please feel free to download and read about the genetic development of the Trinity. This was an interesting topic that I researched for a class at Lee University.  Click here The Doctrine of the Trinity_Research Paper

In closing, let me know who you think won the debate. Also, if the research I posted on the topic was helpful let me know, as well! God bless!