Opinions on faith and life

Trinity Debate Assessment, Part 4

2008-10-28

Under “3. Rebuttals”, Affirmative

The affirmative asserts that although incarnational events don’t necessarily equate to eternal truths about Jesus’ divinity, they still insist that the relationships among the Persons are not presuppositions but have scriptural support. Then a personal attack is made, wherein the motivations of the Negative are called into question. Next an appeal is made to the fact that many things are held to be true in spite of the fact that they have to be inferred. Yet all of the inferences they have made have been philosophical presuppositions without any direct scriptural support (e.g. the sender outranks the sent, the terms Father and Son must be terms of hierarchy).

Finally, they use the tu quoque fallacy which basically amounts to “So you think we’re promoting a heretical view of God? Well, that’s nothing compared to your heresy!” Specifically, they claim that they are (falsely) accused of believing Jesus is a lesser God, but that it is much worse to promote an idea they think resembles Modalism. But this charge of Modalism is completely false because the Negative states clearly that there is One God in three Persons. The Affirmative does indeed have to choose between Jesus being made a lesser God and their self-contradictory claim that permanent subordination is compatible with equality of being.

Under “3. Rebuttals”, Negative

The Negative is fully justified in calling the charge of Modalism a cheap shot. (I loved the little addition, “If not a cheap shot, a moderately priced one”!) They point out that scripture does not support the claim that only the Father has authority over creation, and even if it did, it really does nothing to prove that the Father has always had, or will always have, authority over the Son. Then they make the additional point that if relationships can change, then they are not necessary relations.

Under “4. Follow-up”, Affirmative

The affirmative repeats its assertion that if God reveals himself as Father and Son (again the Spirit is ignored in this), that the Negative’s claim of non-necessary hierarchy is a denial of what God has said about himself. Of course this is a false charge; they never denied that God uses terms like Father and Son about himself. And in spite of the fact that the Negative believes in God in three Persons, they repeat the charge of Modalism by asking quite sarcastically what the differences are between the three Persons. They then claim victory due to their “massive support” from scripture. Lastly, they accuse the Negative of misunderstanding a book written by the Affirmative on the Trinity, along with another appeal to “church fathers”.

Under “4. Follow-up”, Negative

Since the Affirmative keeps trying to use “church fathers” as authoritative sources, the Negative points out that not all of them are unified in support of the Affirmative view. Then they challenge the Affirmative to address the meaning of subordination. Phil. 2:5-11 is then presented as proof that Jesus had given up his authority and equality with the Father in the incarnation. One has to have possessed something in order to give it up.

Regardless of what anyone intended to say (which is an argument typically offered when one cannot answer a challenge on what they actually said), it remains that saying Jesus was subordinate to the Spirit during the incarnation yet that the Spirit is also eternally subordinate to the Son is contradictory.

The final post in this series is up next, and it will cover the final comments and conclusions. (or back to Part Three)