Re: Calling Jesus God

From: David Moore (
Date: Thu Sep 21 1995 - 22:58:51 EDT

Paul Moser <> wrote:

>Larry Hurtado's distinction between the linguistic evidence
>and the functional evidence in the NT regarding the divinity
>of Jesus is plausible and important. The essays I noted
>by France and Baukham treat some important functional
>evidence, whereas the essays by Taylor and Wainwright focus
>on linguistic evidence. Translators should be cautious
>about using inferences from the functional evidence to
>settle delicate ambiguities in the linguistic evidence
>(e.g., in the translations of Rom 9:5, Titus 2:13, Heb
>1:8). The NRSV and various other mainline translations
>fail on this score, at least at a few important points.
>It's misleading at best to work with the assumption that
>Paul and various other NT writers held either that "Jesus is
>God" or that the orthodox doctrine of the trinity is true.
>This would be to read later developments into the minds
>of various NT writers. It is arguable that the later
>developments offer the best explanation of the relevant
>data offered by the NT writers, but it is quite another
>matter to propose that the various NT writers themselves
>had this best explanation. Even though the author of
>John and the apostle Paul (cf. Phil 2) had certain
>conceptions of the divinity of Jesus, it is not at all
>clear that they, or any other NT writer, knew how
>to elaborate those conceptions in accordance with
>later trinitarian monotheism. At least, the burden
>of proof is definitely with the person who holds

        Aren't you creating a straw man, Paul? The only people I know of
who are maintaining that the Trinity as a full-blown doctrine is taught in
the apostolic writings are those who still maintain that I John 5:7 is
part of the original text. A much more usual position among Evangelicals
is that the formulations by the apostles constitute the NT data that is
the basis of the doctrine of the tiunity of God.

        If the NT, within the larger biblical context, teaches the deity
of the Father, the deity of the Son and the deity of the Holy Spirit while
maintaining God's essential unity, then the doctrine of the Trinity may
legitimately spring from the NT data. Most systematic theologies give
detailed explanations of this very point. It is the exegete's task to
interpret the biblical data - in essence, to provide the theologian with
the biblical information he needs to do theology (although often,
theologians are also exegetes). It is logical that biblical
interpretation should agree with theology if the latter sprang from the
former. To say that the usual interpretations of Heb. 1:8 and of Titus
2:13, for instance, are suspect since they agree with certain theological
dictums does not constitute a weighty argument.

        If it could be shown by sound exegesis that the biblical data do
not support the idea of the deity of Christ, then one could legitimately
question the doctrine of the Trinity. The interpretation is not _ipso
facto_ incorrect because it supports the Trinity - only if it can be shown
to be incorrectly used in this sense.

David L. Moore Southeastern Spanish District
Miami, Florida of the Assemblies of God Department of Education

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