I already said that I’m not going to engage into a debate with you, a disputation, according to your words. I don’t know if by what I’m going to write I’m breaking or not my promise, from my point of view I’m not because I’m not entering into dispute with you, I’m only clarifying things.
Still waiting for you to dispute my argument, Nate, you can spout of about Nestorianism all you want.
This is hilarious because you have no clue what about what Nestorianism was and you assume that we disagree with what you said about Christ’s frailty that characterizes his humanity. Your argument is entirely directed at what you perceive to be the point of dispute: Christ’s humanity. You waisted a lot of energy to argue for something that is a moot point. Consequently what it follows is not an argument against your argument, but a clarification of Nate’s point and also my previous statement which was in line with Nate’s argument.
Patriarch Nestorius argued against a technical term which was attributed by the orthodox divines to Mary, mother of Jesus. The technical term was theotokos, mother of God. He thought that it’s inappropriate to speak about a human being, Mary, as mother of God, but only as mother of man, the man Christ Jesus. He was in favor of Christotokos, Mother of Christ.
His error was found in the denial of Mary as being the mother of the person of Christ, in which both his human nature and divine nature are inseparable. According to his view, Mary could be only the mother of Christ’s human nature, implicitly denying that Christ’s natures are inseparable, denying that Christ’s Person is indivisible. The orthodox view was that Christ was 100% man and 100% God, something that is incomprehensible to our reason and can be accepted only by faith.
Nestorius error was in his unwillingness to take into account that Jesus is also God in such a way that it’s impossible to speak about Him, about His person, without making reference to both of his natures, human and divine. He cannot speak about Christ in a way that takes into account only his humanity, and speak about Mary as mother of only Christ but not God. Christ’s person cumulates in him even the opposite characteristics of his natures.
For example, Christ’s human nature is not omnipresent, while his divine nature is. When he was on earth, in his human nature Christ was confined to Palestine, while in his divine nature He was omnipresent. See Calvin’s formulation in his extra calvinisticum. The easy error is to deny Jesus’ divinity by using his humanity as the measuring stick. For example, it may be said that because Christ’s humanity was not omnipresent, Jesus could not be omnipresent. Or because in his humanity He was not omniscient, He as a Person was not omniscient. It’s a judgment about his entire Person based exclusively on one of his natures, basically the human. These errors resemble Nestorius error: denial of the unity of Christ’s Person, the indivisibility of his Person and the impossibility of separating his natures.
Now when we came to the issue at hand, we are not denying the frailty of Jesus human nature. As 100% he was weak, he could sin. But we should take into account that while he was 100% man, he was also 100% God and God was not weak, God could not sin. The parallel with the omnipresence case is illuminating.
Human nature: not omnipresent
Divine nature: omnipresent
Jesus’ Person: omnipresent
Notice that the error would be to arrive at the result that Jesus as a Person could not be omnipresent because his human nature could not be omnipresent.
The case about sin:
Human nature: weak, could sin
Divine nature: holy, immutable, could not sin
Jesus’ Person: could not sin
Notice again that the error would be to argue that Jesus could sin because his human nature could sin, to think that when the line is drawn, the result can be evaluated without taking into account his divinity. Nestorius thought the same, that he can speak about Jesus as being human without speaking of him as being divine and it’s OK to say that Mary is not God’s mother.
When somebody argues that Jesus could sin by affirming that his human nature could sin he’s arguing on the same line as if he was saying “Jesus could not be omnipresent because his human nature couldn’t be omnipresent”. It takes only his human nature into account and present the entire Person of Christ through the lens of only his human nature, as his divine nature can be set aside from the equation. It can’t. It will open a can or worms and if somebody is consistent in this approach he will go straight into Arianism.
Another irony of the situation was that I already anticipated guibox’s argument regarding the weakness of human nature:
When it is affirmed the possibility of Jesus sinning, because Jesus is God and the same God, not another God than Father and Holy Spirit, the question cannot be answered taking only his humanity into account, but we should also have in view his divine unity and one essence with Father and Holy Spirit.
Coming to our conclusion: we have no problem with affirming Christ’s humanity and his weakness of his human nature. We have problems when people draw conclusions based exclusively on the attributes of one nature of Jesus, either a denial of Jesus’ omnisicience, omnipresence, or an affirmation of the possibility that Jesus could sin. We agree that Jesus’ human nature was not omnipresent, neither was Jesus in his humanity omnisicient, and his humanity was weak and frail in regards with temptations.
But if somebody thinks about Jesus “entire” person (improperly speaking, since Jesus cannot be a partial person) as having only the attributes of his humanity, not omnipresent, not omniscient, weak in regard with temptation, that’s Nestorianism. Jesus cannot be omnipresent, Mary cannot be mother of God, only mother of Christ the man, you end up in the same swamp of denial of Jesus’ divinity. The Arian inheritance of adventism is insidious and makes its presence in ways that usually adventists are hardly aware.
Now, I can understand why an adventist will be very upset when somebody tells him that he’s not orthodox in regard to Trinity, because adventists are not inclined to look critically at their own views, something else I find hard to understand. What I find it hard to understand is why a former adventist will go to great lengths in order to affirm that adventists are orthodox in regard with Trinity and such affirmations are in the borders of orthodoxy. This is what I find it hard to understand.
You know that I’m talking about you, Stan. Basically what I wrote above is not primarily for guibox, it’s for the benefit of those who are evaluating adventism from outside the circle in order not to be trapped by the misleading use of the word “Trinity”. Stan, I’m not accusing adventists of lying, usually adventists think that what they call Trinity is indeed the orthodox view of Trinity. While at this point many are sincere, their honesty in their beliefs doesn’t extend too far, the cultic pride of being the remnant, the only church that is based 100% on the Bible and which rejects the pagan greek platonist tradition, this kicks in when they encounter the orthodox categories in which the doctrine of the Trinity was formulated.
Stan, did you read Jeremy’s site? Did you see where the adventist theologians are saying that EGW and pioneers are being right in their criticism of Trinity? Did you see the place where they say that today their (contemporary theologians) objections are the same as the objections raised by the Arian pioneers? Did you see the place where they affirm belief in Trinity but not in the pagan-greek-platonist formulations of this doctrine which are found in the orthodox creeds of Christendom? If something is evident, this particular attitude should be: “We are more Catholic than the Pope”, “We are more Trinitarian than anybody else, we are more orthodox and biblically sound than anybody else”.
Stan, let me guess, you may say that we should be charitable with adventists as being the weaker brothers, who err in regard with Trinity, but if we are large enough at heart, we can still embrace them as weaker brothers. I may be wrong about your approach, but I suppose this is a plausible approach, since this was also Walter Martin’s approach when he evaluated adventists in regard to the issues of food laws and sabbath. Something tells me that this is basically your attitude toward adventists, even when it comes to Trinity: “They are in error, but we should think about them as the errors of the weaker brother”.
Well, while this may be the case in different situations, I don’t think that an evaluation of adventism as a body and it’s theologians can be based on the assumption that they are the weaker brothers. This year White Horse Inn had a series on Galatians and in the final show they talked about the weaker brother and how to distinguish the weaker brother and those who are not. They said that one way to distinguish the weaker brother is to ask somebody if he thinks about himself as the weaker brother. The case is that those who are not in this category will reject from the start this possibility. Rather they will place themselves in a leadership position, they will see themselves on a superior level of holiness, imposing on others the standards for the conduct.
Stan, if you had read Jeremy’s site, is it not evident that far from being the weaker brother, the adventist church places itself in a position in which it criticizes the orthodoxy of the Christendom even on the subject of Trinity. Far for repudiating the errors of their Arian forerunners, they are affirming that their spiritual fathers’ criticism was right, that the orthodox formulations of the Trinity are in great part pagan and they are those who truly get a biblical view of Trinity. Can you say Stan that these people and the arrogance manifested by the adventist church as a body in general and on this subject in particular fits with the “weaker brother” category?
I don’t think it fits, hardly. It fits rather with the cultic isolationist and elitist mentality in which the community is the only community of those truly enlightened, the only pure church who rescues the entire Christendom from apostasy, who cannot be measured by any orthodox trinitarian creed which are considered pagan in great proportion. It’s Babylon, after all. This view is far from being dead in adventism. If we confuse a wolf in sheep’s clothing with a feeble sheep (weaker brother) the result is not as hard to ponder.
Stan, you may say also that the theologian X, Y and Z consider adventism as orthodox on this point and as long as they will not change their position, you’ll not change your view about Adventism as being orthodox on Trinity. Well, but we had not been under your criticism as following theologians instead of studying the subject by ourselves, as you did in regard with eternal punishment? If you find it wrong this approach in relying on what theologians said, why you are sticking with them in regard with your evaluation of adventism? Why not rather do your study and present clearly your position in regard with Adventism’ orthodoxy in regard with Trinity?
I challenged you to present your reasons why you consider guibox’s position as being orthodox. My specific question is if you will accept the following statement as orthodox: “Father could sin”. Instead of answering this specific question, you answered a question I didn’t raise, namely if you believe or not that Jesus could sin. You said that you didn’t believe that Jesus could sin and left my specific question unanswered. Now, after reading this new post of mine, I challenge you again with the question: if you think that saying “Jesus could sin” is orthodox, even if you don’t subscribe to this position, would you affirm the following statement as being also orthodox: “Father could sin”? Even if you don’t believe this is the case, would you consider this statement as inside the borders of orthodoxy?
You repeatedly said that you’re not defending adventism. The only way in which I see this repeated mantra as being accurate is if by “defending adventism” you mean defending adventism as promoting true doctrines, as biblically accurate. I have no doubt that, with the exception of annihilationism, you’re not subscribing to the adventist theology.
What I see you doing is a defense of adventism as being in the borders of orthodoxy, your defense of adventism as basically orthodox enough to be considered a true church, albeit a very imperfect church. You were willing at some point to speak about adventism as being a cult, but only for moral reasons based on the corruption of the leadership. If this is your basis, it’s an inadequate basis for putting the Adventist Church in the Kingdom of the Cults. At this point, I can join guibox and criticize you for taking this position.
I had not left the church because of its corruption, even if I had knowledge about it at the high levels that usually the lay member doesn’t have access. I was hired at a publishing adventist house, I had a BA in theology, I was involved in talks with the president of the local Union and other higher leaders of the church, I still had friends some of my former professors. I was for a time the leader of my class at the adventist theological seminary, and I met with corruption at the higher levels that I had not even dreamed even in my most black dreams.
Still, I had hope, not in man but in God. I considered God as sovereign even when I was adventist and I thought that God at any time can produce a revival through the power of the gospel in the SDA Church. I had great hopes for what I considered the evangelical movement in adventism. But at that time I didn’t realize the extent of theological corruption found in adventism that goes even to the fundamental doctrine of Trinity. What does this means in practice?
Archimedes said “Give me a place to stand on and I’ll move the Earth”. Basically he affirms that if you have a fixed point somewhere in a space, a man with limited power can move objects otherwise impossible to move. You can use that fixed point as the basis for change.
Let me use an example that may sound familiar, Stan. I saw you using the argument of monotheism on revivalsermons in order to establish the moral ground for penal substitutionary atonement, in your dispute with the maxwell-ites. Excellent argument, but unfortunately is based on the assumption that these people are monotheists and not tritheists. You used what you thought was a good point, a fixed point in their theological system, in order to persuade them about the gospel. But unfortunately what you thought was a fixed point was not as fixed as you think it was.
When asked about the becoming-liberal PCUSA, B.B. Warfield said: “You cannot split rotten wood”. He saw that the theological basis of the church was so eroded, that it was impossible to split the church in such a way to save it through the excision of what was bad, the liberal wing, in this case. The entire church was corrupted. The adventist theological system is similar, adventists come in different factions, from less to more conservative, from less to more liberals, but adventism doesn’t split. It’s rotten wood. From one side to the other, the theological corruption prevents a clear-cut distinction between an evangelical adventism which is orthodox and a cultic non-orthodox adventism. The leaven of the false gospel is everywhere, it goes to the core. You cannot appeal to orthodox essential parts like Trinity to press adventists toward the gospel. Rotten to the core, no fixed point.
I know you have good intentions, Stan. I’m only sad that for the sake of being gracious you’re willing to go too far in the direction of giving your blessing to adventists, even seeing them as weaker brothers.