Thursday, 14 April 2016

The Son of God: Three Views of the Identity of Jesus (4)

Here is part 4 of my critical response to The Son of God: Three Views of the Identity of Jesus.

As something of a first - you can hear this part in audio! Hope it works...
(Music in intro and close is Counting Crows "1492")

Here are the notes:

In the first three posts we have focussed on some of the methodological points which I found problematic in Irons' presentation, which was quality and ordered, focussing on more essential arguments I most certainly agree. Among the problems were his inconsistent use of "being" and "nature", an assumption that "Lord" and "Yahweh" are identical (I have developed this in other posts since, see especially here), an unjustified presumption of resumption of divine rule in Christ's exaltation, and others. Most astonishing of all - and we see this on the increase within the scholarly world - there was the important concession that it is unhelpful to simply state "Jesus is God" and that "Yahweh is basically the Father" on p. 20. Perhaps the most wearisome note in his presentation is to assume that Unitarian perspectives are basically the same as 300 years ago.

So following Irons' ecumenical conclusion, let us see how Dixon will respond, bearer of the Arian label (reminder, this basically stands for the position that Christ pre-existed as a divine being, but is not God himself).

Dixon makes an interesting connection between the titles "Son of God" and "the Christ". Why is that important? It is relevant to the discussion because if you look at the conversation development between Luke 22:67-70, you get direct equivalence, Dixon claims because of the Greek underlying the weighty "then" of the chief priests and the teachers of the law: "You are then the Son of God". I'm not totally convinced Daniel Wallace would be totally comfortable that he has been correctly cited given the context of the intermediary verses, especially v 69: But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God. Thus "Son of Man" doesn't enter Dixon's argument, which I think weakens it.

However, where I see more eye to eye with him would be where he actually provides some evidence for my suspicions over John 10:33 interpretations. While the Jewish leaders did attempt to try Jesus for claiming Messianic authority once they had him in their kangaroo court, they never again brought up the claim that he was equal with God after this: Jesus' clear explanation and exegesis were sufficient to them. I think that is an excellent point. If we all agree that it would be the most outrageous claim of all to claim equality with God, then you would certainly expect that accusation to resurface before the authorities the night preceding Jesus' crucifixion. But it doesn't, which would indeed imply a satisfactory response from Jesus in the following verses.

Dixon is puzzled by Irons's claim of blasphemy from John 8:58. He recalls a similar wording from pseudepigraphal T. Job  2:1 "For I have been Jobab [Ego gar eimi Iobab] before the Lord named me Job [prin e onomasai me ho Kyrios Iob]."

On John 19:7, Jewish leaders were saying Jesus must die because he claimed to be "son of God". "Were they offended because it was Jesus who was making this claim? Was it because the claim was made at all? ...Which of these is the precise problem? Irons doesn't tell us". [I note that Irons assumes the latter].

On  Matthew 9:3 and 6... The people marvelled because such authority had been given. Again the authority to forgive had been given, which I think defuses the allegation.

Dixon now explicitly denies the "mere creature" allegations. If Jesus had a heavenly preexistence, he would have knowledge of the Father that he could indeed uniquely communicate to others. So he is not one who thinks of Jesus as a "mere creature".

On John 10:30. Jesus says in the same book that his disciples are to be "one" as he and the Father are one. See also John 17:21-23. He is totally right about this, and it continues to astound me that Trinitarians still think there is some secret unity in diversity language going on there in a way that works for the Triune-God case. If only Jesus had left out the identical unity in his church... shucks! Sorry, I lost track there for a moment. Back to Dixon.

Up to p30 now, Dixon draws another important parallel with what is possible for believers in Jesus: "is it not true that Paul prays that each believer in Ephesus be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God also (Ephesians 3:19)? Does not Peter assure his readers that it is possible for them to participate in the divine nature (share in God's identity?) and escape the world's corruption caused by evil desires (2 Pet 1:4)?"

Dixon now sets about a brief response to Irons' argument for ontological deity from 1 Cor 15:27 --> the exception to "all things" is clarified. For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.

P32 responds to Irons' Aseity argument for ontological deity.
Irons' use of Hebrews 13.8, "Jesus is unchanging..."
"Certainly "forever" can extend unendingly into the future. But it is an absurd idea that just because a status begun at a point in time yesterday continues to every yesterday past.

P33 THE EXALTATION OF CHRIST.... The controversy is as simple as identifying whether Jesus as Son always had authority or was granted it.

One cannot exalt someone who already and always held the position to which he was raised.

P34 Worship
1 Chron 29:20.... Worshipped Jehovah, and the king. See my post on why this is not quite the same as Phil 2:

Hurtado is on board with this.

The Divine Name: While God does not give his glory to others... How does Romans 8 glorification fit into that statement?

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