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In a previous question in which I asked for evidence of early Christians denying the divinity of Jesus, a user posted an answer that, among other things, presents sixteen very interesting syllogistic arguments against the divinity of Jesus. The arguments are very simple and easy to read, so I thought that it would be a good idea to ask a single question introducing the sixteen arguments and let trinitarians respond to them (in a rational manner, of course). Are there any flaws in these arguments that should make us question their validity and/or soundness?

The sixteen arguments are listed below:

Argument #1

  1. The Father is the only true God (John 17:1,3)
  2. Jesus is not the Father (John 17:1,3)
  3. Therefore, Jesus is not the true God

Argument #2

  1. There is no God besides the Father (Isa. 64:8,4)
  2. Jesus is not the Father (borrowed from previous argument, and generally accepted)
  3. Therefore, Jesus is not God

Argument #3

  1. Man is not God (Ezek. 28:2)
  2. Jesus is man (John 8:40)
  3. Therefore, Jesus is not God

Argument #4

  1. God is spirit (John 4:24)
  2. Jesus is not a spirit (Luke 24:39)
  3. Therefore, Jesus is not God

Argument #5

  1. God never wearies (Isa. 40:28)
  2. Jesus was weary (John 4:6)
  3. Therefore, Jesus is not God

Argument #6

  1. God never sleeps (Ps. 121:3-4)
  2. Jesus slept (Matt. 8:24)
  3. Therefore, Jesus is not God

Argument #7

  1. God never dies (I Tim. 1:17)
  2. Jesus died (Mark 15:37)
  3. Therefore, Jesus is not God

Argument #8

  1. God knows everything (I John 3:20)
  2. Jesus does not know everything (Mark 13:26, 32)
  3. Therefore, Jesus is not God

Argument #9

  1. God would not acknowledge another as God (Isa. 46:9)
  2. Jesus acknowledges the Father as God (John 20:17)
  3. Therefore, Jesus is not God

Argument #10

  1. God has natural (inherent) authority (Job 34:13)
  2. Jesus has acquired authority (Matt. 28:18)
  3. Therefore, Jesus is not God

Argument #11

  1. God has natural holiness (Lev. 19:2)
  2. Jesus has acquired holiness (John 10:36)
  3. Therefore, Jesus is not God

Argument #12

  1. God has natural lordship (Ps. 100:3)
  2. Jesus has acquired lordship (Acts 2:36)
  3. Therefore, Jesus is not God

Argument #13

  1. God has natural power (Gen. 17:1)
  2. Jesus has acquired power (Acts 10:38)
  3. Therefore, Jesus is not God

Argument #14

  1. God has natural judgeship (Gen. 18:25)
  2. Jesus has acquired judgeship (Acts 10:42)
  3. Therefore, Jesus is not God

Argument #15

  1. God has natural saviorhood (Isa. 45:21)
  2. Jesus has acquired saviorhood (Acts 5:31)
  3. Therefore, Jesus is not God

Argument #16

  1. God is OVER ALL (I Cor. 15:27-28)
  2. Jesus is UNDER God (I Cor. 15:27-28)
  3. Therefore, Jesus is not God
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  • BTW, 2, 6 and 12-15 are rather explicitly duplicates (of 1, 5 and 11, respectively). – Matthew May 4 at 0:44
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These are easy to answer, specifically because they depend on logical or linguistic fallacies.

Argument 1

"The Father is the only true God"

"The only true" simply modifies "God," and as such, "God" and "the only true" are interchangable; "You are the only true God" and "Only you are the true God" are not synonymous.

To say the Father is God, or the Son is God, or the Holy Spirit is God does not contradict, but is rather predicted and required by the doctrine on the Trinity.

Argument 2

"There is no God besides the Father"

Isaiah does not say that only the Father is God, or that there is no God besides the Father, but that Yahweh is a father to Israel. Because Yahweh = God, this is consonant with the doctrine of the Trinity, according to which, obviously, the Father is God.

Argument 3

"Man is not God"

Even though I couldn't find the passage you were referring to, the doctrine of the Trinity does not teach that man is God, but that God became man (took a human nature for His Temple), and thus this can't be an objection to the doctrine — that which a doctrine would predict can't contradict the doctrine.

Argument 4

"God is spirit"

Yes, by definition, the uncreated God is spirit, not matter, but this doesn't mean that if God becomes incarnate, that He loses His spiritual nature, because He assumes a physical nature: the Incarnation is not a doctrine about God converting into flesh, but taking flesh for His Temple.

Argument 5-9

"God doesn't do things humans do"

If Jesus is the Son become flesh, then He can become weary, be ignorant, sleep etc. by definition. He can't be truly man, and not weary at once.

Jesus tells John, "I am the First and the Last, who died, and behold I live forever and I have the keys of death and hell." (Revelation 1:17-18). If God can be born of woman, then God can die. Both things pertain to the human nature He took, not the divine nature He has always had.

Argument 9

"God would not acknowledge another as God"

If the Trinity is true, the Father can acknowledge that the Son or Spirit is God. As it is written: "But to the Son [God the Father says]: Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of justice is the sceptre of thy kingdom. ... And [who also said to the Son]: Thou in the beginning, O Lord, didst found the earth: and the works of thy hands are the heavens. " (Hebrews 1:8).

After all, if the Son is God, the Father can call Him such. If He is not, then we aren't speaking about the Trinity.

Argument 10

"That which is given is not inherent"

Because the Son has everything He has because of and from the Father (John 6:57; 16:15; 17:5), He can say, "I have recieved," or "I have heard," or "I have been given." Because the Trinity predicts that everything the Son has He has fromt he Father who begat Him (to use the Scriptural anthropomorphism).

Argument 11

"God is naturally holy"

Not only can holy be meant in two ways (worthy of honor because of being holy, set apart, or simply the fact or quality of being set apart itself), but this objection is answered by the above answer.

Argument 12

"God is naturally lord"

This is true. But the Messiah, a human leader, is also a man, and also has an inherited human authority from His father David.

(The following arguments are just different ways of saying the same thing.)

Argument 16

"God is over all; Jesus is under God"

Even the trinitarian creeds say that Jesus is under God because He is man, and equal to God because He is God. These two are basic facts about the Trinity. Anyone who is man is inferior to God, and anyone who is God made man is both equal to God and inferior to God by definition.

Athanasian Creed (the Trinitarian Creed par excellence):

... Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood. ...

This would seem to be the most fundamental part of grasping the doctrine in the first place, and not an objection.

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  • Argument 3 is "man is not God; Jesus was a man; therefore, Jesus is not God". (Because, so the argument goes, if Jesus, a man, is God, then a man was/is God.) However, this argument does not follow, especially because Ezekiel 28:2 (not 22; looks like someone else also already spotted and fixed that) is saying that one specific man is not a god (little-'g'). The argument is a faulty generalization. – Matthew May 6 at 18:49
  • Yes; we could 'steel-man' the objections, but a correction seemed pedantic and unhelpful to me. – Sola Gratia May 6 at 19:30
  • I meant insisting on the correct verse number was pedantic when I knew what the argument was - 'man is not God.' – Sola Gratia May 7 at 20:52
  • You wrote "I couldn't find the passage you were referring to". Well, no surprise, since the wrong reference was given. I wasn't trying to be pedantic, I was hoping to clear up confusion (I was also confused by the wrong citation) due to the original presenter of these arguments making a typo. – Matthew May 7 at 23:21
  • I wasn't accusing you of being pedantic, so please dont' get that impression. God bless. – Sola Gratia May 8 at 20:32
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Let's take these one by one.

Argument #1

This is indeed a tricky scripture for Trinitarians (the only one of the 16 that is), but scripture is not absolutely clear that it means the Father is the only true God. Among other interpretations are that 3 things are listed - the Father, the one true God (the Trinity), and Jesus.

Argument #2

Scriptures referring to God may well be addressed to the Trinity. The two quotes are far enough apart that the reference to Father is not a problem. Note that the Jews referred to multiple Fathers, including not just God but Abraham and others.

Argument #3

It is part of Trinitarian doctrine that Jesus is both fully God and fully Man. There is no contradiction here.

Argument #4

God is spirit, but in the incarnation Jesus deliberately and temporarily took on bodily form, while still being in nature God.

Argument #5

Jesus when he took on human form in the incarnation also subjected himself to human weaknesses, including hunger, fatigue, and thirst.

Argument #6

See argument #5

Argument #7

See argument #6

Argument #8

Jesus also gave up his godly powers in the incarnation, becoming limited as we are.

Argument #9

The contexts of these are entirely different. God (the Trinity) does not acknowledge anyone outside himself to be God. But the different persons acknowledge each other as God, for that is what they are.

Argument #10

Jesus gave up his own natural authority, holiness etc. at the incarnation. However God the Father has also given him authority, holiness etc.

Arguments #11 through #15

See argument 10

Argument 16

In the incarnation Jesus humbled himself, making himself subservient to God the Father.

In the above I have replied using the form in which the questions were asked - very brief statements in response to equally brief questions. The nature of God is however a matter is centuries of study by wise and learned people, who admit they cannot ever fully understand the nature of God. Indeed any fully understandable explanation of God would be limited, and would thus be inherently inaccurate.

It is also a mistake to attempt to understand God purely by means of logical propositions. As he cannot be fully described that way, you must know him in a different way.

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I will give my own "syllogistic" argument that proves the divinity of Jesus Christ and the divinity of the Person of the Holy Spirit. Obviously we already know the Person of God the Father is God. First I would like to define a "syllogism."

A syllogism in logic is a form of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn from two given premises, one major premise and one minor premise.

So, IF the Bible teaches that there is one God

and

IF in the Bible The Father is identified as God

and

IF in the Bible His Son is identified as God

and

IF in the Bible their Spirit is identified as God

THEN the doctrine of the Trinity is valid

OR

The Bible is wrong.

Now, the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be understood, argued or refuted by appealing to any single passage in the Bible. That is because it is a systematic theology in the proper sense of the term, "theology"--the "study" or "knowledge of God, and is drawn from the WHOLE Bible, as any valid systematic theology should be.

In short, it is a doctrine that explains the nature OF THE ONE TRUE GOD described in the Bible, and is necessarily drawn from a HARMONIZTION of ALL the Bible.

If one examines the Bible thoroughly you should be able to quickly discover that there are three and ONLY three "persons" who are identified as God. How?

The Bible identifies God by:

  1. His names
  2. His titles
  3. His unique attributes
  4. His unique actions
  5. His worship

I am personally not aware of any other literary, contextual means by which the Bible clearly identifies God. I could be wrong, but I think this list is comprehensive.

To show what I mean I will go over a couple of these means. His titles! Who's identified as (Lord, king, savior, redeemer etc.)

His unique actions. (Who's CREDITED with (creation, origin of God's word, salvation of men etc.) His worship! We know we are to worship and serve God alone. Yet Jesus Christ received the highest form of worship when Thomas declared to Him/Jesus Himself, not God the Father his "Lord and God."

To be clear I am saying that each person of the Trinity receives some COMBINATION of the 5 means of identifying and distinguishing God as listed above.

Finally, I want to say regarding the doctrine of the Trinity that I do not believe Trinitarianism is a "REQUIREMENT" for salvation. It is the "RESULT" of salvation, for you cannot know Jesus Christ and somehow miss the FACT that He is God. You cannot have experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit of God and somehow miss that He is God.

Romans 8:9-11, "However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. Vs10, And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. Vs11, But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you."

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See also the Athanasian Creed (consider consulting one or more denominations' resources for better translations), which addresses some of these, and attempts, generally, to address the Trinity. I say "attempts" because at least some denominations believe it is impossible to perfectly understand the Trinity.

  1. The Trinity is weird. Jesus is God (John 1:1, John 20:28). Jesus is not the Father. Jesus is the Father (John 10:30). (Confused? Don't worry, you're in good company.)
  2. Duplicate of #1.
  3. Jesus is man assumed into God. See the aforementioned Creed. Also, the argument is a faulty generalization; it does not follow from Ezekiel 28:2 that all men are not gods. (To be fair, that is the Trinitarian belief also; the point is simply that that passage is not saying that Jesus is not God.)
  4. Near-duplicate of #3. Again, see TAC.
  5. While partaking of human flesh, Christ experienced its weaknesses. This was deliberate, so as to experience our human state.
  6. Duplicate of #5.
  7. First off, I Timothy 1:17 doesn't actually say that God can't die, it says God is eternal. But anyway, the person of the Father didn't die. Christ also didn't stay dead. God (in the person of Jesus) allowed Himself to experience death for our sake.
  8. While in the flesh, some things were hidden from Jesus.
  9. The argument (at least as you present it) is a non sequitur. The (perceived) problem with John 20:17 is, rather, that Christ subordinates himself to the Father. Yet this is part of Trinitarian teaching; see again TAC.
  10. See #9 (not strictly a duplicate, but nevertheless has the same answer).
  11. See again #9. Nota bene the Trinitarian concept of "begotten".
  12. Duplicate of #11.
  13. Duplicate of #11.
  14. Duplicate of #11.
  15. Duplicate of #11.
  16. See again #9. See also the paradoxical manner in which the Father and the Son are the same, yet different.

So, now that we've dismantled the case against the trinity, what evidence do we have that Christ is God? Well, some of it has already been mentioned, but possibly the most explicit can be found in John 8:58:

Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I Aᴍ."

At minimum, this is Christ clearly telling us, directly and from His own mouth, that He existed before His incarnation (particularly when one considers the larger context, i.e. that He knows Abraham in a "met him, talked to him, shared tea and biscuits" sense). He tells us again in John 3:13. Moreover, I find it difficult to credit claims that Christ is not explicitly identifying Himself as God in this verse. Frankly, I don't buy the argument that this is not a parallel to Exodus 3:14, as nearly every translation renders this verse in language that clearly parallels God's intent in Exodus (essentially calling out His existence since before time). At the very least, I see no acceptable way of reading this verse that reduces Christ to a mere man, as seems to be the intent and desire of Unitarians.

To turn the original format on its head:

Counterargument 1

  • Jesus is Good (Mark 10:17-18)
  • Only God is Good (Mark 10:18)
  • Therefore, Jesus is God

Counterargument 2

  • Christ is Eternal (John 1, John 8:58, Ephesians 1:4, 1 Peter 1:20, Revelation 1:17-18... and this list is not exhaustive)
  • Only God is Eternal (Isaiah 43:10, 1 Timothy 6:16)
  • Therefore, Christ is God

Counterargument 3

  • God created all things (Genesis 1 and many others)
  • Christ created all things (John 1:3, 1 Corinthians 8:6, Colossians 1:16, possibly others)
  • Therefore, Christ is God

Counterargument 4

  • The Word is God (John 1:1)
  • The Word is Christ (John 1:13)
  • Therefore, Christ is God

...and let's not forget Isaiah 9:6; "For to us a child is born [...] and his name shall be called [...] Mighty God, Everlasting Father". The Messiah, born as a human (incarnate, i.e. definitely Christ), shall be called God and Father.

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Psalm 82

6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High. 7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. 8 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.

This is the Lord of Hosts referring to man as "gods", just "gods" that will die like men, just as Jesus did.

Jesus Christ Himself even argues this point of Psalm 82:

John 10

34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? (Psalm 82) 35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; 36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

The Lord of Hosts saying: "Arise, O God" = Jesus Christ... as it is Jesus that will arise and judge the earth and inherit all nations.

Jesus argued that He is God.

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