Question: Why and how is the Holy Spirit important to Christians?
Answer: The central theme of Christianity is that Almighty God is a father. He wants us all to become His sons and daughters. If we want to be His children, and demonstrate our desire by the way we live our lives, He makes us His children by placing within each of us a part of Himself. In Christian theology, Almighty God is composed of Holy Spirit, and He makes us His children by placing within each of us some of His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit also imbues us with some of the character of God, in particular, "love, joy peace, long-suffering, gentleness, patience and faith." It is the fact that we are "begotten" with the Holy Spirit, that guarantees that we will live with Almighty God, our Father, in His family for all eternity.
Question: When did the Trinity become part of "Christian" doctrine?
Answer: The early church "father" Tertullian (A.D. 145 - 220) was the first to use the word "Trinity" in reference to God. It was Bishop Augustine of Hippo ("St. Augustine") who fully developed the idea in his book "De Trinitate" (400 A.D.). It was established as "official" teaching at the Councils of Nicea (325 A.D.) and Constantinople (381 A.D.). These were all long before the translation of the "King James" version in 1611 A.D., and, of course, long after the time of Jesus's ministry. See Is Jesus God? Is the Holy Spirit a person? ... Is the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity obsolete? Comments by modern theologians.
|Question: I've just read the study on the Holy Spirit. I strongly disagree with that teaching because of the passage of Mark 3:28-30. This passage is talking about blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. What do you think? Can we commit unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit if according to you, it is just power and not a third person in the Trinity. Can man sin against power or an activity? He therefore is a distinct person who dwells only in the meek and lowly heart.
Reply: Blasphemy means "evil-speaking or impious speech against God." But does it have to be against Him as a person? No. In Rev. 13:6, it is against His tabernacle. In many scriptures it is against His name (authority, position, reputation, etc.). According to Harper's Bible Commentary, 1988, p. 989 "The unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which, in context, is the attribution to evil of a power given by God. Though all sins can be forgiven by God, the inability to distinguish good from evil makes one impervious to the presence of God." Sorry, the Holy Spirit is here identified as the power and presence of God, not a person.
Question: I am concerned about the Holy Trinity. Is it true that the name "Jahve" is Gods personal name, and that Jesus never goes by that name? Is Jesus Alpha and Omega? Or is he God's firstborn?
Reply: The development of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is discussed on our web page trinity.htm - this doctrine was formulated around 450 A.D. to deal with challenges to Christianity from strict monotheists (like the Jews) and from polytheists (like most Romans). Unfortunately the Doctrine, which always "incomprehensible" and a "strict mystery", is now even more obscure! Many theologians feel that it needs major revision, if not to be discarded.
"Is Jahve God's personal name?"
The monotheistic idea of one God, YHWH, was very simple until Jesus Christ came on the scene. Jesus said that he revealed "the Father". In other words, Jesus revealed that God is not just one individual, but a family. God the Father is the Father. Jesus Christ, the Word of John 1:1, is the Son. Jesus prayed that we would be one as they are one (John 17:11) - not identical, not squashed together, but working closely and lovingly together. But Jesus revealed that humans also have the opportunity to become God's sons and daughters, in the image of Jesus, "the first born of many brethren", i.e., truly "gods" (John 10:34).
Of course, the name YHWH is Hebrew and never occurs in the New Testament (which as written in Greek). But we know that Jesus identified himself as "I am" - "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58). Jesus is also "the Alpha and Omega" in Rev. 22:13. But the Father is "Alpha and Omega" in Rev. 21:6. In Rev. 4:8, it is the Father who "was and is and is to come".
In summary, in the NT it seems that the Greek equivalents to YHWH indicate both the Father and the Son. They both share the same name so it is more than just a personl name, it is their family name. Thus YHWH is the personal family name of God.
"Is Jesus God's firstborn?"
The question is often raised, "Was Christ a created being?" The answer is no! "All things were made by Him, and without him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:3). If Jesus was created, then he had to participate in his own creation! Jesus was an eternal being. "In the beginning was the Word" - this means the Word was already there when things began - he was eternal, just as God the Father was eternal.
The essential problem with both strict monotheism and the usual presentation of the Trinity is that they restrict God. They do not allow God to be a family that can grow. And yet it is the family relationship with God that Jesus emphasizes. Jesus gives us the power to become "sons of God" (John 1:12), "as many as are led by the Spirit are the sons of God" (Rom. 8:14), but "creation waits for the manifestation (appearance) of the sons of God" (Rom. 8:19). We cry "Abba! Father!" (Gal. 4:6). "we are called sons of God" (I John 3:1) "we shall be like him (Jesus)" (I John 3:2).
Is the term "son of God" just a friendly phrase or is it supposed to express a real relationship with God? Are we to be really and truly His sons and daughters, truly gods? Jesus and the New Testament say Yes! The Trinity and strict monotheism say no!
Which do you believe?
Question: My question is in Rom 10:13. "That whosoever shall call upon the name of YHWH shall be saved." Is that the correct rendering of that verse?
Reply: Rom. 10:13 is in Greek. So it uses the Greek word for "Lord", "kurios". This is used of both "God" and of Jesus, "our Lord", by Paul. Just previously, in Romans 10:9, Paul says, "if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord." In Romans 10, it seems that Paul refers to God as "God" (Rom. 10:1) but Jesus as "Lord" (Rom. 10:9). However, Rom. 10:13 is a quotation from Joel 2:32, where "YHWH" is translated "LORD". In Paul's writings, "YHWH", translated as "kurios" in the Greek, and so "Lord" in English, sometimes means "God the Father" and sometimes "Jesus Christ". This seems to indicate that Paul thought of YHWH as more the "last name" of a "God family" than of a single individual. It was the confusion of later theologians over this type of ambiguity that prompted them to develop the doctrine of the Trinity. You can read more about this at Is the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity Obsolete?
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