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Still More on Sharp's Rule, Rob Bowman and Trinitarianism
Part One: When Fantasy Becomes Reality

By Greg Stafford


Rob Bowman has sent what he considers a worthy reply to my most recent reply to him on the matter of Sharp's rule. Please notice the opening words of his first post:

Posted by Rob Bowman August 14, 1998 at 04:24:08:



BOWMAN:
Greg Stafford's series of replies to my response to his critique of my paper on Sharp's rule is long enough to be a book. Since I regard his published book Jehovah's Witnesses Defended as worthy of more serious attention, I will keep my reply to Stafford as brief as possible. Please note that much of Part 1 (dealing with personal attacks and misrepresentations) has already been answered in a previous post. Also, Part Six of Stafford's series (the last installment) will not be addressed in this series here, since in this series I will focus on the debate over Sharp's rule and the texts in Titus and 2 Peter.

STAFFORD:
Bowman omitted a great deal more than Part Six of my reply, which you can see for yourself by considering Parts 1-5 of my previous reply. Also, I believe the content of Part Six DOES have a significant relationship to this matter involving Sharp's rule, as our discussion relates to the use of "God" in such christologically significant texts as Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1. Sad to say, this has become a difficult habit for Rob to break, and if this pattern continues I don't know what point there would be in my continuing a discussion with him.

Bowman continues to read post-biblical theology into Scripture. He creates distinctions in the Bible text that the Bible does not make, and he gives meanings to biblical words that seemingly allow him to bridge the gap between biblical theology and trinitarian theology. To top it off, he feels no shame in claiming that I have read my views into the text. Let us examine his reply and see what we find.

Because Bowman has failed to properly convey my arguments, as in the past, I have had to quote one of my previous replies in order to help everyone understand what's going on. Rob's latest reply has again made it necessary for me to do so. Since there are times when one section of a previous reply was also an attempt to get Rob to refocus on the subject under discussion, or to clarify an issue that he confused, if you read <<END OF QUOTE>> this is part of a previous quote that I am making for the above stated purposes. When you see <<END OF QUOTE-RETURN TO THE PRESENT DISCUSSION>> then you will know that I have ceased from quoting previous material and have returned to the present discussion.

I must say, Bowman's replies have steadily deteriorated in quality, and things seem to be getting worse not better. Unless he begins to address all the material I post, and stops misrepresenting what I say, I don't know that it is worth spending anymore time addressing his arguments. The toughest part about replying to Rob, and what consumed the largest portion of my time on this reply, is working through his hatchet job and restating my position, which he regularly confuses and misrepresents.

Anyway, take your time and read through this reply carefully, and, in the end, you will be better equipped to discuss these issues.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

BOWMAN:
PART ONE: PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS

1. "BOWMAN COMPLETELY IGNORES WHAT PAUL SAYS"?
I had written:
>>>My second general comment is that his characterization of my paper is wildly off-base. At one point he alleges that it was hastily written (Stafford, 30a, following 18). His claim that "Bowman completely ignores what Paul says" (Stafford, 23b), as well as his repeated assertions that I ignore the context of Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 (Stafford, 8-9; 9-10; 13b; 20c), are absurd. Ironically, after saying that I completely ignore what Paul says, Stafford spent about a page discussing texts outside the writings of Paul, and did not refer to a single statement by Paul!>>>

Stafford's explanation, in sum, is that I ignored the fact that Paul wrote about the appearing, not of the Father per se, but of the GLORY OF the Father. "Bowman does not seem to understand" this, Stafford tells us. Yet, in the paragraph Stafford quotes from my reply to him just prior to this explanation, I had written:

>>>Of course, Paul could have spoken of the appearing OF THE FATHER'S GLORY [emphasis added]. But the question is what Paul did say and what he did mean.>>>

So, I was well aware of the distinction Stafford says I didn't seem to understand. It is Stafford who completely ignored what I said, even while quoting it.



STAFFORD:
Please consider the following, which is a copy of the relevant section of material on this matter, starting with the paragraph that YOU say I "completely ignored":



<<FROM TRINITARIAN APOLOGETICS: A CASE STUDY
INVOLVING ROB BOWMAN AND GRANVILLE SHARP>>>
Stafford-Response
I find it rather strange that Bowman discounts the infrequent use of "the great God" in the LXX and NT as evidence against "the great God" functioning as a title recognizable only of Jehovah (though Bowman later hedged and agreed that such a concept would be created in the minds of Bible-believing persons when they heard or read about "the great God"), and yet he uses 5 occurrences of a term to allegedly establish that Paul could not have used this eschatological term for the appearance of the Son in the Father's glory, which is precisely what Mark 8:38 and Matthew 16:27 teach, and what the Paul is talking about in Titus 2:13. Abbot puts the matter succinctly:

Abbot:

The expression here is not "the appearing of the great God," but "the appearing of the glory of the great God," which is a very different thing. When our Saviour himself had said, "The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels" (Matt. xvi. 27, comp. Mark viii. 38), or as Luke expresses it, "in his own glory, and the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels" (ch. ix. 26), can we doubt that Paul, who had probably often heard Luke's report of these words, might speak of "the appearing of the glory" of the Father, as well as of Christ, at the second advent?--quoted in Jehovah's Witnesses Defended, page 243.

Bowman-Sharp, page 23
The question is not, what Paul could have said, or how Paul could have used the word epiphaneia. Of course, Paul could have spoken of the appearing of the Father's glory. But the question is what Paul did say and what he did mean. In the light of Paul's actual usage, especially in the parallel passage in 2 Timothy 1:9-10, we conclude that Paul used the word epiphaneia always with reference to the appearing of Jesus Christ.

Stafford-Response
No, the question is not what Paul could have said, but what he did say. Bowman completely ignores what Paul actually says. See Abbot's comments above and my book, page 242-244. The fact that "no man may see [Jehovah] and yet live" is strong testimony that the Father Himself will not appear. But, as was the case with Moses, His glory will be manifested, this time along with that of His Son.--Ex 33:20-22; Mt 16:27.

<<<<<END OF QUOTE-RETURN TO PRESENT DISCUSSION>>>>>>>



STAFFORD:
As I said in Part One of my last reply:

<<FROM More on Sharp's Rule, Trinitarianism and Rob Bowman
Part One: Some Observations on Bowman's Attitude and Arguments
By Greg Stafford>>

STAFFORD:
Now, notice that Bowman did, in fact, completely ignore what Paul said. Bowman does not seem to understand that Paul speaks, not of the Father's appearance, but of the appearing of the GLORY of the "great God." This is in harmony with the Synoptic teaching that Jesus would appear in the glory of his Father. (Matt. 16:27; 8:38) Notice that I referred to Abbot's comments (see above) and my book. THEN I explained that what Paul actually said in Titus 2:13 is consistent with the biblical teaching that no one can see God, and that the Son will appear in the Father's glory. So my statement about Bowman ignoring what Paul said is quite accurate. Bowman is fond of making it look like he is the one who is being misrepresented, when in reality he is the one who continues to distort the facts. In saying this, I am merely pointing out what has happened. I am not attacking Bowman; I am attacking his methods, which are sometimes a reflection of the person employing them, and I can't help that!

<<END OF QUOTE-RETURN TO PRESENT DISCUSSION>>

STAFFORD:
Bowman "completely ignored what Paul said" then, and he did so again in his latest reply, given above. Bowman tries to justify himself by pointing out that he said, "Of course, Paul could have spoken of the appearing OF THE FATHER'S GLORY [emphasis added]. But the question is what Paul did say and what he did mean."

Thus, he missed my point that Paul DID say that the Father's glory would appear. It is not a matter of "could," but DID, particularly when you take into account the Synoptic teaching on this issue. Bowman has yet to interact with this point. Instead, he merely acknowledged that it "could" be true. Why, then, does he not attempt to answer the very question he asks, "But the question is what Paul did say and what he did mean"? Again, from the beginning my point has been that Paul DID say the Father's glory would appear, and I have yet to see Bowman even attempt to prove that this is not what Paul "did say and what he did mean." He has "completely ignored what Paul said" on this matter.



BOWMAN:
2. "THE GOD AND FATHER" - DID I GET THE POINT?
Stafford had written:
>>>In the phrase "God the Father" (Greek: ho theos kai pater), how can it be said that neither of these two nouns carry the restrictive force of a proper name in NT, in the particular contexts in which it is used? Yet this phrase constitutes the bulk of examples in NT that are supposed to validate Sharp's rule! In fact, see page 6(B.), par. 1 in Bowman's article, where he highlights this expression as validating Sharp's rule.>>>

I replied:
>>>I don't think Greg understood me, because I was not denying that the nouns THEOS and PATÊR can be used in the NT as proper name equivalents. Nor is there any question that "God the Father" was used in the NT as a proper name equivalent.>>>



BOWMAN:
Stafford claims here that I misunderstood his point. To my statement that "I was not denying that the nouns THEOS and PATÊR can be used in the NT as proper name equivalents," Stafford replies, "Who said that you did, Rob?" The problem here is that Stafford is separating the two points I was making in the above two sentences. All I was saying here is that I agree both that THEOS and PATÊR can be used as proper name equivalents, and that they are so used in the expression cited by Stafford.



STAFFORD:
This is not going to work Rob. You have deleted my comments and taken it upon yourself to restate my position, which I do not trust you to do, as you have failed to accurately do this, to some degree, in nearly all of your previous replies. Thus, I have spent extra time restating my position to keep you from misinforming others, and knocking down straw men. Here is the complete context of my reply. You'll notice that even in this repost of my previous reply I had to redirect Rob to the point at hand, and reset the context of the issue under discussion, because Rob has a very difficult time addressing the issue:

<<FROM More on Sharp's Rule, Trinitarianism and Rob Bowman
Part One: Some Observations on Bowman's Attitude and Arguments
By Greg Stafford>>



BOWMAN:
I don't think Greg understood me, because I was not denying that the nouns THEOS and PATÊR can be used in the NT as proper name equivalents. Nor is there any question that "God the Father" was used in the NT as a proper name equivalent.



STAFFORD:
No, Rob, you misunderstood me, again. Let's put the context of the above before everyone, so the facts are clear:

<<<QUOTE FROM TRINITARIAN APOLOGETICS: A CASE STUDY>>>
Bowman-Sharp, page 8
Martyrdom of Polycarp 22:1. . . . For Sharp's rule to be inapplicable it is necessary only that one of the two nouns joined by kai be a proper name. Thus, even if "God the Father" was not being used in Polycarp as a proper name, Sharp's rule would not apply because of the use of "Holy Spirit" as such.

Stafford-Response
This qualification is not accurate at all. In the phrase "God the Father" (Greek: ho theos kai pater), how can it be said that neither of these two nouns carry the restrictive force of a proper name in NT, in the particular contexts in which they are used? Yet this phrase constitutes the bulk of examples in NT that are supposed to validate Sharp's rule! In fact, see page 6(B.), par. 1 in Bowman's article, where he highlights this expression as validating Sharp's rule. What we are concerned with is this: Why is the second noun anarthrous (= without the article) in an article-noun-kai-noun construction? Is there something about the noun that allows for it to be used without the article, but not as a further description of the individual or entity denoted by the first noun? This is where all the exceptions to Sharp's rule come in, because there is something about plural nouns, generic nouns, numerals, etc., that accounts for the missing article. If the anarthrous noun is part of a compound proper name, or is a noun that has the restrictive force of a proper name, then we can similarly account for the missing article. We must also consider the context, the habitual use of language of the author in question, as well as other significant factors relating to the proper understanding of the passage.

<<<END OF QUOTE>>>

STAFFORD:
Now, notice that Bowman makes a self-serving qualification that only one of the two nouns joined by KAI ("and") in a Granville Sharp (GS) construction need be a proper name in order for the rule to be invalid. Since Bowman elsewhere refers to "God," without accompanying, modifying expressions, as the equivalent to a proper name, and since "Father," when used of God, has the restrictive force of a proper name, AND since "God" (in HO THEOS KAI PATER) is used without any modifying terms, then how is it that the most frequently cited example of Sharp's rule, namely, HO THEOS KAI PATER, is considered valid, according to Bowman's reasoning? Bowman states, "I was not denying that the nouns THEOS and PATÊR can be used in the NT as proper name equivalents." Who said that you did, Rob? I honestly cannot figure out how you so frequently fail to understand the point I am making.

<<END OF QUOTE-RETURN TO PRESENT DISCUSSION>>

STAFFORD:
So, as you can see, there was much more to my reply than Bowman allows, and I trust the above highlights the point I previously made, which should have been clear for all to see. The only other portion of the above quotes that Rob interacted with is the following:



BOWMAN:
As to the point that Stafford thinks I missed, he restates it as follows:
>>>STAFFORD: Since Bowman elsewhere refers to "God," without accompanying, modifying expressions, as the equivalent to a proper name, and since "Father," when used of God, has the restrictive force of a proper name, AND since "God" (in HO THEOS KAI PATER) is used without any modifying terms, then how is it that the most frequently cited example of Sharp's rule, namely, HO THEOS KAI PATER, is considered valid, according to Bowman's reasoning?



BOWMAN:
The answer is that Stafford's reasoning misconstrues my argument. I did not maintain that THEOS without modifiers was always a proper name. What I said was that THEOS with modifiers was always NOT a proper name. I said this in the very paragraph Stafford quotes from my paper on this point:

>>>BOWMAN: In general, there are no inflexible rules for determining when "God" is being used as a proper name rather than as a personal noun. However, there is a rule of thumb that can be used frequently to determine that it is not being used as a proper name. Whenever "God" is qualified by some adjectival word or phrase, it is being used as a personal noun, not as a proper name.>>>

BOWMAN:
A rule that tells us when a noun is NOT being used as a proper name does not necessarily tell us when a noun IS being used as a proper name. THEOS without modifiers is sometimes used as a proper name, and sometimes not (as in HO THEOS KAI PATÊR). I was clear on this, I think, but Stafford claims I am the one who missed the point.



STAFFORD:
First, Bowman has nowhere justified his self-serving rule about THEOS used with modifiers.

Yes, Rob, you did miss the point. Let me explain, again. I did not say anything about any such rule. Please stop making things up. I simply asked, "Since Bowman elsewhere refers to `God,' without accompanying, modifying expressions, as the equivalent to a proper name, and since `Father,' when used of God, has the restrictive force of a proper name, AND since `God' (in HO THEOS KAI PATER) is used without any modifying terms, then how is it that the most frequently cited example of Sharp's rule, namely, HO THEOS KAI PATER, is considered valid, according to Bowman's reasoning?"

Now, could you please answer the question? Is your answer, "It is not a proper name because Sharp's rule is valid?" If not, then what is your answer? Why is THEOS without accompanying modifiers a proper name, but here it is not? I assume you see where I am going, but since you have not so far, maybe you don't.



BOWMAN:
PART TWO: A PRIORI OBJECTIONS

3. FAULTY COMPARISON? JOHN 1:1 VS. TITUS 2:13

I had written:
>>>Greg argues that since the NT frequently refers to the Father as THEOS and only rarely calls Jesus THEOS, it is unlikely that Jesus is called THEOS in Titus 2:13 or 2 Peter 1:1, although Greg has to admit that it is possible (Stafford, 26a; 32a). I'm really not sure what this is supposed to prove. By Greg's reasoning we should conclude that it is unlikely that Jesus is called THEOS in John 1:1.>>>



Stafford replied:
>>>With all due deference to Rob, it is hard to imagine anyone having a more confused understanding of a very simple observation. How is it that the use of THEOS in an historically ambiguous passage is in any way parallel with the unambiguous application of THEOS in John 1:1? That Bowman would attempt to dismiss my general observation on such grounds leads me to believe that he either did not consider the issues carefully or he is really not interested in a serious consideration of the issues.

Let me simplify what Bowman has complicated: If in a body of literature we find a term used of one individual, say, 500 times, and then we comes across an occurrence of this same term in a text that is ambiguous, that is, a text whose translation is uncertain, it is quite acceptable to consider the general use of the term, not as a DECIDING factor, but as something useful in determining a possible application. Now, the meaning of THEOS in John 1:1c is uncertain to some (because of their trinitarian background) but no one objects to the fact that THEOS is being applied to HO LOGOS. So there is no parallel with Titus 2:13, in terms of our discussion, and the statistical probability of whether or not THEOS is applied to Jesus in a text with an uncertain translation.>>>



BOWMAN:
Stafford's criticism of my comparison to John 1:1 assumes that there is no debate as to the referent of THEOS in John 1:1c. I agree that there SHOULDN'T be any debate about the fact that Jesus is called THEOS in John 1:1c, but in fact the point has been contested. There have been many interpreters, especially in the past two centuries, who have argued that John 1:1 is not referring to the person known as Jesus the Son. They have suggested that John 1:1 refers to the Logos as an impersonal power from God or as an idea in the mind of God, or even God the Father himself in his mode of self-revelation. I'm going to go a little out on a limb here and say that I think Stafford knows this. That's why he surreptitiously changed the point from whether JESUS is called THEOS in John 1:1c to whether "THEOS is being applied to HO LOGOS." This is closer to being noncontroversial, but even this fact has been disputed. Even the Watchtower Society itself has raised a doubt about this fact at least once, when it presented without any critical dissent the speculative theory that John 1:1c originally read KAI THEOU ÊN HO LOGOS, with THEOU ("of God") instead of THEOS ("God"). See "The Word"-Who Is He? According to John (Watchtower, 1962), pages 53-54.



STAFFORD:
I am having a hard time believing that I am reading the above correctly. I just can't imagine anyone going to such lengths in order to justify their position. When Jesus said he existed before Abraham he did not distinguish himself as "Jesus the man" from "LOGOS the spirit." So, neither do I. The point I made was simply this: Given that the reading of John 1:1 is THEOS EN HO LOGOS, then there is no GRAMMATICAL dispute that THEOS is predicated of HO LOGOS, who became the man "Jesus." (John 1:14) Therefore, there is no parallel between this verse and Titus 2:13, from the standpoint of the grammatical likelihood that THEOS applies to a particular person. In John 1:1c there is no question that HO LOGOS is called THEOS, but the grammatical referent for THEOS in Titus 2:13 has been and continues to be ambiguous.

How you continue to miss these salient points is difficult to understand. But, unfortunately, it gets worse:



BOWMAN:
Now, if the translation of Titus 2:13 is a matter of dispute, so is the translation of John 1:1.



STAFFORD:
I believe we call that a non sequitur, Rob. Again, NO ONE challenges that the grammar of John 1:1c applies THEOS to HO LOGOS. But in Titus 2:13 there has been an ongoing dispute about the grammar, and whether or not THEOS applies to Jesus Christ.



BOWMAN:
Indeed, so is the translation of many other verses, the meanings of which were not seriously disputed until the rise of liberalism and heretical sects in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.



STAFFORD:
It's kind of hard to dispute something that you were not allowed to read about, and, even if you were, to disagree on such issues could mean death. Yeah, that's a great history you have prior to "the rise of liberalism and heretical sects in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries."



BOWMAN:
But my point still stands, which was that the statistical frequency with which a word refers to X rather than to Y can tell us nothing about whether it refers to X or Y in any given passage, unless the frequency with which it refers to X is 100 percent. As I said before:
>>>Who the referent is in John 1:1c must be determined by exegesis of that text, not by a priori considerations.>>>



STAFFORD:
And, as I said before:

"Let me simplify what Bowman has complicated: If in a body of literature we find a term used of one individual, say, 500 times, and then we comes across an occurrence of this same term in a text that is ambiguous, that is, a text whose translation is uncertain, it is quite acceptable to consider the general use of the term, not as a DECIDING factor, but as something useful in determining a possible application."

Bowman obviously does not understand my view of statistical probability, which is rather strange since it is stated in clear, unambiguous language. When you have a text with two subjects potentially in view, which uses a term that is everywhere else (ambiguous examples aside) restricted to one of the two persons in the particular author's literature, it is quite acceptable, indeed, expected that we would take these factors into consideration. But since the numbers don't favor Rob's view, you can rest assured they will not find favor in his arguments.



BOWMAN:
4. THEOS VS. HO THEOS IN JOHN 1:1
Picking up on my statement just quoted about exegesis, Stafford asks:

>>>Then why do you assume a trinitarian understand for the terms THEOS and HO THEOS when John nowhere articulates a distinction between the two in terms of "person" (as understood by trinitarians) and specifically distinguishes the two in terms of THEOS?>>>



BOWMAN:
This is another one of those now-famed complex-fallacy questions of Stafford's (like the question, "Why are you beating your wife?" which assumes that you are in fact beating your wife).



STAFFORD:
Not at all, Rob. That's a nice diversionary tactic, though. The only reason I would ask, "Why are you beating your wife?" is if I knew, by visual observation or otherwise, that you were beating your wife. Then I would have you arrested. In this matter, I see you abusing the text, and I am making a spiritual arrest. Notice the crime being committed:



BOWMAN:
I don't "assume" a trinitarian understanding for those terms. I base my understanding of the expressions THEOS and HO THEOS on the biblical teaching in both the OT and NT that there is only one THEOS.



STAFFORD:
Again, just where does the Bible articulate that this one THEOS is tri-personal?



BOWMAN:
Furthermore, I base my understanding on the fact that John does NOT make a distinction between THEOS and HO THEOS.



STAFFORD:
Yes, he does. HO THEOS is "with" THEOS, namely, HO LOGOS. See how easy that is Rob? Of course, denying the text the way you do, without ANY attempt at explaining your above denial, reveals that you are really not interested in what the TEXT says, but what it can be MADE to say. But even then you don't have a chance. John's words are CLEAR; they do not require an explanation from post-biblical creeds.



BOWMAN:
Not only is the Father frequently called THEOS as well as HO THEOS in John (and the rest of the NT), but in some cases this occurs in the same sentence (see John 3:2; 13:3; cf. Rom. 1:21; 1 Thess. 1:9; Heb. 9:14; 1 Pet. 4:11-12; and see further Bowman, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of John, 60-61).



STAFFORD:
I am sorry, but what are you trying to prove? Can you show me an example of where the Father is called HO THEOS in a context where He is "with" another who is THEOS, and where the two are NOT considered separate beings? The fact is John shows that HO THEOS is "with" THEOS. So much for trinitarianism.

Of course, the usual show of desperation comes in the form of subtle attempts to change HO THEOS to "Father" and THEOS to "Son" or into something like "divine nature," this so trinitarians can get away with claiming that Jesus shares the same nature as God, whom they view as triune. Then trinitarians can use their self-serving, post-biblical distinction between "persons," saying, "See, `God' here means the Father, so the Word can be God and be with the Father because, well, they are both God, but not the same person." Oh, okay. Now, if only John had said that! The fact is John distinguished the LOGOS as THEOS from HO THEOS, whom he is "with." The trinity cannot be harmonized with John 1:1 without reading later theology into the text, creating distinctions that did not exist in the first century, and redefining THEOS in light of one's preconceived view.



BOWMAN:
As a counterexample to Stafford's argument, I also referred to Hebrews 3:1, where Jesus is called TON APOSTOLON KAI ARCHIEREA TÊS HOMOLOGIAS HÊMÔN IÊSOUN, "the apostle and high priest of our confession, Jesus."

I pointed out:
>>>Here APOSTOLOS must refer to Jesus, even though, out of the 81 occurrences of this noun in the NT, it is used elsewhere of Jesus only once (John 13:16), where we usually translate it "one who is sent." By Greg's reasoning, we should be hesitant to admit that Jesus is called "apostle" in Hebrews 3:1 (see Part Four of this series for further discussion of this verse).>>>

Stafford replied:
>>>Rob, the term "apostle" hardly carries the restrictive force that "God" does! Let alone "the great God"! In this text we have no reason to think that TON APOSTOLON is being applied to anyone but Jesus. But in Titus 2:13 the term THEOS in used in such a way that we need to ask, "Is this usage consistent with the author's habitual use of language?">>>



BOWMAN:
The issue I was addressing here was not the "restrictive force" of a noun, but rather arguments from "the author's habitual use of language." These are different, though related, issues.



STAFFORD:
No, you missed the point about "restrictive force," which is why you volunteered such a bad example. Habitual use of language is directly tied in with a term's restrictive force. Also, again, you are using an example that is not grammatically ambiguous, historically, and comparing it to one that is!

You also misused my comment about the author's habitual use of language, and how we should be sensitive to it. You are trying to narrow my comment to the author's habitual use of language IN ALL CASES. No! If the grammar and the context admit of no other rendering, then you probably would not even need to inquire about the author's use of language in other texts. But that is NOT the case with Titus 2:13, and so you have misquoted me, as my comments were meant for texts, like Titus 2:13, that are grammatically and contextually ambiguous. As I said:

<<FROM More on Sharp's Rule, Trinitarianism and Rob Bowman
Part Two: Bowman's A Priori Objections
By Greg Stafford>>

STAFFORD:
Rob, the term "apostle" hardly carries the restrictive force that "God" does! Let alone "the great God"! In this text we have no reason to think that TON APOSTOLON is being applied to anyone but Jesus. But in Titus 2:13 the term THEOS in used in such a way that we need to ask, "Is this usage consistent with the author's habitual use of language?" We have a term, THEOS, that is hardly the equivalent to "apostle" (!) in terms of its restrictive force, used in a context where the glory of the One called THEOS is supposed to appear, together with Jesus. The NT elsewhere states that Jesus will appear in the Father's glory! (Matt. 16:27; Mark 8:38) So, please, stop offering us false analogies, trying to parallel texts that are not similar in terms of ambiguity, and with semantic signals that are in no way equal in their restrictive force.

<<END OF QUOTE-RETURN TO PRESENT DISCUSSION>>



STAFFORD:
You see, when you misrepresent my argument like this, it becomes increasingly difficult to talk about such matters with you. Either get it right, ask for clarification if you do not understand, or don't comment at all.



BOWMAN:
5. THE FATHER IS THE GOD OF JESUS: WHAT DOES THIS PROVE?
I had written:
>>>One of Greg's favorite arguments against a trinitarian interpretation of these texts runs like this: The Father is the God of Jesus, the Son. Therefore, the Father is a different God from the "god" that Jesus is. Therefore, these texts cannot be identifying Jesus as Jehovah God (Stafford, 10b; 10-11; 26a-b; 27a-b; 32a). This argument assumes, rather than proves, that the Father is called Jesus' "God" in Scripture on the basis of the Father having created the preexistent Logos or Son. I have argued otherwise in my books (Why You Should Believe in the Trinity [Baker, 1989], 72; Jehovah's Witnesses [Zondervan, 1995], 27-28).>>>

Stafford replied:
>>>Bowman is here arguing that just because the Father is Jesus' God, it does not mean the Father created the Son. Of course, this observation misses the point entirely. I don't need to guess about whether the Father gave life to the Son, the Bible says so in clear, unambiguous language. (John 5:26; 6:57)>>>

BOWMAN:
"Misses the point entirely"? (Here we go again!)



STAFFORD:
Indeed, Rob! You are building up quite a track record!



BOWMAN:
This seems to mean that Stafford is now saying that he bases his belief that Jesus is a different God from the Father, not on the fact that the Father is called Jesus' God, but on the fact that the Father is said to have given life to Jesus.



STAFFORD:
Rob, is there something wrong with your monitor? Or did you simply choose to avoid answering the question about Jesus having a God AGAIN? Notice that in you restatement of my argument, you begin on the right foot: "One of Greg's favorite arguments against a trinitarian interpretation of these texts runs like this: The Father is the God of Jesus, the Son. Therefore, the Father is a different God from the `god' that Jesus is. Therefore, these texts cannot be identifying Jesus as Jehovah God (Stafford, 10b; 10-11; 26a-b; 27a-b; 32a)." But then you stumble head first into confusion: "This argument assumes, rather than proves, that the Father is called Jesus' `God' in Scripture on the basis of the Father having created the preexistent Logos or Son."

Where oh where do I argue for any such thing? How is it that you can misconstrue my argument so badly? I argued that the Father is Jesus' God, and, therefore, the two are not the same God. You (somehow) take this to mean that I am arguing "that the Father is called Jesus' `God' in Scripture on the basis of the Father having created the preexistent Logos or Son." I am simply pointing out that the two are not the same God. THAT is why I (correctly) said you "missed the point entirely." I then point out that I do not need to guess about whether or not Jesus was given life by the Father, for the Bible tells me in clear, unambiguous terms. Maybe if we look at the context of my reply, it will be clearer for everyone to see:

<<FROM More on Sharp's Rule, Trinitarianism and Rob Bowman
Part Two: Bowman's A Priori Objections
By Greg Stafford>>



STAFFORD:
Bowman is here arguing that just because the Father is Jesus' God, it does not mean the Father created the Son. Of course, this observation misses the point entirely. I don't need to guess about whether the Father gave life to the Son, the Bible says so in clear, unambiguous language. (John 5:26; 6:57) My point about the Father being Jesus' God can be gathered from the following, which Bowman neglected to quote:

<<FROM TRINITARIAN APOLOGETICS: A CASE STUDY>>
Bowman-Sharp, page 27
V. What "God" is Jesus? Faced with the evidence that in Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 Jesus Christ is called God, some antitrinitarians, while denying that such is the case, argue that it doesn't matter even if it is true. . . . Greg Stafford, for example, writes, "It would be another qualified reference to Jesus as theos, with the understanding that Jesus has one who is God to him." Stafford, like all Jehovah's Witnesses, assumes that because Paul and Peter elsewhere speak of the Father as Jesus' God (e.g., 2 Cor. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:3), in Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 they cannot mean that Jesus is himself the one true God, Jehovah.

Stafford-Response
No, what we assume, based on clear biblical articulation, is that Jesus is not the same God as the Father, for the Father is his God. Thus, since Jesus cannot be God over himself (such a view would require clear biblical articulation, for it contradicts every other use of the term "God of" someone, as denoting two or more separate beings) he must be a different god, and the Bible states this quite clearly.--John 1:18.

<<END OF QUOTE>>

STAFFORD:
Thus, since the Father is Jesus' God, Jesus and the Father cannot be the same God! This fact alone removes the doctrine of the Trinity from the category of biblical teachings.

<<END OF QUOTE-RETURN TO PRESENT DISCUSSION>>



STAFFORD:
Of course, Bowman read all of this, which makes his misunderstanding even more difficult to figure out. In fact, he even quoted the last two sentences from the above. Consider:



BOWMAN:
At the very least Stafford here is implying that he was not arguing that the Father's designation as Jesus' God in and of itself proves that Jesus is a different God. Yet Stafford quickly takes back with his left hand what he briefly seemed to give away with his right hand:

>>>Thus, SINCE the Father is Jesus' God, Jesus and the Father CANNOT be the same God! This fact ALONE removes the doctrine of the Trinity from the category of biblical teachings.>>> [emphases added]

BOWMAN:
Stafford needs to make up his mind just how much he is trying to prove based on the Father being called Jesus' God.



STAFFORD:
Oh boy…you are really having trouble with this. Reread my above comments a good ten times, starting with the paragraph that begins with "Rob, is there something wrong with your monitor?" then, maybe, you'll understand what I'm saying.

I hope everyone reading this can understand my frustration with Rob. I am not angry with him. In fact, I care a great deal for him, which is why I am spending so much time trying to help him with these matters. But I just can't figure out why he so badly misunderstands what I consider a rather simple point.



BOWMAN:
6. THE FATHER AS JESUS' GOD: HAD STAFFORD ANSWERED MY ARGUMENTS?

Stafford continues his quote from his earlier post:
>>>Here you go again: When it suits your needs, you all of a sudden classify texts that are devastating to your theology as referring to Jesus' humanity. But the Bible provides no license for doing so. He also has a God since his resurrection (Rev. 3:12), and he does not still have his human nature in heaven. See Chapter 8 of my book for details.>>>



BOWMAN:
And see my book Jehovah's Witnesses (Zondervan, 1995), 40-48, for biblical arguments to the contrary. Stafford does not refer to this book in his, and most of the arguments I presented there find no refutation in Stafford's chapter on the subject.



STAFFORD:
Bowman's book, which is really sort of a large booklet, does nothing to support his arguments. I will be responding to this booklet in an upcoming article, which will be posted to the Biblical Theology Page.



BOWMAN:
Stafford's quote continues:
>>>The dual-nature concept has all sorts of problems, not the least of which is the fact that you end up creating two persons, whether you like it or not. It's nothing but word magic.>>>



BOWMAN:
So Stafford keeps saying, and so I keep denying.



STAFFORD:
That's right. As I have demonstrated several times already, you articulate a self-serving, post-biblical reply to use as a framework for working around the Bible's clearly stated position, but your view usually contains some sort of contradiction, since the intent (IMO) behind your self-serving view is to force a view into Scripture that is the opposite of that which Scripture teaches. You have to deny this, of course, for obvious reasons. However, anyone who analyzes your view can see the contradictions, and other problems inherent in it, which you deny, but can't change.



BOWMAN:
The real question, though, is whether the Bible teaches that Jesus was a mere man and nothing more, as the Watchtower teaches, or whether he was the divine Son in human flesh, as orthodox Christianity maintains. I have already given biblical support for the orthodox view.



STAFFORD:
Yes, Rob, the teaching of Scripture is the key point, and it is a point that I have continued to press and which you have labored to redefine. Also, please stop misrepresenting our view. We do not teach that "Jesus was a mere man and nothing more." That you so regularly fail to grasp even the simplest tenets of our view of Christ shows why your writings consistently fail to make your point. You have not provided a shred of scriptural proof to support your position on this matter.



BOWMAN:
7. THE FATHER AS CHRIST'S GOD IN 1 CORINTHIANS 11:3
In Why You Should Believe in the Trinity, 71, I had written:
>>>Then there are texts that speak of the Father as the God of Jesus Christ (e.g., John 20:17; 1 Cor. 11:3).>>>

Stafford replies that
>>>it should be pointed out that 1 Cor. 11:3 does not refer to the Father as Jesus' God. This is not a significant matter, but I find it odd that he would reference this passage as an instance of the Father being Jesus' God. I don't think Bowman actually considers "head" the equivalent of "God," which, in this context would not work very well, given that man is the "head" of woman.>>>



BOWMAN:
I certainly didn't construe "head" as the equivalent of "God." Rather, I construed "God" as the equivalent of "God"! 1 Corinthians 11:3 states that "GOD is the head of Christ." Here someone, whom Stafford certainly agrees is the Father, is referred to as "God" in relation to Christ. Jehovah's Witnesses have frequently told me that this verse proves that Christ still has a God over him. Did I misunderstand them?



STAFFORD:
Yes, I believe you did. But in your book you are making a statement from your own point of view. No, 1 Cor. 11:3 does NOT refer to the Father as God in relation to Christ. It simply refers to "God" WITHOUT THE PERSONAL QUALIFICATION THAT IS SO IMPORTANT TO YOUR VIEW. Please stop substituting "personal" terms which you use with a meaning that is nowhere articulated in Scripture, and let the Bible speak!

1 Cor. 11:3 shows that God is the head of Christ, so, therefore, Christ is not the God who is his "head." This verse does not limit the reference to "God" as "God the Father, first person of a consubstantial Triad." YOU do! This is why no matter what you write, no matter what you respond to, it will fail. Because every defense you raise in behalf of trinitarianism is predicated on a misuse and misunderstanding of the term "God," and an unscriptural distinction between "persons" and "beings."



BOWMAN:
8. THE FATHER AS JESUS' GOD: THE POINT OF THE WATCHTOWER'S ARGUMENT
I had written in my book (Trinity, 72):
>>>The Watchtower booklet argues: "Since Jesus had a God, his Father, he could not at the same time be that God" (p. 17). But again, trinitarians do not hold that Jesus is his Father.>>>

Stafford objects:
>>>Notice, the Witnesses' objection has to do with the fact that Jesus "had a God," which quite obviously means that "he could not at the same time be that God"! But Bowman's objection is, "trinitarians do not hold that Jesus is his Father." How does this objection relate to the "Booklet's" objection?>>>



BOWMAN:
It relates to it because the sentence in question is part of a paragraph arguing that Jesus cannot be God because he is distinguished from God, his Father. I have found that Jehovah's Witnesses need constant reminding that trinitarianism does not teach that Jesus is the Father.



STAFFORD:
Whooa….back up just a second. First of all, you don't need to misrepresent our argument to remind us of something. Second, your attempt to justify your misrepresentation is amazing. Rob, you quote the Trinity brochure's argument and THEN you, presumably, try to discredit it. The problem is this: nothing in your paragraph has anything to do with the brochure's argument! Not only that, but none of your arguments are based upon Scripture. Thus, we find no reference following your reply.

Basically, you took the post-biblical distinction between the Father and Son as "persons," ignored the fact that the Bible distinguishes them in terms of THEOS, then you read another post-biblical concept into the text, that is, an alleged dichotomy between Christ's human and divine nature, both of which he is supposed to have, with conflicting sets of attributes (!), and yet be only one person. There are several arguments I presented on this matter in previous posts that you conveniently failed to address. Why? And why are you replying to our brochure's arguments with issues that don't relate to the point of contention raised by the brochure? Should I assume you misread the brochure, or were you simply trying to create the illusion that you were replying to something to which there really is no legitimate reply? Or is it something else?



BOWMAN:
9. JOHN 20:17 - IS IT ARBITRARY TO UNDERSTAND "MY GOD" AS RELATING TO JESUS' HUMANITY?
Stafford wrote:
>>>In paragraph two [Trinity, 72] Bowman attempts to distinguish the relationship that Jesus has with God from the one the disciples have. In fact, regarding John 20:17 he states: "Why did Jesus not simply say, 'I am ascending to our Father and our God'?" But is this a difference that makes no difference? I think so. After all, why did Ruth say to Naomi, "Your people will be my people and your God my God"? (Ruth 1:16) It appears to be an Hebraism that places a special emphasis on the reality of a new relationship.>>>



BOWMAN:
In Ruth 1:16, Ruth chooses to unite herself with Naomi's people (Israel); in a sense we might say she was "adopted" into Israel, whereas Naomi was part of Israel "by nature." Likewise, Yahweh was Naomi's God by virtue of her having been born into the Israelite covenant nation, whereas Ruth converted to the worship of Yahweh. Far from calling into question the interpretation I presented of John 20:17, if anything Ruth 1:16 would appear to lend support to that interpretation.



STAFFORD:
(!) That's a good one, Rob. Just how does that support your view, again? Are you saying that the Father is Jesus' God by nature, but that he is only the adopted God of the disciples? Of course, you continued:

BOWMAN:
I agree that "a new relationship" is in view. And just what was the new relationship in John 20:17? We both agree, I think, that the Father had always been Jesus' Father, and that he had always been the disciples' God.

STAFFORD:
You seem to have a selective view of the text, Rob. Let me help you out. The Father became the Father of Jesus when He gave life to His Son (John 5:26; 6:57) and He has been the God of the Son ever since. Now He is a Father to the disciples and He is also their God.



BOWMAN:
It seems to me that the new relationship here is that the disciples now are brought into a relationship with God as their Father. If that relationship is new, it is not at all odd that the Father's relationship to Jesus as his God was also new.



STAFFORD:
Of course it seems that way to you, Rob, for you have to maintain a view of the text that will allow you to, seemingly, sustain an interpretation of the text that is not detrimental to trinitarianism. The fact is, however, the text NOWHERE says that the relationship between Jesus and the Father, where the Father is his God, is "new." You conveniently, but not surprisingly, read that into the text.

Your above-stated view is also a non sequitur. It does not follow that if the disciples, whom Jesus came to save, entered into a new relationship where God becomes their Father, that Jesus would also enter into a new relationship where the Father would be his God! I also find it interesting that you SWITCHED the terms "Father" and "God" when used of the relationship between God and the disciples and Jesus and the Father. Why did you do that, Rob? Why did you not present a somewhat more consistent argument, like: "It seems to me [=Rob] that the new relationship here is that the disciples are now brought into a relationship with God as their Father. If that relationship is new, it is not at all odd that [God's] relationship to Jesus as his [Father] was also new." Please explain yourself, Rob.



BOWMAN:
And this would appear to be supported by the fact that although Jesus spoke numerous times of his Father as "my Father" and "your Father," not once did Jesus ever speak of "our Father" in a way that included himself. (The Lord's prayer is a model for the disciples to follow; its opening words do not refer to Jesus and his disciples.)



STAFFORD:
Before I comment further on this point, I would like to know how it is that you know that the opening words of the model prayer "do not refer to Jesus and his disciples"?



BOWMAN:
Stafford continued:
>>>But, still, Bowman claims that Jesus' use of "my Father" in John 20:17 and elsewhere is intended to distinguish Jesus as a Son by nature, from the disciples' adoption as sons. Thus, he evidently takes "my Father" in John 20:17 as a reference to Jesus' divine nature, but when it comes to "my God" he quickly switches gears, claiming that it is only meant for his human nature. Very selective, don't you think? Also, the Bible says nothing about this dichotomy, and Bowman has absolutely no justification for taking "my Father" in reference to one of Jesus' "two natures," and "my God" in reference to the other. But this is the nature of trinitarian apologetics: The text must be in harmony with the Trinity, since we know the Trinity is true. Actually, the text is quite clear: Jesus, in his resurrected state, has One who is God to him. Not to one of his "two natures" (which is not a Bible teaching---See Chapter 8 of my book), but to him.>>>



BOWMAN:
There is nothing "selective" about the interpretation I presented, and it does have clear biblical justification.



STAFFORD:
Yes there is and no it does not. Let me explain (again):



BOWMAN:
The terms "Father" and "Son" are used to refer to their relationship even prior to Jesus becoming a man, and the term "Son" implies a likeness to the "Father" that makes the term appropriate to denote the person of Christ in his deity.



STAFFORD:
The designations "Father" and "Son" did indeed originate from his pre-human creation, but nowhere does the Bible articulate them as 1) functional descriptions; 2) ontological descriptions that do not contain a temporal distinction, which is part of the anthropomorphic picture that we are given when we read these terms; 3) and nowhere does the Bible use these terms to describe a "personal" (as understood by trinitarians) relationship between the Father and Son as the first and second persons of a consubstantial Triad, respectively.



BOWMAN:
Not once in Scripture, however, is the Father designated as Christ's "God" prior to his becoming a man (except prophetically).



STAFFORD:
That's not true. The Father is the God of gods (Ps. 136:1; and others), and Jesus is one of these gods according to John 1:1. Jesus is a different G-god than the Father according to John 1:1, and therefore must belong to the group of gods over whom Jehovah is God. Of course, since you are a trinitarian you have to jump through all sorts of hoops to make this fit with your post-biblical views. Fortunately, the text is quite plain and is easy to understand. It becomes complicated when we have to explain the problems involved in the trinitarians' exegesis of the passages.

Also, the Father is called "my God" by Jesus in his heavenly, glorified state. In this state he occupies a position greater than that which he had prior to becoming a man, a position given to him by his God. (Heb. 1:4) Nothing in the text says anything about Jesus speaking to the Father, in heaven, from some limited "human" nature. That is something that is made up by trinitarians because they cannot harmonize these statements with their view. Of course, this all goes back to the questions you have yet to answer regarding the exaltation of Christ: Was Christ's human or divine nature made "Lord"? (Acts 2:36) Did Christ in his humanity or divinity BECOME better than the angels? (Heb. 1:4) Was Christ's human or divine nature given all authority, including the authority to judge? (Matt. 28:18; John 5:22) There are many others, but we'll start with these.



BOWMAN:
Moreover, the expressions "my God" and "his God" for the Father in relation to Christ indicate that in the context of these designations Jesus relates to the Father as a creature relates to his Creator. In short, the words "Father" and "God" have different meanings, and the explanation of that difference I have offered (well, actually I got it from Thomas Aquinas, and I'm not sure he was original either) seems to me to fit the context and the facts better than any other explanation.



STAFFORD:
That is not surprising. But why not simply take the expression as it stands, and stop reading later theology into the text? The Father is the God and Father of Jesus, and He has become the God and Father of the disciples. There is nothing about either of these terms qualifying but one of Jesus' "two-natures," which is also not biblical. Jesus is not the same God as the Father, for the Father is his God.



BOWMAN:
Of course, I agree that it is Jesus, the person, who honors the Father as his God; Jesus does not do so abstractly from his human nature only. But it is BECAUSE of his human nature that Jesus relates to his Father now also as his God.



STAFFORD:
Interesting. Nowhere in the text do we read anything about it being "BECAUSE of his human nature that Jesus relates to his Father now also as his God." There is no qualification made whatsoever, neither here nor in Revelation 3:12. Of course, you can't have the text as it stands, and are thus forced to view the relationship through the lens later trinitarian theology.

Basically folks, Rob and other trinitarians are trained to redefine words and read later, post-biblical distinctions into the text whenever the text, as it stands, would present a problem with their faith. Because they begin by assuming that trinitarianism is true, they then interpret any and all passages that relate to God and Christ in a sense commensurate with trinitarianism. But that is not allowed in this discussion. Every time I see Rob reading later views into the text and defining the text in light of his preconceived views, I will point it out to you. Unfortunately, this happens in almost every argument Rob uses!



BOWMAN:
Stafford continues:
>>>Bowman next interprets John 20:17 in light of John 20:28. Not only is the interpretation of John 20:28 uncertain (see Chapter 7 of my book for details), but even if both "Lord" and "God" apply to Jesus, we should understand their sense in light of John 20:17 (for THEOS) and Acts 2:36 (for KURIOS). Bowman will not do this, for then he would be forced to admit that Jesus' Lordship is contingent upon the Father's will, and his Godship is subject to that of the Father. (compare Col. 1:19) In any event, the language used by Jesus in John 20:17 and elsewhere (e.g., Rev. 3:12) is such that Jesus CANNOT be the same God as the Father. This is a view TAKEN FROM the text; it is not an assumption that has to be brought to it.>>>



BOWMAN:
And here we go again: Stafford assumes dogmatically that the meaning and implications of John 20:17 is clear, and the meaning and implications of John 20:28 is not. That is because John 20:28 can only be fit into his doctrinal system with some finessing.



STAFFORD:
Not quite, Rob. John 20:17 is clear because the grammar is clear. Such is not the case with John 20:28. But, in any event, regardless of how 20:28 is translated, there is no resulting interpretation that can made to agree with the doctrine of the Trinity, for reasons given above (which you ignored), and many others.



BOWMAN:
Actually, in a sense I agree that we ought to understand John 20:28 in the light of John 20:17. In John 20:17 the expression "my God" refers to the Father, not merely as a divine power superior to that of Jesus, but as Jesus' one and only God. (Or does Jesus have any other God besides the Father?)



STAFFORD:
You tell me: Why doesn't the holy spirit fit into this arrangement? Of course, as you have already stated, you only accept the above admission on the basis that the Father is viewed as Jesus' God "BECAUSE of his human nature." That's as far as you'll go, for obvious reasons. But the text makes no such limitation here or elsewhere.



BOWMAN:
Well, I understand the expression "my God" in John 20:28 in exactly the same way: Thomas is honoring Jesus as his one and only God. And no, this is not modalism, nor is it contradictory UNLESS you presuppose that the doctrine of the Trinity cannot possibly be true.



STAFFORD:
Well, first of all you presuppose that it IS true, and on that basis you proceed to claim that "this is not modalism, nor is it contradictory." You refuse to acknowledge the different senses that are given to "God" in Scripture, and from there your view spirals out of control, landing helplessly into the arms of fourth-century-and-following theology.

The fact is, John 20:28 says nothing about "Thomas honoring Jesus as his one and only God." Of course, since the Bible nowhere articulates your view of "persons," then you are faced with modalism when Jesus says the Father is their (and his, of course) God, and Thomas, according to you, calls Jesus his God in the same sense that the Father is their God. Thus, since there is, according to you, only one God in any positive sense, then Jesus would have to be the Father. But, as we all know, this is where the word magic (see below for more on this subject) comes into play, and where you create distinctions based on post-biblical theology. Fortunately, we do not have to do that to show that this text is not agreeable to a modalistic view, nor do we have to apply the philosophy of later centuries to show that both 20:17 and 20:28, regardless of translation, are in agreement with the teaching of biblical monotheism, as it is properly articulated in Scripture.



BOWMAN:
10. DID I MISS THE POINT ABOUT TEXTS DISTINGUISHING "GOD" FROM "CHRIST"?
On pages 72-73 of Why You Should Believe in the Trinity, I had written:
"Then there are texts that simply refer to 'God' alongside Christ in such a way as to distinguish them. For instance, 1 Timothy 5:21 speaks of 'God and Christ Jesus,' and 1 Corinthians 8:6 distinguishes between 'one God, the Father,' and 'one Lord, Jesus Christ.' But trinitarians have a simple answer: These texts refer to the Father as 'God' not because Jesus Christ is less than God, but simply because the title God was normally used of the Father."

Stafford begins his reply by asserting:
>>>On a side note, there are shortcomings on page 73 of Bowman's book that I will not address here, but they are addressed in Chapter 4 of my book.>>>



BOWMAN:
For those interested in Stafford's arguments, see specifically pp. 77-81 of his book. The arguments focus on the implications of 1 Corinthians 8:6 for the doctrine of Christ. In a forthcoming paper I will be responding in detail to Stafford's arguments on this passage.



STAFFORD:
Good. I look forward to your reply, and will be sure to reply in kind. Of course, I can pretty much some up your reply for everyone: You'll redefine terms and create distinctions based on post-biblical theology. In my reply I will point out just how you have done this, and proceed to reiterate the points I made in my book, and the biblical foundation for them. Then you'll deny you are doing what I just said you will do, even though what you said (will say) contradicts what you are denying having said. No, you don't think so? Well, we'll see…



BOWMAN:
Stafford continues:
>>>Now, notice that both 1 Timothy 5:21 and 1 Corinthians 8:6 distinguish God from Christ. THAT MEANS they are not the same God! We will discuss this point further in a few moments, but it should be noted that Bowman's answer, "These texts refer to the Father as `God' not because Jesus Christ is less than God, but simply because the title God was normally used of the Father," completely misses the point of our objection. It is particularly noteworthy that 1 Cor. 8:6 refers to the Father, one person, as the "one God." Yet, trinitarians consider the "one God" three persons.>>>



BOWMAN:
Once again Stafford uses sleight of hand to conclude that I completely missed his point (and that of the Witnesses generally). The argument to which I was responding was that Christ can't be God because he is distinguished from God. In the first two sentences of the above paragraph Stafford makes that argument himself. But then, in order to discount my refutation, Stafford changes the argument to the use of the expression "one God" for the Father in 1 Corinthians 8:6. That is a different argument, but Stafford wants to pull this switch so he can announce triumphantly that once again Bowman completely missed the point.



STAFFORD:
Wrong. Let's repost the complete exchange to clarify what you have (again) distorted:

<<FROM More on Sharp's Rule, Trinitarianism and Rob Bowman
Part Two: Bowman's A Priori Objections
By Greg Stafford>>

FOURTH PARAGRAPH [of Bowman's book on the Trinity, page 73]:

BOWMAN:
"Then there are texts that simply refer to `God' alongside Christ in such a way as to distinguish them. For instance, 1 Timothy 5:21 speaks of `God and Christ Jesus,' and 1 Corinthians 8:6 distinguishes between `one God, the Father,' and `one Lord, Jesus Christ.' But trinitarians have a simple answer: These texts refer to the Father as `God' not because Jesus Christ is less than God, but simply because the title God was normally used of the Father."

STAFFORD:
On a side note, there are shortcomings on page 73 of Bowman's book that I will not address here, but they are addressed in Chapter 4 of my book. Now, notice that both 1 Timothy 5:21 and 1 Corinthians 8:6 distinguish God from Christ. THAT MEANS they are not the same God! We will discuss this point further in a few moments, but it should be noted that Bowman's answer, "These texts refer to the Father as `God' not because Jesus Christ is less than God, but simply because the title God was normally used of the Father," completely misses the point of our objection. It is particularly noteworthy that 1 Cor. 8:6 refers to the Father, one person, as the "one God." Yet, trinitarians consider the "one God" three persons.

<<END OF QUOTE-RETURN TO PRESENT DISCUSSION>>



STAFFORD:
Now, notice the argument found in the Trinity brochure:



*** TRINITY BROCHURE, Page 17 Is God Always Superior to Jesus? ***
The apostle Paul had no reservations about speaking of Jesus and God as distinctly separate: "For us there is one God, the Father, . . . and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 8:6, JB) The apostle shows the distinction when he mentions "the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels." (1 Timothy 5:21, RS Common Bible) Just as Paul speaks of Jesus and the angels as being distinct from one another in heaven, so too are Jesus and God.



STAFFORD:
The point they are making is not that Jesus cannot be G-god in some sense, but that he is DISTINCT from the God that is mentioned in the verses they cite. Bowman's answer, "These texts refer to the Father as `God' not because Jesus Christ is less than God, but simply because the title God was normally used of the Father," COMPLETELY misses the point, and fails to answer the objection. The argument has nothing to do with whether Jesus can or can't be God, but whether he is the God that he is distinguished from in these and other verses.



BOWMAN:
In fact, this separate argument from the use of the expression "one God" for the Father is answered in my book JUST TWO PARAGRAPHS LATER, on the same page as he cites (p. 73). This reveals Stafford's claim that I completely missed the Witnesses' argument to be especially hollow.



STAFFORD:
Oh, really?! I think I have made it clear how you have badly misunderstood and misrepresented the arguments found in the Trinity brochure on this matter. Regarding you argument "JUST TWO PARAGRAPHS LATER," that is precisely what I refute in my book, and which you have failed to address in your reply. I assume that you intend to deal with it in your reply that is forthcoming, but I can't imagine why you could not at least address the specific objection I raised here, namely, "It is particularly noteworthy that 1 Cor. 8:6 refers to the Father, one person, as the `one God.' Yet, trinitarians consider the "one God" three persons."

END OF PART ONE

GO TO PART TWO

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