Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Immanuel and the Highest God

Reading Isaiah, the Messiah born to a virgin is "Immanuel", "God Among Us". I have often heard this as the proof that there is only one God in a Trinitarian sense. But it is really proof that there are more than one real God.

During Christmas season, everyone sings the beautiful hymns such as "Far, Far Away on Judeas Plain", and "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful", which both perpetuate a mistranslation of the King James Translation of the Bible which obscures who is whom.

We read in Luke 2:14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." To say this is a bad translation is to be kind. All modern translations of this verse follow, more or less, the more accurate translation found in the NIV:
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
What gets lost in this is the intent of "in the highest". This, according to most commentators and several translations, has to do with "in the highest heaven" (NLT, God's Word Translation, Weymouth NT, among commentators Barnes, Clark, Gill and others).

The idea is fairly straight forward: Give glory (praise, honor)to the God who is in the highest heaven, and therefore superior to all other heavenly beings, AND on Earth, men blessed by God are given peace.

Since this angelic announcement takes place AFTER the birth of Christ, where does this put "Immanuel" in relation to "God in the Most High Heaven"?

Well, first of all, it essentially proves that God, as acknowledged by Jesus, is Jesus' superior: "The only true God" (John 17:3). It also shows the understanding was that while Jesus is divine, he is viewed as an "intermediate" God (Acts 17:18), where Jesus is described by Paul in such a way that the Greek philosophers characterize him as a "daimonion", a "strange god" who is atoning for man and being resurrected from the dead, which by definition is:
1 the divine power, deity, divinity
2 a spirit, a being inferior to God, superior to men (Thayer's Greek Lexicon)

The New Testament message of Christ's relationship to God the Father is clear: He is like him, fully a god, yet is a separate god who in essence reports to God: John 1:1-2; Phil 2:6; 1 Cor 8:6; Heb 1:3, 1:9; 2:7-13.

Jesus is the first born of many brethren (and sisters). He was the son of God, which he himself goes to pains to explain means that he is "inferior" to God (John 10:30-38.

The logical dilemma for Trinitarians is we see in the Bible something which is otherwise impossible: If Jesus is God, he keeps appearing next to himself, and even being in two places simultaneously, something logically impossible. Not in the sense of God being omniscient or omnipresent in some manner. We affirm that, even as we recognize we don't know how it is done.

No, it is much more direct: A thing cannot stand next to itself. Acts 7:55-56 is a verse I often site. Jesus is standing, physically, next to God, who is physically visible and present. Jesus sits to the right hand of God in around a dozen verses. Jesus affirms that his oneness with God is identical to that which the saints can similarly experience (John 17:21-24).

The most straightforward explanation is that God and his son are separate and distinct beings. I have gone to great pains to show that from the text of the Bible, there can be no doubt, even in Isaiah, that God was part of a pantheon of divine beings, who could and were rightly called "gods", and that God in Hebrew thought had a wife. It is largely the result of the painful gymnastics of the "unknowable mystery of the Trinity", a doctrine made up by men to try to force an explanation on the data showing multiple divine beings, to force it into their philosophical position that perfection could only be in "one god", and then selectively harvesting the statements in scripture indicating there is only one God, ignoring context, and ignoring clear statements about multiple, real gods found nearly everywhere in the Bible as well ("Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods." Ps 97:7).

Think about this next Christmas. The New Testament knew who they worshiped, the translators just don't like it.