The Machine gun filled with blanks approach to Trinitarian Apologetics.
I recently read a series of blog posts talking about texts compiled by Dr. Horrel of DTS (and other theologians), 117 of them in all, that supposedly support the doctrine of the Trinity. I call this the Machine gun filled with blacks approach to Trinitarian Apologetics because, like a machine gun, many arguments and texts are shot out, but each one ends up being a blank. In other words each one isn’t really an argument for the trinity, it’s a text which only supports the trinity when bound with all sorts of unfounded assumptions, so in the end none of the bullets actually hit. 0+0+0 117 times, or even a million times, still =0. Here are some assumptions made:
When phrases like “Son of God,” “Spirit of God,” “Spirit of the Lord,” and “Spirit of Jesus” occur (cf. Ac 8:35-39; 9:17-20; 16:6-7), the expression is taken to denote one person of the Godhead. Where the single phrase “the Spirit of your Father” (Mt 10:20) is found, this is deemed reflective of two rather than one person of the Godhead. The phrase “the seven spirits” (or “the sevenfold Spirit”) in the Book of Revelation is taken as a reference to the Holy Spirit.”
Based on what? Why? You need to show that that is the case, it isn’t self-evident at all. You have to actually make the argument for that reading, you can’t just assume it.
Let’s look at some of these texts:
Mt 1:18-23 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”
Ok, now is the argument that because Jesus’ name is Immanuel, “God is with us” then he must be Yahweh? Based on what? Do you know how many names in the bible have El or Jah in them? Elijah (My God Yahweh), or Bithiah (Yahweh’s daughter), or how about Jehu (Yahweh is he), How about Samuel (The name of God), or Michah (Who is like Yahweh), I could go on … Obviously these people being given these names has no bearing on what these peoples divine status is, the names are given to them in praise of God and what he does. Jesus proved that God was still concerned with his people, and still going to keep his covenant, so God was with them, that’s what the name means. If you want to insist on taking it literally you need an argument for it, you can’t just assume it.
Here’s another one:
Mk 12:35-37 While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, “How is it that the teachers of the law say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared: “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?” The large crowd listened to him with delight.
Again, we have the “kyrios confusion,” but how does this call Jesus Yahweh, or in any way implicate the trinity? Unless you assume, with no good reason, that the second “lord” must mean Yahweh.
Here’s another one:
Lk 1:67-69 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.
Who is the horn of salvation? Is that Jesus? Or is Jesus the God of Israel? Also yes, the Lord, the God of Israel has come, to redeem his people … how? Through Jesus (Romans 3:24, 5:11), (1 Thessalonians 5:9) (and many other scriptures). This is not a new concept, God saved Israel before, through Moses, he saved them, through the prophets. If you want to claim that this is both literal and calling Jesus the God of Israel, you can’t just make that assumption, it’s not the natural reading of the text so you need to argue for it.
And another one:
Lk 3:21-22 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
In what way is this Trinitarian?
Jn 3:5-6 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
How about this one? In what was is this Trinitarian? Is it personalizing the spirit? No, is it making it a person equal to the Father? No … so how is this Trinitarian?
Now, I can keep going, these are all examples from just the first post, there are 2 more posts as of today, and I’m sure more are coming. I’m not going to go through all of the supposed proof texts, it would be a waste of time to do so, unless any of them were actually part of a larger argument defending the doctrine, rather than just posted with the claim filled with assumptions and no defense of those assumptions. The point is that this type of apologetic is weak, and unfruitful, it only works if the people it targets are lazy, and don’t actually read the texts critically within the context and within the light of the rest of scripture and within their historical framework. Once you actually go through the texts, with no Trinitarian assumptions, and actually knowing the historical framework, the context, the greek, and the biblical data as a whole, you’ll find all of them, each one of them are Trinitarian apologetic duds, they’re blanks.
The way to do apologetics is not a machinegun full of blanks, the way to do it is careful study of the bible, careful exegesis and argument from the text, using those which you can actually exegetically and theologically defend, and not using those you cannot. More is not better, better is better.