Thursday, 14 July 2016

One God, the Father...?

In the last couple of posts I have written about verses that people use to deny the deity of Christ, and when we have looked at these verses more carefully we discover they actually prove He is God. We are going to look at another one here.

For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth - as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords" - yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
1 Corinthians 8:5-6, ESV.

The thrust of the argument against the deity of Christ is quite simple - there is one God, the Father, and this therefore excludes Jesus from being God. Now that might seem sensible and simple, but let's just see what happens if we read the rest of the verse and follow that logic. If the statement "there is one God, the Father" means that Jesus Christ is not God, then the statement that there is "one Lord, Jesus Christ" means that God the Father is not Lord, but that is just nonsense. On many occasions in the New Testament the Father is designated Lord (e.g. Luke 2:26; Acts 4:29; Rev. 4:11; 22:5), so this passage no more excludes Jesus Christ from being God any more than it excludes the Father from being Lord.

So what is going on here? Paul is drawing from the Israelite daily confession of absolute monotheism, the Shema:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD
Deut. 6:4

In 1 Cor.8:5-6 Paul is taking this confession and showing that it incorporates (at least) two persons - the Father and Jesus Christ. He takes the Yahweh name (LORD) and attaches that to Jesus Christ, and he takes the God title and attaches that to the Father. So Paul is teaching monotheism but showing that monotheism does not mean unitarianism. The Father and Jesus Christ are both included in the identity of the one true God of Israel - Yahweh.

So, once again, a text that people point to in an effort to bring Christ down actually identifies Him as the possessing the name and nature of Yahweh.