A Missionary’s Response to John 8:58
After my article here, Anthony decided to respond in an article copiously filled to the brim with nonsensical ad hominem and straw man attacks. He’s upset, very upset after a bust up we had along with Br. Yahya Snow via e-mail, I didn’t realise my words had stung him that badly that it drove him to such madness. I’ll be skipping the filibustering and get straight to his counter arguments:
Contrary to this authors’ claim, Christians do not argue that Jesus is referring to himself as “a” God, as if Jesus is just one God among others.
He’s arguing pedantically, I removed the word ‘a’ and the argument still stands, “Many Christians claim that Jesus in John 8:58 claims to be “I AM”, and God in Exodus 3:14 refers to Himself by this title/ name, therefore Jesus is knowingly referring to himself as God.” So his qualms, cries and rantings thus far have been negated by simply removing a word. Regardless of how much he writes, the premise still stands, by removing the word ‘a’, he effectively now cannot claim I’m appealing to modalism. Now he has to actually respond to the argument at hand. It’s a shame though, since a significant majority of his “response” is fixated on the trumped up connotations that the word ‘a’ is supposed to imply a belief other than trinitarianism. In no way did I appeal to, or for myself believe, that by applying the word ‘a’, that I would be arguing using modalism. Therefore, by removing one letter, I’ve essentially rendered 90% of his counter argument useless. His next argument rests on this claim:
Those who enter John’s Gospel through the front door would already be alerted to this idea and would not be surprised when they come across it in the narrative. In the prologue to the book, John introduces Jesus as the eternal Word…
Except for a very big problem, the Johannine Prologue is effectively as most textual critics would agree, an interpolation onto the Gospel of John. There are three facts that this propagandist must face:
- John 1 and 21 are philologically outside of the original text of the Gospel.
- None of the other Gospels report such language, terms or beliefs associated with Christ.
- The prologue is in of itself unique to John 1 and cannot be found anywhere else throughout Johannine literature.
In as much as he wants to appeal with it, he has to concede that the prologue is not from the original author of John, we read from the Hermeneia Series on the Johannine Prologue:
“Bultmann has done us the great service of demonstrating, on the basis of style, that the core of the Johannine Prologue is an independent entity, a hymn, that was added to the Gospel as an introduction.”
“What really prompted the author of this Gospel to preface his work with this hymn? Ever since Harnack’s essay, “Uber das Verhaltnis des Prologs des vierten Evangeliums zum ganzen Werk,” this question has been given serious consideration. Did the Evangelist intend to preface his work with a statement of its leading ideas – as an introduction? But does the Prologue really recite these leading ideas? Did the Evangelist want to make his work palatable to hellenistic readers by making use of the Logos concept?”
Anthony even concedes to the fact that there are numerous other “I AM” statements littered throughout the Gospel of John which do not hold such weight as in equating such instances with Exodus 3:14:
In fact, even if we restrict ourselves to the local context of John 8:58 we see Jesus assert this several times in the same dialogue. Moreover, two of these notices even occur in conjunction with other “I Am” statements:
Then He said again to them, “I go away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come.” So the Jews were saying, “Surely He will not kill Himself, will He, since He says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” And He was saying to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:21-24)So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. (John 8:28-30)
As for Exodus 3:14, along with many scholars I don’t think that it is the most directly relevant verse to John 8:58.
According to the author the word for “God” in Exodus 3:14 is Elohim. Furthermore, the author tells us that for Christians this word can refer either to the Father alone or to all three persons together. But this isn’t correct, or at least it is not the whole truth, which means that our author has committed the fallacy of false choices or exhaustive hypotheses.
Since all three persons are consubstantial, the word God is equally applicable to any single member of the Godhead, whether Father, Son, or Spirit, or to all three persons together. This means the word can either refer to the Father, to all three persons, or to either one of the other persons, whether the Son or the Spirit.
In other words, the word Elohim can be used for the Son even as it can be used for the Father by Himself or for the Holy Spirit by Himself.
Elohiym consists of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit of one substance, united by the Godhead. If Christ is claiming to be this Elohiym (the united Three Persons), then he is claiming to be the Father as well as the Holy Spirit. According to Trinitarian dogma, the Son is not the Father or the Spirit. In other words, if Christ is claiming to be the Elohiym (of Three Persons) then he is effectively breaking the rules of the Trinitarian dogma as the Son is claiming to be other persons in the Godhead.
If the Elohiym of Exodus 3:14 is the Father alone, then Christ who is the Son is claiming to be the Father and according to Christian Trinitarian belief, the Son is not the Father. Therefore if the Christian is claiming Christ to be Elohiym – the Father, then the Christian is admitting that the Trinity in this case is a false teaching or that Christ did not believe in the Trinity that they appeal to.
Anthony at this stage, did not offer any response to Problem 3, which can be seen here:
The Fallacy of False Equivocation.
Jack is a boy.
James is a boy.
Jack is James.
Obviously Jack is not James.
Orange is a fruit.
Apple is a fruit.
Oranges are Apples.
Obviously Oranges are not Apples.
God says I am.
Jesus says I am.
God is Jesus.
Clearly we can see that this is the fallacy of false equivocation.
If first century Jews reasoned like this author they wouldn’t have been upset with Jesus.
While Christians do believe that “the Son is not the Father or the Spirit,” we do not believe that “the Son is the Father and the Spirit unified.”
You cannot say that John is an employee in the company, but you can say that John works for the company.
You cannot say that Shem and Ham are brothers, but you can say that they have the same mother and father.
You cannot say that a banana is a fruit, but you can say that the banana belongs in the fruit basket.
You cannot say that the Son is the Father or the Spirit, but you can say that the Son is the Father, Son and Spirit.
I therefore do not see how Anthony has responded to the argument. I agree that you do not believe the Son is the Father and the Spirit unified, you do believe however, that the Son is the Son, the Father and the Spirit unified. By ignoring the argument and responding to his whims and fancies, he’s distracted himself and failed to address the point at hand which still stands.
Anthony hasn’t presented any new rebuttals, this article of his was a poor attempt at responding to my Problems with John 8:58 which he has yet to refute. In essence, it seems hastily authored and filled with assumptions and ad hominem. The Problems with John 8:58 in Christian usage still stands and Anthony’s article does not add to the discourse on its use but rather distracts from it.
I hope and pray he has something of substance to present next time in response to what I author, I do not consider mad ranting or inane arguing worthy of my time. His response was nothing more but an attempt to recover from the whooping he received via private e-mail discourse.
and God knows best.