Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Jesus and the Trinity (finally)

I guess I've finally found the time to put together some thoughts on John 14:28. Hopefully the first question that was posed in the previous post demonstrates that if someone reads Jesus' statement properly (ie., looking at the overall context) it is obvious that Jesus is not making a statement about his ontological relationship to the Father. Instead, Jesus is likely saying something about his mission as the Father's "representative." Rather than being a statement about his ontological relationship to the Father, Jesus' statement would then point to his subordinate status relative to the Father (4:34; 5:30; 6:38).

Jesus' statement, "because I am going to the Father" should likely be seen in relation to his role as "the sent one" (cf. 3:17; 4:34; 5:23; 8:29). That is, the one who was sent is now portrayed in 14:28 stating that he is going back to the one who sent him. Therefore, Jesus' words likely signify that his mission will soon end. If Jesus' mission will soon end, then his disciples would have good reason to rejoice. Finally, it is likely that when Jesus speaks of the Father's greatness, his words should be seen in light of John 10:28-29. Jesus' words would then point to the reality that the disciples need not fear (14:27) because the Father is fully able to protect them (cf. 17:15).

I suppose one of the things that can be learned from this is that there is a serious difference between exegesis and eisegesis.


Billy Joe said...


I've been reading that Sir Issac Newton actually studied and wrote about theology as much as mathematics and physics. He researched many translations of the Bible and studied the earliest Christians and came to the conclusion that Jesus was the Son of God, but not God; and he did not consider the Trinity a legitimate doctrine. Of course, he kept this secret for fear of losing his position or worse.

The only trinity I understand in the Bible is made clear by using a simile: God's like the sun in the sky; Jesus is a perfect mirror; the Sun is visible in the mirror and reflects its light, but does not descend into the mirror (it's still in the sky); and the Light from the mirror is the Holy Spirit. So in the mirror I see God, but God did not enter the mirror. The heat and light reflected from the mirror are the Holy Spirit or the Word.

In His Love,
Billy S.

Mark Owens said...

Thanks for the comment. I'm definitely no historian, but if I'm not mistaken, Newton was a deist and in keeping with deism's denial of the supernatural, it was only natural for him to deny the Trinity. By the way, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams (just to name a few) were also deists.

Regarding your analogy, first, no analogy is ever perfect, let alone one that attempts to explain the Trinity. There are several others that have been proposed and they are all problematic to some degree. Since I'm also not a Theologian, I will leave it at that. Second, to the degree that your statement, "Jesus is a perfect mirror; the Sun is visible in the mirror and reflects its light, but does not descend into the mirror (it's still in the sky)" SEEMS to be implicit denial of Jesus' divinity, then I would have to disagree. May I ask how you would interpret John 1:1-2, 18? Also, could you clarify in what sense you would ascribe 'perfection' to Jesus?

God bless,

Billy Joe said...


I think it is pretty unanimous among Newton scholars who have studied his theological writings that Newton was not a deist. He has been labeled as such by those who had not studied them and because many deist used his discoveries in physics to bolster deism.


Mark Owens said...

Thanks for the feedback. Like I said, I'm no historian (if anything, I'm a wannabe "historian" of early Christian thought) and I'm certainly no physicist! Could you clarify your comments about the Trinity.