Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Justin Martyr: The Father and Son

Many Evangelical Christians say LDS are not Christian because we worship a different God and Christ. They say because we do not accept the Nicene Creed of the First Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church in the 3rd Century AD (which is the basis for the Trinity/Triune God Doctrine) that we worship a false Christ and a False God. LDS openly reject the Nicene Creed and and point out that our doctrine better reflects that of 1st Century Christianity than 3rd Century Christianity and tradition as reflected in the Creeds.

Back then when the debate raged over the Nicene Creed. Arians have been described as trying to deny the deity of Christ. While the denial of Jesus as God is wrong, the opponents of the Nicene Creed were correct in their objection to the word "homoousious" or "of the same substance" which is used in the Nicene Creed. While the whole of the Nicene Creed is an accurate description of the Godhead, the word "homoousious" is interpreted to describe a mysterious and incomprehensible relationship between the Father and the Son. Many feel that the mystery of how God can be 3 Persons but 1 Being is wrong because it is by definition incomprehensible. Instead, many felt the Nicene Creed should have said that God the Father and God the Son were not "homousious" or "of the same substance" but "of similar substance". To put it in other words, the Father and the Son could be said to both be composed of pure gold but separate and distinct gold bars. The Son was not divided off from the Father but as Justin Martyr would say, the Son stands next to the Father in the same way a fire can be kindled from another fire and stand separate from the first without diminishing from the first.

A major issue dealt with in Justin's argument with Trypho is that the Jews rejected the Christian's acceptance of Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah because Jesus Christ and the Christians claimed that Christ was God. Before the Babylonian captivity the Jews had a serious problem with Baal and Ashtoreth worship. These idols are excavated in Israel today. But after the captivity, the pendulum swung too far the other way, and the Jews became hyper-monotheists to the point that they could not accept Christ as the Messiah because Christ also claimed he is the Son of God. Therefore, Justin takes care the argue that it was the pre-existent Jesus Christ who appeared in the Old Testament to Moses and Abraham. According to Justin, Jehovah of the Old Testament is Jesus Christ of the New Testament.

Justin Martyr comments to Trypho Chapter 56. God who appeared to Moses is distinguished from God the Father
Justin: Reverting to the Scriptures, I shall endeavour to persuade you, that He who is said to have appeared to Abraham, and to Jacob, and to Moses, and who is called God, is distinct from Him who made all things—numerically, I mean, not [distinct] in will. For I affirm that He has never at any time done anything which He who made the world—above whom there is no other God—has not wished Him both to do and to engage Himself with. . . . It is not on this ground solely that it must be admitted absolutely that some other one is called Lord by the Holy Spirit besides Him who is considered Maker of all things; . . . 'Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever. A sceptre of equity is the sceptre of Your kingdom: You have loved righteousness and hated iniquity: therefore God, even Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your fellows.' If, therefore, you assert that the Holy Spirit calls some other one God and Lord, besides the Father of all things and His Christ, answer me; for I undertake to prove to you from Scriptures themselves, that He whom the Scripture calls Lord is not one of the two angels that went to Sodom, but He who was with them, and is called God, that appeared to Abraham.

Justin Martyr comments to Trypho Chapter LXI—Wisdom is begotten of the Father, as fire from fire.“
I shall give you another testimony, my friends,” said I, “from the Scriptures, that God begat before all creatures a Beginning,[who was] a certain rational power [proceeding] from Himself, who is called by the Holy Spirit, now the Glory of the Lord, now the Son, again Wisdom, again an Angel, then God, and then Lord and Logos; and on another occasion He calls Himself Captain, when He appeared in human form to Joshua the son of Nave (Nun). For He can be called by all those names, since He ministers to the Father’s will, and since He was begotten of the Father by an act of will; just as we see happening among ourselves: for when we give out some word, we beget the word; yet not by abscission, so as to lessen the word means both the thinking power or reason which produces ideas and the expression of these ideas. When we utter a thought, the utterance of it does not diminish the power of thought in us, though in one sense the thought has gone away from us. [which remains] in us, when we give it out: and just as we see also happening in the case of a fire, which is not lessened when it has kindled [another], but remains the same; and that which has been kindled by it likewise appears to exist by itself, not diminishing that from which it was kindled. The Word of Wisdom, who is Himself this God begotten of the Father of all things, and Word, and Wisdom, and Power, and the Glory of the Begetter.

Justin Martyr comments to Trypho Chapter 59. God distinct from the Father conversed with Moses
Justin: Permit me, further, to show you from the book of Exodus how this same One, who is both Angel, and God, and Lord, and man, and who appeared in human form to Abraham and Isaac, appeared in a flame of fire from the bush, and conversed with Moses . . . . Have you perceived, sirs, that this very God whom Moses speaks of as an Angel that talked to him in the flame of fire, declares to Moses that He is the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob?

Justin Martyr comments to Trypho Chapter 75. It is proved that Jesus was the name of God in the book of Exodus
Justin: Moreover, in the book of Exodus we have also perceived that the name of God Himself which, He says, was not revealed to Abraham or to Jacob, was Jesus, and was declared mysteriously through Moses. Thus it is written: 'And the Lord spoke to Moses, Say to this people, Behold, I send My angel before your face, to keep you in the way, to bring you into the land which I have prepared for you. Give heed to Him, and obey Him; do not disobey Him. For He will not draw back from you; for My name is in Him.' Exodus 23:20-21 Now understand that He who led your fathers into the land is called by this name Jesus, and first called Auses Numbers 13:16. (Oshea). For if you shall understand this, you shall likewise perceive that the name of Him who said to Moses, 'for My name is in Him,' was Jesus.

Justin Martyr comments to Trypho Chapter LXII.—The words “Let Us make man” agree with the testimony of Proverbs."
And the same sentiment was expressed, my friends, by the word of God [written] by Moses, when it indicated to us, with regard to Him whom it has pointed out, that God speaks in the creation of man with the very same design, in the following words: ‘Let Us make man after our image and likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heaven, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creeping things that creep on the earth. And God created man: after the image of God did He create him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and said, Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and have power over it. And that you may not change the [force of the] words just quoted, and repeat what your teachers assert,—either that God said to Himself, ‘Let Us make,’ just as we, when about to do something, oftentimes say to ourselves, ‘Let us make;’ or that God spoke to the elements, to wit, the earth and other similar substances of which we believe man was formed, ‘Let Us make,’—I shall quote again the words narrated by Moses himself, from which we can indisputably learn that [God] conversed with some one who was numerically distinct from Himself, and also a rational Being. These are the words: ‘And God said, Behold, Adam has become as one of us, to know good and evil.’ In saying, therefore, ‘as one of us,’ [Moses] has declared that [there is a certain] number of persons associated with one another, and that they are at least two. For I would not say that the dogma of that heresy which is said to be among you is true, or that the teachers of it can prove that [God] spoke to angels, or that the human frame was the workmanship of angels. But this Offspring, which was truly brought forth from the Father, was with the Father before all the creatures, and the Father communed with Him; even as the Scripture by Solomon has made clear, that He whom Solomon calls Wisdom, was begotten as a Beginning before all His creatures and as Offspring by God,

Justin Maryr comments to Trypho Chapter Chapter 128 The Word is sent not as an inanimate power, but as a person begotten of the Father's substance
And do not suppose, sirs, that I am speaking superfluously when I repeat these words frequently: but it is because I know that some wish to anticipate these remarks, and to say that the power sent from the Father of all which appeared to Moses, or to Abraham, or to Jacob, is called an Angel because He came to men (for by Him the commands of the Father have been proclaimed to men); is called Glory, because He appears in a vision sometimes that cannot be borne; is called a Man, and a human being, because He appears arrayed in such forms as the Father pleases; and they call Him the Word, because He carries tidings from the Father to men: but maintain that this power is indivisible and inseparable from the Father, just as they say that the light of the sun on earth is indivisible and inseparable from the sun in the heavens; as when it sinks, the light sinks along with it; so the Father, when He chooses, say they, causes His power to spring forth, and when He chooses, He makes it return to Himself. In this way, they teach, He made the angels. But it is proved that there are angels who always exist, and are never reduced to that form out of which they sprang. And that this power which the prophetic word calls God, as has been also amply demonstrated, and Angel, is not numbered [as different] in name only like the light of the sun but is indeed something numerically distinct, I have discussed briefly in what has gone before; when I asserted that this power was begotten from the Father, by His power and will, but not by abscission, as if the essence of the Father were divided; as all other things partitioned and divided are not the same after as before they were divided: and, for the sake of example, I took the case of fires kindled from a fire, which we see to be distinct from it, and yet that from which many can be kindled is by no means made less, but remains the same.

While some say that Justin is making a point here about the Father and Son being one essence. What Justin is saying is that the Son is not a chip off the ol' block or a piece of the Father. The Father is complete and separate alone. Yet while the Son stands as a separate Being and Person and Personage and Individual of the Father, the Son did nothing of Himself, but came to do the will of the Father, speak the words of the Father, and manifest the full power of the Father in all things. Therefore, God the Son is one in purpose, unified will, and power with God the Father.

Justin Martyr discusses several other interesting doctrinal points such as Jewish scribes altering the Septuagint and the Old Testament and removing plain and precious portions. Justin also discusses the office and work of the Seventy. And Justin discusses why Christians worship on Sunday, the 8th day or first day of the week instead of the Jewish Sabbath.


Morgan Deane said...

Thanks for posting all of these. I appreciate your efforts to explicate church doctrine.

Anonymous said...

You insist we must "differentiate between priesthood authority, priesthood keys, and priesthood power."

Such a distinction is not supported ANYWHERE in LDS scripture. You are going way beyond the text and mixing the ideas of human minds into the scriptures.

Moreover, your diatribe on the writings of Justin Martyr in which you claim to "explicate Church doctrine" are filled with NON-doctrinal, NON-scriptural ideas that are NOT official LDS Church doctrine!