When a Unitarian asks:
“Is there any other true God apart from Jesus’s Christ’s God?”
I replied that there is no other true God apart from the Father – and that this is one of the pinnacles of the doctrine of the Trinity. Our Unitarian friend, who is none other than Oje Giwa-Amu whom I’ve had exchange with on several occasions, was so giddy and flustered due to the fact that he is laboring under the illusion that I’ve made a concession. Lest anyone miss the excitement, he is so quick to label Trinitarians as people who “contradicts and confuse themselves”. Considering the fact that I’ve corrected Oje Giwa-Amu’s underlying presumptions (which he never addressed till date) on several occasions that Trinitarians don’t look at the scriptures with a monistic worldview that taints the eyes of the Unitarians making them fall over themselves when trying to gain insight into what we actually think – which is why they throw themselves up into a fit that we’re confused and contradictory.
I don’t really know of any informed Trinitarian who believes that the Son (or the Holy Spirit) is the true God APART from The Father (the only group of Trinitarians that comes close to this view are those who subscribe to the Social model of Trinitarianism – a model I don’t even hold to)1. I don’t believe that Jesus is a renegade deity (standalone) that exists APART from the Father. That Jesus is a different Person from The Father does not necessarily leads to the conclusion that Jesus is a different God from The Father – unless our Unitarian friend can prove why it is necessary for God to exist as a lone person (hypostasis) – a challenge he is yet to address till date.
As if to tell us that he is not only good at annihilating the hosts of strawmen he built, he also managed to show us that he is so good in mishandling statements of Trinitarians (which actually tells us more about how he handles the scriptures). He wrote:
Saying that there is no true God apart from the Father is exactly the same thing as saying that the Father ALONE is the true God. This is simply commonsense.
Here is how his argument flows:
Major Premise: Only one person is the true God
Minor Premise: The Father is the true God
Conclusion: The Father ALONE is the true God
However, Oje Giwa-Amu is yet to prove the Major premise – add to that the fact that the inspired scriptures don’t even grant that premise at all. The very author who wrote that the Father is the “only true God” (John 17:3) later identified Jesus as “the true God” (1 John 5:20). Walking our friend through his own delusions, if the Father ALONE is the true God, now that Jesus is identified as God in the NT, are we now to conclude that Jesus is a false God? Is he trying to tell us that the cultic devotion/veneration of Christians is directed to a false God? Is he telling us that the Word (Memra) that was beside The Father (John 1:1b) is a false God? Is he telling us that a false God fashioned the heavens and earth, created the hosts of angels and sustained the universe by his word (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16ff; Hebrew 1:1-3; 10-12 etc.)?
Not willing to let Oje Giwa-Amu off the hook here and let him get away with his raping of John 17:3, I’ve reproduced the Greek text of John 17:3:
αὕτη δέ ἐστιν ἡ αἰώνιος ζωή, ἵνα γινώσκωσι σὲ τὸν μόνον ἀληθινὸν Θεὸν καὶ ὃν ἀπέστειλας ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν.
It ought to be pointed out that the Greek word μόνον (monos which means ONLY) qualifies the phrase ἀληθινὸν Θεὸν (alethinos theos which means TRUE GOD) rather than the Greek word σὲ (se – which means YOU). IOW, the text is telling us that The Father is the only true God – the readers should note that the word “only” is qualifying the deity of the Father NOT the personhood of The Father. If the text reads “the Father ALONE is the true God” (i.e. the word monos qualifies the word “Father”), then Oje Giwa-Amu has a point.
However, Oje Giwa-Amu, like other Unitarians have a penchant for refusing to critique the doctrine of the Trinity on its own ground. Trinitarians affirm that:
The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the only true God
Now, how does the statement “The Father is the only true God” contradict the statement above? Yeah, Oje Giwa-Amu also realizes this problem (namely that John 17:3 as it stands does not refute the doctrine of the Trinity) which is why he RE-INVENTED the text to say “The Father ALONE is the true God”. IOW, that is what Oje Giwa-Amu wished the text said though it never said so. The only way Oje Giwa-Amu’s formulation “the Father ALONE is the true God” can only be granted is if and only if God is and must be a singular person – a premise that is INCONSISTENT with the Biblical data.
Our Unitarian friend ignores the fact that, for Trinitarians, affirming the deity of the Father automatically affirms the deity of The Son given the fact that the scriptures testify that Father and Son are one (John 10:30)2.
Now, Oje Giwa-Amu realizes that Jude 1:4 throws out his case for it affirms that Jesus is our ONLY Lord and Master – which by Oje’s reasoning, is a tacit admission that the Father is no longer our Lord and Master.
Let me draw the attention of the readers to the fact that Oje Giwa-Amu is very inconsistent with his dealings (which is hardly surprising when we consider the position he holds to). Our Unitarian friend here rebuked many translators for being very biased as how they mistranslate verses to comport with the doctrine of the Trinity (though the example he once cited had been examined on closer scrutiny and ended up revealing the fact that it is Oje Giwa-Amu who is really the ignorant one here). However, Oje Giwa-Amu has no problem citing the KJV mis-rendering of Jude 1:4 (which is based on later MSS)3 when the earliest and best MSS reads, “denying our only Lord and Master, Jesus Christ”.
However, in order for him to beat a retreat if his “translation” of Jude 1:4 fails, he decided to venture into exegetical gymnastics by saying:
My argument has never been that Jesus is not “Lord” or “God”. The argument is that he is not “Lord” or “God” in the same unique and exclusive context in which the Father is said to be “LORD” and “GOD”.
If you pay attention to this part, you’ll see the pangs of Oje Giwa-Amu in trying to exegete this passage. He said that Jesus is not Lord in the same UNIQUE and EXCLUSIVE context in which the Father is said to be “Lord”. Lol. Pls pay attention to the words “UNIQUE” and “EXCLUSIVE”. The readers should note that the NT never applies the phrase “only Lord and Master” to The Father. Now, let’s ask Oje Giwa-Amu where he got the idea that the Lordship of the Father is used in a “unique and exclusive context”? Second, in what sense is the Father our Lord and Jesus not our Lord? If Oje Giwa-Amu tries to argue that the Father is our Lord in the sense that He is our God, since it follows that Jesus too is identified as our God (John 20:28; 2 Peter 1:1; Titus 2:13), then the Father and the Son must be Lord in the same context. However, I’m sure that Oje Giwa-Amu will play “word defense study” fallacy by saying that the Father is identified as the only true God. Now we ask: In what sense is the Father God that Jesus is not? Considering the fact that all the ESSENTIAL divine attributes of the Father are predicated to The Son.
As if to add salt to his injuries, out of the 45 OT passages about YHWH in the OT, about 33 (over 70%!) are appropriated to The Son while the remaining 12 to The Father. If Oje Giwa-Amu believes that the YHWH in the OT is the Father, then how can he claim that Jesus is not Lord in the “same unique and exclusive context” when majority of the OT passages talking about YHWH is applied to The Son!
Even with Jude 4, I’m quite sure that Oje Giwa-Amu will refuse to lose his grip on his eisegesis of the John 17:3. Hence, I am happy to show him another of many passages in the scriptures that throws out his ridiculous assertions.
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that NO ONE KNOWS BUT HIMSELF.
Now, the rider here is later identified in vs. 13 as the Word of God (which no doubt is Jesus). Now, the text speaks of a name that no one except Jesus knows. Now, what about The Father (and Holy Spirit)? Will Oje Giwa-Amu now tell us that there is something Jesus knows that the Father do not? Of course, given the fact that the doctrine of the Trinity is true (i.e. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one and the same God), then it automatically follows that The Father and Holy Spirit knows it as well. Now, I’m eager to see our Unitarian friend reconcile the texts based on the Unitarian theology.
Now, here is another one:
then hear in heaven your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways (for you, YOU ONLY, know the hearts of all the children of mankind),
(1 Kings 8:39)
Which is also re-iterated here:
“I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
Walking Oje Giwa-Amu through his own delusions, if the Father alone if YHWH (the only true God), then there is no way The Son can search, know and test the heart of men in order to judge them. However, Jesus Himself said:
and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I AM HE WHO SEARCHES MIND AND HEART, and I will give to each of you according to your works.
It is very obvious that the scriptures has nothing to do with Oje Giwa-Amu’s assertion that the “Father ALONE is the only true God”.
Finally, going back to the text of John 17:3, one would realize that Jesus is contrasting the deity of the Father as against the other false gods NOT against that of The Son (whose deity had already been established in the scriptures). Now, who is the only true God? YHWH.
YHWH = the only true God
Apart from the OT identifying YHWH as the only true God, it also went on give references to at least two figures identified as YHWH. Now, let’s look at one of these passages here:
For thus says the LORD of hosts, “After glory HE HAS SENT ME against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye. For behold, I will wave My hand over them so that they will be plunder for their slaves. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts HAS SENT ME. Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; FOR BEHOLD I AM COMING AND I WILL DWELL IN YOUR MIDST,” declares the LORD. 11 “ Many nations will join themselves to the Lord in that day and will become My people. THEN I WILL DWELL IN YOUR MIDST, AND YOU WILL KNOW THAT THE LORD OF HOSTS HAS SENT ME TO YOU.”
Now, we have two different figures identified as YHWH (the only true God) where one of them claimed to be sent by the other. It is obvious that Prophet Zechariah had no qualms with identifying two different persons as YHWH (the only true God) just as Trinitarians have no qualms with identifying the Father and Son as the only true God.
If we lay ignore the testimony of 1 John 5:20 (which identifies the Son as the true God), and grant Oje’s assertion that Jesus is God but not the true God (according to Oje, the Father ALONE is the true God), then it follows that Jesus is a false God. Now, here is how John 17:3 will read:
And this is eternal life, that they know you ALONE the TRUE GOD, and Jesus Christ, the FALSE GOD, whom you have sent.
(John 17:3) Oje Giwa-Amu’s Version
God forbid such blasphemy! Regardless of the efforts of the Heretics United against the doctrine of the Trinity, we will continue to proclaim and declare, in accordance with the writings of the inspired prophets and apostles that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are YHWH (the only true God). Amen!
1. This is not to say that John 17:3 will ruffle the feathers of the Social Trinitarians. Even though I reject this model, it is not because of John 17:3.
2. In what sense is Jesus and the Father one? When we study the context of John 10:30, we’re gonna realize the sense in which Jesus and His Father are unity.
I GIVE THEM ETERNAL LIFE, and they will never perish, and NO ONE WILL SNATCH THEM OUT OF MY HAND. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and NO ONE IS ABLE TO SNATCH THEM OUT OF THE FATHER’S HAND. I and the Father are one.”
Here, Jesus is alluding to Deut. 32:39 which says:
“‘See now that I, even I, am he, (EIGO EIMI) and there is no god beside me; I KILL AND I MAKE ALIVE; I wound and I heal; and THERE IS NONE THAT CAN DELIVER OUT OF MY HAND.
YHWH is saying that He alone makes alive (i.e. give eternal life) and that none can deliver out of His hand – which is exactly what Jesus predicated to both Himself and His Father before going on to declare that He and His Father are one – lest anyone claim that He is contradicting the scriptures. God and His Word are in perfect unity and are of the same essence unless God is a composite being (made up of metaphysical parts) rather than being a Divine Simpliciter.
Another thing to note here is that Deut. 32:39 is one of the 7 passages in the OT which contains the absolute I AM sayings (that is “eigo eimi” that lacks predicate) – corresponding to the 7 absolute I AM sayings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (of which John 8:58 is the most famous for scholars have tried in vain to find a predicate for the eigo eimi).
3. The KJV rendering is problematic for many reasons which is actually understandable since this translation is about 4 centuries old!!! There are now better manuscripts and earlier MSS (and more numerous) which had been discovered to omit “Theos” in the latter phrase of the verse (even though some of the few MSS used by the KJV translators omit “Theos”).
Second, I don’t really know why the KJV translators will translate different Greek words (Despotes and Kyrios) as Lord in the same phrase.
Third, even the Greek construction in the MSS used, Adam Clarke argues that the Greek word could be constructed as “Denying the only God and Sovereign, our Lord Jesus Christ.” However, as I already argued in the post, the better MSS should be used.