the Spirit Watch
The Trinity Studies:
An Analysis Of Gwen Shamblin's "Essence Of God" Statement
Part 5: "How Did The Jews And Jesus View God?"
by Rafael D. Martinez, Co-Director, Spiritwatch Ministries
The Jews strictly reject the concept of this creed and never in history have they ever supported such a teaching throughout all of the centuries. That should speak volumes. The religion of Islam is a religion formed from the teachings of Old and New Testament and represents millions of people who strictly reject all the implied concepts of the trinity.
Gwen now tries to appeal to the monotheism of both Judaism and Islam itself for support of her rejection of the Trinity. This is a rather novel twist that itself speaks volumes about Shamblin's persistent and stubborn devotion to her own religious apostacy. We simply don't have time to fully explore this point, so let us briefly examine the most obvious thrust of her assertions here. She seems to implicitly argue that true Christian monotheism fully rejects Trinitarian concepts in the same way that the Jewish nation and the adherents of Islam supposedly reject it for a more purer concept of the nature of the essence of God. As a result, this provides a circumstantial corroboration that proves the Trinity concepts just emerged "out of nowhere."
Her point is yet another empty objection. Jewish and Islamic rejection of the Christian revelation of God as Triune doesn't begin to prove that the doctrine is wrong. Both religions have sharply divided views on who Jesus was, relegate him to the status of being a great human prophet – not God the Son – and would totally reject his sacrificial death, burial and resurrection as necessary for personal salvation. The significance of this to considering Shamblin's approach to Christian truth claims is understandable: her appeal to the "orthodoxy" of Islam and Judaism makes no sense at all. Both religions have different and speculative views on the nature of God that effectively deny any real existence or relevance of the Spirit of God in ordinary human spiritual life. It is rather fascinating to note that Shamblin's religious heresy actually shares more in common with Judaism and Islam than Christianity at this point. Her works-centered mindset finds great affinity with the theistic views of these two religions, which reject any true relationship with Jesus Christ as the only way to God, since they all view religious obedience, duty, morality and pilgrimage as the pathway to approval in God's sight.
She once again also betrays an enormous ignorance of the religious history of the ancient Near East. While the Old Testament shows how readily and completely the nation of Israel abandoned the worship of God for the embracing of polytheistic worship of other gods, ancient religious history among the Jews plainly shows that they didn't stop at polytheistic idolatry. Some of the most influential Jewish religious scholars since ancient times wandered completely out of monotheism (worship of one supreme being) and beyond polytheism (worship of many supreme beings) into almost every conceivable form of religion. They plunged into all manner of philosophical and metaphysical speculation that completely reinterpreted the Jewish traditions they held. For over three millennia, these Judaic spiritualities based on pantheism (worship of all creation as supreme) have been emerging, adopting pagan religious concepts from Gnosticism, Neo-Platonism and Hindu monism to provide articulation and imagery to convey their teaching. Forms of Jewish tradition took mystical forms and left schools of thought that are enjoying revivals of interest by the occultic minded (such as the Kaballa) to this day. Shamblin simply is out of touch on Jewish religious evolution on this point.
Islam is a vast religious juggernaut with a similar history. As Judaism spread worldwide, but largely to the West from Israel during the times of the Roman Empire the religion of the imams and caliphs of the ancient Near East became a geopolitical force that spread the teachings of Mohammed's revelation across the East and into Asia and Africa. While it's monotheism has been a traditional hallmark, Islam's billions of adherents are part of a religion that views anyone as a Muslim those who keep its "five pillars" on at least the most nominal basis. Personal spirituality and belief, while strictly monitored on a local level by the larger Islamic community wherever it may be found, is not rigidly controlled in the way Shamblin thinks it to be. The revelation of "no god but God", while a central confession of Islam, is one that is upheld largely in formal prayers five times a day. There are entire cultures around the world that have adopted Islam and have for centuries but who follow guidance from their pre-Islamic folk and pagan religious devotion, devotion of which is continued among them. Sufism, one of the main sects of Islam, is a mystical and contemplative faith that can and does blur the boundaries between monotheism and pantheism.
The point is that her characterization of Islam and Judaism as faiths that reject the Trinity may be true, but that they are hardly the bastions of the muddled monotheism she holds to. In fact, they both would roundly reject her doctrine and teaching if they were exposed to it. Her self-anointed status as a "prophet" would be among the first tenets of Remnant teaching that would be dismissed. In the religious cultures of the East, women simply have no such place in Judeo-Islamic circles. Religious authorities throughout time have been male and Shamblin rather predictably fails to bring that point up.
Most of this is largely unknown to Shamblin's audience, who simply have accepted her simplistic and naïve worldview about the historical development of the faith of both Jew and Muslim as gospel truth. All it takes is some reading, some listening and good old fashioned critical thinking to grasp that the reality is far different. This is a mental faculty, however, that cult leaders don't nurture within their followers, so we don't expect it to start now.
Moses, who God spoke to face to face, never ever implied the concepts of the “trinity” nor “god-head”. The point, in and of itself, is not what I use to argue its invalidity. These man-made teachings have been hotly debated since its inception because they do create a whole new religion that is not found in the Old or the New Testaments. The words “Christian” and “Trinitarian” do not go together. In other words, the teaching of the trinity was formed hundreds of years after the time of Christ; yet the Old Testament and the New Testament are thousands of years old and are divinely inspired. What happened in 325-415 A.D., that all of the sudden a new (and confusing) revelation of God was added to the Judeo/Christian thought?
Shamblin's argument shifts from the rather pointless tack she's taken about Judeo-Islamic rejection of the Triune view of the Godhead to rehashed claims that the doctrine is once again nothing more than the creation of Nicene church politics. We've already touched upon a few of the Biblical bases relating to God's self-revelation as Triune and will look shortly at some more. This is just more reiteration of what she's already been claiming and which we've responded to.
Her claim, however, that Trinitarian concept "create a whole new religion" is absurd. She makes this wild assertion but produces no evidence to back it up. How does recognizing God as Father, Son and Spirit substantively change Christianity to her? Shamblin simply pours on the rhetoric ("the sudden (sp?) new (and confusing) revelation of God.") but doesn't begin to lay out how "confusing" it was. The obvious reason behind her objection is simple: it "confuses" the truth as she believes it to be. It is a "whole new religion" because Shamblin has taught that the nature of the "true religion" is comprised of her contradictory mélange of false doctrine on God's essence captured in her graphic. Her spin on history and truth continues in her next round of tired repetition of the same arguments:
Jesus was with God in the beginning. Surely He would have let His Apostles in on the fact that, “by the way, I really am God the Father and sorry about the confusion of calling my self the Son of God all the time”! But no, He insisted on the fact that He was not the Father but rather the Son. John Chapter 10 tells the classic story of where the preachers of the day were going to stone Jesus for they thought He was claiming to be God, and yet Christ denied it and made it clear that He was only saying that He was the Son of God. (You have got to stop here and read that story: John 10:22-42.)
It is the common lot of antitrinitarians to invoke the supposedly universal cloud of confusion that belief in the Trinity has wrapped Christians up with and then dispel it with their truth claim which denies it. Shamblin's approach is no different, adding an argument from silence by reasoning that surely, Jesus missed a big opportunity to tell everyone that He was the Father! Once again, Shamblin totally misses and misrepresents what the doctrine of the Trinity actually teaches. That's not surprising, because in a typically deceptive manner, she just cannot resist getting all the mileage she can out of her twisted views of Trinitarian teaching. This extends to her citation of John 10 and her spare and misleading summary of it.
Trinitarians do not believe Jesus is the Father but have always viewed them as two distinct, independent and eternal beings of different personality and identity. Trinitarians have always believed in both Father and Son, Yahweh and Yeshua, the Most High and the Messiah as two different Beings. Regardless what she says, the traditional Christian position that both the Father and the Son are God is drawn straight from the implicit and explicit truths found in Scripture itself. In short, the Bible does indeed teach the Trinity revelation – it's not the innovation of 4th century church politics. Either Shamblin is guilty of deliberate misrepresentation of the orthodox Christian position or a stubborn and willful ignorance of what Trinitarian belief teaches about God.
Trinitarians take very seriously what the Biblical record reveals: let's take a look at the very Scripture Shamblin challenges us to read. It will show us a completely different picture about the essence of God than Shamblin says is actually there:
Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter,
and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade. The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly" (NIV)
First of all, the setting was during one of the Jewish feasts in Jerusalem. The Lord Jesus Christ was attending the feast after a season of intense ministry in which he taught in the temple and had performed miraculous healings there as well. After the powerful manifestations of divine power and truth He'd set forth, the ever-restless crowds were seeking from Him a direct verbal affirmation that He was the Messiah they were expecting, which, according to popular sentiment then, would be a warrior prophet who would expel the Romans and all Gentiles from the promised lands and rebuild the glory of national Israel.
The people asking the questions were not the priests, scribes or Pharisees of the day – they were the common people who were gathering to see and hear this young rabbi. Shamblin, as usual, is already found wanting in her "teaching." He was speaking with the "men on the street" not the "preachers of the day."
Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand (NIV).
Jesus answered that through His miraculous doings, He was certainly verifying that He was the Messiah. What He had done was done in the name of His Father, but that those demanding an answer to the question of his Messiah were blinded and deafened to it by their unbelief in Him. The Jews were steadfastly refusing to plainly believe and give glory to God by hearing and obeying the teachings Jesus had left them. But those who would receive eternal life are those who do accept what and who He is, and they are "his sheep" by the direct will of the Father.
Shamblin would object that Jesus' reference to the authority of the Father in this verse is proof positive He was superior to His Son in power and degree. "The Father is greater than all," she would point out. But this reference to the absolute supremacy of God is in reference to the power of God's ability to sustain and keep those who have responded to His call to receive eternal life through faith in His Son – it's not a statement of Christ's inferiority to His Father in any respect. In fact, Jesus makes a statement easily as startling, stunning and convicting as his declaration that "before Abraham, I am" a few chapters before in 8:58:
John 10:30: "I and the Father are one" (NIV).
Many antitrinitarians, when confronted by this plain stated assertion of Jesus try to backpedal and evade the inescapable truth we see here that Jesus is stating that He and His Father are in essence the one and the same Almighty God. "He means they're one in purpose, in will, in mission .." and then begin to bring forth word pictures of comparison between a human father and how others around him will marvel at how aspects of his personality are reflected in the nature of his human son. Shamblin does this again and again throughout this polemic, but never tries to directly deal with this verse. It becomes clear that in just 5 words, the Lord Jesus Christ's self-revelation of His relationship to His Father levels all of her unbiblical religion to the ground.
The words of Jesus here, however, cannot be drawn down to the level of human to human comparison. He plainly says here that He and His Father are one, and the Greek construction of the verse (ego kai ho pater hen esmen) makes no room for such an interpretation as Shamblin and other antitrinitarians make. The neuter numerical word "hen" means what it says – "one." The first person plural verb "esmen" (are) conclusively settles the relationship of God to Christ: they are one and the same person in not just purpose but in power, authority, eternity and essential nature, all the while retaining completely separate and independent identities as distinctive yet divine Persons. He is saying that "we are one" in all of the attributes of deity that are found in the nature of God Himself. Far from the hurried dismissal of Shamglin's rhetoric, Jesus didn't "deny" He was God – He made abundantly clear that He was indeed Almighty in all respects!
As usual, Shamblin is clueless on this. The Jews, however, were not.
Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?"
"We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God." (NIV)
They understood clearly what Gwen is so completely self-blinded to: that Jesus revealed Himself to be no less God than His Father, the Word become flesh (John 1:14) in this verse. He had made the same assertion in John 8:58 and the Jews also understood Him all too clearly then – here they "again" picked up stones to stone Him. And at the same time, He affirmed His relationship as God the Son to God His Father. Trinitarians didn't make this truth up. These are the words of God Himself. Shamblin casually and glibly dismisses them at her soul's peril and those of her misguided flock.
In case she missed it, and she did, Jesus again powerfully sets the same though forth later in the chapter (verses 34-38):
Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are gods'?
If he called them 'gods,' to whom the word of God came-- and the Scripture cannot be broken -- what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'?
Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does.
But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."
Jesus, quoting Psalm 82:26, points out that the Law called the magistrates of Jewish leadership "gods" who carried out God's divine commission among them. They were charged with authority from Him to rule His people and carry out His justice among them, the same way Moses had done so when he was made "a god" to Pharoah in Exodus 7:1. Since Jesus was sent by the Father Himself among them, and had authenticated both His messianic identity and divine nature through the miracles He'd done, how could He be accused of blasphemy against God?
And once more, look at verse 38: he again emphasizes the same truth He'd just made clear in verse 30: " .. know and understand that the Father is in me and I in the Father." Jesus pulled no punches and didn't back down from the headlong collision between the unbelieving crowd and His divine revelation. He was not just some "reflection" of God, some adoptive creature He raised up to a level just below His. God the Father in every one of his majestic respects was just as divine and almighty as He was. Both were one in an essential unity that could not be reasoned away or dismissed as human fable. The Father and the Son enjoyed and enjoy yet a glorious union of natures as one and the same Almighty God and yet still retained a relationship between two persons both distinctive and individual.
As I have said, Shamblin would appear to have completely escaped any real understanding of this, but the Jews certainly did not (verses 39-42).
Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.
Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here he stayed and many people came to him. They said, "Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true. And in that place many believed in Jesus. (NIV)
And look at the results: many turned and placed their faith in Jesus Christ, accepting Him as God the Son and Messiah of Israel. How sad that, two millennia later, there are those who today claim to love and fear Jesus so much but who reject what He has plainly revealed of Himself. Gwen Shamblin, in her twisted madness, is one of the leaders of the corps of false teachers this same Jesus said would arise in the last days to teach falsehood in His name and appear as one of His choice instruments. Her utterly inexplicable raving here in this article that tries so clumsily to convince us that 1 x 1 = 2 simply is out of touch with the reality so gloriously revealed.
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