There have been many comments on my previous post God is a Person (Thank you all for your thoughts and contributions). I would like to narrow the focus of the discussion to deal with one argument at a time, so this post will only cover the first of my five arguments for the conclusion “God is a Person”. Fewer people may be interested in this argument, but that is OK with me. I will get around to the other arguments in future posts.
I. The Jesus Argument
1. Jesus is God.
2. Jesus is a person.
3. God is a person.
As I noted previously, this is an ad hominem argument; it is based on a premise that I do not accept, but that is widely accepted by Christians (i.e. “Jesus is God”).
This might not be a sound argument, even from a Christian point of view, but I think it is one that is worth thinking about.
If the argument fails, it will be useful, I think, to have a clear understanding of why it fails. If it does turn out to be a sound argument from a Christian point of view, then it shows that the conclusion “God is a person” should be viewed as a basic Christian belief, and that rejection of this conclusion (for example, by Joe Hinman) would put one outside of traditional Christian belief.
Some Initial Reflections
I don’t think it will work to challenge premise (2). The doctrine of the Trinity asserts that God is just one being who consists (somehow) of three distinct persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus is “the Son”, so the docrtine of the Trinity asserts that Jesus is a person.
Another problem is that Christians traditionally believe that Jesus is fully human as well as being fully divine. But if Jesus is fully human, then Jesus must be a person. Something that is NOT a person could not possibly be fully human.
So, my view is that premise (2) must be accepted, at least from a traditional Christian point of view.
That leaves only premise (1) and the logic of the argument open to criticism. An obvious objection, one already made in the comments on the initial post, is that the claim “Jesus is God” does not assert the IDENTITY of Jesus and God.
A problem with this objection is that the word “God” is a proper noun, so the claim “Jesus is God” is grammatically the same as the claim “Clark Kent is Superman”. When you put two names together with the word “IS” between them, that indicates that you are using the “IS” of identity. Note that Christians also sometimes say “Jesus is Jehovah”.
But, I suppose, one could interpret premise (1) in a non-literal fashion, like the claim “James Comey is the FBI”. The FBI is a federal organization, but James Comey is NOT a federal organization. James Comey is a person, but the FBI is NOT a person. If we do take the sentence “Jesus is God” to have a non-literal meaning, then it would be helpful to clarify and spell out precisely what this means.