Pilgrim Pathways: Notes for a Diaspora People

Incarnational Discipleship

Thom Stark Debates the Divinity of Jesus

If you’ve ever wanted to read a very good argument that Nicea and Chalcedon were wrong, that Jesus is not divine (at least, in the usual sense that the majority of Christians would understand that term) and that the Scriptures which seem to teach that he was/is divine have  been misinterpreted, don’t look to ME to provide it, because I actually think that Nicea and Chalcedon were basically on track–although if the Fathers not lived within the framework of Hellenistic metaphysics, they would probably have phrased things differently at points.  I don’t know whether the Council Fathers at Nicea or Chalcedon would judge me orthodox or not, but I basically affirm all the affirmations of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed–with a few mental footnotes. 🙂 (Now, as a Baptist, I generally don’t like creeds AS creeds–that is, I don’t ascribe to human confessions of faith the same kind of authority that creedalist Christians do–but I do think that the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed are fairly good “rough summaries” of what all this Christian stuff is about–with those mental footnotes.)

But if you WERE looking for a very good argument for what appears to me to be a contemporary form of Arianism, then my friend Thom Stark has provided it in 10 parts over on his blog, ThomStark.net,  in a series he calls, “Oh My God-Man!” I think Thom can be answered, but my current writing efforts are elsewhere–and he cannot be answered casually.  It will take close reading of all 10 of his posts and careful answers, point by point.  Thom is smart, reads widely, and has put quite a bit of work into this and it deserves equally careful response–which I cannot give at this time. (Even if I could, I don’t really WANT that kind of argument on that subject just now.)  Also, just because I believe Thom’s overall conclusions are mistaken, doesn’t mean he’s wrong at all points.  He’s not. Some of his sections are spot-on, such as the fact that the title, “Son of God,” does not, by itself, mean that Jesus is the 2nd Person of the Trinity! It was used, both in Jewish and Greco-Roman culture for kings and others as a way of ascribing majesty, honor, and power to the monarch. So, don’t attempt any Sunday School level response.  Bring your best biblical scholarship and your best skills as a theologian to the debate–Thom’s hard work deserves no less.

Here are the links to Thom’s posts:  Intro.,  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 89, 10


February 17, 2010 - Posted by | blog, Christology, Divinity of Christ


  1. The series isn’t finished. I have five more posts to go, so this is a bit premature. But thanks.

    Comment by Thom | February 17, 2010 | Reply

    • Oops! Well, I’ll update it, then!

      Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | February 17, 2010 | Reply

  2. I should also add, just so that any readers you send my way aren’t reading me with mistaken preconceptions:

    I am NOT arguing for any form of Arianism, contrary to Michael’s analysis. Arianism is just as anachronistic as Trinitarianism.

    I am arguing for an understanding of the texts that fits within their broader second temple Jewish context. Arianism doesn’t fit that context, and I’m not making a case for Arianism, neo- or otherwise.

    Also, I am not really doing “theology,” so although I appreciate Michael’s exhortation to “bring your best skills as a theologian to the debate,” I am not really interested in debating “theology.” I am looking at these texts as a historian of the theologies of this period, so while some overlap with theology is inevitable, I am not interested in advocating a confessional theology in this series. As I point out in my intro, I’m not interested in telling you what to believe. I’m interested in understanding what first century Christians probably believed. To some people, those are necessarily related. To me, they aren’t.

    Comment by Thom | February 17, 2010 | Reply

    • I don’t think they’re identical, but I do think they’re related. But thanks for the clarification, Thom.

      Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | February 17, 2010 | Reply

  3. Done. Six additional posts.

    Comment by Atlas | February 25, 2010 | Reply

    • I saw that today. I’ll link to whole series, now.

      Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | February 25, 2010 | Reply

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