Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Perils of the Path People, Part 1

Over on our Ticker Blog the past couple of days, I was giving a hard time because of their poor grasp of preterism. To show there are no hard feelings, I’ll now spend a few posts here helping them out—against a group that quite frankly has CULT stamped on their foreheads in letters ten miles high.

The website is called The Path of Truth, and based on the article I read, from which the entries below are taken, the path in question is one of those where folks walk their dogs forgetting to bring pooper scoopers! The article title for examination is, “The Asininity of the Trinity.”

I’ll make this quick and painless for veteran readers: No, they show no awareness of the critical concept of Wisdom theology, thus rendering and immediately making their article an epic failure. We could literally stop there and consider this path to have been shown as misdirected, but being somewhat masochistic at the moment, we’ll take it down a few more notches.

The Path People rant on about how tries to discourage people from visiting cultic sites like that of the Path People. Now, that sort of thing has never been my policy; I always figure that we should visit the opposition’s books, websites, etc., because there’s no better way to learn where they go wrong—to say nothing of the comic relief value many offer. Exemplary of that is how the Path People try to build a Biblical case against gotquestions’ policy:

So how do we know they are not giving unbiblical answers that lead people down a false path? Don’t other religious organizations also believe they are using the Bible properly to answer questions? Which one doesn’t think they are right, or admits they are wrong? Consider! “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2 HNV).

Pondering that one! Well, one way or the other, basic epistemology is that when there are competing views either one is right and the rest are wrong, or else all are wrong and the right way is not known. How do we determine between them? The usual procedure is to collect facts, weigh evidence, and apply the principles of logic. Cults tend to not like stuff like that, so it’s not unusual for them to hoist some decontextualized verse like Prov. 21:2 which, in the context of Prov. 21, has to do with moral choices, not with things like deciding whose answers are or are not “biblical.” But of course, a cult like The Path People needs to level the playing field somehow, since they have proven themselves incapable of meeting us on level ground when it comes to things like sound exegesis and serious scholarship.

The Bible can tell us whether one uses it correctly or not, but only if properly understood and applied by the grace of God.

Oh really? And where’s that found? It isn’t! Once again, this is merely a cowardly way cults have of putting their claims out of reach of objective testing. In essence, this is just another version of the Mormon “internal witness” (see link below), which is subject to the same criticisms. For example, proposing to prevent people from visiting “unbiblical sites” is an unbiblical, false way. Here are two Scriptural witnesses that tell us so: 

“For there must also be heresies among you, that the approved ones may be revealed among you” (1 Corinthians 11:19 MKJV).

Ha ha, that’s funny. I’m not sure how they’re applying this. My guess is, based on a comment quoted below, that they’d say that because heresies “must” be among us, we need to go look at heretical sites so we can see who the “approved” are. Unfortunately that’s not a contextually sound approach to this text. In many of his letters, Paul makes use of rhetorical irony, and here, his comment that “there must also be heresies among you” is a sarcastic observation that the Corinthians are so status-conscious (as were all people in honor-shame societies) that they need division in order to gain honor.

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 KJV).

That’s a lot less successful. While it does indicate that there will be falsehood around, it doesn’t support or negate trying to stop people from going to heretical sources. Nor does either passage say that, “God has determined that false works are necessary to catch and filter out the insincere and other abusers of the truth. They are also there to try and purify the sincere.” That’s the conclusion they reach on their own, and it certainly is one valid way to approach false works.

However, I would recommend such an approach only for persons who are meant to be trained in apologetics or evangelism. It’s not an approach I’d recommend for Aunt Flossie, who doesn’t have the discernment needed to sift truth from falsehood. Bottom line: The Path People are imagining that using false works this way is God’s universal method—and that’s not found in the texts, nor is it found in any rational analysis of scholarly exegetical methods.

The Lord gave a parable describing how the wheat He sows grows together with the tares sowed by the enemy, until He sends reapers to bundle the tares for burning (Matthew 13). Whoever tries to prevent these things fights against God Himself. As it is written, “The deceived and the deceiver are His” (Job 12:16).

Um, no…that doesn’t follow either. The parable reflects the fact that there will be tares and wheat, but it doesn’t follow from that, that we’re not supposed to prevent tares from growing in the first place. If that were the case, then the Path People are themselves guilty of this, since the very presence of their website is an indication that they’re trying to change people’s mind about something, which means they’re also doing their best to tear you from the tares. Sadly, cults are seldom consistent in this regard.

A couple of paragraphs follow in which gotquestions is described as:

“…part of the darkness, erring in the foundational elements of true faith and salvation in Christ...self-serving…a black backdrop against which God shines His Light to give understanding to the simple who put their trust in Him.”

That’s another mark of cults, of course—merely sanctifying their own ignorance.
We then get to the subject of the Trinity (finally), which is put off as:

“…a diabolical and confounded misrepresentation of God…one of the prominent indicators that you are dealing with a cult.”

Yawn! And here, I will have to part ways with, because unlike them, I don’t think it is true that the “Trinity is a concept that is impossible for any human being to fully understand, let alone explain.” It’s easy to do both; you can even explain it in cartoons, as I have (link below). So on that account, I won’t get the Path People’s ruler-whack for trying to explain something I say is not explainable, though by now I imagine I’ll make their list of heretics along with everyone else. (Too bad their site’s traffic ranking is, like, 20 millionth or so and they won’t be able to warn anyone.)

It takes a few paragraphs for the Path People to get off this kick and on to the actual “bones” of the Trinity doctrine; once they get there, it’s pretty…asinine. Gotquestions puts it this way: “The Bible teaches that the Father is God, that Jesus is God, and that the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible also teaches that there is only one God…The Trinity is one God existing in three Persons. Understand that this is not in any way suggesting three Gods.”

The Path People respondeth:

What twaddle! How are “three Persons” not “three Gods”? Oh yes, we are told this is inexplicable. Well, we will explain how wickedly stupid and wrong such thinking is, because it calls the Lord a liar when He says He is the only One and Singular God, with no God beside Him (Isaiah 45:5,21). Line up three “Persons” - “God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit” - and there are Gods beside each other, are there not?

No, there are not! This is the standard mistake which confuses a modern use of the word “God” as though “God” were a proper name of a person, when in fact the Greek Theo’s was an abstract noun. Today we use “God” when we likely mean the Father. Additionally, as noted in the article linked below, this fails to comprehend Wisdom and Spirit as hypostatic entities. (The word “hypostatic” I imagine will be too large for these guys.) So, sorry—three Persons does NOT have to mean 3 gods; hypostatic relationships make it otherwise. Further ranting ensues in which the Path People somehow conclude that by logic, they themselves are God because “I am one with Him, like Jesus, and exist in Him.” Well, no, not really—the Path People aren’t hypostatic entities. Sorry to disappoint them!

Later on, there’s the usual misuse of the Shema, which we’ve seen from Unitarians (see link below), and another few hundred lines of railing, and we get the impression where the Path People come from on this issue: Trinitarianism treats Jesus Christ like the Koran does. Islam presumes to honor Christ by calling Him a prophet, yet denies He is the Son of God. Trinitarians presume to honor Christ by calling Him “the second Person of the Godhead” while denying He is the One True God and Father.

Hmm…so then, Modalism? No, sorry, as that’s the least well-grounded of the anti-Trinitarian heresies, and also the most simple-minded. That’s why we have this sort of Q and A from them:

John 14:8-9 EMTV (8) Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” (9) Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He that has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (By the way, how is the Son co-equal with the Father if He is the second Person, commanded and given for the sins of mankind by the Father, who is first? And how is it the Father knows things the Son does not if they are co-equal?)

Well, for one thing, orthodox Trinitarianism maintains an ontological co-equality while also maintaining a functional subordination, which again fits hand in glove with the Wisdom template. Likewise, the hypostatic functions explain why Jesus does not know certain things (link below).

Hereafter, there’s a survey of verses used to argue for the Trinity. I don’t use all of them myself; some, like Gen. 1:26-7, are amenable to a Trinitarian view, but since they do not name three persons specifically, I don’t use them in a primary defense of the doctrine.

We’ll pick up with Part 2 with a look at how the Path People interpretively abuse those passages that we often do use.
[Edited by PML on 08-29-2014]

Basic article -- see within for links on Unitarianism
Lack of knowledge by Jesus
Mormon internal witness
YT vid


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