EXPLAINING THE INEXPLICABLE
Dealing with Elohimhead/Godhead Doctrine Controversies
From time to time we receive questions which are almost impossible to answer because we simply do not have the knowledge with which to answer them. Sometimes this knowledge comes at a later date but sometimes it never comes. Sadly, many people are not satisfied with a “no answer” and go away disillusioned. They want everything neatly wrapped up and labelled. As I hope to illustrate here, this is unreasonable.
For better or for worse I recently joined an Internet Bulletin Board that was discussing the Trinity Doctrine. After an hour of reading several dozen posts, I left with my head spinning. How was it possible, I asked myself, for people to arrive at so many interpretations on a topic that has plagued Christianity since its inception, and which in turn has resulted in various doctrinal formulations whose purpose was to end such controversy? I retired to bed with no satisfactory answer though I tentatively concluded that such a doctrine was beyond human ken and we should focus on that which we could understand.
I got my answer this morning after being woken up by my dog howling to go outside to do his ablutions. Some canine background is necessary so bear with me.
Firstly, I have a very good natured dog who is wonderful around children but his one great fault is that he is extremely disobedient. When we adopted him he came as an untrained youth, quite incapable of being allowed lose outside without a lead since he never obeyed instructions. We have, at sundry times, tried to train him, but without success. He’s quite a smart dog and has escaped a number of times. When this has happened he has often returned late at night after being out all day, sometimes smelling as a result of being goodness-knows-where, and often very ill from eating things he shouldn’t have eaten. This has often resulted in various spewings on the floor in the house which we have not appreciated.
Two or three weeks ago when we were all down with a horrible winter bug and feeling like death warmed up, I decided that I would let the dog out to exercise himself, and after a quick prayer that he would stay off the roads and away from places he shouldn’t go to, I opened the door. Hardly able to believe his good fortune, he shot out of the door like a minuteman missile. As we live in the countryside I felt that I could make an exception to the rule. Before long this became a habit as lazy tendencies set in and I rationalised, “Well, since he’s come back alive every time and no-one has complained yet, he’s obviously stayed out of trouble”. Day after day this happened for a couple of weeks, the animal returning more and more exhausted and staying out for shorter and shorter periods of time until finally I literally had to push him out the door to get him to exercise and reduce body weight. Finally, I received a ‘phone call from a village some miles away reporting his presence there following other dogs and generally criss-crossing the road and making a thorough nuciance of himself. No-one could catch him and he finally appeared on a farm where he was apprehended. Two very sour farmers drove him home and pointed out how irresponsible I had been, leaving me to “eat crow” and to bitterly regret ever letting the mutt loose.
Every morning the dog pines to go out, not because his bladder is full to bursting (I have tested this hypothesis) but because he misses his “freedom” to wander all day where he will. As I came out of my room this morning he rushed to the back door, wagging his tail furiously, in keen hopes of being released from his dark prison of despair. When I tried to talk to him and finally headed upstairs, he let off a series of heart-piercing wails as if to tell me I was the cruellest dog-owner in the world, and kept this act up for a good ten minutes in order to try and elicit some pity out of my cold heart to change my mind.
“You silly animal,” I thought to myself, “don’t you know what happened last time I let you loose? Don’t you remember the trouble you got into? Don’t you realise that if a car goes off the road because of you I am responsible to pay for any damages and am responsible for any injuries?” Don’t you understand that the kind of freedom you want must be met by some self-discipline on your part, like obeying me when I whistle or call for you?” And so went the train of my thought.
But, of course, how could a dog understand such thought processes? He is not a human-being. No doubt he is heart-broken and thinks I am a very mean-spirited owner because he has not the slightest comprehension of why I have kept him indoors and on a lead when he has his walks.
Unfortunately, we human beings sometimes forget that when it comes to understanding God’s thoughts and reasons, our relationship to Him is not unlike the relationship of a dog to its human master. The Lord has made is perfectly clear through His prophets that our thoughts are not as His. We can never ultimately fathom the mind of the Creator. And whilst such a thought rests uncomfortably with some who think that as “sons and daughters” we have some sort of “right” to know what our Father thinks, the fact of the matter remains: we are creatures and He is the Creator. Whether in some distant aeon we will understand completely or just a little more no-one can possibly know, even though there are some theologies around, such as that espoused by the Mormons, which claim that God was once like us and that one day we will be like Him - this does, however, deny fundamentally the distinction between the Creator (God) and the created (us).
I must admit that I have often felt the frustration that my dog feels in the morning when he is raring to go outside and do his own thing. The testimony of Scripture is that “doing our own thing” is rarely spiritually healthy and that in order to be given the kind of freedom we want, and which Yahweh wishes us to have, requires a process of rigorous self-discipline which the Bible calls discipleship. Only then may we be released because Yahweh knows we will instantly obey Him when He calls and thus avoid the pitfalls and pain of disobedience.
I have spent the better part of twenty years toying around with various Elohimhead/Godhead models from that have included Monotheism, Unitarianism, Trinitarianism, Modalistic Monarchism, Tritheism, Polytheism, Pantheism, Arianism, and enough -isms to fill a metaphorical sack. The fact of the matter is that Elohim (God) has not given us an -ism but has said this much:
Because this is only a manifestation of Elohim (God) into our dimension we cannot be expected to understand Elohim (God) in any other way, at least not in this life. The best we can hope to do is to look at the characteristics of the Son of Elohim (God) - His life, His teachings, His behaviour and mannerism - to understand the Father, Yahweh-Elohim. Within that Elohim/God-Man we have all we need. Accordingly, Messianic Evangelicals refuse to be dogmatic about Elohimhead/Godhead formulations because we can never know. Instead, we have learned to be content with the early Christian understanding, which was that “Yah'shua is Yahweh” (“Jesus is Lord/God”). We do not try to explain how Elohim (God) manifested Himself in the flesh because that is presently beyond our ken and is, in any case, not necessary for our salvation. We need only to know that this is the case, and to pursue lives of excellence in imitation of that perfect human life, becoming perfect within our own sphere as human beings. With such a view we have, we believe, spared ourselves the time and agony of a spiritual struggle which is fruitless at best, and futile at worst. I do not intend to return to that “Trinity Bulletin Board” for it was a veritable Babylon - of people arguing around in circles with no-one agreeing with anyone else except to be for or against. I sometimes wonder what my dog would say to another dog (assuming they could communicate) in endlessly trying to understand why his master refused to let him loose again. They would never arrive at an answer. And neither will we.
- (a) Man cannot fathom Elohim (God) in His entirety; and
- (b) Elohim (God) may be understood to the maximum potential of man’s intellect by looking at His incarnation as a man, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ).
I remember vividly a debate between an orthodox Christian and a Mormon in the town square of Newcastle, England, that I visited many years ago. It was slanging match: “Three Persons in One God”, said the Trinitarian; “Three Gods, One in Purpose”, retorted the Mormon. This argument went back and forth like a tennis match. Neither saw how farsical it all was or the bad name they were getting for religion as the bemused unbelieving spectators watched on.
Call it the “pragmatic approach”, if you like, but that is the doctrinal path Messianic Evangelicals pursue. We absolutely affirm only what the New Testament believers affired, namely: Yah'shua (Jesus) is Lord (Yahweh-Elohim/God) and Saviour (Deliverer from Sin). There are more important things to do than get embroiled in unresolvable controversies, even though we indulge in the occasional speculation knowing we won’t get a hard and fast answer.
Let’s not complexify life and waste time arguing about things which are bigger than us. Rather than define or prove the Trinity I believe all we need to do is show that Yah'shua (Jesus) is Elohim (God), and not “a god” as the Jehovah’s Witnesses maintain, or a human being that has attained to Christhood (as the New Agers - and arguably the Mormons (on a different time-scale) would insist). Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is the Incarnate Davar/Memra/Logos, who is Elohim (God), always was Elohim (God), and always will be Elohim (God), albeit it in a slightly different outer form (a resurrected body), the same in knowledge, power and glory “yesterday, today, and forever”. This is the testimony of one who has had a lot of egg on his face in the past for daring to formulate the unformulatable. And with that New Testament understanding, I have found rest. May you find it too.
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This page was created on 14 September 1999
Last updated on 18 November 2016
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