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Biblical Monotheism and God’s Heavenly Throne - By Sam Shamoun

Biblical Monotheism and God’s Heavenly Throne - By Sam Shamoun

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Published by Gilbert Hanz
The symbolic function of the unique divine throne is such that, if we find a figure distinguishable from God seated on God’s throne itself, we should see that as one of Judaism’s most potent theological means of including such a figure in the unique divine identity…
The symbolic function of the unique divine throne is such that, if we find a figure distinguishable from God seated on God’s throne itself, we should see that as one of Judaism’s most potent theological means of including such a figure in the unique divine identity…

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Published by: Gilbert Hanz on Jul 21, 2011
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05/14/2014

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Biblical Monotheism and God¶s Heavenly Throne
Responding to a Muslim Dawagandist¶s Objections to the Trinity Pt. 1
 
Sam Shamoun
 Muslim apologist Bassam Zawadi has come out of his hibernation in order to ³
reply
´ tosome of the articles which I have written to prove that Islam is not a monotheistic religion, but a pagan/polytheistic faith which Muslims have been duped into believing is the strictestform of monotheism there is. The readers can find the material by checking out Zawadi¶s³rebuttals´ since he links to a specific article in each of his ³responses.´As time permits I will be addressing some of the points which Zawadi raised, while ignoringthe parts that have already been refuted, since it gives me further opportunities to documentthat Zawadi has no business doing apologetics.Here I would like to respond to the assertions which Zawadi made against the Trinity and indefense of 
Muhammad¶s enthronement
.
Exposing Zawadi¶s inconsistencies and his gross misunderstanding and misuse of references
 In his ³reply´ Zawadi seeks to undermine the Biblical evidence for the Trinity and the Deityof Christ, and even cites a couple of renowned NT scholars to do so!Richard Bauckham said:In Second Temple Judaism, then, the throne of God in the highest heaven became a keysymbol of monotheism.
(Richard Bauckham,
The Throne of God and the Worship of  Jesus
, page 53)
 Marinus de Jong said:God on his heavenly throne remains the center of all worship (Rev 7:11-17), and adoration of the Lamb in no way endangers or diminishes the worship due him. 
(Marinus de Jong,
God'sFinal Envoy
, page 138)
 Although Zawadi didn¶t mention it the above quotes, as well his arguments against theTrinity, were taken from the following unitarian
article
.This isn¶t the only time that Zawadi quote-mined unitarian writings to ³refute´ the Biblicalevidence for the Trinity. Most, if not all, of his attacks against the blessed and gloriousTrinity are either taken directly from or are dependent upon the arguments and eisegesis of unitarians, just as the following links testify:
http://www.call-to-monotheism.com/general_articles_refuting_trinity
 
http://www.call-to-monotheism.com/refuting_trinity_in_the_new_testament
 
http://www.call-to-monotheism.com/refuting_trinity_in_the_old_testament
 
 
http://www.call-to-monotheism.com/inc/searchresults?s=unitarian&ss=unitarian&n=79871
 What makes this rather ironic is that Zawadi chided me in one of his ³rebuttals´ for citingMuslims who reject the hadiths:
My Response:
 Of course it is. There is something wrong with Sam Shamoun's
whole section
to begin with.That is that he assumes that the Qur'an is the only source of religious authority in Islam. Heuses foolish arguments put forth by hadeeth rejecting Muslims (who are refuted
here
) andcompletely ignores the Islamic orthodox position. (
 R
ebuttal to Sam Shamoun's Article"What is the day of congregation?"
)Elsewhere, Zawadi labels such Muslims as deviant (which obviously begs the question):It is indeed very sad and illogical for someone to reject all the hadith of the glorious Prophet(peace be upon him). The movement of the devious sect that began promoting this idea only began around 100 to 200 years ago. These people are coming out and misquoting verses fromthe Qur'an and giving it a whole new meaning. It is as if every single Muslim from the timeof the Prophet until they arose misunderstood Islam. That in itself is an insult because thatwould indicate that the Prophet was a huge failure in fulfilling his task. The Prophet warnedus about people like these who would arise in the future... (
 Hadeeth
 R
ejecters
)It would seem that Zawadi would be consistent and follow his own advice by not simplyquoting from unitarians while ignoring the orthodox Christian responses to the distortion of the Holy Scriptures by such deviant sects (to use Zawadi¶s own words).
(1)
However, as wehave said on many occasions consistency is not one of Zawadi¶s strong points.
(2)
 Returning to the issue at hand, since Zawadi¶s source quoted only a part of the statements of  both Bauckham and de Jonge we will provide the full context so that the readers can see whatthese authors were actually saying. We will begin by quoting from Bauckham¶s latest book since he includes an expanded version of this specific article:
3.4.
Conclusion
In Second Temple Judaism, then, the throne of God in the highest heaven became a keysymbol of monotheism, representative of one of the essential characteristics definitive of thedivine identity. While a few traces of other enthroned figures associated with God¶s rule can be found, the subordination of such figure to God¶s rule is almost always stressed, while theoverwhelming trend of the literature is towards emptying heaven of all thrones except God¶s.There is no indication that this was controverted issue, as it was later in rabbinic discussionsof Daniel 7:9 and of Metatron. The uniqueness of the heavenly throne of God belongs to thelogic of the monotheism that dominated common Judaism in the Second Temple period.(Bauckham,
 Jesus and the God of Israel ± God Crucified and Other Studies on the NewTestament¶s Christology of Divine Identity
[William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,Grand Rapids, MI/ Cambridge, U.K. 2008], 5. The Throne of God and the Worship of Jesus,3. The Heavenly Throne of God,
p. 164
;
underline emphasis ours)
 
Bauckham¶s point is that the throne of God was one of those key distinguishing featureswhich separated God from all created reality. God¶s heavenly throne symbolized monotheismand God¶s unique divine identity as the Ruler of all created things. As such to sit on God¶sthrone implied that the figure in question was fully Divine and shared in God¶s own identity.To quote the words of Bauckham:The symbolic function of the unique divine throne is such that, if we find a figuredistinguishable from God seated on God¶s throne itself, we should see that as one of Judaism¶s most potent theological means of including such a figure in the unique divineidentity«35. So, rightly, Gieschen,
 A
ngelomorphic Christology
, 93-4: µTexts in which a figure sharesthe divine throne with God, or is its sole occupant, make a profound theological statement ina Jewish context: divinity could be ascribed to the enthroned figure.¶ I would say: µdivinitymust be ascribed to the enthroned figure.¶ (Ibid., p. 165
;
underline emphasis ours)Here is what Charles A. Gieschen, whom Bauckham cites, says in his book concerning thisissue:³First, the
 Divine Position
criterion: Is the angelomorphic mediator positioned with or near God or his throne? [Alan F.] Segal¶s research on the µTwo Powers in heaven¶ controversy hashelped to emphasize the interest the exegetes had in a second figure sharing the divine thronein Judaism, Christianity, and Rabbinism. The divine throne belonged to God
 AL
ONE 
.Therefore, divine status is usually accorded to the sole occupant sitting on the divine throne,the one who sits on the divine throne with God, or the one who sits on a similar throne that isalongside the divine throne.´ (Gieschen,
 A
ngelomorphic Christology:
 A
ntecedents and Early Evidence
[Brill Publishers, 1998], Part 1. Introduction, Chapter Two. Nomenclature andMethodology, C. Divinity Nomenclature, p. 31
;
capital and italic emphasis ours)It is in light of this key understanding that Bauckham goes on to show that Jesus shares inGod¶s very own unique Divinity since the NT depicts him as sharing in God¶s sovereign ruleover all creation:
5. Jesus on the heavenly throne of God
 When New Testament Christology is read within the context of the understanding of theSecond Temple Jewish monotheism we have sketched, it can be readily seen that EARLYChristians applied to Jesus all the well-established and well-recognized characteristics of theunique divine identity in order, quite clearly and precisely, TO INCLUDE JESUS IN THEUNIQUE IDENTITY OF THE ONE GOD OF ISRAEL. Primary among these characteristicswas the unique sovereignty over all things. From the EARLIEST post-Easter Christology thatwe can trace, Jesus¶ exaltation was understood as his sharing the divine rule over the cosmos.Other uniquely divine characteristics followed logically and SWIFTLY, notably Jesus¶ participation in the work of creation. Worship of Jesus, as his inclusion in the monotheisticworship DUE EXCLUSIVELY TO THE ONE GOD, followed as the NECESSARYrecognition of his inclusion in the divine identity, again primarily in recognition of hisexercise of the unique divine sovereignty from the heavenly throne of God. In the presentcontext, we must restrict our interest to the main features of the New Testament¶sunderstanding of Jesus¶ exaltation to the divine throne. (Ibid., p. 172
;
capital and underlineemphasis ours)

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